About Us

About NC Counts Coalition

NC Counts Coalition is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization committed to building a healthy, just, and equitable North Carolina through cross-sector partnerships that advance systemic solutions for communities facing systemic barriers, including BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+, low wealth, immigrant, and other communities.


A North Carolina where everyone counts and has a fair opportunity to reach their full potential. 



We champion inclusiveness and commit to representation, diversity and inclusivity in all of our work. We will foster a space at our table where everyone is seen, heard and valued. 


We are people-centered. We look at communities holistically and support work that nurtures genuine and transformational relationships within communities. We commit to work that empowers communities by understanding and addressing different forms of oppression that impact people’s lives.


We will be open, honest and accountable in our relationships with everyone we work with and with each other. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethics, integrity, service, and fiduciary responsibility.


Things don’t always go as planned or hoped for. NC Counts Coalition strives to recover from setbacks, adapt to change and keep our work moving forward in the face of adversity. 


With an innovative and empowering spirit, we aim to build a broad coalition that crosses issues and brings unlikely allies to the table, facilitating cross sector partnerships and collaborations that result in shared strategies to shape collective impact.


We will foster a learning community where NC Counts Coalition and partners can share knowledge and learn from each other. We commit to challenging ourselves and looking past short-term impact for long-term solutions that will advance equity.

Collective Impact

We are better when we work together. We aim to strengthen our partners because that strengthens our collective impact. Our work will be driven by clear and focused tactics and strategies that are in alignment with our mission, vision and values, and relationships that result in impact. 

Our organizing infrastructure is rooted in equity and with our partners we work collectively to reduce silos, maximize resources and incorporate diverse voices with the intention to shift power dynamics and create systemic change that achieves a healthy, just and equitable North Carolina. 

Our History 

NC Counts Coalition was established in 2017 to prepare North Carolina for Census 2020 by a group of philanthropists concerned about the challenging state of the Census. The organization served as a hub to facilitate cross-sector partnerships and coordination among government, planning and community organizations, service providers, businesses and others to support a complete and accurate Census count for North Carolina. NC Counts strategically identified and addressed barriers to Census participation among traditionally undercounted communities (communities of color, foreign-born populations, young children and renters), and aligned stakeholders across the state to expand capacity for census mobilization, and to prevent duplicative efforts.

Board of Directors

Dr. Allisa Shepard


Dr. Allisa Shepard is Senior Manager at TNTP, where she partners with senior leaders and staff to lead the implementation of strategic talent and workforce priorities to transform children's educational outcomes. Before her work at TNTP, she worked as a Partnership Specialist with the US Census Bureau to establish partnership agreements with federal, state, local governments, non-profits, and businesses to increase the count of minority groups, children, and veterans.  She also worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, providing counseling and employment services to disabled veterans.

Dr. Shepard is originally from Trelawny, Jamaica, but called Queens, New York home for nearly 15 years. She spent four years in the US Air Force, where she deployed numerous times to support Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She holds a Doctor of Education from the University of Southern California, a Master in Education, Guidance and Counseling from Bowie State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Queens College. 

Dr. Rebecca Tippett 


Dr. Rebecca Tippett is the founding Director of Carolina Demography at the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill which started in 2013. With more than a decade of experience analyzing demographic and economic data, she has spent the last 8 years translating research into specific, usable information and knowledge to inform decision-making, evaluation, and policy. At Carolina Demography, she helps North Carolina government and business leaders understand and anticipate how population change affects them and their organizations. A transplant to North Carolina from the Midwest, she earned her BA in Sociology and Political Science from The Ohio State University and her MA and PhD in Sociology from Duke University.

Juliana Cabrales


Juliana Cabrales is a Program Officer for Inclusive Democracy Programs with Four Freedoms Fund (FFF). Juliana has more than 11 years of experience in the non-profit sector, and spent a majority of that time leading community centered civic engagement efforts. Prior to joining FFF, Juliana served as Director of Civic Engagement – Programs and Mid-Atlantic with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. In that role, Juliana promoted the organization’s civic engagement campaigns in the Mid-Atlantic region and North Carolina while providing programmatic support to national civic engagement efforts.  She was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia and since arriving in the U.S. has lived mostly in the Southeast. Juliana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wesleyan College in Macon, GA and an Associate in Applied Science from Parsons The New School of Design in New York, NY.  In her spare time, Juliana enjoys reading, sewing and is also an avid soccer and cycling fan.

