People and Possibility


Sally Robinson is a civic leader and community volunteer whose contributions have shaped education, arts and culture in Charlotte and Durham. She has served on many boards, including the Charlotte Symphony, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, the McColl Center for Visual Arts, the Foundation For The Carolinas and Duke University. Sally was the visionary force behind the launch of the Levine Museum of the New South. She has received many awards for her service, including the Duke University Distinguished Alumni Award, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Distinguished Service Award, the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, the Charlotte Woman of the Year Award, and the Arts & Sciences Council Lifetime Commitment Award. Sally graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in history from Duke University.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in family history, community service, connecting to ideas and possibility, and a lifelong friendship and love.  


  • Sally describes her first home in Charlotte and growing up in the 1930s and 1940s.

  • She tells a story about German POWs and chewing gum just after World War II.

  • She remembers her father and the work he did in textile machinery.

  • She talks about roaming the streets of downtown Charlotte in the 1940s.

  • Sally shares her mother’s community service during the war and the example of civic leadership she established.

  • She recalls her brothers’ heroic service during the war and the family routine of listening to the news and tracking the war effort.

  • She discusses going to boarding school at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh and the influence of a particular teacher.

  • She shares her first date with Russell Robinson and how it led to marriage.

  • Sally talks about studying history and being a student at Duke University.

  • She answers whether she ever felt limited as a homemaker during the 1950s.

  • She describes how development patterns in Charlotte changed in the 1950s and 1960s.

  • She reflects on segregation, the civil rights movement, and how her perceptions about race relations have evolved.

  • Sally explains how her passion for civic life developed in the 1980s and 1990s and launching the Levine Museum of the New South came about.

  • She answers whether there is a cause or issue that she might have been more involved in.

  • She remembers the naming of the Robinson Center for Civic Leadership at the Foundation For The Carolinas in the 2000s.

  • She shares what is on her mind today for Charlotte in the 2020s.

  • She discusses connecting to community and her connection to Duke University.

  • Sally answers why her marriage works so well and what’s next.

plus Mark’s Personal Word Essay: Only Connect

To Learn More About Sally


  • What struck you about Sally’s comments?

  • Who has influenced you most?

  • What has shaped who you are?

  • How do you connect?

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.