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Niki is a life long resident of North Carolina where she was born in Union County and then has spent most of her adult life in the Charlotte area. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UNC Chapel Hill, Masters in Nursing from UNC- Charlotte and in 2018 received her Doctorate in Nursing Practice from Duke University. For the majority of her professional career she has worked in hospice and palliative care across both clinical and leadership settings. Currently, she works in Medical Affairs for Helsinn Therapeutics where she focuses work on research and medical education in supportive oncology. She also serves a consultant for the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association and works clinically for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region.
Niki has been married since 2002 and they have two daughters in middle and high school. The entire family has been heavily involved with service in the Charlotte community, predominantly through work with their church home- Sardis Presbyterian Church. It was there that they learned about the mission of Families Forward and knew instantly this was where they wanted to land as a family to provide volunteer service and learn more about the needs with Charlotte and the surrounding areas. Brady and Niki joined as family liaisons in 2019 and have mentored their family partner along with their children’s support.
Ursula Felder is a Senior Business Control Specialist on the Global Procurement Third Party Operations team within the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Division. Ursula is responsible for managing and strengthening risk controls in the Vendor Risk & Performance Management Tool (VRPM) for the Third Party Program. Currently, she is working temporarily with the Platform Testing Team as the UAT Lead for VRPM and xRA applications.
Ursula joined the bank in 2014 as a Business Analyst in Vendor Admin Operations currently known as Third Party Operations. In 2016, she became a Senior Business Control Specialist supporting the Vendor Risk & Performance Management Tool (VRPM). Prior to joining the bank, Ursula was a Senior Data Consultant with Premier Healthcare where she was responsible for analyzing hospital data and assisting with application enhancements.
Ursula obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management.
Residing in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ursula is an active volunteer with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, where her children currently attend and supporting organizations such as the Crisis Assistance Ministry, Harvest Food Bank, Florence Crittenton and Habitat for Humanity. Being an advocate for education, Ursula also spent time tutoring in her local schools and community church.
Lucas is originally from Charlotte, NC and graduated from Duke University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and was a member of the football team. He lived in Chapel Hill for two years after graduation and moved back to Charlotte in 2018 to spearhead the opening of Brown Advisory’s Charlotte office location. At Brown Advisory, Lucas creates bespoke investment solutions for individuals, families, endowments, and foundations.
Lucas takes great pride in helping his clients grow their investments and achieve their goals and wants to carry this passion into helping families who are struggling with upward mobility reach their goals. He believes strong families are essential for overcoming instances of poverty and the resources afforded by Families Forward Charlotte empower families to improve their lives and escape generational cycles of poverty.
Travluss Donnell Mickens grew up in Charlotte, NC. He is a knowledgeable and highly motivated senior business leader with over 20 years of consistent successes in building, growing, and improving the profitability, performance, and value of companies. Currently, Travluss works at TIAA as the SVP of Governance, Reporting, and Process for the Bank Compliance function.
Before joining TIAA Travluss held various leadership roles in other organizations such as Bank of America, Danaher Tool Group, and Black & Decker. Travluss is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University where he received a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
He actively mentors at work and since 2017 has participated as a mentor for the Charlotte Housing Scholarship Fund Mentoring program. Travluss credits his upbringing for providing stellar examples of living with a purpose and thus he tries to find different ways to give back to the community in which he grew up in.
When Travluss isn’t working his day job or spending time with his family, you can typically find him being active doing DIY projects around the house, golfing, or trying new places to eat with his wife.
Antonique was born and raised in Salisbury, NC. Antonique returned home last year to continue her passion for helping communities in the City of Charlotte. She is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Studies. She is seeking to pursue her Master’s degree in Counseling in the Summer of 2021. Antonique discovered her true-calling for working in the non-profit sector, three years ago, shortly after she separated from the United States Air Force. She has always been involved in her local community, whether at her local shelter on the weekends or full-time. Antonique has a passion for helping the people within the community and believes that to make real change we must equip people with the necessary resources to live healthy and enriching lives.
