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Triangle Cohort

Triangle Cohort

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Travis Bailey

SVP Regional Executive, First Bank

Travis B. Bailey is currently the Triangle Regional Executive for First Bank.  First Bank is a $12 Billion Dollar bank and currently the largest community bank headquartered in NC.  The Triangle division for First Bank is a private banking model dedicated to develop and serve its clients through a service excellence model that is customer first.  Travis and his team offer high touch relationship banking whether for your business or personal needs which includes commercial loans, business deposit services, treasury services, mortgage needs, wealth management, and HR employee solutions through our First at Work product line.

Lori Bush

Council Member, Town of Cary

Lori Bush is the At-Large Representative of the Town of Cary having served for 12 years and an employee of Cisco Systems for 27 years. As a technologist she strives to find solutions using technology for public good, connecting citizens and improving lives.  She is a passionate do-er, currently serving on non-profit executive boards such as the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

Adam Caldwell

Regional Representative, Office of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis

Adam Caldwell grew up just outside of Newton Grove, NC. He graduated from East Carolina University in 2015 where he double-majored in Political Science and History. He obtained a Master of Public Administration degree in 2019 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For nearly seven years, Adam has been a regional representative for U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) covering issues related to housing, economic development, transportation, military/veterans’ affairs, agriculture, disaster recovery, and local government. His 19-county region is centered in the southeastern part of the state. Adam lives in Benson with his wife, Sarah, and two young sons, Braston and Everett.

Lisa Chapman

President, Central Carolina Community College

Dr. Chapman has been in the North Carolina Community College System for thirty-five years. She currently serves as the president of Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), a position she has held since April 2019. She began her career as a biologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, followed by several years at CCCC. Her tenure at the college included serving as a biology instructor, department chair, academic dean, and Executive Vice President for Instruction/Chief Academic Officer. Chapman left CCCC in 2014 to serve as the Sr. Vice President/Chief Academic Officer of the North Carolina Community College System, a position she held for 5 years before returning to Central Carolina as president.

Debra Derr

Director Government Affairs, NC Chamber

Debra Derr credits her success to being in the right place at the right time and a willingness to take a chance on herself. Her background as a radio announcer and eventually a television producer/writer laid the groundwork for a career in public relations and government affairs. While working at SCETV, in Columbia SC, she received a Corporation for Public Broadcasting scholarship to study documentary film production at the world-renowned Maine Media and Workshops in Rockport, Maine. Her one-minute speeches were used as an example of how to write them while serving as a congressional press secretary.  She was a founding member of the Wake County Commission on Women, where she was the public affairs director of the county. Debra was a part of a team of lobbyists that helped lead the effort to bring video competition to North Carolina and was consistently ranked among the Top 50 Most Influential Lobbyists when she was with BellSouth. Before returning to her government affairs roots with the NC Chamber where she is responsible for childcare, education, talent supply, unemployment insurance, and housing affordability she was chief deputy secretary for the NC Department of Cultural Resources and a partner in Market Solutions, LLC. Debra was a 2010 recipient of a Women of Achievement Award given by the General Federation of Women’s Club.  She is a graduate of the Business Leads Fellow program for the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation that develops business leaders to be education and workforce champions in their community.  She is a member of the advisory councils of ApprenticeshipNC, NC Workforce Credentials, and the Public School Forum of NC. She earned a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Norfolk State University, where she was graduated Cum Laude.

Ilana Dubester

Executive Director, El Vinculo Hispano

Ilana Dubester is originally from Brazil and has lived in Chatham County since 1991. She founded El Vínculo Hispano in 1995 to address the unique needs of the growing Hispanic community living in the rural central Piedmont. Ilana has nearly 30 years’ experience in non-profit management, program development and implementation, capacity building, fundraising, public policy, community organizing, and advocacy.  She serves as a trustee on the board of directors of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Ilana is a state certified court interpreter and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Hebrew. She attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem earning an Associate Degree in Social Studies.

