Leadership Transition

Leadership Transition

Community Building Initiative Executive Director Dianne English to Retire

CHARLOTTE, NC (Nov. 17, 2021) – Community Building Initiative (CBI) Founding Executive Director Dianne English announced earlier this year that she will retire at the end of 2021 after 24 years of service.

“The people of CBI have enriched my life beyond measure, and the work has allowed me to find a place of service within this community,” said English in a letter to stakeholders. “With deep gratitude for the opportunity to be part of challenging, transformational and spirit-filled work, I know that now is the time for me to step aside.”

Ms. English came to what was then the Community Building Task Force in 1997 when it was established by government and civic leaders to promote racial and ethnic inclusion in response to a crisis after a set of police-involved shootings of unarmed Black men. Dianne’s work on behalf of CBI and its mission has been tireless ever since.

“On behalf of all the members of the Board of Directors of CBI – past and present – who have had the pleasure of working with Dianne and her team, we celebrate her long-standing tradition of servant leadership,” says Rick McDermott, Chair of CBI’s Board of Directors. “She has led CBI from its beginning as a short-term task force to its current status as a mature and dynamic organization. Although we will miss her vision, her energy, and her humor, we remain committed to and will continue working toward CBI’s mission of a more equitable and just Charlotte-Mecklenburg.”

The CBI Board of Directors has established a search committee, chaired by former CBI Board Chair Byron Hawkins. In addition to Byron, the search committee comprises current CBI board members Ray Feaster and Rick McDermott and former CBI board members Bishop Claude Alexander, Jenni Gaisbauer, and Jenny Ward. The search committee and the CBI Board of Directors have selected the firm Elinvar Leadership Solutions to support the executive search and to ensure a smooth transition. “These will surely be the proverbial big shoes to fill,” said Hawkins, “but, with the leadership of the search committee, which includes both long-term and contemporary volunteer leaders, and the CBI Board of Directors, we know we will identify the right leader to continue the important work that Dianne has supported since CBI was founded.”

Follow Us for the Latest Updates


May 1, 2022 CBI Executive Director Candidate Interviews Continue
CBI has seen significant interest in its Executive Director position. CBI’s search consultants at Elinvar Leadership Solutions have been conducting initial interviews of candidates followed by more in-depth interviews conducted by CBI’s Executive Director Search Committee. CBI’s Search Committee is pleased with the progress that is being made and looks forward to the selection of CBI’s next Executive Director.
Jan 1, 2022 Interim Executive Director steps in
Stephen L. Smith stepped in as Interim Executive Director at the start of the calendar year. Stephen was previously the interim director for Care Ring, and has served on the boards of numerous nonprofits for the last 20 years. For more on Stephen, you can read his bio HERE .
Dec 15, 2021 CBI Executive Director job is posted
CBI’s founding executive director retired at the end of 2021 and an interim Executive Director has been retained. The Board of Directors seeks an innovative, collaborative, and mission-driven leader to lead the nonprofit in the next phase of its work.  You can view the full job posting HERE .
Nov 17, 2021 Dianne English retirement announced
CBI Executive Director Dianne English announced her retirement on November 17, 2021 after 24 years of service. A search committee was formed to begin the unenviable task of finding someone suitable to fill this role. Stay tuned for updates as they materialize. You can read the full story bio HERE .
Nov 10, 2021 CBI retains Consulting Firm for interim ED services
The search committee and the CBI Board of Directors selected LevRidge Resources to aid in the selection of an interim Executive Director. To learn more about LevRidge Resouces, please visit their website .
Oct 10, 2021 Search Firm is engaged to fill ED role
The search committee and the CBI Board of Directors selected Elinvar Leadership Solutions to support the executive search and to ensure a smooth transition. To read more about Elinvar leadership, please visit their website .
Sep 2, 2021 Search Committee for new ED formed
Once it was known Dianne English planned to retire, a search committee was convened to begin the process of finding a new Executive Director. The committee is chaired by former CBI Board Chair Byron Hawkins. In addition to Byron, the search committee comprises current CBI board members Ray Feaster and Rick McDermott and former CBI board members Claude Alexander, Jenni Faisbauer, and Jenny Ward.
  • Interim Director
  • Search Committee
  • Search Firm

