Toni Melvin Whitaker, Board President
Toni Melvin Whitaker relocated to Coastal Carolina from South Jersey nine years after retiring from a successful career as a CEO for a non-profit housing development corporation, and also many years in executive positions in housing administration, development, and management. She has worked in DC, Connecticut, Colorado, Kansas, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Although she had retired when she moved to the area, she worked briefly as an independent contractor with a couple of non-profit organizations, and served as Acting Executive Director of the Affordable Housing Coalition of New Hanover County for over two years.
Throughout her 33+ year career, Toni received numerous awards and recognition for her work, but the one she holds more dearly is the 60-unit affordable housing complex named in her honor, Melvin Place, located in Fayetteville, NC. She has spent most of her adult life living according to the mantra that was instilled in her by her parents; “If I can help somebody, as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody, with a word or song, if I can do my duty as a good man ought, if I can bring back beauty to a world up wrought, if I can spread love’s message, as the Master taught, …then my living shall not be in vain.”
Toni has served on the following board of directors since moving to the area:
- Lower Cape Fear Hospice & Life Care Center
- Southeastern Mental Health – Tri-Hic
- Cape Fear Council of Governments – Youth Council Board
- United Way of Cape Fear Region – Permanent Housing 10-Year Plan to End
- Chronic Homelessness
- Men and Women United for Youth and Family – Columbus County
- Wilmington AMEZ Community Housing Development Corporation
- Dance Cooperative
Toni is the Founder/Facilitator of Just Us Girls, a rite-of-passage, empowerment program for girls ages 9 to 16, and Founder of TMW Modeling, Productions, and Talent.
Tawanna Robinson, Board of Directors
Tawanna has worked in the IT industry for over 20 years including internships during her college years with Corning Inc. and Wachovia. With a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics from Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, NC, Tawanna has held numerous positions from MIS Technician to Project Manager.
Tawanna volunteers numerous hours for CAMM, Women in Cable and Technology (WICT), Racing for the Gold, Relay for Life and other community events in Wilmington, NC and surrounding areas. Tawanna has been a featured speaker for several events for WICT, church and community functions. She is an active member of Myrtle Grove First Born Holiness Church, Women in Cable Technology, Cape Fear Women in Tech (CFWIT) and Going Beyond the Pink. Tawanna is a foster parent and loves event planning, fishing and working with children.
Toya Wilson-Smith, Board of Directors
Toya is a native Hoosier but relocated to Wilmington in 2005 when she took a job with Johnson & Johnson. She is a digital marketing strategist and brand storyteller. Toya is owner of Simply Social Marketing Academy and co-founder of NexGeneration Digital Marketing Agency. When she isn’t conducting a training workshop, she can be found playing with her 95 lb. yellow Labrador Retriever.
Kara Kenan, Co-Founder
As a founder of Going Beyond the Pink, Kara is passionate about serving members of the breast cancer community on their path to wellness. She strives to provide resources and educational programs to our local breast cancer community so that they can be their best health advocates and truly thrive. She developed the Thrive! curriculum as a comprehensive source of wellness-related education.
Kara grew up (mostly) in Long Island, NY, but has also enjoyed living in Pennsylvania, Texas, North Dakota, and Minnesota. She’s now put down roots in South Eastern North Carolina. Kara has a Master’s degree in English, Composition & Rhetoric, and an undergraduate concentration in Psychology. She has a true love of learning, educating, and understanding people. After earning her M.A., she’s enjoyed a career as a college English instructor, helping others improve their writing and communication skills.
A decorated veteran, Kara served in the Air National Guard for 6-years, including a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Her role in the military allowed her to support both Search & Rescue and Homeland Defense missions. She is the proud recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Defense of Liberty Service Medal, among others.
In 2013, Kara was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 35. The diagnosis ultimately changed the trajectory of her life and led to the understanding that our local community could do so much more to help women and men with breast cancer. Kara is most excited that her future is one that allows her to serve others through one of the most challenging experiences in their lives.
Since 2015, Kara has been working to develop the region’s only comprehensive cancer survivorship program.