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Who We Are



Board of Directors

Ted Alexander, Shelby

Ted Alexander is the Regional Director for the Western Office of Preservation North Carolina where he works to preserve and protect significant historical properties throughout 37 western NC counties. Ted has an extensive background in economic and community development and local government. He was previously the Executive Director of the Uptown Shelby Association, Shelby’s Main Street downtown revitalization program for nearly 13 years. Prior to that, he was the Main Street Manager for Bedford, Virginia and then the Main Street Coordinator for the State of Virginia. He served two terms as Mayor of Shelby from 2003-2011, where he was distinguished for his economic and neighborhood redevelopment successes and crime reduction efforts. He is current Treasurer of the Historic Shelby Foundation, past Chairman of New Wilderness Adventure Ministry, past member of the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Housing Partnership board and the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission, and past President of the North Carolina Downtown Development Association. Ted is a Rotarian and has been involved in over 15 mission trips to Nicaragua through the Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association. He is currently a candidate for the NC Senate for the 44th District comprised of Lincoln, Cleveland, and a portion of NE Gaston Counties. He has been married for 35 years to his wife Patti, a school nurse for the Cleveland County Health Department. They have two grown children. 

Helen Ruth Almond, Piney Creek

Helen Ruth Almond is Executive Director of the Alleghany Memorial Hospital Foundation and Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Alleghany Health in Sparta, an affiliate of Wake Forest Baptist Health and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital. She also serves as President of Antaeus Consulting, LLC, focusing on asset-based economic development strategies and projects that benefit rural communities in North Carolina. Born and raised in Greenville, NC, Almond holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. She lives with her husband, Michael, on their farm in Piney Creek, NC.

Andy Anderson, Whiteville — Vice-chair

Andy Anderson serves as director of development for Community Based Care. He is currently pastor of Father’s Cup Overflow Ministries and is a William Friday Fellow. He serves on the North Carolina Social Services Commission, the Columbus County Partnership for Children, and Columbus County DREAM Center boards. Anderson is an American Marshall Fellow.

 Brenda Berg, Raleigh

Berg is the president & CEO of BEST NC (Business for Educational Success and Transformation NC), a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of more than 100 business leaders with a focus on making education in North Carolina the best in the nation. She has over twenty-five years of experience as a business owner, public policy professional, and education advocate. She serves on the board of the Kenan Fellows Program, the Institute for Political Leadership, and the NC Community College Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s in economics and a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University.

 Leslie Boney, Raleigh

Leslie Boney serves as the director for the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State (IEI). Before joining IEI, he was the UNC system’s vice president for international, community, and economic engagement. He serves on the board of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC and the Engaged Scholarship Consortium.

Charles Brown, Albemarle

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

Lige Daughtridge, Rocky Mount — Secretary

Lige Daughtridge is the president of 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, 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 and a native of Sampson County. 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 is a member of the Public Policy Dept. for North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest general agricultural organization. She works with wide ranging stakeholder groups to shape the state’s agricultural sector for the benefit of all farmers. As a member of boards, committees and task forces she represents the interests of members working land and water. A native of Robeson County, Debbie is a frequent speaker at agricultural and service organization meetings around the state.

CeCe Hipps, Waynesville — Treasurer

CeCe is the president of the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development. She has been in that position since 2004 with previous positions at the Asheville and Cary NC Chambers of Commerce. Currently, she serves on the Boards of the Haywood Advancement Foundation, Haywood Tourism Development, and Duke Energy Advisory Board. She has earned the prestigious designation as a Certified Chamber Executive, a distinction held by fewer than 500 in the country.

Nelle Hotchkiss, Raleigh

Nelle Hotchkiss is senior vice president of association services for the N.C. Electric Membership Corporation. She serves as a board member for a number of organizations, including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for N.C. A&T State University, N.C. Cooperative Council, N.C. Institute for Political Leadership, and the N.C. Agribusiness Council Boards of Directors.

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey, Elizabeth City

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey is co-founder and president/CEO of River City Community Development Corporation, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization founded 28 years ago. She serves on several boards, including Reinvestment Partners, Elizabeth City Rotary, and Elizabeth City State University. Lenora’s unwavering dedication to Elizabeth City and Northeastern North Carolina has afforded her the honor of receiving numerous awards and recognition, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a citizen of North Carolina.

Ben Knight, Kinston

Knight is the co-owner of Kinston’s Chef & the Farmer and the Boiler Room Oyster Bar, and Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington. Knight and his wife, chef Vivian Howard, are the subjects of the Emmy, James Beard Foundation, and Peabody award-winning PBS series A Chef’s Life. Knight has taken multiple leadership roles since relocating to Lenoir County, taking a hands-on approach in local community development, including the revitalization of the Lenoir County Farmer’s Market. He is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

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 senior economic development manager for Duke Energy, coordinating and managing economic development activities for the company in Central North Carolina. John began his utility industry career at Progress Energy in 2005 as a business development executive for economic development, covering a 12-county region in Southeastern North Carolina. He has a 25-year career in economic development that includes stints at the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the NC Department of Commerce, and Wake County Economic Development. John currently serves on the Executive Committee for NC Southeast. He is also a recent past board member of the North Economic Development Association and the North Carolina Military Foundation.

Alan Rice, Yadkinville

Alan Rice is executive director of RFD Community Development Corporation. He also serves as senior minister at Crossfire United Methodist Church, a rural congregation of bikers and working folk. Before entering the ministry, he was an executive in a general contracting firm and two development groups. 

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 Eastern North Carolina Latin-American Coalition, Inc. (ENCLACO) 

Jim Rose, Raleigh

Jim Rose is a regional president at United Community Bank. He has more than 30 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 associate 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 K. Stanley is vice president of Joe & Moe’s Automotive and owner of Joe’s Photography, both in Shallotte. He serves on the South Brunswick Islands Committee of 100, the Advisory Boards for both the North Carolina Cooperative Extension and BB&T, and the FOR ENC Board of Directors. Previously, Mr. Stanley was a branch manager for United Community Bank and is a past Board of Transportation member and Parent Advisory Council County President. In 2001, he was presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina, for his proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

Sarah Thompson, Sylva

Sarah Thompson is the executive director of the Southwestern Commission Council of Governments in Sylva, NC. In this role, she administers programs in the seven far western counties of the state related to workforce development, aging services, and community and economic development. Prior to joining the Southwestern Commission, Sarah served on the board of Sylva’s Main Street organization and later became its Executive Director. She is a proud graduate of the Rural Center’s REDI program and the current Chair of Thread Capital. She earned her master’s in Public Administration from Western Carolina University.

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, Raleigh

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside serves as president and CEO of the North Carolina Community Foundation. She has led the Foundation for more than a decade, more than doubling NCCF assets and grantmaking in her tenure. She loves working every day with generous, passionate and engaged North Carolinians to build community through philanthropic giving. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, received a master’s degree from Louisiana State University and is an alumna of Leadership North Carolina. She is a past recipient of the Old North State Award from the Governor of North Carolina and has been named a News & Observer Tar Heel of the Week.

Dennis Tracz, Pink Hill

Dennis Tracz is a serial entrepreneur with experience in technology, sports management and consumer products goods start-ups. He was the founder of the Virginia Financial Group, Inc. a private investment company and served as the first director of the Entrepreneurship Center for James Madison University’s College of Business. Dennis lives with his wife Elizabeth in Pink Hill on the family farm.

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