University of North Carolina at Charlotte Board of Trustees Chair Joe Price, Cathy Bessant and Chancellor Philip L. Dubois at the Distinguished Service Award presentation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America and a member of the company’s executive management team, is the 2018 recipient of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte’s Distinguished Service Award. She was honored during a luncheon on May 7 on the university’s campus.

“UNC Charlotte is proud to honor Cathy Bessant, a woman who truly epitomizes the term ‘distinguished service,’ as our 2018 Distinguished Service Award recipient,” said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “She has served in exemplary fashion in a number of ways through her work with one of the largest employers in our state, as well as through her personal involvement with a number of community organizations and institutions, including UNC Charlotte.”

Since 2010, Bessant has led Global Technology and Operations for Bank of America.

Active in her community and region, Bessant chairs the North Tryon Vision Plan Advisory Committee, a public planning initiative to develop and establish a vision to catalyze and sustain growth and development in the North Tryon area of Uptown Charlotte. She served as chair of the Foundation for the Carolinas and has worked tirelessly to support Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, especially through the CMS involvement Group, which studied models of philanthropic involvement in public education that have proven successful in other communities. Bessant is also a board member for North Carolina’s Council for Commerce, Business and Industry.

Additionally, Bessant serves as executive sponsor for the LGBT Executive Council at the bank, made up of global LGBTQ executives and established to encourage visibility of leaders who are out at work. She also serves as the executive sponsor of the LGBT Pride Global Ally program, which includes more than 21,800 members across the company globally, and in 2013, she received the Out & Equal Champion Award, which recognizes a non-LGBTQ person who played a pivotal role in championing equal treatment of LGBTQ employees on the job.

When HB2 was introduced, Bessant spoke on behalf of the bank and helped lead the way for other companies to express their opposition.

Bessant was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for her civic and business contributions to the state of North Carolina and, received the Women in Business Lifetime Achievement Award from the Charlotte Business Journal.

Her service to UNC Charlotte includes serving as a trustee and chair of the Board of Trustees Committee on Audit, Compliance and Risk Management have been significant. Bessant has also been a strong advocate for women’s athletics and chaired the university’s “Let Me Play” campaign, supporting the role of athletic participation in the development of young women.


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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.