Staff and Student Team

Our Team

CEF is a student-driven nonprofit organization led by the CEF Student Leadership Team, the Faculty Advisory Council, and our CEF Staff. The team is made up of members and graduates of CEF, as well as undergraduates, graduate students, and recent alumni of both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

Operations Leadership Team


Maggie West

Co-Director : Full-Time

Maggie, part of the team of UNC students who founded CEF in 2009, works in both Orange and Durham Counties and with all of CEF’s programs and services. Maggie leads our Chapel Hill geography team, working with staff, student leaders, and Members in our Chapel Hill office. Maggie also leads CEF’s fundraising, financial management, and board development, and works with our savings program to pilot new financial services and partnerships. Fun facts: Maggie really likes cheese and all things made of cheese, reads lots of fiction books, had lots of little businesses when she was a kid, and has an extra vertebra.

Jon Young

Jon Young

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

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 directs CEF’s Financial Coaching program in both Chapel Hill and Durham. Janet also oversees service delivery to all Members in Durham, including coordinating CEF’s office hours held on-site with key partners and providing technical assistance to Advocates. Janet lends a hand with CEF’s 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.


Priya Sreenivasan

Data and Savings Specialist Full-Time

Priya is an AmeriCorps VISTA through North Carolina Campus Compact and is working in both Orange and Durham County to grow CEF’s ability to collect data and to use data for evaluation and program development and goal setting. She is also leading efforts across geographies to develop our savings programs and provide the best possible service to CEF savers. She is also an Advocate for Durham based Members. Priya enjoys reading, jogging, wheel throwing (pottery), and spending quality time with family and friends.


Donna Carrington

Housing Stabilization Specialist Part-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.

Jess Mcdonald

Jess McDonald

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.

Orange County Team

Orange County Student Leadership Team: Click Here

Sarah in her spiffy polo!

Sarah Cohn

Advocate Program Coordinator – Full-Time

Sarah supports the Advocate program in our Chapel Hill office, overseeing recruitment, training and ongoing support for our volunteer Advocates. She also provides support and training for the Chapel Hill student leadership team, and works closely with this team to support Members and Advocates in their work together and ensure our Advocates receive top quality training. Sarah loves spending time outside and by water (preferably with a dog), getting friends together, and cooking and eating all kinds of food – especially salads.

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Michael Wood

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

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 by supporting and coordinating with our volunteer Advocates. Diiv provides technical assistance to 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 county wide. Diiv represents CEF on the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, 100K Homes Task-Force, and other community-wide efforts to coordinate care for people experiencing homelessness in Orange County. 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

Advocate Program Associate Part-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 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 follows the CEF office rules!).


Steven Frasica

Workforce Development Specialist Full-Time

Steven is an AmeriCorps VISTA through the IDA and Asset Building Collaborative. He works on supporting and developing Job Partners, a program focused on building relationships with employers and workforce organizations to provide opportunities for Members with significant barriers to employment. Steven also meets with a few Chapel Hill Members as an Advocate. Steven enjoys bad horror movies, hiking in Eno River State Park, competitive video games, and kittens.    

Chapel Hill Alumni Advisory Council


CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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