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Tara Kenchen, President/Chief Executive Officer

Kenchen has led the North Carolina Community Development Initiative since March 2014. She joined the Initiative in 2005 as Legal Counsel and Vice President of Special Projects and was later promoted to COO and General Counsel. Kenchen has more than 20 years of experience in the field of community and economic development, with extensive experience in affordable housing and business development, contract negotiation and management. In addition to her work in the field, Kenchen has held adjunct faculty positions at North Carolina Central University School of Law. She earned her 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. Kenchen grew up in rural eastern North Carolina and began her career as a teacher in Bertie County. She has served on a number of local and national boards, is a gifted mentor to young people in her community, and enjoys spending time with her family. Contact Tara at (919) 835-6061 or

Kimberly Askew, Senior VP of Operations and Administration

Askew joined the Initiative in 2010 as a Program Coordinator, overseeing the internship program. She became Special Assistant to the CEO in May 2015 and was promoted to her current role in February 2017. Askew has also worked and volunteered with a number of area nonprofits, including the area chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professional Network. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration from North Carolina Central University. A native of Bertie County, Askew enjoys spending time with her family in Eastern North Carolina. Contact Kimberly at (919) 835-6072 or .

Rachael Klayman, Administrative and Program Support Associate

Klayman joined the Initiative in 2017, bringing her expertise in event planning and program management to the organization. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Rachael has a wide-range of experience in the non-profit sector, including work to create an anti-poverty strategy as the Associate Director of a community development organization in Durham. She has served on various non-profit boards and is the Director of Community Engagement in her synagogue in Cary. Klayman holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Moody Bible Institute and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. Rachael enjoys devouring books, overseeing her daughter’s “Strong, Empowered, Courageous Girls’ Club,” and spending time with her husband and three children. Contact Rachael at (919) 835-6003 or

Don Liles, Director of Underwriting Services

Liles has more than 30 years of bank finance, commercial lending and related experience. Previous positions include regional banking executive with First Citizens Bank, as well as treasurer and real estate manager for NC Mutual Life Insurance Company. Contact Don at (919) 835-6011 or

Gary Lynch, Project Manager

Lynch joined the Initiative as Project Manager of the Rocky Mount Revitalization Initiative in July 2018, bringing over 30 years of experience in home building and maintenance in local and state government. He also brings for-profit expertise as a business owner. In his spare time, he enjoys working on renovations of personal property and projects for friends and family. Contact Gary at (919) 835-6000 or

Angela Poole, Sr. VP of Finance and Human Resources

Licensed as a CPA since 2000 and on staff at the Initiative since 2008, Poole has extensive experience managing all aspects of financial accounting, budget development and execution. Poole has been an active community member, serving on several boards, including her current position with the NC Center for Nonprofits and Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project. Poole’s professional affiliations include membership in the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and North Carolina Association of CPAs (NCACPA). She currently serves on the NCACPA’s Not-For-Profit Committee. She enjoys traveling, dancing and spending time with her family. Contact Angela at (919) 835-6005 or

Wazym Williams, Director of Finance

Williams joined the Initiative in March of 2008. He graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College in 2005 with a BA and BS in accounting and computer science. He earned his MS degree in Accounting from VCU. Williams is a North Carolina licensed CPA. In his free time Williams enjoys spending time with his wife and kids and traveling to his native Antigua. Contact Wazym at (919) 835-6008 or