2009 Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award
Charles D. “Chuck” Watts ’77
When someone is asked, over and over again, to take on leadership roles that require building consensus from many perspectives and personalities, you know that person is an effective leader. Numerous nonprofit organizations have turned to Chuck Watts to help them through critical transitions and to advance important public causes, and he has been unfailingly generous in sharing his considerable abilities.
As a Carolina undergraduate, Chuck helped found and then lead the campus chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, an effort that sparked his interest in learning more about effective leadership. He developed that interest while pursuing an MBA from IndianaUniversity and a law degree from HowardUniversity, as a scholar teaching law at Vanderbilt and at North CarolinaCentralUniversity, and while practicing law in Washington, D.C., Charlotte, and Durham.
Since his return to Durham in 1995, Chuck’s skills and collaborative spirit have benefited many civic efforts. He chaired the Greater Durham YMCA during the transition that created Triangle YMCA and led to more and better local Y services. As a member and then chair of DurhamCounty’s ABC Board, he helped lead that entity from severe dysfunction to efficiency. He co-chaired the bond referendum committee for A Taste for Durham’s Future, leading by example through his hands-on advocacy.
When the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science faced a two-year period of leadership change and other challenges, Chuck’s thoughtful, engaging leadership style as chair of the board of directors and his relationships with other community leaders all helped move the museum forward to embrace new opportunities.
Since 2002, Chuck has helped the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation advance cultural understanding through programs that celebrate the experiences of people of African American descent. As both chair of the board and chair of the annual Bull Durham Blues Festival, he has helped the foundation establish sound financial practices, build the diversity of its board, and advance its mission of preserving, restoring and developing the historic HaytiHeritageCenter as a cultural and economic anchor to the greater Durham community.
Currently, he chairs the Parrish Street Advocacy Group, which advises the city of Durham on promoting and redeveloping “Black Wall Street” with sensitivity to its heritage. Governor Beverly Perdue recently asked him to join the board of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Even with all his commitments to community, work and family, Chuck has kept time and energy for the University he loves. He has served on the Black Alumni Reunion committee, on the School of Nursing Foundation Board and two terms on the UNC Board of Visitors.
Chuck’s long record of outstanding service to his community is rooted in his fervent dedication to improving the quality of life for all people. His effectiveness comes from his highly developed skills, his great sense of humor and his willingness to work, all of which make him a truly exceptional community leader.