Born in Coral Gables, Florida, Mark’s opportunities to learn from difficult experiences started early. Born into a wealthy family, Mark’s mother struggled with mental health issues most of her life. By his teen years the family had lost nearly all of their wealth and they had gone from “riches to rags.” Mark began rebelling and was expelled from high school for non attendance.
Mark’s life was transformed when in 1961 at the age 16 he was arrested for forging checks. Given the choice of going to jail for 4 years or enlisting in the military, Mark served in the United States Air Force. With newfound discipline and determination, Mark decided to turn his life around.
After working his way through the University of Tennessee, Mark began his real estate career at United Parcel Service as a real estate manager in 1969. Deciding to branch out and work for himself, Mark created a property development and investment company in 1978. Through this, Mark developed shopping centers, offices and residential, while also acquiring investment properties. In 1982 he and a partner created Crosland Erwin Associates in Charlotte, NC and went on to develop several million square feet of commercial and mixed use projects. In 1991, Mark sold his interest in the development company to his partner and created Erwin Capital, Inc. to hold his family investments.
Mark went on to serve the Clinton Administration in two positions. President Clinton first appointed him to the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. He was later asked to serve as United States Ambassador to a regional embassy serving the Republic of Mauritius, the Republic of the Seychelles and the Federal Islamic Republic of Comoros.
Ambassador Erwin has served on the boards of over thirty-five civic, charitable, and educational organizations. He was an Adjunct Professor at the Business School of Winthrop University for several years. He received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Winthrop University as well as the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine” from the Governor of North Carolina. Mark was also ordained as a Minister of the Methodist Church. Over the years he has been awarded several honorary knighthoods.
An author, his books include Life’s Lessons: Lines of Wisdom from a Faithful Stream, and Headed Home: Providences of Laughter, Love and Joy, both of which he co-authored with renowned artist Bob Timberlake, and The Practical Ambassador: A Common Sense Guide for United States Ambassadors, which became part of the curriculum of the Foreign Service Institute at the State Department. His memoir, An Unlikely Journey is based on his personal story of overcoming early disaster to pursue a life filled with adventure and success.
Mark’s newest release, The Powers: 12 Principles to Transform Your Life from Ordinary to Extraordinary will provide readers with insight into recognizing the powers within them and how to use these powers to achieve extraordinary results in their chosen paths. The book also provides many examples of ordinary people who have harnessed their own powers to achieve the extraordinary.
He and his wife, Joan, maintain a residence in Charlotte, North Carolina. They have two daughters, Jennifer and Melissa and four grandchildren, Della, Lila, Virginia and Thomas Erwin Highsmith. When not working, Mark is an avid golfer and also enjoys world travels.
Watch Former U.S. Ambassador Mark Erwin Welcome You to Charlotte, NC