sonja gantt
Sonja Gantt addressing Charlotte students on the value of reading in 2014. Charlotte Observer file photo

Sonja Gantt, a key personality in WCNC’s (Channel 36) news department for nearly 20 years, will leave the anchor desk in January for a new philanthropic role.

Gantt, 50, will become executive director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Public Schools Foundation, a 501-c-3 nonprofit that collects donations to supplement educational programs.

“We want our teachers to feel supported and not feel like what happens in their classrooms is limited by resources,” Gantt said Monday.

“I’ll be sharing the story of what’s happening in the classrooms with businesses that want to invest.” Gantt said she has always had a passion for education and considered pursuing a career in teaching while in college.

She will continue to anchor early evening newscasts through December and will remain with WCNC afterward in a part-time role, helping with special projects and outreach, the station said Monday.

“Sonja has been a central member of our news team for nearly 20 years,” said WCNC’s general manager. “She is committed to continuing to have a role in helping our community and we are thrilled she will remain with NBC Charlotte to assist on special projects.”

Daughter of former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, she attended East Mecklenburg High School and got a journalism degree from UNC Chapel Hill. Gantt landed her first job at the CBS affiliate in Florence, S.C., then moved to Charlotte’s WBTV (Channel 3) for five years as health care reporter and fill-in anchor.

In 1993, she moved to Chicago to report and anchor for WGN-TV, the Midwestern superstation. She returned to Charlotte in 1997 as an anchor at WCNC.