Our Staff

Our Staff

Claudia Altman

Environmental Health Practicum Student

Claudia is a Virginia native and grew up in the small town of Hopewell, Virginia. She attended Virginia Polytechnic and State Institute (VT) where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition, foods, and exercise and a minor in public health. Currently, Claudia is a first-year student enrolled in Campbell University’s dual degree public health and physician assistant practice program. As a public health student, she has been working to understand public health’s role in creating an equitable future with an emphasis on understanding the disparities disproportionately found in rural communities. Beginning in July, Claudia will transition to the physician assistant studies program to begin her medical training and applying her public health knowledge at an individual level. Claudia is looking forward to working with NC Child this summer on the lead health database and prenatal lead prevention program.

Brad Beauregard

Office Manager

When Brad was eight, he wanted to be a rock star. Since then, he’s learned to play and build guitars and has managed athletic equipment for teams at NC State, Wake Forest University, and the United States Military Academy at West Point, often earning the name of “team dad.” As NC Child’s office manager, Brad ensures smooth office operations like a rock star, with an eye on the details. He has a BA in Religion from Wake Forest University and is a staunch Demon Deacons fan.

Brad’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Being able to support people who are passionate about improving the lives of children in North Carolina.”

Joined the NC Child staff: 2022
Pets: Two dogs, Eli and Frankie

Elizabeth Byrum

Policy Analyst

When Elizabeth was eight, she wanted to be a doctor or an artist. Since then she’s spent time as a YMCA camp counselor, aspiring music journalist, grant writer, social worker, yoga teacher, and overall nonprofit Renaissance woman. As Policy Analyst, Elizabeth collaborates with early childhood advocates to advance policies that provide support and promote sustainable change for North Carolina’s child care system. A Tar Heel born, bred, and dead, Elizabeth received Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degrees and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and global studies, all from UNC-Chapel Hill. She lives in her hometown of Raleigh with her partner Mike. Outside of the office, Elizabeth enjoys following local music, hiking and camping in NC’s state parks, and cooking semi-elaborate recipes for dinner.

Elizabeth’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “The kind and thoughtful co-workers that inspire me every day”

Joined NC Child Staff: 2020
Pets: Benjamin Franklin, a temperamental miniature dachshund

Morgan Forrester Ray

Director, EarlyWell Initiative
Morgan Forrester (919) 670-2717

When she was 8, Morgan wanted to be a teacher. Today, Morgan is NC Child’s emotional wellness cheerleader, bringing together leaders from across sectors to ensure the mental and emotional health of North Carolina’s infants and toddlers. She grew up in Northern Kentucky and now calls Raleigh, N.C. home. She has an MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill, and as a crocheter is the newest member of NC Child’s Yarn Club.

Morgan’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “I have two favorite things: the people and the work, so basically it’s like nirvana.”

Joined NC Child Staff: 2019
Pets: Nova, a ten year-old shelter pup

Morgan Forrester

Kim Gibson-Forrest

Director of Finance & Administration
Kim Gibson-Forrest (919) 726-6535

Kim has always wanted to be an accountant, even as a little girl, when she dreamed of growing up to work with her Dad – an accountant. As NC Child’s Director of Finance & Administration, Kim manages the organization’s finance and human resource functions. Kim received her BS in – surprise! – accounting from Binghamton University. Outside of work, Kim spends most of her time watching her six kids in action in their wrestling matches, football, soccer, volleyball, and basketball games.

Kim’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Knowing I have a small part in making kids’ lives better in NC – not many accountants can say that!”

Joined NC Child Staff: 2017
Pets: 2 dogs, Koda and Bailey

Kim Gibson-Forrest

Tiffany Gladney

Policy Director
(919) 551-8140

Tiffany dreamed of becoming a journalist when she was a child – she had her sights on Oprah Winfrey’s job. As NC Child’s Policy Director, she has big dreams for our state’s children too. Tiffany leads NC Child’s legislative advocacy efforts, and uses data and research to analyze how public policy can better support North Carolina’s children and families. A native of Winston-Salem, Tiffany studied communications at NC State University. She honed her communications and policy skills in previous roles at St. Augustine’s University, the March of Dimes, and the NC Rural Center. When she’s not listening to legislative committee hearings, Tiffany divides her time between napping, admiring fire trucks, interior design, and trying new recipes.

Tiffany’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Literally making a positive impact on North Carolina.”

Joined the staff: 2021
Pets: An adorable dog son, a black mini goldendoodle named Ace

Claire Hermann

Communications Manager
(919) 766-6623

As a child, Claire dreamed of growing up to become a veterinarian like her mom. She was born in California and raised in Winston-Salem N.C., where she gained her love of language as a singer and poet. Claire comes to NC Child with a robust background in strategic communications, having served in communications roles at several North Carolina-based organizations advocating for local farms, sustainable agriculture, health equity, and environmental protection. She’s still a poet and is part of a weekly women writer’s group that has been meeting since 2008. She earned her BA in Honors English from Scripps College, and MA in Journalism & Mass Communications from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Claire’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “The emphasis on community action, and committed coworkers who get nerdy about policy change.”