In 2015, Deja’s husband tragically passed away from a rare form of cancer, leaving her and her 3 children to fend for themselves. Deja was understandably devastated and had the weight of the world on her and the stress eventually got to her. One night, almost a year after his death, Deja made the mistake of drinking and driving – she didn’t even normally drink – but this choice branded her with felony convictions and 3 years probation. Remorsefully, Deja took responsibility, did her short stint in jail, and began rebuilding her life. She was released from probation 7 months early, but the damage was done… the felony prevented her from renting anywhere, which eventually left her and her children homeless.
We met Deja in July 2019 – she was referred to us by the staff at her children’s school and we set up a meeting. Deja told us that she was nervous for that meeting – she was worried that if she said the wrong thing she would lose her kids – but she eventually disclosed that they were homeless, living in their vehicle and parking at rest stops at night. Deja was trying to work, maintain her probation requirements, get the kids to school, and somehow provide food and peace for her children who had already been through so much. They had to leave their last apartment because it was filled with mold, roaches and bed bugs. Deja had no choice but to live out of her car when she didn’t have family she could call on or the funds for a motel. After hearing her struggles, we provided some basics to Deja on the spot and promised her we would get them out of their car as fast as possible. We quickly got them into a hotel so their family could have somewhat of a stable place to stay while we got them matched with their Family Liaison (mentor).
The plan was for our family partners (Deja’s family) and their assigned Family Liaison (mentors), to meet for the first time at our September 2019 kickoff/workshop. In this urgent situation we put out word to our liaisons from Sardis Presbyterian Church that we needed someone to start early, and Niki and Brady Koesel responded quickly that they could.
We can’t imagine her having better liaisons. They truly took a no-judgement and “meet you where you are” approach to Deja’s situation and over a short time, Deja found that she could rely on Niki and Brady to be there for her. Niki even left work in the midst of meetings to console Deja when she felt like giving up. Niki and Brady took a leap of faith and got Deja a job interview through a friend of theirs – Deja got the job! But finding a way to get her family housed remained the biggest obstacle. Every turn, they hit a brick wall because of Deja’s past. After combing through information online, making calls to housing organizations, and even trying to find private renters to no avail, Niki reached out to a friend who connected her with RunningWorks and this is where things really took a turn for the better…
RunningWorks graciously set up a meeting with Niki and Deja where they told her story that resonated with the organization which works with homeless men and women to eventually get them housed through their program. They got Deja approved for housing through their partners! Waiving the security deposit, subsidizing her rent, and providing some essentials to her family so they could quickly get settled – they were an answer to prayers!
FFC also picked up some of the monthly subsidy, reached out to solicit donations from our community, filling many cars and trucks full of home goods for her family, and coordinated her furniture selection and delivery through Furnish for Good so this family could finally have the peaceful and secure home they deserve.
FFC is grateful for the many organizations and individuals that contributed to this success story! Niki and Brady are our heroes for their persistence throughout this process, and Deja is a rock-star for her ability to keep plugging forward with all of the obstacles thrown her way. She approved of us sharing her story saying, “I want people to read my story so they know not to give up”.
Starr, Leonardo and their eight children first arrived in Charlotte in February 2019 and were homeless and scared. Over the time that we have known this family, we have been blown away by their resourcefulness and determination. The parents have overcome countless obstacles and are now both working. The mom walked two miles to get to and from work late at night from the only bus stop that runs anywhere near the hotel they stayed in. The family participated in all of our educational workshops and communicated with us daily to share small victories and express appreciation.
After months of searching for affordable housing in a city where very little exists, wading through housing listings that often turned out to be scams, and coming close to needing to move into a shelter where they would be split up—they finally found a home. FFC helped them pay the deposit and first months rent, as well as furnish the home. We were also able to help them get a vehicle to ensure their ability to maintain jobs. Most recently (Nov 2020), both parents were able to obtain great jobs with higher pay, getting them closer to economic stability.
Koman and his wife work low-wage jobs and struggle daily, but they were fortunate to have a (rental) roof over their heads. Until one day, they didn’t. Their landlord decided to sell and they had 30 days to move out. This year, the Koman family has dealt with a car accident which made them go from two vehicles to one and now they were paying to live in a motel with their four daughters. Affordable housing in Charlotte doesn’t exist and their life went from barely stable to scary in one month.
