Libby Cable, 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.
Karen Appleyard Carmody, Vice President
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).
Sharon Loza, Secretary
Sharon serves as the Lead for the North Carolina Infant-Toddler Program State Systemic Improvement Plan that focuses on improving social-emotional outcomes for children birth to three years old with special needs. She also serves as the Part C Data Manager where she is responsible for oversight of all data reporting for federal and state grants, programmatic evaluation activities, and efforts to ensure effective implementation of program activities. Prior to her current role, she served as the Project Director 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. In addition, during her time with the NC Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, she served as an Implementation Specialist supporting systems building work and applying principles of Implementation Science in rural counties in North Carolina for numerous early childhood evidence-based strategies supporting young children and families. Further, she helped lead initiatives around early childhood workforce development, system transformation and policy efforts to improve early childhood mental health. 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.
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.
Ennis C. Baker
Ennis C. Baker, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker, with an MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill, specializing in early childhood mental health and has served in a variety of roles serving high risk children ages birth to 5 and their families. She began her career as a toddler teacher in San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunter’s Point neighborhood in 1988 and since 1990 has lived and worked in various counties in North Carolina focusing on children under 5 as a child care provider, home visitor, program director and on a multidisciplinary evaluation team. From 1999-2018, Ennis served as a manager and mental health specialist for Orange County Head Start/Early Head Start in Chapel Hill, NC. In this role, she provided leadership and early childhood mental health consultation to program staff and families around issues of toxic stress, child abuse & neglect, parenting, preventing and managing children’s challenging behavior, quality child care, adult & child mental health and strengthening families by promoting protective factors. Ennis is trained as a facilitator/parent educator in Triple P Level 3, Incredible Years Parenting Program, Circle of Security and Darkness to Light/Stewards of Children. She has co-chaired the Orange/Chatham Early Childhood Mental Health Task Force since 2012 and the Orange RESILIENCE Initiative since 2017.
Ruby Brown-Herring has a Bachelor of Social Work from UNC Wilmington and a Masters of Education in Student Personnel Services from the University of South Carolina. She has over twenty years of experience in program management and adult education and has a passion for building relationships while working effectively in highly collaborative environments. Ruby has extensive experience in developing, planning, and managing continuing education and public education programs for various audiences including healthcare professionals. Ruby is a certified instructor in Mental Health First Aid (adult and youth) and is the former Mental Health First Aid Coordinator for North Carolina. Prior to that, she served as the Associate Director for Mental Health and Public Health Education for Wake AHEC and was a founding member of the NC Infant/Young Child Mental Health Association. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Leo M. Croghan Memorial Foundation and the Faith Connections on Mental Illness. She is the mother of twin girls – one with major depression and anxiety and one with ADHD and is passionate about reducing the stigma around mental illness, particularly in the education system.
Ginger Clough, is a Public Health Nurse at Buncombe County Health &ammp; Human Services in Asheville, NC, a graduate student at UNC-CH Gillings Global School of Public Health and founding member of Resources for Resilience non-profit. She has worked in Maternal-Child Health Public Health Programs for 20+ years.
Ginger teaches resiliency practices through Resources for Resilience and promotes resiliency-informed programs for maternal-child health services. She is a certified trainer in the Nurturing the Brain Model and Facilitator for Circle of Security Parenting Program. Ginger serves on the Nurse-Family Partnership National Innovation Advisory Committee and the Buncombe ACEs Collaborative.
Practicing and teaching resiliency skills, as well as studying and teaching about attachment, has deepened Ginger’s holistic nursing approach and has enhanced her ability to bridge theory and recent findings in attachment, neuro-development, neuroplasticity, and affect regulation to support parents to be the best parent they can be for their child. Ginger promotes resilience-informed practices as a tool for change at the individual, community and organizational level, emphasizing how trauma-informed and resilience-focused care and collaboration create a more just society thriving with health, economic and environmental equity for all. Ginger has a deep love of nature, reading, potlucks, gardening, & bee keeping. Ginger and her family live beside Bee Tree Creek in Swannanoa, NC.
Dr. Irina Falls
Dr. Irina Falls, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Dr. Irina Falls, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the Birth-Kindergarten Teacher Education Program in the School of Education at University of North Carolina at Pembroke, has started her professional career as Child Clinical Psychologist in Bucharest, Romania. She came to the US as a Fulbright scholar interested in the care and education of young children with disabilities. She got her PH.D. in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with emphasis in inclusive early childhood education. Dr. Falls was research scientist at Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities and at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute before becoming faculty in the School of Education at UNC Pembroke. Initial research interests were related to operationalizing the “school readiness” concept for preschoolers with disabilities. Later she became interested in studying resilience in beginning teachers and the role of mobile technology as a protection factor, with the ability to predict the retention and effectiveness of beginning teachers in rural schools. Her current research focuses on pre-service and in-service preparation of teachers serving young children. Dr. Falls has published and presented at several national and international conferences on strategies for improving online team work, on factors affecting teachers’ perceived self-efficacy, on the role of mobile technology in teacher retention and effectiveness, and on implementing the Japanese Lesson Study model of professional development in US schools.
Paul Lanier, MSW, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work, where he teaches courses in social policy and program evaluation. Dr. Lanier received his doctoral degree from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. He was selected as a fellow with the national Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being, and was a NIMH T32 fellow at the Center for Mental Health Services Research. His research focuses on developing, evaluating, and scaling-up evidence-based prevention programs in child welfare, mental health, and early childhood systems. His recent work has involved engaging and supporting low-income families with young children, particularly new fathers. For this line of research, he recently completed a federally-funded quasi-experimental trial of a peer support group for fathers of children in Head Start. He was also recently an investigator on the first randomized controlled trial implementing Triple P in the child welfare system. His current work focuses on family engagement in evidence-based home visiting programs. In addition to his focus on intervention research, Dr. Lanier also uses linked, multi-sector administrative data for policy analysis of child welfare and health systems serving vulnerable populations. Paul lives in Chapel Hill and has two young Tar Heels.
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.
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.
C. Chris Payne, President Emeritus
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.
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.
Marnie Reber is the Director of Family Support Services for the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children. She has been a Parent Educator for 16 years and has worked with families in her native state of Ohio and in North Carolina. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. In her capacity with the Iredell Smart Start agency she works with Parent Educators and Education Specialists to inform parents and providers of the importance of healthy child and family development. Marnie oversees the Parents as Teachers, Parent-Child Playgroups, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. In addition to the NCIMHA Board of Directors, she has co-chaired the Local Interagency Coordinating Council, facilitates the Parents as Teachers Advisory Board and serves with the Iredell County Partners Behavioral Collaborative. Marnie received her M.Ed. from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Leadership, Advocacy, and Policy. She and her husband live in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Jodi Whiteman, M.Ed., CEIM, is the Director of Professional Development for ZERO TO THREE. In this position Ms. Whiteman is responsible for advancing ZERO TO THREE’s capacity to offer high quality professional development to the early childhood field. Jodi serves as the project director for many grant funded projects as well as private contracts housed in the Professional Development department. She has a wealth of experience providing professional development and technical assistance on a variety of early childhood topics nationally and internationally. Her past experiences as adjunct faculty at the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University, a bi-lingual speech/language therapist assistant, an infant/toddler child care director, an early intervention specialist, and a certified educator of infant massage informs her work and passion for supporting young children and families. She has authored many professional articles on a variety of early childhood topics including, “Supporting Staff Well Being to Combat Stress and Avoid Burnout.” Jodi holds a B.S. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona and a M.Ed., in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University.