Retired from a “dream job”, Boney considers the future | SehndeWeb

For the first time in her professional career, Leslie Boney doesn’t know what’s next.

Boney, who served as director of the Institute for Emerging Issues and vice provost for outreach and engagement for the past five years, announced his retirement in February, with an effective date of May 1. from his dual appointment positions. He’s spent the past two months ironing out a few loose ends and been feted by friends and colleagues, but he’s ready to embark on the next phase of his life.

“I’ve always had a pretty good sense of when I’ve gotten to a point with a job where I’ve done what I can do,” Boney says. “Usually it’s because the organization or project I’m working on is at a stage of stability where I can imagine someone else coming in and reinventing it or taking it to the next level.

“And that’s where I think we’re at with IEI.”

Boney pulled off a significant reimagining of IEI’s biggest annual event, taking the Emerging Issues Forum on the road as part of a three-year traveling project called Reconnect NC, which visited Asheville and Charlotte before the COVID-19 travel protocols do not make the other sessions scheduled in Raleigh and Greenville virtual. The ever-bustling forum, which began as a request from Chancellor Bruce Poulton to Governor James B. Hunt, celebrated its 35th anniversary at Reconnect events.

Boney, left, with Roberto Gallardo at the Reconnect to Technological Opportunity forum in February 2020.

“I think we did some good things, and I always tend to be aware of the things I could have done that I didn’t,” he says. “The past few weeks have been a time to reflect on some of the good things that have happened.”

In his other role, Boney also created a new Engagement Operations Council to highlight and assist those whose research and focus is away from the main NC State campus, created the Rural Works internship program, and supported the development of the NC State Civic Action Plan and the Community-Wake University Partnership.

“I think both of these efforts (IEI and O&E) are at a point where they are financially stable. They have good programming going on,” Boney says. “What they are waiting for is the next person with a new kind of creativity to take on the next challenges.

“What’s different for me this time is that in the past I always knew what was next when I was leaving the last thing.”

To do things well

Boney grew up in Wilmington as part of a three-generation North Carolina family, but chose to continue his education at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he earned degrees in English and psychology. . His first job after college was teaching high school English in Maine. He spent time as a Tar Heel Traveler on a local Raleigh television station, then embarked on a service career with government agencies and academic entities.

Boney at the Reconnect Rural and Urban forum in February 2019.
Boney at the Reconnect Rural and Urban forum in February 2019.

“It’s my dream job, my dream workplace,” says Boney. “My grandfather was from the class of 1903, my father from the class of 1940. We had nine other family members who attended NC State. In terms of my destination for the latter part of my career, the state of North Carolina was that place and it was always the place where I felt closest to getting it right when it came to community and economic development. .

“It was so satisfying to be able to hang out with the students here, the faculty here and the staff here and learn from them and be in a place that I think understands and cares about the things that I’ve done. “

It was a five-year posting that won praise from Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden.

“Leslie’s unique ability to build strong relationships with people and organizations across the state has been critical to the success of IEI and outreach and engagement over the past five years,” says Arden. . “He will be greatly missed, but he set a strong example for those who will follow in his footsteps.”

Arden will begin a search for Boney’s replacement in May.

Mobilize rural communities

Boney is proud of the accomplishments he and his staff have accomplished during his tenure. He noted other initiatives that have a significant impact on rural communities, such as the College of Education’s Northeast Leadership Academy to train middle school and high school administrators, the College of Design’s flood recovery work in the city ​​of Princeville, in eastern North Carolina, and the College of the Wake Community-University Partnership of Humanities and Social Sciences, led by O&E Acting Vice Provost Kwesi Brookins.

The stay-at-home pandemic has revealed the critical need for statewide broadband and affordable internet and computer services in all parts of North Carolina’s 100 counties, a topic discussed at the events. ReConnect NC which has become a central programmatic axis for the IEI.

As for his next adventure? Boney and his wife Ret plan to spend the next six months considering the possibilities, fulfilling a promise they made to each other years ago.

“I think we’ll find something together that we can work on, but we’ve never been free at the same time,” he says. “We promised each other to take this next step together, so we want to spend this next period brainstorming and trying to figure out what resonates with both of us.”

Ideas are still emerging.

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