Joined the NC Child Staff: 2021
Pets: A very spoiled cat named Tiny

Abria Herring

Community Engagement Intern

Abria Herring is a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. Abria grew up in Greensboro, NC and plans to teach Special Education after she graduates.

This summer she is working with our Community Engagement Team. She’s helping the Care and Learning project (CandL) connect with child care providers and parents around the state to find out how we can make early education a possibility for every child.

Luna Homsi 

Research Assistant 

Luna Homsi grew up in Maryland, and dreamed of becoming a pediatrician or a librarian one day. She’s now a graduate student at the UNC School of Public Health, completing her MPH in the spring of 2022.

As NC Child’s Research Assistant, Luna’s work supports a multi-year initiative to improve the dental health care that children and their families receive through Medicaid and NC Health Choice. When she’s not designing surveys and analyzing data, Luna loves to try new recipes from the NY Times Cooking app.

Luna’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: Doing exciting and meaningful work that has a positive impact on kids around the state.

Joined the NC Child staff: 2022
Pets: None, but she lives with a black cat named Ziggy Stardust

Michelle Hughes

Executive Director
Michelle Hughes

When she was eight, Michelle wanted to be a teacher. Today as NC Child’s Executive Director, Michelle oversees the staff, finances, and strategic direction of the organization. Additionally, Michelle serves as NC Child’s primary point of contact to external allies, including policymakers, the media, and private allies. Michelle has worked in the field of children’s advocacy for almost 20 years in North Carolina. She holds Master’s degrees in English and Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill. She loves to cook, and is constantly cooking up new ideas as NC Child’s most prolific Idea Generator.

Michelle’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Getting to work alongside smart, committed, strategic advocates for children and learning from them every day.”

Joined NC Child staff: 2014
Pets: Max the dog and Boots the cat

Michelle Hughes

Arssante Malone

Community Engagement Specialist

When Arssante was eight, he wanted to be a ninja. Now, Arssante Malone is a husband and father of five, committed to serving historically excluded and marginalized community members.

As Public Engagement Specialist at NC Child, Arssante builds and sustains relationships with Child Advocacy Network (CAN) members. He has a particular emphasis on growing network leadership among organizations led by people of color.

Arssante has lectured at universities in the Middle East, worked as a school leader in Africa, served as a 1st-8th grade English teacher in the states, and even formed a nonprofit that supports low-income families and youth through socio-emotional learning (SEL) workshops and martial arts training. As an Impact Leader/Instructional Coach, Arssante manages a cohort of Black male educators and provides SEL support as a preventative intervention to teacher burnout.

Arssante’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Being a part of people known for getting in “good trouble”.

Joined the NC Child staff: 2021

Fawn Pattison

Director of Program Strategy
Fawn Pattison (919) 726-6344

At age eight, Fawn wanted to be a large animal veterinarian. As Director of Program Strategy at NC Child, she coordinates program strategy and messaging across the agency, to advance policies that create opportunity for more children in North Carolina to thrive. She serves as our main contact with the media, and boils down complex policy issues to what’s really at stake for kids.

Before coming to NC Child, Fawn spent several years as a consultant helping non-profits and academic programs realign priorities, resources, and talent into more strategic forces for good. Prior to that work she served 13 years as the executive director of a statewide advocacy organization focused on environmental health. She has an MA and a Certificate in Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill. She also serves as NC Child’s in-house craft beer sommelier, Fun Team secretary, and third vice-chair of the Yarn Club.

Fawn’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “The wonderful co-workers”  

Joined the NC Child staff: 2018
Pets: Lion the dog

Fawn Pattison

La-Mine Perkins

Co-Director of Community Engagement
La-Mine Perkins (919) 726-6394

When La-Mine was eight, she wanted to be a chef. Today she still loves to cook, and she coordinates NC Child’s outreach and story collection work, leading both our Youth Advocacy Council and Parent Advisory Council. La-Mine received her BSW at NC State UniversityShe recently received her MSW from NC State while also working full-time and raising a family. Believe it or not, she also finds time to read. 

La-Mine’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Being a part of a team that’s striving to use both data and the lived experiences of people to inform our work.” 

Joined the NC Child Staff: 2017
Pets: Blackie the dog 

La-Mine Perkins

Ileana Rodriguez

Development Director
Ileana Rodriguez (919) 726-6325

When she was eight, Ileana wanted to be a writer. Today she’s the chief talent recruiter for the Voices for Children Choir. She works closely with the Executive Director and the Board of Directors to create and oversee NC Child’s fundraising efforts, with a focus on individual and major giving. Ileana received degrees in Music and Art History from UNC Greensboro. She serves as vice president of NC Child’s Fun Team and Yarn Club. She lives in Raleigh with her partner Jared, three sewing machines, nine bicycles, at least ten unfinished knitting projects, dozens of cookbooks, and way, way, way too many records to count.

What Ileana likes best about working at NC Child: “My smart and hilarious colleagues.”

