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For information on how to contact our staff, please see the Contact Us page.

Leigh Bradley

Accounting and Payroll Manager (she/her/hers)

In 1994 Leigh moved with her two children from the Athens of the Prairie (Columbus, IN) to the Paris of the Piedmont (Carrboro, NC) to complete her MSW at UNC-Chapel Hill. Two years later she began working for Democracy South, from which Democracy NC evolved. Leigh finds it ironic that back in her teen years, her older, wiser brother had advised her to get an accounting degree, and that’s the role she ended up filling in the organization, thus combining a love for working with numbers and the desire to support social justice efforts at the grassroots level.

leigh@democracync.org

Aja Bullock

Organizing Program Associate (she/they)

Aja is a Fayetteville native who has been working with Democracy NC since the summer of 2018. They started as an intern with Democracy Summer and has grown as a talented community organizer since then. Aja transitioned to full-time staff after graduating from the University of North Carolina in 2020. They plan and implement Organizing programs like Democracy Summer, Nonprofit Votes, Get Out the Vote, and Rides to the Polls. Aja is fighting for Black, Brown, and queer joy.

aja@democracync.org

Cheryl Carter

Interim Co-Executive Director (she/her/hers)

Cheryl is a proud alumna of the University of Virginia. As Organizing Director, she trains and leads Democracy NC’s Organizing Team and develops and oversees implementation of our organizing, base building, and voter engagement work. Since moving to NC in 1986, Cheryl has worked in both the private and public sectors. Through her work in the public school system and human services for over 20 years, she saw the plight of those who were disenfranchised and many times forgotten and dedicated her career to standing for and with the least of these. In 2008, Cheryl was re-energized to engage politically in the health care reform movement because of her son’s personal experience of being denied coverage. She moved through the ranks of Organizing for America (now Action), starting as a volunteer and moving up to the position of State Coordinator. In that role, Cheryl led staff and volunteers across North Carolina into a new era for OFA as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working on multiple issues including health care, gun violence prevention, immigration reform, climate change, women’s rights, minimum wage and Medicaid expansion. Cheryl has also served as a volunteer peer counselor for The Women’s Center in Raleigh, a member and leader of Southern Wake Concerned Citizens and member of the NC Association of Educators.

cheryl@democracync.org

Juliana Deitch

Volunteer & Logistics Associate (she/her/hers)

Juliana first became involved in social justice work in college, which sparked her passion for political activism and advancing equality. One of her first jobs was working in Raleigh as a Deputy Field Organizer at Organizing for America, where she learned firsthand the importance of voter engagement and education. She has worked in various advocacy roles in several educational institutions, as an AmeriCorps VISTA for United Way of the Bay Area, and at an educational nonprofit that serves low income, first-generation students in San Francisco. She has a BA in English from North Carolina State University.

juliana@democracync.org

Caroline Fry

Interim Advocacy Director (she/her/hers)

Caroline helps develop and implement pro-voter policies using legislative, administrative, and legal channels. In Federal election years, she leads the organization’s 888-OUR-VOTE voter hotline and Vote Protector program. Before coming to Democracy NC, she served as the Outreach Director at Colorado Common Cause. Originally from Brevard NC, Caroline graduated from UNC Asheville in 2009 and received her MA from the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver.

caroline@democracync.org

Desmera Gatewood

Organizing Program Manager

Desmera Gatewood has spent the majority of her adult life organizing and advocating for equitable policies and practices. A Durham native and a graduate of North Carolina Central University, Desmera’s Southern roots inform her passion for engaging both rural and urban communities in political advocacy. Desmera graduated from American University in 2019 with a Master of Science in Organization Development.  As Voter Outreach Coordinator, she seeks to merge her experience as a political organizer and her knowledge of change theory to further Democracy NC’s mission to help North Carolina achieve meaningful pro-democracy reform.

desmera@democracync.org

Savannah Gibson

Regional Managing Organizer, West

Savannah Gibson has been an advocate for social change for the entirety of her life. She is a proud alumnus of Prescott College, a small social justice focused school in rural Arizona, and a lover of all people. Since relocating to Asheville, NC in 2019, she has continued to follow her passion for people and creating social change by working to help advocate for communities throughout Western North Carolina. As the Regional Managing Organizer for Western North Carolina, she hopes to continue to help create meaningful, sustainable, and liberatory change for all.

savannah@democracync.org

Jean-Patrick “JP” Grillet

Research Manager (he/him/his)

