Skip to content

Initiative launches 2015 youth leadership program in June


May 26, 2015 – Two dozen rising high school seniors from across North Carolina will gain leadership skills and practical experience serving their communities this summer as part of the N.C. Community Development Initiative’s 2015 Summer Youth Leadership Program.

The six-week program, now in its eighth year, offers students intensive leadership training seminars in Raleigh every two weeks and places them in full-time paid internships designed to introduce them to the work of nonprofits in general and community economic development in particular. Interns will work on a range of projects, from developing an app to planning an event.

“We’re excited to welcome these rising stars who can do anything with their summers, but choose to give back to their communities,” said Kimberly Askew, who oversees the program. “We hope we can spark an interest among them in the work of community economic development.”

The Youth Leadership Program is part of a broader Initiative effort to develop leaders who are knowledgeable about the unique challenges facing the state’s low-wealth communities and innovative ways organizations are finding to create economic growth and opportunity.

Five new host sites expand the program’s geographic mix and areas of focus in 2015, Askew said. Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Youth Forward, El Pueblo Inc., Institute for Emerging Issues and Young Black Males Leadership Alliance each serve different populations and areas of community need and opportunity.

Here are the 2015 leadership program participants and their host organizations by county:

Bertie County
Myeesha Perry, Self Help Credit Union

Buncombe County
Vanna Labi, Handmade in America

Cabarrus County
Chelsea Amaya, Prosperity Unlimited Inc.
Jesse Perucho, Prosperity Unlimited Inc.

Carteret County
Douglas Green, Coastal Community Action Inc.

Cleveland County
Sarah Hunt, Cleveland County Community Development Corp.

Cumberland County
Lailah Johnson, Center for Economic Empowerment and Development

Davidson County
Ethan Houser, Lexington Housing Community Development Corp.

Durham County
Chidera Ezuma-Igwe, The Institute

Henderson County
Megan Edwards, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy
MaryKent Wolff, Housing Assistance Corp.

Mecklenburg County
Austin Bennett, Young Black Males Leadership Alliance

Northampton County
Tatyana Barnes, Self Help Credit Union

Orange County
Masiel Bautista, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Youth Forward
Jasmin Flack, EmPOWERment Inc.

Roberson County
Whitney Cummings, Lumbee Guaranty Bank
Caleb Edkins, Robeson County Community Development Corp.
Kristian Mckenith, Robeson County Community Development Corp.

Union County
Tierra Bivens, Monroe Union Community Development Corp.

Wake County
Andrew Belgreat Jr., El Pueblo Inc.
Carolyn Chen, Institute for Emerging Issues
Yema Kpaka, Passage Home Inc.
Zachary Walker, Institute for Emerging Issues

Wayne County
Nahjla Davis-Jones, Rebuilding Broken Places

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



Recommended read

Initiative Capital seeks director of lending and loan officer