Announcement, News, Press Release

GreenLight Announces Charlotte Executive Director

Oct 10, 2022



Sam Smith, Jr. joins organization to lead next phase of work in Charlotte

Charlotte, NC – October 10, 2022 – GreenLight Fund welcomes Sam Smith Jr. as the new GreenLight Charlotte Executive Director. He joins GreenLight with over a decade of experience leading and working with numerous corporate and nonprofit institutions. As executive director, Sam will provide on-the-ground support to GreenLight’s existing portfolio organizations as well as lead the community-driven process to bring the next set of social innovations to Charlotte.

“I’ve worked with Sam and am so excited for Charlotte that he is taking on this role,” said Dena Diorio, Mecklenburg County Manager. “His leadership experience, commitment to the Charlotte community, and GreenLight’s proven model are a combination that will bring positive and sustainable change to address some of our city’s toughest challenges.”

Deborah Majewski, Senior Program Officer at The Leon Levine Foundation added, “I’m thrilled that Sam was selected to lead the important and impactful work of GreenLight Charlotte. He’s a strategic and collaborative leader with an understanding of the challenges impacting access to opportunity in our community. Sam’s knowledge and experience will further the success of GreenLight Charlotte in increasing economic mobility in Charlotte.”

Most recently, Sam served as the Director of External Engagement with the United Way of Central Carolinas. Sam expanded and managed the $3.2M Unite Charlotte grassroots-based community investment fund and led United Way’s Advocacy initiatives. Unite Charlotte supports new and/or grassroots organizations led by people of color, offering innovative solutions to improve economic mobility through a racial equity trust-based approach.

“I look forward to bridging the gap for the voiceless in our community through our work at GreenLight Fund Charlotte,” explained Sam Smith, Jr. “It provides me great pleasure to convene stakeholders from the philanthropic, nonprofit, private sector, government, and community to invest in solutions and drive measurable results that improve opportunity and mobility for children and families in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.”

GreenLight Charlotte will continue to partner with the local community to identify systemic barriers to economic mobility and invest in bringing proven models that are additive to the local ecosystem to help break down those barriers and address deep-rooted racial disparities, opening inclusive prosperity opportunities for children and families. As executive director, Sam will partner with the Selection Advisory Council, an inclusive, cross-sector group of community leaders, along with residents with lived experiences to vet and select evidenced-based programs with measurable results to bring to Charlotte.

GreenLight Fund’s CEO and Co-founder Margaret Hall remarked, “Sam is an excellent addition to our team. His experience building trusted relationships, his familiarity with our model from being part of our local Selection Advisory Council, and his passion for this work will make him an outstanding Executive Director. We look forward to his leadership as GreenLight continues to center equity and partner with the Charlotte community to address long-standing and deep-rooted inequities.”

GreenLight Fund launched in Charlotte in 2017 and has supported the replication of three organizations into Charlotte to effectively address community-identified unmet needs. Sam will provide ongoing support to those local organizations: Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), improving outcomes for returning citizens and lowering recidivism rates; ParentChild+, improving early literacy and school readiness by engaging parents alongside their two and three year-old children; Alternative To Violence (ATV), reducing violence locally by the same three components used in the public health approach to reverse a health epidemic: 1) interrupting transmission of the disease, 2) reducing the risk of the highest at risk, 3) changing community norms.

GreenLight Charlotte co-founding supporters include: Bank of America, Tim and Sarah Belk, Brighthouse Financial, John M. Belk Endowment, Doug and Laura Bollermann, Steve and Athena Bradway, The Duke Endowment, Duke Energy, Deloitte, Porter and Vicki Durham, Leigh and Rob Edwards, The Foundation for the Carolinas, Frontier Capital, Lise and Travis Hain, Cammie and Barnes Hauptfuhrer, Tommy and Jane Hunter, Kathy and Charlie Izard, David Jones, Howard and Julie Levine, The Leon Levine Foundation, George McLendon and Carol Quillen, Scott and Anne Perper, Walker and Anne Poole, Jack Purcell, Andrew and Beth Quartapella, Sally and Russell Robinson, Kevin and Peggy Roche, Matt and Jeannie Salisbury, Liz and Walker Simmons, John and Sue Simon, Barbara and David Singer, C.D. Spangler Foundation, and United Way of Central Carolinas.