Koman’s liaison met with his family and instantly felt a connection. They saw how hard Koman works and how devastating the situation was for their family. The liaison researched housing options for them and they sat together to fill out numerous housing applications. Koman was denied several times and then good news arrived – the family qualified for a rental home that was perfect. Except, a deposit and first month’s rent was due in two days. Koman and his wife just used most of their savings to pay for the motel and didn’t have access to all the money required in such a short time.
Families Forward Charlotte stepped in to help the family meet this urgent need. Without
this assistance, Koman and his family would still be out of a stable home. They moved
into their new home a week later and are now working towards their next goal; finding
more stable work so they can save for their future and not fall into this situation again.
Their liaison continued working with them for seven more months to help them gain the life-long stability they desired.
After leaving an abusive relationship with her 2 children, Catherine struggled and remained homeless for 4 years. Living with family and in transitional homes, Catherine managed to maintain a job at McDonald’s and worked her way up the ranks. Then, Catherine got good news, she finally qualified for the subsidized housing she so desperately needed! However, there was a catch. The home was in Asheville, NC, two hours from her family and the city she knows. While moving and learning a new city is tough, Catherine was excited about her children having a place to call their own saying, “it is exhausting for me and the kids to always have to live by someone else’s rules and not have a home – they deserve this.”
FFC volunteers spent weeks working with Catherine to plan and organize her move, helping to pay the deposit so she still had some savings when she moved in, and collected the essential home goods she needed in order to provide a warm home for her children. We were thrilled to be able to send her off with a Uhaul full of items for their new start, all thanks to many of you who so generously donated money and home goods!
**1 year update – Catherine and kids are still doing well. Catherine moved into management at McDonald’s and she is saving up to purchase a vehicle.
“I have been involved with Families Forward of Charlotte for 2 years now. I am married with 4 children. I was first introduced to the program by the school Social Worker at my son’s elementary school, Oakhurst STEAM Academy. She briefly explained the program but stated she felt that I would benefit from the program a lot. I am always open to be involved in anything that may help me to better provide for my family. My husband and I went to the very first meeting and didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into. Be kept an open mind about everything. We met Carrie Christian, who is the founder of the program and our liaisons at this initial meeting. Everyone was very pleasant and helpful. As the days went by things were needed, resources were given and tons of encouragement was handed out. At this time I was just laid off of work and my husband wasn’t able to work due to health issues. So no work meant bills weren’t able to be paid. Families Forward came in and made a very stressful time more manageable. They were there to help with our financial situation, when I couldn’t get help anywhere else (believe me I tried). They not only offered some financial support but were also just a huge support system for us and for many other families in the program. Programs like this are far and few in between. Carrie Christian and the other volunteers are very driven and genuine people. They strive to help out in any way that they can to try to insure that what they are doing will impact every family individually. The workshops that we attend are tailored to what will be beneficial to helping families grow. Families Forward was able to put smiles on a lot of children’s faces during Christmas last year, smiles that were probably not going to be so bright due to parents not being able to make ends meet, so gifts weren’t an option. One thing that I really appreciate about this program if nothing else is, they treat you like you’re a “Person!” They don’t judge you based on your situation, your personality, your past or appearance. You aren’t a “Charity Case” to them you are just a human being who needs a little more help/support at the moment than the next person. I will forever be grateful to have met an organization like this one.”
Because of your generosity the families in our program had financial and emotional relief from the stress brought on by COVID-19! You helped us raise over $50,000 that provided support for the families over 4 months so they didn’t have to worry about managing financial demands while out of work.
Families were provided with over $7,500 in food support through food gift cards and groceries/meals delivered.
$33,000+ was provided in rent and utility assistance to prevent families from facing eviction or utility shut-offs.
Over $4,000 provided for connectivity – internet service and/or phone bills.
$4,500+ provided for various other needs including childcare, insurance and car payments.
