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Celebrating Accomplished Women!

In honor of our May issue and its focus on celebrating women, we interviewed three successful professional women working in diverse fields to get their take on living and working in the rapidly growing Charlotte Metro region. As the Queen City continues to thrive, women are pursuing new opportunities, exceeding expectations, overcoming challenges and naturally stepping into leadership positions both professionally and in the community.


Acosta Heating, Cooling & Electrical is a family business that many native Charlotteans instantly turn to when in need of heating, ventilation or air conditioning (HVAC) service or repair. The business celebrated its 50th anniversary in October last year, marking a half-century of service to the Charlotte area. Founded in 1972 by Ezequiel "Zeke" Acosta, the business has earned a reputation for knowledgeable salespeople and technicians who care about their customers.

In December 2019, Lauren Acosta Huckleberry took over as president of the company when her dad officially retired. Although she was around the business often, particularly in her teen years when Lauren occasionally helped in the office performing a variety of tasks, she eventually left for college and began a career in marketing that lasted for six years.

When Lauren’s father offered her a sales position at Acosta, there were expectations that had to be met first. Lauren shares, “He made me go to school all over again!” Lauren attended CPCC for HVAC classes (just as her father had done) and when she had completed those, he sent her to Texas to train for a few weeks with one of Acosta’s primary manufacturing suppliers to learn all aspects of how the equipment was built to gain a thorough understanding of the products Acosta sales and services.

Lauren is quick to point out it was never assumed that she or her younger brother would join the family business. She explains, “It really wasn’t pushed upon me. From my mom’s perspective, that was really intentional. She didn’t want my brother nor I to feel limited or that going into the family business was our only option.” Lauren acknowledges with a good-natured laugh that she and her brother, who works in sales, are definitely involved in the business now!

The business became more of a family affair in 2020 when Lauren’s husband obtained his electrical license from the state of NC, prompting the business to expand to include electrical services as well as HVAC. The company initiated a brand refresh in 2022 to introduce itself as Acosta Heating, Cooling & Electrical with a bright teal color scheme and bold logo. The reasons for this were twofold, to introduce all Acosta has to offer to the large influx of people who continue moving to the area and to let all their customers know that Acosta’s menu of services now included electrical services.


HVAC and electrical services have not traditionally been considered areas where women could make a career, let alone thrive, working their way up in the business to management positions or even becoming the president of the company as Lauren has done. She recalls how when she first began working in the field, “People were always surprised when I was the going into the attics and crawl spaces where this equipment is usually housed.” Surprise turned to amazement when she and her husband decided to start a family and Lauren was still going into these areas as long as she was physically able despite being pregnant.

Lauren is working to change that perception by staying active in pro-women networking groups and by promoting her own female employees who have proven themselves worthy of advancement. Her sales manager is a woman and began her career at Acosta more than five years ago as a sales lead coordinator. Likewise, her service manager began working for Acosta as a customer service representative and now runs the entire service and electrical department.


When asked what challenges she anticipates her business facing in the future, Lauren cites “the lack of young people going into the trades as one of the biggest limiting factors” for the organization’s continued growth. She says she sees a new openness to choosing a career in the trades today compared to years past when obtaining a college degree was widely viewed as the only viable career path.

Lauren is excited about Acosta’s Apprenticeship Program not only as a path forward for her business’ future growth but also as an opportunity to let people looking for an alternative career path that skilled tradespeople are in high demand and can have a career earning six figures. The apprenticeship program at Acosta includes a learning phase that lasts four months. Within five months, apprentices can be out in the field with their own company vehicles.

Visit or call 704.859.8883 to learn more!


 Dr. Mala Freeman-Waku or Dr. Freeman as she is known to her patients, is a gynecologist and obstetrician with a practice specializing in gynecological care.  Arboretum Gynecology is located at 3125 Springbank Lane, Suite B, Charlotte, NC 28226.

Asked why she decided to pursue a career in women’s healthcare, Dr. Freeman responds, “When I tell people how I got interested in Ob/GYN they don’t really believe that’s how it happened, but it is." Dr. Freeman reveals that growing up in Virginia being raised by a single parent, she had access to her mother’s extensive library on women’s health, women’s bodies and how they function.

Dr. Freeman was immediately fascinated by the subject, sharing the knowledge she acquired through reading these books with other kids her age. She describes herself as “that kid on the street who talked to all the [girls] about what their menstrual cycle was like and talked about their bodies and gynecological stuff on a kid’s level because I was a kid obviously, and that’s how I got interested in it.” Dr. Freeman asserts, “I decided then that I was going to be an Ob/GYN.”

A native Virginian, Dr. Freeman chose to attend the University of Virginia, as “it seemed like a natural pick” for where she should begin her postsecondary education. After earning her undergrad degree, Dr. Freeman decided to take some time away from her studies to work as an HIV/AIDS educator in the Tidewater region of Virginia. She later returned to UVA to attend medical school and did her residency at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.


Although Dr. Sophia Paige and Dr. Freeman both attended UVA, the two never met as students. They did connect at a Black Alumni Reunion while Dr. Freeman was still in residency at Georgetown. Dr. Freeman notes she was familiar with Dr. Paige’s work, having seen a write-up about her practice in Charlotte. Dr. Freeman asked Dr. Paige if she might be interested in taking on a partner, and Dr. Paige was receptive to the idea.

