Goodmon Fellow Stories

Meet Some of Our Fellows

Want to know more about our Goodmon Fellows? The stories and conversations below showcase who they are, how they’re positively shaping the Triangle, and the impact our programs have had on them over time. Visit our Blog to read their full stories, or scroll down to get to know a few quickly.

Laine Staton

Goodmon Fellow – Transforming Leaders ’19

Laine Staton sitting

"I'm always going to be a teacher."

If you’re a leader, you are a teacher. And the people that follow you trust that you’ll lead by example. For Laine Staton, that made sense in the education system—to lead youth meant to teach them how to learn with discipline, respect others and to be compassionate in service. What surprised Laine was learning that her values were applicable to all leadership environments she became a part of. So, what is Laine up to now? Laine is using her transformative leadership skills at Habitat for Humanity of Durham as the Neighborhood and Family Manager. In this role, she is teaching new homeowners about the “homeowner experience.” Through this program, Laine gets to train people on how to handle home maintenance, budgeting and all the responsibilities of taking care of a home. And she gets to grade their homework! She gets to teach homeowners on how to be good neighbors and hopes it will help to bring the Triangle neighborhood together in a unique way. “I want to know I’ve made a larger impact than just my role,” said Laine.

Kirby Jones

Goodmon Fellow – Transforming Leaders ’18

Kirby Jones holding a book

“A vast array of human potential resides in the inner city communities of our nation – inner city communities like S.E. Raleigh. It’s up to us to harness it.”

You’d be surprised who you’ll meet in unexpected places (like Starbucks). For Kirby, that’s where he found most of his original Board members! Kirby Jones was tired of seeing the “same old movie” in urban communities. He saw bright 5-6 year old children in Southeast Raleigh with massive potential, but minimal access to STEM education, find their way into gangs, drugs, violence and jail. Seeing the school-to-prison pipeline spurred Kirby to start The Daniel Center back in 2010. You could say, by the grace of God, this clergyman was in the right place at the right time—because he met people who were passionate about his mission to narrow the education gap – many of them in Starbucks. Eleven years later, Kirby’s dream has grown for the Triangle at large. “On Western, you will find two of our state’s most impressive and recognizable institutions – NC State University, and NC Central Prison. The positioning of these institutions is remarkable in that one sits within a stone’s throw of the other, yet they could not speak of two more different life-outcomes. The tragedy for the children we serve in S.E. Raleigh is that statistically, they are much more likely to end up at North Carolina Central Prison, than at North Carolina State University. Our goal is to change the trajectory for as many children as possible; and break the cycle of generational poverty through education – most particularly through STEM-based academics,”  said Kirby.

Moses Ochola

Goodmon Fellow – Transforming Leaders ‘17

Moses Ochola leaning against pillar

“Last year was a blessing and a curse.”

2020 was filled with heartache, tragedy, confusion and separation. For all of us, it was a redefinition of “normal.” For many, it meant stopping. Stopping may seem like a simple concept, but for those who live a busy lifestyle building and exploring—it was a complete reset. “I’m an entrepreneur through and through,” said Moses. And as an owner of over three businesses including his family’s authentic African restaurant, The Palace & The Vault, and the Black Farmer’s Market—he’s a passionate changemaker. He’s also founded Black August in the Park which seeks to inspire and connect people of the African Diaspora to engage in social and cultural change. Moses is about authentic community and equity. And speaking of equity and cultural change—Moses has a dream for the Triangle region. “I want to make sure that we grow together as a region,” said Moses. With newcomers moving into the Triangle, Moses hopes that we remember those who’ve called the Triangle home for a long time, while welcoming new neighbors.

Read about Moses perspective on the power of local food on our blog.

Hector Javier

Goodmon Fellow – Regional ‘08

Hector sitting on front porch swing

“I’ve always been fascinated by technology.”

What better place to live than the Triangle if you have an interest in tech? Over the past decade, RDU has quickly become a hub for innovative technology and talent (Scott Moody and Touch ID comes to mind). And don’t even get us started on biotech! As a degree holder in chemistry and computer engineering (just to name a couple), Hector sees the value in innovation. “Tech and science are very important to making the world better,” said Hector. When the internet was born, Hector was in college in the Philippines and could see the possibilities for the world. And when he came to the Triangle as an H1B immigrant, he had an interest in seeing how this pipeline for information could advance science and help better connect the world. “I came here with a limited worldview as an immigrant. One of my most catalyst moments was through the LT Regional program. It was my gateway to meeting other communities,” said Hector. And that’s Hector’s dream for the Triangle—for it to be more connected to other parts of the world. In this day and age, life-changing ideas are moving around the world faster than ever.

Joey Powell

Goodmon Fellow – Regional ‘12

Joey posing at ATC

“I went through the program and it was completely tectonic and I’m not making that up.”

