Who are we?
Change a girl. Change a community. Change the world.
Learning Everyday Accomplishing Dreams (LEAD) is dedicated to providing the tools and resources that low-income/at-risk preteen girls must have to become productive citizens and active leaders in their communities. Using an evidence-based curriculum, LEAD encourages and mentors girls to aspire and achieve greatness academically, emotionally and creatively.
We envision a world where every girl has the confidence, social skills and leadership ability she needs to become an independent, financially-stable woman.
Joy Nelson Thomas
Founder and Executive DirectorJoy’s ‘why’ in life is: “impact every girl that comes in her life in some way.” Joy feels it’s our responsibility to be the change we want to see in our community, not just talk about it.
Joy is the Founder and Executive Director of Learning Everyday Accomplishing Dreams (LEAD) Girls of North Carolina. LEAD Girls is dedicated to providing the tools and resources that low-income/at-risk preteen girls must have to become productive citizens and active leaders in their communities. Using an evidence-based curriculum, LEAD equips and mentors girls to aspire and achieve greatness academically, emotionally and creatively.
Under Joy’s leadership, LEAD Girls works to create a world where every girl has the confidence, social skills and leadership ability she needs to become an independent, financially-stable woman.
Joy has been selected as one of the 2018 Women of the year through ABWA (American Business Women’s Association) American Business Women of the Year, 2019 Wonder Women of the Year through Yes Weekly and featured in many publications. She currently sits on the Advisory Board for Winston-Salem Fashion week, Board member of AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) and Board Member for NBN (Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods).
Joy holds a B.A from Salem College, and she is a certified Life Coach through an ICF (International Coach Federation) recognized institution, safe-talk and suicide prevention certified.
When Joy is not working to change a girl, a community and the world, she’s spending time with he husband Jasper and her dog Jayj.
Program Director & LEAD Facilitator
Janea’ Brunson is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, with a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management. A Durham, NC native, she is the first in her family to graduate from a university. Her passion has always been helping youth. Janea’ enjoys cooking, binge watching Netflix, and traveling. Janea plans to pursue a master’s degree in Business Administration. Her dream career is to become a part of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital family. She plans to change the world of healthcare, one child at a time.
LEAD Academy FacilitatorBritney is a teacher, life coach, mother, and pastor’s wife. She grew up in the small town of Selma, North Carolina as a preacher’s kid and earned a degree in Sociology and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A public school teacher since 2011, Britney is also life coach for teens and parents of teens, coaching them to make the best choices for their health, academics, and relationships. Britney enjoys meeting new people and encouraging people to keep going even when the going gets tough.
Karen Harris, LCMHCS, LCAS-A
LEAD Facilitator & Family Liaison
Karen has more than thirty years of experience working with teens and families. She is passionate about helping others overcome their challenges and realize their full potential. Karen holds a master of arts degree in public affairs, a master of science in counseling and a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She is a licensed clinical mental health counselor supervisor, a licensed clinical addiction specialist and she holds a National Boards certification in school counseling.
AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer
Julia Brenneman graduated from North Carolina State University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Nonprofit Studies. Throughout her time as an undergraduate student, Julia was heavily involved with local Raleigh city politics and played on the Women’s Ice Hockey Team. Originally from Winston-Salem, she is eager to get reconnected with the community and find ways to continue her advocacy for local politics. Julia is excited to pursue her passion for economic equality and encouraging young students through her time in the AmeriCorps VISTA Program.
High School Alumnae Coordinator
Danielle is a junior at Winston-Salem State University, majoring in business administration with a concentration in corporate finance. After college, she hopes to work as a financial analyst or planner. In her free time Danielle loves to create art and power lift. For Danielle, helping women and girls be the best they can be has always been a passion.
Ally is a rising junior at Wake Forest University, majoring in Sociology with minors in Global Trade and Commerce and Writing. After college she hopes to complete law school and become a lawyer. In her free time, Ally loves going to the beach and walking her puppy, Winston, who is named after Winston-Salem.
