Name: Jeffrey Lee
City of Residence: Benson
County of Residence: Johnston
Employed by: Jeffrey C. Lee Farms
Appointed by: President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Appointment Date: November 2023
What are activities or leadership roles you provide for the community/state?
I serve on several boards, including the Chair of the NC Agribusiness Council, Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina Board of Directors, former member of the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Board, Congressman David Rouzer’s Agriculture Advisory Council, Advisory Board of the Johnston County Extension Service, Wells Fargo Agricultural Advisory Board, Johnston County Board of Equalization and Review, North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission Board of Directors, United States Sweet Potato Council Board of Directors, and the North Carolina Agricultural Commissioner’s Circle.
What is your connection to rural, tobacco-dependent or economically distressed areas?
I grew up in Johnston County and always knew I wanted to be a farmer. My family’s farm was lost during the Great Depression but my family stayed on and farmed the land as sharecroppers. After high school, I went to work on the Lee family farm with my Uncle Ambrose as my mentor. When my uncle decided to retire, I took over the farm. In 2005, I was able to fulfill a lifetime dream by buying back my family farm. Today, I have approximately 416 acres of tobacco and 1,000 acres of cotton in Johnston, Sampson, and Harnett counties.
How does your personal and/or professional life complement Golden LEAF’s mission and priorities?
As a farmer, I am deeply rooted in agriculture and supporting rural, tobacco-dependent, and economically distressed communities. Rural communities are full of resilient people, and Golden LEAF supports the workforce, job creation, and agricultural pursuits of rural people.
What are you most excited about seeing happen in economic development in rural NC in the next 5-10 years?
I am excited to support the economic development of our state through the Golden LEAF Board of Directors, especially in eastern North Carolina. Golden LEAF supports several initiatives to build the rural workforce and help our youth want to live and work where they are from. While retaining young people in rural areas is not a new issue, Golden LEAF is working on ways to help build opportunities with the goal of retention and growth. I’m excited to see how these projects will fulfill those goals in the next 5-10 years.
What do you want people to know about the Golden LEAF Foundation?
It is a real honor to be a part of the most prestigious foundations in North Carolina. Golden LEAF does tremendous work to help build rural North Carolina. The Board, though diverse in background, comes together and really focuses on the mission in every decision they make. I’m proud to help fulfill the mission of Golden LEAF.