Sam Cone (Secretary) is a Financial Consultant with Pinsker Wealth Management, an independent wealth and tax planning firm in Greensboro, NC. Sam practiced law before joining Pinsker Wealth Management. Following law school, he was a law clerk to Justice Mark Martin of the NC Supreme Court, after which he practiced in the litigation group of Irell & Manella in Los Angeles, CA. Sam is active in the community and is presently involved with several non-profits devoted to youth health, gender equality, charitable giving within the Jewish community, and other causes. Sam earned his JD cum laude from the New York University School of Law in 2008, and his BA with highest distinction in mathematics and philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Society of Financial Service Professionals, and the NC Bar Association.
Patsy Dowling Davis is the Executive Director of Mountain Projects, an organization that touches more than 7000 lives each month, 97% of which are the working poor, disabled, elderly or handicapped. MPI employs 130 staff members. She has held the position since 1998. Patsy graduated from Western Carolina University.
Melissa Essary is a Professor of Law and Dean Emerita of Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh. She teaches Employment Discrimination Law, Workplace Law, and Client Counseling. Prior to joining Campbell Law School as its dean, Essary was a Professor of Law for 16 years at Baylor University School of Law. Essary also serves as Senior Counsel to the law firm of Everett, Gaskins & Hancock. Essary is active in national roles in legal education, serving on site reaccreditation committees at law schools around the country. In 2017 North Carolina’s Supreme Court Chief Justice appointed her to the NC Commission on Actual Innocence. She has served on the NC Chief Justice’s Professionalism Commission, as a Vice President of the NC Bar Association’s Board of Governors, on the NC Bar Association’s Strategic Planning Committee, and on various Wake County Bar Association committees.
The Rev. Milly Morrow is Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in North Asheville. Rev. Morrow is charged with providing for and overseeing the pastoral care of members in times of need, including working with the lay pastoral care committee. Milly is also responsible for supporting and engaging the church in mission opportunities and creating relationships across barriers in the local and wider community. Milly is a life-long Episcopalian and is the founder and missioner for the new church plant Kairos West Community Center in West Asheville and active member of Faith4Justice. Before ordination Milly served as community educator, advocate and counselor for several non-profits working with individuals, families and communities. Milly earned a Masters in Social Work from UT Knoxville and a Masters of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School.
Corey Purdie devotes his life to helping people who have been incarcerated or served in the military to reintegrate into their families and communities through faith-based education, mentorship, and support services. At 16, Corey was convicted as an adult and served eight years in prison. In 2015, he was named Volunteer of the Year in the same prison where he was once a resident, Pamlico Correctional. He currently serves as a reentry liaison for men exiting Pamlico Correctional to communities across North Carolina. With a bucket, borrowed water hose, and some dish detergent from his mother’s sink, Corey opened Miracle Wash Auto Detailing in 2007 and focused on employing people with criminal records. Corey is also the executive director of Wash Away Unemployment, a 501(c)(3) in New Bern that supports justice-involved people with life skills training, housing resources, transportation, and family reconciliation. Corey serves on the Craven/Pamlico Local Reentry Council, which he helped the NC Department of Public Safety, local leaders, and service providers establish in 2012.
Ray Rapp served for 10 years in the NC House of Representatives until 2012. He has served as alderman and mayor of Mars Hill as well as the dean of Adult Access and a professor at Mars Hill College. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and lives in Mars Hill, Madison County.
Wayne Riggins has worked as an ophthalmologist and optometrist for over 30 years. A retired Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps, he completed his medical internship and residency with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Wayne worked as the Chief of Ophthalmology and Assistant Chief in the Department of Surgery at the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg. He is a trustee at Fayetteville State University and serves on the Board of Directors at Equality North Carolina. He currently works at Cape Fear Eye Associates in Fayetteville.
Julienne Smrcka (Co-Chair) is the former Executive Director of the New Mexico Children’s Cabinet. As director, she coordinated 16 Cabinet Secretaries in developing policy and legislation to increase efficiency of children services, and improve outcomes for children and their families. In her role, Ms. Smrcka successfully courted national philanthropy to increase their investment in New Mexico. She is published in the areas of research ethics, multicultural issues, and behavioral health services; and has presented at professional conferences both nationally and internationally. She is currently working with for profit businesses and non-profit educational agencies to address the intersection between education, justice, and student wellbeing. A licensed Behavioral Health Clinician, Ms. Smrcka has practiced in multiple settings for the past 20 years. She received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and has a bachelor’s of science in natural science from the University of Albuquerque.
Kerrie Stewart (Co-Chair) serves as the Special Assistant to the Council on University Community, the Chancellor’s advisory committee on campus diversity at UNC Charlotte. She coordinates the Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund, and works with the ADVANCE FADO to promote diversity within the faculty. Kerrie is originally from Louisiana and graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans. She received an MA in Sociology from UNC Charlotte, where she assisted with research on race and gender composition and academic achievement, and the impact of diversity on student outcomes. She is passionate about many social justice efforts, and is active in advocacy for the well-being of women and girls.
Chandra Taylor serves as a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center where she specializes in transportation and land use issues. She previously worked for the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham and the Financial Protection Law Center in Wilmington. Chandra has undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Hon. Patricia Timmons-Goodson (Treasurer) attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech in 1976. She received a Juris Doctor in 1979 from University of North Carolina School of Law. In 2014, she received a Master of Laws degree in Judicial Studies from the Duke University School of Law. From 1981 to 1983, she served as an assistant district attorney for the Office of the District Attorney for the Twelfth Judicial District in Fayetteville, North Carolina. From 1983 to 1984, she was a staff attorney for Lumbee River Legal Services. She was named a District Court judge in 1984; she was subsequently elected to four-year terms as a district judge in 1986, 1990, and 1994. In 1997, she was appointed by Governor Jim Hunt to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. She retired from that court in late 2005. In 2006, Governor Mike Easley appointed her to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Upon taking her seat in February 2006, she was the first African American woman to serve on the Court. She was elected by the voters to remain on the Court in November 2006. She made it known in November 2012 that she would resign her seat before the end of the year. In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed her to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She has served as the Vice Chair of that Commission since 2015.
Dr. Jesse White is the retired Director of the Office of Economic and Business Development at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and also is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Government. Prior to coming to UNC in 2003, he served for almost nine years as Federal Co-Chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, the longest tenure in the history of the agency. White is also a nationally recognized authority on regional economic development. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, recipient of the Phillips Medal for Public Service from Ohio University, and a member of the Cosmos Club of Washington, DC. He serves or has served on the boards of Regional Technology Strategies, and Equality North Carolina, and on the advisory boards of Rural LISC, the Appalachian College Association, the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, the Rural Poverty Research Center, and the William F. Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi and a doctoral degree in political science from MIT.
Leslie Winner is retired, previously serving as a North Carolina State Senator, Vice-President of and General Counsel for the University of North Carolina, and Executive Director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Early in her career, Leslie was General Counsel for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education and a public interest trial lawyer. She is the recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and currently serves as a convener and leader of the NC Leadership Forum. She received the 2016 Justice Center Lifetime Champion Award. She received the A.B. degree from Brown University and the J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law.