My new series Charlotte PlaceMakers highlights up and coming artists, entrepreneurs and community leaders in the Charlotte area. These people are pivotal in making Charlotte the eclectic and dynamic city that it is. This month’s feature is Charlotte native, Cory Bennett. I went to UNC Greensboro with Cory and felt that when he moved back home to Charlotte, this was a great time to hash through the awesome things he has on his plate. He is a community leader, a student and he’s definitely a PlaceMaker. Let’s meet Cory.
Where are you from?
Born and raised Charlotte, North Carolina
What High School Did you attend?
I went to Garinger High School when it was a traditional High school. Because it was such a low performing school, it was transitioned to an early college model and now that I’m working alongside CMS, it is interesting to see the other side of it. I get to work with students across all other high schools. (Cory currently works with Communities in Schools)
What is your educational background?
I attended UNC Greensboro. Although, I received scholarships from Chapel Hill, UNCG and North Carolina A&T, I fell in love with UNC Greensboro’s campus. Originally, I became Biology major originally and realized it was not for me. I ended up looking at Public Health with an Educational background with a minor in Political Science. I loved it because I could use my people skills. This ultimately led myinto my profession working with a Non-profit agency alongside CMS.
What are some of your goals?
Given the opportunity to return back to Charlotte (not wanting to travel too far from home), I would like to move up in the Non-profit world and into further into Public Administration. I am currently completing MPA degree at UNC Pembroke online. Honestly, I had no idea this would be a goal. People always told me “you know you move people and inspire people and you generally know how to manage people” So I thought what profession could I get into that does this to where I could be a public servant at the end of the day? I wanted to be in a place where I can be a servant because that’s the intrinsic value I’m looking for in a job. This new goal that I have crept upon is all about finding a new niche. The Mentoring Program with NFBPA will help me to understand that.
With that said, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I hope to have completed my MPA and be working in a Department with the City in either Neighborhood & Business Services or closely with the Mayor’s Office. I am not completely sold on anything in particular. Longer term, in 10 years, I would like to be an assistant to City or County Manager.
How has Charlotte helped you get to where you are?
If you are in the same realm of people who are trying to forward progress themselves, people take note of that. People take note of your involvement in community especially when you’re young. In Charlotte, names and memberships with certain organizations are valuable. Charlotte has given me the foundation to network and the soft skills that you miss in the classroom. Whether it is playing basketball or doing community service, you can make a working relationship. Although the City is grand and large, you still feel that close-knit vibe. When you meet good people, you meet good people and people will let you know what they’re about very quickly.
Talk a bit about the importance of networking
Networking is what you make it. I’ve shaken hands with City Manager and County Commissioner and there’s an openness about them inspires me as a young professional to get to that level. The city will give back what you put into it and it’s nice when you can come into contact with those types of leaders. It’s very welcoming.
Even though you’re not an entrepreneur, talk about the importance of having side hustles.
I am not one but I absolutely support entrepreneurship. I have 3 (frat) brothers who stepped out on faith and started with organizations and branched out on their own. These are people who were pivotal to an organization without room to grow who will be able to plant a seed in a different area. This is especially true in the Non-profit world. Right now, I want to use skills and make those organizations the best they can be. The Startup scene is vital to Charlotte because we need people who are aggressive and competitive; it drives the economy.
Is there anything you would like to add?
To anyone pursuing a career in public service, remember it is for the service, not necessarily the paycheck. Here, there’s an organization here for anything and you will be surprised how many people know each other. Because your name and reputation precedes you, make sure you come to plant good seeds.
“Your wealth comes with how far your name can travel”
– Christine Edwards
Queen in the Queen City