The Rural Center's Governing Board
The Rural Center is governed by a board of directors representing state and local leadership in business, agriculture, education, government and numerous other areas of public service.
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
Andy Anderson is president and co-owner of Community Innovations, a health-care company with more than 1,700 employees. 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.
Rex L. Baker, King
Rex L. Baker is a small business owner in the Stokes County town of King. He retired from a career as an R.J. Reynolds executive before taking the helm of King Foods in 1989. He served five terms in the N.C. House of Representatives. During that time, he co-chaired the House Appropriations Committee and sat on the Agriculture Committee.
Leslie Boney, Chapel Hill
Leslie Boney serves as the UNC system's vice president for international, community and economic engagement. Before joining UNC, he was a senior associate with MDC Inc., a nonprofit research firm specializing in economic and workforce development. 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.
Brian Crutchfield, Boone
Brian Crutchfield is the former director of sustainable development for the Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. During a 30-year career in economic development, Crutchfield helped leverage more than $250 million in corporate investments and created thousands of jobs in rural communities. He sits on the board of the N.C. Community Foundation and a number of local economic development organizations.
Vance C. Dalton Jr., Statesville
Vance C Dalton, Jr. serves as the President and CEO of Carolina Farm Credit, ACA, a $1.5 billion agricultural lending cooperative based in Statesville. He is involved in both state-wide and community organizations and serves on the board of directors of the NC 4-H Development Fund; NC Foundation for Soil & Water Conservation; NC A&T State University SAES Advisory Board; Catawba Valley Community College Board of Trustees; Catawba County Agricultural Foundation and is on the Catawba County Schools Career & Technical Education Board of Advisors.
Lige Daughtridge, Rocky Mount
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.
Bill Gibson joined the Rural Center’s Board of Directors as a charter member in 1987. During his long tenure with the center he has served in several leadership roles, including board chair in 2013-14. He also serves on the boards of several other organizations, including the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee. Bill was executive director of the Southwestern Commission / Region A Council of Local Governments for nearly four decades, retiring in 2013. He currently raises Tennessee walking horses and black angus cattle on his century farm in Jackson County.
Grant Godwin, Raleigh
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
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.
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 Development, covering a 12 county region in SE 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 Yadkin 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.
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.
Cleveland Simpson, Rocky Point
Cleveland Simpson is the former assistant secretary for community development in the N.C. Department of Commerce. In 1988 he retired as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. After returning to his native Pender County, he worked with GlenMar Technical Services in Benson. He has served on the Pender Board of Commissioners, the Pender County Board of Health and the Governor’s Jobs for Veterans Committee.
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, 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, NC. 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.
Clark Twiddy, Duck
Clark Twiddy currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Twiddy & Company in Duck, NC. Twiddy & Company is a property management and hospitality firm on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with over a billion dollars of real estate under private management and 170 full-time employees.
Linda Weiner, Raleigh
Linda Weiner is vice president of engagement and strategic innovation for N.C. Community Colleges. She previously worked for the N.C. Economic Developers Association, RSM McGladrey, the N.C. Department of Commerce and N.C. State University.
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.
Thomas W. Lambeth, Winston-Salem
Kelly S. King, Winston-Salem
Robert Jordan, Mount Gilead