2020: Chip Sudderth #LT30for30

Leadership Triangle
3 min readNov 14, 2022

Since 1992, Leadership Triangle has been a convener, educator, advocate, and amplifier for some of our region’s most engaged leaders and organizations. To celebrate our 30th anniversary, we’re telling the stories of 30 Fellows from 30 years of programs. Each Fellow highlighted will represent one year of impact: from 1992 to 2001 to 2022.

Chip Sudderth

William "Chip" Sudderth is a lifelong North Carolinian currently serving as Chief Communications Officer for Durham Public Schools, where his wife teaches Spanish, and his son graduated. Prior to joining DPS, he was a communications specialist for the Wake County Public School System. He has a Master of Arts in speech communication from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Chip is a 2020 Leadership Triangle Goodmon Fellow.

Leadership Triangle has helped me become a full two-way communicator: recognizing and advocating for the voices of the families and students we serve while sharing our leaders’ message.

Owen Jordan: What is your story?

Chip Sudderth: I’m a lifelong North Carolinian whose childhood dreams were of being a news reporter or a superhero — or maybe both, if the role of Superman was available. Those dreams changed when I spent a summer as an orientation counselor at UNC-Chapel Hill, working with a diverse team of 16 to welcome newcomers and build communities. I switched my focus to organizational communication, got a Master’s, and found my way to the Wake County Public School System. I was content to be a writer and storyteller there, but when a directors’ position opened up in Durham Public Schools, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to support the school system where my wife teaches, and my son attended. I was asked to take on the Chief Communications Officer role in 2016 and could not be more proud of the educators and students I support.

Chip and family at Canes game.

Owen Jordan: What brought you to Leadership Triangle back in 2020?

Chip Sudderth: I was nominated to the Transforming Leaders program by United Way of the Greater Triangle, and the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. We were six months into the national COVID-19 shutdown, and I’ll never forget being able to meet the rest of my cohort outdoors at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park following a couple of weeks of Zoom classes.

Owen Jordan: How did you feel impacted by the program and coaching?

Chip Sudderth: I’m hard-pressed to choose from whom I learned more, the outstanding coaches and presenters or my peers. Leadership Triangle has a clear point of view: personal leadership development hinges on the philosophical and the practical; you have to have a compelling vision and be an effective manager. Leadership Triangle helped me build the confidence to discover my blind spots, delegate responsibly, and use my own voice more effectively.

Chip and his team

Owen Jordan: What does leadership look like in your current role?

Chip Sudderth: It’s a paradox, but professional communicators often have to step into the background; you are a writer for others and a spokesperson for an organization, not yourself. Coming to formal leadership roles later in my life, it took some time to develop the necessary assertiveness. Leadership Triangle has helped me become a full two-way communicator: recognizing and advocating for the voices of the families and students we serve while sharing our leaders’ message.

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Leadership Triangle

Leadership Triangle builds leadership capacity and promotes regionalism across the separate communities of the Triangle (Chatham, Durham, Orange, Wake County).