Leadership Triangle ABOUT US


Have you ever asked yourself, “How can I be a more effective leader?” or “How can I better plug into the Triangle region as a whole?” If yes, then we’ll see you at the 2021 THRiVE Leadership Summit!

Join us for two days of powerful keynotes, presentations and networking with peers and industry leaders who are shaking things up.  We’ve carefully crafted a lineup of presenters who will offer new strategies, take you to your “growing edge” and inspire you to be your BEST self


As we emerge from the global pandemic, we are asking – What issues must we face as a region? What type of transformative leadership is required to move our region forward THIS YEAR? What does it mean for the Triangle to THRiVE?

As the only Leadership Summit of its kind in the state, THRiVE will provide tools to:

  • Network and connect with HUNDREDS of other leaders in the Triangle
  • Increase your leadership adaptability and confidence
  • Gain a clearer vision of your role within the Triangle community
  • Uplevel your anti-racism and equity strategy
  • Inspire you to be your BEST self!


….WHO is it for?

  • Engaged Community Members within the Triangle
  • Corporate Leaders
  • Nonprofit Professionals
  • Community Activists
  • Emerging Leaders
  • Young Professionals
  • College Student Leaders
  • Retirees Seeking to Engage & Volunteer



adrienne maree brown

adrienne maree brown is the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, and author of We Will Not Cancel Us and Other Dreams of Transformative Justice, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements and How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office. She is the cohost of the How to Survive the End of the World and Octavia’s Parables podcasts. adrienne is rooted in Detroit.

Anita Brown-Graham

Anita R. Brown-Graham rejoined the School of Government in September 2016 to lead the public launch of ncIMPACT—a special initiative that seeks to expand the School’s capacity to work with public officials on complex policy issues. Since her arrival, she and her colleagues have devised programs to support communities working on economic mobility, poverty, the expansion of prekindergarten, extending the labor pool, and opioid misuse and abuse. Brown-Graham’s first tour as a School faculty member was from 1994 to 2006, during which she specialized in governmental liability and community economic development aimed at revitalizing communities. In 2007, Brown-Graham became Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University. There, she led IEI’s efforts to build North Carolina’s capacity for economic development and prosperity, working with leaders from across the state in the areas of business, government, and higher education to focus on issues important to North Carolina’s future. Brown-Graham began her career as a law clerk in the Eastern District of California. She is a William C. Friday Fellow, American Marshall Fellow, and Eisenhower Fellow. In 2013, the White House named her a Champion of Change for her work at IEI, and the Triangle Business Journal named her a 2014 Woman in Business for her policy leadership in the state and a 2017 CEO of the year. Brown-Graham serves on the boards of several organizations. She earned an undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.


Jes Averhart

Jes is the CEO of Jes & Co. and creator of the Reinvention Roadmap. As a Mom, Storyteller, Podcaster and member of a Badass Girl Tribe, she uses her flaws and lessons to fuel each incredible life chapter. Jes is obsessed with the process and power of reinvention and wants to inspire others to start their journey.

Rebecca Fernandez

Rebecca Fernandez is Senior Principal Program Manager, Open Culture, at Red Hat where she leads internal culture projects with 15,000+ participants. She led the Rediscovering Red Hat’s Why project and is evangelist and maintainer of the Open Decision Framework, a set of best practices for open, collaborative decision making featured in Forbes and Business Insider. Rebecca is a founding member of Opensource.com, an Open Organization Ambassador, and an editor for “The Open Organization,” a book about leadership and culture by Jim Whitehurst (Red Hat’s former CEO, now President of IBM).


Mark McIntire

Mark is Director of Government Affairs, Energy and Environment for Duke Energy in North Carolina. Prior to this role he served as an air quality engineer in Power Generation, water engineer in Strategic Engineering and Environment and Energy Policy Director. Before joining Duke Energy, he spent nearly a decade as an environmental regulator and seven years as a consulting engineer with major projects in the Middle East and the Pacific rim. He is a graduate of NC State’s College of Engineering, a licensed Professional Engineer, a member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, a certified Carbon Reduction Manager and a member of class XXVI of Leadership North Carolina.

