Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Foundation is LKNConnect’s Outstanding Non-Profit for the month of July. This article is the second in a series of five articles describing their mission, how the foundation supports diversity, education, North Meck CTE, and other scholarship programs in the Lake Norman region. — EH Stafford, Managing Editor


Focused on Diversity and Inclusion

Since its formation in 2009, the Lake Norman Chamber Foundation has served three main initiatives: a Focus on Education and Scholarship, Leadership Development, and Diversity and Inclusion.

In 2008, the Chamber, launched the Lake Norman Diversity Council whose primary mission is to aid small, minority and women business-owners and address any unique needs or issues. The Foundation allowed organizers to solicit grants and receive funds which could be contributed to the charitable arm of the chamber, to help fund programs and events which could promote diversity and inclusion in our growing Lake Norman region.


LKN Diversity Chair Major Pat Brown from CPCC and Bill Russell, President & CEO of the Chamber along with 2019 Board Chair Tricia Sisson at the 2019 LKN Women’s Conference. Photo courtesy of John McHugh / Ocaid Photography


Lake Norman Women’s Conference

Among the first programs created was the Lake Norman Women’s Conference which allowed close to 75 female business owners, managers, and employees a chance to hear from successful female CEO’s on a wide ranging list of topics designed to enlighten, inspire, and motivate. The conference held each year, has continued to grow and this year is planned for August 13th at The Peninsula Club. The program was postponed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but organizers hope that more than one hundred female executives will attend this outstanding event which has become a signature event for the chamber.



The Lake Norman Chamber recognized The Ada Jenkins Center as the Non-Profit Champion of Diversity Award. Receiving the award was Executive Director Georgia Krueger and her team. Presenting the award was Board Chair Tricia Sisson. Photo courtesy of John McHugh / Ocaid Photography



Annual Diversity Recognition program

The recent protests, held across the nation since the unfortunate death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Law Enforcement, underscores the need for a community to have a vibrant Diversity and Inclusion focus. Since the creation of the Diversity Council, the Chamber has held an Annual Diversity Recognition program. Originally a Diversity Breakfast, it has developed into a luncheon held each September to honor the local small business, corporation, nonprofit and individual who practices and promotes diversity and inclusion in the Lake Norman region.


Beth Bledsoe, Vice President of Human Resources and Chief People Officer for MSC Industrial Supply Co. discusses “Enabled, not Disabled” at the 2019 Diversity Luncheon. Photo courtesy of John McHugh / Ocaid Photography



2019 Keynote – Enabled, not Disabled

This past year, the Diversity Luncheon was highlighted with a keynote address by Beth Bledsoe, Vice President of Human Resources and Chief People Officer for MSC Industrial Supply Co. While today the discussion around diversity may be a focus on race, Bledsoe’s topic in 2019 was “Enabled, not Disabled, at MSC Industrial Supply.” She discussed how the Davidson company is tapping a new talent pool on the Autism spectrum. She touched on the partnership with external agencies in the communities they reside and Increasing inclusion within their operations.









Diversity Awards

Following Bledsoe’s presentation, Diversity awards were presented to several outstanding Lake Norman Business and community leaders. Selected as the Individual Diversity Champion was Lori Hughes, Exceptional Children’s Coordinator at Lake Norman Charter School. The Nonprofit Diversity Champion was The Ada Jenkins Center. The Chamber’s Small Business Diversity Champion was Lake Norman Muay Thai. The Corporate Diversity Champion was Huntersville’s Ensemble Health Partners.


Lori Hughes, Exceptional Children’s Coordinator for Lake Norman Charter School was recognized by the Lake Norman Chamber as the 2019 Individual Diversity Champion for her work with special needs young students. Presenting the award was Diversity Co Chair Cheryl Banks and 2019 Board Chair Tricia Sisson. Photo courtesy of John McHugh / Ocaid Photography.


For more information or to make a contribution

The Chamber’s Foundation is an outstanding resource to businesses or individuals wishing to make a charitable contribution to help raise awareness about diversity and inclusion. To make a contribution, or for more information, contact Bill Russell at 704-892-1922 or email




William E. “Bill” Russell, Jr., CCE, IOM

Bill Russell is the President and CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber. He serves on the Boards of Visit Lake Norman, Lake Norman Economic Development., Ada Jenkins Center, and Hugh Torance House & Store. The Chamber has approximately 900 members in the Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and greater Lake Norman region

In 1996, he was recognized with the Order of the Palmetto, the highest honor bestowed upon a citizen in the State of South Carolina for his civic involvement. In 1992, Bill was president of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), the largest young people’s leadership training organizations in the country.

In 2008, Bill received his Certified Chamber Executive designation by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.




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