WILMA Magazine - October

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54 THE SCENE: Show boating

10 TASTE: Eventful spaces

55 TAKE 5: Meade Van Pelt on nonprofit cooperation

12 HEALTH: Health outreach

56 MEN’S ROOM: Oh bugger!

14 STYLE: Positively preppy

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Welcome to our ninth annual Women to Watch Awards issue. This one was just a smidge different to put together than the past eight ones. There was the 2018 edition when our team was forced to finish the issue from different states after Hurricane Florence sent us scattering. But, even that was just a brief interruption. 2020 has meant being quick to adjust and patient to handle changes for six months and counting. Those qualities include this year’s group of thirty-five Women to Watch Awards finalists. From socially distant photoshoots to an awards announcement that will look very different than the past eight, this year’s group of achieving women has rolled with the changes. But what’s constant is the caliber of talent they embody. As in previous years, the thirty-five finalists in seven categories highlighted in this month’s issue show what hard work, leadership, and creativity can mean – especially in these unusual times. Flip through this month’s issue to read more about them and be inspired to tackle the next six months. W OCTOBER 2020



Publisher Rob Kaiser rkaiser@wilmingtonbiz.com

CHRIS BREHMER is a Wilmington-based

photographer whose work has appeared in WILMA and the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. He specializes in portraits, corporate photography, editorial, and weddings. Brehmer photographed the finalists in this year’s awards issue (starting on page 21.) chrisbrehmerphotography.com

JENNY CALLISON is a former Greater

Wilmington Business Journal reporter who continues as a freelancer with the Business Journal and WILMA. Before moving to Wilmington in 2011, she was a university communications director and a freelance reporter covering a variety of beats. This month, she wrote the bio info for the Women to Watch Awards finalists in the Business and Public Service categories (pages 24 and 38).

President Robert Preville rpreville@wilmingtonbiz.com Associate Publisher Judy Budd jbudd@wilmingtonbiz.com

Editor Vicky Janowski vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com Vice President of Sales Maggi Apel mapel@wilmingtonbiz.com Senior Account Executive Craig Snow csnow@wilmingtonbiz.com Account Executive Ali Buckley abuckley@wilmingtonbiz.com Office & Audience Development Manager Sandy Johnson sjohnson@wilmingtonbiz.com Events/Digital Assistant Elizabeth Stelzenmuller events@wilmingtonbiz.com

TERESA MCLAMB, a native of southeastern

North Carolina, is an avid traveler, art collector, and cat lover. She is an award-winning freelance writer and PR consultant who holds a BA in journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MA in English from UNCW. McLamb covered the finalists for the Rising Star category (page 40).

Design & Media Coordinator Molly Jacques production@wilmingtonbiz.com Content Marketing Coordinator Morgan Mattox mmattox@wilmingtonbiz.com Contributing Designer Suzi Drake art@wilmingtonbiz.com Digital Editor Johanna Cano jcano@wilmingtonbiz.com

CHERYL L. SERRA is a freelance strategic

communications specialist and writer who lives in Brunswick County. Serra wrote the bios for this year’s finalists in this year’s categories of Health and Nonprofit/Volunteer (pages 32 and 34).

Fashion Stylists Ashley Duch Grocki & Drewe Smith Contributors Bridget Callahan, Jenny Callison, Shea Carver, Nina Bays Cournoyer, Beth A. Klahre, Teresa McLamb, Laura Moore, Dylan Patterson, Justin Williams Pope, Cheryl L. Serra, Lynda Van Kuren, Lori Wilson Contributing Photographers Megan Deitz, Melissa Hebert Photography, Michael Cline Spencer, Terah Wilson

LORI WILSON is a local freelance writer and

editor and founded Athenian Press & Workshops, a nonprofit serving women and femmes through creative healing workshops and literary publishing. She profiled the finalists in the Education category (page 28).




Founder Joy Allen Subscribe For a one-year subscription, please send $26.00 (check or money order) to: WILMA, 219 Station Rd., Ste. 202, Wilmington, NC 28405, or call 343-8600 x201 www.WILMAmag.com




“I started my career at Wilmington Health in one of the most pivotal times

Alexis Hunter Community Liaison Wilmington Health


in health care; which they say was true baptism by fire. Being a Wilmington native myself, I know how important it is for our community to have a local organization with local people serving them, relating to them, and simply putting the people of our community first. We live here, we work here, and we are constantly striving for ways to provide innovations in both science and technology, as well as continue to provide excellent access to care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and into our community’s future.”





WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative has updates to share as we continue to work on the effort’s core mission of helping develop more women leaders in our area. Here’s what we’ve been up to with various W2W Leadership Initiative programs and what’s coming up next: LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE: September marked the graduation of the 2020 WILMA’s Leadership Institute, made up of thirty-two women in this year’s nine-month leadership development program. Normally for graduation, we hold an event at Landfall Country Club with the women, their guests and colleagues, supporters, and program sponsors. Because of the coronavirus, this year’s graduation took place outside at Cloud 9 on top of the Embassy Suites in downtown Wilmington, with just the graduates and some of our advisory board members. (Graduates Logan Thompson and Elizabeth Barfield shown above) Despite the change in nature – both for the graduation and most of the meetings this year in general – the women celebrated the progress and bonds they’ve made this year while solidifying goals for the future. WILMA LEADERSHIP EMAIL: If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to read WILMA’s Monday emails, which focus on leadership topics and profiles. WILMA NETWORK: Members of the WILMA Network, made up of sponsors of the Women to Watch Leadership Initiative, have been touching base via Zoom, and plans are in the works for an outdoor walking meetup at Long Leaf Park. IN THE LOOP: Keep up to date with these and other Leadership Initiative programs as well as applications announcement by going to WILMAmag.com or signing up for the WILMA Leadership email at WILMAmag.com/email-newsletter - Vicky Janowski, WILMA editor, and Maggi Apel, vice president of sales, Co-directors of the Women to Watch Leadership Initiative W2W@WILMAmag.com




The Women to Watch logo: When you see this throughout WILMA’s pages, it means this is a woman on the rise to know, an experienced leader to learn from, or a local program worth checking out. W

12 COMMUNITY HEALTH: Closing the health divide 42 MOVING IMAGES: Artist Lori Joy Peterson 46 DESIGNING WOMAN: Macon Thornton lets the elements of her jewelry influence the design


women’s professional groups Besides WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative, there are a number of local groups to help women grow professionally. Here is just a sampling of some of them.

Cape Fear CREW Year Founded: 2010 Description: “Cape Fear CREW is the leading organization for commercial real estate in the Cape Fear region in North Carolina … Members represent every aspect of the commercial real estate industry, including, but not limited to, law, leasing, brokerage, property management, finance, acquisitions, and engineering.” Info: capefearcrew.org or info@capefearcrew.org

Cape Fear Women in Tech Year Founded: 2014 Description: “Our vision is to make the Cape Fear Region the No. 1 employer of women in technology careers per capita in the country. We do this by championing opportunities for women in technology, empowering women to strive for these competitive positions, and inspiring women to lead in those roles.” Info: cfwit.com or capefearwomenintech@ gmail.com


Coastal Women Attorneys

The Junior League of Wilmington

(N.C. Association of Women Attorneys) Year Founded: 2013 Description: “CWA was formed to serve women attorneys in Southeastern North Carolina in the Fourth, Fifth and 13th judicial districts, which includes New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick, Columbus, Bladen, Duplin, Onslow, Sampson, and Jones counties. CWA is committed to increasing the participation of women attorneys in the legal profession, protecting the rights of women under the law and promoting, and improving the administration of justice.” Info: ncawa.org/cwa or cwa@ncawa.org

Year Founded: 1952 Description: “The Junior League of Wilmington is a women’s organization designed to empower women and to improve the community through the leadership of women as trained volunteers.” Info: jlwnc.org or info@jlwnc.org

The Inspiration Lab Year Founded: 2015 Description: “The Inspiration Lab was built for working women passionate about personal and professional development. We offer teachings and tools to improve your skills, productivity, creativity, emotional intelligence, and well-being. We also provide opportunities for networking and connection. We represent a variety of backgrounds and careers, but we’re all like-minded in being serious about success, maintaining a manageable work-life balance, and supporting one another’s growth.” Info: theinspirationlab.co

Women’s Impact Network of New Hanover County Year Founded: 2011 Description: “WIN is a collective philanthropy nonprofit that makes yearly grants to nonprofits within the county. The focus of these grants rotates annually among four areas: education, health and wellness, the environment, and arts and culture.” Info: winofnhc.org

YWCA Lower Cape Fear Founded: 1914 Description: “The YWCA Lower Cape Fear is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.” Economic advancement programs focus on educational assistance, job training, and short-term and long-term planning skills. Info: ywca-lowercapefear.org






This year’s WILMA Dash included both an in-person race, with staggered starts and other distancing measures, in downtown Wilmington as well as virtual runs that people did on their own routes around the region. The 5K run/walk took place September 2. Beth Ann Soporowski took home first place with a time of 19:58. Melissa Holden came in second with a time of 21:47, and Lizzie Briasco took third place with 22:06. For more results and photos, go to WILMADash.com.





New Hanover County named SHERYL KELLY as an assistant county manager. Kelly was previously the county's budget officer, a role she has held since 2018. She was chosen for her new position after an internal search and recruitment effort. “I am grateful for this opportunity to advance within New Hanover County and support the county in achieving its strategic objectives,” Kelly says. Kelly now manages the county's parks and gardens department, N.C. Cooperative Extension and Arboretum, public library, Cape Fear Museum, the county's soil and water conservation district, and the board of elections. Prior to joining the county’s team, Kelly was a budget adviser for the U.S. Department of the Treasury for ten years. She has also worked for the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management, North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, and RTI International. Kelly takes on the new role with the county following the retirement of former assistant county manager Kathy Stoute, who retired on September 1 after thirteen years with the county.



