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Cape Fear Cohort

Cape Fear Cohort

Download these quick resources to connect with your NCLF peers.


Amber Bellamy

Executive Director, Columbus County DREAM Center, Inc.

Amber is a native of Chadbourn, NC, and is currently the Executive Director of the Columbus County DREAM Center, Inc., in Whiteville, NC. She is a proud 2008 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor's in psychology. She began her career in public service in 2009, working as a Case Manager for an infant mortality reduction initiative for DREAM Center. As a community leader, she represents the voice of the people of Columbus County and advocates for marginalized populations to promote positive change. Amber enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends in her leisure time.

Stephanie Bowen

Executive Director, Brunswick Family Assistance

Stephanie is a lifelong resident of Brunswick County. Before being promoted to Executive Director of Brunswick Family Assistance Stephanie worked as the as the Agency’s Program Manager for 1.5 years. For the last seven years, Stephanie has served as the agency’s Executive Director. Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UNCW.

Shamonique Brantley

CEO, Level Up Strategies, LLC

Shamonique is an experienced accountant, strategist and business coach with Level Up Strategies, LLC where she is the Founder and CEO.  Driven by a purposed-based approach and data driven decisions, Sharm takes pride in improving the Process, Posture and Profitability of her clients. Sharm is an impassioned leader in her community who has served on various boards and committees that encourage economic development for the underserved. Sharm is married to her husband of 25 years, Mom of six and ‘Gigi’ to two grandsons.  She enjoys family, friends, reading, travel, motorcycles, hot coffee and fresh flowers!

Jonathan Bridges

Owner, Bridges Consulting, LLC

Jonathan is a political and marketing consultant with over a decade of experience in marketing and fundraising for non-profits and political campaigns. He has additional expertise in non-profit grassroots and grass tops outreach and federal advocacy. Jonathan has worked in higher education, healthcare, and the non-profit sectors. A native Wilmingtonian, Jonathan attended Campbell University with an undergrad in communications and a master's in public health. He is passionate about civic engagement and believes that all politics is local.

Evelyn Bryant

Community Organizer

Evelyn was born and raised in Wilmington, NC she is the youngest of 1 brother and 3 sisters. Led by faith, Evelyn believes in family first and that “All things are possible through Christ Jesus”. She has been in the legal field for over 30 years. In 2017, she was selected as a Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Lower Cape Fear honoree and recipient of the Phenomenal Woman Award, featured in Wilmington Biz among 100 Connectors, and 2019 Women to Watch. She is a community activist, bringing people and resources together, and is passionate about creating social change within her community. She has worked as a community organizer and resident with Voyage Community Council on gentrification and displacement. She has worked with NHRMC on the Northside Health Assessment and served as a member of the PAG committee. Evelyn created Northside Bridge Builders, a grassroots organization dedicated to educate and uplift individuals and families who are/have experienced hardships due to unforeseen circumstances. She also served as past President of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear, Past Chair of the Community Relations Advisory Committee; past Secretary for the New Hanover County Board of Elections; Chair of City of Wilmington Commission on African American History, she serves as a board member for L.I.N.C, Inc, Voyage, City of Wilmington Civil Service Commission, board member for the Northside Food Coop and the SENC Martin Luther King Committee.

Robert Campbell

Sr. Pastor, New Beginning Christian Church

Olivia Dawson

Mayor, Town of Burgaw

Olivia is the newly elected Mayor of the Town of Burgaw, elected mayor of Burgaw in 2021 to serve a 4-year term. The Town of Burgaw is a town in, and the county seat of, Pender County, North Carolina, with a population of 4,000. With a position in Tourism and assistant in communication and public information, Dawson looks to use her experience and knowledge in her role as Mayor. Mrs. Dawson enjoys involvement in the community while cultivating a life lived with integrity, service, love, and compassion to grow personally and professionally.

Brian Eckel

Partner, Cape Fear Commercial

Jim Fish

CEO, Brunswick Senior Resources Inc.

Since 1993, Jim has worked with human service organizations. He began his professional career as an interpreter in Haitian Creole and French. Jim went on to work as a Healthcare Administrator at Boston Medical Center for nine years, managing 3 departments, with 100 employees. Following graduate school, Jim worked as the Director of Operations for Dental Growth Partners.  Jim is in his 11th year with Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc. (BSRI). BSRI is the designated non-profit organization that provides services for Brunswick County residents aged 50 and over.

