Panel Participants

Panelists, Moderators, and Presenters (information updated daily):


PANEL SESSION I: 1:00 - 2:00 PM

The Power of Story (Student Union, Room 340-D)

Doing Research with Girls (Student Union, Room 340-E)

Uncovering Charlotte (Student Union, Room 340-F)

PANEL SESSION II: 2:15 - 3:15 PM

Using Data to Make an Impact (Student Union, Room 340-D)

Change the Girl or Change the System? (Student Union, Room 340-E)

Rise Against Hunger (Student Union, Room 340-F)


Collaboration (Student Union, Room 340-D)

Change and Capital (Student Union, Room 340-E)

Not in My City (Student Union, Room 340-F)

Dr. Heather Brown, Executive Director, Women + Girls Research Alliance (W+GRA), UNC Charlotte

Dr. Heather Brown, photo

Dr. Brown's research focuses on the intersections between weight and learning in women as well as on the ethics and practice of research with stigmatized populations. Her professional experiences encompass significant work with writing, editing, and publishing. While the majority of her career has been as a grant writer/editor, during which she facilitated more than $20 million in awards, she began her career as a journalist for community weekly newspapers in northern Wisconsin. She also is the co-editor of the Journal of Research and Practice for Adult Literacy, Secondary, and Basic Education, has served as editorial assistant for Adult Education Quarterly, where she currently serves on the editorial review board, and provides peer review for proposals to adult education conferences and for manuscripts to the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Her research has been presented at numerous conferences and been published in The Politics of Size and the Fat Pedagogy Reader.

Dr. May Ying Ly, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Women + Girls Research Alliance (W+GRA), UNC Charlotte

Dr. May Ying Ly, photo

Dr. May Ying Ly is a postdoctoral research associate with the Women + Girls Research Alliance at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.   She is a social worker by training with extensive experience in the non-profit sector where she was the executive director of two agencies and co-founder of one, all of which helped to advance the awareness and prevention of cancer and mental health issues in Southeast Asian women and girls.  Her work with these agencies earned her local, state, and national recognition.  In 2005, she was the recipient of the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Award.  She is a recent graduate of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing’s Nursing Science and Healthcare Leadership PhD program at the University of California at Davis.  Her dissertation work was on health disparity with a focus on obesity and cardiovascular risk among Hmong-Americans.  She is interested in continual community participatory research to engage the community and decrease health disparities, especially among communities of color.

Angela Woods, CEO, Girl Scouts, Hornets' Nest Council

Angela Woods, photo

Angela H. Woods brings over 20 years of combined not‐for‐profit and for‐profit leadership experience to Girl Scouts movement. As CEO, Angela is the catalyst for change for this organization. In just 3 years she has increased the Council's market visibility, doubling corporate support and individual giving. She led the technology platform redesign for the Hornets' Nest Council‐‐ thereby driving efficiencies of scale and greater focus on innovative program delivery. Her expertise is in building and leveraging relationships, giving keen attention to continuous improvement, legal & risk management, customer  engagement and best practice approaches. Her responsibilities include: successfully partnering with a 23 member Board of Directors to set strategic vision; serving as chief spokesperson & revenue development officer for the largest girl serving organization in the Greater Charlotte region; serving as operational leader that oversees & maximizes the value of $15.7 M in net assets; acting as a champion of diversity and inclusion opportunities for all Girl Scout members; and having a committed focus to supporting girl leadership in all underserved areas.

Prior to leading Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council, Angela served as the CEO for Girl Scouts Heart of the South in Memphis, Tennessee. Angela was responsible for a 59‐county coverage area, which served over 17,500 girls and volunteers. Before this appointment, Angela served as the Interim CEO and COO of the United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA) in Washington, D.C. During her tenure, she led both internal and external operations for UWNCA, including finance, resource development, marketing and communications, community impact, information technology and human resources.
Additionally, she also worked for United Way of Central Carolinas where she served as the Senior Vice President of Community Building & Administration. Preceding that, she worked at Bank of America in the areas of institutional trusts, retirement planning and investments, and global finance recruiting.
Currently, she is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Dr. Julie Goodliffe, Director of Funding and Fellowships, The Graduate School, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Julie Goodliffe, photo

Julie began her career as a scientist, earning a PhD in molecular biology from Johns Hopkins, spending five years as a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton, and joining the faculty at UNC Charlotte to teach and do research in the field of genetics.  Julie worked with enormous data sets, complex pathways, and published research articles along with her students.  Realizing that her work, while fascinating, was not making an impact on people's lives, Julie went back to school and earned an MBA to learn more practical uses for data analysis. Soon after, Julie went to work in the Graduate School, where she gathers and analyzes data to help allocate and understand the impact of $26 million per year in University funding for graduate students.