Cape Fear Museum Associates Inc. recBrunswick County Commissioner PAT SYKES was appointed chair of the Trillium Health Resources Southern Regional Advisory Board. Sykes started a one-year term as chair in September. Trillium Health Resources is a local governmental agency that manages mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services in Eastern North Carolina counties. Sykes was appointed to the Trillium Health Resources Southern Regional Advisory Board as a member in 2017. She most recently served as its vice chair for the 2019-20 session. “It’s a privilege for me to be appointed to this position and I am looking forward to a year of hard work and planning to support Trillium’s initiatives,” Sykes sats. “Ensuring we have programming and services dedicated to mental health and substance abuse is a key focus area for the Board of Commissioners," Sykes adds. “I’m proud to play a part in achieving that goal.”

ant more WILMA? Check out our daily emails, which include even more profiles and stories for Wilmington’s successful women. To sign up for the free emails, go to WILMAmag.com


The New Hanover County Airport Authority recently elected DONNA GIRARDOT as chair of the board for a third consecutive term. Girardot in 2018 became the airport authority’s first female chair, after in 2014 becoming the first woman to have a seat on the board in twenty-five years. Girardot previously served as head of the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association and Business Alliance for a Sound Economy. The authority oversees Wilmington International Airport. Harry Stovall was named vice chair and Spruill Thompson was selected as board secretary. Nick Rhodes was appointed to the New Hanover Airport Authority by the New Hanover County Commissioners and will serve a four-year term. Rhodes served twenty-one years in the Air Force, holding several senior management positions in systems engineering and acquisition program management, according to a news release. After retiring as a lieutenant colonel, Rhodes worked as a management consultant. Rhodes is a board member of the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation and the North Carolina Freedom Park. He has also served with local organizations such as Kids Making It, the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Cameron Executive Network, and Wilmington Downtown Rotary. He is also a member of 100 Black Men of Coastal North Carolina.

Have a suggestion for a local woman or group to spotlight? Email us: wilma@WILMAmag.com WILMAmag.com











his year has prompted the hospitality industry to get creative in all kinds of ways. From outdoor dining tables and “parklets” turning parking spaces in downtown Wilmington into socially distanced tables, business owners are navigating the changes prompted by COVID-19. That type of thinking extends to event venue owners such as Ray Baca, whose 2,000-square-foot space is on Princess Street in downtown Wilmington. He decided he needed to think outside the box this year and offer up a different type of dinner party setting. So now, Belle Vue is welcoming

small groups of no more than ten (and now, with the easing of restrictions in Phase 2.5, no more than twenty-five) to have an evening of dinner and time with friends. “Say you want to have a dinner party but need a larger space but not a restaurant. You can grab your buddies, bring your own food and BYOB, and come have dinner here in a selected space and enjoy yourself,” Baca says. “Afterwards, you don’t have to clean up. I take care of that and you can go home.” Baca says Belle Vue has the space for social distancing but still allows people to be intimate with their friends. He says so far the concept is working well, and even though it’s not the restaurant or bar that people are often used to, people can pick up their meal at their favorite restaurant and bring it over to his

space. “It’s a different way to do things, but it also keeps people in their group and you don’t have to be out in the public,” he says. March 17 is a day that Baca won’t soon forget. The owner of Belle Vue Wilmington was busy preparing for the upcoming bridal season when state officials announced that venues like his event space would be closing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “Wilmington is a hot place for weddings, so you can imagine what the pandemic has done to the wedding business in 2020,” says Baca, who started Belle Vue four years ago as an all-things-wedding space. Previously a wedding photographer, Baca says that many brides have canceled or postponed their weddings, and it’s not only his facility that is hurting but other businesses associated with wedding planning or wedding events. “We are a pretty close-knit group that looks out for each other so all of us consider community over competition,” he says, referring to others who work in the industry. For what business there has been this year, venues have joined together to allocate whose space works better for what kind of event. Baca says that some event spaces have outdoor spaces while others do not, and outdoor spaces are fairly popular right now. Places also have organized small-scale weddings with smaller crowds than the hundreds of guests once common for many nuptials. Belle Vue is also home to many baby showers, but that was one more aspect of his business that was thrown out the window when COVID hit, Baca says, explaining that type of event is kaput because many expectant mothers were more cautious. Baca estimates that it will take a couple of years for the wedding industry in Wilmington to see a recovery. Until then, he is continuing to forge ahead with other small events like private parties and looks forward to the day when things will be back to normal. He says he already has 60 events on the 2021 calendar and hopes that all of them will take place. “We just lost this whole year because of COVID, and we are just having to reinvent ourselves,” he says. “There are always going to be weddings, and I love the wedding industry. At some point, we will bounce back.” W WILMAmag.com


UR COMMITMENT to the health and well-being of our community is part of the fabric that drives the decisions we make every day at Wilmington Health. The core values of our organization include the words Respect, Integrity, Leadership, and Accountability. • We use these ideals in the care we show our patients. • We use these ideals in supporting our community and moving it forward. • We use these ideals in the interactions we have with one another.

In these times of uncertainty and confusion, our dedication is not only important for the thousands of patients that we serve, but also for our outstanding team members and their families. Because just like you, we live here, we work here, and we always will be committed to Wilmington in all ways.

always wilmingtonhealth.com

12397 wh Always GWBJ Wilma Ad_4.792x4.52.indd 1

7/10/20 9:43 AM












ccording to the National Institutes of Health, one of America’s greatest challenges is reducing the profound disparity in the health status of its racial and ethnic minority, low income, rural, and other underserved populations. Indicators of a healthy community are numerous: access to nutritious, affordable food, affordable health care, low infant mortality, affordable housing, and more. And now COVID-19 is making that divide even sharper. The University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Healthy Communities was established in 2013 as an integrating structure between the university and the community to look at root causes

of health issues and to improve the quality of life for the underserved. LEAH MAYO is the coordinator for the center, which is part of the College of Health and Human Services. She understands the complexity and connectivity of health disparities. “You can’t have good health outcomes if the focus is only on the clinical side. You need a holistic approach – prevention and root cause. To be successful requires working inter-professionally and cross-sectionally. There are lots of moving parts,” Mayo says. Mayo has been the center’s coordinator for the past three years. “We are building relationships between the communities across Southeastern North Carolina and the university,” she says. She spends the majority of her time identifying health issues and finding opportunities to connect faculty, staff, and students who can provide research or fulfill community-identified needs. The center also provides services such as project management, data collection, data evaluation, and facilitation. Mayo has a team of three. CIERRA WASHINGTON is a program associate whom Mayo refers to as her “boots on the ground.” Washington is project-focused, currently planning the intentional involvement of students in community agencies and increasing awareness of local health disparities. MEGAN TOOTHMAN is a project coordinator. She is hyper-focused on identifying the needs of health departments in Bladen, Columbus, and Robeson counties for the North Carolina Medicaid Transformation Program, a legislative decision to transition from fee-for-service to managed care starting July 2021. Rounding out the team is a public health student intern. Growing up in Wilson, Mayo was involved in the public service industry long before she really understood what it is. Working in the restaurant where her mother was the owner, baker, and frontof-house manager, and her father was the chef, she learned what she now recognizes as “fundamental skills that translated to her career.” “I learned how to provide a meal that our customers enjoyed. And, I learned to

listen to identify people’s needs,” she says. During high school, Mayo shadowed a nutritionist in a local hospital where she learned the connection between healthy controllable behaviors, like diet, and improve outcomes. “Growing up, I had everything I needed, not necessarily everything I wanted. I learned that disparities existed. I learned the importance of eating healthy to improve my overall well-being. That was a light bulb moment for me,” she recalls. Mayo attended college at UNCW, studying community health education (now public health studies) and minoring in chemistry. She says she chose UNCW to live at the beach where she still spends her free time. Mayo’s master’s degree in public health is from East Carolina University. COVID-19 has unexpectedly adjusted Mayo’s strategies and projects at the center. Taskforce and committee discussions have moved to Zoom. “Working virtually is a big challenge because we spend so much time in the community, but we have done a good job adapting,” she says. The center is about to kick off a needs assessment for Bladen, Columbus, and Robeson counties to understand the obstacles to reducing the spread of COVID-19. The project will develop a targeted marketing campaign to impact behavior. Planned for fall is Food for Thought, an interactive food experience, modeled after Hunger Banquets created by Oxfam, a confederation of charitable organizations focused on alleviating global poverty. Attendees will participate virtually in discussions on access to healthy food, one of the biggest health issues for Wilmington’s communities of color. Participants will also experience firsthand the disparities in meals across New Hanover County’s social classes. Mayo and her team are looking forward to occupying a new building on campus when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. “This will be the first time all of the staff will be in the same space. I am excited about the opportunity to interact face-toface and be part of the brainstorming that happens when we are all together,” she says, adding, “The Center for Healthy Communities is a true community partner. We listen to understand community needs and together we can decrease health disparities.” W WILMAmag.com




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When The Official Preppy Handbook was published in 1980, it invited everyone through the solid oak country club doors and into the elite subculture of “prepdom”. Exposed collars, tall socks, and argyle sweaters were all signifiers of the preppy look, along with a hefty infatuation with the casually elegant style of Princess Diana. Fast-forward to forty years later, and the preppy aesthetic has not only held fast but is once again flourishing on planet fashion. Sporty, relaxed silhouettes in autumn hues make an appearance this season in everything from polos to sweater vests to calf-length skirts, while khakis, chinos, and tailored Bermuda shorts reclaim their closet space. Socks – while usually absent from traditional preppy gear – are totally golden to wear with open-toed shoes, extending your summer footwear well into the fall season. Bring in some classic accents like a belted trench or a headband and presto – you’ve achieved coveted prep status. So, polish up your loafers and knot those sweaters. It’s time to make Lady Di proud and let your inner prep shine.





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WILMA’S 2020


Meet this year’s Women to Watch. Congratulations to the 2020 WILMA’s Women to Watch Awards finalists. They represent leaders in their fields and community. Read more about the thirty-five women on the following pages to learn more about why the judges selected them out of hundreds of nominations and applications that came in this year. In this issue, we introduce this year’s finalists in arts, business, education, health, nonprofit/volunteer, public service, and rising star. The rising star category is the only one with an age description and is open to those under thirty. For more on the finalists, go to our website at WILMAmag.com, where we’ll also announce the seven category winners later this month.

