Board of Directors

Chris Payne

C. Chris Payne, President

Chris is Director of the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships at UNC Greensboro where she is a Research Professor and adjunct graduate faculty in the department of Human Development and Family Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and Family Relations with a minor in Educational Administration. Her work focuses on both intervention and prevention-based programs for vulnerable children and families which stress parenting, community partnerships, and school readiness. She has developed and directed model school-based programs for children, trained birth-kindergarten teachers, and provided professional development, training, and coding focusing on parent-child, teacher-child, and whole family interactions, including the New Zealand Family Study.  She has served as Co-PI of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development and had numerous other grants including from ACF, SAMHSA, OPA, and NICHD.

Libby Cable

Libby Cable, Vice-President

Libby is a collaborative leader with a career history in both health care planning and administration and change initiatives across the non-profit sector. After completing a Master’s Degree in Community Systems Planning and Development, she worked for 18 years at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, VT. She and her family moved to NC in 1998 at which time she shifted her focus to community-based project work, including nearly a decade with The Lee Institute, serving as a facilitator and project manager for dozens of non-profits and government agencies. Libby retired from The Lee Institute in 2013 to enjoy a range of new adventures personally and professionally, including selective work as an independent contractor, service on non-profit boards and enjoying her grandchildren.

John Ellis

John Ellis, Secretary

John is a Licensed Psychologist with a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. He has over 30 years of experience as a Psychologist and administrator and has built a career around improving the capacity of the service system in Mecklenburg County to support young children and their families.  John was the long time Director of the Children’s Developmental Services Agency in Charlotte and has served on numerous local, regional and state level efforts to support the social-emotional well being of young children.  John is semi-retired and works in various capacities as an early childhood consultant.

Bob Herman-Smith

Bob Herman-Smith, Treasurer

Bob is an Associate Professor and the Graduate Program Director at UNC Charlotte’s School of Social Work. He has a PhD from Case Western Reserve University, an MSW from UNC Chapel Hill, and an MA in psychology from Duquesne University. His research focuses on how policies and programs that promote early childhood health and mental health are implemented in community agencies. He is also interested in the relationship between infant maltreatment and subsequent learning and emotional development. Before earning his PhD, Bob worked for many years in North Carolina’s Part C early intervention program and in early childhood mental health.

Gary Ander

Gary Ander, Advocacy Committee Chair

Gary Ander, MS, LCSW has worked in the field of mental health for over 30 years in both residential and outpatient settings. Although initially focusing on adolescent mental health, Gary has worked with adults and specialized in treating male batterers in group settings. Since 2004 Gary has directed his work on expanding System of Care philosophy in working with children in multiple child serving systems in Alamance County and across North Carolina. He is presently a consultant to the Alamance Alliance, an early childhood mental health system of care SAMHSA grant.

Karen Appleyard Carmody, Ph.D., LCSW

Karen Appleyard Carmody

Karen Appleyard Carmody, Ph.D., LCSW, is a licensed psychologist and assistant professor at the Center for Child and Family Health (CCFH) in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. For over 20 years, her clinical and research focus has been in the areas of infant mental health, child-parent attachment, early childhood trauma and maltreatment, and evidence-based practices to address these issues. Dr. Carmody helps direct two evidence-based home visiting and child maltreatment prevention programs at CCFH, the Healthy Families Durham program and Durham Early Head Start Home-Based program. She also is engaged in several program evaluation and dissemination projects for evidence-based practices for young children who have experienced trauma and early adversity, including Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC) and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).

LaTanya Pender

LaTanya Pender has been a public health nurse for 21 years. She is a BSN graduate from the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill School of Nursing earned received a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix. Her career in public health began in the maternity case management program after which she continued her service to women and children . LaTanya’s passion is public health which brings proactive intervention into the lives of infants and children across the country. Her public health career has always centered around advocacy for women and children at the local and state level.

Terri Shelton

Brenda Dunford, Board Development Committee Chair

Brenda has a B.S. in Special Education from Elizabeth City State University and a M. Ed. in Special Education from UNC Charlotte. She taught special education for over 20 years in North Carolina public schools and is currently the Director of NC Pre-K for the Guilford County Partnership for Children. She is the Professional Co-Chair of the Guilford County Local Interagency Coordinating Council and a Certified Trainer for Child and Family Team trainings. She has a passion for young children and strives for each child to grow and learn.

Archana (Anu) V. Hegde

Archana (Anu) V. Hegde

Archana (Anu) V. Hegde, PhD is an Associate Professor at East Carolina University in the department of Child Development and Family Relations and holds a (BK) license in Birth through Kindergarten Teacher Education. She received her MA from Mumbai University, India and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) in Human Development and Family Studies. She has widely published on topics related to the quality of inclusive and non-inclusive child care and preschool settings, teacher beliefs and practices regarding developmentally appropriate practices, inclusion and diversity. She has worked in the field of early childhood education for more than 12 years in many different capacities; classroom teacher, student supervisor, university supervisor and teacher educator at the university level. She is also an active member of the Birth through Kindergarten Higher Education Consortium Group.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson, Past-President

Melissa R. Johnson, Ph.D. is immediate past president and is currently an ex officio board member. She received her Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1980, and retired in June 2016 after 30 years at WakeMed in Raleigh as the psychologist on the pediatric and neonatology services. In retirement, she will continue her efforts on behalf of young children as a member of the Partnership for Children statewide board and as a volunteer with NC Child.

