Board of Directors

   
Dhamian A. Blue is with the law firm of Blue, Stephens & Fellers, Raleigh, North Carolina. His primary practice area is civil litigation, representing clients in a wide variety of cases that range from business litigation to severe personal injuries. Mr. Blue began his legal career as an associate in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group of Dickstein Shapiro LLP in Washington, D.C. He then joined Temple Law Offices, also in Washington, D.C., where he handled litigation matters that included police misconduct, employment discrimination, and predatory lending. He served as the chair of the Washington Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division for 2006-07. Mr Blue graduated from the Duke University School of Law in May 2003, and also earned an A.B. from Duke in 2000 where he majored in Public Policy Studies and Economics.
Stephon Bowens was one of the lead attorneys in the Pigford discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which led to two landmark settlements that benefited tens of thousands of black farmers in North Carolina and around the country. He is the former Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers’ Land Loss Prevention Project, and he previously worked at the NC Justice Center on education law issues. Mr. Bowens received his law degree from NC Central University. He is presently the managing member of Bowens Law, PLLC, in Raleigh. His practice areas include agricultural, education, civil, business and commercial litigation; administrative and regulatory law; local government, land use, and real estate law; government relations, environmental, civil rights, and housing law.
Dede Carney is a broker and realtor with Carney & Co. Realtors, Heritage Properties, where she has worked for more than 25 years. Dede has served on the Board of Directors at the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and Self-Help Credit Union. She founded the Pitt County Housing Coalition, and also served as a member of the City of Greenville Affordable Loan Committee. Dede has been an active Life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., specifically working on Political Involvement and Economic Development Committees. Dede received her B.S. from James Madison University and a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Karen Gottovi is the retired Director of the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services, where she served as director from 1997-2006. Prior to working with the Division of Aging, she served in the General Assembly from 1991-1994, and was the New Hanover County Commissioner from 1976-1984. In 2009-2010, Karen served on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Forum of NC and on the Executive Council of AARP.  She was awarded Legislator of the Year in 1993. In 1972, Karen became president of the League of Women Voters in New Hanover County, the first one of the provisional chapter. She currently serves as a volunteer for AARP advocacy. Karen graduated from Wells College and earned an MS in Library and Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Christopher T. Graebe is an attorney with Graebe, Hanna & Welborn, PLLC in Raleigh, where he focuses his practice on business litigation. Chris has been actively involved in pro bono litigation on behalf of consumers and tenants for many years. In 2008, the North Carolina Bar Association presented Chris with the William L. Thorp Pro Bono Service Award, its highest pro bono honor for members of the private bar. Chris also serves on the board of directors of The Justice Theater Project, an advocacy, activist theater company based in Raleigh. Chris received his B.A. from Wabash College, his M.Div. from Duke University, and his J.D. from the University of North Carolina. He joined the Justice Center board in 2008.
Lisa Grafstein leads the Community Access Team at Disability Rights NC, working on issues related to employment and access to public places. Prior to joining Disability Rights NC, Lisa was in private practice, working primarily in the area of employment law. Since 2007, she has been included in Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite,” including its employment law Hall of Fame, and has been included in North Carolina Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America for employment law. She received the 2012 Gwyneth B. Davis award from the NC Association of Women Attorneys. Lisa has served as Chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the NC Bar Association, and as President of the NC Association of Women Attorneys. Lisa received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and her law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has managed several campaigns for appellate seats in NC.
Mal Maynard is director of the Financial Protection Law Center in Wilmington, NC. The center is a not-for-profit public interest law firm that represents borrowers with claims against predatory mortgage lenders, manufactured home dealers, and payday lenders. He has been a leader in North Carolina in fighting for consumer and housing protections, and he partnered with the Justice Center on numerous litigation and legislative efforts regarding predatory lending and foreclosures. Mal has served as co-counsel in several mortgage lending class-action cases that have provided recoveries totaling in excess of $10 million, and he is co-counsel in class-action cases filed in North Carolina against payday lenders that have resulted in settlements for recovery of $44.75 million. He is the 2007 recipient of the prestigious Vern Countryman Award from the National Consumer Law Center and a 2000 recipient of the Justice Center's Defenders of Justice Award.
Gene Nichol is professor of law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina. He teaches courses in constitutional law, federal courts, civil rights and election law. From 2005-2008, Nichol was the 26th president of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia – the second oldest university in the United States. Nichol was Burton Craige professor and dean of the law school at the University of North Carolina from 1999-2005. He served as law dean at the University of Colorado from 1988-1995; and as James Gould Cutler Professor and Director of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary from 1985-1988. Nichol has also been a faculty member at the University of Florida and West Virginia University. He founded the Byron White Center of Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado (1990) and the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina (2001). Nichol attended Oklahoma State University, where he received a degree in philosophy (1973) and played varsity football. He obtained his J.D. from the University of Texas, graduating Order of the Coif, in 1976.
