Friday, April 19, 2024


Little gets done in North Carolina without a strong helping hand from nonprofit executives who play pivotal civic leadership roles. Their influence has mounted as assets of many foundations sharply increased with stock market valuations soaring over the last three years. North Carolina’s nonprofit sector is heavily focused on adding affordable housing, improving public education and historic racial inequities.

president, CEO | Community Foundation of Western NC


The former Wachovia, Deloitte and Morgan Stanley staffer leads a group with about $448 million in assets used to support philanthropies throughout the state’s western region. Brazas has held her position at the 18-county organization for more than 12 years.

executive director | NC Baptists on Mission


Brunson has served in his current role for 30 years after holding other positions at the group. It is supporting Ukrainian refugees through volunteer teams in countries surrounding the conflict. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

president | NC Partnership for Children


Cubbage’s role puts her in charge of Smart Start, North Carolina’s comprehensive system that prepares kids to enter school. She became president in 2020 and advocates for better childcare options. She has a law degree from Northeastern University.

executive director | Sound Rivers


Deck joined the group in 2003 and leads advocacy, volunteer and educational programs to protect the state’s watersheds. The Lycoming College graduate also has a master’s in environmental management from Duke University. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer.

president, CEO | Special Olympics North Carolina


The UNC Chapel Hill graduate joined the group in 1989 and has been its leader since 1997. He is responsible for a $6.5 million budget and tens of thousands of volunteers. Nearly 40,000 individuals with disabilities participate annually in the group’s events.

president, CEO | Samaritan’s Purse


The son of evangelist Billy and Ruth Bell Graham has provided food, medicine and other assistance to more than 100 countries through Samaritan’s Purse. The nonprofit had revenue of $894 million in 2020. He also is the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a Christian outreach organization.

executive director | Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation


Green oversees an 86-year-old endowment topping $620 million that invests in groups and programs involved in community development, education, entrepreneurship and other projects with a mission to improve North Carolina. The former Greensboro school superintendent has bachelor’s and law degrees from Duke University.

Pre-workday motivation: I am motivated to do something that may improve the lives of North Carolinians through the work of the foundation.

Favorite hobby: Reading, watching sports.

Where to entertain a visitor: The International Civil Rights Center and Museum and the Greensboro Science Center.

founder | Brian Hamilton Foundation

Holly Springs

Hamilton started the Brian Hamilton Foundation and Inmates to Entrepreneurs, two nonprofits that promote entrepreneurship. He started Sageworks in 1998, calling it the first U.S. fintech company. Private equity firm Accel-KKR bought the financial data business in 2018.

Pre-workday motivation: A new day. A second chance on life and to improve on the day before.

Key to industry success: The best leaders really are servants; they service employees and customers.

Best advice: "The Man in the Arena" ― Theodore Roosevelt.

Three people to share a meal: Steve Jobs, Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan.

Proud family accomplishment: My two boys are good people and driven to do their best.

Favorite hobby: Working on my farm with the animals.

Where to entertain a visitor: Fishing out on the Gulf Stream.

senior vice president of association services, chief operating officer | North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives


The Richmond, Va. native has been with the trade association since 1996 and manages communications, economic development and other tasks. The group presents 26 member co-ops. She is a graduate of Skidmore College.

Pre-workday motivation: A brisk walk and a good cup of coffee.

Key to industry success: Vision and the leadership to implement it in a creative and purposeful way.

Best advice: Never ask anything from anyone you wouldn’t be willing to ask of yourself.

Three people to share a meal: Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban and Bishop Tutu.

Proud family accomplishment: Making music. I love the creative outlet and performing different genres.

Where to entertain a visitor: My back patio garden with a fire pit and a home-cooked meal — pets welcome.

president, CEO | River City Community Development Corp.

