Name: Tom Taft
City of Residence: Greenville
County of Residence: Pitt
Employment: Retired trial lawyer, President & CEO Taft Family Ventures
Appointed by: Governor
Appointment Date: November 30, 2017 (previously served 2011 to 2014)
Golden LEAF Board Leadership Roles: Vice Chair (2014); Assistant Secretary (2012 – 2013); Investment Chair (2012 – 2014)
What are activities or leadership roles you provide for the community?
I have been a 47-year member of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law Alumni Association and served as president for two years. I am an active community supporter of ECU and the Brody School of Medicine. I served on the Brody School of Medicine Foundation board of directors and East Carolina University Foundation for a number of years. I am currently an active trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Southern Environmental Law Center.
What is your connection to rural, tobacco-dependent or economically distressed areas?
I have lived in Pitt County for most of my life, built businesses, and raised my family there. Pitt County is one of the largest flue-cured tobacco producing counties in the world. My grandfather was a tobacco farmer which taught me the importance of the tobacco economy. I understand the economy of rural, tobacco-dependent, and economically distressed areas because I am a member of the community.
How does your personal and/or professional life complement Golden LEAF’s mission and priorities?
As a real estate developer, lawyer, and former member of the North Carolina Senate, I have a keen sense of the rural economy, especially in eastern part of our state. With a 50-year history of civic and business involvement in eastern N.C., I have seen the impact of the declining importance of tobacco. I am constantly on the lookout to involve Golden LEAF in trying to improve the lives of our citizens who are impacted by the financial loss.
What are you most excited about seeing happen in economic development in rural NC in the next 5-10 years?
With the increasingly urban legislative influence, in order to prevent the continued widening of the urban-rural divide, we must be successful in making the case for the importance of a strong rural economy.
What do you want people to know about the Golden LEAF Foundation?
It is important for our rural community leaders to understand the extent of the resources and commitment of Golden LEAF to improving rural, eastern North Carolina. The Golden LEAF staff is here to answer questions and connect with community leaders to help formulate solutions to grow the economy.