Editor’s note: The article highlights our most recent participant in the “Triangle Voices in Leadership” interview series, Billie Redmond. Stay tuned for more installments in this collection, where WRAL TechWire contributor Dr. Sarah Glova will continue to highlight veteran leaders from across the Triangle region.


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – I recently caught up with Billie Redmond, Trademark Properties founder and past Chair of the Raleigh Chamber—and she shared something I thought was really interesting.

She told me that what she thinks is crucial for the Triangle—is more “tough” conversations.

Redmond shared that she’s concerned about how polarized “topics and groups of people” have become.

“No matter what you’re talking about, whether it’s around politics, it’s around faith, it’s around financial accountability, it has become so strident and so weaponized,” Redmond said.

And she thinks that polarizing discourse will keep the Triangle from solving some of its biggest challenges.

Check out what the veteran Triangle leader had to say in our dialogue about “disagreeing—but still talking.”

Sarah Glova

Post-pandemic, it’s hard to come together

Redmond told me that she thinks the pandemic drove people into polarized groups—and that we’ve had trouble coming together since.

“We were more isolated, and more and more people were looking for a community, right? You weren’t going to work, you weren’t going to the office, you weren’t going to church,” she said. “So isolation grew. People thrive with community, and I think that they found community around these polarizing issues in the community. Since, it has been harder to find opportunities for people to come together and talk about them in a meaningful, constructive way.”

She said that now, conversations and groups are often one-sided.

“You have the anti this and the pro this, and those people get together, and those people get together, and it’s become more and more isolated,” said Redmond. “It’s harder to find ways to get people to come together in a safe, respectful way to have a conversation.”

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In the past, we’ve come together, even if we disagreed

According to Redmond, the Greater Raleigh Chamber has been facilitating conversations with the business, government and nonprofit communities for a long time.

“Over my involvement in the last 25 years, I can remember a past time of having, for example, the Wake County School Board and the Wake County Commissioners, and the Wake County Public School Systems be at odds over important issues,” said Redmond. “And then, by getting people together and talking through things, we see people really come together in a unified plan, even if they might disagree with some aspects, but a unified plan to move forward and to get things done and working together.”

“You may not like all the solutions, but, boy, you got to try some of them.”

Redmond told me that “unified” conversations are going to be necessary if we want to move forward on challenging issues – like affordable housing, zoning, and homelessness.

“Our homelessness issue will only continue to increase if we don’t, and the lack of affordable housing goes up every day. So you may not like all the solutions, but, boy, you got to try some of them,” said Redmond. “It takes debate, it takes disagreement, to get to your very best ideas, the very best thoughts of how to move things forward, and get them done.”

Keep Both Sides Talking

Redmond shared some wisdom from her real estate background—keep the two sides talking.

“From my real estate experience, we tell associates in our company that the best way to get a deal done is to keep the two sides talking to each other,” said Redmond. “When people stop talking, nothing happens. If you just can keep both sides talking, usually, you come up with better solutions. You come up with better outcomes.”

Her call to the community? Let’s continue to find spaces where we can talk—even if we disagree.

“It’s a positive when people come together to share ideas, experiences, and opinions, even when they disagree,” said Redmond. “There’s a better outcome when people keep talking and sharing.”