Our Team

Our Team

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

CEF Co-Directors


Donna Carrington, She/Her

Co-Director Full-Time

Donna leads our Durham geography team, working with staff, student leaders, and Members in our Durham office. She stewards organizational vision health and vision for all of CEF and is engaged actively in Durham’s partnership building activities toward housing stability. Donna’s passions are music, Jeopardy, Mahjong, and cooking shows.

Jon Young

Jon Youngpenn, 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 additionally leads CEF’s communications and evaluation efforts. Based out of the Chapel Hill office, Jon works as an advocate directly with Members and in support of Chapel Hill Advocates and Leadership Team.  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 supports organzation-wide fundraising and administration efforts.  She supports service delivery to Members in Durham, and also represents CEF 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

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Rosa Green, She/Her

Office Services Coordinator – 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!

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.

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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.

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.


Kevin Tolson, He/Him

Staff Support  – Part-Time

Kevin works part-time Staff Support in both the Chapel Hill and Durham offices. He is a Master’s level social worker and professor at North Carolina Central University.  He enjoys working in CEF’s environment of diverse cultures, ideas, perspectives as well as challenges. He has a 6 year old grandson he adores, a marriage that has endured for more than 38 years (his poor wife), and a perpetual “claim” of putting his house on the market – for the last three years.  He loves food – especially Chicken Pot Pie, Shrimp and Avocado bowls from Diced, and Vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream, but not all at the same time! TCM, Perry Mason, Jazz, and the “occasional” Rachel Maddow are his ear and view jams.


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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Zach Meredith, He/Him

Workforce Development Fellow Full Time

Zach serves as CEF’s Workforce Development Fellow, an AmeriCorps VISTA position facilitated through CEF’s partnership with the IDA and Asset Building Collaborative of North Carolina. He will oversee efforts to expand employment access in Orange County through the development of resources and programs drawing together businesses, CEF, and other social agencies. In his free time, Zach likes to run, spend time with friends, learn about history (particularly local, social, architectural), and listen to music (all genres but especially pop).


Kyle Compton, He/Him

Social Work Intern 

Kyle is placed at CEF through the UNC School of Social Work. He is excited to learn from Members, Advocates, and staff. He will support several aspects of CEF programming and bring an empathetic perspective to all of his work. Kyle enjoys movies, concerts, and anything outdoors.

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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