Mar 8, 2024 - News

10+ impressive women shaping Charlotte in 2024

Illustration of the Charlotte skyline as the top of a crown.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

As we've done in years past, our team has put together a list of some of the most influential women in Charlotte — from entrepreneurs to a local chef.

We've also included a list of reader submissions.

The big picture: International Women's Day is March 8, marking the start of Women's History Month. This is an opportunity we like to take to recognize some of the women guiding the trajectory of our city.

Between the lines: This is not a comprehensive list of all the women shaping Charlotte, but rather a snapshot. The women below are not listed in any particular order.

  • You can also check out our 2022 and 2023 lists.

Crystal Hill — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent

Hill is working to restore community confidence in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. In two years, she's risen central office ranks from chief of staff to permanent superintendent — filling a void when most everyone was shaky about the system's future amid changing leadership. Hill, the first Black woman to hold the position, led as the district passed a record-setting $2.5 billion school bond package.

CMS Superintendent with students.
Crystal Hill. Photo: Courtesy of CMS

Donna Julian — Spectrum Center general manager

Julian has been the general manager of the Uptown arena since the building opened in 2005. During her time time at the helm, the arena has hosted major concerts, the Democratic National Convention, NBA All-Star weekend, the NCAA, ACC and CIAA basketball tournaments and much more. Today she oversees the execution of roughly 150 events each year.

Headshot of Spectrum Center general manager, Donna Julian.
Donna Julian. Photo: Courtesy of Hornets Sports & Entertainment

Alyssa Wilen — chef and cofounder of Chef Alyssa's Kitchen

Wilen evolved over the years from a 26-year-old executive chef to now a household name in Charlotte. That's thanks to her popular cooking classes and events at Chef Alyssa's Kitchen, a business she and her husband, Andrew, launched in 2013.

  • The pandemic forced the company to evolve — think virtual classes and a more sophisticated takeout business. The Wilens now have their sights set on future growth.
Chef Alyssa Wilen. Courtesy of Chef Alyssa's Kitchen
Chef Alyssa Wilen. Courtesy of Chef Alyssa's Kitchen

Megan Ames — founder of Cloud Closet

Cloud Closet allows you to rent clothes from designer clothing brands like Farm Rio, Reformation, Runaway the Label and Show Me Your Mumu, at an affordable cost. It's an innovative way to bring fresh looks to locals' closets without producing waste or relying on fast fashion. Think of it a bit like Charlotte's own latest version of Rent the Runway.

Megan Ames upside down in a chair.
Megan Ames. Photo: Courtesy of Megan Ames

Meredith Dean founder of The Dean's List

Meredith is a master in all things content creation and social media. She's the owner of digital branding and consulting firm, The Dean's List.

  • Recently, she's provided social coaching for local reality stars, including Jess Vestal In this season of "Love Is Blind," and Kylee Russell from "The Bachelor."
  • Outside of consulting, The Dean's List organizes signature events to spotlight community change-makers, like the 20 Under 20 Awards that recognizes 14-19 year old Charlotte leaders.
Meredith Dean in First Ward Park.
Meredith Dean. Photo: Courtesy of Meredith Dean

Robbie McNair-Guzman — owner of Babe Cave

McNair-Guzman is reopening Babe Cave, a space that aims to make women feel empowered. Through her female-focused bar (the original closed in 2022), she's created a concept where women can network, attend workshops and enjoy house-made drinks.

  • While one highly anticipated business opening may not shape the entire city, its addition will certainly be a playground for women to connect.
Bae Cave owner.
Robbie McNair-Guzman. Photo: Morgan Robinson/courtesy of Robbie McNair-Guzman

All of the women on "Love is Blind" and other reality TV shows.

Charlotte is in its reality TV era. This year, our city has collectively tuned in to see a local therapist on "The Bachelor," a local salon owner on "Survivor" and 30 local singles on "Love is Blind," which was filmed here.

  • These people, who are rising to fame overnight, might not be actively changing Charlotte but, for better or worse, they are shaping how people perceive our city.
"Love Is Blind" season six participants. Photo: Courtesy of Netflix
"Love Is Blind" season six participants. Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

A few notable reader submissions:

Callie Dobbins: "Charlotte has developed a true expertise and destination care for pediatrics at Levine Children's Hospital under Callie Dobbins' leadership." — Sarah B.

Alexia Harris, "for her transformative work in empowering Black women in Charlotte through the creation of BLK in Bloom." — Jaelah R.

Laura Belcher, Habitat for Humanity Charlotte CEO: "A truly amazing woman and is helping shape the affordable housing landscape." — Katrine H.

Jamie Horn owns and operates The 360 Method, "a prenatal/postpartum business focused ... providing education and resources through 1:1 personal training, group classes, mental health and pelvic floor therapy support." — Joelle R.

Sarah Mikhail, executive director at Time Out Youth who is "creating meaningful change and community, all while fighting for LGBTQ youth in this tumultuous political climate." — Kris F.

Ana Guimaraes, longtime child care professional and former child care center director who now works with migrant families and volunteers with Nourish Up. — Amanda S.


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