Tara Fish

Executive Director, Harnett County Partnership for Children

Bonner Gaylord

COO, Kane Realty Corporation

Bonner Gaylord is the Chief Operating Officer for Kane. He oversees day-to-day operations and directs members of Kane’s Commercial, Residential, and Services teams. Bonner holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Kenan-Flagler Business School where he was a Hobgood Fellow. He is a NC licensed general contractor, a NC licensed real estate broker, and a LEED accredited professional. Bonner was elected as a Raleigh City Councilor from 2009 to 2017 where he served on various committees and as liaison to multiple city-related organizations.

Jessica Holmes

Deputy Commissioner, NC Industrial Commission

Jessica N. Holmes earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and New York and currently serves as a Deputy Commissioner at the North Carolina Industrial Commission. In November 2014, Jessica became the youngest commissioner ever elected in Wake County’s history. She created Wake County’s Affordable Housing Task Force and chaired Wake County’s Affordable Housing Committee.

Karen Howard

Chair, Chatham County Commissioners

Karen Howard is a former attorney and current Chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Commissioner Howard spent most of her childhood in the Bahamas before returning to the US for boarding school. She went on to obtain a BA in English from Georgetown University and an LLB (Law) from the University of Buckingham in the UK. Commissioner Howard was called to the Bar of England and Wales and The Bar of The Bahamas in 1992. In addition to her role as Commissioner, Howard serves on the boards of The National Inclusion Project, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Governor’s Crime Commission, is the Governor’s appointee to the Oil and Gas Commission, and serves as liaison to several local boards including the Chatham County Board of Education and the Chatham Arts Council. She is a former Chair of the Board of Education and this year Commissioner Howard was appointed to serve as Chair of the Association of County Commissioner's Public Education Steering Committee and Co-Chair of the Legislative Goals Committee. She is also a UNC Advanced Leadership Corp Ambassador, a member of the Hunt Institute’s ElevateNC: Higher Education, a Hunt Institute State Policy Fellow, and a member of the Advisory Board of MyFutureNC.

Vanessa Jenkins

Executive Vice President, Preston Development Company

Vanessa Jenkins is Executive VP for Preston Development Company overseeing the sales and marketing for Chatham Park. Vanessa joined Preston Development Company in 1991 and serves as the liaison between builders, neighborhoods, sales teams, and the marketing implementation for all Preston Development Communities. Vanessa is a Master in Residential Marketing (MIRM), a National Association of Home Builders’ distinction. She was the 2017 President of the Raleigh – Wake County Home Builders Association and continues to serve on its Board of Directors and the board for Imagine Wake. She has been a licensed North Carolina Realtor since 2001. . Prior to joining Preston Development Company, Vanessa was involved in commercial leasing and commercial property management.

Chris Johnson

Director, Johnston County Economic Development Office

As Director of the Johnston County Economic Development, Chris Johnson coordinates with the Department of Commerce, Economic Development Partnership of NC, Site Consultants, and other public and private agencies on issues regarding economic development, community development, growth management legislation, and regional planning. For over 7 years, Chris serves as Chair for the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) EDAC group. During his 9-year tenure, Chris has directed over $5 Billion dollars of new and expanded industry investment and over 3,500 jobs in Johnston County. Those projects include: Grifols Therapeutics, Berry Global, OPW, Dollar General, Ashley Homestore, AdvanceTEC, Amazon and in 2022, Do Good Foods $100M investment in Selma, $30M investment by Becton Dickinson, and Novo Nordisk’s $1 Billion expansion in Clayton. In 2021 and 2022, was recognized by Business North Carolina Magazine in their “Power List” of North Carolina’s Most Influential Leaders. Originally from Jackson NC and graduate of East Carolina University, Chris is married to the former Kim Gower of Smithfield. Together they have 2 Children (Quinton – 27 and Caroline – 23). They are owners of Jewel’s Formals in downtown Smithfield and have been in business for over 3 years. Chris is an avid road cyclist, amassing over 3,900 total miles in 2022.

