Forum Agenda


Welcome | 8:30 – 8:50 a.m. 

  • Jack Cecil  |  Biltmore Farms LLC & Chair, IEI National Advisory Board Read Bio
  • Leslie Boney  |  Director, Institute for Emerging Issues Read Bio


Opening | 8:55 – 9:05 a.m. 

  • Alicia James  |  Policy and Program Manager, Institute for Emerging Issues Read Bio


Community Feature | Charlotte Leading on Opportunity | 9:10 – 9:55 a.m.

In 2014, economist Raj Chetty released an intergenerational mobility study with findings that ranked Charlotte 50th in a list of 50 metro areas, nationwide, for improved economic mobility. Results indicated that children born into the lowest income quintile experienced limited opportunities to improve economic outcomes by the time they reached adulthood. Learn how the City of Charlotte responded to their last-place ranking and mobilized to create cross-sector partnerships and collaborative infrastructure within their community to promote opportunity access for all residents.  

  • Brian Collier  |  Executive Vice President, Foundation for the Carolinas Read Bio
  • James Ford  |  Co-Chair, Leading on Opportunity Read Bio


State Feature | Tennessee Reconnect | 10:00 – 10:20 a.m.

Wages are largely driven by education attainment, and obtaining a postsecondary degree or credential is a critical pathway to career-based economic opportunity. We will highlight a national model, Tennessee Reconnect, that promotes adult higher education through focus on improving recruitment, retention and completion rates of adult learners. Tennessee Reconnect is an example of an applied, state-wide effort to connect the labor force’s need for skill-enhancement with employer needs for a well-trained talent pipeline. Learn how to strategically engage government, education, workforce and employers, and discover how aligned mutual interests can improve economic prospects for individuals, communities and the state’s economy. 

  • Honorable D. Craig Horn |  North Carolina House of Representatives (Union) Read Bio
  • Emily House, Ph.D.  |  Deputy Executive Director, Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation Read Bio


Networking Break | 10:25 – 10:45 a.m.


Education Innovations | 10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Hear about successful education programs that engage non-traditional students throughout their academic journeys by providing guidance and resources that accommodate the needs of adult learners. These programs also connect students with supportive assistance to remove non-academic barriers so they’re able to maintain economic stability and complete their education. The conversation also includes policy leaders from the public university and community college systems who will reflect upon application and scalability at their respective institutions. 

  • Sarah Crawford  |  National Director of Partnerships and Programs, Single Stop Read Bio
  • Peter Hans  |  President, North Carolina Community College System Read Bio
  • Andrew Kelly, Ph.D.  |  Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy, University of North Carolina System Read Bio
  • Laura Colson McLean, Ed.D.  |  Dean, Metropolitan College of Professional Studies, Johnson C. Smith University Read Bio
  • Mebane Rash  |  CEO and Editor-in-Chief, EducationNC Read Bio

Lunch | 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Governor’s Address | 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. 

  • Honorable James B. Hunt, Jr.  |  Former Governor, State of North Carolina Read Bio
  • Roy Cooper  |  Governor, State of North Carolina Read Bio


Supportive Community Networks | 1:35 – 2:35 p.m. 

Discover how two community-based organizations, with proven track records of successful outcomes, apply a holistic model of support services to local residents in order to remove barriers that keep people in economically vulnerable positions. These organizations intervene to promote economic security for community members so their basic needs are met, and they can pursue education and job training that will prepare them to compete for economic opportunities that offer pathways to higher earnings and career advancement. 

  • Michelle Gethers-Clark  |  President & CEO, United Way of Greater Greensboro Read Bio
  • Carol Hardison  |  Chief Executive Officer, Crisis Assistance Ministry Read Bio
  • David Hollars  |  Executive Director, Centralina Workforce Development Board Read Bio
  • Travis Mitchell  |  Chief Content Officer, UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina Read Bio
  • Tara K. Myers  |  Deputy Secretary, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Read Bio


Networking Break | 2:40 – 3:00 p.m.


Employer Perspective | 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Learn how corporate employers created workforce development and career advancement opportunities for new and existing employees.  The group will outline the private sectors’ role in promoting opportunity pathways, and identify strategies to facilitate workforce investments that support career seekers’ transition into enhanced employment prospects. 

  • MC Belk Pilon  |  President & Board Chair, John M. Belk Endowment Read Bio
  • Stephen De May  |  North Carolina President, Duke Energy Read Bio
  • Gary Salamido  |  President & CEO, NC Chamber Read Bio
  • Jerome Williams, Jr., M.D.  |  Senior Vice President of Consumer Engagement and Corporate Health, Novant Health Read Bio


Community Applications | 4:00 – 4:45 p.m. 

As part of the ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity forum, the Institute for Emerging Issues chose five communities to tell their story of economic opportunity: What they’re doing and what’s working to improve community connections in their part of North Carolina. We chose five diverse initiatives each focused on successful efforts to connect adult, lower-income earners to information or services related to sustainable-wage employment, effective skill-enhancing training models and employer-supported initiatives.

The Five Community Initiatives are:


Closing | 4:50 – 5:10 p.m.

  • Reginald Bean  |  Vice President of Culture, Engagement and Stewardship, Coca-Cola Consolidated Read Bio

Moving to Action | 5:15 – 5:30 p.m. 

  • Leslie Boney  |  Director, Institute for Emerging Issues Read Bio

*Audience Engagement will be integrated into all aspects of the forum even if not explicitly stated in this template. We will encourage speakers/keynotes/panelists to ask questions of the audience or have them engage in table-top discussions.