With input from our readers and our newsroom, we’ve compiled a list of 2022’s most powerful figures in Charlotte.
Why it matters: These influential individuals are shaping our city.
Of note: We’ve included a handful of duos in here — we’re considering their work one entry for the purpose of this roundup.
- Each entry is listed in no particular order.
Greg and Subrina Collier
Restaurateurs and entrepreneurs
Biggest move of 2022: Greg fell short of winning a James Beard Award, but he came closer than any Charlotte chef before him. The recognition cemented his place in Charlotte’s growing food scene and drew national attention.
- Also this year, Greg was named executive chef for the Centurion Lounge at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and created the menu for the new Weathered Souls Brewery.
- The Colliers — known nationwide as the duo behind the acclaimed restaurant Leah & Louise at Camp North End — also became parents this year.
What we’re watching: The Colliers’ next project continues their work in the area of uplifting and nurturing Charlotte’s Black culinary creatives: they plan to help open four new Black-owned restaurants and bars in Camp North End in 2023.
Charlotte’s Major League Soccer franchise
Biggest move of 2022: The light show. The MLS-record 74,479 fans singing the national anthem as one. Agent 89 on the throne. The home opener for Charlotte FC, March 5, 2022, was one of the greatest sports spectacles this city’s seen.
- And the enthusiasm carried through the team’s surprisingly successful first season.
- Despite a few hiccups — the firing of head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez less than halfway through the season, barely missing the playoffs — fans fell in love with the club, filling Uptown restaurants and bars on game day, and parading around the city in Charlotte FC attire year-round.
What we’re watching: Charlotte FC has a new head coach. And the city has been buzzing with World Cup fever, furthering the notion that Charlotte is a “soccer city.”
CEO and co-founder Red Ventures
Biggest move of 2022: Elias, who heads “the biggest digital media company in America” with 4,500 employees across five continents, is also notable in how he spends his time and his billions:
- Like pledging to give away half his wealth.
- Or helping lead a charge to make Johnson C. Smith a Top 10 HBCU, or changing the lives of young professionals.
- Or serving as a behind-the-scenes adviser to many of our city’s top officials.
What we’re watching: Elias might be Charlotte’s most interesting person, someone who can talk about the future of K-12 education and the importance of sleep. So we guess we’ll be watching whatever’s next.
CEO of Atrium Health
Biggest move of 2022: Atrium, the largest hospital system in the Carolinas, and Wake Forest broke ground this year on its innovation district called The Pearl, which will house the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Charlotte.
- This was a major milestone for Charlotte, the largest city in the nation without a four-year medical school.
- Under Woods, Atrium will double its size as it merges with Midwest-based Advocate Aurora Health.
What we’re watching: After Advocate Aurora CEO Jim Skogsbergh retires, Woods will become sole CEO of the combined entity, which will be the fifth largest not-for-profit health-care system in the U.S.
- The first class of Atrium’s four-year Charlotte medical school will begin in 2024.
Camp North End
A 76-acre adaptive reuse development on a former industrial site north of Uptown, by ATCO Properties & Management
Biggest move of 2022: The popular development has become a hub of local small businesses, many of them Black-owned. This year, it also hosted the second annual BayHaven Food & Wine Festival and was part of the Aggie-Eagle Classic weekend.
What we’re watching: Expect to see more openings and events in 2023, from a dedicated event space to a cocktail lounge and speciality market.
Assistant city manager and director of Charlotte’s economic development department
Biggest move of 2022: Dodson has played a major role in luring corporations to the city, including Honeywell, Arrival, Credit Karma and most recently, the ACC headquarters.
What we’re watching in 2023: Which other major employers — and how many more jobs — Dodson and the city can land during what’s expected to be a tougher economic climate.
Jamie Brown and Jeff Tonidandel
Restaurateurs and entrepreneurs
Biggest move of 2022: Thirteen years after opening their first restaurant, Crepe Cellar, the husband-and-wife business pair shook up the NoDa neighborhood when they decided to close earlier this year to make way for a new Italian restaurant, Ever Andalo. Transforming the popular restaurant was a whirlwind, but Ever Andalo has been slammed since its March opening.
- The couple — who also own Supperland and Haberdish — also announced plans to turn the former Bonterra spot in Dilworth into a surf-and-turf restaurant called Leluia Hall.
What we’re watching: Brown and Tonidandel are no strangers to transforming former churches into hot restaurants, so we can’t wait to see what they do with Leluia Hall.
Managing partner of Crosland Southeast
Biggest move of 2022: Breaking ground on Eastland, a former mall site whose future has been the center of debates for years. Eastland, seen as a major catalyst for growth for the East Side, will include offices, a grocery store, apartments, office space and green space.
What we’re watching: Crosland Southeast is also the firm behind Commonwealth, the transformational mixed-use development in the heart of Plaza Midwood. Construction is well underway on the site, and leasing activity will begin soon.
Marcus Jones and Dena Diorio
City manager and county manager
Biggest move of 2022: Think of Jones and Diorio as the CEO of the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, respectively. They’re balancing multi-billion-dollar budgets made up of public money and spearheading plans to shape the future of our region.
- Jones had long said one of his priorities as city manager is passing a unified development ordinance, a rewrite of Charlotte’s development rules. City council approved the new regulations in August.
- Diorio oversees a health department that’s responsible for everything from COVID vaccinations to opioid settlements.
What we’re watching: Everything they do — from improving Charlotte’s bus system to adding more green space.
Michael Marsicano. Photo courtesy of Foundation For The Carolinas.
1 power player to go: Michael Marsicano
President and CEO, Foundation For the Carolinas
Marsicano — arguably Charlotte’s most powerful person for a decade-plus, unquestionably one of the city’s top citizens of this century — is set to retire in January.
- In his 23 years with FFTC, it’s raised more than $6 billion in contributions and grown into the sixth-largest community foundation in the country. And he’s steered Charlotte’s wealthiest philanthropists to direct their money toward the greatest needs — economic mobility, housing, racial equity, early childhood education and pandemic recovery.
- Marsicano certainly has had critics, but there’s no question that while other Southern cities have tried to wish away their deep-rooted problems, he’s turned Charlotte’s chin, and its money, to face them.
The unscientific list is produced entirely by the Axios Local editorial team and is not influenced by advertising in any way.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Eastland will not include Charlotte FC’s academy.