Leslie Boney leads the Institute’s efforts to identify key issues of importance to the state and develop consensus for action to address. Prior to joining the Institute, Leslie was Vice President for International, Community and Economic Engagement at the UNC system office, coordinating efforts to extend university expertise and services throughout the state.
While serving in the NC Department of Commerce and Governor’s Office, Leslie coordinated the state’s efforts to redesign rural development policy, increase volunteerism, and reform welfare. At the nonprofit MDC, he managed a two-state effort to help rural communities recover from manufacturing job loss. A former teacher and reporter, Leslie serves on the boards of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the Rural Economic Development Center. He received a B.A. from Amherst College.
Sharon Adams joined IEI in October 2011. She is responsible for assisting with the day-to-day accounting and administrative activities of the organization. Sharon brings with her 15+ years of university and accounting experience, having previously worked in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as an Accounting Technician, and in the Food, Bioprocessing & Nutrition Services department as an Accounting Clerk.
Rural Faith Community Development Intern
Ellen Beasley is the Rural Faith Community Development Intern, assisting with research for rural churches seeking ways to be involved in community development. Rooted in her experience and work with the United Methodist Church, her rural North Carolina roots, and her studies in extension and leadership, Ellen brings a unique knowledge and passion for community development to the IEI team.
Ellen is a senior at NC State University, studying agricultural extension education, with minors in animal science, agribusiness management, and leadership in agriculture and life sciences.
Economy Policy Manager
Donnie Charleston is the Economy Policy Manager and works collaboratively with individuals from all sectors and areas of North Carolina to build capacity for collective action in this issue space. Prior to joining IEI, Donnie worked as a fiscal analyst for the NC General Assembly. He also previously worked as a research and policy analyst for the NC Association of County Commissioners where he examined issues of local government taxation and finance. He is a native North Carolinian and a graduate of NC Central University where he received his M.A. in Sociology. After receiving his M.A., Donnie entered the doctoral program at NC State where he focused on the Sociology of the economy and industry. He has authored several publications on workforce development, deindustrialization, and the history of agri-business in North Carolina.
Coordinator, Public Programs and Commons
Simone Collman joined IEI in 2006 as the temporary office assistant and has grown within the organization. As the former office manager, Simone managed the day-to-day operation of the office and all HR related matters. In her current role as Events Manager, Simone is tasked with managing the IEI events that take place and assists with the scheduling of ongoing events. In addition to her work at the Institute, Simone is also a published poet and a semi-professional caterer. Simone received a B.A. in Leadership in the Public Sector from NC State University in May 2013 and her Master of Arts in Public Policy and Public Administration in May 2016.
Assistant Director for Policy & Programs
Patrick Cronin works with IEI’s Director and talented staff to identify, define and develop the work of the Institute in ways that fuel collaboration and build ownership for action among IEI’s stakeholders. IEI’s work, including convenings, tailored research and publications, engages key constituencies from the government, business, education and non-profit sectors in North Carolina and beyond. Prior to joining IEI, Pat spent ten years on the faculty at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. His research interests centered on economic competitiveness issues at the global, national, regional, and firm levels. He taught in Thunderbird’s distance learning program for Latin American managers for eight years. Pat received a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Emerging Leaders Fellow
Caroline Dawkins joined IEI in August of 2016 as an Emerging Leaders Fellow. Her efforts as a member of the policy team afford her the opportunity to participate in the planning and implementation of the organization’s yearly program of work. Prior to joining IEI, Caroline worked as a Human Resources Fellow for New Hanover County Government, focusing on program development and implementation, as well as the assessment of preexisting performance feedback mechanisms.
Caroline received a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, followed by a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her education has provided her many opportunities to work in both the public and nonprofit sectors, specifically with underserved and historically marginalized populations here in North Carolina.
Rural Faith Communities Fellow
Kylie Foley joined IEI in April 2016 as the Rural Faith Communities Fellow. In a joint partnership with IEI, The Duke Divinity School, and The Duke Endowment, the Thriving Rural Communities program allows rural faith leaders to use IEI’s resources to benefit their community. Rural churches and places of worship are often anchor institutions that have the credibility and resources to partner with private, public and nonprofit partners to address civic needs in the community. Kylie works directly with faith leaders (clergy and lay) on their community development plans and provides resources according to their needs.
Kylie received her undergraduate degree in international affairs and geography from Florida State University. She has previously worked with the Florida United Methodist Conference as well as UMVIM, SEJ, the short-term missions arm of the United Methodist Church.
James is the Technology Manager for the Institute for Emerging Issues. He provides insightful technology management as IEI’s goals expand. Specifically, he directs the organization to processes and procedures that yield maximum results in New Media technical strategies and processes, mobile application development, virtual engagement structures and solutions. He is also responsible for identifying all the new technology needed to support IEI’s outreach growth, and for finding multiple solutions to solve the varied programs of in-person and virtual event offerings.