Katrusia (Kay) Johnson

Executive Director, Harbor Inc.

Kay Johnson is the Executive Director at Harbor, Inc. Harbor provides comprehensive services for individuals traumatically impacted by family violence. With over twenty years of experience in Not-for-Profit Management, Katrusia believes that her position at Harbor affords her the opportunity to emulate daily one of the four Rotarian Self-Test Principles, “Service Above Self”. For Katrusia working within the community in which she was reared is allowing her to develop as one of the many leaders that were instrumental in her professional matriculation into the varied industries of service. Katrusia holds a B.A degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from the University of North Carolina a Charlotte.  She also received her MATS degree from Liberty University.

Paul Kane

Executive Vice President/CEO, Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County

Paul Kane is the Executive Vice President/CEO of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County. The HBA is the trade association of over 2,300 members serving the residential construction industry throughout all of Wake County, North Carolina and is the second largest HBA in the nation. Paul began his career as a real estate lawyer, practicing for 14 years with the prestigious Tulsa, Oklahoma law firm of Eller and Detrich. From 2006 through September of 2015, Paul served as the Executive Vice President/CEO for the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa. Since 2015, Paul has been the CEO of the HBA of Raleigh-Wake County. Paul is also the secretary and board member of Operation Coming Home, a charity that builds new homes for veterans who were injured in combat operations.

Chavi Khanna Koneru

Co-Founder & Executive Director, NC Asian Americans Together

Chavi Khanna Koneru is co-founder and current Executive Director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT), the first and only pan-Asian social justice organization in the state. Based in the Triangle, Chavi leads the nonprofit’s efforts to increase visible representation from the Asian American community in North Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina for college and later for law school, allowing her to become an expert on Tar Heel basketball. Her prior professional experience includes work in immigration law, and in voting rights, including a stint in the Voting Section of the US DOJ Civil Rights Division. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family including her 3-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.

Johnnie Larrie

Managing Attorney, Legal Aid

Dr. Johnnie Larrie is an experienced attorney with over 28 years of legal experience in consumer and community economic development initiatives. She joined Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) in 2004 and currently serves as the consumer practice manager for LANC’s statewide consumer practice group. In addition, she is the Managing Attorney of the Economic Justice Initiative (EJI, which initiative strives for financial stability and economic security on behalf of vulnerable North Carolina populations. Johnnie’s EJI team provides legal research, case onsultation, training and co-counseling support to LANC local offices performing an array of consumer defense work across all 100 North Carolina counties – including homeownership preservation, financial exploitation and debt collection defense cases. Johnnie worked as legal counsel to several nonprofit and community-based agencies focused on housing and other socio-economic issues on behalf of underserved North Carolina populations. These advocacy roles helped fuel her passion to champion social justice causes for the most vulnerable consumer populations.

Lorena Patterson

CEO, Connecta Corp LLC

Virginia is currently the Senior Vice President and Triangle Market Executive for Bank of America and is responsible for overseeing market-wide operations as it relates to community, employee engagement and brand awareness. She has spent her entire career “connecting” people through sales, business development, fundraising and community relation roles. Virginia serves on the board of the Girl Scouts of NC Coastal Pines, Leadership Triangle and is currently chair of the Meredith College Business School Advisory Board. In addition, she serves on the advisory boards of Triangle Family Services and the Holt Brothers Foundation as well as the campaign team for Kings Ridge, a new affordable housing complex in Raleigh.

Virginia Parker

SVP, Bank of America

Virginia is currently the Senior Vice President and Triangle Market Executive for Bank of America and is responsible for overseeing market-wide operations as it relates to community, employee engagement and brand awareness. She has spent her entire career “connecting” people through sales, business development, fundraising and community relation roles. Virginia serves on the board of the Girl Scouts of NC Coastal Pines, Leadership Triangle and is currently chair of the Meredith College Business School Advisory Board. In addition, she serves on the advisory boards of Triangle Family Services and the Holt Brothers Foundation as well as the campaign team for Kings Ridge, a new affordable housing complex in Raleigh.

