Excellence in Leadership Award



Erskine is a native North Carolinian, born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina.  He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and received his MBA from Columbia University in New York.  After serving as an enlisted man in the Coast Guard, Erskine began his financial service career at Morgan Stanley in New York as an associate in their corporate finance group.  While at Morgan Stanley, he saw what he believed was a void in the financial services market place and left to form a middle-market investment bank.  This firm, Bowles, Hollowell, Conner, became the preeminent mergers and acquisition firm in the middle market.  Bowles would later go on to form a venture capital firm, Kitty Hawk Capital; co-found a middle-market private equity firm, Carousel Capital; and serve as a partner in the New York private equity firm of Forstmann Little.  During Bowles’ business career, he also served on the boards of various companies including Morgan Stanley (Lead Director), First Union Corporation, Merck, VF, Cousins Properties (lead director), Norfolk Southern Corporation, General Motors, Belk, Facebook, SteelFab, and BDT Capital Partners (lead director).


Erskine has also followed his father’s example of public service.  In 1991, he joined the administration of President Bill Clinton as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.  In 1993, he was brought to the White House to serve as President Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff and later as Chief of Staff.  As Chief of Staff, he served as a member of the President’s Cabinet and on both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council.  Working at the direction of the President and with the Republican House of Representatives and Senate, Bowles negotiated the first balanced budget in a generation.  During his tenure in the White House, he also coordinated the Federal response to the Oklahoma City bombing.  In response to the terrible tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in December, 2004, Bowles was asked to join the United Nations as Deputy Special Envoy, with the rank of Under Secretary General to coordinate the global response to the tsunami.  In 2010, President Barack Obama asked Bowles to co-chair with former Senator Alan Simpson the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  This bipartisan commission produced a plan to reduce the Nation’s deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade.  The plan was supported by a supermajority of the Commission with equal support from both Republican and Democrat members.


Mr. Bowles has also served his home State of North Carolina in numerous ways.  From 2005 to 2011, Bowles served as President of the University of North Carolina.  The University is composed of 17 campuses, 220,000 students, 40,000 employees and has an annual budget of approximately $8 billion.  Erskine also served at Governor Jim Hunt’s request as Chairman of the Rural Prosperity Task Force charged with developing ways to bring economic development to rural North Carolina.  He also served on the Board of the Golden Leaf Foundation and founded a private equity company to bring investment capital to rural North Carolina.


Erskine has also found time to be actively involved in not-for-profit organizations.  After seeing firsthand how his two sons dealt with Juvenile Diabetes, Bowles threw himself into the work of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, ultimately becoming the National President of the Foundation.    After seeing his father and sister deal with the effects of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Bowles and his wife raised the funds to start an ALS Center in Charlotte to provide a facility to care for all families in the Carolinas affected by this disease.  Erskine has also served as Vice Chairman of Carolinas Medical Center and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Duke Endowment.  He currently serves on the boards of The Aspen Economic Strategy Group (Co-Chair with Hank Paulson), the Urban Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Currently the majority of Bowles’ work time is spent raising funds for the Blue Sky Scholarship Fund which he founded at UNC Chapel Hill.  This scholarship provides the critical funds middle-income kids need to go to UNC, receive a quality education, experience an extracurricular activity such as a semester abroad, and graduate debt free thereby getting a real shot at the American Dream.  Along with his life-long friend and business partner Nelson Schwab, Bowles also co-founded in 2020 the Housing Impact Fund that has to date provided quality affordable housing to over 2,000 Charlotte residents in need.  Schwab and Bowles are in the process of raising a second fund now to preserve and create over the next two years 900-1,000 additional quality affordable units for an estimated 2,200-2,500 residents in need.


Erskine has been married for 51 years to Crandall Close Bowles, former Chair and CEO of Springs Industries.  They have three grown children and nine grandchildren.  These kids are truly the loves of their lives.  Crandall and Erskine enjoy going to as many of their grandkids’ games and events as humanly possible.




Director of the Year

The Financial Times

Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government

University of Illinois

Distinguished Public Service Award

John Glenn School of Public Service, The Ohio State University

The Good Governance Award

George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service,

     at Texas A&M University

Davie Award for Distinguished Pubic Service

UNC-CH Board of Trustees highest honor

University Award

UNC Board of Governors highest honor

Distinguished Service Medal

UNC Alumni Association

Hugh L. McColl, Jr. Legacy Award

Kenan Flagler School of Business

William C. Friday Lifetime Achievement Award

UNC Association of Student Government

Outstanding Leadership in Government

North Carolina Chamber of Commerce

Citizen of the Carolinas Award

Charlotte Chamber of Commerce

Distinguished Service Award

World Affairs Council

Jay Robinson Leadership Award for Exemplary

       Leadership in Public Service

Public School Foundation of North Carolina

Lifetime Achievement Award

Association of Corporate Growth

Statesman of the Year Award

Trustees of the Junior Achievement Foundation

Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

McColl School of Business/Queens College

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Virginia Episcopal School

North Carolinian of the Year

North Carolina Press Association

Distinguished Leadership in Government Award

Columbia University Graduate School of Business

World Citizen Award

World Affairs Council of Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Honorary Doctorate Degree

Duke University

Honorary Doctorate Degree

The University of South Carolina

Honorary Doctorate Degree

American University

Honorary Doctorate Degree

William Peace University

Honorary Doctorate Degree

Converse College

Honorary Doctorate Degree

Queens University

Honorary Doctorate Degree

Livingstone College

Honorary Doctorate Degree

Phiffer University

Honorary Doctorate Degree

Maryville University

Honorary Doctorate Degree

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Honorary Doctorate Degree

University of North Carolina Charlotte

Honorary Doctorate Degree

University of North Carolina Asheville

Honorary Doctorate Degree