Nonprofit organizations led by men have three times the assets as those led by women.
As a community, we haven’t supported enough minority leaders working hard to represent our neighbors in need. We’re addressing racial, gender, and power disparities in leadership by empowering local communities, amplifying the voices of nonprofit leaders of color and women, and preparing the broader community for these leaders’ continued success.
Meet the 10 To Watch Leaders
Annie Schmidt is the Executive Director for NAMI of Wake County. Annie received her M.S. in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences from the University of Florida and B.A. in International Studies and Peace, Justice, and Conflict Resolution from DePaul University. Her background includes collaborating with community organizations to provide wrap-around services in Title 1 schools and program planning and evaluation for child welfare programs at the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. She is passionate about mental health and grateful for the impact NAMI has had in her family. When she’s away from the desk, you can find her near water, playing with her two cats, or socializing with her friends and family.
Geraud is the executive director of Helius. Helius provides coaching and mentoring for small businesses, primarily those run by necessity-driven entrepreneurs. Helius provides education through their LaunchDURHAM training, as well as providing access to capital and technical assistance through their many partners. Geraud believes whole-heartedly in Helius’s vision: “We see a North Carolina where everyone has the capability to support themselves and their families with dignity, in the face of racial, educational and financial inequity.”
Prior to working for Helius, Geraud was the executive director of Bull City Forward, an organization that worked with social entrepreneurs throughout Durham. Geraud served in the US Air Force during Operation: Desert Storm and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the business school at NC Central University. He is a Goodmon Fellow, as well as a member of the Rotary Club of Durham. And when he isn’t spending time with his lovely wife, Laine, he can be found in his art studio.
Jenice Ramirez is a proud Latina who began as the Executive Director of ISLA NC in 2013. She has focused on bilingualism, multiculturalism, and leadership within the Latinx community.
Jenice has been in the education arena for over ten years and has made it her mission to be a part of changing the status quo for the Spanish-speaking population and pushes for language access and opportunities for this community. Her professional and personal work is guided by the desire to see more women and people of color lead in the field of education.
She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2010 with a degree in Special Education and a minor in Spanish. She received Duke University’s Nonprofit Management Certification in 2014 and received her Executive Nonprofit Management Certification from Duke in 2016.
Jenice enjoys trips to the beach, spending time outside, relaxing with friends and family, and having dance parties with her little girl, Iva.
Jenice es una líder latina enfocada en el bilingüismo, multiculturalismo, y liderazgo en la comunidad Hispana/Latina/Latinx. Jenice es la Directora Ejecutiva de la organización ISLA en Carolina del Norte. Ella ha trabajado en el área de la educación por más de 10 años y ha hecho que su misión sea parte de cambiar la representación y percepción de la comunidad hispana hablante y promover el acceso al idioma y las oportunidades para la comunidad. Su trabajo profesional y personal está guiado por el deseo de ver a más mujeres y personas de color liderar en el área de educación.
Se graduó de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte en Greensboro en 2010 con una licenciatura en Educación Especial y una especialización en español. Recibió dos Certificaciones de la universidad de Duke para trabajar en el área de organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro.
Jenice disfruta de los viajes a la playa, pasar tiempo al aire libre, relajarse con amigos y familiares y bailar con su hija, Iva.
Joy Spencer is a proud mother and lifelong advocate committed to achieving equity and authentic community engagement. She is driven by passion and knows firsthand the life-saving impact of community-led services and supports.
She is involved with several organizations, commissions and coalitions that empower communities through direct service, education and advocacy. Joy is a Black Parent Researcher, Goodmon Fellow and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Psychology. Joy is the Executive Director of Equity Before Birth (EBB), a Black maternal health charity organization working to eliminate disparities and improve birth outcomes by promoting financial security.
Celebrating its first year of operation, Equity Before Birth has sponsored over 60 birthing people by providing paid parental leave, covering the cost of perinatal support services and giving direct cash assistance for essential baby items. EBB’s direct support model promotes autonomy, empowerment and collaboration. Eliminating financial barriers improves pregnancy and birth experiences, enhancing a family’s ability to thrive.
Nora El-Khouri Spencer, MSW
Nora El-Khouri Spencer is Founder and CEO of Hope Renovations in Carrboro. She spent the first 15 years of her career in HR and recruiting at Fortune 50 Companies but changed directions in 2017, receiving a Master of Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill. A self-taught tradeswoman and NC Licensed General Contractor, Nora envisioned a training program that would empower underemployed women to make inroads into the construction trades where they could earn living wages on a sustainable career path. After becoming familiar with the concept of aging-in-place, she recognized the opportunity for these women to practice their newfound skills while carrying out needed repairs and renovations for older adults in the community, and the model for Hope Renovations was born.