Joined NC Child Staff: 2019
Pets: Dignan the dog and Applejack the cat

Ileana Rodriguez

Adam Sotak

Co-Director of Community Engagement
Adam Sotak (919) 726-6396

When Adam was eight, he wanted to be a professional soccer player. Born in West Virginia, Adam moved to Salisbury, NC (the home of Cheerwine) at age 12, where he lived out his dreams of soccer stardom. As NC Child’s Statewide Cat Herder, Adam leads our grassroots advocacy efforts to promote economic opportunity and improve children’s health and well-being. Adam also leads the Child Advocacy Network. Adam received his BSW from Appalachian State University and MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill. He lives in Durham with his wife and three children. He enjoys reading the newspaper the old-fashioned way.

Adam’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Advocating for kids!”

Joined NC Child Staff: 2015
Pets: None

Adam Sotak

Shanda Sumpter

Early Childhood Education Project Director

As a child, Shanda wanted to grow up to be a pediatrician. Today she leads NC Child’s campaign to make early education and child care accessible to every family with young children in North Carolina. Shanda is a native of Sumter South Carolina, where she still owns two child care centers. In addition to her perspective as a successful small business owner and early childhood professional, Shanda brings a strong background in project management. She holds a BA from the University of South Carolina and an MBA from Webster University. She and her husband and three children live in Raleigh.

Shanda’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “So far, it’s having the opportunity to have a hand in changing the trajectory of the future for children all across NC. Also, being able to work in such a family-oriented organization is the icing on the cake!”

Joined NC Child staff: 2020
Pets:  A maltipoo named Kash Money

Kaylan Szafranski

Health Program Director
(919) 766-8505

Kaylan grew up in Greensboro, NC, where as a child she dreamed of becoming a horse trainer. Today she’s still an avid outdoors woman, but her day job is wrangling health care policy. As NC Child’s Health Program Director, Kaylan leads our team of advocates for children’s health. She promotes public health insurance programs – Medicaid and NC Health Choice – that help ensure every child has the opportunity to thrive. She brings tremendous expertise in health policy, including Medicaid, early childhood mental health, early intervention, and environmental health, through her past work at EverThrive, and the Legal Council for Health Justice. Before starting her career in health policy, Kaylan was an early childhood teacher. She is also NC Child’s official liaison to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

Favorite thing about working at NC Child: The incredibly passionate staff who work tirelessly to realize a better North Carolina for all children and families (and do it with a great sense of humor)!

Joined the staff: 2021
Pets: Two cats named Boat (seriously), and Oatmeal

Renita Webb

Parent Advisory Council Manager

Growing up in Durham NC, Renita dreamed of becoming a Broadway star. Her off-Broadway career path took her instead to education, where she spent many years as an educator in K-12 and university settings, a principal, and a manager of several educational programs. She joined NC Child’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) as a volunteer in 2019. She joined the staff as PAC Manager in 2021. Now her role is to coordinate and support a group of 18 parents from across the state whose children rely on Medicaid for their health care. Her goal is to ensure that the true experts on Medicaid and NC Health Choice have a say in how these critical programs work for North Carolina’s children.

Renita has a BA in English from Elon University, as well as an MEd in Education Administration from Grand Canyon University, and PhD in Leadership in Education Administration from Capella University.

Renita is a mother of four who loves to sing, dance, perform, and read. She lives with her family in Alamance County.

Renita’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “The authenticity and family feel from the staff.”

Joined the NC Child Staff:  2021
Pets: None currently

Our Fellows

Melissa Johnson

Fellow, Early Intervention and Mental Health
Melissa Johnson

Dr. Johnson received her B.A. in psychology from Duke University, and completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980. Her clinical, teaching and research activities have all focused on infant mental health and on high-need children and families, particularly preterm infants, as well as children with medical conditions, developmental disabilities, or experiences of abuse and neglect.

From 1986 until her retirement in 2016, she was employed at WakeMed Health and Hospitals as a pediatric psychologist and coordinator of the Developmental Team of the Pediatric and Neonatology services. She is certified in the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale and the Assessment of Preterm Infant Behavior, and is a Senior Trainer in the NIDCAP© and is certified as an NNACP site reviewer. She is past president of the North Carolina Infant Mental Health Association, is a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Partnership for children, and is active in a number of statewide early childhood and family advocacy organizations and projects.

Melissa Johnson

Tom Vitaglione

Senior Advisor
Tom Vitaglione (919) 726-6526

As a young boy growing up in New York City, Tom dreamed of becoming a firefighter. He has spent the last four decades fighting for the health and safety of North Carolina’s children. As NC Child’s Utility Infielder, Tom is one of the state’s leading voices for maternal and child health. Tom received his MPH from Columbia University. He is passionate about the Yankees, Knicks, Rangers, and Giants, and has more awards named after him than anyone else in the office.

Tom’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “The warm staff camaraderie.”

Joined NC Child Staff: 2000
Pets: Tom is a cat lover with no cats

Tom Vitaglione

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