45 kids received games and learning activities
25 families received fresh meals from Feeding Charlotte
18 parents attended Zoom Workshops with a Life Coach
67 kids received snacks through the mail to supplement their food budget
25 families received Essentials Baskets filled with vital cleaning supplies
“I have so much deep appreciation for everyone in this organization, and y’all have helped me in every way possible. I am using the tools that I’ve gained from this moving forward, and I have confidence in my ability to maintain stability for my family from here out, but there’s this new adjustment happening [COVID-19]. While the world is in crisis, what was working for me before this happened isn’t gonna work for me now so I have to figure out something else, but I know how to do that, and I am working on it. Thanks again, Michelle”
Kristin and Rodney fell on hard times and were essentially homeless, having to move in with Kristin’s mom – into a one-bedroom apartment. They and their son, Dorian, slept on an air mattress in the small den of the apartment each night. Not only was this an uncomfortable situation for the family, but their staying in the apartment could jeopardize the rental agreement for Kristin’s mom. In October 2018, Kristin and Rodney entered our program and the family was matched with Elaine, a volunteer liaison who started working with Kristin and Rodney on setting goals, job searches and budgeting. Mainly, Elaine became a support to the family that they otherwise didn’t know.
The family’s main goal was to move into a rental house of their own, and in December 2018 they got the news that a unit was available, but they hadn’t been able to save up enough for a deposit. Because Kristin and Rodney were such willing participants of our program, attending educational workshops and developing a relationship with Elaine, FFC was able to provide the deposit so they could move from homeless to housing, establishing stability for their sweet family. With the help of our generous community, Elaine, Eric (volunteer), and Telitha (board member), they were able to move into their new home and start their new life with it almost fully furnished!
We have since heard from a teacher at Dorian’s school that he talks about how much he loves his new room, and we heard from Kristin who sent the message “We are truly being blessed. We’ve never had a village before.”
My name is Crystal Meggett-Huntley. I was born and raised here in Charlotte, NC. I have been married to my husband Tommy for 8 years now and we have 6 beautiful children, ranging from ages 11-22. I currently work for Atrium Health Myers Park OB/GYN as a Registered Medical Assistant. I have been employed there for 2 years but a RMA for a total of 5 years. I enjoy listening to music, playing board/card games with my family, cooking and trying new recipes. I am honored to be a part of this organization as a Board Member now, being that I was once a participant. This program has helped me and my family grow so much. I feel honored to get too see both sides of this program. I enjoy helping people and watching them grow into someone that somebody probably told them they could never be.
Deatrice is a business owner, community leader, and volunteer. Through her marketing firm, she serves socially responsible private companies, non-profits, and community groups. In addition to running her own business, Deatrice served on a committee for Dress for Success, helping women make the most of their second chance as well as Chill Sacramento as the Marketing Strategist for the wellness brand. She has also served on the NAWBO-Sac Valley Board of Directors, helped bring NAWBO SB 826 to the floor (women on corporate boards), and was nominated by NAWBO in 2018 for the Achievement Against All Odds award.
Deatrice earned her Bachelors degree from East Carolina University and is currently pursuing her Masters at NC State for Psychology/Family Life Coaching. She attended high school in Charlotte and after 5 years of building in California, she relocated back to Charlotte to be closer to family and to find ways to give back to the community that shaped her. She joins the Families Forward Charlotte team with hopes of pushing the mission of helping families toward long-term stability and economic mobility.
Kirsten was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. She has a B.S. in Psychology and Business from Gardner-Webb University and a MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management from UNC Charlotte. She is currently the Senior Human Resources Coordinator for Hornets Sports & Entertainment.
Kirsten has always been interested in helping others. While in undergrad, Kirsten discovered the power of nonprofits after watching various local nonprofits lift two of her family members out of homelessness. She is passionate about ending cycles of generational poverty and inspiring people to discover the world that exists outside of their typical environments. She is grateful to be a part of Families Forward’s mission to serve underrepresented population, bringing them to a place of stability and sustainability.
Jack discovered Families Forward Charlotte in early 2020 and was inspired by the mission to help families achieve financial sustainability and long-term economic mobility. In his role on the board of directors, he strives to give back to the Charlotte community which has provided many opportunities for him and his family.
Jack serves as Secretary of Families Forward Charlotte. He is originally from Columbia, MD – one of the country’s first planned suburban cities – and has seen the incredible power of a diverse and supportive community. He moved to Charlotte in 2005 and now works for Bank of America. Jack graduated with a B.S. in economics from Towson University and a M.B.A from University of North Carolina – Charlotte. He lives in Huntersville with his wife, son and daughter.
