In just three months at the foundation, I have marveled to my co-workers at how joining the NCCF team feels like “coming home” and a “marriage” of sorts for me.
Yes, Raleigh is my current home, but rural North Carolina runs deep in my veins.
My father grew up working on a tobacco farm in Martin County, and my mother’s family hailed from Currituck County. As for me, I was among those lucky enough to grow up in Elizabeth City.
Childhood summers consisted of swimming in the Pasquotank River, riding my bicycle through neighborhood corn fields, and getting cold Vanilla Cokes from Comstock’s Confectionary.
My mother was a public-school teacher, and my father an entrepreneur, dedicating much of his time, energy and philanthropic dollars to support higher education opportunities for first-generation college students.
And yes, I am a development officer, but I’m also a lawyer and journalist by education and experience, and I place great value on being a listener and a trusted advisor to others. My new role at NCCF has allowed me to forge these collective experiences in my daily work.
My undergraduate years were spent studying at UNC-Chapel Hill as part of the Morehead-Cain program and a student in the “J School.” Four years flew by, packed with forming new friendships, having deep conversations, and capturing stories through my work with campus publications like The Daily Tar Heel.
After college, I headed to Wake Forest University for law school, graduated and headed “Down East” to Wilmington to begin my law practice.
Five years of law practice taught me many things. Perhaps my biggest revelation was, while I loved helping my clients reach solutions, I disliked the adversarial nature of litigation.
I enjoyed estate planning, feeling honored to be an advisor in decisions around legacy and the future. Outside of work, I was an active volunteer and wanted to more closely align my professional career to larger community issues and philanthropy.
In 2015, Jennifer Tolle Whiteside graciously agreed to meet my wide-eyed, curious self. She listened to my story, shared valuable wisdom about the nonprofit sector and helped me see how I could fit into it. She connected me to other female leaders in the sector, each of whom have become mentors and advisers.
I ultimately landed at Alliance Medical Ministry as Director of Development, a Raleigh nonprofit health care provider for the uninsured. During my five years there, I witnessed firsthand how a vision, coupled with the support of the community, can (quite literally) transform lives.
And now, three months into my role at NCCF, I feel joy and a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to travel our state, hear stories from fellow North Carolinians, learn about visions that include equity, economic opportunity and education and help people work toward achieving those visions through philanthropy.
Outside of the NCCF walls, I’m a mom to two girls. Lizzie is three going on 13, with flaming red hair and a fierce sense of humor and independence. Grace is a rising Kindergartener, inquisitive with a current love of drawing castles and dragons, swimming and the beach. I’m a wife to Will, a native of Charlotte. We love North Carolina and sneak in weekends in the eastern and western part of the state every chance we get.
I’m grateful to be here. I look forward to meeting you.