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

Jessica Cannady head shot: Black woman with long twists. Wearing glasses, a navy blue blazer, and black and white striped shirt.

Jessica Cannady, She/Her

Member Services & Programs Manager Full-Time

Jessica is the Member Services and Programs Manager (MSPM) at CEF. In her role she supports program staff, guides program strategy, and manages reporting for Member Services and Advocate Programs for the Durham and Chapel Hill offices. Prior to joining CEF, Jessica was a coordinator and advocate with Compass Center, and began her career as a community research analyst at Forsyth Futures. Jessica is passionate about community, qualitative research and storytelling, mental health advocacy, access to quality and affordable housing, and racial justice. She believes in working collaboratively with the community to build thriving communities. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys cooking, dancing, hiking, reading, and yoga.


Travis Sanderson, He/They

Advocacy Manager Full-Time

Travis is the Advocacy Manager at CEF. He develops and leads the organization’s advocacy initiatives to proactively seek to change the systems we witness every day from the Durham and Chapel Hill offices. Rooted in his own lived experience in the working class, Travis organized for a decade in field, student, community, and labor organizing campaigns prior to joining CEF – most recently for a Native-led grassroots organization based in Tribal communities. Travis holds an M.A. in public policy from Central European University, a post-baccalaureate in labor studies from the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, and a B.A. in international and global studies from Middlebury College. He is driven by a passion for building a mass movement of oppressed people and a world characterized by collective care, community, and relationship. Travis especially enjoys drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee, storytelling and fiction, hiking and the outdoors, and watching horror movies.

Durham County Team


Jessika Gore, She/Her

Advocate Program Coordinator

Jessika is the Advocate Program Coordinator for CEF’s Durham office. Prior to joining CEF in this capacity, Jessika served individuals in crisis on both local and national levels. These experiences led to Jessika’s increased passion for embracing intergenerational communication and storytelling spaces as resources in proactive and preventative efforts toward equitable access. In her spare time Jessika is devoted to healing through the practice of increased self awareness and communicating boundaries as a lived example of safe space for her children to develop, thrive and extend to others.

sophia headshot

Sophia Thayer, She/Her

Member Services Coordinator

Sophia is the Member Services Coordinator in CEF’s Durham office. In her role, Sophia works alongside Members, community partners, Advocates, and other staff to develop and implement the best resources for Members. Prior to joining CEF, Sophia grew her skills through case management, resource navigation, youth development, and food justice initiatives. Sophia strongly enjoys building community and relationships with those around her. She believes that collective action is at the center of our work. Outside of work, Sophia spends time with her partner, cats, friends, and family through food, exploring outside, and playing ultimate frisbee.

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!).


Chloe Wells, She/Her

Advocate Program Coordinator Full-Time

Chloe is the Advocate Program Coordinator in CEF’s Chapel Hill office, heading up anything and everything regarding our amazing volunteer and intern Advocates! Prior to joining CEF, Chloe filled many shoes: boba tea barista, waitress, substitute teacher, front office support, equity and justice peer educator, campus literary magazine editor, grant writer, and more! Chloe was drawn to CEF through the commitment they have to serving all folks of all walks of life, both inside and outside the office. Chloe has always felt called to caring roles that put people first. She is dedicated to continuing her education in and dedication to equity and justice by learning with and from her community – and excited to build with them, too. In her free time, Chloe enjoys reading horror novels by her sunniest window, exploring local food, attending concerts, and thrift shopping, though you can almost always find her on the couch with her partner watching whatever’s new on streaming.

Development & Finance Team

White man with birds on his shoulder and in the background

Steven Horton, He/Him

Finance & Operations Manager

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 Chatham County with his wife, Robin and kids, Ada and Graham

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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