Mike Forte

County Commissioner, Brunswick County

Jwantana Frink

Owner, Advanced Concepts of Southport, Inc.

Jwantana Currently she is an elected member of Dosher Memorial Hospital Board of Trustee, Board of Directors of Up Your Arts, Southport Community Unity Committee & Real Estate Broker with Margaret Rudd & Associates. Past Southport Board of Alderman 2007-2011. Past Brunswick Community College Board of Trustees, 2008-2018. Past Board Member of NCCLT. Owner of Advanced Concepts of Southport, Inc.

Holly Grange

CEO, Grange Council LLC

Holly is a US Army Veteran having served as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers.  She has lived in Wilmington since 2009 and served on many nonprofit boards including ACCESS Foundation, Coastal Horizon’s Center, Cape Fear Community College Foundation, the USO of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Ports Authority Board.  She has represented portions of New Hanover County in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Deb Hays

New Hanover County Commissioner, New Hanover County

Deb is a professional member of the real estate community and has served the region in many capacities; as Regional Vice President for the NC Realtors®, as President of the Cape Fear Realtors® Association, NC Realtors® Board of Directors, National Association of Realtors® Board of Directors; and was awarded Realtor of the Year in 2012.  She is actively involved in local, state, and national committees. As a committed civic leader, she was elected to a four-year term as a New Hanover County Commissioner and was elected by my fellow Commissioners to serve as their Vice-Chair.  In addition, she has served over 8 years as Chair of the City of Wilmington Planning Commission, 3 years on the Steering Committee for the City of Wilmington Comprehensive Plan, current Chair and past Treasurer for Wilmington Downtown, Inc. Board of Directors, current Board member of WARM (Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry); previous Vice-Chair and Secretary for Airlie Gardens Foundation Board of Directors, longtime Committee Chair for the NC Azalea Festival, and have served over 12 years as Chair and Commissioner of the Wilmington Housing Authority and Housing Economic Opportunities. My greatest accomplishment is my daughter, Morgan, an honors graduate of North Carolina State University, both undergraduate and graduate schools; who has given me two beautiful granddaughters. Second only to them is my dog, a sweet little rescue Carolina Brown Dog named Derby.

Curtis Hill

Advocate, Disability Rights North Carolina, Columbus County, NAACP

Curtis has been employed with Disability Rights North Carolina since April 2019 as advocate his duties includes disaster preparedness and outreach for the agency and citizens of North Carolina. Curtis is also the President of the Columbus County Branch of the NAACP, Council Member on the Town Council in Brunswick North Carolina and Executive Director of the Columbus County Forum Inc which is a civic engagement non-profit. I am passionate about my community, my commitment to its quality of life, and I welcome the opportunity to contribute back and make what is great even better.

Steven Hill

Executive Director, Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce

Steven is the serving Executive Director for the regional Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to accepting the role as Executive Director, Dr. Hill served as Superintendent of Schools for Pender & Bertie Counties. He has also served as Executive Director for the STEM East Network, a regional East Carolina University and NCEA education & economic development initiative. Career accolades include being named as the NC School Based Health Alliance Superintendent of the Year, U.S. Delegate for Education at the international Beijing science competition, serving on the North Carolina representative team for the national STEM Funders Network, receiving the IASL international leadership award for economic and community engagement, named as a Who’s Who Teacher by student nomination, receiving a mission service award from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for east coast mission accomplishments, and receiving the Chief’s Distinguished Service award for valor and community engagement.

Chauncey Lambeth

District Director for Rep. David Rouzer, US House of Representatives

Chance has been in the political field for about 15 years now, working for Congressman Rouzer for 8 of those years. In that time I have been in Wilmington for the last 9 years, and have lived in several North Carolina Communities. In my free time, I like to travel, visiting museums and battlefields. I have an intense love for history, particularly 18th century colonial history. I serve on the board of Moores Creek Battleground Association, and have recently started volunteering with the Public Archaeology Corps in Wilmington.

Catherine Lytch

Social Services and Public Housing Director, Brunswick County Government

Catherine is the Social Services and Public Housing Director for Brunswick County with 27 years of experience working in mental health and social service fields. She was named Brunswick County Public Housing Director in 2016. She received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida in 1994 and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling in 1996 from Nova Southeastern University. Catherine enjoys learning, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, paddleboarding, CrossFit, and spending time with family.