Juan G. Garcia


Juan G. Garcia is the Transportation Planning Analyst for the Gaston County Planning and Development Services. Mr. Garcia has been with the Gaston County Government since 1997.  Previously, he worked with Gaston College as Spanish Instructor and with the National Broadcasting Company as a News Writer. He served in the Decennial 2000 Census as the Latino Community Outreach Coordinator and served in the Decennial 2010 Census Complete Count Committee as the Technical Manager.  Mr. Garcia is the Gaston County 2020 Decennial Census CCC Multi-Cultural Outreach Coordinator. Juan serves in different Health and Transportation Committees in Gaston County.

Demetrius Deloatch


Demetrius Deloatch, a consultant based in APCO Worldwide’s Raleigh office, has more than 5 years of experience in local, state, and federal government.

Prior to joining APCO, Mr. Deloatch worked with the North Carolina League of Municipalities where he advocated on behalf of North Carolina’s 550 cities and towns at the state and congressional levels of government.  He worked with state and local elected officials to maintain their authority and funding.  He also advocated or defeated legislation based on the impact it would have on municipalities.  Demetrius also played a key role in educating newly local elected officials on how government works and the key elements of being a successful council member.  After working as a legislative intern/assistant for three years, he has a thorough understanding of the legislative process and a solid relationship with legislators, legislative assistants and research staff.  

Mr. Deloatch received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Elizabeth City State University, where he graduated Cum Laude. During his last semester of undergraduate studies, he received credit from North Carolina State University after participating in their legislative internship program.  While working in the legislature, he received his Master of Public Affairs from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Brandy Bynum Dawson


Brandy Bynum Dawson is the senior director of policy and advocacy at the NC Rural Center, leading the Center’s Rural Counts advocacy program. Brandy leads the advocacy team in working with a broad range of stakeholders to design and implement innovative approaches for engaging statewide advocates in the Rural Counts program. She helps to facilitate deliberative dialogue on behalf of the Rural Center in local, regional, statewide, and federal policy development roundtables, trainings, and other advocacy events. Before joining the Rural Center, she previously worked for five years as the associate director of Rural Forward NC at the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation. In this role, she worked with the Director and program staff to manage, plan, organize, and direct daily capacity-building services of community initiatives in rural North Carolina. Prior to joining Rural Forward NC, she worked at NC Child for over twelve years, where she conducted research and data analysis, led policy campaigns, engaged elected officials, and facilitated numerous community-based projects.

Bynum Dawson has been active in the nonprofit community for more than 20 years as a professional, volunteer, and board member. As a result, she has facilitated several long-term initiatives across a wide array of subject areas such as education, health, access to mental health and substance abuse services, and delinquency prevention.

A native northeastern North Carolinian, she graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, receiving a bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in sociology. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from NC State University, with a concentration in mental health policy. She enjoys spending her personal time with family and friends, especially when good food and fun are involved. 


Our Team

Stacey Carless, Esq.
Executive Director


Stacey is the Executive Director of the NC Counts Coalition. She began working with the Coalition in August 2017.

Stacey is an attorney and a member of the North Carolina State Bar. She earned her juris doctorate degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law (Eagle Pride Amplified). Stacey’s commitment to service and her passion for protecting human rights led her to complete a certificate program in constitutional law and civil rights. In that program, she focused her studies on the 14th Amendment and the resegregation of public schools in North Carolina. Following law school, Stacey hung her own shingle and opened Carless Law. There, she utilized her life experiences, legal knowledge and passion for justice to advocate for her clients in the judicial system.

Stacey is American bawn (born) and Jamaican raised; she is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants. She was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and is a proud UNC alumna! Stacey earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she double majored in Journalism and Mass Communications and Political Science. While attending law school, Stacey worked in transportation, project management, and public relations.

In her free time, Stacey enjoys Zumba, spending time with her family and friends, and exploring Downtown Raleigh and Downtown Durham. Stacey is a volunteer attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina, where she advocates for tenant rights in eviction matters. 

Angeline Echeverría
Director of Community Engagement / Director de Participación Comunitaria

She or They / ella o elle

Angeline is a passionate advocate for immigrant and worker rights, reproductive justice, and intergenerational civic engagement. She served as the executive director for El Pueblo from 2012-2021 and co-founded their affiliated organization, Fortaleza, in 2019. Prior to working with El Pueblo, she served as an organizer, outreach paralegal, and program director for different projects supporting women’s and immigrant worker organizing in the southeast and beyond.