Elizabeth City

She’s led the nonprofit for 30 years, serving the northeast N.C. region through programs that prioritize job development, youth engagement, health and wellness. In 2021, she led the effort to open the Northeast N.C. Trades Training Center in Elizabeth City to train individuals in plumbing and other trades.

president | The Leon Levine Foundation


The University of Richmond graduate started at the foundation in 2002 as its first full-time employee after working for the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. Assets top $500 million and annual grants exceed $25 million with funds provided by the founder of Family Dollar Stores.

CEO | Duke Endowment


The Greensboro native joined the $5.6 billion endowment in 1992 and became the top executive in 2016. He is a trustee at Duke University, which has received $1.5 billion from the endowment. Since its inception in 1924, the organization has provided $4.2 billion in total grants.

president, CEO | Children’s Home Society of North Carolina


Maness has helped expand the society’s mission of helping foster and adopt children to a variety of programs focused on strengthening families. He joined the group in 2002 and became CEO in 2014. He has an MBA from UNC Greensboro.

president, CEO | Foundation for the Carolinas


Marsicano, who is retiring in January, helped grow assets under advisement by more than 10 times to $3.6 billion since taking his post in 1999. He’s also initiated many civic projects in the Charlotte region. He has bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Duke University.

president | The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation


The former banker was mayor from 1971 to 1981 and earned the title “Mr. Greensboro” for his decades of civic leadership. He later joined the foundation funded by a Jefferson-Pilot Corp. executive and heir. The group has played a key role in helping attract Elon Law School and the pending Toyota electric battery plant in nearby Randolph County.

Pre-workday motivation: Having goals.

Key to industry success: Hard work.

Best advice: Be nice to everyone.

Proud family accomplishment: We all love and respect each other.

Favorite hobby: Golf.

Where to entertain a visitor: The Greensboro Grasshoppers minor-league baseball stadium.

CEO | Dogwood Health Trust


The UNC Chapel Hill graduate was named permanent CEO in February. The group formed after the 2018 sale of Mission Health and has about $1.5 billion in assets. It has approved multiyear grants of $102 million. She previously worked for Mission Health and other health care groups.

president, board chair | John M. Belk Endowment


The daughter of the former Charlotte mayor and Belk department store CEO and his wife, Claudia, Pilon has led the $450 million foundation since 2012. It helps strengthen the workforce and improve access to secondary education. She’s a Roanoke College graduate.

president | DreamKey Partners


The Wichita State University graduate has led the nonprofit housing group since April 2013 after working for a similar organization in Kansas City. DreamKey was formerly called Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership. Among its tasks is administering $22 million in federal funds for rent relief related to the pandemic.

president, CEO | El Centro Hispano


El Centro serves the Hispanic/Latin communities in the Triangle through programs in economic development, health and advocacy. Rocha-Goldberg became CEO in 2009 after working as a nutritionist at Duke University Medical Center. The Colombian native is a Durham Technical Community College trustee.

president | The Winston-Salem Foundation

Winston Salem

Smith was picked last year after a national search at the $600 million community foundation. She had been president of the Scranton, Pa.-based Moses Taylor Foundation. The 103-year-old Forsyth County foundation focuses on building an inclusive economy and advancing equity in education.

president, CEO | Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC


Werbicki has been CEO since 2007, helping the organization provide food to at-risk individuals in 34 counties on an annual budget that reached $25 million in the pandemic. Feeding America named it Food Bank of the Year for 2020, the same year that Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gave the group $25 million.

Key to industry success: “It takes a village.” Dedicated and committed financial donors, volunteers, staff and partner agencies.

Proud family accomplishment: Their unwavering patience, support and strength.

Favorite hobby: Jogging, hiking, cycling and other outdoor activities.

Where to entertain a visitor: Blue Ridge Mountains.

president, CEO | North Carolina Community Foundation


Assets at the statewide foundation started by Raleigh banker Lewis “Snow” Holding in 1988 now top $400 million through more than 1,200 endowments. Whiteside became CEO in 2007 after leading Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. She leads a 30-person staff.