Meet the Fellows

Fellows in the first cohort are leaders of color and impactful change agents in their communities. They currently lead nonprofit organizations in North or South Carolina that have years of service and deep connections with their communities.

Geographic reach of this cohort’s work

2022-2023 ILOC Fellows

Angelica Santibañez- Mendez

Manos Unidas – based in Atkinson, NC

Angelica Santibanez- Mendez is a highly committed and multifaceted professional driven by the accomplishments of her team. Angie is the Executive Director of Black River Health Services, Inc. – Manos Unidas, a Farmworker Outreach and Community Engagement Program located in Pender County.  

Her career is distinguished by her community involvement, public speaking, and creative vision. She is recognized for her unparallel worth ethic and proven expertise in building and maintaining strong partnerships that achieve set-forth goals, as well as creating focused programs that meet organizational objectives for diverse populations. 

Angela McDuffie

Midlands Fatherhood Coalition – based in Columbia, SC

Angela McDuffie is in her 22nd year as a Fatherhood Practitioner. As Chief Executive Officer of Midlands Fatherhood Coalition (MFC), she governs operational and programmatic services and ensures fidelity for this organization. MFC’s goal is to help men in our communities to become great dads. MFC provides holistic services that help connect fathers to the resources they need so they can meet their responsibilities and secure their parental rights. When fathers are able to contribute to the positive support of their children both physically and emotionally, children thrive.

Angela is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Webster University with a Masters in Counseling. She is a trained family Court Mediator for the State of South Carolina and received her certification for non-profit management from Winthrop University in 2019. Angela is happily married and is the proud mom and bonus mom of three.

Brie Goodwin

Robeson County Church and Community Center – based in Lumberton, NC

Brianna Goodwin is the Executive Director of the Robeson County Church and Community Center. She has been with the Center for four years including her previous role as Director of Operations.  What she loves most about her position is the ability to influence Robeson County’s initiatives to bring its residents out of cycles of poverty and bridge the gap for those who are in a time of desperate need. In 2021 she was named as an honoree of the Fayetteville Observer’s 40 Under 40 Award which highlights professionals throughout the region who excel early in their careers.  She has served in numerous community roles and is past Chair of Kiwanis Young Professionals of Robeson County, President of the Robeson County Arts Council, President of the Robeson Family Counseling Center , Vice-President/Co-Founder of Ministers for Justice and a member of the Main Street Lumberton Design Committee.  Brianna also runs two small businesses, Brianna Goodwin Art and Brianna Goodwin Photography, and recently landed her first solo exhibition at the Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater selling a record 7 original pieces from her series “Emerge” an abstract collection that explores the transformational periods of an individual’s life. Being selected as an ILOC Fellow and having the opportunity to represent rural women of color who face unique challenges in the non-profit sector is one of the greatest honors of Brianna’s life and she is deeply grateful to each person who made this Fellowship a life-changing reality! 

Gianny Guedjo

Carolina Human Reinvestment (CHRSC) – based in Georgetown, SC

Giany is originally from Benin, West Africa. He moved to the United States in 2009. He officially became a US citizen in December 2014.  Giany has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management, and he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Webster University in 2011. Giany Joined the Carolina Human Reinvestment as Executive Director in June 2012. Under his leadership, the organization has developed programs that are serving thousands today in the Georgetown County communities. Giany is a graduate of the Georgetown Leadership program Class XXV and the American Leadership Forum/ Waccamaw Class V. Giany is a member of the Pawleys Island Lions Club. On April 28, 2022, during a regional conference, Giany was recognized, as a Melvin Jones Fellow by the Lions Club International Foundation, a highest form of recognition to acknowledge an individual’s dedication to humanitarian service.  

Giany is married to Lisette and adores son Mael (14) and daughter Jessica (12). In his spare time, Giany loves to travel and watch movies. 

Casey Owens

Bertie County YMCA – based in Windsor, NC

Casey Owens was born and raised in Bertie County. Attended and graduated from Bertie High School and went on to attend Elizabeth City State University on a football scholarship for the Vikings. Owens graduated from ECSU in 2011 and was a Dean of Students at a Charter School before accepting his role as CEO/Executive Director at Bertie County YMCA. 

