Urban Institute director named deputy secretary for natural resources

Jeff Michael
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Jeff Michael, director of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute for nearly two decades, is leaving that position to become North Carolina’s next deputy secretary for natural resources in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Michael has led the Urban Institute for 18 years, which has stood as a cornerstone of UNC Charlotte’s engagement and outreach in the region since its founding in 1969. A nonpartisan, applied research and community outreach organization, the Institute seeks solutions to the social, economic and environmental challenges facing our communities. During his tenure, Michael oversaw a number of initiatives to increase its impact, broaden its collaboration and expand access to its data and research assets. 

In his new role, Michael will oversee the Division of State Parks and Recreation, the North Carolina Zoo, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Aquariums and the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. He will start his new job on May 1. 

“Jeff’s creative leadership, keen understanding of public policy issues and commitment to the vitality of our community will be sorely missed at UNC Charlotte and by our civic partners,” Provost Joan Lorden said. “He has left a significant mark on the University and the region. We are fortunate that he will continue to contribute to the well-being of our community through this very important new role.”

A Stanly County native, , Michael served as executive director of the Land Trust for Central North Carolina (now known as the Three Rivers Land Trust) and the Yadkin-Pee Dee Lakes Project (now Central Park NC) prior to UNC Charlotte. He also led the Wildacres Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit program that focuses on bringing diverse people together and fostering collaborative leadership. 

As director of the Urban Institute, he led the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection project, a two-year examination of the ties between the 32 counties in the greater Charlotte region and how those ties can be strengthened and restored. The Urban Institute also launched a new website with expanded policy analysis, merged with the Institute for Social Capital integrated data system, incorporated UNC Charlotte’s Center for Transportation Policy Studies and began the Schul Forum series, designed to address specific challenges and bring together policymakers and experts.