Mary C. Curtis, Multimedia Journalist, Roll Call and WCCB-TV

Mary C. Curtis. photo

Mary C. Curtis, a columnist at Roll Call, is an award-winning journalist and educator based in Charlotte, N.C. She has contributed to NBC News, NPR, The Washington Post, The Root, ESPN's The Undefeated and talks politics on WCCB-TV in Charlotte. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, the Charlotte Observer, the Baltimore Sun, and the Associated Press, and was national correspondent for AOL's Politics Daily. Her coverage specialty is the intersection of politics, culture and race, and she has covered the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns.

Curtis is a Senior Leader with The OpEd Project, at Yale University, Cornell University, and the Ford Foundation and at the Aspen New Voices Fellowship in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and a Kiplinger Fellow, in social media, at Ohio State.

Her honors include Clarion Awards from the Association for Women in Communications, awards from the National Headliners and the Society of Professional Journalists, three first-place awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Thomas Wolfe Award for an examination of Confederate heritage groups. Curtis has contributed to several books, including an essay in “Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox.”  You can find her work at

Kelly Finley, Senior Lecturer and Undergraduate Advisor, Women & Gender Studies, UNC Charlotte

Kelly Finley, photo

Kelly Finley (B.A., UNC Charlotte; M.A., The University of Alabama) began teaching at UNC Charlotte in 2002. She is a Senior Lecturer and the Undergraduate Advisor for the Women’s & Gender Studies Program at UNC-Charlotte, one of the largest WGS programs in the country.

Finley currently serves on the Ms. Magazine Committee of Scholars, working with scholars across the nation to further integrate feminist theory into policy, practice and activism. She also serves on the board of the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association. In 2013, she was nominated for “Outstanding Teaching by a Full-Time Lecturer” for the College of Arts and Sciences, and in 2005 was awarded the “Excellence in Teaching by Part-Time Faculty” award by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Finley’s research interests include: female adolescence, virginity, activism, women and work, and body image.

In addition to her work as a scholar, Kelly Finley is the Founder and Director of Girls Rock Charlotte, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving girls, gender diverse and trans youth ages 10-16.

Dr. Jaclyn Piatak, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Jaclyn Piatak, photo

Jaclyn Piatak is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and teaches courses in the Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration Program.

Her research interests include public and nonprofit management, volunteering, philanthropy, and social policy. Her work appears in the Journal of Public Administration Review and Theory, Administration & Society, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, and her co-authored book, Occupational Labor Shortages: Concepts, Causes, Consequences, and Cures.

Dr. Piatak’s professional experience includes working in the federal government at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. She received a Doctoral Fellowship from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations & Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and two Secretary’s Exceptional Achievement Awards and a Recovery and Reinvestment Act Award from her work at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Jocelyn Negron-Rios, Board Co-Chair, Circle de Luz

Jocelyn Negron-Rios, photo

Jocelyn Negron-Rios serves as the Board Co-Chair of Circle de Luz, a Mecklenburg based non-profit that seeks to radically empower young Latinas by supporting their transformation through extensive mentoring, holistic programming and scholarship funds for further education. As a proud Puerto Rican hailing from New York City, the mission of empowerment and upward mobility through education is one that she fervently supports. Having been raised by two strong Puerto Rican women (her mother and grandmother), she has experienced first-hand the collective, transformative power of women in the Latino community. Jocelyn holds a Graduate Certificate in Diversity & Inclusion from Wake Forest University, and is a committed activist on behalf of the Latino Community in Charlotte and beyond to ensure that communities of color are seen, heard and represented. Jocelyn also serves on the Latina Advisory Committee for The Girls Scouts Hornet’s Nest Chapter. She currently resides in Huntersville, NC with her husband Ray, 14-year old son Cristian and 6-year old son Manny.

Diane Gavarkavich, Director of Research Services, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

Diane Gavarkavich, photo

Diane serves as the director of research services at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. Diane manages survey, program evaluation, and needs assessment work and is currently launching YourVoiceCLT, a Charlotte Community Survey Panel. Her research interests include data-informed decision-making and the social determinants of health.  Prior to graduate school, Diane was an algebra teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Jimmeka Anderson, Founder and Exective Director, I AM not the MEdia, Inc.