Angeline’s roots are in Cuba, upstate New York, and the Piedmont region of South Carolina and she has lived in Raleigh since 2012. She credits Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers for setting her on her path toward social justice work through an undergraduate internship program in which she participated while earning her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Students from the University of South Carolina-Columbia.

In her free time, Angeline enjoys Zumba, soccer, and spending time in the outdoors.


Rita Henry
Director of Operations


A season professional with over twenty years of managerial experience, Rita provides expertise and leadership in human resources, grant management and strategic operations.   

Originally from rural eastern North Carolina, Rita grew up always wanting to help others.  She always had a passion for people and a drive for excellence.  This drive to advocate for others led her to law school.  After graduating and passing the bar, Rita worked as the managing attorney for several years at a Raleigh law firm. 

Rita has a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a minor in social and economic justice from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and she received her juris doctor (JD) degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law. 

Kyle Hamilton Brazile 
Director of Civic Engagement


Originally from Chicago, Kyle Brazile joined NC Counts after an extensive career in higher education and law. He is the former in-house counsel at St. Augustine’s University and spent nearly 15 years in higher education, which includes time working at UNC Chapel Hill and his alma mater, NC Central University School of Law, as the Assistant Dean for Admissions. He received his undergraduate degree in business and English from Fisk University, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and graduated from the W.E.B DuBois Honors program. He received an M.A. degree from the University of Chicago with a focus in political science. Kyle completed his law degree in 2013 from NC Central’s evening program.

Kyle believes in the transformative nature of justice and education in our democracy, and enjoys advocating by using his privilege to empower others. He currently lives in Durham with his brilliant daughters, and is a lover of books, jazz, hip-hop and social justice.

Tandra Byrd
Program and Organization Coordinator


Tandra Byrd is the Program and Organization Coordinator for NC Counts Coalition. Her roots in the City of Oaks run deep; born and raised in Raleigh, NC.

Tandra is grateful for the opportunity to be of service to the undervalued communities. She is a passionate advocate for human rights. Having been in public education for 7 plus years, Tandra has gained a great understanding of disparities in systems. Tandra is committed to promoting equality for all, no matter the barriers. She is dedicated to supporting racial equality and disability inclusion.

Tandra earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from The Art Institute, where she majored in Fashion Marketing and Management. During this experience, she discovered the injustice of women’s working rights and the inequality in wages. She began to work with a local non-profit as Advocacy Chairwoman to bring awareness of this global injustice.

In her free time, Tandra enjoys spending time with loved ones, cooking new recipes, taking professional skill-enhancing courses, and discovering the city’s hidden gem restaurants. She is an undeniable creative who willingly shares her skills and ideas.

Byron Laws
Training & Capacity Building Manager


Byron is the Training & Capacity Building Manager for Wake County returning to NC Counts Coalition in May 2021.

Byron has an educational background in Social Work earning his degree from North Carolina A&T State University in 2011. Less than a month after graduating Byron entered the Advance Standing Program at North Carolina State University where he received his Master of Social Work degree in 2012.

As a proud Raleigh native Byron has a passion for helping others regardless of their circumstances. Prior to joining NC Counts Byron spent several years working in youth development with the Boys & Girls Clubs in Eastern North Carolina as well as here in Raleigh. Byron is the co-founder of What's The 919: A Raleigh Resource Guide a collective of local leaders committed to bridging the gap between people and the information needed for them to be more informed and engaged citizens. 

Carolina Alzuru
Healthier Together Senior Director


Carolina is the Senior Director of the Healthier Together project at the NC Counts Coalition. She has nearly 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector on various social justice and health equity issues. Most recently, she worked at the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, where she directed the organizations’ capacity building programs. She has experience in program development and management, team development, coalition building, and issue-based advocacy. Carolina has a deep passion for ensuring that we change systems to improve the lives of marginalized populations. 

Carolina was born in Venezuela and has lived in NC for close to 20 years. While she thinks about her Venezuelan community every day, she also deeply loves her Durham community.  

She received degrees in Sociology and Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

In her free time, Carolina enjoys spending time with family and friends, being outdoors, and playing and watching sports.

Email Carolina here


Angélica R. Wind
Healthier Together Regional Director, Region 1


Angélica was born to Mexican migrant farmworkers who eventually settled in NC. From a young age, she witnessed injustices that instilled in her a high sense of commitment to the struggle for social justice. She has been involved in several social justice movements that include immigrant rights, women’s reproductive rights, and gender equality.

