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.

Program Management


Emily Simpson-Keyes, She/Her

Member Assistance Funds Manager Full-Time

Emily is the Member Assistance Funds Manager at CEF. Prior to this role, Emily worked in nonprofit operations at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Arabella Advisors and served as an Advocate in CEF’s Durham Office. 

Emily began her career with the Carolina College Advising Corps; a college access program committed to increasing the number of first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented high school students entering and completing higher education. A product of the public education system herself, she is a two-time graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, most recently earning a Master of Social Work in 2020. 

Emily is passionate about social justice and spreadsheets and feels most whole when she is in relationship with her community. In her free time, Emily enjoys getting outside, eating delicious vegetarian food, and doting on her rescued racing greyhound, Ginny.

Durham County Team

Jada McLeod headshot

Jada McLeod, She/Her

Advocate Program Coordinator Full-Time

Jada is the Advocate Program Coordinator for CEF’s Durham office where she is in charge of recruiting, training, and managing Advocates. Additionally, she facilitates two Advocate leadership teams, provides in-office support to Advocates and Members, and serves as the co-lead of her office. She aims to create a place of learning, growth, and joy for all who enter our space. Jada recently graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill where she studied public policy and political science. She was once an Advocate and summer intern in CEF’s Chapel Hill office. Her combined experiences of working with Members and her academic study of systems of oppression have driven her commitment to social justice work. In her free time, Jada enjoys cooking, reading, music, and being creative.

Headshot Sydney Pender

Sydney Pender, She/Her

Office & Community Organizer Full-Time

Sydney engages with Members, staff, and Advocates at the Durham office as the Office & Community Organizer. Prior to entering this role, Sydney had experience at the Chapel Hill office as a volunteer Advocate, full-time summer intern, and part-time Staff Support. Sydney also served as a New Member Orientation Intake Specialist. During her time outside of the office, she enjoys playing with her four-legged son (named Buck), listening to music, indulging in the virtual world of TikTok, trying new foods around the Triangle, and spending quality time with loved ones. She finds joy in the world around her and is known for her contagious laugh!

Orange County Team


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!).

Imanie Williams headshot

Imanie Williams, She/Her

Member Services Coordinator Full-Time

Imanie is the Member Services Coordinator in CEF’s Chapel Hill office, stewarding all Orange Community Hub partnerships, resources, and service systems implemented to best serve CEF Members. In her 24 years of living, Imanie has sustained an immense amount of passion as it pertains to community curation. During her time at Delaware State University, she assumed many student leadership roles, and also became the founder of the service initiative, “#EveryBodyEats”. She has spent time as a case manager, providing direct support services to community members in Durham, NC. Imanie believes that the emancipation of one’s community begins with the sovereignty of one’s self. Thus this became the impetus for her passion, which would later translate to her purpose; She is here to serve others. Imanie knew that the first step of overcoming hardship was to obtain a growth mindset. Therefore, it was then that she vowed to seek refuge in her education, experiences, and exposure forever, for she knew that it was her greatest chance of justice to her people. In her free time, Imanie enjoys spending time with her partner and loved ones, cuddles with her fur babies, good music, and even better food!

Tyler headshot

Tyler Haugle, He/Him

Advocate Program Coordinator Full-Time

Tyler supports the Advocate program in our Chapel Hill office where he oversees recruitment, training, and ongoing support for our volunteer Advocates. He also provides training and assistance for various Chapel Hill student leadership teams, such as the Advocate Training Team, the Outreach Team, and our Member-Advocate Coordination (MAC) Team. Tyler works closely with these teams to best support Members and Advocates in their work together and ensure our Advocates receive top-quality training and deliver top-quality support. His favorite part of the job has been learning from the wisdom of Members who are willing to share their stories with him. He’s thankful to be a part of this incredibly creative, resourceful, and kind community of Members, Staff, and Advocates. In his free time, he likes to walk in nature, spend time with loved ones, cook, dissect the music theory behind pop songs, and watch (maybe too much) YouTube.

Kristin Henry headshot: A white nonbinary person with a layered hair cut wearing a dark grey shirt stands in front of a bush

Kristin Henry, They/Them/Theirs

MSW Intern Part-Time

Kristin is the UNC Master of Social Work intern in Chapel Hill, supporting volunteer Advocates and Members during office hours, engaging with various CEF projects, and collaborating on teaching the Tools for Financial Coaching & Economic Justice social work class. They have recently worked as a coordinator with Communities in Partnership on food access and community health teams, as well as volunteered with the R.N. Harris Elementary PTA and Partnership Effort to Advance Children’s Health. Previously, they planned and coordinated national campaigns for documentary films on social and environmental issues. Kristin has two children and enjoys spending time on trails and in the water.

Development & Finance Team

ari rosenberg headshot: white woman wearing pink and purple flowered shirt standing in front of a brick wall

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; squeezing her son; 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