Power Pairs

From tech-savvy entrepreneurs to table-filling restaurateurs, these 12 dynamic duos are setting the new standard for Charlotte power couples. While more established names—Levine, Bechtler, and Curry—make the list, you’ll find plenty of fresh faces bringing double doses of creativity to town.

 

Andreas & Regine Bechtler

Andreas Bechtler and Regine Bechtler.

When Regine and Andreas Bechtler adopted Charlotte as their hometown, the city and its burgeoning arts scene got a serious upgrade. Andreas generously shared a portion of his extensive mid-century modern art collection with the community as the primary driver behind the creation of his family’s namesake Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. An accomplished artist, musician, entrepreneur, and collector, Andreas was recognized for his extensive philanthropic commitment to the community in 2015 with the prestigious North Carolina Order of the Longleaf Pine Award. Regine is an accomplished mixed media artist and fashion designer whose stunning Bohemian Peace Jackets, amazing sculpture, and playful artwork are in hot demand. The Bechtlers make studio space available to select artists at their “Little Italy” compound at nearby Mountain Island Lake and together the couple frequently hosts eclectic European-style salon gatherings of artists, writers, musicians, and thought leaders to explore and stimulate the creative side of our city.

 

Herb & Felicia Gray

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Life slowed a bit for Herb and Felicia Gray about two years ago when they welcomed baby Bailey, and yet they still manage to attend three to four charitable functions a month. On top of that, the couple runs monthly happy hours and the annual Gray Classic that provides educational and mentoring opportunities for students. “We have to prioritize some of our activities now but we still lead a pretty active life,” Herb says. Together they have raised almost $1 million for Charlotte-area charities by relying on a vast network of friends and colleagues. He runs his own business; she is a systems engineer for Bank of America. But Felicia admits, they also enjoy their downtime. This couple, who is as stylish as they are generous, admits even they enjoy some comfortable clothes and time on the couch. “We’ll be in our sweats binge watching some of our favorite shows. We like Criminal Minds and Law and Order,” Felicia says.  But they take the greatest pleasure seeing the results of their contributions. “We see the kids and the adults who have benefitted and that encourages us to do more,” says Herb.

 

Justin & Sarah Brigham

Sarah and Justin Brigham

“Every day that Sycamore Brewery opens still feels like an accomplishment,” says Sarah Brigham. As it should. Sarah and her husband, Justin, have built one of the most well-known breweries in the state (not to mention the Southeast): the couple brewed more recipes and styles than any other regional brewery in its first year as well as sold more beer than any Charlotte brewery ever has in year one. And they have accolades to prove how good their brews really are. In 2015, just one year after it opened its doors in South End, Sycamore was awarded a medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its American Lager, Southern Girl Lager. It’s an accomplishment worth noting as it was only the second year in the history of the festival that a brewery other than the big beer giants has been awarded a medal for this style—not to mention it had been 17 years since the last microbrewery won a medal. But for the microbrew power duo, it’s much less about the awards and much more about creating a place for people to enjoy their beer. Says Sarah: “Our brewery has grown faster than ever expected and our ability to continue to create such a wide variety of beers is what we always wanted.”

 

Joe & Katy Kindred

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Joe and Katy Kindred opened their “chef-driven” restaurant, Kindred, a year and a half ago and it’s been one of the area’s most sought after reservations ever since. The family operation is just a mile from the house where Joe Kindred grew up, and a half mile from where they’re raising their three kids. He’s the chef, she handles the wine and the front of the house, and together they’ve cooked up a ton of interest on the local and national level. “It kind of surprised us,” Katy admits. They close Sundays and Mondays because those days are what Katy calls “precious family time,” when they get all the Kindred nieces and nephews together. If you do manage to get a reservation (hint: weeknights are your best bet), make sure you sample the roast chicken—Katy jokes that’s what finally convinced her to date her now husband of seven years. “He’d been asking me out for a year and the timing just wasn’t right. I wasn’t playing hard to get. Well, maybe a little. And then he made me the chicken…He makes an amazing roast chicken!”

 

Dan Roselli & Sara Garces Roselli

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Sara and Dan, co-founders of the Charlotte startup innovation hub and incubator haven Packard Place, are the city’s First Couple of entrepreneurship. Undeterred by the sour economic climate in 2011, the power couple executed a bold vision of an uptown crossroads where creativity, capital, and community intersect. Their gamble paid big dividends for Charlotte as Packard Place—now HQ Charlotte at Packard Place—has become an innovative ecosystem for new technology businesses and job creation, and a model for social entrepreneurship. Established in 1928 as a parking garage and showroom for the legendary Packard Motor Cars, the Rosellis’ re-imagined Packard Place is home to more than 100 of the region’s hottest and fastest growing startups. Serial entrepreneurs themselves, the Roselli’s strong marketing, human resources, operations, and finance expertise is readily given to entrepreneurs seeking their advice. Frequent participants at the variety of meet-ups, pitch breakfasts, and social events hosted at Packard’s Garage, Dan and Sara are tireless advocates for organizations showcasing the triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet.