Jean-Patrick was born and raised in Charlotte, NC and attended UNC Asheville. There, he majored in Literature and French while participating in local organizing efforts focused on racial equity, government accountability and environmental justice. Through these experiences Jean-Patrick became committed to helping improve the lives of all North Carolinians, which motivated him to pursue a Master of Public Policy from Duke University. Jean-Patrick combines quantitative analysis with historical research to support Democracy NC’s campaigns and help plan strategies for ensuring voter protections in the future. Jean-Patrick also serves on the board of Crayons2Calculators, which provides material support to Durham Public School students and teachers at no cost.

jean-patrick@democracync.org

Julia Hawes

Communications Director (she, her, hers)

Julia joined Democracy NC in September 2021 after more than a decade of focusing on the intersection of communications, advocacy, and social justice work in North Carolina. She was previously on the NC Justice Center’s communications team for 10 years. Originally from Watertown, Mass., Julia worked in journalism and communications in Chicago, Boston, and The Hague before relocating to the wonderful city of Durham. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

julia@democracync.org

Gillian Hayden

Development Manager (she/her/hers)

Gillian joined Democracy NC in November 2021. She has spent over 15+ years working with nonprofit organizations in Oregon and North Carolina, motivated by building collaborations and supporting relationships linked to fundraising. Most recently, she was the Associate Director of Development at The Durham Center for Senior Life and previously spent 11 years with the Autism Society of North Carolina in various Development roles. She is a graduate of Florida State University and is currently pursuing a MPA degree from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

gillian@democracync.org

Hannah James

Human Resources Associate (she/her/hers)

Hannah is a North Carolina native and the product of a generous community of mentors. She attended UNC Asheville, where she studied sociology and economics, and researched local food systems. She served on the board of directors for Girls Rock Asheville, and spent a year coordinating programs at the UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education as a Tzedek Social Justice Fellow. Before coming to Democracy NC, Hannah worked as Program Manager of Public Allies North Carolina, supporting the growth and development of emerging change agents. She lives in Durham with her partner and two clingy cats.

hannahj@democracync.org

Adrienne Kelly

Interim Co-Executive Director (she/her/hers)

Adrienne entered the non-profit sector after working for IBM and Hewlett-Packard companies, and then owning a telecommunications business for two decades. Prior to her current position, she was Chief Operations Officer for a non-profit organization in the education industry. She has volunteered in numerous capacities for Wake County public schools and is a strong advocate for public education.

Active in grassroots organizations, Adrienne has been a defender of voter education and advocacy, women’s rights and other issues that impact disenfranchised populations. She has been recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Greater Raleigh Chamber, YWCA Academy of Women, Wesleyan University and others for her leadership, advocacy and community service.

In her role as Operations Director at Democracy North Carolina, Adrienne is charged with streamlining operations and leading the effective administration of the organization in support of its mission.

Adrienne has a BA from Wesleyan University (CT) and an MBA from Harvard University (MA).

adrienne@democracync.org

Kamaria Lawrence

Regional Managing Organizer, Western Piedmont (she/her/hers)

Kamaria Lawrence grew up in the Charlotte Metro area and lived there the majority of her life only leaving for Undergraduate School at The University of NC at Greensboro and doing her Graduate studies at Clark Atlanta University. Registering her first voter at the age of six, voter rights have long been a major part of her life. She comes to Democracy NC after a seven year career in electoral politics beginning with Organizing for America. Kamaria has organized for political and issue campaigns in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. She is a member of her church’s Social Justice Ministry introducing noteworthy community programming on the electoral process and voter rights. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. serving as the Mid Atlantic Region’s Co Chairman for the Connection Committee which works with Voter Rights and Education. In her free time she loves to travel and spend time with family.

kamaria@democracync.org

Amanda Matson

Engagement Evaluation Specialist (she/her/hers)

Amanda began her time at Democracy NC as a fellow in the fall of 2014, joining staff in 2016. Her background is in using community-based research to advocate around social justice issues. Her work previous to joining the Democracy NC team was using digital storytelling to advocate with women experiencing homelessness for greater access to transportation resources. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Mount Union (in Ohio) and her graduate work in Community Psychology at NC State University. Amanda currently uses her background in research and digital advocacy to work at the intersection of the communications and research teams at Democracy NC.

amanda@democracync.org

Manuel "Manny" Mejia Diaz

Regional Managing Organizer, Southeast

Manuel has been an advocate for democratic values, human rights, the environment, and for his rural community since his early years in college. He worked with local community partners to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and helped organize a diverse group of individuals to attend the 2017 People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. Before joining Democracy NC, Manuel worked as a social worker for his county’s Department of Social Services, helping families to succeed and thrive. Through coalitions, he has worked to revitalize rural communities with farm-to-kitchen initiatives as well. He also interned at Global Action to Prevent War, a United Nations based non-profit organization in New York City, dedicated to preventing global conflict and human rights abuses. Manuel is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a degree in Political Science.

