Board of Directors

Polly Schattel is originally from Birmingham, AL, and was trained as a journalist, but soon moved into filmmaking. Since then she has worked with cable networks, Oscar and Emmy-winners, rock stars, thought leaders, non-profits, think tanks, politicians, painters, advertising agencies, composers, athletes, writers, activists, photographers, veterans, corporate executives, physicians, filmmakers and more–even a canine detective. Her award-winning work has been shown at film festivals and on televisions and movie screens across America and around the world. Proudly and passionately transgenderPolly is based out of the beautiful mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. She lives with her wife and son and three dogs and two cats.

Women Advance Board Chair

Antionette Kerr is a nonprofit leader, media correspondent, author of Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits, publisher of Bold & Bright Media and lover of all poetry. Native of Lexington, NC, she spent her youth living in pockets of economically-distressed neighborhoods. She went on to study journalism and African American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she began researching and writing about the influence of race, gender, and politics. Kerr has provided training for the National Council of Nonprofits, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide and The Nonprofit Academy.

Women Advance Co-Director, akerr@womenadvancenc.org

Ericka Faircloth (Nicki) originates from Laurinburg, NC. She received her undergrad degree in International and Global Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Additionally she has received training through the UNC Native Leadership Institute. She has taught the English language abroad in Amman, Jordan, and in recent years has worked alongside her people (Lumbee/Tuscarora) to protect their ancestral lands from pipelines and water contamination. In her spare time she enjoys videography, studying spiritual teachings, and writing. Ericka lives in Raleigh with her husband, Fares, and their dog Charro. 

Women Advance Co-Director, nicki@womenadvancenc.org

Dawn Blagrove is an attorney and a proud graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and North Carolina Central School of Law. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in political science with a minor in Secondary Education and a Master’s Degree in Applied Social Science, both from FAMU. After graduating law school, Blagrove worked for eight years as a post-conviction staff attorney with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services. Blagrove evaluated, prioritized, and litigated requests for criminal post-conviction cases for people incarcerated in North Carolina’s Department of Correction. Today, Blagrove’s experience as a post-conviction attorney, combined with her undergraduate training in Secondary Education, fuel her passion for educating youth and the public about challenges in the criminal justice system as Executive Director of the Carolina Justice Policy Center (soon to be Emancipate NC).

Joy Ayioka originates from Kenya where she spent most of her childhood before moving to the triangle area in 2009. She is a storyteller, traveler, advocate for marginalized and disenfranchised communities, an ally of the LGBT(Q) community, and lover of all. She previously served in the role of an intern at women advance where her passion and fight for women issues in North Carolina intensified. She is currently a graduate student at the University of North Carolina majoring in social work with a clinical concentration. In her free time, you can find her at the travel section of Barnes and Nobles reading travel guides.

 

Rachel Maguire is a virtual college adviser with College Advising Corps, and she works with high achieving low to moderate income students across the country while supporting them through the college application process. Born and raised in North Carolina with a bachelors degree from UNC Chapel Hill, Rachel is passionate about activism in NC and has a vested interest in both gender violence prevention work and mental health advocacy. She plans to get her masters in social work and aspires to be a therapist one day, breaking down barriers surrounding mental illness and helping people better understand themselves.

 

Stephany Mejia She/Her, was born to Nicaraguan-Dominican parents and raised in New York City. Stephany is a clinical social worker, working in early childhood mental health. She graduated with a degree in Sociology with a minor in Nonprofit Studies from North Carolina State University, and she earned her Master in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the co-founder of “Aliadas NC,” a local womxn-centered organization which aims to build community among womxn of color. She is passionate about mental health access specifically for QPOC, LGBTQ, and womxn of color. In her free time, you can find her practicing yoga and DJing with a collective of womxn and femmes.

 

Emily Hagstrom also known as Em, is an Information Communication Specialist and Research Analyst at the NC Council for Women and Youth Involvement. She’s a writer, researcher, and advocate for gender equity and LGBTQ+ justice and loves talking to folks about community and support! Emily was born and raised in North Carolina and can generally be found spending too much time with her cats, hiking, playing mediocre guitar, and persuading people to watch Call Me by Your Name with her.

 

 

 

Co-Directors

Antionette Kerr is a nonprofit leader, media correspondent, author of Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits, publisher of Bold & Bright Media and lover of all poetry. Native of Lexington, NC, she spent her youth living in pockets of economically-distressed neighborhoods. She went on to study journalism and African American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she began researching and writing about the influence of race, gender, and politics. Kerr has provided training for the National Council of Nonprofits, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide and The Nonprofit Academy.

Women Advance Co-Director, akerr@womenadvancenc.org

Ericka Faircloth (Nicki) originates from Laurinburg, NC. She received her undergrad degree in International and Global Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Additionally she has received training through the UNC Native Leadership Institute. She has taught the English language abroad in Amman, Jordan, and in recent years has worked alongside her people (Lumbee/Tuscarora) to protect their ancestral lands from pipelines and water contamination. In her spare time she enjoys videography, studying spiritual teachings, and writing. Ericka lives in Raleigh with her husband, Fares, and their dog Charro. 

Women Advance Co-Director, nicki@womenadvancenc.org

 

 

Consultants

Charly Lowry is a singer-songwriter from Pembroke, NC with roots in the Union Chapel Community.  Charly received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from UNC Chapel-Hill.  Upon graduation, Lowry moved full-steam ahead in pursuit of a career as a professional musician.

In 2004, Charly had the opportunity to compete on the wildly popular television show, American Idol.  She ventured through several rounds of auditions to make it to the Top 32.  For over a decade, Charly has attained regional and national success as both a solo artist and lead singer of alternative rock/ soul/ folk band, Dark Water Rising.  In addition to performing with Dark Water Rising, The Ulali Project, and The New Mastersounds, she was most recently featured as an opening act on Rhiannon Giddens’, “There is No Other” Tour.

Charly enjoys performing, meeting people, and educating others on the Native American experience.  Charly served as a Lumbee Ambassador for the Lumbee people in 1997-98; traveling throughout the country to visit Tribal Nations while attending various conferences, powwows, etc.  Her reign as Jr. Miss Lumbee was the catalyst that awakened her spirit to an inherent calling as a “Culture Bearer”.  Lowry continues to work on her craft; immersing herself in the culture of American music and expanding her listening ear to various genres, all the while composing songs that give a personal account of her experience as an Indigenous woman walking in two worlds.