Academic background includes a BS degree in electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, 1965
Military background – US Naval officer 1965 – 1968
Work Experience includes various management roles with the Procter and Gamble Corporation, 1968 to 1992 and the Weyerhaeuser Corporation, 1992 – 1999. For P&G he managed manufacturing operations at three Company locations. Organizations ranged from 5 to 250 people. Lead both startup situations and ongoing operations. He also managed technical projects for multi-million dollar expansions and upgrades. During the last 10 years of his career at P&G Jim took a career change to a role as Human Resources Director managed non-technical projects involving the transition to high performance work systems.
He also developed expertise as a facilitator and managed numerous projects to do strategic planning in small and large organizations. At Weyerhaeuser, he led a task force to Benchmark work processes with other large corporations.
Among Jim’s other accomplishments he was President of the Board of Education of the Tunkhannock Area School District in Pennsylvania, facilitated Strategic planning for the Community Hospital in Perry, Florida, was President of “Partners in Education”, a partnership between educators, business leaders and parents to improve educational outcomes in the Craven County School System. Jim is a gifted ceramicist whose work sells in many fine galleries. He is past President of the Twin Rivers Artists Association as well as past President of the Craven Arts Council and Gallery.
Dr. Rose D. Danella
Rose Danella is an interdisciplinary scholar. Her academic credentials include a BA degree from Alfred University an MA and PhD from Syracuse University and 2 National Endowment for the Arts Scholar awards at Columbia and Princeton Universities.
A life-long teacher of the social sciences, in 1980 she was awarded the rank of full professor from Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC). Upon her retirement in 1991, MVCC conferred upon her the rank of professor emerita. In 2004, she was inducted into the MVCC Hall of Fame.
In 1992, she began a second career as Clinical Research Studies Specialist in the Viral Epidemiology Branch of the National Cancer Institute. In 1995 she was part of the team headed by Dr. Robert C. Gallo, (co-discoverer of the AIDS virus) that established the Institute of Human Virology within the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. She facilitated cancer and AIDS research projects and was the Managing Editor of the scientific publication, Journal of Human Virology. From 1997-2001 she was the Principal Investigator for two World AIDS Foundation grants involving HIV/AIDS intervention research using behavioral approaches with adolescents in the Caribbean.
Her public service include: President of the New York State Faculty Council of Community Colleges, President of the Utica Board of Education, Trustee of the Utica Public Library, Trustee of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute of Art, Past president, Coastal Women’s Forum, Board Member, Craven Arts Council & Gallery, Former member, Craven Community College Foundation Board, Secretary, US Navy League, Coastal Carolina Chapter
Other honors include: the Business and Professional Women's Club of Utica, "Woman of the Year" in 1974; New York State Federation of Police Chiefs, "President's Award" in 1989; Mohawk Valley Women History Award, "Woman of Merit: Justice Award” 1990; Federation of Italian-American Societies, "Outstanding Italian-American Woman Award" in 1990; and the International Retrovirology Association, "Distinguished Service Award" in 1994.
Tharesa is a graduate of Coastal Carolina Community College, University of Mount Olive College and Liberty University. She has won many awards for her servant leadership style in the community, namely, University of Mount Olive College Hall of Fame Award, City of New Bern Employee of the Year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Outreach Ministry Exemplary Leadership Award, Chamber Nonprofit Council of the Year to name a few. She had the honor and privilege of running for the top leadership position in the City in 2013 on a servant leadership platform.
Currently employed part-time in the role of People Planning Lead with the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a New Bern Housing Authority and City of New Bern partnership; retired local government employee; for nonprofit executive director. Tharesa serves the community in various roles, Chamber Executive Committee, Arts to End Genocide, United Way, Neuse-Trent Housing Alliance, Craven DSS Advisory Board, Swiss Bear Redevelopment Corporation, Local Government Federal Credit Union Advisory Board and statewide with the NC Housing Coalition as president of the Board. Tharesa has a love of community, leadership development and people. Her philosophy is one of servant leadership which she models and is manifested through volunteerism, community leadership, community building and outreach. Tharesa is 2015 Chair-Elect for the Chamber. She also pastors with her husband of 31 years.
She is committed to her faith, the growth of small businesses, the empowerment of others, nonprofit succession planning and development, professional development and family and friends.
