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Tara Kenchen named CEO of N.C. Community Development Initiative

Tara Kenchen

March 3, 2014 – Tara Kenchen, general counsel and chief operating officer of the North Carolina Community Development Initiative, has been named chief executive officer of the statewide nonprofit. Kenchen replaces Initiative founder and CEO Abdul Rasheed, who is retiring March 15.

“Communities across North Carolina need innovative ideas and bold leadership to help them recover from recession and prosper in the new economy,” Rasheed said. “Tara is the ideal person to lead this work. She has been integrally involved in shaping the Initiative’s strategic direction for many years and is well respected by our business, government and nonprofit partners in community development. I am delighted to turn over the reins to her capable leadership.”

Rasheed founded the Initiative in 1994 to serve as a knowledgeable intermediary to strategically invest funds from many sources in the work of community development organizations across the state. Two decades later, the Initiative leads a collaborative effort of many partners – public, private, academic, nonprofit – working strategically to create economic growth in the state’s poorest and most distressed communities.

The Initiative and its lending subsidiary, Initiative Capital, catalyze community development through three key strategies: making financial investments in highly effective local community development organizations and businesses that serve underserved and distressed communities, identifying new and sustainable strategies for promoting economic growth in the state’s poorest communities, and developing effective community development leaders.

Kenchen brings 12 years of experience in nonprofit management, affordable housing development, business development, and contract negotiation and management. She joined the Initiative in 2005 as legal counsel and vice president of special projects. She was promoted to COO and general counsel in 2008. In that role, she has been responsible for developing, implementing and managing the operational aspects of the Initiative’s business plan. She has provided leadership to the strategic planning process and executed new programmatic strategic initiatives. She has also provided legal analysis on internal operations and programs.

Prior to joining the Initiative, Kenchen served as assistant general counsel for Self-Help, a community development financial institution. She served as servicing and loss mitigation
manager, managing Self-Help’s secondary market servicing relationships with lenders across the United States and monitoring a $1.2 billion mortgage portfolio for delinquent loan management and resolution. Before that, she was a law intern at Penny & Barnes in Elizabeth City, and teacher, team leader and program coordinator for Bertie County Public Schools.

Kenchen previously served as an adjunct professor at N.C. Central University, teaching both
administrative law and nonprofit management. She is also co-founder of Radah Consulting Group, a consulting firm that provides organizations with nonprofit and management services.

She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and political science from Elizabeth City State University and a law degree from Regent University School of Law. She was admitted to the North Carolina Bar in 1999.

For more information on the Initiative, visit

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