John Saffold

Executive Director, Zebulon Chamber of Commerce

The youngest of five children, I grew up in in educator’s home in small-town, Lowcountry, SC. Studies at Clemson University began with a major in architectural design – a lifelong interest. I completed my undergraduate degree in Community and Economic Development with a desire to work to build strong foundations for individuals and families by strengthening communities through expanding opportunity. After some exploration, I returned to family roots by pursuing work in education as a means by which to strengthen the foundations of community through working directly with young people and their families. I pursued two Masters of Arts – one in Theological Studies at Reformed heological Seminary (to consider the things of heart and soul) and one in Teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill (to consider the things of the mind). On life’s journey, I’ve lived in small-town South and large metropolitan areas in the Western US and taught at various levels from 5th Grade to 11th Grade and served as head of several independent schools, as well fund raising for two colleges. Presently, I’ve returned back home to the Carolinas and taken a break from the academic setting and am working in Eastern Wake County in Zebulon, NC, as the Director of the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce, which is turning out to be a blend of all of these previous studies and experiences with the hope that I can play some part in thoughtful growth as the Triangle pushes eastward.

Iliana Santillan

Executive Director, El Pueblo

Iliana Santillan is a native of Mexico City. She has been organizing in North Carolina for 19 years. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director of El Pueblo. In her role, she seeks to empower rural communities, elevate Latinx leadership, and increase civic engagement across the state. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Meredith College and a Master’s Degree from NCSU. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her teenage daughter, running, and building Legos.

Reid Smith

Founder/CEO, RiverWild

April Stephens

Commissioner, Johnston County

April Stephens has been a Realtor for over 16 years in Johnston County. Leading a team of over 17 agents from various counties, we have come to learn the value of why clients move to certain areas. As a proud resident of Benson, she has served locally in many capacities. She is passionate about Johnston County and its future.

Yolanda Taylor

Lead Attorney, Center for Community Law and Equity

Yolanda L. Taylor, Esq. is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Wake Forest Law School and the Managing Partner at the law firm, Yolanda L. Taylor Law Firm, PLLC d/b/a The Center for Community Law & Equity. She practices in the areas of Housing Justice, Health Equity, Affordable Housing, and Community Economic evelopment Law. As an adjunct professor of law, she teaches law through the lens of justice in America and justice relates to concepts like “Power” and “Oppression.”

Shinica Thomas

Chair, Wake County Commissioners

Bryan Thompson

Assistant County Manager, Chatham County

Receiving a BA in Government/Public Administration from Campbell University and a MPA from Appalachian State University, Bryan is a seventeen-year veteran in North Carolina local government management, having served as town manager in the communities of Mount Gilead, Erwin, and Siler City. Since July of 2019, Bryan has served as an assistant manager in Chatham County and is responsible for overseeing several departments, including finance, budget, tax, emergency communications, emergency management, management information systems, and parks and recreation. Bryan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Government’s Public Executive Leadership Academy (PELA) and the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Institute (REDI). Bryan enjoys camping and hiking with his daughters, Taylor and Alex (14 and 10, respectively), and his wife Theresa.

