Emily Krzyzewski Center
Chief Program Officer
Valerie has served in leadership roles in nonprofit education and community-based organizations focused on holistic youth development, strengthening the education to career pipeline for youth of color, and addressing systemic barriers to success for youth from communities of color and lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Valerie currently serves as Chief Program Officer at the Emily K Center, a nonprofit college access organization in Durham, NC. Together with her husband, Valerie has three fantastically colorful children ages 23, 21 and 14, and also claims a number of “village children” who help to enrich her life greatly. Valerie obtained her B.A. in psychology from Yale University and her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Duke University.
Sheila currently works for MamásConPoder/ MomsRising as a Campaign Associate. She is a parent, leader and trainer for the Division of Public Health, Children and Youth Branch, NC Department of Health and Human Services. She is currently on the Steering Committee for Participatory Budgeting in Durham and on the board of Hands and Voices for NC. She is also a part of different committees.
Sheila has worked at Durham Early Head Start and Children’s Developmental Services. She has been a part of many trainings, such as Triple P and touch points. Sheila has helped organized and lead different campings around the country. She has been a speaker for different events both in English and Spanish.
Sheila was one of the seven finalists for the vacant Durham city council seat and was one of the youngest cast members for the Listen to your Mother show, as well as a recipient of Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Award in 2015.
Board Vice Chair
WAGES, A Community Action Agency
Chief Executive Officer
Head Start/Early Head Start
Patricia Beier serves as Chief Executive Officer for Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency, Inc. (WAGES), a large community action agency in North Carolina. In this role, she provides executive leadership and oversight for 12 diverse human service programs. These programs provide services for children, seniors and families. These services include: early education, economic and workforce development, energy efficiency housing supports, nutrition and senior volunteer programming.
Patricia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Justice and Public Policy from North Carolina Wesleyan College and a Master’s degree in Administration (Business Administration) from Central Michigan University as well as Certification in Non-profit Management from Duke University. She is also actively involved in her community serving on the local Domestic Violence Shelter Board, Wayne Forward, Literacy Council Board and the Goldsboro-Wayne Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors. In addition, she currently serves on several statewide and regional Boards, including as Immediate President of the North Carolina Head Start Association, Vice-Chair of the Board for NC Child, the Region IV Head Start Association Board and the North Carolina Community Action Board of Directors.
She uses her voice as a subject matter expert at all levels, and her consultative strategies, services and training have assisted numerous organizations across the southeastern United States. Patricia was honored as a 2019 Defender of Justice by the NC Justice Center and as a 2019 Early Childhood Champion by Guilford Child Development.
United Way of Central Carolinas
President & CEO
Assistant General Counsel
Self-Help Credit Union
As Assistant General Counsel for Self-Help Credit Union, Brandon is responsible for a variety of activities for the entire Self-Help family of entities including managing the organization’s litigation portfolio, overseeing the effective implementation of vendor management policies and procedures, and coordinating 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 Credit Union, Brandon served as Policy Counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending where he supported advocates around the county in state-level fights against predatory lending practices. 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.
Communities In Schools of North Carolina
President and CEO
Jill K. Cox is the President and CEO of Communities In Schools of North Carolina. She has more than 20 years of experience as a nonprofit leader and public relations/government relations professional and has managed a wide array of programs and projects to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness, consistency of message delivery and influence policy in both the NC General Assembly and Congress. During her professional career, Cox worked for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, NC State Government, the United Way and Communities In Schools, where she most recently served as Interim CEO and Chief Operating officer. She is the 2017 recipient of the Champions for Children Award given by the NC Foundation for Public School Children and has been the recipient of silver and bronze Addy Awards for her work in PR/Advertising campaigns with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Cox was born in rural Columbus, Texas. Graduated Cum Lade from Texas State University and is married to Michael J. Cox. She is the mother of two children – Naomi and Casey.
Retired Public Health Social Worker
President-New Hanover County NAACP
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 Counties. The North Carolina NAACP recognized her as District Director of the Year in 2015.
Ms. Dicks Maxwell is a retired Public Health Social Worker from Brunswick County Health Services. Public health has been her passion and career for the past twenty-five 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
University Recruiting Business Partner
Ms. English is an University Recruiting Business Partner at Cisco Systems, managing the hiring strategy for recent college graduates and interns. She has also supported Cisco’s 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
Coastal Horizons Center, Inc.
Treatment Operations Director
Ryan Estes, MSW, MBA, 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 an MBA from UNC-Wilmington.
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
Durham Nativity School
Senior Director of Development and Advancement
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 Durham Nativity School in 2014 where she works to provide opportunities for children with an economic childhood similar to her own. Prior to her current role, she has worked in Fundraising for Teach For America and the American Heart Association. She also worked in the pharmaceutical sector for Pfizer Inc. as a territory manager in Atlanta, GA. She has been an active board member of various PTAs for over 10 years. Kim now resides in Wake Forest, NC with her family where she enjoys cooking and reading.
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. Other active board affiliation includes North Carolina Museum of History Associates, executive committee and co-chair of membership committee, and Duke Divinity School Board of Visitors.
Nutritionally Yours LLC
President and CEO
Manju is the President/CEO of Nutritionally Yours LLC, a private practice offering personalized nutritional coaching focused on integrative and functional nutrition and weight management. She has a breadth of experience in acute care clinical nutrition, nutrition support, corporate wellness, public health education and community nutrition.
Manju has a breadth of leadership experience in her professional organization as well as local non-profit organizations. Her passion for health and education fuel her service to the community. She was awarded the Cabot Community Champion Award in 2019 for her service with Meals on Wheels of Wake County. She was also inducted into the Cooking Matters Hall of Fame in 2016 for her commitment to nutrition education in low income communities.
Director of Network and Organizational Effectiveness
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Elaine Mejia is Director of Network and Organizational Effectiveness at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Elaine previously held positions at Public Works: The Center for the Public Sector, the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, and worked as an analyst in state and local government. She holds an M.P.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Political Science from Texas A&M University. Elaine lives in Duplin County, North Carolina in the small town of Faison, NC. She and her husband have restored two historic homes and are raising their two children.
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.
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 2021. 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. Also, Jesse was a regulator at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and served as the Health Policy Advisor for Rick Snyder for Governor in 2010. Jesse is a first generation college graduate in his family. He was born and reared in Mississippi and lives in Cary, NC with his family.
Terry is a former systems analyst who moved to Asheville, NC in 1992. She became very involved with the non-profit community in Western North Carolina, serving on the Boards of Pisgah Legal Services, the Council on Aging, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and others. Working as a volunteer navigator, helping people get health insurance, she was outraged when she had to tell people they did not qualify because the NC General Assembly turned down Medicaid Expansion. That, and the defunding of vital programs by the Legislature, encouraged her to run for office. She was appointed to the NC Senate to represent District 49 after the death of Sen. Martin Nesbitt and was elected in her own right in 2014. She served 3+ terms in the NC Senate, including 2 as Democratic Whip.
She is proud to have been named a First 2000 Days Champion for Children by Smart Start of Buncombe County in 2015, Legislator of the Year by the NC Child Care Coalition in 2017, and a Champion for Children by the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children in 2018.
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.