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Who We Are



Board of Directors

Ted Alexander, Shelby

Ted Alexander directs the western regional office of Preservation North Carolina. He is chairman of New Wilderness Adventures ministry, a member of the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Housing Partnership Board, and a member of the board of the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission.

Andy Anderson, Whiteville — Vice-chair

Andy Anderson is the director of development for Community Based Care. He also is a motivational speaker on the state and national level. Currently mayor pro tem of Whiteville, he was the first African American elected to the city council of his hometown. In 2000, he traveled to Europe on an American Marshall Memorial Fellowship to discuss social and economic issues with NATO and European Union officials.

 Leslie Boney, Chapel Hill

Leslie Boney serves as the director for the Institute for Emerging Issues. Before joining IEI, he was the UNC system’s vice president for international, community and economic engagement. He serves on the Southern Growth Policies Board, the N.C. Economic Development Board, and the N.C. Board of Science and Technology.

Charles Brown, Albemarle

Charles Brown is an attorney who lends his expertise to a number of boards, including the N.C. Board of Construction and Development and the Stanly County Economic Development Commission.

Lige Daughtridge, Rocky Mount — Secretary

Lige Daughtridge owns Daughtridge Sales Co., Inc., a family-owned business located in Rocky Mount that distributes pressure and temperature instrumentation. He is also a member of the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority, Rocky Mount Academy Board of Trustees, Carolinas Gateway Partnership Board of Directors, and the City of Rocky Mount Planning Board.

Patricia Ferguson, Colerain

Patricia Ferguson is a former chair of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. She has received the Brock Award as N.C. County Commissioner of the Year, the National Association of Development Organization’s Innovation Award, and the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Award. She currently serves on the board of the N.C. Partnership for Children.

Grant Godwin, Raleigh — Chair

Grant Godwin is Chair of the Rural Center Board of Directors. He retired in 2011 from Martin Marietta Materials after a distinguished career in advanced manufacturing. He began his career in North Carolina state government, working for the state budget office and the ports authority.

Debbie Hamrick, Raleigh

Debbie Hamrick serves as director of specialty crops for the NC Farm Bureau Federation. As director, she advocates for North Carolina’s specialty crops producers and works to leverage existing and new resources into North Carolina’s specialty crops agricultural sector, which includes but is not limited to aquaculture/fisheries, apiculture, fruit and vegetables, nursery, greenhouse and sod production, sustainable/organic producers, and viticulture.

CeCe Hipps, Waynesville — Treasurer

CeCe Hipps is president of the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. She previously worked with chambers in Asheville and Cary. She serves on the board of the Haywood Advancement Foundation, Folkmoot International Festival, and Mountain Bizworks. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina.

Nelle Hotchkiss, Raleigh

Nelle Hotchkiss is senior vice president of corporate relations for the N.C. Electric Membership Corporation. She serves as a board member for a number of organizations, including the N.C. Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, the School of Life Sciences for N.C. A&T State University, N.C. Cooperative Council, N.C. Advisory Board for STEM Education, and the N.C. Agribusiness Council Boards of Directors.

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey, Elizabeth City

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey is president and CEO of River City Community Development Corp. Previously, she was director of the Center for Rural and Coastal Living at Elizabeth City State University. She is a member of the board of the N.C. Affordable Housing Coalition and the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina. She also belongs to the National Congress for Community Economic Development.

Phil Marion, JR., Wilmington

Phil Marion is the president for the southeastern region at BB&T. Since joining BB&T in 1985, he has served as a business services officer in Raleigh, a business services manager for the Piedmont Region in Winston-Salem, corporate banker for the Piedmont Region, city executive in Lumberton and Wilmington, N.C. Marion serves as executive board member of the Cape Fear Council of The Boy Scouts of America, advisory board member of UNC-Wilmington’s Endowment Fund, and member of The North Carolina Military Foundation Board. He is a graduate of East Carolina University and is from Wilmington, North Carolina.

John Nelms, Raleigh

John Nelms is the economic development manager for Duke Energy, coordinating and managing economic development activity for the legacy Progress Energy territory in Eastern North Carolina. John began his career at Progress Energy in 2005 as a business development executive in economic eevelopment, covering a 12-county region in Southeastern North Carolina. Prior to joining Progress Energy, his career included stints at the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the N.C. Department of Commerce, and Wake County Economic Development.

Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, Greenville

Juvencio Rocha-Peralta is executive director of the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN). A native of Veracruz, Mexico, he has lived in North Carolina since 1980. He has served on a number of task forces and boards, including the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project and the Pitt County Board of Health.

Alan Rice, Yadkinville

Alan Rice is executive director of RFD Community Development Corp. and director of rural ministry and community development for the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. He also serves as senior minister at Crossfire UMC, a congregation of bikers and working folk. Before entering the ministry, he was an executive in a general contracting firm. 

Jim Rose, Raleigh

Jim Rose is a regional president at United Community Bank. He has more than 25 years of experience in the North Carolina banking industry, including stints with Select Bank, First South Bank, First Union, and BB&T.

Helen Ruth Almond, Sparta

Helen Ruth Almond serves as executive director of the Alleghany Memorial Hospital Foundation and director of marketing and public relations for Alleghany Memorial Hospital (AMH). Responsibilities include directing and managing all fundraising and marketing activities including AMH’s annual golf tournament. From FY2014 to FY2016, Foundation proceeds increased 120 percent. Almond is a present board member of Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is from Sparta, North Carolina.

Alice Schenall, Rocky Mount

Alice Schenall is assistant director of the Area L Area Health Education Center. The center provides educational programs and services that bridge academic institutions and communities to improve health.

Joseph Stanley, Shallotte

Joseph Stanley is vice president of Joe & Moe’s Auto Services and owner of Joe’s Photography, both in Shallotte. He previously was a branch manager for United Carolina Bank. He serves on the South Brunswick Islands Committee of 100, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Advisory Board, and the FOR ENC Board of Directors. He received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine recognition in 2001.

Sarah Thompson, Sylva

Sarah Thompson serves as the executive director of the Southwestern Commission in Sylva. She is a graduate of the Rural Center’s REDI program and is actively engaged in leadership development initiatives. She initiated a partnership with the NC Rural Center to bring the Homegrown Leaders training, a regional leadership training program, to the Southwestern region of NC in 2016.

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, Raleigh

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside is president and CEO of the North Carolina Community Foundation, which administers more than $118 million in assets. Tolle Whiteside previously served as president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse and was co-chair of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force, a 36-member legislative study commission. She received the 2005 U.S. Commissioner’s Award for her work on behalf of North Carolina’s children.

Dennis Tracz, Pink Hill

Dennis Tracz is the CEO and co-founder of Carolina Wild, a muscadine juice company based in Pink Hill, North Carolina. Mr. Tracz has set out to help transform the land that tobacco forgot into the land of the muscadine, creating new opportunities in a very economically depressed region of our country. He was the founder of the Virginia Financial Group, Inc. and served as the director of the Entrepreneurship Center for James Madison University’s College of Business.

Patrick Woodie, Piney Creek — Rural Center President

Patrick Woodie is president of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, Inc. From 2006 to 2013, he served as the center’s vice president for Rural Programs. A native of Alleghany County, he is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the Wake Forest University School of Law.

Emeritus members

  • Thomas W. Lambeth, Winston-Salem
  • Valeria Lee, Rocky Mount
  • Kelly S. King, Winston-Salem
  • Robert Jordan, Mount Gilead
  • Bill Gibson, Sylva