Jimmeka Anderson, photo

Jimmeka Anderson received her Master's degree in Educational Media with a focus on New Media Literacies and Global Perspectives at Appalachian State University, and will begin the Doctoral program in Urban Education with a focus on adolescents and media literacy at UNC Charlotte in August 2018. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Online Learning and Development. Currently, Jimmeka resides in Charlotte, NC where she has served as the Founder and Executive Director of I AM not the Media, Inc. for six years, a non-profit organization for teens that empowers youth through media literacy and media creation ( and is the Chapter Lead for North Carolina for the national Media Literacy Now organization. Jimmeka is also the creator of the Teen Media Literacy Conference in Charlotte, NC ( and serves on the Leadership Council for the National Association of Media Literacy Education.

While serving as a part-time instructor at Carolina School of Broadcasting, she is also an author of two books, poet, spoken word artist, and a public speaker for youth and young adults where she travels locally and outside the Carolinas. 

In her current position at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Jimmeka serves as a Library Coordinator where she plans outreach programs and large scale events for the the city of Charlotte, NC. She is a recipient of the 2013 National YALSA Award for Youth Programming and has been recognized as the 2013 Outstanding Paraprofessional of the Year for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library System.

Tanya Mahan-Rogers, Executive Volunteer - Prom Project, Girl Talk Foundation, Inc.

Tanya Mahan-Rogers, photo

Tanya Mahan-Rogers is a Technical Account Manager at Microsoft where she serves as a trusted business advisor to Microsoft's Global Premier Support customers.  In this role, she provides strategic guidance around operations and optimization of their IT infrastructure through exemplary Service Delivery Management. She is responsible for the overall growth, quality and satisfaction of the customer’s Premier support services relationship.

Tanya is passionate about volunteering for organizations that promote professional, educational and financial advancement for its members and constituents.  Currently, she serves as a Co-Chair for one of Girl Talk Foundation’s signature annual programs, “Prom Project” which is celebrating 16 years.  Tanya also plays a key role in negotiating some of Girl Talk’s strategic partnerships and collaborations.  She holds the position of Business Manager for the Charlotte Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) ERG and sits on the BAM Worldwide Career Development Committee.  She is an active member of the Charlotte Chapter of the National Black MBA Association, chaired the chapter’s 2018 Leadership Symposium in February and serves as a coach for the chapter’s Leaders of Tomorrow high school mentoring program’s Business Case Competition team.        

Tanya is originally from Connecticut and now resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband Joachim and their kids Alyssa (20), Xavier (14) and Chase (5).

Jamese Pinkston, Community Engagement Officer, Renaissance West Community Initiative

Jamese is a Charlotte native who graduated from West Mecklenburg High School in 2010. She went on to UNC-Greensboro to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. In 2017, she earned her Master’s degree in Geography with a concentration in Community Planning from UNC-Charlotte.
In graduate school, she worked with the Charlotte Action Research Project which did extensive work in Reid Park and surrounding neighborhoods in west Charlotte. Jamese has made connections with leaders and residents alike that live along West Boulevard and taken part in numerous projects to increase capacity along the boulevard.

In her free time, she is an involved member of the Coalition of 100 Black Women. She also leads a youth group on West Boulevard called The Youth Solution. This youth group identifies issues they want to address along West Boulevard and finds projects to raise awareness of the issues and find solutions.Jamese currently works for the Renaissance West Community Initiate as the Community Engagement Officer. In her current role, she builds relationships with the residents of the Renaissance Community and the Little Rock Community to identify their needs and help them set and achieve their personal goals.

Dr. Janaka Lewis, Associate Professor of English, Director of the Women & Gender Studies Program at UNC Charlotte, Author

Dr. Janaka Lewis, photo

Janaka B. Lewis, Ph.D. is Director of Women’s and Gender Studies and Associate Professor of English at UNC Charlotte  and is also a faculty affiliate of Africana Studies. She is the author of Freedom Narratives of African American Women (2017) and teaches courses on nineteenth and twentieth century African American women’s literature and African American archival and material culture.  She has published several book chapters and essays on Elizabeth Keckley and Charlotte Forten Grimke (African American women writers of the 19th Century) in addition to book chapters on black sports culture and author Charles Chesnutt. She has also contributed essays and chapters on race and gender dynamics in higher education. She is the author of two children's books, Brown All Over (2012) and Bold Nia Marie Passes the Test (2017) that she has shared in research and presentations on diversity in children's literature and is currently working on a monograph about black girlhood and narratives of play in literature and media.

