Board of Directors

NC Child Board of Directors

Sheila Arias

Patricia Beier

Laura Clark

Deborah Clarke


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Consultant to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Chapel Hill

Dr. Deborah Clarke works at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a consultant to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. She has extensive experience in student affairs, academic administration and project management. Most recently she has been engaged with University initiatives related to undergraduate advising and student retention, and the intersection of college athletics and academics. She helped launch the inaugural MBA@UNC cohort and is the former Director of the full-time Masters of Business Administration Program at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. She also served as Director of Student Services at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing and was a House Dean and Fellow in UPenn’s College Houses and Academic Services. She worked in Bank of America’s (formerly NationsBank) Management Associate Program, a rotational management training program. Clarke is passionate about issues related to children and families in North Carolina. She holds a BA in History from Wake Forest University, a Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration from Vanderbilt University, and earned her Doctorate in Higher  Education Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She enjoys reading, hiking, yoga and spending time with her family. She lives in Raleigh with her husband, Walt, and their two middle school children, Emma Kate and Redding.

Brandon Coleman


Assistant General Counsel
Self-Help Credit Union

Brandon manages the Credit Union’s litigation portfolio; oversees the effective implementation of vendor management policies and procedures, and coordinates with internal business clients to negotiate legal agreements governing partner and vendor relationships to account for business needs regulatory requirements, and legal risk tolerances. Prior to joining Self-Help, Brandon served as Policy Counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending. In addition, he has served as Legislative Correspondent for Congressman G.K. Butterfield where he managed the Financial Services, Small Business and Ways and Means legislative portfolio; and conducted legal analysis on other policy issues. A graduate of Duke Law School, Brandon and his wife live in Durham, NC.

Jill Cox

Immediate Past Board Chair

Immediate Past Board Chair

Communities In Schools of North Carolina
Chief Operating Officer
Raleigh

Ms. Cox is the vice president of communications for Communities In Schools of North Carolina. In her 20 years of experience as a public relations and government relations professional, she has managed a wide array of programs and projects in both nonprofit and government organizations to improve the consistency of message delivery and influence policy in both the NC General Assembly and the U.S. Congress.

During her professional career, Ms. Cox has worked for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the NC State Government, the United Way, and Communities In Schools. She continues to lead statewide marketing collaboratives, develop public policy, and create community outreach and grassroots advocacy programs.

Deborah Dicks-Maxwell


Brunswick County Health Department
Social Work Supervisor
Bolivia

Ms. Dicks Maxwell is the current President of the New Hanover County NAACP and District Director for the Walter B. White District of North Carolina NAACP. The District covers Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender County. The North Carolina NAACP recognized her as District Director of the Year in 2015.

Ms. Dicks Maxwell is employed as a Public Health Social Worker at Brunswick County Health Services. Public health has been her passion and career for the past twenty years. The North Carolina Public Health Association named her Public Health Social Worker of the Year in 2009. She was awarded a health Disparities Fellowship for 2010-2012 from the NC Wellness Trust Fund and Duke University Global Institute. She is also an Army veteran having served in Operation Desert Storm and past commander of the Wilmington National Association of Black Veterans.

Leslie Gregory English

Treasurer

Cisco Systems
Operations Manager
Durham

Ms. English is an Operations Manager at Cisco Systems, supporting the Talent Acquisition senior leadership team with budget management, policy governance, data analysis and strategy implementation. Before that, she was the Financial Analyst for the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC), providing county-level data on the unmet needs of NC’s young children, calculating funding allocations of state funds, and managing annual budgets. Ms. English has also provided operational support for NC Early Childhood Foundation.

Ms. English received a bachelor’s degree in analytical finance and accounting from Wake Forest University.

Ryan Estes


Treasurer

Coastal Horizons Center, Inc.
Treatment Operations Director
Wilmington

Ryan Estes, LCSW, LCAS, CCS is the Treatment Operations Director for Coastal Horizons Center, Inc. Coastal Horizons Center is a comprehensive mental health provider headquartered in Wilmington with an annual operating budget nearing 35 million. Ryan received his BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Wake Forest University and his MSW from University of North Carolina at Chapel. Ryan has been in the field for over fifteen years as a clinician and director.  Ryan holds licenses in North Carolina as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist. Additionally, he is a Certified Clinical Supervisor with the NC Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board.  He is part of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, a rostered Trauma Focused CBT clinician, and a national Protective Factors trainer. Ryan has written over 5 million in successful federal and state grants, and transitioned these programs to diversified sustainable funding creating a more comprehensive array of child mental health services in the greater Wilmington area. His current work is focused on program development, fiscal and policy oversight, as well as clinical and administrative consultation. Ryan serves on the National Family Preservation Network board and is the former state president for the National Association of Social Workers – North Carolina. Ryan is a part-time adjunct faculty member for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in the College of Health and Human Services.

Sara P. Huddleston


Johnson Lambert LLP
Director of Human Resources
Raleigh

Ms. Huddleston is the Director of Human Resources at Johnson Lambert LLP, a CPA and consulting firm serving a nationwide client base.  She is responsible for all aspects of the firm’s HR, with a particular focus on the development and implementation of the firm’s HR vision and strategy.  She holds a Master’s of Education with a concentration in human resource development, and a Bachelors of Arts in communication studies and German, both from Vanderbilt University. Ms. Huddleston is currently pursuing her Professional Coaching Certification at North Carolina State University.  She is a volunteer with SAFEChild and the Junior League of Raleigh, and teaches Sunday School at White Memorial Presbyterian Church.  In her spare time Ms. Huddleston enjoys traveling to remote places, most recently for a camping expedition in Iceland with her husband and two young children.