Sean Flaherty

Sean Flaherty is regional planner and project manager with over 14 years of experience focused on creating sustainable, vibrant communities. Sean has successfully managed multiple programs on behalf of local, state and federal government clients. His work has created national models for advanced transportation technologies, transportation demand management, energy efficiency, smart cities and sustainability programs which have been recognized by the American Planning Association, National Association of Development Organizations, US Council on Competitiveness and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Sean serves as the Principal Planner with the Triangle J Council of Governments in the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina. Prior to joining Triangle J COG, his work in private consulting authored NCDOT’s TDM Plan Update and supported TDM Programs across the state. Sean holds a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.



Jeff Brooks

Jeff Brooks is Duke Energy’s Power Delivery and Grid Improvement Communication Manager. He oversees external communication and media strategy for Duke Energy’s grid initiatives across the six states it serves and serves as the company’s primary media spokesperson on grid-related matters. Happiest when the weather gets bad, Jeff also serves as the company’s chief storm communicator and can often be seen headed into an oncoming hurricane or winter storm, along with an electric army of line workers. A Wolfpacker from NC State, Jeff lives in Raleigh with his wife and son, and a daughter who attends Florida State University.  


Danna Widmar

Danna Widmar joined the Town of Cary in 2017, charged with helping Cary take an adaptive approach to internal systems, programming, and services for Cary residents. Her results-driven leadership has led to significant cultural change among staff, the distribution of leadership, a shift toward innovation in Town operations and values-based decision-making. 

She is the catalyst for a growing body of work, grounded in public policy, social, and environmental influences on the organization and community as a whole. These responsibilities include intergovernmental affairs, environmental stewardship, housing, transit, historic preservation, as well as stormwater and floodplain management. In her role, Danna guides key staff to cultivate collaborative relationships with legislators, local governments, non-profit agencies and key stakeholders across the region. Danna received her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Michigan State University and Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. 


Corey Branch


Raleigh City Councilor Corey Branch is a native of Raleigh and has served Raleigh in numerous ways. While working at AT&T as an Associate Director- Technology, Corey serves as District C Councilor and immediate past Mayor Pro Tem (2018-2021) with a focus in improving the availability of housing of those
from all incomes, a modern and reliable transit system, economic development for underserved communities and populations, and programs to aid and assist in development of our youth and young adults of Raleigh.
Raleigh City Councilor Corey Branch is a native of
Raleigh and has served Raleigh in numerous ways. While working at AT&T as an Associate Director-Technology, Corey serves as District C Councilor and
immediate past Mayor Pro Tem (2018-2021) with a focus
in improving the availability of housing of those
from all incomes, a modern and reliable transit system, economic development for underserved communities and populations, and programs to aid and assist in development of our youth and young
adults of Raleigh.
Kevin Dick

Kevin was named President & Chief Executive Officer of the Carolina Small Business Development Fund in February 2020. Under the first year of his leadership, the organization responded quickly and aggressively to the needs of small businesses by providing financial assistance to over 1,000 small businesses throughout the State and deploying over $13M in loan and grant funds. We also assisted over 200 businesses with coaching technical assistance.
Over his career, Kevin has held senior positions with the City of Charlotte, Durham Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the Durham Workforce Development Board, the Broward Workforce Development Board and the City of Dania Beach, Florida, in addition to private sector marketing and sales experience positions in New Jersey and Delaware. His accomplishments include developing, implementing, and administering a variety of workforce development, neighborhood-based economic development, and small business capacity-building programs. Initiatives under Kevin’s leadership have been nationally recognized by the Alliance for Innovation, Progressive Planning Magazine, the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Walmart Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Civic League. Kevin holds a Masters’ Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida Atlantic University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in International Business from Georgetown University. He has also been designated as a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council. Originally from Montclair, New Jersey, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter during his spare time.