The Judging Process


Each year, WILMA opens up the nominations process for the Women to Watch Awards during the summer. Our judging panel – made up of female leaders who sit on the Women to Watch Leadership Initiative’s advisory board as well as outside guests – met virtually to pick the finalists and winners in each of the seven categories. WILMA would like to thank the judges for volunteering their time and expertise on the awards.

finalists bios by:

The Judges


Lily Loizeaux

Wanda Coley

Tammy Proctor

Donna Esteves

Deloris Rhodes

Amy Grant

Sheri Shaw

Kristy Hubard

Ruth Ravitz Smith

Kendall Hurt

Debbie Warwick

Poonam Kahlon

Karen Weaver

Jenny Callison Shea Carver Teresa McLamb Cheryl L. Serra Lori Wilson photos by: Chris Brehmer awards bracelet design by Macon Thornton




For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com




B y She a Ca rve r


Para Medical Tattoo Artist Restorative Tattoos


fine arts graduate from the Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio, Jenean LaCorte’s work as an artist spans years in figure drawing and portraiture, sculpting, painting, and murals. After watching the hardships an extended family


Founder, A Brilliant Cause LLC/ Founder, Carolina Beach Mural Project


hough Maureen Lewis retired in 2018 as director of global eCommerce for Belkin International, when she moved from Hermosa, California, to Carolina Beach with her husband, Bill, she didn’t slow down in the least. Today, Lewis runs her own consulting


Director of Arts Engagement UNCW’s Office of the Arts


idias Reyes was born into the arts. Her mother is a singer, her uncles are musicians, and her sisters are actors. It only makes sense she would take over the director for arts engagement for UNCW Presents and its Lumina Festival of Arts. After serving

J ESSI E ROBE RTSON Artist, Frogs and Friends Student, UNCW


double major in studio arts and digital arts, twenty-year-old Jessie Robertson always had a passion for frogs. “When I was just a few days old, my grandfather gave me a stuffed toy named ‘Froggy,’ and as I grew to love

HEATHE R WILSON Deputy Director Cameron Art Museum


or fourteen years, Heather Wilson has worked in the development office at Cameron Art Museum in some capacity. It began when she received her master’s degree in creative writing at UNCW in 2005. After WILMAMAG.com

member went through when dealing with breast cancer, LaCorte decided to turn her focus toward medical tattoos. She attended Penn Medicine’s Sauler Institute of Tattooing to get certified in providing 3D nipple and scar tattoos, and by 2019 she opened her own business, Restorative Tattoos, in Hampstead. “When patients heal (from a mastectomy), they are left with a

flesh mound and a scar,” LaCorte explains. “Part of them are missing. So, in replacing the nipples through three-dimensional tattoos, I give back that piece of them cancer took away.” Her camouflage techniques also help people heal from any past trauma that has left an unwanted or painful scar. Her work has transformed burn, surgical, and accidental scars.

company, A Brilliant Cause, to help small businesses and nonprofits with creative marketing. In California, Lewis was on the board of directors for the Hermosa Beach Mural Project. She brought the same enthusiasm to Carolina Beach, and with the help of the Island Art and Culture Alliance, she founded the Carolina Beach Mural Project. By the end of 2020, with an

all-volunteer team, Carolina Beach will have two, possibly three, murals painted: a vintage welcome sign to the island and another mural slated to go on the wall of The Veggie Wagon. If all goes well, a third mural on Crush & Grind will feature the island’s historic Shoo Fly Train – railcars folks had to board in the late 1800s to get to Carolina Beach.

as interim director for a year, Reyes became the official director in April to provide support to five academic departments on UNCW’s campus. “I have the opportunity to bring the arts to students and the community through all kinds of outreach activities, such as residencies, workshops, lectures, and demonstrations,” she says. “I also continue to work with New Hanover County

Schools and Cameron Art Museum on developing more arts integration opportunities for teachers.” She works with visiting artists who perform at UNCW to coordinate master classes and engagements for youth and teens. Off-campus, Reyes’ volunteer work centers around the arts, too, as she serves on the board of directors at DREAMS of Wilmington.

him, I became obsessed,” she says. Eventually, she began researching amphibians, when in 2012 she discovered the conservation group Save the Frogs! – founded by Kerry Kriger. Her love for art and frogs married as she began creating various artwork of the creatures, with sales benefitting the organization. She’s also created educational videos and presentations to educate others.

“With 42% of amphibian species declining in population size, and the likelihood that one-third of all amphibian species will be extinct in thirty years, I was determined to do my best to help,” Robertson says. A part-time employee for Art in Bloom Gallery has expanded her palette into making short films. She debuted Elizabeth Darrow: Believing in the Process last year for Art in Bloom.

a stint in publishing for Houghton Mifflin, Wilson began doing grant writing for CAM. In September 2019, her promotion to deputy director moved her into the curation process of connecting people to art. “Art museums are vital for communities and personal health,” Wilson says. “Art can spark conversations, connect people across lines

of difference, and remind us of our common history and humanity. ” During the pandemic, Wilson helped reach audiences virtually via #ConnectWithCam. The museum continued churning out weekly family programs, meditation sessions, and even published two books of online art history to help educators and families.




For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com




B y Je nny Ca lli son


Te chnical P ro gram Ma n ag er, A piture


n her LinkedIn profile, Alison Dupra Brien bills herself as a “Jill of All Trades.” Her accomplishments reflect this range of abilities. One of Apiture’s early hires when the fintech company launched in Wilmington, she is the only technical


Engine e rin g Man a ger, St a bil it y, and Radio l o gic a l A n a l y s is GE Hitach i N u c l ear E n erg y


ince joining GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) in 2004, Shawn Lamb has helped provide nuclear energy globally while also helping develop next-generation nuclear technologies. “I want to keep learning and


Pre side nt, Leat h HR Gro u p C EO, Wor k To k

Lisa Leath will tell you she has human resources in her blood. “My mom was an HR executive, and she always had wild employee relations stories to share at home when I was growing up,” she says. “Her

DANIELLE MAHON Founde r a n d CE O Topsail Stea m er


career shift from biotech to food service has proved a “wild ride” for Danielle Mahon. She reports that, almost from day one in 2017, her first location on Topsail Island proved successful, as both visitors and locals enjoyed the takeout Low-Country


B roke r/Rea l t o r, Caro l in as C om m e rc ia l Real E s t at e Tea m


hen Kelly Stuart became a broker/Realtor with Intracoastal Realty Corporation in Brunswick County four years ago, she brought twenty years’ worth of knowledge and experience in economic development and commercial real estate. WILMAMAG.com

program manager in the Wilmington office who is working on the firm’s newest product. She oversees the work of more than fifty engineers on a new product and says she enjoys pushing herself deeper in her technical knowledge and competence. She also loves coaching and mentoring engineering teams and is a fierce advocate for women in male-dominated fields.

“I’ve always wanted to blaze trails for other women and am hyper-competitive when it comes to proving that I can rise to any occasion despite adversity,” she says, noting that she also strives to create a workplace that is inclusive and equitable. Brien’s “trades” also include teaching fitness classes, helping launch several e-commerce ventures, writing, and videography.

growing, both professionally and personally in our community,” she says. A number of leadership roles have spurred that learning and growth. Lamb has championed STEM education initiatives and has coached youth science teams. She has also led the GE Women’s Network-Wilmington. She also serves on the boards of the Wilmington Symphonic Winds, for which she plays the clarinet, and

Coastal Buds, Wilmington’s local Down syndrome organization. The latter organization holds special appeal for Lamb, the mother of a young son with Down syndrome. “I’ve learned over the years, particularly when my son was born, to be open to the unexpected,” she says. “Sometimes, that can be the best thing that ever happened to you.”

father was a union president and sat on the other side of the negotiating table.” A former corporate HR professional with Corning and AAI Pharma (now Alcami), Leath left to form Leath HR Group, a provider of human resources consulting and administration for small- and medium-small businesses.

In 2020, Leath launched a new company called WorkTok. The company’s app records and organizes HR-related conversations in the cloud. “Launching WorkTok during COVID-19 … opened people’s eyes to how hard it can be to feel connected when you’re not physically around people,” she says.

boil pots she offered. Topsail Steamer allowed Mahon to share her childhood summertime experiences “down the shore” in New Jersey. “The gatherings our family and friends have always had around Low Country boils and clambakes made me want to try to bring this beach experience to everyone who loves really fresh seafood and gathering for good

times,” she says. Success on Topsail led to a location at Wrightsville Beach. Customers then wanted the company to ship its steamer kits to them back home, which Mahon managed by partnering with Goldbelly. In May, Topsail Steamer debuted its third location – in Mahon’s “home beach” of Ocean City, Maryland.

Since her first foray into economic development as a consultant to the regional Economic Development Partnerships in North Carolina, Stuart has worked for similar organizations in the state as well as in Northern Kentucky. Most recently, she served as assistant director for Brunswick County Economic Development. Along the way, she has honed her skills in marketing,

communications, public relations, and lead generation. She has brought many projects to fruition, and held numerous leadership posts. When she decided to sink roots in fast-growing Brunswick County, the move to commercial real estate was a natural one, she says. She joined forces with her father, David Stuart, as part of Intracoastal’s CarolinasCommercial real estate team.




WILMA added a new facet to our annual Women to Watch Awards Issue this year, pieces from local artists inspired by empowered women – a fitting nod to the awards finalists. “LOOK-A-HERE” by LORI JOY PETERSON ljpfineart.yolasite.com





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For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com




B y Lor i W i lson


B aking an d P as t ry A rt s Program D irec t o r, CFCC


aime Chadwick grew up working in the kitchen with her grandmother. Now, she shares her love and knowledge of cooking with many children – not her family, but her students. Chadwick is the baking and pastry arts program director at Cape Fear


C oordinat o r, Cen t er fo r Wo rk fo rc e Deve l opm en t ,UN CW Co l l eg e o f He al th and Hu m a n Serv ic es


n her role as coordinator for the Center for Workforce Development in UNCW’s College of Health and Human Services, Tiffany Erichsen has implemented several programs


Principal , D.C. V irg o Pre parato ry A c ad em y


abrina Hill-Black is the principal at D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, named after a community pillar who was the first principal of the beloved Williston Primary, the high school for Black students during segregation.


