Alan Caldwell, Reynolds’ civic engagement head, retiring

Alan Caldwell

Alan Caldwell, Reynolds’ civic engagement head, retiring
May 19
10:30 2016



Alan Caldwell will soon retire after making his mark as head of civic engagement at Reynolds American Inc.

Caldwell, a 35-year Reynolds employee, has become the face of Reynolds’ efforts to help the community. Reynolds American is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Winston-Salem that owns R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which is the second largest tobacco company in the country.

Caldwell received the Man of the Year award at The Chronicle’s Community Service Awards banquet in April, which he said was a humbling experience.

Caldwell was born in 1956 in Winston-Salem. He grew up in East Winston during segregation.

“We had one part of town we were supposed to be on and the other folk had a part of town they were supposed to be on,” he said. “But it didn’t stop us from having dreams and values and things of that nature.”

He said the city was a great place to grow up. He’s the sixth of seven children. His father was a janitorial supervisor and his mother was a department store clerk. Nether went to college but made sure all of their children did. He said that he and his siblings were “steeped in religion and taught how to do things the right way the first time.”

Caldwell is also well known for his football career. He said it was his brother Edward Lee, who he shared a newspaper delivery route with, that convinced him to play football at Carver Middle School. Their father refused to let them, concerned they wouldn’t be able to keep up with their work and school, but Edward Lee forged his signature so they could play anyway. Eventually word got back to their father that they were playing, and winning, football games. After seeing them in action, he let them continue since they were able to keep their grades up, but told them to never sign his name to anything again.

Caldwell received an athletic scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial relations in 1978. While at UNC, he was named All ACC Defensive Back in 1977 and  Honorable Mention All-American. Reynolds offered him a job straight out of college, but he pursued professional football instead.

He entered the NFL as a free agent, playing as a defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams in 1978 and for the New York Giants in 1979-80.  He left the NFL after an injury and returned to Winston-Salem.

“I was very fortunate to come back to Winston-Salem and get a slot at Reynolds in 1981,” said Caldwell.

He started as a first line manufacturing supervisor for Reynolds at Plant 64 and worked at several different locations and positions throughout the years. In 2006, he became senior director of Public Issues/Corporate Social Responsibility. In 2009, he took his current position as director of Community & Civic Engagement. He’s in charge of employee engagement in the community, acts as a liaison between city and county governments and the company, and serves on numerous boards including the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and Crosby Scholars.

He also became executive director of the Reynolds  American Foundation in 2012. Caldwell said the 501c(3) foundation focuses on education, economic development and helping those in need by giving out $4-7 million a year in grants annually. Some of the foundation’s work includes a $1.5 million gift to Winston-Salem State University for its Student Success Center and to help students affected by Pell Grant cuts. It also gave $1 million to Reynolda House for its capital campaign and was also instrumental in helping Experiment in Self Reliance in moving to its current location.

“It’s purely dealing with items that can have a tremendous impact on our community in which we live and work, and that’s what we aspire to do,” Caldwell said of the Foundation.

Caldwell is married to his wife of 32 years, Lisa, who is an executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Reynolds American. They have two children, Lauren and Tyler, both UNC-Chapel Hill graduates. Caldwell said after he retires on May 31, he plans to spend more time with his family, including his many siblings.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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