Questioned about her early impressions of Charlotte, Dr. Freeman makes it clear she found the city and its inhabitants to be warm and welcoming. As she puts it, “I loved the city, the environment, the layout, the mixture of people, the size of the area…I interviewed in several other places, but I kept coming back to Charlotte, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Much like Charlotte, the practice has evolved considerably since Dr. Freeman joined as a partner in 2003. Two years ago, the practice went through a major transition, deciding to offer gynecological services only. There was also a notable change in staffing as Dr. Paige left to open another practice in South Carolina, and former partner Dr. Octavia Cannon left to return to her native state of Michigan.

Dr. Freeman explains that given the change in focus and the reduced number of physicians at the practice, “I am essentially the anchor of the practice at this point with Dr. Deborah Parry Warren.” Dr. Warren joined the practice eight years ago on a part-time basis and remains in that role. Dr. Freeman shared that a nurse practitioner has been hired and will be joining the practice within the next month.

When asked about referrals for her patients when they need an obstetrician, Dr. Freeman notes with pride that the practice works diligently to develop “close relationships with our patients, so I really try to individualize it; I try to think of where they live in the area and what kind of [birthing] experience they are looking for.”

Dr. Freeman considered retiring a couple of years ago but soon realized she would miss the daily interactions with her patients, noting that she has been caring for many of the same patients since she moved to Charlotte two decades ago. Dr. Freeman confides the most rewarding part of practicing medicine for her is to have a patient come in with a problem and for her to be able to help them because she has seen so much, giving her the expertise required to know the best plan of treatment.

To learn more about how you can experience “having a concierge gynecologist without the concierge fee”, contact Arboretum Gynecology at 704.341.1103.


Lynn Wallace serves as the Senior Vice President of New Development Sales & Marketing for The Aspenwood Company. Her focus is overseeing sales, marketing and business development for Bridgewood Property Company communities. Lynn has been instrumental in the development of The Village on Morehead, a new 199-unit luxury retirement living community slated to open this November.

Lynn has 25 years of experience in the new development of luxury living spaces. Asked about The Village on Morehead, Lynn observes this project is definitely a community that is unique to Charlotte. She remarks that its location in historic Dilworth “makes it unique in itself because we’re pretty much the only retirement community that’s conveniently located to downtown.”


Explaining how The Village on Morehead differs from other retirement communities in the area, Lynn notes, “It’s a more urban living luxury model, the style our company has been long focused on building with the ability to offer a lifestyle that’s based on walkability and ready access to the arts and culture remaining a top priority.”

Lynn admits, “I’ve always loved to be involved with more of the luxury line of our company…because you’re going to be looking for the right neighborhoods, walkability, the convenience of stores, shopping, restaurants—culture and all that has to offer residents.” As any good realtor would agree, it really is all about location, finding the location that’s right for you and the type of lifestyle you prefer.

Having researched the competition, Lynn emphasizes how life at The Village on Morehead offers a welcome alternative to “campus-based” living in suburban retirement communities which tend to be insular by nature and offer much less access to a variety of amenities that can easily be found and enjoyed when living close to the city.


Lynn can identify many sources of inspiration that drove her to pursue a career in this field: “I’ve always liked to help people. I love real estate of course. New development—I love it because I love to see a dream become a reality.” Lynn recalls interviewing for her first job in senior housing and being asked to tell the interviewers a bit about herself. True to form, Lynn frankly replied, “Well, I’m good in sales. I’m great in marketing, but I love to sell dirt, paper and a dream.” She got the job and has been working to help people’s dreams come to fruition ever since.

The Village on Morehead will be Lynn’s 29th opening in this business. She shares that her work still gives her professional and personal fulfillment as she has the privilege of experiencing the journey along with the residents and she takes great joy in witnessing the sense of camaraderie and seeing new friendships begin to blossom among soon-to-be residents, often in the development and building stages, well before the community opens!

Lynn does caution that some find the transition difficult at first. Most people don’t readily embrace change and it can take time to come to terms with the fact that you have given up your home, your backyard and your garage. However, the opportunities for socializing can make a profound change in your life. Lynn contends, “I’ve seen people get healthier. As individuals begin to interact and participate in the exercise programs and take advantage of our wellness amenities, their physical and mental health often improves as they can finally focus more on their overall well-being without the stress of having to worry about the demands of home ownership any longer.”

Having relocated to Charlotte a year ago, Lyn reveals she has found the people here to be hospitable and feels the move to the Queen City has been great for her. She likens Charlotte to “a big little city.” Not surprisingly, given her vocation, Lynn remarks she loves the location: “I love Charlotte…being close to the mountains and being close to the ocean has been a great experience.”

To learn more or schedule a tour, contact Lynn Wallace at 704.831.8000 or visit today!

The stories of these women are representative of numerous women whose contributions, both professional and community-oriented, are instrumental in improving the daily quality of life in the Charlotte area. Women play many, varied, key roles across a multitude of sectors that will place them at the forefront as our city continues to evolve.

I loved the city, the environment, the layout, the mixture of people, the size of the area...I interviewed in several other places, but I kept coming back to Charlotte, and I've been here since. ~ Dr. Mala Freeman