A ssistant V ic e P res iden t o f Instructio n al O p erat io n s, CFCC


ith the help of Jennifer McBride and her team, Cape Fear Community College experienced successful spring and summer 2020 semesters, despite many challenges presented by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. As assistant vice president of instructional operations at CFCC,

KIRAH VAN SICKLE A rtist, K irah Fin e A rt


s a fierce advocate for the arts, Kirah Van Sickle teaches several mediums at three notable institutions – Cameron Art Museum, Cape Fear Community College, and Johnson County Community College. As an artist-educator, Van Sickle


Community College. She began as an adjunct instructor in the hospitality management department nine years ago. After a few more years as a fulltime faculty member, she received the promotion for her current role in 2019. “It was a promotion I never saw coming, and I was thrilled and honored,” Chadwick says.

At CFCC, Chadwick works with baking and pastry arts, culinary arts, and hospitality management students. “All three programs are dependent upon one another,” Chadwick says, “and I love bridging the gap for students to have multiple degrees … I will always continue to share my passion for food, family, and community to every student I mentor.”

that connect and prepare students for their future careers. “This field encourages ongoing personal and professional growth,” Erichsen says, “while working within (my department) gives me the opportunity to improve the health and quality of life of this community.” Erichsen has been employed in the College of Health and Human

Services since October 2017 as part of a workforce development program originally funded by Duke Energy. Since then, she has established MentorCR, a mentorship program for clinical research students. Under her leadership, the department has received funding to expand the program to social work and public health students.

“I am proud to be the leader of the school, a school named for David Clarke Virgo,” Hill-Black says. “The ideas he implored upon teachers and students during his leadership impacted them for years to come.” Now, many feel similarly about Hill-Black, who has been with the D.C. Virgo family – first as a teach-

er and instructional coach – since 2013, before the school evolved into a UNCW-supported laboratory K-8 school. “We focus on families coming to school together,” Hill-Black says. “This includes establishing a warm, welcome environment for families as they partake in their children’s learning.”

McBride was suddenly tasked with providing immediate training needs and expanded access to technology. “I work with a phenomenal group of people,” McBride says, “and it was inspiring to witness all departments coming together to assist with the transition.” Before the pandemic, McBride had already been overseeing online learning and instructional technol-

ogy, curriculum management, and curriculum scheduling, as well as two early college high schools, the CFCC honors program, and the Center for Professional Excellence. “Because of what we do at Cape Fear Community College,” she says, “people can pursue a new career, a higher education, start a new business, obtain a four-year degree, and beyond.”

brings a rich insight in materials and styles – teaching both traditional and contemporary processes in drawing, mixed media, and painting, including en plein air, as well as art appreciation lectures. “What started as a teaching residency at Yosemite National Park in 2007,” she says, “has grown into a custom art history and studio art

educational program for beginners to advanced student-artists.” Described as a “citizen-artist,” Van Sickle thrives while contributing to her community. “As a lifelong artist and adventurer, I love sharing the fundamentals of visual storytelling and creating a positive ‘space’ for students,” Van Sickle says.





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For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com




B y C h er yl L. Se r r a


Founde r, T h e J o y P ro jec t


race Caldwell turned her concerns over the effects of COVID-19 on her colleagues in the medical profession into The Joy Project, a far-reaching initiative to provide them with help. Caldwell, a former travel nurse,


Pre side nt, L in d y Fo rd Nutrition & Wel l n es s


indy North is a clinical and functional registered dietitian and nutritionist who seeks to uncover the root causes of her patients’ conditions rather than simply treating their symptoms. She runs her private practice,


Ne uroscien c es Serv ic e L in e A dm inistrat o r, N HR MC


erry Lamb helped lead and create the region’s first Comprehensive Stroke program and the first DNV Comprehensive Stroke Center accredited in the state. Of all the great professional experiences Lamb’s had since she joined


Coordinator of Volunteers/Gift Shop/Community Outreach, Pender Memorial Hospital (NHRMC)


hrough the challenges of COVID-19, Tracy Saieed has shown how she rises to the organizational needs before her. Saieed was working at Pender Memorial Hospital, where she began more than six years ago. Her position


O w ne r, A lw a ys Go o d Co m p an y Hom e C are I n c.


lsie Shields built a successful local gourmet kitchen shop with cooking classes to recovering, rebuilding, and reinventing herself after her husband’s unexpected and tragic death at the time her boys were two and five. WILMAMAG.com

has worked at New Hanover Regional Medical Center since 2018 and is currently a nurse in the Medical ICU, which covers the COVID ICU. When COVID-19 began spreading, she hoped to enlist volunteers to assemble care packages for nurses locally and across the country. Caldwell found a photo of a headband with buttons sewn on the side,

allowing the wearer to attach their mask loops to the band instead of their ears and reducing the chance of their skin being rubbed raw by other types of masks. “It sounds a little bit funny now, but in that very moment, it was the something I could do that would bring a smile – a bit of joy, a smidge of relief to my comrades,” she says.

Lindy Ford Nutrition & Wellness in Wilmington. She uses information about nutrition and health that leads to greater freedom. Long-term weight control, diabetes-related and thyroid issues, gastrointestinal conditions, and hypertension are her primary focus areas. Recently, she’s worked on learning how COVID-19 affects people with preexisting conditions and obesity.

Watching her parents struggle with chronic disease – both of them passed away in their early fifties – and at one time facing her own personal health crisis, contributed to Ford’s career path. Ford holds a degree in nutritional science and dietetics from the University of Maryland, College Park and a degree in communications from Towson University.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center in 2003, one that stands out to her is helping to build the region’s only multidisciplinary ALS clinic, which opened in February. Patients with ALS and their families attend the clinic and meet with many members of the care team in one day to collaborate and coordinate the specialized needs for these

individuals. “Building and successfully launching a multidisciplinary clinic of this magnitude was especially rewarding,” Lamb says. “But, the most fulfilling moment of all was seeing the smiles of the patients with ALS in the clinic and expressing their gratitude for addressing a gap in support and care that had previously existed.”

became obsolete when COVID came; there were no volunteers, and they weren’t hosting any outside events in the community. Reassigned to work full time in NHRMC’s marketing department, Saieed utilizes skills she’s honed from her involvement in initiatives that sought to educate and engage staff and patients. She was also chosen as one of thirty system employees to serve on the NHRMC Enrollment team. Never one to give up or complain, she took her giving spirit and innate sense of empathy to start a for-profit, non-medical older adult companion care business in the summer of 2013. Her husband now, Val D’Auvray, is involved in every aspect of the business. Shields, founder and president of Always Good Company Home Care Inc., initially served as the sole caregiver. Now, there are more than thirty

She graduated in 2019 from the UNCW MBA program/Swain Center Project Management Professional Certificate and will soon submit documentation for her Project Management Professional certification. “I want to continue being a leader in my community and mentor other women to pay it forward from the amazing opportunities and mentorship that I have received over the last few years,” Saieed says. part-time caregivers and more than thirty clients. Her company stands out in the way its caregivers are actively engaged with each client rather than serving as adult “sitters.” “I have always liked helping people, solving a problem, and hopefully making a difference,” Shields says. “I found out I have a knack and a love for older adults who need a little assistance.”







more about finalists, to WILMAOnTheWeb.com ForFor more about thethe finalists, go go to WILMAmag.com

B y C h er yl L. Se r r a


Volunteer and Board Chair, DREAMS Center for Arts Education / Co-founder & president, Kingdom Colors Home Education Community


atoia Brown isn’t just a great leader. She also nurtures and mentors other great leaders. That’s what she did recently in her role as board chair of DREAMS Center for Arts Education,


Director of El Cuerpo Christ Community Church


hurricane put a “stat” on Elizabeth Cooper’s and Pastor Paul Phillips and his staff ’s plan to start El Cuerpo, which is a ministry of and operates from Christ Community Church. The idea of starting an organiza-


P h i l a n t h r o p i s t , Vo l u n t e e r, E n t r e p r e n e u r, a n d C o m m i t t e e L e a d, P i n k R i b b o n P r o j e c t


love being around positive people who are doing positive things for not only themselves but selflessly for others,” says Krystina Fuge. By day, Fuge works full time a project specialist in FSP-Clinical


director of community engagements the lowercase leaders


ily Nicole became a newsmaker months ago when stories and photos of her speaking to police during the Wilmington protests following the killing of George Floydin police custody. Nicole tried to de-escalate the violence that was brewing.


E xe c u t i ve D i r e c t o r Champions for Compassion


wo days after her mother died of ovarian cancer in January 2014, Rebecca Trammel was laying the groundwork for an organization that would honor her mother’s work as a substance-use disorder specialist. Ruthie Trammel’s Champions for Compassions aims to remove WILMAMAG.com

a nonprofit, after-school, and summer camp arts program. At DREAMS, students eight to eighteen years old experience a free, high-quality arts education focused upon youth development. Brown came to DREAMS as many do – as a parent. “My husband introduced me to DREAMS, and after a tour our daugh-

ter fell in love with it,” she recalls. Later, she became a volunteer, and she’s currently board chair. In 2011, shortly after she and Lisa Johnson began homeschooling their children, they noticed a lack of diversity and inclusion in the local home education community. The pair co-founded Kingdom Colors Home Education Community to help families.

tion to serve the educational, health access, and spiritual needs of the Hispanic community in Wilmington began ten years earlier, when Christ Community Church began a small tutoring program to serve neighborhood students. Soon, the pair noticed issues of access and equity for their Latino neighbors. They began formalizing

their plans in 2018, and when Hurricane Florence hit in September 2018, they helped meet local food and shelter needs. Cooper quickly developed partnerships with other leaders and organizations to offer more resources for Latinos, including health clinics, Know Your Rights nights, benevolence funding, and tutoring.

