Michael Marsicano, Ph.D. – Knight Foundation

Michael Marsicano, Ph.D.

  • Trustee
  • Download High-Res Photo


Michael Marsicano was President and CEO of Foundation For The Carolinas from 1999 until 2023, the community foundation serving Charlotte and a 13-county region. Under his leadership the Foundation initiated a variety of community wide civic leadership activities in areas such as affordable housing, economic opportunity, racial equity, public school reform, the arts, the environment, literacy, veterans’ services and multiple Covid 19 responses.

During his tenure at the Foundation, its assets grew from $245 million to nearly $4 billion. FFTC rose from the 35th largest community foundation in the U.S. to the 5th largest managing nearly 3,000 charitable funds: contributions to FFTC-held funds exceeded $7 billion and grant awarded to nonprofits totaled more than $4.5 billion. Gifts in his last year alone totaled $960M. Under his leadership, the Foundation launched E4E Relief, a wholly owned subsidiary; nation’s leading provider of employee disaster/hardship funds, making grants to individuals in over 100 countries for Fortune 500 companies including families in war torn Ukraine.

Dr. Marsicano joined FFTC after serving as President and CEO of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte for 10 years. During his tenure, the United Arts Fund moved to the nation’s highest in per capita annual giving and became one of the largest endowed arts councils in the U.S. at that time.

Dr. Marsicano has been active in many national and local organizations. He is a trustee emeritus from the boards of Duke University serving on its Executive Committee and the Duke University Health System. He is past chair of the Queens University of Charlotte Board of Trustees. Dr. Marsicano previously chaired the boards of the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies and the UNC School of the Arts and has served on the boards of Americans for the Arts, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Discovery Place, Nasher Museum of Art, Kenan Institute for the Arts, UNC Charlotte Foundation, Winthrop University Foundation, Vann Center for Ethics at Davidson College, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and Community Foundations of America Board. He currently serves on the Governing Board of Charlotte Center City Partners, a downtown development corporation. He chaired the National Endowment for the Arts Grants Panel distributing federal funds to local arts organizations nationwide.

Dr. Marsicano has received numerous honors and awards. On the national level, he was recipient of the Selina Roberts Ottum Award, given annually to the top arts administrator in the nation, and was ranked among the top 50 most influential nonprofit leaders in America by the Nonprofit Times. On the state level, he was recognized for several years as one of the 100 most powerful citizens and was awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, among the most prestigious of awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina. Marsicano was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame.

He received the Charlotte Hornets Education Hero Award and the Affordable Housing Champion Award from the Charlotte Housing Partnership. Dr. Marsicano was the inaugural winner of the Innovator of the Year Award from the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Charlotte Magazine has ranked Dr. Marsicano as the #1 most powerful person in Charlotte. He was named “Business Person of the Year” and awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award”, both by Charlotte Business Journal. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Johnson C. Smith University’s Arch of Triumph Award; the Vision Award from Charlotte Center City Partners; the Medal of Honor in the Arts from Winthrop University and the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award from the Urban League of Central Carolinas. He was awarded the rarely given Mayor’s Citizen Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Duke University. On his retirement, the Michael Marsicano Philanthropic Leadership Award was established to honor a professional in the non-profit sector annually.

Dr. Marsicano serves on the Audit and Program committees of the Knight Foundation Board of Trustees.

A native of New York, Dr. Marsicano received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy from Duke University. He is married to the Rev. Leslie Montfort Marsicano. Leslie and Michael have three adult children: Christopher, Jamie, and David.