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.
Kathie Seward, Board Secretary
Kathie developed a passion for supporting others affected by breast cancer after her own diagnosis at the age of 34. She understands the challenges a breast cancer patient faces and believes in volunteering to help provide resources and support for people facing those challenges.
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.
Kevin Johnson, Board of Directors
Kevin Johnson is a US Navy veteran, Mortgage Banker, father and volunteer.
Kevin served the Navy from 1992-1996. Stationed on Guam as an H-46 helicopter mechanic, Kevin become the youngest Collateral Duty inspector in his squadron’s history and traveled throughout Southeast Asia and the Persian Gulf.
After an Honorable Discharge from the Navy in 1996, Kevin attended NC State University and graduated in 2000 with a BA in Political Science with a minor in business.
Kevin worked for SAS Institute before entering the real estate industry in 2005 and transitioning to the mortgage business in 2016. Highly trained in sales and communication skills, Kevin addresses issues quickly and honestly and loves nothing more than finding solutions to a challenging situation.
Kevin is a father to his son Maddox and has two dogs, Penny and Lucy.
Kevin’s service to his community is evident through his various charitable roles. Currently, Kevin is Chair of his employer’s Adult Health Committee, is a member of the Wilmington Impact Club and serves on the Board of Director’s for Going Beyond the Pink.
In addition, Kevin volunteered with extensive Hurricane Matthew clean-up efforts, chaired the inaugural United Way golf tournament and volunteered weekly at Rachael Freeman Elementary School.
On April 19, 2013, Kevin had a personal introduction to the world of breast cancer when his wife Janet was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Her diagnosis came just one day before their son’s 5-month birthday.
As is typically the case, the diagnosis came out of nowhere; It all happened so fast for Kevin, Janet and their son Maddox. On a Tuesday afternoon, Janet noticed a difference in her left breast. She made a doctor appoint for Wednesday, had a biopsy on Thursday and received the official cancer diagnosis on Friday. Janet fought courageously until her passing on January 24, 2015.
It was through Janet’s diagnosis and fight that Kevin learned the prevalence of Breast Cancer, as well as the importance of early detection and a strong support network. Had Janet known what to look for, Maddox could still have a mother. It is this knowledge that drives Kevin to support the breast cancer community and hopefully save a life.
When Kevin isn’t working, which is rare, he can be found 3-putting and cursing on the local golf course.
Kara Kenan, Co-Founder
As a co-founder and Executive Director 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 (for free!) to men and women interested in both main-stream medical modalities and supplemental wellness opportunities 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.
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 survivorship program.
Joy Wade, Co-Founder
Joy Wade’s passion is to empower women and men to be their best health advocate before, during, and after a breast cancer diagnosis. Joy is the program manager of Going Beyond the Pink, a local 501c3 that serves 6 southeastern NC counties. She, along with her Going Beyond the Pink team members, provide a variety of initiatives designed to share best breast health practices as well as educational, tangible, and financial resources for those diagnosed with breast cancer.
Joy has developed an educational initiative called “Your Breasts: What’s Normal? What’s Not?”, which has been shared with more than 1000 ladies and men ages high school through senior citizen. As a certified MammaCare Self Breast Exam Instructor her goal is to share both tactile and visual skills “to everyone with breasts” so that they can be their best advocate by knowing what their “normal” is. She also hosts a weekly TaTa Tuesday video segment through the Going Beyond the Pink social media sites.
Joy has called Wilmington home for the past 37 years. She loves being involved with folks in her community in a variety of ways. She taught 2nd grade in the New Hanover County School System for 17 years. She developed and led free “Faithfully Fit” exercise classes for local women for 12 years through her churches. Joy served as the Eastern NC Program Manager for Pretty In Pink Foundation for 5 ½ years and had the privilege to assist many champions through the breast cancer journey.
Joy is a graduate of the Wilma Leadership Institute Class of 2018. She is currently a member of the Leadership 2019 Wilmington class.