Charles Tyner Sr

Pastor, White Oak Missionary Baptist Church & ED, White Oak Foundation

Pastor Tyner, currently serves as Executive Director of the Board for a 501©3 non-profit organization – White Oak Foundation, Inc. (founded by Charles R. Tyner, Sr.) in 1998, and is committed to its motto “Caring for the Total Person.” When first founded, he served as the White Oak Foundation’s Chair for several years. Pastor Tyner is a skilled consultant level administrator and educator with thirty years of experience as a teacher, principal and consultant in the North Carolina School System. Pastor Tyner received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and Philosophy, and History in 1972 from Shaw University, Raleigh, NC; he received his Master of Science Degree in Administration (Education) in 1979 from North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC. Pastor Tyner’s commitment and dedication to helping others lead him to travel to Mississippi to see what he could do to help those devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Through his efforts and leadership, the White Oak Foundation and the White Oak Baptist Church family have helped many to make the transition toward recovery as smooth as possible. He has received many prestigious awards for excellence in program implementation and administration. Pastor Tyner’s leadership, guidance and dedication was also achieved in 2019 when the newly built 3-story building of the White Oak Foundation Resource centered opened its doors November 8, 2019. In May of 2022, Pastor Tyner, and the White Oak Foundation, has broken ground on building a daycare and 30 workforce townhomes. In 2023 he plans to break ground on a 60-unit senior independent living enter. He is on the of Board of Directors North State Bank, Northampton County, NC County Commissioner (Chairman). In February 2022 he received the Long Leaf Pine the highest award for state service granted by Governor Copper. In 1998, Reverend Tyner founded and serves as the Executive Director of the White Oak Foundation, Incorporated, a 501©3 non-profit, committed to “caring for the total person.” The Foundation has dedicated all its efforts to caring for the most vulnerable among us: from providing food, clothing, emergency shelter, and professional services,access to free medical and dental services assistance through college scholarships.

Yolanda Winstead

President, DHIC

Ms. Winstead has almost three decades of experience in affordable housing development, financing, and related services. She assumed her current role at DHIC at the end of June 2020. Established in 1974, DHIC is a nonprofit community developer that builds high quality affordable housing and provides other critical services to ensure its communities are diverse, economically vibrant, and affordable. DHIC is one of North Carolina’s leading developers of multifamily housing financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Since its inception, DHIC has constructed and/or rehabilitated 44 apartment communities totaling more than 2,923 affordable apartments across nine counties in NC, and currently has an additional 928 units under development. Together these developments have leveraged $423 million in direct investment from both the private and public sectors. Immediately before assuming leadership at DHIC, she served as Vice President of Finance at Greystone Affordable Development, responsible for underwriting and sourcing financing tools, including Tax Exempt Bonds, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, and providing support and technical assistance to developer clients. Prior to joining Greystone, she served 15 years at Community Affordable Housing Equity Corporation (CAHEC), most recently as Senior Acquisitions Manager, evaluating and structuring over $400MM of equity investments in complex LIHTC and Historic Tax Credit transactions across the Southeast. Ms. Winstead actually began her housing career at DHIC in 1994, where she first served as Housing Services Coordinator, before transitioning to real estate development operations as a Project Manager. She also served as DHIC’s first Homeownership Center Coordinator. She holds a BS in Business Administration from Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) and received her Nonprofit Management Certification from Duke University. Ms. Winstead is in her first term on the Board of Commissioner of the Raleigh Housing Authority. She also serves on the National NeighborWorks America Association Advisory Board and was just appointed to the Enterprise Community Leadership Council.

Christie Yarbrough

Real Estate Associate, RE/MAX United

Christie Yarbrough is a Realtor and Harnett County native. She currently lives in Buies Creek and has over a decade of experience in the construction industry and have been a Realtor with Remax since 2012. When not working, you can find Christie at the beach in Sneads Ferry.

Advisory COmmittee

DeVan Barbour

Co-Founder, Cornerstone Employee Benefits

Nicole Dozier

Director Health Advocacy Project, NC Justice Center

Franklin Gomez Flores

Commissioner, Chatham County

Brooks Matthews

Commissioner, Harnett County & Deputy Superintendent Harnett County Schools

Richard Moore

CEO, First Bancorp

Richard Stevens

Attorney, Smith Anderson


Tracey Greene-Washington

President, Indigo Innovation Group & Co-founder of CoThinkk

John Hood

President, John William Pope Foundation

Brooke Medina

VP of Communications, John Locke Foundation

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