Bertie County YMCA has been in establishment for over 20 years but in the last 6 years under the direction of Casey Owens has really made huge steps in being the outlet for the youth and physical fitness for all. Since Owens has been the Director, the YMCA has implemented over 14 programs from mental health walk, boot camps, night yoga, and more.  

One of the major programs is the Summer Camp which has grown tremendously over the past few years. In the first year (2016) it served 16 participants and in 2019 it served 137 participants. The special thing about Camp Happy is half the staff that works the camp are licensed teachers to assist with the Enrichment program that’s taught during summer camp.  

Jerry Blassingame

Soteria Community Development Corporation – based in Greenville, SC

Jerry Blassingame is the founder and CEO of Soteria Community Development Corporation.  He endeavors to empower individuals and the community as he advocates for economic and social justice through community and economic development. His passion is assisting individuals who have been incarcerated and helping them to become productive citizens. 

Jerry is a certified reentry specialist through the Institute of Prison Ministry at Wheaton College who advocates for systemic change nationally. One of his greatest accomplishments was to help pass an expungement bill, H3209 in South Carolina in 2018. 

 He serves as President of Correctional Ministries and Chaplain Association at Wheaton College, is a 2019 fellow in the Aspen Institute’s Healthy Communities Initiative, a 2016 fellow of JustLeadershipUSA, and he received the Buck Mikel award for community development from the Greenville Chamber in 2019. 

Jovonia Lewis

Empowered Parents in Community – based in Durham, NC

As a counselor and community education advocate, Jovonia Lewis embraces and lives the saying of Dr. Maya Angelou, “When you learn, teach.” Her heart for education, empowerment and social justice led her to this work. As a parent who experienced inequity in her child’s school and countering the opportunity gap, she was determined to advocate for her three sons who attend Durham Public Schools to make sure all marginalized children are seen, affirmed, and heard. In 2019, she founded Empowered Parents in Community to dismantle systemic racial inequities in the educational system.

In addition to her race equity in education work, Jovonia has served on the PTA, the Durham Public Schools Foundation and the City of Durham’s Race Equity Task Force. In July 2020, she was sworn in as a School Board member with Durham Public School’s Board of Education. And, in 2021 she became the Vice-Chair.

Jovonia is a wife, mother and nationally certified and licensed clinical mental health counselor with her undergraduate degree in psychology from UNC-Greensboro and Master of Science degree in counseling education from Georgia State University. Through various volunteer roles and advocacy, she works tirelessly to share her talents and gifts with others.

Norma Jean Suarez

Unity Health on Main – based in Greenville, SC

Norma Jean Suarez joined the staff at Unity Health on Main, December 2016. In her role, she is responsible for implementing the strategic goals and objectives of Unity Health on Main, a nonprofit Community Health Center, whose mission is to continuously improve the overall health and well-being of the medically under-resourced populations we serve by expanding access to quality healthcare through community partnerships.

Prior to Unity Health on Main, Norma Jean served as General Manager for Holiday Retirement, a Senior Independent Living Community in Greenville, SC. Originally from Texas, Norma served as Director of Operations for Bexar Management Development Corporation, where her team was responsible for the development and growth of new business and programs. As well as, Vice President of Programs for SAMMInistries and was responsible for the clinical, fiscal and program management of multiple homeless services including a 850-bed emergency shelter, 160-bed transitional living facility, 25 scattered site houses, 80 scattered-site apartments, rapid re-housing and prevention services, and Education and Employment Development. Additionally, Norma Jean served as Clinical Data Program Manager with First Nations Community Healthsource a Federally Qualified Health Center in Alburquerque, NM. While with First Nations, she provided management and direction to programs and operations to include budget preparation, staffing, strategic planning and marketing, program development, quality improvement, compliance and with all pertinent government regulations and standards.

Norma Jean earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and her Masters’s Degree in Counseling from Webster University. Norma Jean is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a graduate of Leadership Greenville.

Phyllis Caldwell-George

Financial Pathways of the Piedmont – based in Winston-Salem, NC

Phyllis Caldwell-George serves as President and CEO of Financial Pathways of the Piedmont she’s a passionate advocate of the importance of asset building for low-to moderate income households and a leader in the community. Phyllis has partnered and collaborated widely with government agencies, funding partners, and other non-profits and has served as trainer, speaker and educator for many housing counseling and financial education conferences workshops and training events. Most impressively and recently, Phyllis has proven to be an influential decision maker and visionary for the organization as she leads a very competent team of highly experienced staff members.  