 Prior to joining, NC Counts Coalition, Angélica served as the Executive Director of Our VOICE, Inc., an anti-sexual violence and human trafficking organization for nine years.  In that role, she was the recipient of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s Visionary Voice Award for the State of North Carolina.  

 She was also a William C. Friday Fellow for Human Relations, and a WNC Non-profit Pathways Leadership Fellow.  Angélica currently serves on the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice.

 Angélica has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Social Science from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina and a Juris Doctorate from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. She currently lives in Asheville with her husband, their beautiful daughter, and lively dog.

Email Angélica here

Taylor Norris
Healthier Together Operations Manager, Region 1


Email Taylor here


Frankie Denise Powell 
Healthier Together Regional Director, Region 2


Frankie Denise Penn Powell, born in Winston-Salem, NC and reared in Philadelphia, PA.  She is a graduate of Bennett College who earned a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from UNC Greensboro, studying the Future Orientation of African American 7th Grade Youth

Dr. Powell has held administrative positions in both education settings and clinical settings.  She operationally created the Pediatric Behavioral Specialist position at Amos Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center as well as the founding directorship of the Maya Angelou Institute for the Improvement of Child and Family Education (a public service center in The University of North Carolina system at Winston-Salem State University). She began her focus on education disparities and health disparities while at the Institute.

Dr. Powell currently serves on the Health Equity Committee, Maternal Health Sub-Committee of the National Council of Negro Women. She is a Southeast Regional Co-Leader for the Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) Regional Network.  Dr. Powell is also an At-Large Member, (Governor appointee), of the North Carolina Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control (ACCCC), North Carolina Cancer Prevention and Control Branch, Chronic Disease and Injury Section, North Carolina Division of Public Health, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She is a founding member of the North Carolina Women of Color Research Network – NIH.  She is a past Southeastern Regional Council President of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR); immediate past National Parliamentarian of the Bennett College National Alumnae Association; and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

 Email Frankie Denise here


Anthony Jones
Healthier Together Operations Manager, Region 2


 C. Anthony Jones, Jr., an ordained minister and pastor in Winston Salem, NC brings in over 18 years of experience designing, developing, and leading programs that engage communities of faith to effectively address issues of injustice and inequity.  With long-held experience in networking, and collaborating with businesses, agencies, churches, and organizations on health-related service projects, the efforts yielded measurable results that led to local HMP communities attaining resources essential for a suitable living.  

Born in Clinton NC but raised mostly in Charlotte NC, C. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from South Carolina State University, Orangeburg SC, a Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Ma, a Master of Theology from Emory University/Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, Ga, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Drew University Theological School, Madison NJ.

 In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, fishing, fine dining, attending musical events, and going to the movies.  His favorite hobby is taking a long nap. 

 The mantra he lives by comes from the great scientist George Washington Carver who stated, “If you love anything enough, it will reveal its’ secrets.”   

Email Anthony here


Mary Jose Espinosa
Healthier Together Regional Director, Region 3


Mary Jose is the Regional Director for Healthier Together in Region 3. Growing up in a mixed-status family, Mary Jose was able to experience the injustices immigrant communities faced firsthand. At age 15 Mary Jose co-founded an immigrants’ rights youth advocacy group named United 4 the DREAM, which cultivated approximately 60 youth leaders in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. With over ten years of organizing experience, Mary Jose has been involved in various social justice issues including immigrants’ rights, ICE rapid response, and against police brutality.  

Prior to joining NC Counts Coalition, Mary Jose worked on civic engagement efforts with a focus on Latinx voters in North Carolina. She coordinated non-partisan Get Out the Vote canvassing efforts, voter registration, voter education and supported the creation of statewide voter education materials from 2017-2020.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and pets, playing video games with her friends, and camping in the mountains.

Email Mary Jose here


Melissa Funderburk 
Healthier Together Operations Manager, Region 3


Melissa Funderburk was born in South Carolina; but has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina most of her life. Melissa has been in Health Care for over 20 years. She graduated from Ashford University (Forbes School of Business) with a Masters of Business Administration/ marketing, a Masters of Organizational Management/Project Management, Bachelors in Healthcare Administration, and a certificate in Comparatives Equality and Anti-discrimination law from Stanford University. 