Betsy attended East Carolina University on the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship and graduated from ECU with a degree in Middle School Education. As a student at ECU, Betsy traveled twice to Mexico and spent a summer in Costa Rica.
As a professional, Betsy became a National Board Certified Teacher and earned a Master’s Degree from ECU in Administration and Curriculum Development. From 2007 to 2009 Betsy worked for IFESH, the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help.
As a teacher trainer in Africa, Betsy lived and worked in both Malawi and Ghana where she trained both pre-service and in-service teachers at teacher training colleges. While in Ghana, Betsy conducted seminars and workshops instructing teachers how to turn everyday items into instructional materials. While in Africa, Betsy was able to travel to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Togo.
Betsy taught 8th grade social studies at Beaufort Middle School in Beaufort, North Carolina. As a teacher, Betsy was also a co-sponsor of the Student Government Association. Additionally, Betsy worked for the Governor’s Teacher Network as a curriculum writer.
Betsy returned to Africa and taught at an International School in Kampala, Uganda. She then returned to Eastern NC, where she now teaches in the Carteret County School District.elf, Observed,” which hung in affiliation with the “Rembrandt” exhibition (Oct 2011-Feb 2012).
Carol was raised on Long Island, New York. She received a BS in Nursing from the University of Michigan, and a MBA from Central Michigan. She started her nursing career in San Francisco, CA, caring for premature infants in a state-of-the-art neonatal nursery at night, and volunteering days at a runaway clinic for lost teens.
Returning to Michigan, she obtained her Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) degree from U of M, and then worked with developmentally delayed children, teaching their parents how to stimulate and improve their best outcomes. She moved to Columbia, SC to develop and teach a USC program for school nurses to learn health assessment skills for medically underserved children in coastal towns. She became a hospital administrator, improved policies and procedures for safe and effective care, and worked on developing computerized patient care plans for accuracy and efficiency.
At nights and weekends, Carol worked on peace and social justice issues: teaching conflict resolution and empowerment skills for youth groups, parent classes, and women’s conferences from a faith-based curriculum. She was active at the Carolina Peace Resource Center where programs were developed to combat war, racism, poverty, and injustice. At CPRC she developed and taught the “Peaceful Saturdays” program for K-3rd grade children using art/song/games to learn about friendships, fair play, and non-judgmental communication.
Carol continued her peace and justice programs after moving to North Carolina to be the PNP of a large pediatric office in Greenville, and also later at her pediatric office in Morehead City. She has worked on hunger-relief programs with Religious Community Services: directed Cropwalk, managed Empty Bowls volunteers, participated in the Soup Kitchen and Backpack Ministry for hungry schoolchildren, and developed a fundraiser to pay for flooring of the RCS homeless shelter, soup kitchen, and dining area. She has assisted with stabilizing twelve Montagnard refugee families into America; and is active on the board of Faith Connection, and their racial reconciliation initiative.
Elizabeth Mazyck Baggett (Zyck) grew up in New Bern, NC. She holds an Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School, a J.D. from Wake Forest University, and B.A. in Political Science from NC State University.
Zyck has spent over 20 years providing program and operational support globally to international development projects working for Tetra Tech ARD in Burlington, Vermont. Her expertise in human resources, financial management, and project administration is coupled with an ability to build the capacity of government and civil society institutions, and a practiced knowledge of the technical dimensions of governance and institution-building. She has spent the past 4 years living in Mali serving as Deputy Director for USAID’s Mali Sub National Governance Program, a decentralized project with operations in most regions of Mali. Prior to that she lived in Liberia working on Land Governance and Elections projects.
A dancer since her youth, Zyck is also a serious student of West African Dance and has dedicated many years to the study and the preservation of the traditional dance, music, and cultural heritage of Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Liberia, and Cote D’Ivoire. She has worked with numerous well known West African artists supporting efforts to educate others and share their culture with schools and communities across New England and most recently in Eastern NC.
Deedra is originally from Rhode Island, where she attended the University of Rhode Island.
Her professional career included the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Providence, RI, where she held roles of Vice President, Small Business Division; Director of Leadership Rhode Island; Vice President for Human Resources Division; and Director of five Affiliate Groups. In private industry she then had positions in sales, purchasing, property development/construction & management. Deedra also co-owned the Kingstown Camera & Portrait Studio with her husband in Wakefield, RI for 29 years. She served as Membership Services Coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce and held administrative positions, including Interim Superintendent of the Seaman’s Church Institute in Newport, RI. Most recently, she was Volunteer Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Craven County for four and half years until retirement at the end of 2019.