Terry Mann

Mayor, City of Whiteville

Terry was born in Whiteville and is a lifelong resident of Columbus County. Terry graduated from Whiteville High School and East Carolina University and then returned home and became a part of the family business, which started in 1922. Later becoming a third-generation owner and retiring in 2019. Involved in numerous community organizations and have served as President Columbus County Chamber, Southeastern Community College Foundation, Whiteville Rotary Club. First elected as Councilman on Whiteville City Council in 2005 and have served as Mayor since 2009.

Joan McPherson

President, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Tourism

Joan is the Columbus County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism president. Our organization serves all of Columbus County, and I am fortunate enough to volunteer on the board of several organizations geared toward promoting Columbus County. My goal with the Chamber goes beyond fostering small businesses and organizations as members and successfully marketing our area's assets. The critical element to my and the Chamber's success is nourishing existing relationships, building new ones, and ensuring the lines of communication are open and used to better our community and the surrounding area.

Tyler Newman

President & CEO, Business Alliance for a Sound Economy

Tyler has served as President and CEO of Business Alliance for a Sound Economy (BASE). Established in 2003, BASE is a coalition of business entities, associations and individual members focused on public policy which enhances economic opportunities and quality of life in Southeastern North Carolina. With two decades of advocacy expertise, Newman has worked on a wide range of local, state, federal and coastal initiatives during his professional tenure. He previously served as the City of Wilmington’s Special Assistant to the City Manager-Legislative Affairs and Regulatory Affairs Director for the Home Builders Association of Georgia. A New Bern native, Newman graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dane Scalise

Lawyer & Insurance Broker, ILM Lawyers & GriffinEstep Benefit Group

Dane is a lawyer and insurance broker in Wilmington. From 2016-2020, he served the people of North Carolina as Deputy Commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. He currently owns and operates ILM Lawyers. He is also General Counsel and Broker for GriffinEstep Benefit Group, an insurance brokerage and consulting firm. He is passionate about volunteering in the Cape Fear region and has served on a variety of local boards and committees.

Allen Serkin

Executive Director, Cape Fear Council of Governments

Allen is the Executive Director of the Cape Fear Council of Governments (CFCOG).  With over 14 years of experience in local government, land use and transportation planning, and GIS mapping, Allen previously served as Local Government Services Director for the CFCOG as well as the Director of the Cape Fear Rural Transportation Planning Organization.  He is experienced at managing complex projects and writing and administering State and federal grant programs and he and his team have assisted many CFCOG member governments with a wide range of technical assistance projects and activities.  He holds a Master of Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a certified zoning official in North Carolina and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Paul Stavovy

Executive Director, Cape Fear Land Trust

As the Executive Director of Cape Fear Community Land Trust, a City Appointee to the Workforce Housing Advisory Committee, and past-Chair of the Cape Fear Housing Coalition, Paul is deeply immersed in the affordable housing sector in Wilmington, NC. His master's degree in Public Administration (focusing on urban policy and planning), a lifetime of experience in the building profession, and strong nonprofit management experience, make Paul an asset to the Wilmington housing scene. As a remodeling professional, and owner of Classic Craftsmen LLC, Paul has amassed decades of design, building, remodeling, and project management experience, while his graduate education provided in-depth knowledge of urban policy, planning, land use law, sustainability, and housing policy. Paul’s goal is to use his practical experience in both the public & private sector, coupled with his education and training, to have a positive impact on the housing sector, and the community as a whole. Paul Stavovy is a deep critical thinker who mixes his eternal optimism with the belief that all things can be solved with the right collaboration and willingness to put in the hours to make it happen. When those collide, the world can be changed for the better!

Victoria Velazco

LCSW-A, Latino Advocacy and Equity NC

Victoria is a Salvadoran native and have been a Wilmington Resident since 1992 (30 years). My interpreting career started back in 1999 when I established a language equity plan that included providing interpreting and translating services for the New Hanover County Health and Social Services Departments. I obtained both my bachelor's (2008) and my master's in social work (2021) from UNCW. I am the owner of VIDA Translations and a full-time clinician at Coastal Horizons.

Jon T. Vincent


Jon is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Jon T. Vincent, CPA, P.C. Jon specializes in providing solutions to complex business problems with special emphasis on business consulting, personal financial planning, financial forensics, business valuation, bankruptcy and real estate accounting, investing, and development.

