Transition Details and FAQ

Transition Details and FAQ

CEF Member Johnney Ennemoh with CEF Co-director Maggie West.


Maggie West, one of the co-founders of the Community Empowerment Fund, has decided that this year she will step down to pursue new opportunities, effective May 31. This decision has come after much thought and careful discernment and was announced on March 5th with letters from both Maggie and the Transition Team

Maggie, Janet Xiao, and Jonathan Young are Co-Directors for Community Empowerment Fund and have worked together to guide and support CEF for the past 9 years. In partnership and with support from CEF staff, board members, and countless student and community volunteers and members, CEF has grown from a UNC-Chapel Hill student organization to a highly respected nonprofit and community resource spanning Orange and Durham Counties.  With an annual budget of $500,000, CEF  reaches over 1,000 Members a year with the energy and support of 250 Advocates. In 2017 alone 153 Members gained jobs, 132 Members moved out of homelessness into housing, and the first 9 Members even purchased their own homes! In exciting news, CEF Members have now saved over $900,000 collectively towards their personal goals. CEF is growing in impactful ways, and we remain deeply committed to our mission and community.

Questions for Maggie

Why have you decided to make this change?

I have been called to CEF for almost ten years, heart and soul, surrounded by a community filled with a common purpose. I now feel a need to respond to a different call, albeit one I don’t know yet. I love the CEF community no less, and I’m more than a little bit terrified. But I also feel strongly that it is the right thing for me in this moment. 

What are your immediate plans?

I hope to be able to take some time just to discern and explore, to figure out what work my soul will pull me towards next. I know I’m not going anywhere geographically—this is home—and I plan to continue to be an active part of the CEF community on a volunteer basis.

In what ways do you plan to stay an active part of the CEF community?

I trust this team, my fellow Co-Directors and the Board of Directors immensely, and I plan to step out of all staff roles, leaving plenty of space for the leadership of others to continue and flourish.  

I hope to continue seeing folks at CEF graduation ceremonies and holiday parties; to keep singing with the CEF Advocacy Choir (though I’m always the one a bit off-key); to advocate for issues close to the heart of CEF’s work; to remain a committed monthly donor; to continue to raise resources and promote CEF any way I can; and generally be involved in other peripherally supportive ways!

What about the rest of CEF’s leadership team?

I am just one of three Co-Directors, alongside Janet Xiao and Jon Young, who will both continue to lead the organization. Jon has been with CEF since before the beginning, co-founding CEF in 2009. Janet joined CEF shortly thereafter in 2010, co-founding CEF’s office in Durham while still a student at Duke. They have led strategic planning, created amazing partnerships, built our internal management structure, raised critical resources, trained hundreds of Advocates, and directly supported hundreds of Members.

Janet, Jon and I have a collaborative leadership structure, and this structure has created an adaptive, nimble team. Jon and Janet are two of the most responsive, compassionate, and committed people I think I’ll ever get to know. Their grounded, thoughtful leadership will continue to strengthen CEF as an organization and our community as a whole.

Will your departure impact the health of the organization?

CEF is in a strong position to move forward. We are financially healthy, with a diverse network of support: private foundations, corporate support, a growing number of individual donors, university-based funding, local government grants, and contract income through nonprofit and governmental partners. Additionally, CEF’s staff and board have worked together since our founding to build a healthy operating reserve. I have deep confidence in where CEF is right now, and see this as an exciting moment in the life of the organization.

Questions for the Transition Team

Is someone replacing Maggie? What is the process and timeline going to be?

Maggie will transition out of her position at CEF on May 31st, and until then she will work closely with the Board of Directors and the Co-Directors to make the transition as smooth as possible. Our goal is to hire a third new Co-Director by September 1.

The  Board of Directors has formed a transition team to steward this process. Jon and Janet will be closely involved, and additional staff members will have significant input. Stephanie Barnes-Simms, a former Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, has volunteered to shepherd this team.

The transition team will be seeking support and input from a wide range of stakeholders through this transition process, including Members, Advocates, staff, partners, and supporters. We do not want to rush this hiring decision and are designing a process that gives us the space and time we need to be thoughtful.

How can I support CEF through this transition?

We’re so grateful to the whole CEF family for being an amazingly supportive community. For now, keep doing what you do best at CEF—whether that’s volunteering, donating, coming to meetings, building program partnerships together, or singing with the Advocacy Choir. This transition is a great opportunity to do some soul-searching and be grounded in who we are and why we do what we do, so if there’s anything you’d like to share about why you love and support CEF, feel free to write to us and let us know!

Finally, one very impactful thing you can do is to spread the word about the open position among your networks, once we post the position description. Help us to reach some stellar candidates and find a great new Co-Director!

Whom can I talk to if I have questions?

You can email the Transition Team at, or reach out to individual members of the team whose contact information is listed below:

Eric Breit (Board Co-Chair):
Stephanie Barnes-Simms (Former Board Member):
Brian Smith (CEF Board Member):
Jon Young (Co-Director):
Janet Xiao (Co-Director):  

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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