The New Power Couple

Chris Edwards

She helped get two of the most influential women U.S. senators into office. He was president of the international arm of a Fortune 500 company for more than thirty years. In the six years since the new power couple — a term both Bernie Hargadon, eighty-one, and Jill Dinwiddie, sixty-eight, dislike—moved to the Queen City, the couple have broken into the power scene and have been flying under the radar … until now.

Why Power People Love Her

When the couple arrived in Charlotte in 2003, Erskine Bowles (who was running for U.S. Senate at the time) called and asked Dinwiddie to run his campaign. She agreed to head up "Women for Bowles," bringing Madeline Albright to Charlotte and raising $200,000 for the campaign (and Dinwiddie’s profile in the process). Now president of the UNC system, Bowles calls Dinwiddie and Hargadon the Get-It-Done Couple. "The governor and I were talking about people you could turn to to make something happen, to do it, and do it well," says Bowles. "We both agreed the first person on the list is Jill. I am a big, big fan."

Her Current Passion

She’s spending most of her time as executive director of the North Carolina Council for Women, a position Governor Perdue handpicked her for.

Cool Thing About Her

She just hiked Machu Picchu with a group of ten women from Charlotte.

Her Proudest Achievement

In 1992, California had two women running for Senate: Dianne Feinstein (a sure thing) and Barbara Boxer (a long shot). Dinwiddie convinced her boss (Feinstein) to do a fundraiser sharing the stage with Boxer and popular Texas governor Ann Richards. That fundraiser got Boxer elected. "For me that was proof I could make a difference," Dinwiddie says.

Where to Find Her

  • North Carolina Arts Council (Governor Perdue recently assigned her)
  • Levine Museum of the New South (former chair of the development committee)
  • Planned Parenthood Health Systems (serves on the board)
  • Lillian’s List (former vice chair of development)
  • Governor Bev Perdue’s Kitchen Cabinet (a select group of about a dozen supporters who meet behind closed doors at the governor’s mansion to give the Gov honest feedback)

How He Landed on the Queen City Scene

"Soon after we moved here I noticed Opera Carolina was doing one of my favorites, Nabucco," says Hargadon, who has played trumpet for seventy years. "I was really swept away by the opera, the conductor, the whole thing. I wrote a letter to the maestro, we had lunch, and before you know it, I was on the board."

His Current Passion

An avid trumpet player and Navy veteran, Hargadon is a member of Bugles Across America and wants to play Taps at the funerals of World War II veterans.

Cool Thing About Him

If you’re skating at The Green during the holidays, look up. You’ll probably catch Hargadon standing on the balcony of the couple’s loft playing Christmas carols on his trumpet.

His Proudest Achievement

While working in Colombia in 1960, Hargadon helped start a college (sixty men attended the first class). The couple was invited back last year; Hargadon was made an honorary board member, and a building was named in his honor. The school’s enrollment is now around 7,500.

Where to Find Him

  • Opera Carolina (serves on the board)
  • Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (serves on the board)
  • WDAV (chaired advisory board of Davidson College’s classical radio station)

Power Duos

Who else runs the show in Charlotte

 The Levines

Leon and Sandra Levine

The first couple of philanthropy, the Levines are spoken of with reverence in the nonprofit community due to their recent largesse.

Loy and Susan McKeithen 

Loy and Susan McKeithen

Indefatigable and generous supporters of the arts, especially N.C. Dance Theatre and the Symphony, the McKeithens — Loy is a well-respected attorney — are powerful behind-the-scenes players.


Tom and Anna Nelson

As CEO of National Gypsum, Tom is a go-to power player in the biz community, and as head of the C. D. Spangler Foundation, Anna makes things happen in the education arena.

The Robinsons 

Russell and Sally Robinson

The Robinsons have been active on the civic scene for decades, including as cofounders of Levine Museum of the New South; Russell is a prominent attorney.