Dr. Suzanne Leland, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Suzanne Leland, photo

Suzanne Leland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at UNC Charlotte. She teaches urban politics, intergovernmental relations and public administration courses. She received her doctorate from the University of Kansas in Political Science.

Carrie Cook, Executive Director of GreenLight Charlotte

Carrie Cook, photo

Carrie Cook is the founding Executive Director of GreenLight Charlotte. She has over a decade of experience building public-private partnerships. Most recently, she served as the VP of Talent Development and Economic Growth at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce – working to grow opportunity and align workforce development for people of all skills and backgrounds in the Charlotte region. While at the Chamber, Carrie managed the effort to pass a nearly billion-dollar school bond campaign for 29 high need public school projects throughout Mecklenburg county. Carrie’s career experience includes roles with the United States Senate, Department of Public Instruction and AmeriCorps as a Public Ally Fellow. She also founded EmpowHERment, a mentoring and advocacy organization that has served over 1,000 girls and women in Charlotte since 2012.

Carrie was raised in Charlotte and has a deep passion for the city and ensuring it’s a place where all residents can thrive. Among her leadership positions and awards, Carrie served as the Public Policy Chair of the Junior League of Charlotte, is a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Advisory Board, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; and a recipient of the Harvey B. Gantt Community Service Award from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, the UNCF Maya Angelou Leadership Award and the YWCA Emerging Leader Woman of the Year Award. Cook was an inaugural member of the World Economic Forum Charlotte Global Shapers Hub. She received her undergraduate degree from UNC at Greensboro, her master of public administration from UNC at Chapel Hill, and completed the nonprofit management program at Wake Forest University.

Amy Jacobs, Executive Director, SHARE Charlotte

Amy Jacobs, photo

After earning her Bachelors of Business Administration from Ohio University in 2001, Amy moved from her native Cleveland, Ohio to Charlotte.  Amy began her career at Bank of America in 2001 in Global Technology and Operations.  In her nearly 15-year career in financials services she held various roles leading large-scale, transformational change initiatives in the areas of technology, home loans, deposits e-commerce and quality and productivity. 

Amy left financial services in 2015 to pursue her passion for philanthropy and bring her talent for operations and marketing to the Charlotte nonprofit community. Amy was introduced to SHARE Charlotte through her involvement with Women’s Impact Fund, and volunteered to manage SHARE’s second annual #GivingTuesdayCLT campaign.   Amy joined the SHARE Charlotte team full-time in 2015 to manage their three community-wide giving campaigns (DO GOOD Week, SummerSHARE and #GivingTuesdayCLT) and in 2018 was promoted to Executive Director. 

Amy lives in Charlotte with her husband Dave. 

Whitney Feld, Assistant Vice President, Robinson Center for Civic Leadership, Foundation For The Carolinas

Whitney Feld, photo

Cincinnati native Whitney Thompson Feld earned her B.F.A. from Miami Unveristy in 2005. After graduation, Whitney taught for three years with the New York Teaching Fellows and earned her M.S.T. from Pace University. She then earned her juris doctor degree from the Charleston School of Law, where she completed more than 500 hours of pro bono service. She now works at Foundation For The Carolinas as the Assistant Vice President of the Robinson Center for Civic Leadership. The Center is the flagship program of the Foundation For The Carolinas, and serves as a home for civic engagement. Annual membership through the FFTC Civic Leadership Fund offers community-minded donors a way to collectively address our city's most pressing challenges and capitalize on our greatest opportunities.

Dr. Lori Thomas, Associate Professor of Social Work, Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Lori Thomas, photo

Dr. M. Lori Thomas is an Associate Professor of Social Work and a Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar. Her research examines programmatic and systemic responses to homelessness and housing instability across the life course, particularly among older adults and people with health and mental health disorders. Her research is informed by over 15 years of practice experience in affordable housing, community development, and homelessness, including developing and implementing the first housing first permanent supportive housing program in Virginia. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg Research & Evaluation Project and co-leads the Housing First Lived Experience Action Project (LEAP). Dr. Thomas has also examined the activities, effectiveness, and implications of faith-based human service and advocacy organizations.

Dr. Vanessa Drew-Branch, Lecturer, School of Social Work, UNC Charlotte, Volunteer with GirlTalk, Inc.

Dr. Vanessa Drew-Branch, photo

Dr. Vanessa Drew-Branch is currently Lecturer at UNC Charlotte and Owner of VLDrew Consulting Inc.  Dr. Drew-Branch earned a BS/BA, Social Work/ Psychology at California University of Pennsylvania in 2005. She earned her She earned an Ed.D in Higher Education Administration, a MSW and certificate in public health with a specialty in women's health issues at West Virginia University.

