The inaugural members of the Community Advisory Council that will help New Hanover Community Endowment’s board of directors and staff in decision- and grant-making have been announced.
In a news release Thursday, the nonprofit foundation said the 18 inaugural members of the council, who represent a cross-section of occupations, areas of expertise and demographics, will act as liaisons between the endowment and the community.
In addition, the CAC will advise endowment staff on “challenges and opportunities” involving the foundation’s four areas of community focus: public primary, secondary and post-secondary education; health and social equity; community development; and community safety.
The 18 members were among 82 individuals who had expressed interest in serving on the advisory council in an application process that closed on May 13, said William Buster, the endowment’s first president and CEO.
“The CAC is critical to our community engagement strategy, and we’re fortunate to have had a strong response from passionate residents in New Hanover County,” Buster said in the release. “We’re confident the members chosen will amplify our impact and help create a better New Hanover County for all.
"We sought individuals with track records of community commitment and knowledge of the issues facing people of our community,” he added.
A balance of gender, race and ethnicity was considered to ensure the demographics of the community were reflected within the council, according to the release.
The names of the council members were released in no particular order, and not alphabetically. They include:
- Jamie Stokely, director of Helping Hands of the Cape Fear Region
- Maurice Locklear, Lightbeam Health Solutions; Chief Medical Officer, Cape Fear Clinic
- Joe Finley, co-founder, CastleBranch
- Gustavo Rodea, founder, Rodea’s Enterprise Inc.
- Susie Sewell, director of the Camp Schreiber Foundation
- Frankie Roberts, executive director of LINC, director of Men’s Ministry
- Brandon Cagle, global ambassador, Castle Branch
- LeShonda Wallace, Novant Health infectious disease specialist
- Natalie English, president and CEO, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
- Yasmin Tomkinson, executive director, Cape Fear Literacy Council
- Dawn Ferrer, executive director, A Safe Place
- Peter Nemmers, director of training development, National Association of Safety Professionals
- Raul Zamora-Duprey, MedNorth Health Center, Behavioral Health Clinical Care Consultant
- Sara Hobgood, National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Quanesha Mullins, Wilmington Housing Authority, Creekwood South Case Manager
- Marrio Jeter, director of programs and operations for Communities in Schools
- Jane Morrow, executive director of Smart Start
- Chaz Springer, assistant director of marketing, TRU Colors
Each advisor will act as a sounding board for the 13 directors and as a community convener in their area of expertise, but advisors will not be allowed to advocate for specific organizations, Buster said.
“So they won’t be seeing (grant) applications, nor will we be talking about organizations,” Buster said in an earlier interview for an upcoming WilmingtonBiz Magazine story.
In order to get individual members acclimated, the advisory council most likely will not participate in this year’s grant process, Buster added.
“We’ll probably have one or two meetings with them before the fall but we won’t try to push them and rush them into being a part of the fall grant cycle conversation because even that is just beginning with our board.”
Grant criteria will be announced in August, applications will go live in September and be accepted for several weeks. The board will vote on grants in November or early December.
“We want to make the announcements before the end of the year,” Buster said.
Going forward, members of the Community Advisory Council will serve staggered terms, according to earlier statements from the endowment.
Formation of the 18-member advisory group – originally set at 15 – was one of several conditions negotiated by N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein with New Hanover County in return for his not objecting to the acquisition of county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center by Novant Health. The merger, which closed on Feb. 1, 2021, helped launch the endowment with $1.25 billion of sales proceeds.
No more than 4% of the endowment’s average net fair market value can be drawn down for grants annually. Those assets are now invested conservatively.