ReZsaun Lewis

Lowcountry Youth Services – based in Hanahan, SC

ReZsaun Lewis is a husband, father, veteran, educator, and community leader. A proud native of North Charleston, SC, ReZsaunhas used his experience as a veteran of the US Army to become a leader and serve his community in many ways, holding various roles and titles throughout his life. Through his work with Lowcountry Youth Services, he has established himself as one of the pre-eminent voices in youth development programs and not-for-profit organizations.

He resides in Summerville, South Carolina, with his wife, Latoya, and their five children. He is a graduate of Trident Technical College(Associate in Arts). At the College of Charleston, he earned his Bachelor of Science –in Elementary Education. He earned his Associate in Arts and his Bachelor in Science Degree with a major in Elementary Education as a recipient of the Call Me Mister Program Scholarship. He also completed his Master of Public Administration degree from the College of Charleston. His love for children led him into a career as a teacher and youth development.

Since 2019, ReZsaun Lewis has served as the Executive Director of Lowcountry Youth Services. Theorganization’smission is to make sure that “Every Child Wins” through the creation and implementation of youth empowerment programs and community workshops. ReZsaun is also the democratic candidate for South Carolina House District 97.

Weyling White

Care Share Health Alliance – based in Ahoskie, NC

Weyling White is the Executive Director of Care Share Health Alliance, a statewide non-profit with the mission of “collaborating for health equity”. Weyling was born and raised in Ahoskie, NC where in 2019 at he was sworn in as the first African American and second youngest Mayor for the Town of Ahoskie. Weyling graduated from Winston-Salem State University, where he would become a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and receive his B.S. Degree in Exercise Science. Upon graduation in 2008, Weyling returned home to Ahoskie with a personal mission to give back and use his talents for the betterment of his community. He obtained his Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from the University of Phoenix in 2010. He is a Class XXV graduate of the Rural Economic Development Institute with the North Carolina Rural Center, and Class XXVI graduate of Leadership North Carolina.  

 His work with the Hertford Health Maintenance Alliance in Hertford County has helped numerous uninsured residents living in Hertford and Bertie Counties to receive free or discounted health care services. In this role, he founded the TRIP transportation program which is still in operation and has provided patients with free rides to medical appointments and other resources. Weyling was recognized nationally in 2017, as the Emerging Leader in Healthcare Transformation by the Communities Joined in Action and selected as a Jim Bernstein Health Leadership Fellow for 2019-2022. His current work with Care Share Health Alliance involves supporting Medicaid Transformation and advancing health equity efforts across North Carolina.  

Teresa Goodman

Community Initiatives, Inc. – based in Greenwood, SC

Teresa Goodman has worked the past twenty-four years in social services and nonprofit organizations creating, developing, assessing, and evaluating programming.  As executive director of Community Initiatives, Inc. she continues to manage, develop, and fund support programs.   

Goodman plays an active role in her community and currently serves as chairperson of the Food Bank of Greenwood County’s board of directors and previously served as a director for the Rotary Club of Greenwood, the Bowers Rodgers Children’s Home and The United Way of the Lakelands.  She is an active member of the Greenwood Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. through which she completed the South Atlantic Region’s Leadership Fellows program.  She is a graduate of the Greenwood County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Greenwood program and is a past honoree of the Connect Young Professional’s Greenwood Under 40 Stars.  Teresa successfully co-chaired the 2017 Women’s Leadership Upstate Conference.  A recognized Paul Harris Fellow, she is a member of the Rotary Club of Greenwood. In 2021, Teresa was named to the 2023 class of the Liberty Fellowship.  The Liberty Fellowship is a vibrant community of leaders who have made a lifelong commitment to creating a better future for all people in South Carolina and is part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. 

A proud 3rd generation HBCU graduate, Goodman has earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Individual & Family Development from South Carolina State University and obtained a second master’s degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University. She considers her most precious duties being the wife of Derrick and mother to Xavier. 

Get in touch

iloc@mdcinc.org

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