Many of you have heard about the power of our Transforming Leaders program. But, how many of you know about the life-changing experience of our Regional program? For people like Joey, it changed everything. “Someone once said, ‘People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall,” said Joey, “If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, what’re they going to tell my kid about her dad?” Joey discovered that, for him, what brought his life meaning wasn’t success in the corporate world, but helping people. Through the Regional program, he met leaders solving issues in the Triangle–and he realized there was a reason he was involved in different non-profit spaces. And before he knew it, he was the Executive Director of an org (MeFine Foundation) helping provide hope to critically ill children at Duke and UNC Chapel Hill Hospitals and their families. If that’s not tectonic—we don’t know what is.

Tristan Green

Goodmon Fellow – Regional ‘20

Tristan holding frisbee with dog

“I’ve been playing ultimate frisbee since I was a kid!”

Becoming the Executive Director of the Triangle Ultimate Association only seems fitting for Tristan. He started out playing Ultimate frisbee as a middle schooler in Chapel Hill (McDougle Middle School). He fell in love with the sport and continued playing at Carolina Friends School for High School and then at UNC Chapel Hill. After graduating he made his way to Triangle Ultimate and as its first full-time staff. “Since then everything has continued to grow, the organization, number of participation, and programs,” Tristan said. With nearly 3000 participants and over 65 programs, Tristan and Triangle Ultimate are on a mission build community through the sport of Ultimate frisbee, and to promote ‘play equity’. In the past few years, they’ve developed strong partnerships with the local Boys & Girls Clubs and started to implement Pay-What-You-Can registration for beginner programs (learned from another Goodmon Fellow, Maggie Kane and A Place at the Table!). “My dream for the Triangle would be that ‘play equity’ could be a movement that encourages collaboration between organizations and entities so that everyone in the Triangle has opportunity and access to play,” said Tristan. “The opportunity to play sports, regardless of means, can be a way that we can connect all the different parts of the Triangle.”

Reynolds Chapman

Goodmon Fellow – Transforming Leaders ’17

Reynolds Chapman

“I’m a person of faith, which inspires me to try to love my neighbors.”

We think there’s one common truth between all walks of life—we are better when we love our neighbors together. That’s exactly what drives Reynolds and the mission of @durhamcares “If we’re going to flourish as a city, we need to give a prioritized voice to our marginalized neighbors,” said Reynolds. DurhamCares and Reynolds carry a desire for people of Durham to hear these stories—and part of how they share them is through an opportunity called the Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope. Its mission, inspired by the story of the Good Samaritan, is for people to discover how their spiritual journey is also connected to the place they live. And through that, the hope is a deeper commitment to lift the marginalized out of the shadows. “I would love everyone in the Triangle to have a bold commitment to people who are oppressed,” said Reynolds.

Morgan Walston

Goodmon Fellow – Transforming Leaders ’19

Morgan at RTP Headquarters

“I’m grateful to be in a place where I’m encouraged to tell diverse stories and share my ideas.”

Our region, the Triangle, is overflowing with unique and impactful stories. From each county—Wake, Durham, Orange, Chatham and their surrounding neighborhoods—there is a lot to tell. At the heart of this region is the Research Triangle Park (RTP). And one of the people telling its many stories is Morgan Weston, Director of Marketing & Communications. “Stories are the best way to connect with people. It’s about how you approach it,” said Morgan. She had to keep the Park’s evolving story, the Triangle’s diverse business ecosystem and the region’s many stakeholders in mind as she and her team rebranded the RTP umbrella of entities. And Morgan didn’t shy away from the challenge—especially after doing LT’s Transforming Leaders program. “In the past I’ve tried to blend in, but the program helped me learn to embrace what makes me different and find value in it,” said Morgan. Her dream for the Triangle is that our differences would lift the corners of the Triangle together, not divide them.

LeVon Barnes

Goodmon Fellow – Transforming Leaders ’18

LeVon Barnes

“2018 is the class that will take LT to the next level.”

We’re not ones to compare, but we will say the Class of 2018 Transforming Leaders is a force to be reckoned with. “The first 10 to Watch is in that group,” said LeVon, one of our alumni board members. Forgive us for name dropping but,—Maggie Kane, William Jackson, Atrayus Goode, Kirby Jones, Delores Bailey, Nichole Morgan, Heather Dennis, Ricky Hurtado, Syretta Hill and Jamaica Gilmer—inspiring individuals. And LeVon, a recent candidate for Durham City Council in 2017 and the County Commissioner race in 2020, saw such value in joining the cohort that he called our former Executive Director, Jes Averhart, to ask if he could be in the program. “My LT story is one of crazy persistence. And I got to learn so much from folks in the 2018 group. We actually fed off of each other and were passionate about one another’s growth,” said LeVon. His hope is that leaders of the Triangle would come together to be passionate about equitable growth and unity in the region. We hope that all of our Goodmon Fellows will lead the charge!