Cynthia Walsh

CEO, Brunswick County Association of Realtors

Cynthia is the CEO of the Brunswick County Association of REALTORS® (BCAR). She began her career in Boston, MA working in technology and continuing for the next 11 years in both the banking and insurance industries.  Cynthia has been with the Brunswick County Association of REALTORS in North Carolina since 2005 and earned her REALTOR Association Certified Executive (RCE) designation as well as various other certifications.  She has been actively involved the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) and the North Carolina REALTORS (NCR) serving on committees, mentoring and lending a hand whenever asked.  Cynthia currently resides in Shallotte, NC with her husband John and their two Boxer dogs Duke and Odin.  Her son, Garrett, clearly spent too much time at her office growing up and is also a REALTOR.  Cynthia enjoys cooking, gardening and spending time with family and friends in her spare time.

Resea Willis

Development Officer, Partners in Community, INC.

Advisory COmmitee

Andy Anderson

Pastor, Father’s Cup Overflow Ministries

Andy currently works as an Investigator at Disability Rights North Carolina. Andy is Lead Pastor of Father’s Cup Overflow Ministries and has been a presenter on the local, state, national and international levels. He holds a B.A. in Political Science/Public Administration from North Carolina Central University. Andy serves on many boards including the Columbus County DREAM Center and is Chairman of the Thread Capital Board of Directors at the NC Rural Center.  Andy, a father, husband, and minister; has partnered with his wife, Ophelia, to raise six foster children along with their three birth children.  Andy loves playing golf and teaching the game to young people as one of the church’s ministries.

Jonathan Barfield, Jr

County Commissioner, New Hanover County

Jonathan was raised in New Hanover County. I’ve been married just over 34 years and my wife Laura and I have 4 daughters. I have been a licensed REALTOR® since 1997 and I am Broker\Owner of Barfield and Associates Realty. I have served on the New Hanover County Commission since December 2008 and served as chair and vice chair on numerous occasions. I have been a licensed minister since 2004 and I enjoy reading, golf, and a good cigar.

Natalie English

President & CEO, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Natalie currently serves as president & CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. She has served for 25 years in a chamber of commerce leadership role and over 30 years advocating on behalf of business. Natalie believes it’s her calling to work with business, government and elected leaders to make her community attractive for business growth and investment. The WilmingtonBiz 100 named her twice as an Influencer and twice as a Power Player and Business NC magazine included her on their Power 100 list in 2021 and in 2022. Natalie received her B.A. in Communications from North Carolina State University and achieved her designation as a Certified Chamber Executive in 2012. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys spending time with her son Rick, playing golf, reading, and writing.

Isabella Luján

Realtor/Broker / Co-chair, Coldwell Banker / Latin American Business Council

Isabella serves members of the community as a bilingual Residential and Commercial Realtor. She was Co-Chair and founder of the Latin American Business Council, with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. Currently, she is member of the Latino Alliance with UNCW, member of the Southeastern Latino Advocacy Council. She also serves at the Board of Trustees of Cameron Art Museum, as Chair of the Education Committee, and at the Board of Directors of Cape Fear Literacy Council. She promotes acknowledgment and acceptance of diversity as a key factor for economic and inclusive growth in the Cape Fear region and is deeply involved with the local Latinx community. Her core value: To be a bridge for understanding and integration.

Jacqueline Newton

County Commissioner. Pender County Commission

Frank Williams

President, Pioneer Strategies, Inc.

Steve Yost

President, North Carolina's Southeast

Steve's career has mostly been in economic development. I have worked with North Carolina’s ’s Southeast, a 20-county regional economic development partnership, since 2005, as President and marketing director. Prior, starting in 1994, I worked with the Columbus County Economic Development Commission and the NC Dept of Commerce. Though not raised in Columbus County, several family lines there extend to the early 1700s. My wife and I live in Whiteville and currently care for two relatives in our home. I do a lot of gardening, reading, walking, and also volunteer with the Boy Scout Cape Fear Council.


Lakesha McDay

Executive Vice President of Programs and Operations, New Hanover Community Endowment

Kate Pett

Director, Thrive Asheville


Frank Williams

President, Pioneer Strategies, Inc.

NCLF Staff

John Hood

NCLF Steering Committee – Co-Chair

Leslie Winner

NCLF Steering Committee – Co-Chair

Debbie Goldstein

Executive Director, NCLF Duke University

Minda Brooks

Program Director, NCLF Duke University

Amber Rogers

Senior Program Coordinator, NCLF Duke University

Morgan Robertson

Duke Research Assistant, NCLF Duke University