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, Secretary
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.
Vanessa Gonzalez, Esq., Board of Directors
Vanessa Gonzalez is an immigration attorney and advocate. She has been in Wilmington since 2014 since opening her own firm; The Law Office of Vanessa A. Gonzalez. She has a Bachelor’s in both Political Science and Spanish from UNC Pembroke, and a Juris Doctor from UNC Chapel Hill School of Law. She has focused her career on assisting undocumented crime victims, helping families stay together by navigating the family based immigration process, and assisting non-citizens maintain their lawful status and fight deportation. Her practice occasionally extends into traffic and family court where said areas intersect with immigration law. She has taught a course on Immigration Law and Policy at UNCW’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, returned to present on the same topic for OLLI’s Women on Wednesday program, and has been recognized by UNCW as a “community partner” as she has been a guest speaker and resource to students and staff on various occasions as requested. She is active in her community, having volunteered or sponsored programs and/or events with the YWCA (GLOW afterschool program “Reach” for 3 years, Stand Against Racism, etc.), Lawyers for Literacy, NHRMC’s community outreach Dancin’ In the Park, among others. She is passionate about social justice issues and encouraging the youth to become educated and involved to effectuate change.
Katelynn Horney, Board of Directors[Image Coming Soon] Katelynn is currently the Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager of TD Bank. Full bio coming soon.
April Scott, Board of Directors[Image Coming Soon] April is currently the Director of the Small Business Center at Brunswick Community College. Full bio coming soon.
Betty McCann, Board of Directors[Image Coming Soon] Betty is a retired oncology-certified registered nurse. She is originally from Pennsylvania, and has been a resident of the Leland area for 5 years. After her years of providing bedside care for oncology patients, Betty moved into oncology clinical research, first as a clinical trials coordinator at the university level, and then within the pharmaceutical industry. Over the course of 20 years, Betty was a clinical trials project manager, responsible for the conduct of studies of promising compounds which were submitted to, and approved by, the FDA for treatment of multiple types of cancer.
Patrick Brien, Board of Directors
Patrick Brien currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Cape Fear Collective, a collective impact and social innovation nonprofit organization based in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Prior to his work with CFC, Patrick served as the Director of Strategy Implementation for the University of Global Health Equity, a new health sciences university in rural Rwanda and an initiative of the global health nonprofit, Partners In Health.
Before transitioning to his work in Africa, Patrick served in senior level positions at Boston Medical Center and led organizational development and program management for the global lifestyle and event company, Spartan Race. Patrick began his career in the United States Army where he spent nearly a decade leading infantry units in high intensity combat operations in Afghanistan.
Patrick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Rochester and is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP). He lives in Wilmington with his amazing wife Alison and their two dogs, Tikka and Shuksan.
Amy Gordon, Ed.D.
Join our team!
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