Gabriel J. Esparza and Khalif J. Rhodes, both of Charlotte, have been appointed by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners to the Central Piedmont Community College Board of Trustees.
Esparza is a seasoned executive with more than 25 years of experience leading businesses spanning both large corporations and nimble start-ups. He serves as both advisor and investor in a variety of entrepreneurial ventures. In one notable example, he played an integral part of the success story at RapidSOS a gov-tech platform that radically transformed the way people communicate with 911, making it a data-driven experience that transmits precise location and other critical information to first responders.
Esparza's term on the Central Piedmont board runs through June 2023. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in International Relations and Psychology from Stanford University.
Rhodes is an attorney and founder of The Rhodes Firm, PLLC. He established the firm in 2012, after earning his J.D. and LL.M., from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. During his tenure at The Rhodes Firm, he has assisted various small to medium-sized businesses in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate compliance and due diligence. In 2017, he was appointed the Chief Magistrate of the 26th Judicial District. Under his guidance, Mecklenburg County attempted to address the significant disparities in the criminal justice system. He was a part of a team that re-wrote Mecklenburg County's bail policy.
Rhodes' appointment as a Central Piedmont Trustee runs through June 2025. In addition to his law degrees, he earned a BA in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University.
"I am excited to welcome Mr. Esparza and Mr. Rhodes to the Central Piedmont Board of Trustees," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "This is an important period in the history of the college as we endeavor to help so many Mecklenburg County residents rebuild their careers or start their higher education journeys in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The college will rely on its Board of Trustees for experienced insight and wise counsel."
Central Piedmont Community College today dedicated the Leon Levine Health Sciences Center on the college's Central Campus. The naming is in recognition of a $2.5-million grant from The Leon Levine Foundation to support health sciences education and health careers preparation at Central Piedmont.
College leaders and community partners including Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, president, Central Piedmont; Linda Lockman-Brooks, chair, Board of Trustees, Central Piedmont; Weston M. Andress, president, Board of Trustees, Central Piedmont Community College Foundation; and Thomas W. Lawrence III, president and director, The Leon Levine Foundation were in attendance at the 11 a.m., ribbon cutting event.
"Not many partnerships last 20 years and yet today, we write the beginning of another chapter in this amazing story [between Central Piedmont and The Leon Levine Foundation]," said Lawrence. "What has happened in this particular 20-year partnership? Hundreds of students educated, thousands of lives transformed, and now, with this grant, the crossing of $10 million of investment entrusted to Central Piedmont by The Leon Levine Foundation."
The Leon Levine Health Sciences Center opened its doors in August 2020, and boasts 74,450 square-feet of space. The facility was designed by Creech & Associates, working with Morris-Berg Architects; was constructed by Rodgers; and provides a home base for multiple health professions programs, including:
- dental assisting
- biomedical equipment technology
- surgical technology
It also hosts a state-of-the-art virtual-anatomy classroom.
The Leon Levine Foundation grant comes to the college as part of its ongoing "Powering a Stronger Future Campaign," which seeks to raise $40 million to support students, programs, and faculty development.
View photos of the dedication event.
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Council at Central Piedmont brought civil rights icon and former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt to Central Piedmont's Halton Theater stage on Oct. 14, to serve as a panelist during its EDI event titled, "A Story of Perseverance in Driving Change."
Mr. Gantt was joined on stage by moderator Dr. Charles Mitchell, equity and opportunity presidential fellow at Central Piedmont, as well as panelists Dr. Tracie Clark, vice president for strategy and organizational excellence, and Dr. Chris Cathcart, vice president for student affairs, at Central Piedmont.
During the event, Central Piedmont employees and students had the opportunity to hear the group discuss the power of collaboration and allyship in creating change and moving the EDI needle in a positive direction, and how Central Piedmont can continue pushing forward in supporting its students and the Charlotte community.
"Central Piedmont is a very special place. This institution - at its most critical level - allows folks from all circumstances in life to get on a ladder of mobility upward," explained Gantt. "I like the word 'transformation.' Central Piedmont makes a difference in the things that students can do. It puts individuals on a ladder, that can be built as high as they want it ... and that's why the college is a very important place. I've tried over the years to understand its value to the community and to be as supportive of it whenever I can."
Mr. Gantt was Charlotte's first African-American mayor and the first African-American student enrolled at Clemson University. His visit is one of the enrichment opportunities the college is using to help advance its EDI strategy, which college leadership has identified as mission-critical work. Over the past year, Central Piedmont has hosted a number of EDI related events for both its employees and students to attend. Examples include: inclusive leadership trainings, Black History Month events, inclusive teaching practice sessions, examining best EDI practices from other institutions, courageous conversations, and more.
Central Piedmont is offering such events to foster the growth of its employees and the institution as a whole. The goal is to deliver a superior collegiate experience for students that supports their success both personally and professionally, while embedding an enhanced EDI philosophy and awareness in the college's daily practices and processes.Read more
A donor who wishes to remain anonymous has made a $10-million gift commitment to Central Piedmont Community College. The gift is the single-largest individual donation in Central Piedmont's 58-year history and among the largest gifts ever made to a community college nationwide.