Becky Johnson


Lisbon Ventures
Winston-Salem

Becky’s lifelong education career began with a first job as a teacher’s assistant in a Head Start program in Sampson County. Subsequent positions have included work in public schools in Virginia and North Carolina, the NC Community College system, the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Division of Child Development– primarily with programs for young children at risk, literacy and teacher support, providing direct services as well as policy work. Ms. Johnson holds degrees from Duke University and the University of Virginia. She previously served on the boards of First Vote, The Methodist Home for Children, and the Carolina Ballet. Currently, Becky is on the NC Museum of History Associates Board, the Duke Divinity School Board of Visitors, and of course, the NC Child Board of Directors.

Elaine Mejia


Senior Communications Specialist
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Faison

Ms. Mejia serves as the senior program associate with Public Works: The Center for the Public Sector, an organization whose mission is to build public will for the common good. Ms. Mejia collaborates with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations and public leaders around the country, helping them to communicate the role of government in society effectively.

Prior to joining the team at Public Works in 2010, she served as the director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, a state-level policy research and advocacy organization. During her time with the NC Budget and Tax Center, she contributed to several successful policy campaigns including initiatives to raise state taxes to address budget shortfalls, enact a state Earned Income Tax Credit, and raise the state minimum wage. She holds a master’s of public administration from UNC-Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s of science in political science from Texas A&M University.

Ms. Mejia lives in the town of Faison, NC, where she and her husband have restored two historic homes and are raising their two young sons.

Sarah Preston


Lilian’s List
Executive Director
Raleigh

Sarah Preston joined Lillian’s List after almost a decade as the Policy Director at the American Civil Liberties Union of NC, where she acted as the primary lobbyist and policy expert for the organization.  She has experience advocating and working with policy-makers at the state and local level on a variety of social justice and legal issues.  Sarah is barred to practice law in both Iowa and North Carolina.

Carl Rist

Board Chair

Prosperity Now
Senior Director for Children’s Savings and a Senior Advisor for Asset Building
Durham

Mr. Rist has spent over 20 years at Prosperity Now (formerly the Corporation for Enterprise Development) working on a variety of strategies to expand economic opportunity and help lower-income households build wealth. Presently, Mr. Rist is the Senior Director for Children’s Savings and a Senior Advisor for Asset Building. In this capacity, Mr. Rist directs Prosperity Now efforts—including field building, public policy advocacy and consulting services—to ensure that more than a million low-income children have access to Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs). Previously, Mr. Rist launched and directed the 1:1 Fund, an online fundraising and marketing tool that makes it easy for CSA programs to raise matching funds from individual donors, large and small, thereby enabling these donors to match the contributions of young savers in CSAs.  He is a graduate of Davidson College and received a master’s degree in public policy at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University.

Anna Boyle Roberts


Anna Roberts has more than 15 years experience in the Public Relations, government relations and public affairs sector – primary in North Carolina – including as the communications director for the NC House in 2014 and most recently as the communications director for the successful Marsy’s Law for NC victims’ rights amendment campaign – that earned 62 percent of the statewide vote on November 6.

Anna has served as a communications consultant for dozens of nonprofit and private sector clients in recent years including the Golden LEAF Foundation as well as clients that have policy-related issues in a range of sectors including law enforcement, education, economic development, healthcare and agriculture among many others.  She lives in Raleigh with her husband and three children who attend Wake County schools.

Kimberly Suarez


Vice Chair

Durham Nativity School
Director of Development
Wake Forest

Kim was born and raised in Eastern North Carolina until she left to go to the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1999 and lived in seven states around the country before returning to make Eastern North Carolina her permanent home. Kim brings with her a wealth of knowledge in the field of Fundraising and Business Development. She joined Teach For America in December 2016 where she aids in the work of providing opportunities for the children of the communities that helped to mold her. Prior to her current role, she has worked in Fundraising for Durham Nativity School and the American Heart Association. She also worked in the pharmaceutical sector for Pfizer Inc. as a territory manager in Atlanta, GA. Kim now resides in Wake Forest, NC with her family where she enjoys cooking and reading.

Jesse Thomas


CEO of Healthy Blue
Vice President of Medicaid Segment at Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC

Jesse leads BCBS of NC’s Medicaid plan, providing overall strategic leadership to operationalize the new health plan in 2019.  He serves as executive liaison between state regulators, legislators, community-based agencies and other stakeholders.  Jesse has extensive leadership experience in Medicaid MCOs. Prior to joining Blue Cross North Carolina, he served as CEO of Trusted Health Plans Inc. in Michigan and CEO of Coordinated Health Mutual in Ohio.  He has also had Executive leadership roles with Molina, Wellcare, and United Healthcare. Jesse served as the Health Policy Advisor for Rick Snyder for Governor in 2010.  The first of his family to finish college, Jesse was born in Mississippi and lives in Cary with his family.  

Meg Wiehe


Deputy Executive Director
Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy

As Deputy Executive Director of ITEP, Meg coordinates ITEP’s federal and state tax policy agenda. Meg works closely with policymakers, legislative staff and state and national organizations to advise and provide research on policy solutions that will achieve fair and sustainable federal, state and local tax systems. Before joining ITEP in 2010 as the state policy director, Meg worked at the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center where her research and advocacy focused on the effect of state fiscal policy on low- and moderate-income North Carolinians.  Her work in North Carolina included leading a successful campaign to enact a state refundable Earned Income Tax Credit. Meg has a Masters of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, and lives in Durham with her family.