Mac McCarley: Supporting Good Government Through Personal Philanthropy
Mac McCarley’s leadership has been integral to the School’s Growth
Mac McCarley graduated from UNC Law School in 1977 with two basic goals. “I wanted my work to make a difference,” he says, “and I wanted to enjoy what I do every day.” McCarley has been Charlotte’s city attorney since 1994. He was previously the city attorney for Greenville for 13 years. True to his original intention, his work can be very enjoyable. He cites negotiating with NASCAR for a new hall of fame in Charlotte. “I spent six months learning the business of stock car racing in order to craft a deal that met the city’s and NASCAR’s needs,” he says. “That was fun!”
An Instinct for Fundraising
McCarley has fun doing something else that many people consider hard work: raising money for causes he believes in. One of those organizations is the School of Government. “The faculty at the School have always been there for me when I needed help,” says McCarley. “When you are a city attorney, there really isn’t another attorney down the hall to bounce an idea off. Having a group of faculty members with that level of expertise available for consultation, or through all of the books and papers they’ve written, has been invaluable for practicing local government law in North Carolina.”
McCarley discovered an instinct for fundraising years ago when he tried, at first unsuccessfully, to solicit funding for a women’s shelter in Greenville. Undeterred, he set out to turn that disappointment into a learning experience by consulting with the very funders who had turned him down. His next project, a city campaign for United Way, quadrupled past efforts. “I am not the person who delivers direct services to clients in the agencies I care about,” he says, “but I’m good at raising money to support the service providers.”
Campaigning for the School of Government
Fundraising for the School of Government was a natural fit. “I am a high-volume user of the School’s knowledge and expertise,” he says, “and I have attended their programs since 1977 when I took the Municipal and County Administration course. So when the School started its capital campaign a couple of years ago, I volunteered to ask other municipal attorneys to contribute. It was an opportunity for me to repay, in some small measure, the wonderful gifts that the School had given me over the years.”
McCarley also volunteered to chair a campaign to fund the David M. Lawrence Distinguished Professorship, named in honor of a longtime faculty member who will retire in December 2009. “This new professorship fund will help ensure that the School can cultivate and keep top-notch faculty who will continue the invaluable contributrions that David Lawrence has made to North Carolina public officials for more than 40 years."
Before his tenure as city attorney for Charlotte, McCarley was assistant general counsel for the NC League of Municipalities and served as city attorney for Greenville, North Carolina. A past president of the North Carolina Municipal Attorneys Association, he was recently elected president of the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), a nonprofit professional organization of more than 3,000 local government entities.
Supporting Good Government
McCarley says raising money for the School has not been difficult. “Every time I’ve asked someone to make a financial contribution to the School, they’ve said yes.” He cites the unique mission of the School and the value it brings to local governments and business communities in the state as the reason for success. “North Carolina has a national reputation as a ‘good government’ state,” he says. “We’re effective, efficient, and ethical. I think one of the primary reasons for that is the quality of training available to local government professionals and elected officials through the School of Government. There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the country. We are the envy of the nation.”
For information about supporting the School of Government and making an impact on the quality of government and civic participation in North Carolina, contact Associate Dean Ann Simpson at 919.966.9780 or firstname.lastname@example.org.