Melissa is actively involved in  Equality and Social Justice for marginalized communities. Her work has included Campaign management, media spoke person, equity and social justice community organizer, professional business consultant, and is a bridge between individuals and communities that are not normally willing to connect. Melissa brings this passion and drive for equality and justice to NC Counts Coalition.
In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, nature, and gardening.
Email Melissa here

Shalondra Greenlee
Healthier Together Regional Director, Region 4


Shalondra joins the NC Counts Coalition with over 10 years of hands-on experience in equity initiatives and capacity building. Her most recent work for the Department of Commerce in the US Census Bureau as a Partnership Specialist focused on building partnerships with local businesses, organizations and educational institutions in order to develop ongoing relationships and share information on the Census. She has worked with national nonprofit organizations and universities including Michigan State and North Carolina State for over ten years in program development and marketing. 

 From Detroit Michigan, the strait of Lake Erie and better known as Motown, Shalondra focuses on educating and serving others through equity work. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business from Wayne State University. She also holds a Juris Doctorate, Master of Library Science and MBA. Shalondra works on the motto to "think globally and act locally."  

 In her free time she serves as a board member for Voyager Academy in Durham, NC and enjoys spending time with her family.

Email Shalondra here



Maru Quintero
Healthier Together Operations Manager, Region 4


When Maru Quintero embarks on a new professional journey, she does so because she loves its mission and vision. Every journey that she has been on has always had one goal in mind: serving the community. Her work as a Partnership Specialist for the Census Bureau during the 2020 census allowed her to learn more about the different communities that coexist in the state of North Carolina. This assisted her to develop positive professional relationships with different organizations throughout the state, thus strengthening her desire to better serve the community.

Maru was born in Caracas, Venezuela where she obtained a Bachelor of Communications.

Some of the things she enjoys the most are dancing, singing, reading, and definitely spending time with her family and friends. 

Email Maru here


Val Applewhite
Healthier Together Regional Director, Region 5


Val Applewhite brings more than 10 years of organizational advocacy experience building economic, social, and political power in marginalized communities across Southeastern North Carolina. A life-long public servant, she is a former 3-term Fayetteville City Councilwoman and is a retired 20 year United States Air Force veteran.

Val holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Strayer University and a Master of Science in Political Science from Southern New Hampshire University.

 In her spare time, she takes long walks with Greta, her German Shepherd fur baby and enjoys jazz music.

While you may take the girl out of the city, you can’t take the city out of the girl. Val was born in Harlem and spent most of her childhood in the greatest city in world – New York.

Email Val here


Deborah Maxwell
Healthier Together Operations Manager, Region 5


A passion for people is a driving force in Deborah Maxwell’s life.

Deborah is the Regions V Operations Manager for Healthier Together. She joins NC Counts Healthier Together with over twenty- five years as an advocate for the children of Eastern North Carolina ages birth -five. Through her work at the New Hanover County and Brunswick County Health Departments respectively she has linked children and families to valuable needed resources including early identification of services. She is also an advocate for the environment and her community. An Army veteran she served in Operation Desert Storm.

A Wilmington native Deborah received her Bachelors in Administration and Management from LaRoche University and her MSW with a health concentration from East Carolina University.

In her free time Deborah enjoys sustainable gardening, reading, traveling and spending time with her family.

Email Deborah here


Cheryl Bryant
Healthier Together Regional Director, Region 6


Cheryl Bryant is the Region 6 Field Director of the Healthier Together project. She is a seasoned professional with substantive experience in social work, grant management, project management, program development and capacity building. For over 30 years, Cheryl has been committed to improving the social and economic health of North Carolinians through her tenure with state agencies, nonprofits and community-based organizations.  Her volunteer pursuits include grassroots advocacy, grant reviewing, nonprofit consulting, political campaign management, scholarship development and sponsorship of summer enrichment camps for students.     

Cheryl was born in Washington D.C., and she is a long-term resident of Eastern North Carolina. Her commitment to serving others was propelled by her family’s history of public service and her lived experience with health disparities.

She is a proud UNC graduate with a Master of Social Work degree.

Email Cheryl here


Chris Suggs
Healthier Together Operations Manager, Region 6


Chris J. Suggs is a champion for youth empowerment, civic engagement and transformative change. At 14-years-old, he founded Kinston Teens, a nonprofit that empowers young people through civic engagement and community development in his hometown. Since 2016, Chris has served as the youngest Commissioner on the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission. Chris brings this background to NC Counts Coalition as the Healthier Together Operations Manager for Eastern North Carolina.

Chris is an experienced youth and community organizer on the grassroots level, and has worked to center the voices of young people and marginalized groups on the national level with companies such as Facebook, BET, Nickelodeon, CNN, Teen Vogue Magazine and others. Chris holds degrees in Political Science & Religious Studies from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he served as President of the Black Student Movement and Senior Class President for the Class of 2021.