Joy Spencer

Joy Spencer was born into advocacy and community organizing; she is a tireless proponent of authentic engagement and racial equity. Standing on the shoulders of her mother, who founded a nonprofit organization in the ‘90s to advocate for her children, Joy has always been involved with efforts to empower and support her community. She is the Executive Director of Equity Before Birth (EBB), a Black maternal health charity organization that provides paid leave opportunities and financial assistance to increase access to perinatal healthcare services and support. EBB’s direct assistance model promotes autonomy, empowerment and collaboration. Eliminating financial barriers gives families the opportunity to thrive!

Atrayus Goode

Atrayus O. Goode founded Movement of Youth (MOY) in 2006 as a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. MOY is an award-winning mentoring and youth leadership development agency based on a program that Atrayus completed in high school sponsored by the 100 Black Men of America. He has been featured on various media platforms for his work, including TED. Atrayus is currently President & CEO of MENTOR North Carolina, a statewide Affiliate of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. MOY serves as the host organization of MENTOR North Carolina.

Atrayus is Co-Chair of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Orange County, an American Express NGen Fellow, and Chair of the National Board of Directors of Witness for Peace. He holds a Master of Science in Organization Development from the American University School of Public Affairs in Washington, DC and a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He resides in Durham, North Carolina and is the proud father of Everette Rose, 7.

Delores Bailey

EmPOWERment, Inc. is a nonprofit located in Orange County, NC whose mission has been to “empower individuals and communities to determine their destiny through affordable housing, community organizing and grassroots economic development” since 1996. Delores joined the staff as Community Organizer in 2002. She soon became Associate Director in charge of Organizing, Rental properties and Marketing. In May 2005 she became Executive Director. Ms. Bailey worked diligently with the Northside neighborhood of Chapel Hill, NC to create an overlay zone that addressed the concerns of gentrification in this traditional African-American, low wealth neighborhood. A Conservation District was established that has been the model for several other older neighborhoods in the Chapel Hill area. Ms. Bailey was an active participant in that process. EmPOWERment Inc. operates a small business incubator that caters to minority and women owned businesses. Created in 2001, The Midway Business Center was the first small business incubator created in Orange County, NC. It has been responsible for the creation of over 200 start-up businesses. Ms. Bailey has provide oversight of EmPOWERment Inc. as it became one of the largest non-profit property owners of affordable rental units in Orange County, NC.

Heather Dennis

With more than two decades of experience, Heather specializes in managing and growing successful nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Dress for Success Triangle, Heather was the Executive Director of Meals on Wheels Rhode Island where she worked with seniors experiencing food insecurity. She also previously worked with youth with developmental disabilities in Tennessee.

Kirby Jones

Kirby Jones is a social entrepreneur, who in 2010 founded The Daniel Center for Math and Science, a non-profit organization that seeks to narrow the education gap in math, science, and technology for at-risk and economically disadvantaged children.  As its Executive Director, Kirby has guided The Daniel Center in making a measureable difference in the academic and social lives of the children his program serves. His passion for children, and a tremendous desire to see their lives bettered through education, has been the catalyst for the success of The Daniel Center. Kirby is the recipient of several honors recognizing his work through The Daniel Center, including the Time Warner Super Connector Award, Cary Academy’s Courage Award; and the City of Raleigh’s John Chavis Legacy Award in Education.


Dr. William Jackson

Dr. William Jackson is the founder of Village Of Wisdom, an organization that is mobilizing a nationwide movement of families to celebrate and protect their children’s Black Genius. At 24 years-old William became the highest performing science teacher in his district but yearned to expand his impact. Consequently, he decided to pursue and complete a Ph.D. in Education at the University of North Carolina. While at UNC, William attracted the attention of consulting firm Frontline Solutions to design learning environments for professional audiences. William has been awarded the Echoing Green, Camelback Ventures Fellowships, and Education Pioneer Fellowships.

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