Marcus Harris earned his BS in Pre-Med/Chemistry from Pfeiffer University, in Misenheimer, NC. For more than 20 years, he's served as a volunteer, mentor, philanthropist, and community advocate for a variety of different causes and organizations.
Marcus started The Lady Oya Foundation, his first nonprofit organization, in 2002. The LOF focused on empowering domestic violence survivors and their families, through such programs as scholarships, community engagement events, and the arts. He's also served on the board of directors for Read Seed, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides free books to children residing in low-income housing developments.
Christopher Hicks is a native North Carolinian, born and raised in Benson. After attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he double-majored in Political Science and Communications, Chris graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Law.
His early practice focused on family law, but it also involved criminal defense, civil litigation, competency proceedings, juvenile defense, veteran’s treatment courts, and cases against the Department of Social Services. He's also helped people going through all types of crises, whether divorce, death, addiction, or mental illness.
Chris particularly enjoys practicing family law because it allows him to pursue his passion of connecting with people who need help during difficult times. He works hard to be a champion for numerous individuals throughout the community in the midst of what can seem like daunting and overwhelming experiences.
Askia Dunnon is a physician with more than 8 years of research experience in industry, government, and academia. He earned his MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing an MPH.
Askia's strong curiosity and ability to rapidly acquire knowledge across various different domains serves his clients well. He maintains strong verbal and written communication skills, with a proven track record of writing and publishing for peer-reviewed publications.
Askia is an impassioned community advocate and activist, and his commitment to obtaining equity and social justice for all has helped foster positive change in the lives of countless individuals for years.
Barbara Jessie-Black received her BBA from Augusta University, in Augusta, GA, before moving to North Carolina, where she's lived ever since. She earned her MBA from Meredith College, in Raleigh, NC, and became co-founder of a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to search for innovative ways to achieve socioeconomic equalities in communities through holistic and entrepreneurship-based education.
Currently, Barbara is the President/CEO of CommunityWorx (formerly the PTA Thrift Shop, Inc.), a 68-year-old organization dedicated to enriching lives by building collaborative partnerships and transforming charitable donations into educational and community investments. She's also active in the communities in which she lives and works, by serving on several boards and volunteering her time to causes close to her heart.
Barbara considers herself a "lifelong student" of all things holistic and spiritual, with emphasis on how those concepts influence one's activism.
Akeeya Umstead has been serving in the community since she was a little girl. Her late mother, Cassandra Wallace Umstead, instilled in her the importance of giving back, so Akeeya has always strived to find ways to foster a sense of philanthropy throughout the community.
She's proud to have found a way to merge her passion for helping in the community with her project management skills to create a range of different empowering experiences. This has allowed her to pursue her main goal, which is to help end hunger for those in our homeless and underprivileged communities. Akeeya does this primarily through the MGB Foundation, a charitable organization she recently founded that hosts "pop- up events" to promote community service, volunteerism, and philanthropy.
Katharine Carpenter recently graduated from the University of Michigan with her B.A. in International Studies and Spanish. She's always been dedicated to serving her community, working as an English-as-a-Second-Language teacher and mentor for several years. During her time in college, Katharine became even more passionate about serving her community, seeking to empower marginalized groups through the use of grassroots initiatives and education.
Katharine first joined The MHF as a development intern, during which time she worked to expand some of the foundation’s existing programs, particularly Neighborfood Express. Currently, she's working and living in Denver, where she hopes to continue to serve her community in many different ways. She's excited to continually learn, grow, and make a positive impact in the world.
Gary Wood, Jr., is a native of PG County, Maryland, but currently resides in Morrisville, North Carolina. He's presently a Grants Coordinator with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and pursuing his Doctorate of Education from Walden University. He earned his Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University and Bachelors of Science from North Carolina Central University.
Gary has vast experience in working with nonprofits and foundations, which enables him to connect members of the community with much needed resources, and his passion for reaching out and helping others has earned him several awards. Overall, Gary plans to continue his mission of empowering youth through various seminars and educational resources.
June Chen is the Director of World Language Programs at Go Global NC. She designs and manages educational programs for teachers and students across North Carolina to enhance their linguistic and cultural competence.
As a language instructor and trainer for teachers, June has more than 20 years' experience in multiple countries, working with varying age groups and cultural backgrounds in educational settings. She's dedicated to fostering mutual understanding and bridging differences among communities.
June received a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Iowa. She grew up in Taiwan and is an extensive world traveler.
Sudha Chandrasekharan is a global executive with 20+ years' experience providing strategy, product, and operations expertise to companies in various industries, including logistics/supply chain, education, and aviation. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, as well as an MBA specializing in General Management and Finance, and she currently serves as GM for the Trelleborg Group, a global engineering group focused on polymer technology, with headquarters in Trelleborg, Sweden.
Sudha is passionate about serving her community, child and youth education, and animal welfare, and she channelized her passion into an educational startup she successfully exited. Sudha's served as an active volunteer for the past 15 years in various capacities, including school boards, teaching children, and organizing various programs focused on ending school hunger.
Neal Seigler is a department director in the area of support services and has managed multiple accounts, from commercial business to education and healthcare. He attended Mount Saint Mary College and received his B.S. degree in Business and Administration. He's currently attending the University of Mount Olive, where he'll receive his M.B.A. in December 2021.
Neal is currently director of nutritional and environmental services at Duke Raleigh Hospital, regularly reaching out to meet the needs of the community through a number of different projects, including The Summer Food Service Program, which provides nutritious meals to children in need during the summer months. He's also partnered with organizations to address various societal needs, including Meals on Wheels, Feeding our Future, and Habitat for Humanity.
Providing for those in need and helping empower individuals to better their circumstances and control their own destiny are efforts of great importance to Neal. As such, he's always eager to collaborate with community organizations to provide critical and meaningful assistance.
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