manuel@democracync.org

Carol Moreno Cifuentes

Policy and Programs Associate (she/her/hers)

Carol was born in Colombia and raised in Oregon, where she graduated with a B.S. in Political Science with a focus in law at Oregon State University. Carol has interned for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Tribal Affairs and Policy Office, CASA-Voices for Children, and her local county Sheriff’s transition center as a Case Monitor. More recently, Carol helped develop policies holding law enforcement accountable for the use of surveillance technology through the Urban Leaders Fellowship and Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. Carol is a new resident of North Carolina and enjoys exploring the Durham area with her two recently adopted kittens.

carol@democracync.org

Taylor Moss

Digital Associate (she/her/hers)

Taylor is responsible for innovating Democracy North Carolina’s communication techniques and publicizing the organization’s campaign work. She is based in the Charlotte office. In 2018, Taylor also helped run Democracy NC’s Election Protection program. Before joining Democracy NC, she was an Organizer and Organizing Director for North Carolina Public Interest Research Group, working to develop students into activists and leaders by campaigning on increasing the youth vote, public health, the environment, and student debt. Taylor attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where she studied Global Health & Environment and Hispanic Studies.

taylor@democracync.org

Wanda Parker

Senior Administrative Assistant

Wanda is Democracy NC’s Senior Administrative Assistant, providing high-level administrative support to the Executive Directors. She previously worked at St. Augustine’s University, Alcohol and Drug Council of NC, and MDC. Wanda has spent the majority of her personal and professional life advocating for social justice and equality across many different movements. She’s a self-described “old soul hippie” who experienced coming of age in the 1970s during the onset of integration of public schools (busing) when she quickly realized that “separate but equal” did not exist. Wanda quickly embraced the power of grassroots advocacy in bringing about awareness and change for equality and justice for all citizens regardless of race, gender, and spiritual identity; which for each of us she believes to be a deeply personal albeit transformative journey. She lives in Durham, NC, with her forever fur buddy, Sebastian.

wanda@democracync.org

Caleb Ponton

Development Associate (he/him/his)

Caleb is a proud native of North Carolina and joined Democracy NC in November 2021. He was born and raised in Wilmington and attended Appalachian State University. After graduating with a B.A. in political science, he moved to Chapel Hill in 2019. He has previously worked with the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, the New Hanover County Board of Elections, and Appalachian State’s Outdoor Wellness Program. As Development Database Associate, Caleb hopes to affect system-level change for elections in North Carolina and lift up the needs of working-class families. He believes in the power of community, the value of kindness, and finding strength in our collective differences.

caleb@democracync.org

Linda Sutton

Lead Regional Managing Organizer, Central Piedmont

Linda has been active in the Winston-Salem community since the early ’70s, working as a union organizer and Special Voter Registration Commissioner. She co-founded the Winston-Salem Voting Rights Coalition, a grassroots organization of non-profit, nonpartisan community groups, that has registered thousands of voters and engaged them in electoral reforms such as early voting, same-day registration, and campaign finance reform. She has served on numerous boards and commissions including AFL-CIO, NC Election Laws Review Commission, NC Employment Security Commission, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Convenor of the Black Leadership Roundtable, Chair of the Forsyth County Board of Elections, and the Political Action Chairperson for the NAACP. She currently serves as President for District AME Zion Church Voter Registration and Education and State Chairperson for the National Council of Negro Women Civic Engagement and Public Policy Program. She has received numerous local, state, and national awards for her civic engagement work. Linda is based in Forsyth County and also works in Guilford, Alamance, Rowan, Rockingham, and surrounding counties.

linda@democracync.org

Marques Thompson

Lead Regional Managing Organizer, East

Marques was raised in Eastern North Carolina and has been volunteering to serve the community from his youth onward. Volunteering, advocating, organizing, and serving on issues as diverse as religion, education, workers rights, social justice and civil rights, Marques has ties with organizations and leaders throughout the region.

marques@democracync.org

Joselle Torres

Communications Manager (she/her/hers)

Originally from Florida, Joselle moved to North Carolina in 2011 and immediately fell in love with the community and people that shape it. For over a decade, she has fully immersed herself in a strong network of local advocacy and activism, intentionally building and nurturing relationships that cultivate equity and justice for all people.

joselle@democracync.org