Catherine Joyner

Catherine Joyner

Catherine Joyner is the Project Director for North Carolina Essentials for Childhood located in the Women’s and Children’s Health Section of the North Carolina Division of Public Health. North Carolina Essentials for Childhood is a five year CDC funded initiative. In this role, she facilitates public efforts for the integration of child maltreatment prevention into existing public programming and works in collaboration with Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina to oversee implementation of recommendations from the NC Institute of Medicine Task Force on Essentials for Childhood. Prior to join the NC Division of Public Health, Catherine was a social work educator, teaching child welfare and practice courses and directing field education. She also served as the Assistant Director and co-investigator for the WSSU Grandparenting Program and was the faculty evaluator for the Forsyth County Juvenile Drug Treatment Court. Over the past 20 years she has provided public and private child welfare services as direct practice social worker, clinician, supervisor, and administrator. She received a Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University.


Ralph Mitchell

Ralph Mitchell, Chairman of Board and founder of Nehemiah-The Leadership Company, is a highly sought-after speaker and trainer who is meriting recognition in the areas of motivation, coaching and goal setting. Ralph Mitchell’s background from research associate at MDC, Inc. in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to senior consultant Public Administration Program at North Carolina Central University in Durham provides him with organizational insight. He held a position of senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership for 15 years. His focus is on leadership, personal, and professional development and related topics. He is a member of the American Society for Training and Development and The National Speakers Association.


Eugene (Gene) Perrotta

Gene Perrotta’s education includes the University of Delaware (B.A.), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (M.S.W.), and North Carolina State University (M.Ed.).  Gene has worked with and for North Carolina’s young children from the early 1970s until present, starting in 1973 with one of the first home-based, early intervention programs in the state. From 1978 until 1996, he served as State Program Consultant for DECs and the High Priority Infant Tracking Program, and then as the State Early Intervention Staff Development Coordinator.  In 1996,  he became the Early Intervention Director at the Smoky Mountain Center in Sylva and in 2006, the Director of the Children’s Developmental Services of Buncombe, Madison, Henderson and Transylvania Counties. Since retiring from the NC Division of Public Health in 2006, he has been a consultant for training and technical assistance at the Region A Partnership for Children.

Marnie Reber

Marnie Reber

Marnie Reber is the Director of Family Support Services for the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children. She has been a Parent Educator for 15 years and has worked with families in her native state of Ohio and in North Carolina. At the Iredell Partnership for Children Marnie oversees the Parents as Teachers Program and the Early Learning Resource Center where she works with Parent Educators and Education Specialists to inform parents and providers of the importance of healthy child and family development. Marnie also serves as the leader of the Nurturing the Brain training team from Iredell County, facilitates the Parents as Teachers Advisory Board, participates in the Iredell Statesville Schools Inclusion Initiative and is a member of the Credentialing Committee of the North Carolina Parenting Education Network. She has previously co-chaired the Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Marnie will complete her Masters of Education in Leadership, Advocacy and Policy from UNC Wilmington in December, 2016.

Sharon Loza

Sharon is the Project Manager for the Kaleidoscope Project, a community initiative aiming to improve places and spaces where children live, learn and play in Wake County as a means to nurture children’s mental, social and emotional well-being. She holds a MEd in Early Intervention and Family Support from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a MA in Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is currently pursuing her PhD in at North Carolina State University in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development. Over the course of her career, she has served at the national, state, and local levels on various research, intervention, training and technical assistance, system transformation and policy efforts focused on improving infant and early childhood care, education, and development. During her time with the NC Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, she helped lead initiatives around policy and professional development of the early childhood workforce in early childhood mental health.

Ariel Shumaker-Hammond

Ariel Shumaker-Hammond

Ariel Shumaker-Hammond has a Master’s degree in Public Health (with a focus on maternal and child health) and a Master’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of California at Los Angeles, and maintains her LCSW. Ariel began her career post-graduate school as the director and primary therapist for an adolescent parenting program in Los Angeles, and has continued to build her experience and training in both perinatal and early childhood mental health. Ariel has worked with pregnant and postpartum families and their young children in California, Guatemela, and North Carolina. Ariel currently works in Asheville as a Behavioral Medicine Specialist in the MAHEC OB/GYN department and is also part of a small private practice focused on perinatal and early childhood mental health called Porch Light Counseling. Ariel is trained in several perinatal and infant mental health models, including Postpartum Support International’s certification program, Circle of Security, and Child Parent Psychotherapy. In addition to serving on this board, Ariel is the co-director of the Perinatal Emotional Health Network (PEHN) in Western NC.