Dr Brian C. Ralph, is the President of William Peace University. Dr. Ralph’s career includes leadership roles at Hocking College in Ohio, Bethany College in West Virginia and Queens University in North Carolina. Dr. Ralph has a number of professional affiliations, including The Fifty Group, Leadership Triangle Executive program; board member of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU), Cooperating Raleigh Colleges (CRC), Downtown Raleigh Alliance, The Alexander Family YMCA, The USA South Athletic Conference and Independent College Enterprise (ICE). As president of WPU, Dr. Ralph oversees a student body of almost 1,000 full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate day, evening, and online programs, and an alumni body of more than 9,000. An astounding 97 percent of graduates from the classes of 2015 and 2016 were employed and/or in graduate school within one year after graduation. Dr. Ralph received his Bachelor of Science degree from Bloomsburg University, and both a Master in Business Administration and Doctorate of Philosophy in Organizational Communication and Culture from Ohio University. He and his wife Kristen have been married 22 years and have three daughters.

He is a 2016–2017 Leadership Triangle Goodmon Fellow.

“I’m driven to work hard to help others reach their potential. I’m a strategic and relational leader, and I’m doing my best work when I’m not trying to be the smartest person in the room, but instead, trying to be the best leader in the room.”

Nick Bavin is the Director of Corporate Partnerships at the Durham Bulls Baseball Club, American Tobacco Campus & Holly Springs Salamanders. He is skilled in the Sports Industry, Coaching, International Business Development, Event Management, and Market Research. Nick is a strong marketing professional with a BA Hons focused in Advertising and Marketing Communications from Bournemouth University. Nick is a 2018 Goodmon Fellow, through the Leadership Triangle Regional Program.

“We are a venue and a convener. And in 2020, we leaned on that part of our identity a lot more. We didn’t have baseball, but we had a stadium. We had a community spirit. And we were determined to turn it into something of continued use for the community. We put on a Black curated movie series in the Fall in partnership with PNC Bank, and will do it again this Spring. We turned the stadium into a golf course. We gave away all of our PPE that we had in the stadium, meant to be for people in…

Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, founder of Bee Downtown holding a honeycomb frame from a bee hive.
Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, founder of Bee Downtown holding a honeycomb frame from a bee hive.

“We may be moving forward at the pace of a turtle…

Jamaica Gilmer is a strategist, storyteller, photographer and curator who has a fifteen-year background in creating and implementing curricula. She is the founder and director of The Beautiful Project (TBP), an arts collective that centers Black women and girls as the authority over their own narratives. Her work as a storyteller and photographer allows her to capture realities that are often overlooked and misunderstood. Jamaica helms TBP’s curating and organizing efforts in partnership with families, organizations, and institutions. A graduate of Howard University’s John H. Johnson School of Communications, she is a highly influential speaker sharing insight across the nation as a guest lecturer, keynote, and panelist. She is the lead curator of TBP’s most recent exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pens, Lens and Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project. The range of her visual storytelling can be found at www.jamaicagilmer.com. Jamaica is a passionate, bold, thought leader and one to watch as a champion for Black girls everywhere.

“I’m committed to growing and learning deeply. Which means that if you’re being led by me, harm is not a value or tool. Someone on my team said to me that bravery through vulnerability is one of my superpowers. As an Executive Director, of The Beautiful Project specifically, I’m keenly aware that we can make our collective dreams come true by working and learning together. Even as I practice empathy, I’m working to not hide under the collective mantra, but to have checkpoints where I know when to step out, lead, and make decisions.”

Cecilia Polanco is the Executive Director of SEEDS. Originally from El Salvador, she has lived in Durham for the past 27 years, where she attended Durham Public Schools and graduated from Northern High School in 2011. She then graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016, where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar and Global Gap Year Fellow. She majored in Global Studies with a focus on Health and the Environment, and Latin America, minored in Geography and earned a certificate in Business from Kenan Flagler. She has since been working on launching and scaling So Good Pupusas, a social justice food truck, and Pupusas for Education, a last dollar scholarship fund for undocumented students. She is a community activist entrepreneur with a long history of work with youth and on various social justice issues surrounding food and environmental justice. She is also a mental health advocate and believes that education can enable us to free ourselves and others, and that love is the root of our relationship with ourselves, each other, and mother Earth. Cecilia is a 2019 Transforming Leaders Goodmon Fellow.

“I came into the Executive Director role right after I finished the Transforming Leaders program in 2019. That work really prepared me to do the transformational work — not just leading an organization — but stewarding a team and a community towards change on a systems level. I feel like everything I learned was really preparing me. I love that I have the opportunity to be in spaces where I can speak up and advocate for myself and our communities. I don’t think that I was ready to do that before as loud and as confidently as I am now.”

A son of working-class immigrants, Ricky grew up in rural North Carolina and is a product of public schools. A first-generation college student, Ricky’s dream finally came true when he was accepted into UNC-Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar. He found his passion for public service while at UNC, mentoring other high school students who grew up in similar circumstances and were working hard to make their own dreams come true. He attended graduate school at Princeton University, focusing on how to create effective public policy to fight poverty and inequality and build strong, vibrant communities.

After a brief time as a consultant and policy analyst supporting nonprofits and foundations across the country, Ricky became an instructor at UNC Chapel Hill and is co-executive director of LatinxEd, an education initiative helping other first-generation college students and immigrant families break down barriers to educational opportunity. In November 2020, he was also elected as the House Representative for District 63 (Alamance County), becoming the first Latinx Democrat to ever be elected in the history of the North Carolina General Assembly.

“I’m asking, what does it look like to really build strong, healthy villages? For our children, for our families, for our community. As we recover, if we think about it solely from a policy perspective, we’ll ask questions like — How do we get kids back in school? How do we get our businesses off the ground? Obviously all that is incredibly important, but so is — How do we rebuild the social fabric of our communities?”

Katie Gailes is a proud native North Carolinian who has devoted most of her professional life to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs. She attended Bennett College for Women in Greensboro and the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. After a long career with IBM, Katie launched a consulting practice, which she ran full-time for six years. She was a counselor in the Growing American Through Entrepreneurship (GATE) program at the NC Rural Economic Development Center where she helped displaced workers in rural North Carolina start businesses. Through this program and her consulting practice, Katie has trained or worked with over 1,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs. Her strength is strategic planning, messaging, and creative problem solving. She is currently the Director of Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Wake Tech, where she runs several projects like LaunchWakeCounty and LaunchWakeTech. She is also the co-Founder of Our Stories: Brave Conversations on Race and a 2012 Goodmon Fellow.

“Well, I was very unhappy with him. So I wrote myself into his lunch hour and thought, I’ll go down there and tell him what I think and at least, he won’t be able to eat lunch. I went in dressed in gauchos and hair all over the place and purple nail polish and bangles all up and down my sleeves and I was very curt with him and very aggressive.

In September, I get a letter from IBM saying we want you to come in and interview.”

Leadership Triangle

Leadership Triangle builds leadership capacity and promotes regionalism across the separate communities of the Triangle (Chatham, Durham, Orange, Wake County).

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