Juvencio Rocha Peralta, Jr. is a powerful advocate for Latinos, ensuring that they know their rights and that they have a voice regarding the policies that impact their lives. Mr. Rocha Peralta has spent more than two decades as a grassroots organizer and advocate for immigrants’ rights. He is the founder and president of the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN), a nationally recognized grassroots organization, which has five chapters and participates in numerous social justice coalitions. He has been instrumental in connecting the immigrant and Latino communities to services and resources and is working on voter education and mobilization campaigns. Mr. Rocha Peralta is a native of Veracruz, Mexico and has lived in North Carolina since 1980. He has a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University and is the occupational extension coordinator at Lenoir Community College in Kinston.
Abdul Rasheed is currently CEO at the NC Community Development Initiative Incorporated. Prior to the intiative's creation in 1994, he worked for Legal Services of NC, which focused on addressing housing inequities. After, he became president and CEO of the North Carolina Association of CDCs. When he left that job to lead his current organization, the initiative’s founders had secured $2 million each from the state legislature, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, enabling the organization to begin providing grants and loans for a range of economic and community development projects. Rasheed was born in New York City in 1949, but came to Henderson, NC when he was four to live with his grandmother. He was among a group of black students selected to integrate Henderson High School in 1965, before going on to earn a BS degree from Elizabeth City State University and two Master’s degrees. He currently is chairman of ECSU’s board of trustees.
Suzanne Reynolds is the Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Wake University School of Law. She received her J.D. from Wake Forest and has been a professor of law with the university since 1981. Suzanne has been on the NC Administrative Office of Courts: Task Force on Domestic Violence since 2010, and the Board of Directors, Center for Urban Ministries, Wake Forest University School of Divinity since 2006.   From 2005 to 2007, Suzanne was the co-chair of the United Way of Forsyth County’s Impact Council on Domestic Violence and co-founded the Domestic Violence Advocacy Center of Forsyth County in 1995. Suzanne won Woman of Wisdom from the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys in 2006, and Women of Achievement given by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of North Carolina in 2009.
  Keith Rivers currently serves on Elizabeth City's City Council and is the president of Pasquotank NAACP, as well as district director with the state NAACP.  Active with local CDCs and affordable housing issues. Keith is a Retired Pharmacy Chief with the U.S. Navy. A graduate of East Carolina University, Keith also runs an adult care facility in Perquimans County. 
Geraldine Sumter is a partner in the firm of Ferguson Stein Chambers Gresham & Sumter PA., Charlotte, North Carolina. Since joining the firm in 1982, Geraldine has concentrated on employment litigation. Her other areas of practice include workers’ compensation, small business, non-profit, and other civil rights work including voting rights and school desegregation. Geraldine received a B.A. from Howard University and received her J.D. from Duke University in 1981. After clerking for The Honorable Charles L. Becton of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, she joined Palmetto Legal Services as a Staff Attorney in its Lexington, South Carolina office where she did consumer, landlord and domestic work. She has been active in the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers; North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys; National Employment Lawyers Association; Employment Law Sections of the North Carolina and Mecklenburg County Bar Associations; and the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers (serving as President, 1991-1995).
Cathy Tamsberg is currently Associate Pastor at the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, where she formerly served as Minister of Outreach and Adult Education. While at Pullen, Cathy has staffed groups addressing peace and reconciliation, the death penalty, hunger, care of creation and the church’s international partnerships, including Cuba, Zimbabwe, and the Republic of Georgia. Cathy currently serves as Co-Facilitator for Congregations for Social Justice, an advocacy coalition of congregations and nonprofits in Wake County. She worked as staff attorney at East Central Community Legal Services from 1986 to 1997 (currently Raleigh’s Legal Aid office). Cathy has a B.S. from University of North Carolina-Greensboro, a Masters from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and earned her JD from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She received her Masters of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC.
Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor has served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina in Asheville since 2004. Rev. Taylor grew up in Asheville, N.C., and earned his B.A. degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his M.A. in English from the University of South Carolina, and his Ph.D. degree in theology and literature from Emory University. He received his M.Div. from The School of Theology at Sewanee and served at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Franklin, Tenn. Before his call to the Holy and Sacred Order of Bishops, he served seven years as rector of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church in Athens, GA.
John I. Wilson is the former Executive Director of the National Education Association. While at NEA, he championed a minimum salary of $40,000 for every teacher and a living wage for Education Support Professionals. He also launched an NEA initiative to engage the best teachers in sharing ideas on staffing high-poverty, low achieving schools with the most accomplished teachers. He is currently a Fellow at the Pearson Foundation. Prior to NEA, Wilson served as President and later as Executive Director of the NC Association of Educators (NCAE). During his leadership at NCAE, the state saw strengthened teacher training and professional development programs, higher teacher compensation, and increased teacher recruitment. His accomplishments include the development of new support systems for teachers pursuing certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As a result, today NC has more National Board-certified teachers and candidates than any other state. Wilson has been an NEA activist since his days at Western Carolina University, where he served as president of the NEA student chapter. As a middle school teacher of special needs students, he was an active Association leader throughout his 20-year teaching career. He served as president of the Raleigh Association of Classroom Teachers and the Wake County Association of Classroom Teachers, and also served on the NEA Board of Directors and the NEA Executive Committee. He was born in Burlington and graduated with a B.S. degree in education and received a Master's degree in education from the University of North Carolina.