Urban Institute Schul Forum Series

Thank you to all those who attended the inaugural Schul Forum, which was held Nov. 21 at the UNC Charlotte Center City Campus. We will post videos of the sessions. The 2020 Schul Forum will focus on economic mobility in the Charlotte region — please follow us for more information as we get closer. 

Sarah Smarsh

The first Schul Forum highlighted research and conclusions from the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection project, a two-year undertaking sponsored by the Duke Endowment. We combined our research with a series of discussions between local and national policy experts and practitioners, seeking to illuminate ways to foster economic, social and cultural connections to increase prosperity throughout our region. 

Brian Dabson

The day included a keynote address by Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland, a New York Times bestseller and 2018 National Book Award Finalist. Smarsh, a journalist and commentator, is featured frequently in national news outlets and hosts the podcast The Homecomers.

Brian Dabson, one of the project researchers, also delivered an address. Dabson is a Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Government. His interests focus on regional and rural development and he is currently leading a national project in the United States on rural-urban connections. His previous appointments include director of the Institute of Public Policy at the University of Missouri, president of the Rural Policy Research Institute and president of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (now Prosperity Now).

Schul Forum Agenda

7:30 a.m. – Registration/Check-in Center City Lobby 

8:00 – Welcome and Recognition of Dr. Norman and Marianne Schul

  • Phillip L. Dubois – Chancellor,  UNC Charlotte
  • Jeff Michael – Director, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

8:10 – Introduction of Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection Project & Morning Keynote Speaker

  • Jeff Michael – Director, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

8:20 – Keynote Address with Q&A 

  • Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland, a New York Times bestseller and 2018 National Book Award Finalist.

9:20 – Break 

9:30 – Panel 1: “PEOPLE Harnessing Talent to Revitalize Communities” 

  • Moderator: Chrystal Joy –  Manager Director, The Lee Institute
  • Susan DeVenny – President & CEO, J. Marion Sims Foundation
  • Brian Collier – Executive Vice President, Foundation For The Carolinas
  • Audrey Whetten – Executive Director, Uptown Shelby Association

10:15 – Panel 2: “PLACE | Turning to Natural and Cultural Resources to Foster Renewal”

  • Moderator: Ely Portillo – Assistant Director of Outreach & Strategic Partnerships, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
  • Davon Goodwin – Manager, Sandhill AGInnovation Center
  • Glinda Coleman – Executive Director, Great Falls Hometown Association
  • Brownie Plaster – Civic Leader & Board member, Destination Cleveland County
  • David Knight – former Director, NC Outdoor Recreation Industry Office; Council member-Elect, Raleigh City Council

11:05 – Break

11:15 – Panel 3: “POLICY & PRACTICE | Redefining Economic Development with Innovative Approaches”

  • Moderator: Christa Wagner Vinson – Economic Research Consultant, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
  • Matthew Martin – Senior Vice President & Charlotte Regional Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
  • Nancy Gottovi – Executive Director, STARworks Center
  • Keva Walton – Chief Growth Officer, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

12:00 p.m. – Lunch, Breakout Sessions and Networking | “So what? Where do we go from here?”

1:30 – Discussion | “What did we hear in the panels, the breakout sessions?”

1:55 – Introduction of Afternoon Keynote Speaker

  • Christina Danis – Public Policy Ph.D. Program and Research Assistant, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

2:00 – Afternoon Keynote Speaker with Q&A

  • Brian Dabson, Research Fellow at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Government

2:45 – Closing Remarks and Looking Ahead

  • Jeff Michael – Director, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

3:00 – Adjourn

Event Parking

There are a number of pay-to-park options within walking distance of the Center City building. The Seventh Street parking deck, adjacent to the Seventh Street Public Market, is a short walk through First Ward Park. Additional pay-to-park options can be found on the Preferred Parking website. The closest of these is 422 E. 9th Street, on the corner of Ninth and Brevard Street.

Attendees are also encouraged to take advantage of light rail. Center City is a half a block from the Ninth Street Station.  Free parking is available at eleven light rail park-and-ride locations. Sugar Creek Station and Scaleybark are the closest park-and-ride stations. Standard CATS fares apply.

​​About the Schul Urban Institute Forum Series

The Marianne M. & Norman W. Schul Urban Institute Forum Series was established in 2018 to serve as an annual event focused on policy issues affecting the Charlotte region, convening local leaders, national experts and researchers from the institute and other parts of UNC Charlotte. The institute’s first director, Dr. Norm Schul, and his wife, Marianne ‘73, enabled the creation of the series with a generous gift.