Charleata Neal is the facilities management director of human resources and has been a Niner for almost six years. Neal, a Woodbridge, Virginia, native was involved in women’s basketball during college, and through sports, she discovered valuable lessons. Learn about Neal’s role, her family history in professional and college sports and who inspires her the most.
Can you describe your role at UNC Charlotte?
I lead a team of HR professionals who focus on serving facilities management, while also supporting the rest of human resources. I also serve as a consultant to the associate vice chancellor for facilities management and the FM directors. I believe my job is unique, because I am navigating and working in two worlds, FM and HR. My team spends a lot of time translating policy and trying to bring clarity to what those policies mean and how to implement them. We work very closely with our HR team members and FM leadership to make sure everyone is on the same page.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is helping employees unlock their potential. I love coaching people and seeing the smiles and excitement on their faces when they’ve met their goals or accomplished something they didn’t think they could accomplish. That really makes my day!
What’s something people may not know about you?
People may know that, in my former life, I coached college basketball and played in a Final Four for the University of Virginia. What people may not know is that Dawn Staley was my teammate. Staley is a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame player and coach, three- time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA and later was head coach of another U.S. gold medal-winning team. In addition, they don’t know that my very close friend and teammate, Jenny Boucek, is the second female to be hired as an assistant coach in the NBA. My husband is a former NFL player, and my sister played basketball for UNC Wilmington. Sports and the people I’ve been able to connect with through sports have helped shape me into who I am and my leadership philosophy. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some great human beings.
What is your favorite memory made on UNC Charlotte’s campus?
My favorite memory on UNC Charlotte’s campus was being welcomed and taken to lunch by Judy Rose, former UNC Charlotte athletics director, and Cara Consuegra, head women’s basketball coach. They really made me feel at home, and it was great talking about past playing days and how far women’s basketball has come. I don’t think they realize how much that meant to me. Their kindness and generosity will never be forgotten.
What advice do you have for prospective employees?
Be ready to adapt, pivot, grow and share your gifts and talents at UNC Charlotte. As working for the state may be different from what they are used to, this is a time when UNC Charlotte is looking for new ideas and ways to be more efficient and collaborative.
Who inspires you and why?
My parents have always been an inspiration to me. No matter what my sister and I pursued, they were there for us. They were patient, yet firm. They provided the structure and guidance we needed that led to where we are as women today. I’ve always appreciated their strength and the faith they have during adversity. I learned that you never know the challenges people have to go through just to make sure you have a roof over your head and food at the table. This is where I learned more about empathy. They knew how to take lemons and make lemonade. My parents are my heroes. They have taught me how to get back up if I fall, how to keep the faith when things are not going my way and what it means to love when you don’t feel people deserve it. Lastly, my parents have always given my sister and I the space to try new things and to figure out who we want to be. They truly showed me what it means to sacrifice and love.