Prior to relocating to Charlotte, Dr. Drew-Branch was the Executive Director of Operations/ Mental Health Therapist at GrassRoutes Counseling Services, LLC. She co-founded GrassRoutes Counseling Services (GRCS) in 2011 out of a desire to provide recipients of mental health services an effective mental health treatment option. Dr. Drew-Branch has begun a new business venture VLDrew Consulting Inc. The mission of VLDrew Consulting is to provide cultural and inclusion training and support for organizations.

Her current academic scholarship focuses on advocacy and social justice through empowering marginalized communities.  Her teaching areas include mental health assessment, advocacy practice and human diversity. She has won several teaching awards and was the recipient of the 2015 Diversity College of Health and Human Services Fellowship. Dr. Drew-Branch currently serves as faculty advisor for the Advocate for Change. She serves as the Parliamentarian for the UNCC African and African American Caucus. Dr. Drew-Branch is a volunteered for the GirlTalk Organization Inc. organization, assisting the program evaluation and data collection teams. She is the proud mother for four kids Kye, Brennen, Elan and Eliea.

Hannah Hasan, Storyteller

Hannah Hasa, photo

Hannah Hasan was gifted with a love for words and the power to express those words with heart and soul; so that she can inspire, motivate and change the world around her. As a passionate spoken word poet, a talented storyteller, and a skilled master class facilitator, Hannah is a career artist and spends her days and nights knee deep in doing the work that she loves.  She specializes in writing and performing custom poetry pieces that honor individuals and organizations, tells the stories of people, businesses, and events, and give light the most pressing social justice issues of our time. For five years, Hannah was a host and co-creator of The Artist’s Den- Charlotte’s most diverse, engaging open mic night. She is also the creator writer, and director of the live story sharing stage show-that tells the stories of Muslims in America- Shahadah Stories.

Hannah obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from North Carolina A&T State University in 2006 and her Master of Fine Arts degree from Full Sail University in 2012. She has extensive professional experience working in programming for nonprofit organizations, social ventures, and arts based programming. .
However, her greatest accomplishment has been the work that she has done with many teens, specifically young women, as a coach and mentor. She has helped them to own the power of their voice through spoken word and story sharing.

With with a passion for uplifting the voices of women, Hannah and her sister created Epoch Tribe- a company designed to encourage women and girls to share their stories with authenticity, vulnerability and strategy- and ultimately use those stories to build their own personal brands, businesses, and grow as leaders.

She lives in Charlotte with her husband Jamaal. Hannah is a dreamer, worker, campaigner, artist, speaker, performer, and lover of connecting people to the power of the shared story.

Tammy Clemons, Filmmaker and PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at University of Kentucky

Tammy Clemons, photo

I am currently a full-time student and PhD Candidate in the UK Department of Anthropology working with Dr. Ann Kingsolver. My dissertation research focuses on how young visual media makers in different social contexts in Appalachia envision, construct, and act upon possibilities for young people in the region; and I am currently conducting fieldwork in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. My doctoral coursework in anthropology focused on development; political economy; popular education; youth as a cultural category; cultural production; and media literacy, education, and activism in Appalachian and Latin American contexts.

I am also a filmmaker and have made more than 20 short videos over the past decade. I am especially interested in film/video as a medium for storytelling, not only in the context of researching and documenting on behalf of others but in helping communities and individuals to tell their own stories through film as well. My partner and I are co-producing a multi-media documentary project about her partner's grandparents Frances and John Reedy, who were founding Bluegrass musicians and songwriters ( For Fall 2009, we were awarded an Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship where we began the formal research phase of the documentary and donated the Reedys' collection of recordings and memorabilia to the Berea College Special Collections and Sound Archives. Concurrent with this fellowship, we completed the Community Scholars certification program sponsored by the Kentucky Folklife Program. For this documentary project, we were also awarded a Family Research Fellowship from the Kentucky Historical Society, an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and an Artistic Assistance Grant from Alternate ROOTS.  

Morgan Flitt, Levine Scholar, UNC Charlotte

Morgan Flitt, photo

Morgan Flitt '18 is pursuing a double major in business management and sociology along with a minor in urban youth and communities. "The family-oriented nature of the Levine Scholars Program, the study abroad opportunities, the focus on civic engagement, and the people I met drew me to UNC Charlotte." She values the connection the University has to the city of Charlotte as well as its entrepreneurial spirit. "UNC Charlotte is a relatively young university. I love being in an environment that is growing so rapidly because I know that I am helping to create traditions and make history."

