Felicia Gray is a force of nature. She and her husband are a power couple in Charlotte, regularly featured as much in the society pages for their fashion sense as for their philanthropy work. They host the Gray Classic every summer, raising a ton of money for the 100 Black Men of Charlotte, a non-profit that works to “influence and transform the lives of underrepresented and disenfranchised youth, with a focus on African American youth.” The 47-year-old also has a full-time job in the Global Wealth and Investment Management division of Bank of America, and on the side, she teaches cycle and other group exercise classes at the YMCA — and she still manages to be a hands-on mom to her 4-year-old daughter. We are excited to introduce you to Felicia Gray, our newest FACE of Charlotte!
We all talk about wanting it all. How do you balance work, family and giving back?
It takes Herb and me working together to give us together time. As the saying goes, “It takes a village,” and we have an excellent support system.
You and your husband do quite a bit to raise money and give back in Charlotte. How did this get started?
Not long after Herb and I got married, we hosted a summer themed party and gatherings for friends, and it evolved to a “purposes” type party.
Can you tell us about how much money you’ve helped raise over the years?
We did the math a couple of months ago. It is over a million dollars.
What are some of your big initiatives?
The Gray Classic Weekend is our biggest initiative because it is six events in one. There’s a golf tournament, a women’s empowerment brunch, a business roundtable, a welcome reception, an after party and a farewell brunch. The proceeds from all of the events benefit the 100 Black Men Programs. We also host the Gantt Center Holiday Party every year, and that’s a fundraiser for the Harvey B. Gantt Center.
Where did your passion for philanthropy come from?
Our parents and friends.
You are also known for your fashion sense. How would you describe your style?
I love Kerry Washington’s style with a drop of Southern belle.
What are some of your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?
I have four favorite pieces. A cream cocktail dress with iridescent butterfly sequins, a black one-button blazer (I have had it for years. I throw it on with everything from work dresses to sequin dresses and jeans.), my pink suede pumps (They’re good for a pop of color with everything.), and my vintage purple three-quarter sequin jacket.
What key pieces should be in every woman’s closet?
For me, it’s a red dress … because everyone has the LBD!
How has being a mom changed you?
I have had to re-prioritize a lot of things. Things that I used to care about, I no longer care about. And things that I did not care about, I do now. We are invited to a lot of events. I have a system of what events to attend because I don’t like being away from her but x number of days or evenings a week. I have also had to adjust to the change in lifestyle. I have never been a morning person, but now I have to wake up earlier to get some things done before my daughter wakes up. I maximize my time, and I think I have become a lot more efficient. It is funny … I am a shoe person. Now when I buy shoes, I buy a pair for me and a pair for my daughter!
What are the benefits/drawbacks of being a (slightly!) older mom?
The benefits are that I have had a chance to live. I have more love and resources to give to our daughter. As far as the drawbacks, honestly, I am a little self-conscious of how people react to me being an older mom. But in this day and age, women are becoming mothers later in life. I have a great circle of friends who had children later in life.
What is your best piece of advice?
Be yourself, listen and continue to learn.
Aside from faith, family and friends, what three things couldn’t you live without?
Definitely my cell phone. Mine was stolen a couple of months ago, and I was so lost without it. I also really need my “me” time. Being that I have three jobs, I need my me time. And popcorn. It is my favorite snack!
Thank you, Felicia. And thank you to Piper Warlick of Piper Warlick Photography for the beautiful photos!
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