Kirk shares funny stories, lessons learned with Chamber members

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 18, 2022

SALISBURY — Rowan Chamber of Commerce members enjoyed listening to Phil Kirk share “Funny Stories and Lessons Learned” at the Power In Partnership (PIP) breakfast on Thursday morning at The Abbey. Rowan Helping Ministries and Rowan Meals on Wheels were the sponsors of the event. Kirk is former president of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Kirk lives in Raleigh and is a native of Salisbury. He has held a variety of jobs involving education, business, economic development, government, energy and the news media. Kirk started his presentation by saying he reads the Salisbury Post every morning and that it is still the best newspaper in North Carolina.

He was most proud of starting the Governor’s Page program in which over 30,000 students have participated. Kirk said, “We worked together as a team extremely well in the governor’s office and didn’t worry about who got the credit. The governor said to do the right thing and the rest would take care of itself.”

Kirk said CEOs should be “Chief Encouragement Officers” and always support their team members. He said it’s important for business volunteers to mentor students and make sure they are reading at their appropriate grade level. Kirk complimented the Rowan-Salisbury School Board for hiring Dr. Kelly Withers as superintendent.

He was elected to the state Senate at age 25 and at the time was the youngest senator in N.C. history.  He served as chief of staff for Govs. Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin and U.S. Sen. Jim Broyhill.  He also was secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and president/CEO of the North Carolina Chamber, the state’s top business group, where he served for 16 years.

Kirk served as a public school teacher in Salisbury, as well as a reporter at the Salisbury Post, radio announcer, vice president of external relations at Catawba College, nursing home executive and energy sales for Brady. He is a graduate of Catawba College, works part-time as adviser for community relations for North Carolina’s independent colleges and universities and is a professional speaker.

The Chamber’s next PIP will be Thursday, Jan. 19, 7:30 a.m. at Trinity Oaks with the State Legislative Breakfast as the program. For more information, contact the Chamber at 704-633-4221 or