Board ChairChelsea Barnes is a healthcare attorney in the Winston-Salem office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. A native of Hope Mills, North Carolina, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned baccalaureate degrees in Communication Studies and Political Science, as well as her Juris Doctor. Chelsea is passionate about issues related to diversity, with an emphasis on Native American communities. She believes strongly in the value of mentorship and its ability to promote positive outcomes. In her free time she enjoys bargain shopping, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Immediate Past Chair
Tiffany Parms graduated from North Carolina Central University with a B.S. in Biology in 2009 prior to obtaining a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Arizona. Her epidemiology degree opened doors of opportunity in West Virginia and Ohio prior to her return to North Carolina. Tiffany enjoys travel, baking, and reading, and has a passion for giving back to her community. Joining the Executive Board of LEAD Girls of NC assists her with the realization of that passion.
TreasurerErin is originally from Virginia and has lived in NC for 10 years. She has 15 years banking experience, six of which have been spent at Truliant Federal Credit Union. Erin is passionate about improving our communities from the inside out, and this passion has led her to mentor young women through Big Brothers/Big Sisters and through the National Academy of Finance. She enjoys spending time with friends, traveling, or having a quiet evening at home with her dog Bailey.
SecretarySamantha’s desire to help at risk children recognize their full potential, began when she was a middle schooler in Virginia. This passion for children stayed with her as she graduated with a Master’s degree in Food Science from NC State University. After school, she began working for RJ Reynolds, where she still works today in Strategy and Planning. While at Reynolds, Samantha also mentored teens with substance addictions and became a foster parent. Samantha has adopted two children and is looking forward to brightening the future of other children in this community
DirectorKatie’s long-standing passion for patient care and health care access drove her to pursue a degree in Health Care Management from Appalachian State University prior to obtaining her MBA. She has over nine years of professional health care experience in finance, strategic planning, and hospital operations. She has a proven ability to combine vision, ingenuity, and business acumen in support of operational and strategic priorities. Katie enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband and two dogs.
DirectorAmanda is a native of North Carolina and graduated from NC State University in 2011 with a B.S. in Environmental Technology and Management. Her enthusiasm for protecting the environment for future generations has led her to pursue a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management. Amanda works at Reynolds American where she is an active member in the Women’s Employee Resource Group who’s mission is to provide opportunities for women to share strengths, talents, and experiences that will enhance organizational culture through community service, leadership development, networking, and the promotion of work-life harmony. She enjoys playing golf, reading, and watching college and NFL football.
Dr. Angela Monell
Dr. Angela Monell is a native of Prince George’s County Maryland and has resided in the Winston-Salem area for about four years. As an educator, her passion for students is evident in her daily work as an Assistant Principal. Dr. Monell received her undergraduate degree at Towson University in Mass Communication. As she began to explore her career interests, she obtained her Master’s in Special Education at Bowie State University. In 2014, she received her doctorate in Educational Leadership with a focus on Curriculum and Instruction and her Administrative Certification at North Carolina A&T in 2016. She has a passion for working in the community as well as with students working to find their way. She has a particular interest in working with Middle School students as she recognizes that being in the “middle” is challenging in more ways than one. She believes that middle school is a critical time to engage students and provide structure and resources that will not only take them through their formative years, but will also be valuable throughout their lives.
Kelly Minor, Chair
Samantha White, Co-Chair
MacKenzie De Vicente
Angela Monell, Chair
Chelsea Barnes, Co-Chair
Joy Nelson Thomas
Alyssa Armenta, UNCSA
Lucia Higgins, Family Services
Lisa Parrish, Berkshire Hathaway Carolina Realty
Laura Hart McKinny, Stone’s Throw Films & Professor, UNCSA
Erin Nesbitt, Chair
Joy Nelson Thomas
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LEAD Girls of NC, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID# 82-0984711. All donations are fully tax deductible as provided by law.