Our Team

Our Team

CEF is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization led by CEF staff and volunteer leadership teams

CEF Co-Directors

Jon Young

Jon Young, He/Him

Co-Director : Full-Time

Jon, part of the team of UNC students who founded CEF in 2009, works across Orange and Durham County developing tech systems in and out of Connect, CEF’s database and volunteer platform. He is also Director of Communications and leads CEF’s Savings Programs. Based out of the Chapel Hill office, Jon works as an advocate directly with Members in Chapel Hill as an Advocate and in support of Chapel Hill Advocates and Leadership Team. Fun Facts: Jon’s passions include Spotify playlists, keeping rss feeds alive, people watching, and making pretty things. He eats a bag of broccoli, nuts and snap-peas on the daily.


Janet Xiao, She/Her

Co-Director : Full-Time

Janet planted CEF’s Durham office in 2011 and leads our Durham geography team, working with staff, student leaders, and Members in our Durham office. She supports service delivery to all Members in Durham, and supports administrative work pertaining to the Durham office, including fundraising and financial management. She represents the organization in community meetings and efforts toward system-wide change in Durham. Janet enjoys marine animals, scifi/fantasy, PC gaming, eating, reflecting on decoloniality, and the Internet.

Durham County Team


Donna Carrington, She/Her

Member Services Coordinator Full-Time

Donna stewards our Renters Savings IDA and our Homebuyer’s IDA collaborative with the Duke Homebuyers Club and is involved in Durham’s partnership building activities toward housing stability. Donna’s passions are music, Jeopardy, Mahjong, and cooking shows.


YM Carrington, They/Them

Housing Justice Fellow – Durham – Full-Time

YMC is the Housing Justice Fellow in Durham, where they work to build tangible power for the CEF community to lead in local affordable housing and economic justice advocacy. They bring over nineteen years of community organizing experience with LGBTQIA communities of color to their role as Durham Housing Justice Fellow. They believe housing is an essential human right, regardless of a person’s income or wealth. In addition to community organizing, YMC also enjoys photography, political writing, and supports the local music and arts scenes.

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Rosa Green, She/Her

Office Services Coordinator – Durham – Part-Time

Rosa is CEF Durham Front Office Coordinator also known as the “Office Queen” proud member turned employee. She supports the Durham office staff, Advocates and Members with anything administrative. Rosa is passionate about helping CEF Members in the same way ” as I would want to be helped,” and strives to represent the organization in her community. Rosa enjoys music, eating, dance, meaningful conversations, and self-reflection!

Jess Mcdonald

Jess McDonald, They/Them

Advocate Program Coordinator Full-Time

Jess coordinates the Advocate program in our Durham office, overseeing training and management of volunteers. They support CEF’s partnerships with Duke University, including the Advocate training house course. Jess is also the Durham site manager of internal and external communications. Their background includes work in intergroup dialogue and social justice education. They are passionate about building community across difference and centering self-awareness and reflection as a part of transformative learning. Their favorite pastimes include scouting local swimming holes and fine-tuning their amateur dog whispering skills.


JV Alencar, They/Them

 Workforce & Finances Specialist Full-Time

JV is an AmeriCorps VISTA through the IDA and Asset Building Collaborative. He leads efforts that build on further implementing CEF’s savings programs. He also works on improving and integrating data into CEF’s evaluation and services as well as creating partnerships to deliver greater workforce development opportunities for Members in Durham. He also serves as an Advocate in the Durham office. Outside of CEF, JV likes finding cool vegetarian/vegan recipes, guessing other’s astrological signs, obsessing over new musical artists, and playing capoeira.

Orange County Team

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Kristina Smith, She/Her

Advocate Program Coordinator – Full-Time

Kristina supports the Advocate program in our Chapel Hill office where she oversees recruitment, training, and ongoing support for our volunteer Advocates. She also provides training and assistance for the Chapel Hill student leadership team, and works closely with this team to best support Members and Advocates in their work together and ensure our Advocates receive top quality training. Kristina love to dance and watch anything that Shonda Rhimes has created. Just not at the same time. She is in the process of learning to cook and welcomes any and all friendly advice and delicious recipes.

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Michael Wood, He/Him

Opportunity Class Leader Part Time

Mike leads the Saturday morning Opportunity Class. CEF’s Opportunity Class meets weekly and covers topics from personal finance to job readiness to health, as well as teaching self-sufficiency and how to obtain permanent housing. 


Diiv Sternman, They/Them

Member Services Coordinator Full-Time

Diiv oversees service delivery to all of the Members in the Chapel Hill office, ensuring that Members receive the services they seek working with CEF Advocates. Diiv supports and coordinates with  Advocates to help them find the right resources to assist Members in reaching their goals and to identify helpful strategies for working together and building effective Member-Advocate relationships. Diiv also oversees the OC Hub in the Chapel Hill office, coordinating partner agencies to co-locate services and provide coordinated care across systems countywide. Diiv is passionate about Social Justice (think globally/build locally!), cooperativity and interdependence (food coops, farming coops, housing coops, consensus building, coordinated care, etc.), post-colonial literature, growing edible things, eating edible things (especially sweets), and building strong relationships with their (big, messy, complicated, blended) family, friends, and community.

Leah Whitehead, 2018 Chapel Hill Fellow

Leah Whitehead, She/Her

Housing Justice Fellow – Chapel Hill Full Time

Leah is CEF’s Housing Justice Fellow in Chapel Hill. She is responsible for supporting housing advocacy efforts in Orange County while piloting a Housing Locator position that cultivates relationships with private landlords and local housing partners to improve access to housing opportunities for CEF Members. She is passionate about working collectively to support the resiliency of her community and believes wholeheartedly that ALL people are creative, resourceful, and whole. In her free time, Leah enjoys being in nature with her given and chosen family (especially her dog, Sandy), participating in dance parties, being creative, riding motorcycles, and reading books that remind her that the world is full of possibility.


Yvette Mathews, She/Her

Office and Community Organizer Full-Time

Yvette is the captain of the ship in the Chapel Hill office, leading the front of the house including reception, welcoming, and administration. Yvette also leads community advocacy efforts in Chapel Hill and is the creator and director of the CEF Advocacy Choir! Yvette is the first face many Members and Advocates see when they enter the office, and effectively ensures that everyone who walks through the door is cared for and leaves happy (and keeps CEF’s Office Agreements!).


Tanner Lockhead, He/Him

Workforce Development Fellow Full Time

Tanner is CEF’s Workforce Development Fellow, serving as an Americorps VISTA through the IDA and Asset Building Collaborative of North Carolina. He will lead efforts to strengthen CEF’s financial and job coaching programs, build partnerships with employers and local agencies, and match members with sustainable employment opportunities. Tanner enjoys vine compilations, lakes, the state of North Carolina, feminism, Hamilton, and the oxford comma.

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

Chapel Hill: 919-200-0233 Durham: 919-797-9233