Ronda Taylor Bullock, PhD
Ronda Taylor Bullock, Ph.D. is originally from Goldston, NC. In 2018, she earned her doctorate at UNC Chapel Hill in the Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement Program. Her research interests are critical race theory, whiteness studies, white children’s racial identity construction, and anti-racism. Prior to entering her doctoral program, Ronda taught English for almost ten years at Hillside High School in Durham, NC, where she now resides.
Ronda is the co-founder and executive director of we are. She is the wife of Dr. Daniel Kelvin Bullock and mother of son Zion and daughter Zaire.
Tameka S. Brown
Ms. Tameka Brown, a North Carolina A&T State University alumnus, is a seasoned Family and Consumer Science educator turned entrepreneur that is making a significant impact on the lives of teenage parents.
Her love for children began as a teenager while she worked after-school as a Group Leader for Little River Elementary School in Durham, N.C. Brown also saw first-hand the challenges that derive from adolescent pregnancy and parenting as a teenager, witnessing close friends and classmates face parenthood throughout high school.
During her undergraduate years, at the best HBCU, she interned at Regional Child Care Resources & Referrals of Guilford County, where she would soon be employed upon graduation. She began her career as an educator in Winston Salem, N.C. at North Forsyth High School and moved four years later to serve her hometown, Durham, N.C., at Hillside High School.
Tojan B. Rahhal, Ph.D, LL.M
Tojan B. Rahhal brings an innovative perspective to Engineering World Health with her unique background and experiences. Most recently, Tojan worked as the Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Missouri’s College of Engineering. Tojan actively worked to create a culture of inclusive excellence, with efforts focused on recruitment and retention of faculty and students traditionally underrepresented in engineering. Her work obtained her a recent recognition as a Women of Color History Maker in Diversity for her leadership in efforts to catalyze change to help engineering students from underrepresented populations overcome historic barriers.
Tojan also served as an adjunct assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Missouri. While teaching, Tojan developed and taught a course focusing on the intersection of diversity, inclusion, social justice, and global engineering. Prior to this, Tojan founded Alliance Professional Development, which provides customized workshops on leadership development and cultural awareness.
Tojan is a Biomedical Engineering graduate of North Carolina State University and has a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she worked on engineering therapeutic nanoparticles for pulmonary delivery alongside clinicians. Tojan’s expertise in strategic planning, cross-cultural awareness, and programming are vital in her role as CEO.
Tolulope O. Omokaiye, MBA is a graduate of North Carolina Central University, where she received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 2006. After college she worked as a Marketing and Channel Manager for Newell Rubbermaid. While obtaining her Master’s in Business Administration from Meredith College in 2011 she founded, EVOLVE Mentoring.
EVOLVE Mentoring, Inc. teaches youth and young adults life skills like financial management, entrepreneurship, personal health and social responsibility to assist in their evolution from youth to well-rounded adult. Tolulope is certified in Executive Nonprofit Leadership from Duke University. EVOLVE has impacted thousands of youths, young adults and families in the Triangle NC area and now leads President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s & Sister’s Keeper initiative in Wake County through EVOLVE. Tolulope continues to blaze trails by serving as the first woman and Person of Color to Chair the Raleigh Transit Authority. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and lends her expertise and knowledge to numerous projects in North Carolina that span the scope of youth, education, entrepreneurship, and construction.
Tolulope O. Omokaiye, MBA has been honored as 2018’s NCCU 40 Under 40 honoree and Triangle Business Journal’s Women in Business honoree; was awarded Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and featured as the News & Observer’s Tarheel of the Week in 2017; in 2016 Spectacular Magazine’s Women of the Year: Emerging Leader, Radio One’s Triangle Trailblazer and the National Financial Literacy Educators Council in 2016 for her work with youth and young adults.
I joined Boomerang in March 2021. I was most recently Executive Director of the Coastal Women’s Shelter in New Bern, NC where I managed five agency and service locations, led a staff and volunteer team of more than 75 people, and designed and implemented trauma-informed program strategies for survivors of violence. Prior to that, I was a Program Coordinator for a Duke University program in eastern NC focused on addressing adolescent health disparities and a Program Director at a 21st Century Community Learning Center. My career has prepared me to lead Boomerang in its current form and to grow the organization to better reach and serve young people in Orange County who may be in the process of disconnecting from school and community. I hope to lead Boomerang to continue to serve young people who will most benefit from the connections, services and mentorship our organization provides.