Our Team

CEF Executive Director


Donna Carrington, She/Her

Executive Director Full-Time

Donna leads both the Chapel Hill and Durham geographies, working with staff, Advocates, Members, and the Board of Directors. She stewards organizational vision and growth for all of CEF. Donna supports both offices in developing partnerships to secure housing justice and financial security for all Members. Donna’s passions are music, Jeopardy, Mahjong, and cooking shows.

Durham County Team

Debbie Long head shot: Black person wearing a tank top and glasses standing among sunflowers

Debbie Long, They & Themme

Member Services Coordinator Full-Time

Debbie is a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where they studied Social Work and Music. They learned to strategically blend these two disciplines to serve diverse communities and challenge paradigms in the realm of art, society, and culture. Debbie’s background in social work and deep history of organizing permits them to steward Member Services.  Debbie works to ensure equitable program implementation for Members in the Durham office and leads a large portion of Durham’s partnership-building work. They also provide supervisory support for key members of the Durham Staff and support Member-led advocacy initiatives. Debbie values working with and for the most affected amongst us and believes that people are experts of their own lives and experiences; They trust that people know what they know and what it is that they might need. Debbie believes that empowered people, empower people and their role is to help folks unleash their true potential.

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Kevin Atkins, He/Him

Housing Access Coordinator – Durham  Full-Time

Kevin is working to create a better housing system in Durham County by increasing access to affordable units available through private landlords and developing tools to navigate barriers and locate housing.

Leah Whitehead, 2018 Chapel Hill Fellow

Leah Whitehead, She/Her

Advocate Program Coordinator Full-Time

Leah coordinates the Advocate program in our Durham office, overseeing training and management of volunteers. She supports CEF’s partnerships with Duke University, including the Advocate training house course. 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.

Luke Hirst headshot

Luke Hirst, They/Them

MSW Intern – Durham  Part-Time

Luke (they/them) is serving as a graduate student social work intern from UNC. They have a long history of working for social justice and are excited about supporting the CEF team. They are particularly interested in creating affirming and trauma-informed spaces for people in marginalized populations. Luke spends most of their free time hanging out in Durham with their dog, George Michael, and their cat, Rocket.g.


Toia Potts, She/Her

Office and Community Organizer Full-Time

Toia is the Office and Community Organizer in CEF’s Durham County office. She is deep-rooted in her work. She has her bachelor’s degree with a background in marketing, accounting, and admin work. At CEF, she handles office duties and organizes around the needs of CEF Members in Durham. She oversees the food pantry, clothing closet, and other community programs that provide necessary resources for Members. In the community, she does volunteer work for those experiencing inequality within the unjust legal and economic system. She uses her personal experience to organize and advocate for those most impacted and has a mission to assist those in any way she can.

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.


Maggie Mraz, She/Her

Staff Support Part-Time

Maggie works part-time as Staff Support in CEF’s Chapel Hill office. She engages with Members, Staff, Advocates, and people coming to the CEF office for Coordinated Entry. Maggie has many opportunities to listen, encourage people and offer support. When she isn’t at CEF Maggie coordinates catering for Carrboro’s Open Eye Cafe. Maggie and her husband, Paul, are empty nesters with 3 amazing kids they miss named Maisie (25), Colin (22) & Martin (20). Maggie & Paul met at the University of Maryland (Go, Terps!) in 1984 and moved to Chapel Hill in 1999. In her free-time Maggie loves to travel, visit her kids, go on long walks, try new beers, pray, cook, watch movies in the front row at Silverspot with her feet up, create charcuterie plates to share, read books and ponder practical theology, and nap with her cat, Kitty, and dog, Jessie.


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.


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!).

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Tawana Brown, She/Her/Hers

Growing Household Income Fellow Full-Time

Tawana serves as CEF’s Growing Household Income Fellow, an AmeriCorps VISTA position facilitated through CEF’s partnership with the IDA and Asset Building Collaborative of North Carolina. She will oversee efforts to build capacity in CEF’s workforce development services, integrate CEF’s financial capability services into countywide workforce services and partnerships, and increase capacity of the Chapel Hill program team to enhance delivery of all CEF services in the Chapel Hill geography. In her free time, Tawana likes to research, journal, watch a good documentary and spend time with family.

Development & Finance Team

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ari rosenberg, She/Her

Director of Development & Finance Full-Time

ari leads CEF’s Development and Finance Team. She is responsible for engaging individual, corporate, and foundation donors; managing internal accounting systems; processing payroll; and overseeing all external communications (e-newsletter, social media, Annual Report, etc.). ari believes deeply in the importance of ending the racial wealth gap, practicing radical financing, and engaging in community wealth building practices (i.e., reparations, cooperative economics, and supporting locally-owned businesses). When she’s living her best life you can find her growing, cooking, or preserving food; biking on country roads; eating ice cream; forest bathing; swimming in the ocean; rowing a canoe; reading a book; or writing letters to dear ones. [ari’s headshot is by Bethanie Hines Photography.]

White man with birds on his shoulder and in the background

Steven Horton, He/Him

Bookkeeper & Administrative Assistant for Development & Finance Full-Time

Steven was recruited to help out with bookkeeping after a short stint as an Advocate. What he loves most about CEF is the belief that is the foundation of the Member-Advocate relationship: that everyone is creative, resourceful, and whole. Steven has a background in sustainable agriculture and food access. He is passionate about growing the personal and financial freedom of people who are presently or have historically been denied that freedom. In his spare time he enjoys travel, surf fishing, cooking and eating, political and legal podcasts/discussions, and playing video games. He currently lives in Carrboro with his wife, Robin, and daughter, Ada.

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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