Municipality: City of Burlington
Position Interested In: Second Vice President; At Large - Elected Officials
Tell us why you would like to serve in a leadership position at the League. In particular, specify goals you would like to accomplish as an officer or board member and indicate how, if attained, they will help to achieve Vision 2030 – the League’s future vision of how cities and towns will operate in 2030.
As a board member, I am specifically interested in how we develop sound, balanced, system focused solutions that help us address the challenges identified in Vision 2030. As an entrepreneur, one of my key areas of focus is on public-private partnerships and how we as cities can collaborate regionally to drive innovation and growth that spans both urban and rural economies through robust entrepreneurial ecosystems. There are critical ways that we can more effectively direct our existing municipal resources in a manner that creates win-win outcomes spanning the rural and urban divide. My aim is to help NCLM and its members continue to prove their value and ability to deliver solutions in the current legislative environment in a manner that strengthens our relationships with both our legislators and constituents.
Another key area of work for me is on leadership cultivation. As one of North Carolina’s youngest mayors, it is tempting to pigeonhole myself in the realm of youth leadership development. However, I take a more comprehensive view of the task at hand. There is much work that needs to be done to help us create a better-informed municipal electorate and improve levels of civic engagement. Building from a foundation of civic engagement will help us recruit exceptional leaders to roles across our state. At the same time, we need powerful collaborative mentorship programs to help leaders of all ages learn and build on the knowledge and wisdom of our current elected leaders. That is why I have chipped in to help the league with the new young municipal officials group. By taking a comprehensive approach to growing our municipal leaders statewide, we will make significant progress towards strengthening the role of cities in the future progress of our state.
Finally, communication is key in all that we do. I believe strongly that cities are the laboratories of democracy. The work that we do every day in our communities needs to be shared and continuously innovated upon. While all our cities, towns, and villages share many common challenges, we also strive to cultivate our unique community traits. The subtly different ways that we approach improving our communities are a key part of what makes our communities thrive. Communicating this work, the process, areas of improvement, and strategies applied, are all critical to demonstrating the value that we add to the quality of life of our citizens. It is also fundamental to how we exercise local control and accountability as we balance budgets, reshape our municipal systems, and redefine what functions our communities take on. Together, these strategies will help us achieve major successes on our way to Vision 2030.
Tell us about your experience as a municipal official. You may want to include information on your service on the municipal governing body, other related boards and special areas of interest.
I am currently in my third term as Mayor of Burlington, NC after originally being elected in 2015. Throughout my current term of service, I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from the mentorship of numerous other municipal elected officials from all around the country. I have strived to learn from their wealth of experience and to apply their strategies and leadership techniques to my work in Burlington and North Carolina. My focus has centered on promoting increased civic engagement in our community, specifically from youth leaders as well as building collaborative bridges between organizations, businesses, and the city to help us more efficiently and effectively solve community challenges. I have engaged myself with our local councils of government as well as statewide groups such as the North Carolina Leadership Forum. I have also made time to attend and actively participate in NCLM, National League of Cities, US Conference of Mayors, Mayors Institute on City Design, Kauffman Foundation Mayors Conferences, and other municipal conferences regularly during my term.
Tell us about your educational background, professional experience, and/or community or civic activities.
I have studied mechanical engineering, entrepreneurship, and communications. In 2008, I graduated from Elon University with a BS Business Administration. In the following years, I earned my Six Sigma Green and Black Belts professional certifications in quality control and efficiency management from Alamance Community College and NC State University. I have founded multiple businesses in product design, manufacturing, consumer products, import/export, and brewing. My current work projects focus on building sustainable for-profit business models that create permanent full-time living-wage work positions for adults with disabilities and former felons.
I have been a nearly lifelong Boy Scout volunteer. After earning my Eagle Scout and Vigil Awards, I have continued to serve the community as an Alamance District leader, Board Member for Old North State Council, and Venture Crew leader for service-focused students at Elon University. I have also helped found the Engage Alamance entrepreneurial network and its related community funds and grants. I previously served on the Elon University Young Alumni Council and currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Elon University Dorherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. I regularly mentor and work with students in the Alamance Burlington School System specifically around improving understanding of local government and promoting civic engagement opportunities for leaders of all ages.
Shortly after my election, on my first visit to the winter National League of Cities conference in Washington DC, I had the opportunity to shadow our NCLM contingent as they met with our Senators on Capitol Hill. From that first legislative tour, I’ve strived to build my own relationships with both Senator Tillis and Burr on subsequent visits. Our city has also worked to cultivate strong relationships with our state and federal representatives. A key part of our work is centered on information sharing. Specifically, we’ve listened to the needs of our representatives and collected key information, local stories, and feedback for them to apply as they craft and defend legislation. Our work has focused on keeping discussion effective and issue-focused rather than partisan.
Have You Participated in Any NCLM Events or Committees?
CityVision Annual Conference
Town & State Dinner or Town Hall Days
Advocacy Goals Conference
Legislative Lobby Days
Legislative Action Committees
Affiliate Organizations: Mayors Association; Young Municipal Leaders; and Metropolitan Mayors Association
Please provide any other information you would like the Nominations Committee to consider.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve my community and the NCLM. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to apply my skills and leadership in a manner that strengthens the municipalities across our state and helps us make progress on the critical work outlined in Vision 2030.