Central Piedmont will use the gift to transform its role as a community resource for arts and humanities programming and learning. Plans for the gift include:
- establishing an endowment that provides resources to attract and retain outstanding arts and humanities faculty members;
- creating a scholarship endowment to provide Opportunity Scholarships for students who are pursuing degrees in arts and humanities;
- creating and launching an arts and humanities series which will bring renowned authors, artists, and performers to Central Piedmont for the benefit of students, faculty, staff and the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg community;
- establishing a public art fund, which will provide resources to commission public art for the enhancement of outdoor spaces at the college, enriching the lives of students, faculty, staff and visitors on a daily basis;
- enhancing instruction in the visual arts; and
- creating an endowment to support and expand instruction and learning in the arts and humanities at the college.
"This magnanimous gift will strengthen Central Piedmont's capacity to educate, train, and empower well-rounded individuals who will understand, appreciate, and participate in the rich and diverse cultural traditions that strengthen the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "The generous donor believes regardless of students' academic background and desired education and career pathway, their perspectives should include experiences in the arts and humanities to achieve a better comprehension of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future. Through our conversations, it's clear the donor believes Central Piedmont is a critical community resource for Mecklenburg County residents beginning their higher education journey, seeking skills to build a family-sustaining career, or needing additional credentials for career growth.
"A gift of this magnitude will be transformative for the college and the community. As a result of this gift, Central Piedmont students will gain a greatly enhanced appreciation of the arts and humanities, aiding them as they build productive lives of meaning and service. At the same time, Central Piedmont will be able to establish itself as a national leader in arts and humanities education among community colleges," Deitemeyer added.
The $10-million gift commitment comes to the college as part of its ongoing "Powering a Stronger Future campaign." Powering a Stronger Future is an ambitious, five-year, comprehensive, fundraising effort focused on providing students with greater access to outstanding educational and career-preparation opportunities, addressing the workforce needs of business and industry in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The campaign will conclude on June 30, 2022.
Central Piedmont alumnus Zach Lokken '21 will represent Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, July 23 August 8. The Associate in Arts graduate will compete in the MC-1 Canoe Slalom event during his first Olympics appearance.
Born in Durango, Colo., Zach has won several awards in the sport of American Canoe, including third place in C1 and C2 during the 2015 U.S. National Team Trials.
When he's not hitting the rapids, he enjoys skiing and longboarding.Read more
Janet LaBar, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, has been appointed to the Central Piedmont Community College Board of Trustees by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper. LaBar's four-year term begins July 1.
Charlotte attorney Michael Hawley has been reappointed to the Central Piedmont board by Gov. Cooper for another four-year term. Hawley has been a college trustee since 2017.
Caldwell Rose, president of NAI Southern Real Estate in Charlotte, has been appointed to the Central Piedmont board by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education to a four-year term beginning July 1. This is a continuation of Rose's service as a trustee. He has been a board member since 2015, when he was appointed first by Gov. Pat McCroy.
"The college is excited to welcome Janet LaBar to the Board of Trustees. Janet's background and experience in workforce development and economic development makes her a great addition to the board," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "At the same time, we are grateful Mike Hawley and Caldwell Rose will continue as trustees. They have been highly engaged and have provided insightful counsel and leadership. We will rely on our 2021-22 board members heavily as the college welcomes more students back to campus and helps Mecklenburg residents find a post-pandemic path to career growth and greater economic mobility."
LaBar has led the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance since 2019. Prior to coming to Charlotte, she served as president and CEO of Greater Portland Inc., a regional economic development organization. Her other career positions include chief performance officer of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and research and communications manager for the Center for Workforce Development, a part of the Maricopa County Community Colleges District in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Hawley has practiced tax and business law in Charlotte since 1983, with the global firm K&L Gates and its predecessor Kennedy Covington Lobell & Hickman. He also worked as a visiting professor of law for the University of Florida College of Law, and as a vice president with First National Bank of Tampa.
Rose is a native of Charlotte, and joined NAI Southern Real Estate in 1988. He has served in a leadership role on the Central Piedmont Board of Trustees, chairing the Finance, Facilities and Audit committee since 2018. He holds real estate brokerage licenses in North and South Carolina.
Central Piedmont Community College hosted multiple commencement ceremonies outdoors on its Overcash Lawn, located in front of Overcash Center on Central Campus, on May 12 and 13, to ensure the celebration of its 2021 graduates was conducted safely and in accordance with NCDHHS and CDC guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following outdoor commencement ceremonies were held:
- Wednesday, May 12, 2021
- 11 a.m.: Health Science programs
- 2 p.m.: Skilled Trades, College and Career Readiness
- Thursday, May 13, 2021
- 9 a.m.: Business, Engineering, and Technology
- 11 a.m.: Transfer Degree Programs
- 2 p.m.: Transfer Degree Programs
More than 800 students from the 2021 spring semester, as well as the 2020 summer and fall semesters, "marched" and received their college degrees during the first outdoor commencement ceremony the college has hosted in 35 years. (The last outdoor ceremony was held in 1986, on the Central Campus Quad.) More than 2,430 students were eligible to graduate this year.
