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Initiative celebrates 2013 class of emerging young leaders

Two dozen high school students, their families and representatives from their job sites came together Aug. 9 to celebrate the completion of the N.C. Community Development Initiative’s 2013 Summer Youth Leadership Program.

 The program wrapped up its sixth year with a graduation ceremony in Raleigh for the 24 youth leaders from 17 N.C. counties who were selected to participate. 

Keynote speaker Judge Glenda Hatchett encouraged the young leaders to be vigilant in the pursuit of their dreams. She suggested that they write their dreams on a piece of paper to hang over their beds as a reminder of what is most important to them. 

“Your dream should be the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you see before you fall asleep at night,” said Hatchett.

The intensive eight-week program places high school students in internships with nonprofit organizations in their communities to complete a project in community economic development and learn workplace and leadership skills. 

Interns come together four times during the eight weeks for Initiative-hosted seminars and workshops on communication and service leadership topics. These seminars provide them with opportunities to meet and learn from each other, as well as from successful community leaders and entrepreneurs.

“We are so proud of these young leaders and look forward to staying in touch with them and hearing about all that they achieve in the future,” said Initiative program associate Kimberly Askew, who directs the youth program. “The program is our investment in the future leaders of our state. It’s always a rewarding experience for the participants, but it’s rewarding for Initiative staff as well.”

The youth program is part of the Initiative’s long-term strategy to develop state leaders who understand the unique needs of low-income communities and can help strengthen their economies.

The 2013 Summer Youth Leadership Program participants are listed below with their home counties and placements: 

Bertie County
Antonio Powell, Generations Community Credit Union

Buncombe County
Brittany Edgerton, HandMade in America

Cabarrus County
David Santos, Prosperity Unlimited Inc.

Camden County
Jamonty Hyder, Northeastern Community Development Corp.

Cleveland County
Ezekiel Grant, Cleveland County Community Development Corp.

Columbus County
Autumn Fields, Columbus County DREAM Center Inc.

Davidson County
Ja’Quez Taylor, Lexington Housing Community Development Corp.

Durham County
James McKinnon, EmPOWERment Inc.
Montrel McNatt, N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development
Jerrick Richmond, Generations Community Credit Union
Kirsten Smith, N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development

Forsyth County
Tevin Davis, Goler Community Development Corp.

Robeson County
Kyla Chavis, Lumbee Guaranty Bank
Mikala Lowry, Robeson County Community Development Corp.
Taylor Ussery, Robeson County Community Development Corp.

Rowan County
Aaron Parker, Prosperity Unlimited Inc.

Rutherford County
Jacob Lambert, Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority

Surry County
Courtney Cobler, Upper Yadkin Valley Habitat for Humanity

Vance County
Aide Nonato, Generations Community Credit Union

Union County
Samantha Alexander, Monroe-Union County Community Development Corp.

Wake County
Kayla Dunston, Millionaires in Training
Tess McDaniel, Passage Home Inc.
DeQuandra’ Rankins, Passage Home Inc.

Wayne County
Andra Core, Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corp.

For more information on the Summer Youth Leadership Program, visit or contact Askew at (919) 835-6072,

 The N.C. Community Development Initiative leads North Carolina’s collaborative community economic development effort, driving innovation, investment and action to create prosperous, sustainable communities. For more information, visit

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