From the Emerald City to the Gate City

Posted on May 02, 2023

Alumni April Albritton at the Cambodian New Year in Greensboro.
April Albritton at the Cambodian New Year celebration in Greensboro.

When you crisscross the country, you make a lot of connections. April Albritton ’06 traveled to Seattle and back to Greensboro as she explored the connection between sports and business.

Through connections she’d made working with UNC Greensboro’s Spartan Club, she became chief of staff for the city manager of Greensboro. It’s a new adventure and an unexpected twist after her years working in athletics.

And as much as she enjoyed living on the west coast, it’s nice to reconnect to her southern roots, and help other young people find work and homes in the Gate City. “In Greensboro, you get what you want in a big city,” she says, “But you don’t have to deal with the big city rush.”

Drawing young talent to Greensboro 

Albritton now plays a role in creating neighborhoods where people want to start their first job, try out a new career, or buy their first house.

Alumni April Albritton attends the talk by Andrew Young.

She’s part of an initiative called “Youngsboro.” The committee, which includes students from UNCG and other area institutions, who brainstorm ideas to encourage young people to stay in Greensboro after they graduate.

“The Greensboro area has 70,000 college students,” Albritton explains. “We want to harness that smart and innovative talent and make sure this is the city they want to live in.”

She’s helping the Housing and Neighborhood Development director formulate a financial support program for people looking to put a down payment on a home.

“When we do that, you see a lot of success for underrepresented populations and people who don’t make as much money. We’re also regenerating neighborhoods and rebuilding communities.”

She also got involved with Boomerang Greensboro, a program that engages with people who left the city and then moved back. Boomerang Greensboro has profiled several Spartans, including School of Theatre Artist-in-Residence Dominick Amendum, Vice Chancellor of Advancement Beth Fischer, and alumni Tal Blevins, owner of the popular restaurant MACHETE.

Action Greensboro Executive Director Cecelia Thompson was impressed by Albritton’s personality and relatability. “She was a mentor last year to students in our Campus Greensboro program. Because she had lived all over Seattle and New York and Charlotte, she had a really good story to tell. She has gotten involved in our synerG Young Professionals organization, where the goal is to create a pipeline to get involved in other things in Greensboro.”

Twilight trips and Cheerwine nostalgia 

Albritton’s first stint as a resident Greensboro was when she enrolled in pre-med biology at UNCG. Her career prospects and her passion for travel took her across the country.

Her focus became athletics once she switched to kinesiology and became manager of the UNCG men’s basketball team. It was on the road for a game in Washington that she fell in love with the city of Seattle.

Her dream to live there was realized in 2008, while working as assistant director of ticketing for Davidson College Athletics – when Steph Curry was on the basketball team roster – she got an offer to work in the Emerald City with the University of Washington Intercollegiate Athletic Department.

She enjoyed the opportunity to explore the nation’s varied landscapes. One of her favorite trips started with her friend’s love of the “Twilight” novels, which are set in Forks, Washington. “You have to take a ferry first, and then wind into the mountains to get there,” she says. “It’s absolutely gorgeous. You go above the clouds. The mountains and cascades are still untouched.”

Moving was not without its challenges. “The hardest thing for me to adjust to in Seattle was how it didn’t get warm until the Fourth of July.” And, of course, there was homesickness. “When I got off of work, it was 8 or 9 p.m. for my parents. And one of the things I missed the most was Cheerwine.”

Eventually, Albritton decided to come back east. In 2019, UNCG offered her a position as director of the Spartan Club. “I watched the sports industry becominge more business-like and policy-driven, and I realized I needed to learn more about that,” she says.

That opportunity to learn more about business came to her in 2022, when she became chief of staff for Greensboro’s city manager, and it’s kept her in North Carolina ever since.

At the forefront of change and innovation 

Now that Albritton has gotten a taste of community development, she wants to see students explore similar careers.

Alumni April Albritton with Jordan Gontram and Assistant Coach Bethany Wells at NCAA tournament.

“City planning or transportation are the things that make a city a city,” she says. “People want to ride a bus that always arrives on time. People love light rails and biking. Those take years of planning, working with the community, having discussions. I wish more people realized they can be on the forefront of having the things they want. Luckily, UNCG has an excellent master’s and undergraduate program in public affairs.”

Albritton sees the dedication of other alumni she works alongside, such as Phil Fleischmann, director of Greensboro’s Parks and Recreation Department; and Dr. Whitney Oakley, superintendent of Guilford County Schools. With people like them, she can bring her visions for Greensboro’s future to life, and aspire to draw more people there to live and work.

“Greensboro is so diverse and affordable. I know I can meet all sorts of people because of the way Greensboro has embraced welcoming refugees. And it has different universities, each with a different background.”

Three years since her return, she says she doesn’t feel that itch to move. She’s making connections and growing her career. And she loves making a difference in a new way. She hopes other students will do the same.

“Students should realize that you can plan the place you want to live.”

Story by Janet Imrick, University Communications
Photography courtesy of April Albritton, City of Greensboro

Students walk past a fountain in downtown Greensboro.

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