2024 Alumni Awards Profiles

Charles Blake ’05Charles Blake ’05

Reunion: 20th
Residence: Little Rock, Arkansas
Grinnell major: Political science
Profession: Banking and government service

3 ways Charles embodies Grinnell College’s mission of lifetime learning and service

  1. Charles was elected to serve three terms in the Arkansas Legislature representing District 36 in Little Rock. He quickly rose through the ranks and was elected minority whip and vice chair of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus.
  2. During his tenure in the House, Charles played a pivotal role being the primary sponsor for multiple bills that focused on voting integrity and equality, criminal reform, and concerns of systemic and traditional racism embedded in the symbols of the state institutions, flags, and statues of Arkansas. He was the first legislator to introduce a bill to separate the Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee holidays in Arkansas, which went on to occur in 2017.
  3. Charles was the chief of staff to Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. from 2019 to 2022. He led the 2020 Census campaign for Little Rock and helped navigate the city through natural disasters, COVID-19, and social uprising during his tenure.

Something you probably didn’t know about Charles

Charles partook in football and music activities at Grinnell. He recorded 174 tackles for the Pioneers and was a classically trained bassist.

A collage of photos featuring Charles Blake ’05

Bonus Charles Fun Facts

  • Currently working as the Little Rock market executive at Southern Bancorp Bank, Charles is a banking partner for the African American and Hispanic communities and is responsible for building business development and community outreach efforts.
  • He was recognized by Arkansas Business Publishing Group as one of Arkansas’ 250 most influential leaders for six consecutive years.
  • Charles is a board member for the Leadership Foundation for Women, which provides professional development and educational opportunities for women. He also has been on the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arkansas board since 2005.

A quote about Charles

“I can’t think of anyone better deserving of recognition for the Grinnell College class of 2005. Rep. Blake’s service to his surrounding community began on the football field and extended on to serve the entire state of Arkansas. He has played a critical role in the advancement of all people in the state.”

Antonio M. Harrison ’05

Read more 2024 Alumni Award Recipient profiles.