Management at PPD. On her off time, she serves as the of committee head of donations for The Pink Ribbon Project of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation. The project provides patients in Southeastern North Carolina access to 3D mammography screenings, comfort to those undergoing cancer treatment, and community awareness

of breast cancer and the benefits of early diagnosis and screenings. In addition to Pink Ribbon Project, Fuge is a member of Port City Young Professionals and has volunteered for many charitable events in the area. She’s also a member of The Inspiration Lab and plans to create a small group dedicated to community involvement.

She says she has always been active in her community, particularly since living downtown. After all, she says, she lives here, too. This is her home, the people are her neighbors, and the issues affect her, as well,” shge says. Nicole became group organizer of the lowercase leaders, initially being the face of the Wilmington protests. While the focus of the nonprofit is

still the community, she says aside from protests, there are other ways to invest in the community, such as book clubs where people can read challenging material and delve into the conversation with a group. “We believe a protest without a purpose is pointless,” Nicole says. “So, we have evolved into community education and outreach.”

obstacles to recovery and to remove the stigma of addiction and mental illness, promote professional development, and restore hope. Trammel serves as the organization’s cofounder and president. Her next initiative, United for Racial Justice, aims to offer business leaders the opportunity to form a community of allies for equitable prosperity. She also is cocurating

Cucalorus Connect, which this year has the theme of racial justice. Champions for Compassions gives away bus passes and bicycles to keep people on the road to recovery. They’ve advocated for and raised awareness to combat veteran suicide for American warriors. During COVID-19, she launched an initiative to provide masks to people most at risk.




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For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com

B y Je n n y Ca lli son


C om m unity E n g ag em en t Manage r, N HR MC


arah Arthur is the eyes and ears of New Hanover Regional Medical Center in underserved neighborhoods within NHRMC’s service area. Arthur, named last December the health care system’s manager of community engagement, sees her


Former Public Health Preparedness Coordinator, New Hanover County


lthough she is a lawyer by training, Lisa Brown’s desire to be of service to her community has led her into the field of health and human services. After a few years in Missouri’s Department of Health and Human


Youth Violence Intervention Specialist, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office


n early interest in developing resilience in children spurred Ami D’Ambrosio’s career path – helping young people overcome adversity. “My specific interest in my current role started with my internship at Wilmington Police Department with


Facility Manager Wilmington International Airport


amie Keel, ILM’s facility manager, does well in emergencies. She started her career as a 911 dispatcher, sending help to people in crisis. When a dispatcher position opened up at Wilmington International Air-


Chief of Staff and Geriatrician NHRMC


ary Rudyk’s advocacy for older adults has proved valuable to the nursing home community since the arrival of COVID-19. Rudyk, chief of staff and a geriatrician with New Hanover Regional Medical Center, has worked with WILMAMAG.com

overarching responsibility as that of “building tools and collaborative partnerships in the community that address the basic needs of those we serve, while also treating them with respect and dignity.” A licensed clinical social worker, Arthur has been especially focused on issues of homelessness, mental illness, and addiction for much of her eleven-year career. In her new Services, Brown was hired to oversee public health emergency preparedness in Brunswick and New Hanover counties in April 2018. Before leaving the job in September to pause for some family time, Brown addressed public health needs related to Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Dorian, and the COVID-19 pandemic in New Hanover County. She also coordinated a free flu vaccitheir juvenile diversion program,” D’Ambrosio says. “I learned about many of the programs developed in our community to assist youth on a very micro level, one of them being ELEMENTS.” The program helps at-risk youth in grades four through eight set goals and work to achieve them. D’Ambrosio’s active caseload includes at least ten youngsters; she works also with an-

position, she’s perhaps proudest of developing a program of transitional housing for the hospital’s long-stay uninsured patients, but she has also trained and deployed health educators and now supervises a new network of community health workers who will advocate for patients and will enhance communication between social service agencies and health care providers. nation event last year that required the participation of multiple local and state agencies and proved a model for setting up drive-through COVID-19 testing this past spring. Key to the success of Brown’s preparedness efforts has been the inter-agency collaboration she initiated, her nominator notes, saying Brown “brought new focus to public health matters across all-hazards planning.” other five who are transitioning from intensive case management. “I enjoy learning about their lives and what has shaped them into who they are and who they are growing to be,” she says. “I hope I am teaching as much as I am learning because the children I work with show many so many new perspectives and understandings that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to be exposed to.”

port in 2015, she landed the job. She moved up the ladder rapidly, and in her current and most recent operations roles at ILM, is still handling emergencies. The past two years have brought major complexities caused by three hurricanes, a $60 million expansion project, and – most recently – the intensive sanitizing requirements of a pandemic. She also prepares maintenance

budgets and runs her fourteen-employee unit in accordance with a maze of local, state, and FAA and TSA requirements. “As one of the most highly regulated industries, the airport is an ever-changing place,” she says. Keel is determined to become more knowledgeable and to earn further certification from the American Association of Airport Executives.

nursing facilities during the pandemic to develop practices that protect staff members and patients. “I have to commend all of the nursing homes and assisted living facilities that I work with for being ahead of the curve and being so proactive in their response to keeping the most vulnerable people safe,” she says. “They were the first to stop visitation, and it was a difficult but

necessary stance to take in the beginning of this. Our coordinated efforts in the hospital and in the community have been an example of what can happen when a group of determined people get together and coordinate their efforts.” Rudyk also served on the Partnership Advisory Group that evaluated options in the proposed sale of NHRMC to an outside entity.







For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com

B y Te r esa M c La mb


Pe nde r Co u n t y Co o rd in at o r Juntos 4-H


s a first-generation college graduate, Jessica Aguilar became aware of the difficulties faced by many first-generation students. She determined to use her experience and regional resources to mentor and guide those students.


Marke ting Man a gerz Logan Hom es


s a communication studies major, Andrews says she was drawn to such as public speaking, and event coordination. What she did not expect was to apply all of those skill sets to a career in real estate.


Exe cutive D irec t o r U.S. Inte rn a t io n a l Ba l l et

From the age of three, dance became a driving passion for Aunika Browne. “As I got older and started thinking about career options, I came to realize that the path towards my own


Laboratory Man a ger o f Pre -A nal y t ic al an d Cl ien t Se rvice s, N HR MC


n open house at UNC-Chapel Hill’s clinical laboratory science program introduced Astrid Keusseyan to the possibilities available in the field. “I never knew the field existed before that event, but I found it to be the per-

JOREY STANLEY Muse um E d u c at o r C ape Fe a r Mu s eu m


orey’s Stories entertains preschoolers learning from home with tales of science and adventure. The five to twenty-minute videos are from the imagination of Jorey Stanley, educator at the Cape Fear Museum for the past two years. WILMAMAG.com

Throughout her time at UNCW she held work-study and intern positions with organizations such as Juntos 4-H and Centro Hispano, where she helped to foster a sense of belonging among Latino students and families. Her goal is to help the students she works with have an easier passage to attain their goals and to familiarize them with the

resources available. The greater goal is for more students to complete their high-school education and continue through college. Aguilar graduated from UNCW this year with a BS in social work and minor in nonprofit management and leadership. Since graduating she serves Juntos 4-H as its Pender County program coordinator.

“My first post-grad job was working in the marketing department of a local master-planned community, which first sparked my interest in real estate,” she says. The ever-changing market trends pushed her to grow. Part of that evolution has been her involvement with Cape Fear CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women),

where she is currently serving as president. Collaborating with others in the community, she helped launch the Cape Fear CREW Awards of Excellence. She’s also a past-president for the UNCW Communication Studies Alumni Chapter and serves as its events team leader. She was on the organizing team for TEDxAirlie.

happiness was most clearly aimed in the direction of dance,” she says. Despite an illness that decimated her body and forced her out of college, Browne pushed forward and opened Studio A four years ago; by the second year, she had more than sixty students. Approached to take the mantle of

U.S. International Ballet, she found investors and purchased the area’s only professional dance company. The ink was barely dry on the deal when COVID hit. Despite the quarantine, she continues to teach and interact with her students online, which allows the students to maintain performancelevel skills.

fect marriage of science, technology, and health care,” she says. “I loved that I could play a daily role in impacting health care decisions for so many different people.” Taking the potential for that impact personally, Keusseyan has taken on several roles at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, which earned her the 2019 Employee of the

Year from among the system’s 7500 employees. She also co-chairs Todos Unidos. “This role allows me to advocate for my community and help bring about tangible, positive change. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to create a more supportive and welcoming environment for Hispanic/Latinx patients, visitors, and employees.”

No longer able to do the in-person programming, she reimagined her weekly pop-up science program inspired by classics like Sesame Street, the ingenuity of social media content creators, and by a friend’s advice to “keep it light.” Conversationally bilingual, Stanley incorporates Spanish into her stories and brings in native speakers as guest

readers. “My hope is that these videos are fun for a variety of ages and that I can use my platform to show more of our community and the people that make it special,” she says. Stanley also is active on the Parents as Teachers Board and secretary of the UNCW African American Graduate Association.








For this year’s Women to Watch Awards issue, we incorporated artwork from local artists to show their inspirations of strong women. Here is more about one of those participating artists, Lori Joy Peterson. See her piece on page 26.


