Jennifer Watson Roberts
Former Charlotte Mayor and Commissioner of Reimagining America
Jennifer Watson Roberts served as a four-term Mecklenburg County Commissioner and later as the 58th Mayor of Charlotte, and then ran the Communities Program on climate solutions for a national environmental non-profit, ecoAmerica, until May 2021. She has long been a champion of issues related to education, equality, inclusion, and environmental protection. She is the only person to be elected to serve as both Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Commission and later as Mayor of Charlotte.
Roberts has been a life-long advocate for clean air and water and for environmental justice. While Chair of the Mecklenburg County Commission, she championed a Park and Rec Master Plan, supported energy reduction and conservation in County operations, and headed a Clean Air Works initiative to reduce carbon emissions in area businesses and the County’s carbon footprint. As Mayor, she signed the Mayor’s Climate Pledge, joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and introduced a 100% Clean Energy Resolution for the City of Charlotte. She is currently on the Steering Committee of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Climate
Leaders, NC Climate Ambassadors, ecoAmerica Path to Positive Communities, and the Smart Surfaces Coalition. She serves on the Creation Care committee at two churches, St. Peter’s Episcopal and Caldwell Presbyterian. She is a lifetime member of the Sierra Club and the NAACP.
Before entering elected office, Roberts worked as a high school math teacher, a diplomat with the U.S. State Department, an international banker, and an adjunct professor at UNC-Charlotte. She currently serves on numerous community boards and commissions, including serving as chair of Meck Ed and treasurer of MeckMIN (Mecklenburg Metropolitan Interfaith Network). She is the honorary chair of the Re-imagining America Project, a speaker, and author, and consults on issues ranging from climate change to campaign strategy and leadership.
Roberts is a proud recipient of the Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Award, the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Public Policy Leader of the Year award, and Equality North Carolina’s Ally of the Year award, along with dozens of other awards and recognitions. She received her B.A. with the highest honors in English from UNC-Chapel Hill, a Masters in European History from the University of Toronto, and a Masters in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. She and her husband Manley live in Charlotte, but can usually be found on the weekends hiking the NC mountains. They have two adult children.