 

Christopher & Rosemary Warren-Green

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He’s the music director and principal conductor for the Charlotte Symphony and the London Chamber orchestras. Among his many musical accomplishments, Christopher conducted during the marriage ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey and commanded the baton for Queen Elizabeth’s 80th birthday at Kew Palace and Prince Philip’s 60th birthday concert. She’s a renowned violinist, teacher, orchestra leader, and concertmaster performing on soundtracks for numerous feature films. She’s performed with orchestras across the globe including the Philharmonia, Hallé, Singapore Symphony, Scottish Chamber, and Royal Philharmonic. Rosemary serves as the education and outreach artistic director with the London Chamber Orchestra. In Charlotte the couple is actively involved with the Winterfield Elementary Youth Orchestra, a free after school instrumental music program for second through fifth grade students at east Charlotte’s Winterfield Elementary School. Through a partnership with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, area youth gain instruction from professional musicians, engage in community performances, and connect families through music in this special outreach program. Christopher and Rosemary also play leading roles in the London Chamber Orchestra’s community outreach project, Music Junction. Here London area youth from diverse backgrounds collaborate and develop friendships through music. Together, the Warren-Greens make beautiful music on both sides of the pond.

 

Scott Lindsley & Joey Hewell

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Scott Lindsley is so humble about his and partner Joey Hewell’s accomplishments that he’s not sure why they might be considered a Charlotte power couple. But take one look at the couple’s involvement in the LGBT community in the Queen City (they were the first same sex marriage in Mecklenburg County) coupled with their help in reigniting NoDa’s monthly gallery crawl with the opening of gallery/bar NoDa Company Store this past spring, and it’s clear why they need to be on this list. “We coincided the grand opening of NoDa Company Store with about four other galleries and it got the ball rolling again with NoDa’s gallery crawl,” says Lindsley. And while their support of same sex marriage and the HB2 repeal has put them at the forefront of national events, it’s the couple’s Linwell Farms that’s garnered serious local attention. The garden in the duo’s backyard has been the site of dozens of gourmet dinners utilizing all of the garden’s harvest resulting in an intimate event for so many of the couple’s friends.

 

Perry & Laura Poole

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Stylish. It’s the first word that most often comes to mind when describing Laura and Perry Poole, who founded the city’s first couture boutique, Capitol, almost 20 years ago. But if you know the couple, you know that there’s much more to them than designer labels and trendsetting looks. Laura has been at the forefront of fashion education in Charlotte, bringing designers like Cynthia Rowley to the SouthPark store for an intimate roundtable about fashion and style. Through the years the Charlotte native has also become a powerhouse in the industry, being called upon by major outlets such as The Wall Street Journal for her fashion insight while her ability to develop strong relationships with major fashion houses paved the way for designers like Giambattista Valli to have their couture lines featured in the Queen City before anywhere else in the U.S. Beyond that, Perry is an artist in his own right, working as an architect and creative director of the Pooles’ men’s clothing boutique, Tabor, which opened early last year.

 

Dell & Sonya Curry

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They may not be as headline grabbing as their two-time NBA MVP son Stephen, or as cute and scene-stealing as their granddaughter Riley, but Dell and Sonya Curry are pretty special in their own right. Dell, the former standout Hornets player, now works as a popular Fox Sports Southeast analyst for the team, and his wife, Sonya, a successful college athlete and volleyball star (who sparked a Twitter frenzy last year when fans spotted her in the stands and realized how stunning she is), runs the Lake Norman charter school the couple founded together more than 20 years ago. Rumor has it mom is partly responsible for Steph’s lack of turnovers on the court. The two reportedly have an ongoing $100 bet for every time he gives up the ball. He has to pay up at the end of every season.

 

Jimmie & Chandra Johnson

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Though Jimmie and Chandra Johnson aren’t natives of the South—let alone Charlotte— the stunning couple has become one of the city’s biggest names in arts, sports, and philanthropy. This spring, the former model celebrated the one-year anniversary of the opening of her much-lauded SOCO Gallery in Myers Park while Jimmie celebrated his 77th win in NASCAR, passing Dale Earnhardt on the all-time win list. What’s more, the couple will toast to the 10-year anniversary of their Jimmie Johnson Foundation, which has contributed $8.8 million to various local charities, mainly focusing on K-12 public education. “So far, 2016 is proving to be a great year,” says Chandra.

 

Leon & Sandra Levine

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It is hard to wrap your head around the generosity of Leon and Sandra Levine and their impact on the Charlotte community. Since retiring from Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (now Dollar Tree Inc.)—the company that build the Levine fortune—and creating the Leon Levine Foundation in 1980, the couple has granted more than $200 million in charitable gifts to countless causes. The foundation is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the country having helped build everything from hospitals, to universities, to the cultural arts scene across the Carolinas, with much of the couple’s efforts centered around the Queen City. Together Leon and Sandra have earned some of the most prestigious awards, even receiving honorary doctor of public service degrees for philanthropy from UNCC. In 2011, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl told the New York Times, “Leon’s gone after philanthropy in much the same way as he did making money. He sees donations as investments in worthwhile projects, he does a lot of due diligence when looking at potential recipients, and he’s diligent about holding their feet to the fire about doing what the money is supposed to do.”

 

Rob & Mary Tabor Engel

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“We did it so we could spend time together while also giving back to the community,” Mary Tabor Engel says of co-chairing Opera Carolina with her husband of 22 years. Rob runs investment banking for Wells Fargo. Mary, a former New York Times reporter, teaches journalism at Queens University and together they are raising four kids in Myers Park. One of their first dates was an opera in New York City. “Rob invited me, and while it wouldn’t have been my first choice at the time, it grew to become this intimate thing we did together in New York.” So they immediately joined the Opera Carolina board when they moved to Charlotte and were appointed the first ever co-chairs in 2014. Mary says serving together helped her to see her husband in a new way. “I see him at home with the kids all the time but it was great to catch him in the boardroom and see how talented he is at engaging people.”