Morgan spent a summer in Manchester, England studying sociology. She is a research assistant on campus and volunteers in the community with organizations such as The Possibility Project, Ronald McDonald House and Safe Alliance. Morgan is a council member for UNC Charlotte's Multicultural Resource Center and also participates in the Business Honors Program.

Nikkeia Lee, The Possibility Project-Charlotte

Nikkeia Lee, photo

Nikkeia Lee is the Managing & Artistic Director of The Possibility Project-Charlotte (TPP-Charlotte), an organization empowering teens to lead using the skills of community action and the performing arts. In its 15th Season, Nikkeia and her team have directed ensembles of young people who have created and performed over 20 original productions based on the lives, experiences, and vision of teens across Charlotte-Mecklenburg. A graduate of Queens University, Nikkeia is also a facilitator on topics including leadership, community-building, and race. She currently serves as a member of the Race Matters for Juvenile Justice (RMJJ) Leadership Team and RMJJ Speakers Bureau.

Sydney Welch, Levine Scholar, UNC Charlotte

Sydney Welch, photo

Aysha Nahan, 2017 alumnus of UNC Charlotte, Data Analyst, TIAA

Aysha Nahan, photo

Aysha Nahan, 2017 alumnus of UNC Charlotte, began her career in Data Science as an intern at TIAA Cyber Analytics.  She is currently a Data Analyst at TIAA and is responsible for analyzing data and applying predictive analytics to aid cyber investigations.

Tamera Green, President, Viridian Marketing

Tamera Green, photo

Tamera Green founded Viridian Marketing in May 2012 following a successful career developing innovative partnership marketing programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies. With Green at the helm, Viridian Marketing developed and led the strategy and activation plan for Sysco Corporation’s first-ever, multi-faceted marketing campaign. Green and her team designed an innovative partnership between Sysco, a Fortune 75 company with more than $42 billion in sales, the Food Network and celebrity chef Robert Irvine.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism, Green also earned an MBA from Queens University of Charlotte.

Dr. Amy Hawn Nelson, Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Amy Hawn Nelson, photo

Amy Hawn Nelson is the Director of Training and Technical Assistance for AISP, charged with overseeing all parts of the AISP Learning Communities Initiative. This includes providing training, technical assistance, and support to developing IDS sites. Prior to joining AISP in 2017, Dr. Hawn Nelson was the Director of Social Research for the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, an applied research institute serving the Charlotte region for over 40 years, and Director of the Institute for Social Capital, an integrated data system charged with supporting university research and enhancing data-informed decision-making in the Charlotte region. Prior to entering the world of IDS’ in 2012, Hawn Nelson served as a teacher and school leader for 11 years. Hawn Nelson is a community engaged researcher, and has presented and written extensively on intersectional topics related to educational equity. She is a co-editor of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: School Desegregation and Resegregation in Charlotte (Feb. 2015, Harvard Education Press).

Hawn Nelson has a beautifully tolerant husband, Allen, and two feisty daughters, Fincher and Emory, and lives in Charlotte.

Curt Walton, Interim Associate Provost, Metropolitan Studies and Extended Academic Programs, UNC Charlotte

Curt Walton, photo

Curt Walton is interim associate provost for Metropolitan Studies and Extended Academic Programs. In addition to this role, he will continue to serve as executive-in-residence with teaching and advising responsibilities in the Master of Public Administration program and as liaison with the city of Charlotte, University City Partners and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Walton’s resume includes more than 30 years of experience as a leader in public service. During his time with the city of Charlotte, he was budget director, deputy city manager and city manager. In addition, he used his expertise in interim executive roles with the Council for Children’s Rights, University City Partners and Classroom Central. Before joining UNC Charlotte, Walton was vice president of real estate and facilities management at the Foundation for the Carolinas, one of the largest community foundations in the country.

In addition, Walton has served on the board of directors for the Arts and Science Council, United Way of the Central Carolinas, Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte Center City Partners, Champions for Education and the Queens University of Charlotte Board of Visitors.  

Walton completed a Master of Urban Administration (now Master of Public Administration) from UNC Charlotte. His undergraduate degrees in political science and psychology are from UNC Chapel Hill. He also completed leadership certification programs through Harvard University, UNC Chapel Hill, the Center for Intentional Leadership and Leadership Charlotte. He was inducted into the UNC Charlotte Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012.