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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Staff

Maria Murray Riemann

Staff
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

Staff
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.

Bridget Pittman-Blackwell

Staff
Program & Engagement Manager

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.

Board of Directors

Tamara Terry

Board
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.

Crishon DJ Johnson

Board
Fundraising Chair

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.

Isa van der Drift

Board
Programming Chair

Isa van der Drift, BA, is a Public Health Analyst with the RTI International Substance Use, Gender, and Applied Research Program. She supports HIV prevention research in the United States and South Africa, and also assists in coordinating the RTI Global Gender Center, a cross-institute center with over 400 affiliates who are passionate about addressing gender inequalities globally. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2020, where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar and a dual Peace, War, and Defense and Arabic double major. At UNC, she participated in the Juanita M. Bryant UN/CSW youth leadership training program, where she worked with WomenNC and RTI International to evaluate the status of reproductive healthcare access in Durham, NC.

Deidra Hudson

Board

Deidra has 24 years of experience in biopharma in sales, managed care, market access, patient access, operations, transformational change, health equity and has launched drugs and biologics across key disease states. She is currently the Associate Director of Reimbursement Marketing Operations at Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Prior to joining Apellis, she worked at Novartis, Genentech, Amgen, Parke-Davis, and Prudential Healthcare.She has a passion for helping others especially women and has mentored colleagues in her industry and served on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion councils.  Deidra also volunteers for the graduate chapter of her sorority,  Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and serves on several boards including, Pearls in Partnership, Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, and WIL-LEN, Inc,Deidra studied Public Policy Analysis at UNC at Chapel Hill and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies from Meredith College.  She currently, lives in Apex, NC with her husband Kevan and their doodles Maxwell and Romeo. She travels often with her husband to see her bonus children Samantha, Colin, Chase, Cameron, Carson, Cannon, and Mayson. Deidra looks forward to working with the WomenNC board "to continue to empower the next generation to advance gender equity in North Carolina".



Sarah Chick

Board

Sarah Chick is the Manager of Strategic Engagement for the Research Triangle Park Foundation. Sarah has a dynamic background and prior to joining RTF had spent 10 years in the clinical world as a counseling professional in NY and NC prior to transitioning into the entrepreneurial tech realm in 2019. In her prior role, Sarah spent much time developing and nurturing partnerships and relationships with community stakeholders to best support local start-ups and scaling entrepreneurs’ efforts for connectivity, growth, and sustainability in the Triangle.

Sarah has a passion for community building & engagement, DEI, feminism, social justice, and using intentionality to connect and foster collaboration. She has a Master’s Degree in Science with a focus on justice system administration and mental health. In her undergraduate program, she focused her B.A. on psychology, sociology and law.

Cassandra Rycek

Board

Cassandra serves as the Development Manager for Mathkind Global. In her role, she focuses on annual giving, donor cultivation, and best fundraising practices to support the equitable math education and promote global partnerships. In her previous roles, she oversaw development operations at a private, middle school for low-income minority men and facilitated the opening of a private high school exclusively serving under-represented populations across the Triangle. Cassandra is a fundraising professional who has committed her career to working as an advocate for justice and is actively pursuing a master’s in public health, from the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She intends to utilize her degree to address societal injustices locally and nationally, through a public health lens. Her passion for advocacy of human rights, education, and experience as a fundraiser supports WomenNC’s mission to promote gender equity in North Carolina.

Advisory Board

Wendee Wechsberg

Advisory Board
Chair of Advisory Board

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 previous WNC Board President. 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 is the developer of the woman-focused HIV prevention program, the Women’s (WC). 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.

Lori Bunton

Advisory Board

Lori Bunton is a retired pharmaceutical executive and longtime activist for women’s rights. She spent nearly 30 years working in established companies as large as Eli Lilly and in start-up biopharmaceutical organizations. Her career spanned sales, marketing and market research. Lori has served on the boards of Planned Parenthood in TN, as Secretary and VP Membership for the N.C. National Organization for Women, and as President of the North Carolina Alliance for Healthy Communities in Raleigh. She currently serves as Co-President for the ERA-NC Alliance, where she has been a Board member for four years, serving as Secretary and VP Membership for the Alliance.  In addition, Lori is VP Programming for American Association of University Women-Orange Durham Chatham Counties (AAUW-ODC) and a board member with Pro-Choice NC. Lori has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and has lived all over the U.S. and Europe and now resides in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Sree Anand Ratnasinghe

Advisory Board

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. Sree works at Amazon Web Services as Director of Cloud Solution Architecture for the Southeast region.
As fierce community advocate, she also leads the local Business Alliance community network at Green Level high school.

Ashley Marshall

Advisory Board

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 a published researcher and a fierce advocate for inclusive transformative social change.

Interns

Audrey Toney

Intern
Website Intern

Audrey is currently an undergraduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, studying Computer Science and Statistics. She joined WomenNC as an intern this summer and has really enjoyed her time working here and the people she has met. She focused on adding new content to the website as well as making various improvements and updates. In the future, she hopes to find a career related to web design and development. Gender equity is a cause very important to Audrey, so she has loved learning about the advocacy work of WomenNC and is excited to see their continued impact on fighting gender inequality.

Ailene Tan

Intern
Social Media & Outreach Intern

Ailene is a rising high school senior and is very excited to intern with WomenNC! In light of recent developments regarding womens’ rights, Ailene believes the importance of activism has only increased. Ailene can’t wait to spread awareness of gender inequality in the community while earning valuable experience in marketing and gaining insight into the inner workings of an organization like WomenNC.

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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