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 tkenchen@ncinitiative.org 


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 kaskew@ncinitiative.org .

Tara Campbell, Senior VP of Lending and Investments

Campbell joined the North Carolina Community Development Initiative in January 2017, bringing more than 15 years’ experience in multiple aspects of finance and investment, including as a business banker and bank branch manager, to the Initiative’s work. Most recently, she managed lending across the state of Ohio for the largest CDFI in the Midwest. Campbell holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Economics and Communications from Denison University. An avid sports fan, she also keeps busy chasing after her 8- and 12-year-old sons. Contact Tara at (919) 835-6002 or tcampbell@ncinitiative.org .

Diane Ford, Program Support Associate

Ford joined the Initiative in 2017. In her role as Program Support Associate, she applies her passion for social enterprise in her work in North Carolina communities. Ford holds a Bachelors of Economics with a concentration in Pre-Law from Campbell University. While at Campbell, she instituted Campbell SOUP, a microgrant competition to raise money for local Harnett County nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Ford is also an avid traveler, having traveled to Austria, France, and Germany, conducting two research projects on European history and tourism. Contact Diane at (919) 835-6004 or dford@ncinitiative.org .

Lea Henry, President, Rocky Mount Revitalization Initiative

Henry joined the  Initiative as the inaugural President of the Rocky Mount Revitalization Initiative in 2017, bringing a global perspective to crafting local solutions to improve communities. Her areas of expertise include affordable housing development, disaster recovery, and workforce development. Lea’s career in North Carolina has encompassed local and state government, the nonprofit sector, and a family real estate firm. In recent years, Henry has been a member of the Durham Workforce Development Board, Turning Point Workforce Development Board Youth Council, and the board of directors of United Community Ministries. Henry is a graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in American History. She also holds a Master of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is an active volunteer in the community ministry of Word Tabernacle Church. Contact Lea at (919) 835-6000 or lhenry@ncinitiative.org .

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 rwklayman@ncinitiative.org .

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 lending@ncinitiative.org .

Marya McNeish, Director of Development and Communications

McNeish joined the Initiative in 2015, building on a career of helping nonprofits create connections and secure support. Her experience includes guiding two successful capital campaigns as well as managing communications around the merger of two small nonprofits. McNeish holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College. Her passion for the outdoors includes volunteer trail-building with the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail and a recent thru-hike of the John Muir Trail in the Sierras. She also spends hours playing cards with her family. Contact Marya at mmcneish@ncinitiative.org .


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 apoole@ncinitiative.org .

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. H 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 wwilliams@ncinitiative.org .

Many thanks to our sponsors

BB&T Oak Foundation Z Smith Reynolds Foundation Wells Fargo Triangle Community Foundation PNC Suntrust Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust NeighborWorks America