From Rooty to Retirement: Saying goodbye to our fearless leader, Chuck

Women from History who Speak for the Trees
Tree of April 2021: Flowering Dogwood

After four years leading our mighty tree planting team, Executive Director Chuck Cole has decided to retire this summer. We’re all sad to see him go, especially since he looks so good as Rooty! Chuck came to TreesCharlotte in 2015 after 33 years at the Charlotte Observer, where he worked in a variety of roles ranging from creative services to operations. Here are a few parting thoughts he shared with the Leaflet:

How did you first get involved with TreesCharlotte?

I joined TreesCharlotte to manage the marketing, take photos, produce œvideos, etc. Boy was I green to TreesCharlotte and the whole non-profit thing. There were so many moving parts. 

Why are you retiring?

It’s time! I have family obligations that need my full attention, and I believe TreesCharlotte is at a growth opportunity and needs younger ideas.

As you look back on your time at TC, what stands out to you? 

For me, seeing volunteers in action is the most satisfying part of being executive director of TreesCharlotte. It’s especially rewarding to see volunteers planting trees. Something many of us regard as “work” is transformed into a fun, energizing and meaningful activity. I’ve never met a volunteer that did not enjoy their experience. People have all sorts of reasons for volunteering: a school project, a family celebration, concern for the environment, just wanting to have fun. 

I remember one family who attended a city-wide tree giveaway. The mother was there with her adult daughter. Each wanted two trees: One to memorialize the passing of the mother’s husband and the girl’s father, the other to commemorate the mother and daughter, both of whom had heart surgery on the same date but a year apart. Trees and their longevity spoke to them. What a special moment that was.

Q: TreesCharlotte has definitely grown under your leadership. What are some of your proudest achievements?

Thanks to the hard work from our staff and board, TreesCharlotte has done a terrific job spreading its message. I love that we are partnering with more neighborhoods than ever before, with the number of NeighborWoods applications soaring. Our tree giveaways are so popular that they “sell out” in a matter of hours, and folks particularly appreciate our zip code-focused events that are so much closer to their homes!

On the back end, our staff has more than doubled in size and that has included the addition of a tree educator, who is working on some exciting new projects including a summer camp experience, tree talks and walks and new energy on social media. We at TreesCharlotte know trees are amazing, we’re just thrilled that so many others are feeling the same!

Will we still see you every now and then as a volunteer? 

Absolutely as much as I can. I now live in Denver, NC, and of course want to get involved here. But, I love TC and want to continue helping in any capacity I’m able.

TreesCharlotte has named a new Executive Director!! We’ll introduce you to her (our first female ED!) soon!

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