A New Union


On left, Demond and wife Kia with daughters Ava and Naomi. On right, Karen Popp with wife MC Ragsdale and sons Ben and William.

Thanks to generous gifts from Karen Popp (’80) and Demond Martin (’97), the Student Union has a new name. In front of a gathering of 300 family, friends and University supporters, UNC Charlotte’s Student Union was officially named the Karen A. Popp and Demond T. Martin Student Union on Sept. 22 as part of UNC Charlotte’s Founders Celebration. 

Both Popp and Martin have a lot in common. Besides their shared love of UNC Charlotte, both were outstanding and involved students, serving as student body presidents (Popp being the first woman in this post) and both worked at the White House with former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, who later became the UNC system president. The two first met at UNC Charlotte when Popp visited to speak at a campus event while she was working at the White House. She subsequently assisted Martin in getting a summer job in the Vice President’s Office. That summer in the White House opened the door to a life-changing opportunity for Martin, who went on to serve as Assistant to the White House Chief of Staff before earning his MBA at Harvard Business School. Since that time, their friendship has grown into the close bond they share today.

Former UNC system President Erskine BowlesThey’ve also both remained close with Bowles, who was on hand to introduce the pair at the naming ceremony saying, “UNC Charlotte opened doors for these two individuals and they have opened doors for others.”

(Pictured, left: Former UNC system President Erskine Bowles)

The two shared their thoughts on the University, life and legacy. 

Click here to watch the video with Demond MartinClick here to watch the Karen Popp video on YouTubeToday, Popp is a practicing legal partner at Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, D.C. and Martin is a partner at an investment management firm in Boston, where he runs the retail portfolio and has worked for more than 15 years. While their jobs take them far from Charlotte, the University has remained in their hearts. Popp serves as chair of the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board of Directors. Martin serves as a fellow Foundation board member, and along with his wife Kia Martin, also from the class of ’97, have created and sustained opportunities for undergraduate who share the same dreams they had.

(Click on the thumbnails to the left to watch the videos)

Watch for the upcoming UNC Charlotte magazine for an in-depth feature.