Interim Director


Stephen L. Smith is currently the Interim Executive for Community Building Initiative (CBI), and was previously the Interim Executive for CareRing which provides health services for the uninsured, underinsured or those lacking access to affordable, high-quality health care. For over 20 years, Stephen has served on nonprofit boards in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He has served in a variety of capacities including Investment, Development and Executive committees. Since being in Charlotte the past 14 years he has served several nonprofits as the CEO including twice succeeding a founder. Stephen believes that his previous experiences as a financial services executive and attorney, combined with his passion for non-profit missions, uniquely prepares him to help organizations thrive.

Search Committee

Search Committee

Byron Hawkins, Committee Chair

Senior Vice President Global Technology & Operations,

Bank of America

Claude Alexander


The Park Church

Ray Feaster

Clinical Physician Executive,

Atrium Health

Jenni Gaisbauer

Chief Development Officer and Executive Director,

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation

Rick McDermott


McDermott IP Law

Jenny Ward

Senior Vice President, Community Relations Manager,

Bank of America

Search Firm

Elinvar Leadership Solutions

Elinvar believes in the power of people and organizations to change communities for the better. Our expertise spans the nonprofit, philanthropic, and higher education sectors. Within these sectors, we have led searches in the fields of public health, economic development, social justice, education, and more.

We have an unrivaled track record of success in working with search committees and boards to successfully identify their next leader. Elinvar’s high-touch, tailored search services extend beyond acceptance of an offer and into the new leader’s transition during their first year in the new role.

Learn more about Elinvar Leadership solutions at https://www.elinvar.com/

Celebrating Dianne and honoring her with
the Future Fund

In celebration of Dianne English’s tenure as the founding executive director of CBI, there is also an opportunity to add to one of her legacy achievements. It was very important to Dianne as part of CBI’s 20th anniversary to begin to think about the organization’s longer-term future. Acknowledging the strength of CBI programmatically and financially, Dianne and the board of directors at that time sought to consider a different stream of support that would be designed to support CBI when it needed to step-in and step-up.  With her leadership and vision, the Future Fund was born.


This permanent fund, established at Foundation For The Carolinas, gives CBI the resources and confidence to step-in and step-up to advance its vision of inclusion and equity in the community.  A request to invest Future Fund resources is only made when other funding isn’t available and where the investment meets the identified goals of the Future Fund.  Staff recommends the use of the Future Fund, and the Board of Directors approves.  It is hoped that if an investment is made from the Future Fund, effort will be made to replace the resources.


Gifts can be made to CBI in Dianne’s honor using the Donate button below. Please use the comments section to designate your gift to the Future Fund. Pledges can be made by contacting Christi Lee at clee@cbicharlotte.org.


Dianne English spent 24 years working towards a more just and equitable community in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. We’ve had countless people share with us the impact Dianne had on both them and on their community. If you’d like to leave a message or tribute to Dianne, feel free to do so here!

GRACIAS Dianne! Your empathy, courage and leadership to articulate, collaborate and address with outstanding grace and determination the social justice issues, prejudices, discoveries and opportunities for healing and progress in our community, have been always an inspiration and a call to action for me for over two decades.

By: Astrid Chirinos


Class II 2003

Dianne English...From the moment I met her, I knew she was someone special. At the time I was working EAP for the USPS and not particularly sure I was making a difference. Along came Dianne who practically dragged me from the Postal Service to serve in the first year of Community Building Task Force.

By: Don Taylor

Assistant Professor College of Arts & Sciences

JWU: Charlotte Campus

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