Kelly Witter

Goodmon Fellow – Regional '01

Kelly Witter

“It’s fun! I feel like I’m making a difference.”

If you know, you know: teaching can be a very fun job. What can be even more fun, is teaching youth how to steward our planet. That’s exactly what Kelly Witter gets to do in her role at the EPA as the Director of Community Engagement & STEM Education. “It’s my dream job. EPA people love to talk about what they do,” said Kelly. From what started as a position as an air quality research job and recruiter for field studies, Kelly found herself passionate about environmental communication and discovery. “Kids can’t aspire to something they haven’t been exposed to,” said Kelly. What’s cool is that Kelly gets to share her excitement for clean tech, public transit, horticulture, air quality and even biking with students full of life and curiosity—right here in the Triangle! One might even say she’s a tour guide for sustainability. And with Kelly’s exciting career is a dream for the Triangle—connection. We’re thankful for a Goodmon Fellow like her to help bring our region together in a fun and insightful way!

Sue Stevens

Goodmon Fellow – Regional '16

“I participated in the Regional program the month after I retired.”

It’s never too late to be engaged in the community. For Sue, it was important to her to connect with nonprofit organizations making a positive impact in the Triangle as she transitioned into retirement. “I knew when I retired I wanted to be involved in the nonprofit sector. I want to give my efforts to the underserved community,” said Sue. After being a senior HR leader in Fortune 500 companies, Sue felt that she had skills to offer as an active board member and volunteer . Working within organizations that improve the lives of others is one of her passions. In the past Sue has participated as a board member with Meals on Wheels of Wake County, Community Workforce Solutions, WakeEd Partnership and N.C. Coastal Pines Girls Scouts. Now, she currently is a Career Coach at Dress for Success Triangle NC and a board member for Read and Feed. One could say that even though Sue is retired, she’s just getting started making a difference in the world.

Geraud Staton

Goodmon Fellow – Transforming Leaders '17

Geraud Staton

“Durham has been my home.”

Home sweet home—everyone has a different perspective of where they’re from. For Leadership Triangle, the entire region is home. And for Geraud, his neighborhood is Durham. Though he wasn’t born here, he sees the “Bull City” as the place he’s committed to and believes in. He believes in its people, especially families and entrepreneurs. “I started Helius 5 years ago. Its purpose is to help small businesses that can’t afford consultants,” said Geraud. More specifically, Geraud and Helius help businesses grow or fail fast. “I think pivoting really matters if a company does it in time. If you feed a bleeding business for a year it’s going to kill you,” said Geraud. And to fail fast isn’t a bad thing, it can be good because it better preserves resources and can conjure creative ideas. “We are here to enjoy the world. Finances are one of the things keeping us from it,” said Geraud. It’s his mission to “raise the other boats” that are forgotten by the rising tide of success. Because he knows that with every small business, there’s a family dreaming of riding the wave, as well.

Joye Speight

Goodmon Fellow – Regional '16

Joye Speight

“I realized Durham didn’t have an event venue owned by someone of color.”

It makes sense that Joye Speight would see such an opportunity for change. She comes from a long line of African-American entrepreneurs in her family. Starting with Theodore Roosevelt Speight, a man who came to Durham in 1932 with less than a dollar and becoming one of the pioneers of Black Wall Street, the Speight legacy is filled with 75 years worth of successful black entrepreneurship. And the success hasn’t missed Joye. She’s made tremendous strides in the hospitality and events space, beating breast cancer, bringing key leaders together, and pushing DEI economic development forward in the Triangle. “The front-facing people of the hospitality industry are usually people of color and are underpaid. That is the main reason why Suite Four Durham exists,” said Joye. And with 98% of Suite Fours’s vendors all being people of color—she’s dedicated to her family’s ethos of lifting BIPOC businesses.

Morgan Walston

Goodmon Fellow – Transforming Leaders ’19

Morgan at RTP Headquarters

“I’m grateful to be in a place where I’m encouraged to tell diverse stories and share my ideas.”

Our region, the Triangle, is overflowing with unique and impactful stories. From each county—Wake, Durham, Orange, Chatham and their surrounding neighborhoods—there is a lot to tell. At the heart of this region is the Research Triangle Park (RTP). And one of the people telling its many stories is Morgan Weston, Director of Marketing & Communications. “Stories are the best way to connect with people. It’s about how you approach it,” said Morgan. She had to keep the Park’s evolving story, the Triangle’s diverse business ecosystem and the region’s many stakeholders in mind as she and her team rebranded the RTP umbrella of entities. And Morgan didn’t shy away from the challenge—especially after doing LT’s Transforming Leaders program. “In the past I’ve tried to blend in, but the program helped me learn to embrace what makes me different and find value in it,” said Morgan. Her dream for the Triangle is that our differences would lift the corners of the Triangle together, not divide them.