Earnest Winston was named superintendent for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools August 2, 2019. He brings the experiences of a teacher, a parent, a communicator and a chief of staff to the role.
Winston joined Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2004 as an English teacher at Vance High School, where he also taught journalism and served as adviser to the school’s student newspaper. After two years in the classroom, he moved into administration, joining the district’s communications department as an external communications supervisor. In 2008, he became executive coordinator/communications liaison for then-Chief Operating Officer Hugh E. Hattabaugh, who became interim superintendent in July 2011. Winston served as chief of staff to the two superintendents who followed Hattabaugh. In 2017, he was named chief community relations and engagement officer.
Winston began his career as a reporter for the Mansfield News Journal in Ohio, later moving to the Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer where he covered local government in the city and nearby towns, as well as education in Northern Kentucky. He left Cincinnati to join the Charlotte Observer, where he covered government, development, general news – and wrote about his cousin Jennifer Hudson’s rise to fame on “American Idol.”
Winston currently serves on the board of Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, where he is chairperson of the Program Evaluation Committee. Previously, he served on the Freedom School Advisory Board at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, where he is a member. He has also served on the boards of Charlotte Works Youth Council, Stratford Richardson YMCA, Children’s Scholarship Fund and the Ohio Wesleyan University Alumni Board of Directors. Winston is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Charlotte and a 2016 graduate of the Leadership Development Initiative (Community Building Initiative). Winston has been recognized as an Atrium Health Martin Luther King Jr. Growing the Dream Award recipient (2019) and a YBM Leadership Alliance Success Leader (2016). He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s Beta Nu Lambda Chapter.
A native of Chicago, Winston holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. He is married with two daughters who are CMS students.