Meet our Board and Staff

WomenNC's board, staff, and interns are devoted gender equity advocates who are dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in North Carolina.
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Maria Murray Riemann

Executive Director

Dr. Maria Murray Riemann is a seasoned nonprofit executive, having been Executive Director of CONCERT, Inc., a community-based non-profit serving East Raleigh youth and families with after school and summer academically oriented programs. She also has served as Communications Director at Methodist Home for Children working with families to foster, adopt, and find placement for children She has also worked in state government, serving as Deputy Director of the North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement, the state agency tasked with advising the governor, legislature, and state agencies on issue that impact women. As a scholar, Dr. Riemann’s work has focused on the importance of families, particularly the role of women and mothers, in creating the conditions for a robust political democracy. As an advocate she is a former Board member of the N.C Chapter of UN Women, connecting local women and their concerns to the international women’s movements.

Ava Smith

Head of Growth and Development

Ava Smith started her work with WomenNC as a social media intern in August 2020 and has now transitioned into the staff role as Head of Growth and Development. In her role, Ava strives to connect WomenNC with other organizations and notable North Carolina women who promote women’s rights and empowerment. Ava monitors the news and reads scholarly articles for developments and current insights on gender issues at a local, national, and global scale. She creates and shares research-informed content on WomenNC’s social media platforms. In addition to serving as WomenNC’s social media manager, Ava participates in WomenNC’s community education “Lunch and Learn” events to help amplify women’s voices and experiences. Ava received her Bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel hill, double majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies, and Exercise and Sports Science, with a minor in Health and Society. She is now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Wendee Wechsberg

President of Board of Directors; Programming Chair

Wendee M. Wechsberg, PhD, is the Director of the Substance Use, Gender and Applied Research Program and Founding Director of the RTI Global Gender Center at RTI International. She is also Adjunct Professor in Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at North Carolina State University, and Adjunct Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Wechsberg started her career in 1977 as an addiction clinician and later as a treatment director, but since 1994, she has devoted her career fulltime to applied research using both mixed methods to develop and test the efficacy of HIV prevention interventions among diverse populations of substance abusers. Dr. Wechsberg is the developer of the woman-focused HIV prevention program, the Women’s  (WC). The WC is one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s best-evidence HIV behavioral prevention interventions. It has been adapted specifically for underserved and vulnerable adult and adolescent women in the United States and in multiple regions in South Africa, Tanzania, the Republic of Georgia, and Russia. One South African adaptation (the Women’s Health CoOp [WHC]) is listed in the U.S. Agency for International Development Promising Practices Project’s Compendium of Programs in Africa and has been packaged for implementation into usual care settings in South Africa. The theoretical framework of the women’s intervention is based on empowerment theory, which helps women to take charge of their lives by reducing substance use and gender-based violence; learning sexual negotiation and communication skills; and, more recently, learning the importance of PrEP and antiretroviral adherence.
Currently, her research is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and NIDA. Dr. Wechsberg has published extensively on gender and ethnicity, outreach, substance abuse treatment, HIV risk, cultural adaptations, and intervention outcomes, including 145 peer-reviewed publications and 15 books and chapters. She was awarded NIDA’s International Award for Excellence in Mentoring in 2013, NIDA’s Pioneer Award in 2015, and RTI’s Margaret Knox Award in 2018.

Tamara Terry

Vice President of Board of Directors

Tamara Terry is a Research Survey Scientist and University Collaborations Relationship Manager at RTI International, with over 15 years of experience in survey research, project management, leadership development, and training design/implementation.  Her wide range of experience includes managing and providing senior level support on numerous large-scale education, health, and social science research projects, in addition to the development support of research proposals and study design.  Tamara serves on RTI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, the Executive Council for the American Association for Public Opinion Research, and the Board of Visitors for the School of Business at North Carolina Central University.

Mindy Hamlin

PR Chair

Mindy Hamlin is a strategic communications professional with more than 25 years of experience working with airports, nonprofits and government agencies. Mindy received her B.A. at Georgetown College and her M.A. at University of Dayton. After 15 years as the director of communications and community affairs at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Mindy formed her own consultancy, Hamlin Communications.

Mindy loves telling a good story and works closely with airports across the country to help them communicate sensitive topics with their customers and other stakeholders. She also works with towns and cities across the state to help them engage with their communities on major transportation projects. Mindy is also a respected crisis communicator and media trainer who has spoken at industry events and written for online publications including WRALTechwire and PR Daily. She is committed to bringing awareness and solutions to women’s issues. In addition to WomenNC, Mindy is a volunteer for Dress for Success and is the former vice president of the board of the Wake County Senior Games.

