Our Staff

Our Staff

Eva Paige Bahnuk

Communications & Development Assistant
Eva Paige Bahnuk (919)726-7675

When she was eight, Eva wanted to be a marine biologist, but today she’s a macro-level Social Work practitioner with a knack for data organization and management. As Communications & Development Assistant, she keeps track of the thousands of child advocates around the state who make up NC Child’s powerful network. Eva has an MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill and a BS in psychology from Duke. She loves water polo and writes all her correspondence by hand in beautiful calligraphy.

Eva’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Getting to work with an organization that does meaningful work for children with a genuine effort to consider and combat racial inequities.”

Joined NC Child Staff: 2019
Pets: 2 dogs and 1 cat. One of the dogs can sort-of talk.

Eva Paige Bahnuk

Imani Belton

Early Childhood Education Intern

Imani Belton is a second-year graduate student in the Maternal, Child, and Family Health Concentration at UNC-Gillings School of Public Health. She hails from Columbia, South Carolina. Before coming to UNC, Imani spent two years in the Peace Corps in Mozambique. As NC Child’s Early Childhood Education Long-term Campaign Intern, Imani is focused on ways to get more families and teachers involved in our campaign to make early education & care accessible to every family with young children in North Carolina.

Elizabeth Byrum

Campaigns Specialist

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 Campaign Specialist, Elizabeth creates, edits, and curates communications content that keeps North Carolinians informed about the policy issues that matter most for kids. She 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 ten year-old temperamental miniature dachshund

Vikki Crouse

Policy Analyst / NC KIDS COUNT Project Director
Vikki Crouse (919) 726-6531

When Vikki was eight, she wanted to be a grocer. Today Vikki leads NC Child’s environmental health program to ensure that children have the opportunity to grow up healthy and meet developmental milestones in an environment free of toxicants. She also manages the North Carolina KIDS COUNT data program, providing advocates and decision-makers with reliable data to better understand child well-being. Born in Chicago, she moved to western NC with her family at age 5. Vikki holds an MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill. As NC Child’s in-house Cruise Director, Vikki is COO of both the Fun Team and the Yarn Club.

Vikki’s favorite thing about working at NC Child: “Working with a team of dedicated advocates who make me laugh on a daily basis.”

Joined NC Child staff: 2019
Pets: Two cats, Penny and Olive

Vikki Crouse

Morgan Forrester Ray

Director, NC Initiative for Young Children’s Social-Emotional Health
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.

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

Fawn Pattison

Campaigns Director
Fawn Pattison (919) 726-6344

At age eight, Fawn wanted to be a large animal veterinarian. As Campaigns Director at NC Child, she boils down complex policy issues to what’s really at stake for kids so North Carolinians can engage in critical public policy issues. She collaborates with all the members of our advocacy team to advance policies that create opportunity for more children in North Carolina to thrive. She has an MA and aCertificate in Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill. She also serves as NC Childs 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

Assistant 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: “Receiving Tom V’s interoffice memos.”

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

Ileana Rodriguez

Adam Sotak

Public Engagement Director
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 Education Campaign Manager

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

Debra Weaver Miller

Administrative Assistant

As a child, Debra dreamed of becoming an artist when she grew up, and this love led her to a bachelor’s in art history. She still loves the arts, and at NC Child she brings a creative flair to supporting our team. Debra’s thorough, efficient style keeps everyone’s work flowing more smoothly. When she’s not making spreadsheets, Debra loves reading, cross-stitching, ballet, visiting museums, and finding the next delicious thing to eat. She’s also the newest member of the NC Child Yarn Club. 

Pets: none

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 Fellow, Health and Safety (Volunteer)
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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