Lauren was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and moved to Charlotte with her husband Aaron in June of 2019. She has a B.S in Psychology from the College of Charleston and a master’s degree in Counseling from UNC Charlotte. She is currently the Assistant Director for Tutoring at UNC Charlotte’s Center for Academic Excellence and also practices as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate.
Lauren has always been interested in nonprofit work and passionate about advocating for others. Prior to moving to Charlotte, she worked for the Alzheimer’s Association in Virginia. She is excited to be involved with Families Forward Charlotte and their efforts to combat poverty because she believes everyone deserves a fair and equal opportunity to succeed. She is looking forward to mentoring and supporting families, reducing the impact of poverty on those families, and helping improve the city of Charlotte’s overall economic mobility.
Backpacks filled with school supplies as well as holiday presents and meals were provided to families.
Family Liaisons are able to request up to $1,000 in financial assistance for their partnering families based on needs to help the family break through barriers to success.
Baskets containing toiletries, cleaning supplies, seasonal items, food items and a grocery gift card were distributed to each family three times throughout the year (fall, winter and spring).
We host monthly Educational Workshops for families covering topics such as Financial Empowerment, technology skills, parenting skills and healthy cooking.
Family Liaisons helped families set life goals and develop an action plan. As families demonstrated needs, Family Liaisons helped to locate resources for the family often using our public database.
Twenty-five families, including 70+ children, were referred by Hornets Nest Elementary and Oakhurst STEAM Academy and matched with Family Liaisons. Families connected with their Liaisons through in-person meetings, text, email and/or phone calls.
Tracey serves as board chair for Families Forward Charlotte’s Weekend Food Packs program. She grew up in Statesville, NC and has lived in Charlotte since 2005. Tracey lives in Southpark with her husband Keith, daughter Elise and Zoe, a terrier mix. Tracey graduated from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She lived in Atlanta, GA for 12 years and was the Creative Director of Choptalk magazine, the official publication of the Atlanta Braves.
Tracey volunteers every year at the annual Bosom Buddies tennis benefit which raises money in support of breast cancer awareness and research. She’s also volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank and done pro bono work for InReach. For the past two years, Tracey’s daughter has collected pet food & toys in lieu of birthday gifts to donate to the Humane Society of Charlotte. Tracey is excited to be a part of Families Forward Charlotte!
Andy was raised in Fort Wayne, IN and has lived in Charlotte since 2014. He attended Calvin College, where he met his wife, Katie, and graduated with a degree in Accounting. He then moved to Charlotte for a job at Ernst & Young and now works as a Certified Financial Planner for Capstone Advisors.
While working with individuals who had already achieved financial freedom, Andy recognized a large, unserved population in the city of Charlotte—particularly, families living in poverty and struggling with upward mobility—where financial freedom seems unattainable. He discovered Families Forward Charlotte and saw that they were taking action to provide families with hope, support, and a path to a higher quality of life. Andy strongly believes that by investing in people, building authentic relationships, and practicing compassionate accountability, Families Forward Charlotte can help transform the city into a place where everybody has the opportunity to flourish.
Latoya Brown grew up in a military family and after moving around all of her life found a home in Charlotte in 2011. There, she started a family of her own and found that living paycheck to paycheck posed a constant challenge. Following an eviction, her family struggled to stay together under the same roof. When her daughter started kindergarten, Latoya and her family were referred to Families Forward Charlotte. With the support of their liaisons and resources provided by and referred to them by Families Forward Charlotte, Latoya’s family was able to make significant strides toward transitioning out of poverty and into a more stable economic position. Latoya has received her Bachelors in Information Technology from American Public University Systems. She hopes to contribute to Families Forward Charlotte by offering a unique perspective and helping other families overcome the barriers keeping them from economic mobility.
Michelle Powers has long been an advocate for non-profits, volunteering and working alongside many throughout her career. She also created the first school-wide on-site student community service platform at Rea View Elementary. Her role as Chair of Marketing Communications will be to plan and oversee the complete online/offline communications plan and messaging. She has been a Marketing professional for over 20 years. Michelle is married to Anthony, and together they have three boys, AJ (10), Brody (8) and Declan (5).