ORI JOY PETERSON came to painting a little later in life than most. At twentyseven, after experiencing an illness and subsequent depression, she took up painting at her mother’s suggestion as a way to break the rut of sitting at home doing nothing. And, it stuck. “It got to a point where I decided to show it to galleries, and they did not like it,” Peterson says of her initial work. “But, in my mind, it was good. So, I just kept at it. (Gallery owners) gave me good suggestions. They said, ‘You should take classes.’ I did not go to art school, but I took lots of workshops. “Maybe I’m hard-headed, I don’t know. I just had it in my head that I was going to be an artist. I took it the right way I think,” she says. “I remember the first gallery I went to, the lady said, ‘I like your artwork, but your proportions are off.’ I showed my art to someone who was not an artist, and I remember he said ‘You should keep your day job.’ And, I thought ‘No, I shouldn’t.’ I just had it in my head I was going to learn. Because when I showed my work, the person would say what was good about it, but they would also say things like ‘Your color is off ’ or ‘Your composition is off.’ To my mind, that means I need to take a class on composition. I would go and find a class on whatever they told me the problem was, take it, and learn (from) it.” It turns out her instincts were not only right, but they’ve also led to a large following for Peterson’s kinetic style, which is emotional and full of movement. A key part of her painting process is listening to music, whether it’s jazz, soul, or R&B. It’s how she gets her motion. And, she thinks her mother saw that musical bent in her first when she encouraged Peterson to join the school orchestra, in which she played all throughout school until the twelfth grade. “I believe all the arts are connected. I believe my musical background and the poetry and the painting, WILMAMAG.com

they’re all interconnected,” she says. “With music, you know, you have to practice every day. Same thing with poetry, you have to keep at it. With my musical background, I know if you want to be good at something, you have to keep at it. I know from the orchestra you’re not going to be good in one day.” The fruits of that lesson can be found daily on Peterson’s social media, where she posts paintings, draws inspiration from her fans, and conducts the vast majority of her sales. While COVID has left many other artists feeling cut off and uninspired, Peterson has pivoted successfully to the online art world, selling her work, taking commissions, and even teaching live painting lessons. In fact, she posts that she’s doing just as well now during COVID as she did before. Which may be due, in part, to her innate ability to follow what feels right. “I have goals, and I don’t have goals,” Peterson says. “It seems like when I don’t set goals, people ask me to do stuff, and it works. “Sometimes if I don’t have any ideas, I write down an entire paragraph about what I want to paint, how I want to paint it, what colors to use,” she says. “But sometimes, I’ll just have a bright idea. You know how they say you’re left-brained or right-brained? I think I’m both-brained. Sometimes I’m logical, and sometimes I’m not,” she adds. Peterson’s magnetic paintings, as well as her stubborn faith in herself and in her instincts, have made her a Wilmington favorite. Her advice for anyone else who wants to be an artist? “I would tell them it’s never too late to start anything,” Peterson says. “People need to get the idea out of their heads that people are born artists. I believe anyone can be an artist. Art is a skill that takes practice. There are people who can draw and it looks like a photograph, but they don’t use it. If I could do that I would, but I have to work for it; it didn’t come to me naturally.” W OCTOBER 2020



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Shop tees, dresses, accessories and more at Camillions Boutique in downtown Wilmington. Follow their VIP page on Facebook for the latest on promos and more. Visit their website at CamillionsNC.com or pickup curbside at 112 Market Street, Unit A, Wilmington, NC 28401. Storefront open Fridays from 2-4pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 11-6pm.


Sutton’s Rugs carries a vast selection of brand name rug and carpet lines. Featuring their special made stair runners. Call them today to set up an appointment at 910.794.8100 or visit their website at SuttonRugs.com. They are open Monday through Friday from 9:30-4:30 and Saturday from 9:30-4 at 3520 South College Road in Wilmington.





Sweets and Spirits satisfies your sweet tooth without all of the guilt. They offer gluten-free, sugar-free and ketogenic sweets to meet your dietary needs. Find Sweets and Spirits goods at Old North Coffee and Grinder’s Caffe in Wilmington. Their storefront is now OPEN. Pop in and try a slice of coconut or peanut butter cake, pictured below. Follow them on facebook @sweetsandspirits3, check their website at sweetsandspirits.com, or visit their storefront at 234 E. Main St., Jefferson, NC.


Stop in at Port City Peddler for unique finds like these hotskwash velvet pumpkins and customized cutting board/recipe holder from Tin & Oak pictured above. Their store is now open at their new location at 6213 Market Street 7 days a week. They have TONS of new arrivals, from face masks to vintage furniture, unique plants and more. Visit their website at PortCityPeddler.com or check out their Facebook @PcPeddlers.


Save on the BASICS and get Squeak’s all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner and gentle scrub. Enjoy free shipping on all orders over $75 or stop by their store at 6700 Netherlands Drive. Squeak products can also be found at Tidal Creek Co-op, Adapt Kitchen and Juice Bar, AXIS Yoga and more. Visit their website for more information at GetSqueakyWithUs.com or follow them on Facebook @GetSqueakyWithUs


Flare out your fall wardrobe with flared jeans, knit sweaters, and graphic tees. Shop Desert Rose Boutique’s wide selection of clothes, hats, jewelry and other unique accessories. Check out their NEW website BloomInDesertRose.com, with fresh arrivals added every day. Free shipping on orders over $75 and free in-store pickup. Visit their storefront now open Monday through Sunday at 208 N Front Street, Wilmington, NC 28401.









Macon Thornton lets the elements of her jewelry influence the design


ike many artists, MACON THORNTON, jewelry maker and owner of Tallulah Jewelry, is inspired by the world’s colors, textures, and tones. But, Thornton is equally inspired by the women who wear her jewelry even though she often doesn’t know them. As Thornton makes a piece of jewelry, she imagines a woman wearing it and whether the jewelry will be worn daily or only for special occasions. The result is classic but distinctive, jewelry that appeals to women of all ages and styles. “I walk a line of simple and classic, but it offers a different look,” Thornton says. “My work speaks to a lot of different tastes and different types of people. Women who are preppy and women who are edgy are interested in my jewelry.” Thornton designed the custom-made bracelets this year for the seven Women to Watch award winners. Each year, WILMA features a different bracelet from a local designer for the awards. Thornton’s foray into jewelry making began as a whim. On vacation out west, Thornton bought some turquoise beads without any plan for their use. At home, she learned beading basics from a friend and started making simple, single-strand beaded necklaces


and bracelets as a hobby. Thornton’s interest and skill in the craft grew, and in 2005 she displayed her jewelry in her first show. Thornton says being a self-taught jewelry maker has given her certain advantages, the most important of which is the uniqueness of her jewelry. That uniqueness, along with its natural beauty and simplicity, can be seen in every piece Thornton creates. In her necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, Thornton combines quality gemstones or freshwater pearls with silver and gold fill – an unexpected pairing that is a hallmark of Thornton’s work. Although the stones and metal contrast with each other, they also complement each other, she says. Thornton also uses wire wrapping techniques that highlight the gemstones and add to the interplay of the design elements. “You don’t see many people wire wrapping the way I do,” Thornton says. “It’s one of the reasons why my work is so unique. Wire wrapping adds another dimension as well as color and texture.” Nearly 75 percent of Thornton’s jewelry designs are one-of-a-kind, and it’s the challenge of creating the new that she finds so rewarding. Ensconced in her home office, Thornton starts her day by taking a look at the many designs in progress on her desk. Her excitement about a particular piece dictates which one she works on at any given moment.

It’s a process that looks a lot like putting together a complicated puzzle. Thornton lays out the piece to get a feel for its fit and arrangement. Each design must come together so that it’s the perfect combination of colors. The colors must work together, but in an unexpected way, Thornton says. “One design may be only three stones, but each stone must go together just right,” she adds. Jewelry making is an inexact science, however; despite Thornton’s careful planning, her designs can surprise her. Sometimes they match the picture in her head, sometimes they’re worse, and sometimes they’re better, she says. Thornton’s work is constantly evolving. She often gets new ideas from jewelry she designed in the past and OCTOBER 2020



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says that even a small tweak can result in a major change in her designs or be the impetus for a whole new design. She relishes such spurs to her creativity and growth. “It’s through new ideas that I push myself,” she says. “When I get new ideas, I need to learn new techniques.” When Thornton has sold her jewelry at art festivals in Richmond and throughout North Carolina, she always tries to ensure her customers get the perfect piece of jewelry. She asks customers if they plan on wearing a piece every day; if so, she also asks about their normal work attire. If they will wear her jewelry to an event, she asks them about the special dress they will wear. If her jewelry is to be a gift, she asks for a description of the woman who will receive it. Since the pandemic has closed the festivals, Thornton usually can’t offer such personalized service. The one place at which she meets with customers is the Riverfront Farmers’ Market in Wilmington. Otherwise, Thornton’s jewelry can be purchased on Etsy. Thornton will celebrate fifteen years of jewelry making this month, and her enthusiasm for her craft is stronger than ever. “I really love what I do,” she says. “I get excited about going to work. I so appreciate that something I’ve done for this long still ignites this passion in me. This is what I am meant to be doing.” W




magine planning a funeral differently. One where the atmosphere is uniquely upbeat. While traditional funerals are somber experience for good reason, a celebration of life service is a cheerful alternative. The experience of losing a loved one is accompanied by many emotions, most of them being uncomfortable and difficult to process. A celebration of life service is a gathering where the attendees wear a smile along with their tears, intentionally focusing on all the wonderful memories that carry on after their loved one has passed. A celebration of life service is planned around the unique life and personality of your deceased loved one. The theme of the gathering is customized and centers around something that was special in your loved one’s life or something for which

they were especially known. For instance, if your loved one enjoyed cooking on the grill and was known for their delicious grilled food, consider hosting a gathering with a BBQ theme. An outdoor venue with cook out decorations, a live country-western band, and jars of BBQ sauce for attendees to take home can set the perfect tone to celebrate a passionate griller’s life. Maybe your loved one enjoyed the nightlife and was passionate about dancing. A disco themed celebration of life service might be the right fit. Invite guests to dress up in their favorite disco attire, including wigs and platform heels. A dance club venue with all your loved one’s favorite dance songs playing in the background will invite everyone to dance along and stay focused on commemorating your loved one in a joyful way.

While motorcycles are a hobby for many, for some it’s a way of life. Imagine incorporating your loved one’s motorcycle passion into a celebration of life service. With the open road being loved by all motorcycle enthusiasts, including a special ride from the funeral home to the cemetery with an urn traveling in the sidecar leading the group is a wonderful way to honor an individual who loved riding each mile with friends. Unique lives deserve unique celebrations. Each of these ideas serve to help you consider what type of celebration of life service would fit for you or your loved one. Each of us have so many gifts that we share with the world during our time and it is important that we each are celebrated – whether with a traditional funeral or a customized gathering.

