The Ties That Bind


Dianne English builds bridges across difference. She is executive director of Community Building Initiative (CBI), whose mission is to achieve racial and ethnic inclusion and equity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  CBI programs include the Leadership Development Initiative, Leaders Under 40, and Equity Dialogue Circles. Before joining CBI, Dianne served as executive director of Mecklenburg Ministries, an interfaith organization fostering understanding, compassion and justice. She has served as a board member for numerous civic and nonprofit organizations, including for Florence Crittenton Services and the Center for International Understanding. Dianne is a recipient of the UNC Charlotte Distinguished Service Award and the Mecklenburg Ministries 25th Anniversary Legacy Award. She earned a B.A. in Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in racial and ethnic inclusion and equity, social activism, and making a difference in the time and place you are in.   


  • Dianne describes the conversation that she has been part of for 30 years.

  • She explains the work and origins of the Community Building Initiative (CBI).

  • She talks about CBI programs and the impact it seeks to make.

  • She addresses whether her work has made a difference.

  • Dianne shares what she finds exciting about this moment in community building.

  • She discusses the importance and limitations of acknowledging racial inequity.

  • She answers what CBI would do with greater resources.

  • She reveals why she does this work and the pivotal experience that changed her life.

  • Dianne shares what shaped her childhood and interest in social activism.

  • She talks about what her father means to her and his most defining quality.

  • She remembers her mother and the legacy she passed on.

  • She discusses her education and how she found her way to Charlotte.

  • Dianne reflects on the impact of Crossroads Charlotte and building social trust.

  • She shares memories of her husband Roger English and the challenge of caring for him.

  • She reveals what her close friends, Susan Patterson, Octavia Seawell and Emily Zimmern mean to her.

  • Dianne answers what she knows for certain.

plus Mark's Personal Word Essay: What's in the Ground

To Learn More About Dianne


  • What struck you about Dianne's comments?

  • What is 'in the ground' in your community?

  • Who do you believe you were created to be?

  • What do you know for certain?

We invite your posts on our Facebook page.

This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts. 

Further support is provided by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of America’s leading urban public libraries, delivering exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community. 

And by the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's resource hub and lead advocate for the regional cultural community, providing Culture for All.

Additional support is provided by the UNC College of Arts + Architecture, celebrating a decade of creative education in the arts and design.