Caroline grew up in Greensboro, NC and has lived in Charlotte since 2012. She is passionate about social justice issues, and graduated from Appalachian State with her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with a concentration in Peace, Conflict and Human Rights and minored in Nonprofit Management. Following graduation, Caroline moved to Charlotte to work for AT&T supporting two of their largest Financial Services accounts. Following her true passion, Caroline maintained active involvement in Charlotte’s nonprofit community. As a board member the past two years she proved her passion for our organization and has continually gone above and beyond her role responsibilities. She is turning her volunteer work into a full time position to help us grow and serve the Charlotte community. She also knows our org in and out and can hit the ground running!
Holly Huffman joined the board of Families Forward Charlotte in April 2018 and is excited to serve in the role of Communications/Grants Chair. She brings background experiences that include teaching and mentoring students of all ages, as well as time spent in the role of Development Director for a small non-profit. She enjoys writing and is grateful for the opportunity to put her writing skills to use in support of Families Forward’s programs. Holly is originally from western Pennsylvania, but has lived and taught in Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, and England. She is on the faculty of Western Governors University and serves as a mentor for graduate students earning advanced degrees in teaching English Language Learners. She lives in Charlotte with her husband and three children.
Mandy moved to Charlotte in 2004 to study at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. She currently works for a FinTech start up, XUP Payments as a Marketing Director responsible for developing and delivering marketing campaigns. She is passionate about giving back to the community serving on two boards – Families Forward Charlotte and the UNCC Belk College Alumni Council. Mandy is excited to serve alongside this organization and looks forward to improving economic mobility for families across Mecklenburg County.
Telitha is originally from Durham, NC and graduated from Kenan Flagler’s Business School at UNC Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She moved to Charlotte in 2002 with her husband after living in New York City for 5 years. Since moving to Charlotte Telitha has volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank, tutored kids at a local elementary school, served as the Finance Chair of a non-profit children’s consignment sale, organized several donation drives and has served on multiple non-profit boards and committees. Her 2 daughters who are now in elementary school are involved in giving back as a family. They collect donations at their birthday parties and always help shop for the kids they sponsor during the holidays. Telitha is striving to be an example for her kids to help others and is excited to join the FCC team and help make a difference.
James serves as Treasurer of Families Forward Charlotte. Originally from Dallas, Texas, he grew up in an area where upward mobility was possible, and he is a product of this dynamic. He moved to Charlotte in 2003 to begin his career and has fallen in love with the city that he now calls home. However, he has strong convictions that our city must improve the low levels of mobility it is currently experiencing through stronger levels of social capital. He believes Family Forward Charlotte is a step in the right direction to create greater stability for families and children in our community.
James resides in Charlotte with his wife, Katie who was born and raised here, and son, Ben. He currently works as an investment banker for Deloitte Corporate Finance. James holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and finance from the University of Texas at Dallas and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Allie grew up in Gastonia, NC and has lived in Charlotte since 2007. She attended Appalachian State University with a degree in Interior Design but later went back to school to earn her Masters of Arts in teaching from UNCC.
Previously, Allie has volunteered her time with a local elementary school as a tutor for two small kids, and at Levine Children’s Hospital. After working in the school system and interacting with different schools, her eyes were opened to the many needs of children.
Allie has always had a passion for children and helping others and, as a mother of two, she wants to share her passion and lead by example. I’m proud to be on the board of Families Forward Charlotte and I look forward to changing lives of those in our community.
Jennifer grew up in Gastonia, NC and moved to Charlotte after graduating from Appalachian State University in 2004 with a degree in Advertising/Communications. She and her husband, Ian, moved to San Francisco in 2010 where she worked as an Account Executive for Clinique. Ian’s career with Wells Fargo brought the couple back to Charlotte in 2013.
Each Christmas Jennifer and Ian adopt several impoverished, disadvantaged families from the high school they graduated from in Gastonia. Early December they host a large Christmas party and request guests bring gift cards or gifts for the adopted families. This Christmas party has become a tradition and continues to grow each year.
Jennifer continues to be an advocate for those in need. The reward of seeing little faces light up and gratitude from concerned parents motivates her to continue to help those in need.
