J. King White ’80: The Elon connector
A dedicated altruist, J. King White ’80 is passionate about connecting like-minded people and advocating for his alma mater.
By Sarah Collins ’18
Some alumni know him as “the Elon guy,” but few may truly understand the impact alumnus J. King White ’80 has had on the Elon community. “He is one of those rare people who is always looking to help and improve his community, and does so genuinely and diligently,” says Mital Patel L’09, an attorney who lives in Raleigh, N.C., and who is among the countless alumni who have benefited from White’s advice.
That’s because White is passionate about connecting like-minded people and advocating for his alma mater. He regularly meets with Elon alumni to offer professional advice and support, and with the help of his impressive personal network, he is constantly initiating meaningful connections. Just this past holiday season, he arranged for Elon’s Triangle Alumni Chapter to support a holiday fundraiser for Triangle Spokes Group, a nonprofit organization cofounded by Elon alumna Jenn Nowalk ’99 that donates bicycles to children in need. Two other Raleigh-based alumni—Paul Breeding ’99 of Lonerider Brewing Company and Emily Grey Sexton ’07 of The Flourish Market—also supported the fundraiser by donating a percentage of their sales to the nonprofit. The event was a success. “[The chapter] raised enough money to donate about 11 bikes to Triangle Spokes Group,” says Rich Nowalk ’97, Jenn’s husband and an active member of the alumni chapter. More importantly, he adds, the event inspired a younger demographic to get involved in the nonprofit’s work.
White’s desire to make meaningful connections can be traced back to his Elon years. As a student from Maryland, White became heavily involved on campus as the vice president of the Student Government Association, a brother of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and a contributing member of both The Pendulum, the student-run newspaper, and Phi Psi Cli yearbook. Upon graduating with a degree in English, he was asked to assume the position of director of alumni and parent relations. In this role, White revamped the traditional methods of connecting with young alumni by focusing on personal relationships, something Elon continues today. After serving in that role for five years, he transitioned into the private sector to work for a Raleigh-based company that launched the Triangle’s first commercial cellular phone network. His entrepreneurial mindset helped him overcome the obstacles associated with working for a start-up company, and as a result, his company enjoyed considerable success.
After nearly two decades in the wireless industry, White made a decision to shift from a focus on “professional self-advancement” to a work style that allowed him to follow his passion for people and ideas. Today he spends his time and efforts promoting worthy community initiatives and helping a new generation of thought leaders pursue their professional and life objectives. “I have simple needs and have what I need to be happy,” he says. “Rather than focusing on self-indulgence, I much prefer spending my remaining years supporting others and doing what I can to make our world a better place.”
As a dedicated altruist, he enjoys providing guidance for members of his community. He serves as a mentor for North Carolina State University’s Entrepreneurship Mentor Program. He is also a member of Innovate Raleigh’s task force and serves as a board member for Elon’s Triangle Alumni Chapter. White says he continues to be inspired by the accomplishments of the Elon University community and “proudly waves the Elon flag” whenever possible. “Here in Raleigh I’m always looking for a way to shine a spotlight on my alma mater,” he says. “After all, I began my professional career at Elon. This institution prepared me for a wonderful life journey.”