Black History Month Employee Feature: Meet Joe Pierce

Throughout the month of February, will be highlighting a handful of different employees across multiple departments in the organization in conjunction with Black History Month. 

Describe what you do with the Charlotte Hornets organization.

“I’m the Vice President and General Counsel for the team and Hornets Sports and Entertainment. In that role, I focus on managing all the legal affairs for Hornets Sports and Entertainment ranging from contract negotiations primarily on the business side, managing litigation, managing the legal aspects of intellectual property, government affairs and overseeing our insurance coverages for the organization. I get involved in a little bit of everything from the contract standpoint whether it’s sponsorship agreements to venue licensing agreements to employment contracts to arrangements with the NBA regarding the All-Star Game.”

Who or what experience(s) have had the most significant impact on your career? 

“I ran track in college at Georgetown University. One of my teammates was a graduate student my first year, Ray Humphrey. He later became a coach after my freshman year and we competed in the same events – both jumpers. I looked at him as a role model in a lot of ways. From an athletic standpoint, but also my sophomore and junior year in addition to coaching the athletes, he started getting his law degree at Georgetown at the same time. Seeing how he made an example as an All-American track athlete and also being able to juggle a full-time job with the law program at Georgetown, it really helped focus me on making law as a career. I have used a lot of the experiences I had as a collegiate athlete to help me in my career and education.”

What does Black History Month mean to you?

“I think it’s a great opportunity to obviously recognize the historic achievements and contributions that African-Americans have made to the fabric of American society. I think it should also be used to inspire current African-Americans and look at what has been achieved in the past as an example of things that could be done in the future. It can inspire youth to not set any limits for themselves, but to look to define their own paths.”

How do you see yourself as a role model in the African-American community?

“You always want to be conscious of the contributions you make to the community and the impact that you can have. I think we all do it in different ways, but for me, it’s about building personal connections when you can and taking the time to mentor students directly that might have an interest in law or the sports industry, as well. Try to give them guidance on the experiences that I’ve had and be able to kind of match that with what their educational options and interests are. I try to guide them to maybe getting a little more accelerated achievement than they would have done otherwise. I think I take that seriously and look to be an example in helping inspire other African-Americans and other individuals across the board to identify their interests and try to do everything they can to make them happen.”

Are there any influential African-American role models in your life?

“Starting with my grandparents, three of my four grandparents had Doctorate degrees, which is not typical in a lot of families, but definitely unusual in African-American families at that time. They all taught at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Growing up, I saw the impact of what education was able to do for them in their own lives, but more importantly, saw the impact they could make with their own students that they taught. Going through life and meeting people that were students of my grandparents was great to see and really showed a lesson that it’s important to give back and make sure you do what you can to help other people grow.”