Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Foundation is LKNConnect’s Outstanding Non-Profit for the month of July. This article is the third 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 Education

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 by addressing any unique needs or issues. The Foundation allows 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.


Chamber President & CEO Bill Russell presents Mark Johnson, the North Carolina Superintendent of Public Schools, with a picture book of Lake Norman at the February PowerLuncheon on Education. The Lake Norman Foundation was a sponsor of the event. Picture by John McHugh / Ocaid Photography.

Education PowerLuncheon

This past February, before the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the economy and dramatically altered our families and businesses, the Chamber Foundation played a key role in recognizing area teachers who were exceptional at their jobs.

The Lake Norman Chamber hosted an Education PowerLuncheon featuring Mark Johnson, the North Carolina Superintendent of Public Schools. The Foundation was a sponsor of the program which presented awards to the Educators of the Year to the Most Outstanding Public, Private and Charter School Educators.


Many Lake Norman businesses and community leaders were present at the February Luncheon honoring our local teachers. Among them from left to right: Ivonne Reed – Co-chair of the Education Collaborative, Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla, Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam, Lake Norman Foundation Chair John Hettwer, Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett, and Chamber President Bill Russell. Photo by John McHugh, Ocaid Photography.


Recognizing Teachers

The following teachers were honored: Meredith Thompson of Long Creek Elementary, Casie Zamiara of Lake Norman Charter and Lynn Moore of SouthLake Christian Academy.


Meredith Thompson of Long Creek Elementary was selected as the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Teacher of the Year representing Public Schools. Pictured with Meredith is Huntersville Mayor Pro tem Melinda Bales and Ivonne Reed – Co-chairs of the Education Collaborative and Chamber Board Chair Richard Pappas. Photo by John McHugh, Ocaid Photography.


Inspiring our future

Southwire, a local Huntersville company, was also recognized with a special “Inspire our Future” award for their work in vocational training and education. In 2019, the Lake Norman Economic Development Corporation coordinated a series of manufacturing tours designed to enlighten high school and junior high school vocational guidance counselors on what skills are required for Lake Norman regional industries.

Southwire participated in the tours. In addition, to being recognized by the Lake Norman Chamber before in how they practice diversity and inclusion in their management, the company showcased their operations to both the Chamber’s Adult and Junior Leadership Lake Norman programs.


Dale Vanvactor, production area manager and Curtis Queen, quality manager for Southwire, Ivonne Reed – Lake Norman Education Collaborative, Jasmine Monet, Southwire Huntersville HR Specialist, Melinda Bales, Huntersville Mayor Pro Tem, Richard Pappas 2020 Chamber Board Chair, and Chris McGill, Southwire Huntersville’s plant manager. Photo by John McHugh, Ocaid Photography.


For more information or to make a donation

The Foundation is pleased to play a part in the recognition of our regional educators and businesses. Contributions to the Foundation can be made by contacting Bill Russell, President & CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber at 704-892-1922 or by email at Next week’s focus will be on another critical area of education – Scholarship.




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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