Meet Our Team

cms foundation

our staff

  • phone: (980) 343-0084

Sonja Gantt

Executive Director

Sonja Gantt is the Executive Director of the CMS Foundation, ensuring the foundation carries out its mission to support students and educators in CMS. In her role she oversees the organization’s strategic direction, administration, fundraising and programmatic focus areas.  She also serves as a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools executive leadership team, a role that gives her deep insight into both the challenges and opportunities within CMS.

Sonja, a Charlotte native, brings a deep knowledge of the local community to her work, having served the majority of her thirty-year media career as a reporter/anchor covering Mecklenburg County and the surrounding region. Her reporting has been celebrated with numerous awards including a Mid-South Regional Emmy in 2011.

Sonja is a proud CMS graduate of East Mecklenburg High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She and her husband (Mitch) have two children who are both CMS graduates.

Staff_Ashelyn James
  • phone: (980) 343-0955

Ashelyn James


Ashelyn James is Manager of the CMS Foundation. In this role she directs foundation programs, manages operations, and helps design and execute organizational strategy.

Prior to her career in education, Ashelyn was a management consultant at Accenture in the organization’s Strategy practice. She worked across industries with a focus on organization change management and project management.

Ashelyn earned her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar, a master’s degree in International Educational Development from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems.

Ashelyn is a North Carolina native from Goldsboro, NC and is the daughter of two retired educators.