London Tessener

Fundraising Chair

London is an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, as well as a board member for WomenNC. London attended Meredith College from 2013 to 2017 and while there she interned for N.C. Representative Cynthia Ball's campaign for N.C. House of Representatives. She lives in Raleigh with her two dogs and her husband, whom she met at Campbell Law School and who practices law in Durham. London also fosters dogs through Second Chance Pet Adoptions.

Crishon DJ Johnson

Crishon DJ Johnson is a litigation attorney with Brent Adams & Associates where she focuses on civil litigation matters. She has extensive experience in negotiations and enjoys finding creative ways to find client solutions. Crishon’s legal experience includes disability matters, injury claims, civil rights claims, contract disputes, and employment matters. Crishon attended the School of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in the University Honors Program at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, NC. She is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and is a member of NC Advocates for Justice, the NC Bar Association, and the Wake County Bar. In addition to joining the Board of WomenNC, she serves on the Board of Unity of Faith Family Worship Center.

Bridget Pittman-Blackwell

As a 2019-20 WomenNC scholar, Bridget Pittman-Blackwell researched the psychological impact of school dress codes on African American girls in Durham NC.  Bridget is a May 2020 graduate of North Carolina Central University where she currently continues her studies in a graduate masters-level psychology program. Her research background is in the areas of body esteem/image and psychological impacts associated with sickle cell disease. Additionally, Bridget is a graduate assistant at NCCU’s Office of Spiritual Development & Dialogue working on administration, programming and ministry to students. She has also served as a counselor and mentor to young girls at her local community center.

Sree Anand Ratnasinghe

Sree is a customer-obsessed and results-driven cloud executive with two decades’ experience leading global technology organizations focused on enterprise adoption of emerging technology and cloud solution architectures. She thrives at the intersection of customers, cloud architecture, and organizational leadership, with her unique brand of empathy.
This year Sree embarked on a new role at Amazon Web Services as Director of Cloud Solution Architecture for the Southeast region. Previously Sree was an IBM Executive Director across Solution Architecture, Professional Services, and Customer Success. With a belief in the force multiplier effect, Sree thrives enjoys a mentorship role collaborating with colleagues on their career and personal advancement. She’s passionate about organizational culture and skills growth plus obsessed with growing and coaching the next generation of leaders.
A fierce community advocate, she’s a Board Member of WomenNC empowering gender equality and women leaders.  She also leads the local Business Alliance community network at Green Level high school. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a Master’s in Information Networking, Sree is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

FaLon Thomas

FaLon Thomas is the founder and CEO of Onyx Ocean Technologies Inc., a software, mobile app and website development company. A graduate of North Carolina A&T University, she has is a software engineer with over 9 years of experience in client technical support, web applications design, and data collection and analysis. FaLon works with clients in the technology industry on business branding, digital marketing, and UI/UX. In addition to her professional experience, FaLon has a deep interest in preparing the next generation of women leaders. As a volunteer she has taught middle and high school students how to code and has also mentored students with the North Carolina Community Development Initiative for the past five years. She is also a sought-after speaker that discusses entrepreneurship and technology to a wide range of audiences.

Ashley Marshall

Dr. Ashley Marshall currently serves as the Deputy Director for Forward Justice, a social justice, law, policy, and strategy center focused on serving the US South. In her role, she provides strategic leadership to the organization, co-manages fundraising efforts, and manages program development in the fields of criminal justice, democracy, and economic justice advocacy. She is also a mixed-methods researcher where her primary research interests are Black women’s leadership, political and community engagement, and social movements.

Before co-founding Forward Justice, she was an organizer for the NC State Conference of the NAACP under the leadership of Rev. Dr. William Barber, II. For two years, she aided and supported the NC NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement organizing efforts. She was also the 2014 Shannon St. John Fellow at the Triangle Community Foundation in Durham, North Carolina, where she served as a member of the Community Engagement’s grants review and evaluation team and aided in the launching of new Regional Cultural Arts grant programs.  Dr. Marshall’s earlier community experience entails violence prevention work with a domestic violence agency, youth outreach and development, and serving as a community organizer with economic justice organizations Women in Transition and Ky Jobs with Justice.


She received her doctorate in Leadership Studies from the North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, with a focus area of transformative civic and community engagement.  She also graduated cum laude from North Carolina Central University with a Master of Public Administration. She received her bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Northern Kentucky University. She is a published researcher and a fierce advocate for inclusive transformative social change.

WomenNC is made possible by contributions from the public.

Our work begins with understanding gender disparities, then formulating solutions to overcome them, and finally, advocating for change.  WomenNC scholars call out inequality and injustice wherever they see it. Help us create enduring equality for women and girls in North Carolina... and across the globe by donating now!
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