"Conversations in the Round"©



Charlotte Guest Speakers (alphabetical order)

Astrid Chirinos, Chief Development Executive

Latin American Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)


After her successful tenure as President and assistance with establishing the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte, Astrid led efforts to repurpose the LACCC Foundation into an economic development entity in order to provide the channels to support the sustainable growth and prosperity of the Latino business community to help them engage and “belong” in the community. Her focus is to create new or strengthen existing Economic Development Projects with robust platforms of leadership and talent development programs and strategic community development partnerships that connect their contributions.


In her current role, her focus is to build capacity, economic opportunity, leadership, talent development programs, and asset building to accelerate the success and economic mobility of the Latino business community.Prior to her current position, she engaged as a professional and entrepreneur in Multicultural Marketing and Workplace Strategies for 15 years with her company Diverso Global Strategies. Her efforts provided Fortune 500 Companies and large nonprofit organizations with the Cross-Cultural Competency, Multicultural Marketing, Action Plans, Outreach, Talent Development, Acquisition and Retention strategies to effectively align our 21st-century workplace.


Also a licensed financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, she has worked in the Corporate Communications, Public Relations and Marketing fields for over 15 years.

 Dr. Patrick Graham, President & CEO

Charlotte Works


Dr. Patrick Graham, President and CEO of Charlotte Works, the workforce development board for the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina’s largest population cluster. He has 23+ years of executive-level experience as a social sector leader in youth services, family assistance, economic development, and advocacy.


He is the past President and CEO of the Urban League of Central Carolinas, where his accomplishments include launching training programs for broadband and highway construction, leading the establishment of a bank for the underserved, piloting the State of Ethnic Charlotte initiative and other national certifications that are still central to the organization. During his tenure, the local Urban League set record impacts for wages earned by participants and was named “Innovative Champion,” “Technology Champion” and “Most Improved Affiliate” by the National Urban League. He previously held positions as Director of Emergency Financial Assistance for Crisis Assistance Ministry and Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Center in New York.


Patrick serves on several boards and committees and is a professor of Contemporary History and has instructed at the University of Wisconsin, Stony Brook University, and Strayer University – Charlotte.


He is a published author and he led the publication of the State of Ethnic Charlotte as chief editor and contributor.    



Dr. Joan F. Lorden, Provost and Vice Chancellor

for Academic Affairs

University of North Carolina at Charlotte


Dr. Joan F. Lorden serves as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UNC Charlotte, North Carolina’s urban research university of over 29,000 students. Since 2003, she has provided leadership for the University’s programs of instruction, research, and community engagement. She has promoted interdisciplinary educational and research programs, expanded graduate degrees, and fostered programs to increase degree completion and campus diversity. Prior to joining UNC Charlotte, Lorden held positions at the National Science Foundation and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where she was Dean of the Graduate School, Associate Provost for Research, and Professor of Psychology.


She has chaired the Board of Directors for the Council of Graduate Schools and Oak Ridge Associated Universities. In Charlotte, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, the Echo Foundation, and Discovery Place. Lorden was honored with the Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction at UAB. In 2016 she received the Plater Award for leadership in community engagement from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and was named Charlotte Woman of the Year.


Joan received a B.A. from the City College of New York and a Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University.

Tom Warshauer, Assistant Director

Community Engagement

City of Charlotte 

Tom Warshauer is Assistant Director, Community Engagement for the City of Charlotte’s Housing and Neighborhood Services Department. Community Engagement’s staff of 25 help neighborhoods become the communities their residents want by providing good information and research about their communities, facilitating neighborhood board retreats, providing technical and leadership training, connecting residents to City and community resources and grants, solving their problems, celebrating success through annual awards, welcoming immigrants, providing leadership to the Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program bond projects, and managing youth programs including Out of School Time, Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance and Mayors Youth Employment Programs. 


In his early years with the City, he developed and managed business districts revitalization projects, including the City’s Facade, Infrastructure, and Security Grant programs and the Brownfield Redevelopment Program.  He was part of a team that developed the Neighborhood Matching Grant program and the City’s Quality of Life Explorer. He is a trained architect, now emeritus, with a Bachelor Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from Rice University and a Masters of Real Estate from MIT.

He currently serves on the board of the Seventh Street Public Market and is board chair of the Community Building Initiative. T


He has participated in leadership initiatives through LDI and ALF. His team was recently awarded a Knight Cities Challenge Grant to install porch style swings at bus stops on Central Avenue.