James has over twenty-five years of experience working as a Senior Technical Project Manager. He successfully coordinated the management of key relationships with HP, IBM and Arrow representatives across their various organizations. He delivered strategic services planning and solutions and IT Operations and Technical Project Management. In addition, he translated technology and business requirements into actionable plans and implemented results to a wide customer and organizational base. He has supported Federal and Military product offerings with pre and post design work, while serving as the primary designer of an HP Tactical Server Suite for operations in the Middle East. James did his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he earned a B.A. in communications and a concentration in broadcast cinema.
Sarah Langer Hall
Health Policy Manager
Sarah Langer Hall is the Health Policy Manager and works collaboratively with individuals from all sectors and areas of North Carolina to build capacity for collective action in this issue space and other cross-issue area projects. Prior to joining IEI, she worked on physical activity and nutrition policy at the N.C. Division of Public Health and evaluated a multi-level childhood obesity prevention program at UNC Chapel Hill. She also worked to support and scale coordinated school health programs at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Sarah holds a graduate degree in public health from the University at Albany. She serves on the board of the United Way of North Carolina and as a Board Trustee for the N.C. Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina and has been recognized by the Triangle Business Journal with the 40 Under 40 award.
New Media Manager
Coco Keevan joined IEI’s communications team in November 2015. On paper, she coordinates IEI’s social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn), from conception to execution, and website, but in practice, serves as a writer, an editor, a photographer, a graphic designer, a newsletter-building machine, a fledgling policy wonk and a brand authority. She specializes in editing (developmental and copy), editorial writing, feature writing and reporting. Prior to joining IEI in November 2015, Coco worked as the philanthropy editor at Make It Better Magazine in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Atlanta Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, Paste, Maura Magazine and The A.V. Club. She studied magazine journalism at Northwestern University.
Commons & Data Manager
Liwei Lin is the Data Manager at IEI. In this role, she manages a growing database of information related to emerging issues in North Carolina. She also utilizes statistical and geographic information systems software to support data-driven research and public engagement efforts. Her current focus is on broader application of data visualization of the Emerging Issues Commons. Liwei holds a Ph.D. in forestry & environmental resources from NC State University with a graduate minor in geographic information system, and a MPIA from University of California, San Diego.
Graphic Design Specialist
Michelle joined IEI in September 2016 as the graphic designer. She is a member of the communications team and is responsible for developing and maintaining current branding for the organization, including posters, flyers, postcards, banners, booklets, etc. She also designs branding for various programs of work within IEI. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts in graphic design from the University of Redlands.
Nan Sanseverino is the Communications Director, having joined IEI in October 2015. She works collaboratively with the Director, Policy, Development, and Communications teams, and within this role, she is responsible for advertising, content development, external relations, media relations, and overall strategic planning. She brings more than twenty years of experience to the organization, with more than a decade in the higher education and public policy sectors. Her work helps to strengthen, support, and communicate the IEI brand and its mission.
Prior to joining IEI, Nan was a long-time member of the federal advocacy arm of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, having served as Communications Manager-Public Affairs on behalf of the Office of Federal Affairs. Nan is a native of North Carolina, and received her B.A. in journalism and mass communication, with a specialization in public relations, from UNC-Chapel Hill.
She’s still adjusting to wearing red.
Shaakira supports the policy team through research, memo writing and data collection to help gain perspective of the challenges facing NC in IEI’s four key policy areas. Shaakira is currently pursuing her Master of Public Administration at North Carolina State University and holds various roles. She is also the outreach chair for the Graduate Association of Public Administration chapter at NC State, a development intern at The V Foundation for Cancer Research, and a graduate assistant in career services at Saint Augustine’s University.
Prior to joining IEI in May 2016, Shaakira gained a diverse background as a student at UNC Charlotte, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in sociology. As a undergrad student, she worked with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, Urban Youth Program, Children’s Defense Fund, Psychology Student Coalition, Sigma Alpha Lambda, and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Davina Thrash currently serves as IEI’s business officer. She joined IEI in 2006 as the accounting assistant overseeing the budget, contracting activities, and bookkeeping. She previously served as the executive assistant to the director.
Davina has a very diverse background, starting with Executive Director of Programming with Visions Institute for Youth in Raleigh, NC; being a veteran of the U.S. Armed forces; and has been working in the non-profit sector for ten years supporting executive staff members with start-up organizations and companies as an entrepreneur.
Davina holds an A.A. in Business Management from Strayer University and has gained certification as a Microsoft Office Specialist and as a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) and is currently pursuing her B.A. in leadership in the public sector at North Carolina State University.
Emerging Leaders Fellow
As an Emerging Leaders Fellow, Maggie Woods is part of the policy team and contributes to the planning and implementation of IEI’s yearly program of work. Prior to joining IEI, Maggie was the Senior Program Coordinator for International Academic Programs at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, where she managed four programs in five countries.
Maggie has served many capacities in the nonprofit and public policy sectors. She’s worked as a consultant on education access programming, was a policy intern at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and served two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA where she developed college readiness programs. Maggie is the current co-leader of the Triangle AmeriCorps Alums chapter, and holds a Master of Public Policy from Duke University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from California State University, Long Beach.