The NC Housing Coalition is excited to welcome four new members to our Board of Directors in 2024:
Brandy Bynum Dawson
Senior Program Director
Rural Prosperity and Investment at MDC
Brandy Bynum Dawson is the senior program director for Rural Prosperity and Investment at MDC. In this role Brandy leads MDC’s rural and capacity building work in NC and beyond, managing a state, regional and national portfolio of work. Prior to joining MDC, she most recently worked for four years as senior director of policy, research and innovation at the NC Rural Center. She previously served for five years as co-founder and associate director of Rural Forward NC, formerly at the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation. Gaining a strong footing in the policy-advocacy space, she worked at NC Child for over twelve years. Bynum Dawson has been active in the nonprofit community for more than 20 years as a professional, volunteer, and board member. She has experience providing community development services to agencies, communities, and coalitions in the areas of civic engagement, action planning, results-based facilitation, program implementation, and organizational collaboration. A native northeastern North Carolinian, she graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, receiving a bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in sociology. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from NC State University, with a concentration in mental health policy.
Interim Vice President & Director of Housing Equity Initiatives
Institute of Minority Economic Development, Research, Policy & Impact Center
Two Rivers Development Partners, LLC
Lea Henry is the Interim Vice President & Director of Housing Equity Initiatives at the Institute of Minority Economic Development, Research, Policy & Impact Center, where she leads a multiyear effort to improve the ecosystem that produces affordable homeownership opportunities in Durham and engages in cross-cutting policy development and advocacy with nonprofits, policy makers, and community leaders to increase economic opportunity. She is also the President of Two Rivers Development Partners, LLC, which provided TA to local governments in a five-county region on housing development and compliance for American Rescue Plan funds and created a strategic plan for a Council of Governments to build a regional housing practice to serve 350,000 rural residents in five economically distressed counties. Henry is an economic development professional with 30 years of experience as a manager and thought leader with established community, economic, and workforce development organizations. She has a comprehensive knowledge of community economic development, affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, nonprofit management, and government compliance. Her previous experience includes President of the Rocky Mount Housing and Revitalization Initiative, LLC and Community Development Manager of the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments. She received a B.A. in History from Columbia University and a Master in Public policy from Harvard University.
Senior Director of U.S. Government Relations
Habitat for Humanity International’s Office of Government Relations and Advocacy
Carley Ruff is the Senior Director of U.S. Government Relations in HFHI’s Office of Government Relations and Advocacy. In this role, she oversees the organization’s overall U.S. government relations strategy, including direct engagement with Congress and the Administration as well as efforts to build the capacity of Habitat’s affiliates and affiliate support organizations to influence policy and systems change on the state and local level. She has more than 15 years of experience in the affordable housing sector working on policy issues spanning the housing and community development continuum. She previously worked as the policy director for the North Carolina Housing Coalition, where she served as the organization’s lead lobbyist in the North Carolina General Assembly and provided technical assistance to local housing coalitions on municipal and county advocacy efforts. Carley developed her passion for affordable housing while serving two years as an AmeriCorps member for Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte and Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity. She has also served on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County in Raleigh and The Association of Housing Counselors (TAHC). Carley earned a B.A. in history from the University of Georgia and a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.
Chief Impact Officer
Dr. Stephen J. Sills is a distinguished sociologist and researcher whose academic and professional career has focused on economic development, housing policy, public and behavioral health, and globalization and migration. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He has extensive experience as a principal investigator, evaluator, and methodological consultant, having been involved in over 150 applied and community-engaged projects. Dr. Sills was the founding Director of the UNC Greensboro Center for Housing and Community Studies and still a frequent collaborator on housing-related policy work. He has contributed to numerous journal articles, white papers, and book chapters, discussing topics such as housing, racialized planning, environmental justice, and health. Dr. Sills now serves as the Chief Impact Officer of the United Way where he works to catalyze community change, foster strategic partnerships, and drive measurable outcomes for residents of Forsyth County. In recognition of his expertise, Dr. Sills was selected as a Policy Scholar for the E Pluribus Unum Fund and as a Fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program.
Recognizing Outgoing Board Members
While we are welcoming new members and looking forward to the leadership they will bring to this movement, we would not be where we are without the incredible combined 44 years of board service of our outgoing board members–Nikitra Bailey, Kim Cameron, Evan Covington-Chavez, and Tyler Mulligan.