Jill Dinwiddie believes strongly that people have to have a purpose in their life. When it comes to her own path, she has a history of being passionate about working on issues that improve the lives of women and families, which led her to an interest in Civil Rights and Reproductive Rights throughout her career. "I’m a firm believer that until we have more women in positions of power and influence, the opportunities for women and girls won’t be equal," she says.
A native of Detroit, Jill has held a variety of interesting positions over the years. Highlights are moving to California to become the deputy finance director for Dianne Feinstein's Senate campaign to being the director of the International Center at UNC Chapel Hill and board chair of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
Her leadership abilities and success have won her numerous awards including Charlotte Woman of the Year in 2015 and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1983. On September 26, she'll receive the Paradigm Award during Dress For Success Charlotte's annual Ultimate Power Lunch.
What brings her the most joy is her large family, especially her husband of 26 years, Bernie Hargadon; her two daughters; her stepdaughter and three stepsons; and the 14 grandchildren she and Bernie have between them.
In a Q&A with The O Report, she shared more of her favorite things - from the books she loves the most to her best timesaving tip and the beauty advice that's served her well.
Where are your favorite places to travel?
The Bay Area of California is one. I’ve just returned from a trip there to visit friends, eat good food, drink good wine and savor the beauty of the area. One of my favorite trips was to the Galapagos and Ecuador while Bernie still had companies in Latin America. Probably my most favorite city in the world is Paris and I just relived the memories of numerous trips there in the movie Paris Can Wait.
What's your favorite hotel in the world?
The Bristol Hotel in Paris where we stayed while Bernie was still working for McKesson Corp. The Mayfair Hotel in London is special because we always ran into stars there like Michael Bolton and New Kids on the Block.
What are your wardrobe staples?
They’ve obviously changed as I’ve gotten older but I’ll always have a good black pant suit (Armani never goes out of style) and a basic black dress that can be paired with lots of jackets, sweaters, scarves, etc.
How would you describe your personal style?
I like bright colors and scarves but other than that it’s pretty traditional.
What are some of your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?
A bright colored Etro coat. Linda Lockman Brooks has the same coat and we both love ours. A recent swing blouse by Worth and a red dress by Lela Rose.
What are your favorite fashion labels?
Armani, Lafayette 148, Akris and Etro.
What’s your must treasured article of clothing?
Bed Head PJs.
What’s your most treasured accessory?
Scarves and jewelry.
Where are your favorite places to shop?
Neiman Marcus and Bossa Nova in Sonoma, California.
What are your must-have beauty products?
Moisturizer, facial sunscreen, bronzer, blush, eye cream, eye liner, eye brow pencil and mascara.
How do you protect your skin from the sun?
Tinted ELTA MD skincare SPF 40
What are some of the best beauty tips you’ve learned?
A good diet and exercise plus 8 hours of sleep equals healthy skin.
Was there any beauty or style advice your mother or grandmother gave you that you’re thankful for now?
Stand up straight! Good posture will serve you well all your life.
How do you stay in shape?
Yoga and walking.
What's your favorite restaurant for a big night out?
The Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro, North Carolina and Bottega in Yountville, California.
What’s your favorite brunch spot?
Any recent art purchases?
A Mentori vase by Peter Callas from Elder Gallery.
What's your favorite flower?
Any museum exhibits or arts performances you’ve either seen recently, or plan to see soon?
We took visitors from Colombia recently to the Jean Tinguely exhibit at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. We also enjoyed Jazz at the Bechtler and the Broadway Lights production of The King and I. We're looking forward to the Charlotte Symphony's new season.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Shirley Valentine, The Help, Terms of Endearment, Fargo and Cinema Paradiso.
What are some of your favorite books?
Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement by Sally Gregory McMillen; My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout; Saturday by Ian McEwan; Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell; Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America by Ellen Chesler; and A Game of Inches by Webster Hubbell.
What's the biggest mistake people make when hosting a party?
Not paying attention to the details beginning with the guest list.
What's your favorite host/hostess gift to bring to a party?
Something from the Mint Museum Gift Shop like a small piece of pottery that’s really an egg separator.
What’s your design style?
A mixture. We have Persian rugs and modern furniture that’s comfortable to sit in but looks contemporary.
What does every room need?
What’s your most treasured home decor item?
What brings you joy?
My twin grandsons in Charlotte. We have 14 grandchildren between us and most of them live far and wide so we don’t get to see them much.
What do you love about this stage of your life?
The freedom to pick and choose how I spend my time.
Do you have a great organizational or timesaving tip that saves your sanity and helps make your life run more smoothly?
I took a course at Carolina called The One Minute Manager where they stressed that you should only touch a piece of paper on your desk once. I try to deal with something when it is presented instead of saving it for later for further deliberation.
What was one of the defining moments in your life?
Going as an exchange student at the age of 16 to live with a Muslim family in Istanbul, Turkey.
What are your favorite charitable causes?
Planned Parenthood, Dress for Success, Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Playing for Others, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage.
Who's your favorite famous person that you've met?
What inspires you?
Nature – trees, flowers, birds – the beauty around me.
What would others be surprised to know about you?
I have many acquaintances but only a few close friends.
Do you have a motto or words that you live by?
Treat everyone with respect.
What do you like to do in your downtime?
How do you like to get your day started?
Coffee and the New York Times.
What’s in your glass during Happy Hour?
Any words of wisdom?
My father always said, "If you’re going to do something, do it right."
Is there anything you loved as a child that still influences you today?
Riding a bike although we gave ours to our grandsons when we sold our Kiawah property.
What's your favorite color?
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Debits on the left; credits on the right! And to take risks! When a door opens to you, don’t be afraid to walk through it.
What is the secret to your success?
Not planning a career but taking advantage of new opportunities as they arose. Madeleine Albright said, “In life one thing leads to another.” That’s the story of my life also.