Deedra’s volunteerism includes: Rotary Clubs, Habitat For Humanity, South Kingstown Economic Development Commission, Women’s Development Corporation, Neuse River Community Development Corporation and My Sister’s House.
Her Awards and Recognitions include: Recognition Award, Welcome House of South County; Champion for Children, Washington County Coalition for Children; Citizen of the Year, South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce; David Sweet Leadership Award, Leadership Rhode Island; Adult Volunteer of the Year, YMCA of South County; Rotarian of the Year, Rotary Club of Wakefield; Small Business Advocate for Women in Business, SBA; Business Person of the Year, South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce.
Souleymane "Solo" Sana
Solo is an accomplished traditional dancer from Mali, West Africa. A former principal member for one of the premiere companies of Mali, Ballet Du District de Bamako, he is a leader among artists. Solo’s presence at local ceremonies and festivals in Mali has always been in high demand, performing with renown griots and musicians as well as internationally known artists such as Djeneba Seck and Oumou Sangare. With an extensive knowledge of traditional dances of the Mande culture he is highly sought after as an instructor for private and group lessons, teaching students from around the world including internationally acclaimed dancers, university instructors, and Broadway performers.
Currently Solo splits his time between teaching and performing in the United States and running Kono Gnaga, his NGO in Mali with a mission to preserve traditional dance and music. Solo made his choreographic premiere in New York City in the Spring of 2014 and has most recently embarked on the creation of Sira Koro, a dance and music ensemble in Mali, where Solo serves as Artistic Director and Choreographer with a mission to bring new perspective to traditions while simultaneously providing opportunities for young artists in Mali.
Solo speaks Bambara, Dioula, Mossi, French and English
Paula Al-Saihati received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education at the University of Kentucky. She then went on to become one of the first generation of women to receive an MBA degree from California Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, CA.
Paula has been a lifelong learner and teacher beginning in 6th grade when she was teaching Bible School in her church to training Girl Scouts in mine rescue techniques in her coal mining town in Eastern Kentucky.
She taught in an Inner City School in Lexington, KY, in Fort Knox with children whose fathers were away at war, and then in Nashville, TN. From there she went to Saudi Arabia and implemented an American based English program in the number one private school in the country. Paula has recently retired as Vice President/Administrator for a small orthopedic/prosthetic company in Ashburn, VA. In her 17 years there, Paula was able to grow the business by adding insurance contracts and increasing the number of patients and tripling the profits.
Paula lives her values to build a better world through mutual understanding of cultures, her desire for social justice by being co-chair of Social Justice Ministry at her church/fellowship, Faith Connections Board Member, Case Manager of CCDRA (Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance) and working with the local police department through their Badge Faith Community Program.
Merrill “Mitch” Lewis
Academic background includes a BFA degree in fine arts from Pratt Institute..
Work experience includes a 40 year tenure as Vice President and Creative Director of Vision Advertising in New York. Mitch headed up a design team whose many successful campaigns included those focused on health care issues as they impacted the medically underserved.
He continued his studies, taking courses in sculpture at East Carolina University, Greenville NC, which led to a career as a figurative sculptor. His work has been exhibited in museums, fine art galleries and private collections both nationally and internationally. He has been honored with numerous awards including a 2010 Puffin Foundation Grant for his Darfur sculpture. Mitch has also been given a “Darfur Hero” award from the Save Darfur Coalition and is a Paul Harris Fellow. His speaking engagements include a presentation at a United to End Genocide Action Summit in Washington, DC., speaking on Art as Advocacy. His paper on Arts & Human Rights has been published in a British Scholarly Journal. His sculptural exhibition “Toward Greater Awareness,” addressing the genocide in Darfur is currently on a National tour of University Art Museums and Human Rights Centers.
Public service includes having served on the Board of the Craven Arts Council in New Bern, NC, including 2 terms as Vice President. During his tenure, he initiated and chaired their National Sculpture Show and was the driving force behind the establishment of their highly acclaimed Sculpture Park. Mitch also helped initiate the Art in the Airport Program for the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport. He also served on the North Carolina Arts Council Roundtable. Mitch is also a past Board Member and Lay Leader at his Temple.