The professional team at Dignity Memorial is here to help you pre-plan your unique celebration of life service. Prepanning these special services can be completed for yourself or a loved one. The Dignity Memorial team can help you navigate through all the details, ensuring your celebration of life service best reflects the individual being honored. Michael Higgins is Sales Manager for Dignity Memorial®, which cares for more than 300,000 families each year through its network of more than 2,000 providers throughout North America. Learn more at www. dignitymemorial.com or call Greenlawn Memorial Park, Oleander Memorial Gardens and Coble Funeral and Cremation Services at Greenlawn Memorial Park, (910) 799-1686.









t’s just around sunrise as I run to the end of Summer Rest Trail, a paved trail that snakes through the woods and opens to the Intercoastal Waterway, and amazing water views. My heart is pounding as sweat drips down my forehead, my shoulders. As I emerge from the trail and onto Summer Rest Road, my mind relaxes to a show of bright pinks, yellows, oranges and reds paint-brushed across the sky, reflecting off the water. I smile to myself. This is my ultimate “Good Morning” routine. And it has been this way for the last six months. Running, or walking, during these unprecedented times has provided many − myself included − with the ability to have a safe, consistent and endorphin-boosting outlet that also provides the community and connection we need. Here are three reasons to get started running today. Stress Reduction Whether it’s burning excess energy, a time of reflection,


enjoying nature or connecting with a friend, running provides benefits beyond our cardiovascular health. Bridget Phillips, a mom of four and full-time nurse, has turned to running throughout the pandemic as a form of much-needed stress relief. “In the midst of all the uncertainty of the past six months, running has been a constant,” she says. “I feel fortunate that I have been able to continue to lace up and get outside.” Community No matter how far you go or what pace you run, everyone experiences the same emotions, physical triumphs, challenges and all-around joy that running provides. While it can be hard to take the first step, you’ll be glad you did. “Running during the pandemic has truly been challenging,” says Robin Allen, a Fleet Feet training program member. “While our [inperson] running group shrank, our sense of community

remained strong. We started a private Facebook page, and set up weekly Zoom calls to share our workouts and have accountability. Having [this] strong running community is so essential, and I am blessed to be a part of it.” As Allen says, even with social-distancing measures in place, you can still feel safe heading out with a small group while keeping your distance on the run. Stay connected with local group happenings by checking in with Fleet Feet Wilmington. You can also connect virtually with other runners. Download our app for inspirational articles, a smorgasbord of fun workouts and motivation, and local shopping at your fingertips. Properly-fitted running shoes help make running more enjoyable, and help stave off injury. Find your perfect pair at Fleet Feet Wilmington, located in The Forum on Military Cutoff Rd.

Your Immune Health And, finally, running might just help you stay well. In an interview for Fleet Feet’s online journal with Dr. David C. Nieman, the Director of the Human Performance Laboratory in Kannapolis, NC, says that regular exercise is excellent for preventing the common cold. “Sick days for the common cold during a 12-week period in the winter or fall, is reduced by 40- to 50-percent for people who exercise most days of the week,” says Nieman. Michelle Fogle is the owner and operator of Fleet Feet in Wilmington, NC. She invites you to come and experience the difference Fleet Feet provides when finding the perfect product for your running, walking, or fitness footwear needs, because Fleet Feet Wilmington is more than a running store! It is a starting point for people who want to change their lives.







t’s that time of year when the days get shorter, the weather gets a little bit cooler, and we all think about spending more time inside. Whether for a holiday gathering, or just a Sunday afternoon, this time of year also calls for cooking. Having something baking in the oven gives our homes the ultimate cozy factor – and, of course, our kitchen is the epicenter of this coziness. Now is a great time to make some improvements to your kitchen that would add to its comfort, character, and functionality. Most often, friends and family naturally gather in the kitchen even when separate living spaces are available. Maybe your guests would be more comfortable with an added island? Kitchen islands serve as a wonderful place for folks to have a seat and enjoy refreshments, while also offering you more cabinet and countertop space. Try

adding unique embellishments to your kitchen island like corbels, a rustic wood façade, or even adding color to the base that contrasts with your existing cabinets. If you have a smaller kitchen where an island wouldn’t fit, don’t fret. These smaller spaces are perfect for U- or L-shaped peninsulas that are extensions of the existing countertops but add room for seating. You could also consider adding glass or open shelving to showcase unique serving ware. As the trend to move away from traditional dining rooms continues, this also means that china cabinets are becoming a thing of the past. However, many of us still have family china or serving ware that deserves to be displayed. The addition of glass-paneled cabinet doors on a few cabinets will allow selected pieces to be viewed while other kitchen items can

still be covered by traditional cabinet doors. If you prefer the exposed cabinet look, dishracks could be added to give your kitchen space a feeling of openness by removing bulky upper cabinets. Sometimes overlooked, the kitchen sink can make a big statement and pull your entire design together. Selecting a kitchen sink that functions to fit your needs is important, but they can also be stylish. An undermount sink is installed underneath the countertop and allows the cabinet material to frame the sink. Undermount sinks offer elegance to a kitchen and make cleaning up a breeze as crumbs and other food debris can be easily wiped into the sink without getting stuck in a crevasse. If your kitchen leans towards a more country or cottage style design, an apron front sink might be what you’re looking for. These vintage farmhouse sinks have a lip that

extends beyond your kitchen cabinets as the front face of the sink is exposed. They are often ultra-spacious and are paired with large faucets. An apron sink is the true workhorse of the kitchen, while adding a touch of charm too. Let the team at Markraft help craft the perfect recipe to add some spice to your kitchen this fall! Their designers are looking forward to the opportunity to work with you on a major renovation or just a kitchen spruce-up. President and General Manager Cee Edwards and his team of talented designers invites you to visit Markraft’s Design Studio, 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road. Markraft’s professional kitchen and bath designers consult by appointment.

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e are all adjusting to life in a pandemic: donning a mask, working remotely, and bearing stock market volatility. 2020 has been a rollercoaster. Personally, I love rollercoasters (of the amusement park variety). The twists, drops, and turns are exhilarating. While the upside-down loops can be a bit scary, I know I’m not in danger. The pandemic has brought new twists and turns to our lives: some are scary and dangerous (a highrisk individual contracting COVID-19), and some are scary but not necessarily dangerous (juggling a career while homeschooling kids). Distinguishing between what is fear-inducing and what is truly dangerous is important and has real consequences. Fear is a dangerous motivator for financial decisions. We all know a “fight or flight” response can help us in dangerous

situations. But if we are not in danger, fight or flight reactions may be detrimental, particularly when it comes to our money. When we feel scared, thoughts like “the stock market is plunging!” or “The stock market is hitting all-time highs while our economy is crumbling!” can guide our financial choices. Fear makes us feel like we need to do something, to take action, even if we aren’t acting on sound guidance. Trying to time the market based on gut instincts to avoid market drops can also prevent us from riding the market highs. Most stock market wounds are not from companies bleeding money; “most stock market wounds are self-inflicted.” I bet your biggest financial goal isn’t to leave this earth with as much money accumulated as humanly possible. If, instead, you want to use it for the benefit of yourself and the people and causes you care about, the

best thing you can do is to plan for how you want to use it. That plan will be the driving force behind your future actions. When my dad was teaching me how to drive, we’d go to a parking lot to practice three-point turns, backing up, and parking. If my dad asked me to drive him somewhere today, I wouldn’t go to that parking lot and drive around aimlessly, I’d ask him where he wanted to go. Because I know how to drive, it’s useless to get in the car without a destination. Likewise, it’s pointless to invest your money without a plan for how to utilize it. If investing doesn’t make you feel empowered and prepared, then you need to talk to a professional financial advisor. At Pathfinder Wealth Consulting, discovering your financial goals and crafting a customized investment strategy to help accomplish those goals is our area of expertise. All of our wealth

advisors have obtained the CERTIFIED FINANICAL PLANNER™ certification and we have helped people ride the rollercoasters of the last three decades, including the dot-com bubble, 9/11, the Great Recession, Brexit, Chinese trade tensions, middle east conflicts, natural and nuclear disasters, changing politics, and the coronavirus pandemic. And we expect to face more rollercoasters in the future – but we know how to help people ride through them without danger. Almost all major life decisions, including financial ones, can be scary, but they don’t have to be dangerous. We are here to guide you forward. This Insights article is contributed by Kayla Willliford Johnson, Financial Planning Associate at Pathfinder Wealth Consulting.





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n this time of social distancing and forced isolation, it is more important than ever to love where you live and live where you love. With that in mind, we are finding new ways of using technology to foster connections and stimulate positive thinking and hope for the future. In our current health environment, attending to our physical health and staying within the safety guidelines is paramount. But what about the other aspects of well-being? Living a good life filled with moments of happiness requires striving beyond physical health. We want to provide an environment where residents can enhance their social, emotional and intellectual health, stretch themselves and continue growing and learning. Technology once viewed as a barrier for active agers, has become a gift for our

LIVING LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS community. But we were also aware that there was a learning curve we needed to address. We met the challenge to help our residents stay connected by designing and hosting a webinar on how to use the technological tools that would make connectivity possible. Participants learned how use Go To Meeting, Zoom, and FaceTime. Imagine the thrill of being able to see the smiles and laughter of your children and grandchildren once again. Our hearts were full listening to the stories our residents shared. We have designed free webinars for residents and the wider community which focus on learning how to practice living a positive life. Participants can learn to practice the skills of positivity which can lead to a greater sense of control over their sense of well-being. Practicing

positivity helps in moving forward when confronted with adversity, reduces uncertainty and increases confidence. Most importantly, the practice of positivity provides the means to live in an uncertain world with less anxiety and more hope for the future. These are just a few examples of the programs we are creating as we adapt to the challenges of a new way of living. We have successfully sheltered through many storms at Plantation Village and COVID-19 is just “one more” storm. Leading a happy, fulfilling life is about more than just being safe. What better time to focus on learning or selfimprovement than now? Now is the perfect time to learn and grow, to evolve into better, stronger, kinder, and happier versions of ourselves. To learn more about how

we are helping residents stay connected, informed and entertained, visit our website at www.PlantationVillageRC. com. Like us on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/ PlantationVillageRC. Susan Katz is the Life Plan Consultant at Plantation Village, a non-profit continuing care retirement community that offers independent living on a 56-acre campus in Porters Neck, minutes from downtown Wilmington and area beaches. Residents enjoy first-class services in a wide variety of home styles, from oneand two-bedroom apartments to cottage homes and two-bedroom villas. Plantation Village is managed by Life Care Services™, the nation’s third-largest elder care management company.












n spite of the tumultuous waters of a pandemic, the Wilmington Boat Show is forging forward with plans for a fun and safe event. JACQUI McGUINNESS is at the helm. McGuinness, president of boat show production firm JBM & Associates, will present the event October 9-11 at the Wilmington Convention Center, the Port City Marina, and Battleship North Carolina. “It’s the biggest event since COVID-19 shut (public events) down,” McGuinness says. “We had a really hard time with shows being canceled, like everyone else. My team and I are so used to taking five steps forward and four steps back, like running a very slow marathon.” McGuinness says that her team’s mantra during the pandemic has been “resilience,” and that resilience has paid off, and the show will go on within the appropriate safety parameters.