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Ashley serves as an At Large Board Member of Families Forward Charlotte. Ashley grew up in Gastonia, NC and has lived in Charlotte since 2005. She resides in the Myers Park area of Charlotte with her husband, Jennings, and young daughter, Randall. Ashley graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and has a certificate in Event Planning from Central Piedmont Community College. This has enabled her to run her event planning business, Events Without A Hitch. Growing up as a minister’s daughter, Ashley learned at a very young age the importance of giving to those in need. For that reason, Ashley has remained active in the Charlotte community for over 10 years, by volunteering and serving in leadership roles with the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte, Young Affiliates of the Mint, Junior League of Charlotte, Art with Heart, and as Social Committee Chair for Charlotte House community. “I look forward to making a difference in the lives of families in need with Families Forward Charlotte”.
Angelica serves as Secretary of Families Forward Charlotte. Although she grew up in Altamonte Springs, Florida, she has lived in the Charlotte area since 2008 and resides in Davidson, North Carolina with her husband, Brian, and young daughter, Bryce. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in K-6 Elementary Education. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Charlotte to begin her teaching career. In her eight years of teaching, she has taught grades 1-8 in both public and independent school settings and has also served as a STEM & Special Programs Coordinator and Summer Camp Director at a local independent school. In 2017, Angelica transitioned out of the classroom and into the field of educational technology with a strong focus on social and emotional learning.
As a young girl, Angelica’s family faced financial adversity while her parents began to establish roots in the United States after migrating from the Philippines. Eventually, her parents built successful careers, which helped push the family out of poverty. Having taught students whose families struggled to meet basic needs, Angelica identified the need for programs that help parents gain educational opportunities and career guidance to help gain the skills needed to acquire jobs that met their families’ needs. After conducting research in social and emotional learning, Angelica strongly believes that students’ success and happiness is rooted in stable, supportive households with strong role models. In 2017, Angelica joined Carrie Christian and the Families Forward Charlotte team to help serve families in the Charlotte community.
Dena is the Secretary of Families Forward and manages all social media efforts. Born and raised in Charlotte, NC she has seen the effect of poverty in the city and has a deep passion to help those families and children affected by such a harsh reality. Often people that have multiple problem areas feel overwhelmed and find it easier to give up rather than work to fix the issues. It is too often that individuals begin feeling hopeless and stuck in a downward spiral. She truly believes that progress starts with one person, one family. If that one family can receive help and education, poverty could be a thing of the past. Dena has been in early childhood education since 2001 with a short break to stay at home with her children, now ages 14, 12 and 9. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga and master’s degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Katie serves as an At Large Board Member of Families Forward Charlotte. Katie grew up in Columbia, South Carolina but has lived in Charlotte for 11 years. She studied Marketing & Communications at the University of South Carolina and now works for Carolinas HealthCare System.
When Katie had her second child in 2016, it hit her that so many children were lacking basic needs – she felt a weight of responsibility to do something to help the helpless in her community. She jumped at the chance to get involved with Carrie’s vision of a non-profit for children and their families who fell through the cracks. Katie wants to help Families Forward Charlotte make a lifelong difference in the lives of the innocent who will shape our city in the future.
Carrie is the Founder and Director of Families Forward Charlotte. Carrie has lived in Mecklenburg County since she was 1 years old and is now raising her family in Charlotte with her husband Tom. She graduated from West Charlotte High and earned her Masters of Arts in teaching from Winthrop University. She loves coaching high school volleyball and watching her kids enjoy sports as they grow.
Carrie was devastated to learn about the Harvard study on Equality of Opportunity that found Mecklenburg County ranked 50 of 50 in upward mobility. Meanwhile, her family had been supporting poverty stricken families each Christmas through the help of local teachers. These families struggled to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. When dropping off Christmas gifts and household items in December 2016, the idea to start a non profit was born. Carrie wanted to provide year round support to ease the burden of poverty on local children and families, and in researching her goal she learned just how difficult it is to find local resources for families and her mission grew. Carrie quickly gained support within the community and with a dedicated board of directors, Families Forward Charlotte was born.
Carrie is thankful for the opportunity to serve the community she grew up in and adores.