During the May 12 festivities, Mr. Marco Gallardo Cuervo, who graduated from Central Piedmont with an Associate in Applied Science in Welding Technology degree, addressed his fellow graduates. Ms. Emma Hoff, an Associate in Arts student delivered the May 13 commencement address to her peers.This is the fourth consecutive year Central Piedmont has had student keynote speakers at graduation.
Central Piedmont Community College has named Lynne Tatum Little, RDH, owner of LTL Consulting, the 2021 Richard H. Hagemeyer Educational Advancement Award recipient, and James "Dan" Bailey, president and CEO of Steele's Mechanical, the 2021 Young Alumni Award of Excellence recipient. The awards recognize former Central Piedmont students who have benefited significantly from experiences at Central Piedmont and whose efforts have helped the community.
Lynne Tatum Little, RDH '88 (Associate in Applied Science, Dental Hygiene)
A successful consultant and business owner, Lynne Tatum Little attributes her leadership abilities to her experience at Central Piedmont and the discipline required in her coursework. Lynne owns LTL Consulting and has been active within the dental hygiene profession, serving as commissioner of the American Dental Hygienists' Association, board member of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners, and past president of the North Carolina Dental Hygienists' Association. Additionally, she has served on the Central Piedmont Community College Foundation Board since 2016, committing herself to the mission and success of the college as a dedicated volunteer and donor.
James "Dan" Bailey '12 (Associate in Arts)
As a U.S. Army military veteran who served as a construction engineer and paratrooper, Dan Bailey has acquired skills that would last him a lifetime. He considers Central Piedmont his home and the place where he gained invaluable leadership skills not to only lead, but also to follow. Today, Dan serves as president and CEO of Steele's Mechanical, where he has grown the 49-year old HVAC company from a local business to one of the fastest-growing mechanical contractors in the region. He's accomplished this all while continuing to serve the community as a tutor, coach, and supporter of organizations throughout the Carolinas.
Watch the videos below of Lynne's acceptance speech for the Richard H. Hagemeyer Educational Advancement Award and Dan's acceptance speech for the Young Alumni Award of Excellence.
The Richard H. Hagemeyer Educational Advancement Award is named after the college's first president who served in the position for 23 years. The Young Alumni Award of Excellence was introduced in 2019 to recognize graduates who have completed in the last 10 years and who have made significant contributions to the community in their short time away from Central Piedmont. To learn more about the awards and past recipients, visit cpccfoundation.org/awards.
The Mecklenburg County Pre-K initiative, the Foundation for the Carolinas, the Comprehensive Early Learning Center, and the Central Piedmont Foundation have awarded Central Piedmont's early childhood education program a $4 million grant to create the STRIVE Scholars program.
The program provides full tuition, fees, books, and materials funding to academically qualified students preparing to become educators of young children in Mecklenburg County.
According to research conducted by Mecklenburg County, Charlotte's workforce lacks the postsecondary education necessary to assure the quality of its lead and assistant Pre-K teachers in the classroom.
The college's STRIVE Scholars program seeks to address this workforce need by providing students who are pursuing an Associate in Applied Science or certificate in early childhood education with better access to a higher education and need-based support services, including:
- child care
In addition, the program will provide Scholars with comprehensive support services, such as academic advising, mentoring, and more, to ensure their academic success.
The early childhood education program is grateful and excited to be a part of this important initiative to bring universal pre-kindergarten to Mecklenburg County.
Learn more about the STRIVE Scholarship.
Today, leadership for Johnson C. Smith University and Central Piedmont Community College announced "JCSU Connect" a new bachelor's degree pathway that will expand college access to more students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and beyond. This new collaboration is part of JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister's mission to help address the lack of economic upward mobility in Charlotte by providing local students a guided pathway to earn bachelor's degrees from JCSU.
"For more than 150 years, JCSU has been a leader in providing educational access," said Armbrister. "As the University continues to focus on providing opportunities to address economic upward mobility in Charlotte, we look forward to this new partnership with Central Piedmont Community College to assist those seeking bachelor's degrees and experience Charlotte's HBCU, the only HBCU in partnership with Central Piedmont."
JCSU Connect is a "2+2" program, meaning participating students will complete an associate degree at Central Piedmont and a bachelor's degree at JCSU. During the first two years of study, students in the JCSU Connect Program will take classes at Central Piedmont and engage in intentional career and academic workshops at JCSU. During the third-year, students will enroll at JCSU and be placed in an on-campus paid internship (via federal work study) at JCSU that correlates with their field of study. During the final year of study, participants will complete their academic program at JCSU and engage in experiential learning, including internships and undergraduate research.
"We are excited to partner with Johnson C. Smith University and thrilled to offer this pathway to our students," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "JCSU Connect will be a wonderful program for our students who want to earn a four-year degree. We know they will flourish at JCSU. At the same time, this transfer program is another great example of the higher education community in Charlotte working together to build more avenues to opportunity and enhance our community's economic mobility."Read more
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