“We have been in constant contact with the convention center, the city, our partners, everyone in our world, and are working within all the guidelines that the city and state have laid out,” McGuinness says. “We have sixty vendors with plenty of space. It is a big footprint, between the marina and the convention center.” Safety measures include encouraging visitors to buy tickets in advance, but the enclosed box office also will sell tickets. In addition, organizers have limited the number of boat dealers in the convention center’s exhibit hall and have made sure the booths in the main ballroom and on the pier are spread out. Sanitizing stations will be available throughout the space. “We’re not having any special features and doing away with anything that can draw a crowd,” McGuinness explains. “We are not letting people gather; there will be no live music and no bouncy houses. Food trucks will be on hand in the boatyard, so it will be business as usual, just highlighting the products and services within the boating industry.” The Wilmington Boat Show will follow all the necessary protocols including requiring masks, displaying appropriate signage for social distancing, and having additional staff to monitor and ensure safety for guests. “We have been together for a long time, and I have been in the event business for thirty years and worked with the convention center’s Fredia Brady for years, having done several boat shows with her in her previous position in Savannah,” McGuinness says. “We have these relationships with people and we all are dealing with it together. “It is a huge economic impact that we make with our shows. This is not just about me; it is also about all the people affected, all the small businesses and vendors.” W

BOATS TO BOAST WHERE: Wilmington Convention Center • Port City

Marina • Battleship North Carolina (park and ride the free ferry to show)

WHEN: Friday, October 9, noon to 6 p.m. • Saturday, October 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m • Sunday, October 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WEBSITE: WilmingtonBoatShow.com TICKETS: Friday Only (adults and children 4+): $5

•(Saturday and Sunday): adults $8; children (4-12): $5; children 3 and under: free




MEADE VAN PELT took a roundabout way back to Wilmington. “I was born and raised here, left for college at UNC, then to Maine, and onto NYC to begin my career,” says the executive director of The Jo Ann Carter Harrelson Center, which acts as a hub for sixteen nonprofits. She worked in marketing, management, and sales for Pitney Bowes, and traveled from New York to New Jersey to Connecticut for twenty-one years. “I returned in 2004 for my MBA from UNCW,” she says. “With a large, close family here, I’d always believed I’d return to North Carolina, a state I love so much – particularly Wilmington.” WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EYE-OPENING LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN THE FOUR YEARS YOU’VE WORKED AT THE HARRELSON CENTER? “When provided with the opportunity to respond, Wilmington does – with grace and generosity. Hurricane Florence also taught us a lot. The response network became much more cohesive and less-siloed as a result of our disaster response. That’s something many of us learned, and it has made us a far more resilient community for the next crisis and to build community solutions.” WHAT CHANGES/IMPROVEMENTS HAVE YOU HELPED ADMINISTER? “I have worked to connect health resources to our operation because we see so many unwell citizens who lack access to and knowledge of health resources. I applied several times for grants, and now we have a nurse care manager on-site. Everyone has access.” WHAT DOES THE HARRELSON CENTER NEED RIGHT NOW MORE THAN EVER FROM THE COMMUNITY? “Like all nonprofits, we were not immune to the income lost from canceled fundraisers. Our Unlock Hope capital campaign continues in earnest to double our campus from 25,000 to 50,000 square feet and add a 300-person event venue as a sustainable business and nonprofit organization opportunity. Citizens, businesses, and foundations are invited to invest in the synergy found only here – synergy that creates a campus of high-impact nonprofit organizations and solutions that together make Wilmington a better place to live, work, and play.” DO YOU VOLUNTEER OUTSIDE OF WORK? “On the Partnership Advisory Group, considering the hospital’s future. I am always participating in my community and church; I particularly like youth projects. I’m on the board of Community Counseling Center, as I believe in access to good mental health care.” WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK? “Are you kidding? Did you see my children’s ages (four and eleven years old)? Their hobbies are my hobbies for now! I love reading and the outdoors, and get it in when I can.”W MEADE VAN PELT’s full profile will appear in an upcoming WILMA Roundup email. To sign up for daily WILMA emails, go to WILMAmag.com.








Dylan Patterson is a writer and filmmaker who teaches English at Cape Fear Community College.

Halloween approaches, the season when creepy crawlers haunt the recesses of our collective nightmares. And, while snakes and spiders may evoke fear and trembling, when it comes to pure visceral disgust, one creature lurks alone: the dreaded cockroach. My first experience with roaches was in college when I lived with a bunch of guys in an old Philadelphia row house. While our partying skills were A+, our housekeeping habits were less than stellar. Rather than regularly wash dishes or mop up the pools of spilled beer, we stoically accepted the resulting roach activity as our new normal. One night, however, I woke to hear “Click....WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!” Then silence. Minutes passed. I heard it again: “Click...WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!” When I finally investigated, the kitchen was dark. Suddenly, the lights clicked on and my stoner housemate Jared began flailing madly with a spatula at the roaches that had ventured out in the darkness. Jared had, it seemed, reached his limit. After college, I moved to Wilmington where, despite Southern euphemisms (think “Palmetto bug”), roaches are, regardless of your housekeeping habits, just a fact of life. Soon after arriving, and in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, I made the ill-advised decision to share a humid room in an old house by the river with a new (and highly unstable) girlfriend. I quickly sank into a morass of existential melancholia. To this day, I mark the night I woke in that stifling house as two




roaches scurried across my sweaty body as the precise low point of my young adulthood. Over the years, I’ve grown less squeamish about cockroaches. (Except for the albino variety. The white roach I encountered in a storage shed still plagues my darkest dreams.) I’ve learned that even a direct hit with a heavy object is no guarantee of stunning, much less killing, a cockroach. Roaches have a preternatural ability to flatten their bodies and will often simply conform to the shape of your weapon. I once repeatedly pummeled a roach with a metal bathroom trash can only for it to casually stroll away. A much more effective weapon, I learned from my girlfriend, is a spray bottle of glass cleaner set to STREAM. The first shot slows the roach. The second often causes it to flip on its back to be easily and neatly dispatched with a paper towel. I’m generally a live-and-let-live kind of guy, so it would not surprise me if, in the future, I view my current treatment of cockroaches as barbaric. I justify my behavior as one of self-preservation since roaches are known to spread disease, but I suspect I’d still kill cockroaches even if they were harmless. Why? They creep me out. It’s no more complicated than that. Until I evolve to a higher level of consciousness, I’ll keep my spray bottle of glass cleaner handy just in case.

WILMA’S Congratulations to WILMA’s 2020 Leadership Institute Graduates

DANA ALLEN Marketing and Communications Strategist, NHRMC

SARAH ARCHIBALD Human Resources Director, N.C. Ports

NORA ARNOLD Staff Interpreter, NHRMC

MELISSA ATKINSON BAIRD Associate Attorney, Rountree Losee LLP

ELIZABETH BARFIELD Health Equity Education Specialist, NHRMC

MARIAH BIANCHI Human Resources/ Employee Relations Coordinator, Corning Inc.

JESSICA BOYD Certified Public Accountant & Senior Accountant, Williams Overman Pierce, LLP

JO ANN BOYLE Director of Business Development, CMC BioPharma

ALISON BRIEN Technical Program Manager, Apiture

MORGAN BYERLY Nuclear Fuel Engineer, General Electric / GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy

MEAGAN DAVID Manufacturing Engineer, Corning Inc.

JULIE DIXON Legal Team Manager, Live Oak Bank

LAKEN GREENWOOD Corporate Trainer, CastleBranch

BETH HARVEY Senior Marketing Programs Manager, Apiture

BREANA HEBERT Development Director, Wilmington Symphony Orchestra

AMBER HOAGLAND General Manager, Office Depot

JENNIE JACKSON Business Services Coordinator, UNCW Research & Innovation Team

CARTER JEWELL Business Intelligence Analyst, CastleBranch

ASHLEY KENT President, Kent Homes

ALEXIS PERKINS Assistant Public Defender, New Hanover County Office of the Public Defender

LIZ PETERSON Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development, N.C. Cooperative Extension in Pender County

TRACY SAIEED Community Relations Coordinator, NHRMC - Pender Memorial Hospital

LEAH SHERRILL Founder & CEO, Special Pedals Inc. EC Teacher, Topsail Elementary

SAMANTHA SILVER Process Engineer, Corning Inc.

TAYLOR SIMMS Director of Facility Planning, NHRMC

MICHELE SIMPSON Dentist / Owner, Michele Simpson DDS PA

VICTORIA SPYRATOS Interim Manager of Centralized Nursing Resource, NHRMC

LOGAN THOMPSON Director of Philanthropy, Cape Fear Community College

ANDI MATT VAN TRIGT Partner / Attorney, Murchison, Taylor & Gibson, P LLC

ASHLEY WELLS Assistant Dean for Community Engagement, UNCW CHHS

JESSICA WILLIAMS Director, Practice Support Services, SEAHEC / NHRMC

GENNA WIRTH Executive Director, Voyage

WILMA’s Leadership Institute gives up-and-coming leaders a unique opportunity to learn from top leaders in the region, visit a range of local companies, and serve as each other’s personal board of directors.

This year’s graduates mark the 5th class that WILMA has led through the program, bringing our total alum group to 106 women.

To learn more go to WILMAsToWatch.com






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