Rev. J. George Reed, Executive Director
George grew up in Orlando, Florida, B.D. (“Before Disney,” which gives an idea of how old he is). He is a graduate of Florida State University, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, and the University of Virginia Law School. Prior to coming to the Council, he was the pastor of Mountain Plain Baptist Church, Mechums River, Virginia, and the Director of Citizenship Education and World Hunger for the Baptist State Convention of NC. He became Legislative Program Associate for the Council in 1996 and Executive Director in 2000.
George is a member of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh where he has been on the Deacon Council and Coordinating Council and co-teaches adult Sunday School. You can reach George at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Ford, Volunteer Program Associate
Steve Ford has lived in North Carolina since 1981, when he moved here to join The News & Observer of Raleigh. He retired in late 2012 as the paper’s editorial page editor. In that job, he supervised the opinion pages, wrote editorials and wrote a weekly column.
Steve grew up in Northern Virginia. He graduated from Yale University and served in the U.S. Army as a photographer, including a year in Vietnam. He and his wife, Jeanne, who is an attorney, live in Cary and have three grown sons. He began volunteer work with the N.C. Council of Churches in the spring of 2013, helping to keep an eye on state government and writing about public policy issues.
In his spare time, Steve enjoys outdoor activities, taking road trips (back roads, especially) and playing the piano. He and Jeanne are members of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Cary.
Rose Gurkin, Program Associate for Administration
Rose Gurkin joined the staff in 2001. She manages the database and website for the Council and is the general office manager. She is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a B.S. in Music Education and of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a M.Div. She also serves as the Music Director for the First Presbyterian Church of Garner. She and her husband Michael are the household help for a very spoiled cat, Spirit. Spirit was adopted by the Gurkins from Sr. Evelyn Mattern. You can reach Rose at: email@example.com.
Sandy Irving, Volunteer for Health Care Reform
Sandy Irving has been involved with the Council’s work for many years. She currently serves as the Volunteer for Health Care, other federal issues, and workers’ rights. Sandy is an activist grandmother of six, a Presbyterian, and a retired research associate from the Biostatistics Department of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health. She currently serves on the board of NC Peace Action. You can reach Sandy at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
David LaMotte, Consultant for Peace
David LaMotte is a graduate of James Madison University, where he became passionate about mediation and alternative conflict resolution in the late eighties and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where he completed a master’s degree in International Relations, Peace and Conflict Resolution. David is a member of the Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting, but also has one foot in the Presbyterian Church (USA). You can reach David at: email@example.com.
Shannon Axtell Martin, Regional Consultant, Partners in Health and Wholeness
Shannon has moved and traveled most of her life. After growing up back and forth between California, Connecticut and Saudi Arabia she finally settled in North Carolina. She came to the Council in 2012 after completing a yearlong Residency as a Chaplain at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Shannon graduated with her Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University School of Divinity and her B.A. in Religion and Philosophy (with a Concentration in Outdoor Ministries) from Catawba College. Shannon’s love for interesting, diverse, and healthy foods was instilled in her from an early age, and she has become increasingly interested in the intersections of justice, food, health, and faith. She is excited to join with congregations to work to increase the faithful health of the communities in and around the Triad. Shannon loves working with people, laughing, cooking, being outside, painting, and her husband Robert. You can reach Shannon at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aleta Payne, Deputy Executive Director
Aleta Payne first joined the Council staff in the spring of 2001 as the Communications Associate. She now oversees development, works as staff to the Council’s Peace Committee, and works in other administrative roles, as well. Aleta is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in government and foreign affairs and spent much of her early career as a journalist.
She and her husband have three sons whose many interests and activities keep the family hopping. Their shepherd-mix, Sawyer, loves her best. The family attends St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cary. You can reach Aleta at: email@example.com.
Marnie Cooper Priest, Project Director, PHW Breastfeeding Collaborative
Marnie Cooper Priest is originally from Maine. She graduated from Goddard College with a B.A. in Health and Life Sciences and from Duke University with a Master of Science in Global Health. Marnie is a Certified Professional Midwife and in addition to her work as a midwife, she has used her skills to serve as a rape crisis counselor, a team member for the development of an ecumenical home for homeless pregnant teenagers, and an educator for Traditional Midwives in Haiti. As Project Director for the Breastfeeding Collaborative, Marnie works to educate low-resource congregations in Wake County about the benefits of breastfeeding and to provide those congregations with resources to create breastfeeding-friendly spaces for new mothers.
In her spare time, Marnie enjoys her family, photography, dance and the great outdoors! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susannah Tuttle, Director – NC IPL
Susannah Tuttle received a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. Her work at the GTU focused on three different interrelated levels of human existence: Educational/Philosophical, Institutional/Physical-Structural, and Communal/Bioregional. Upon graduation she was hired as UNC Chapel Hill’s first Sustainability Research Associate. She continues as co-founder and partner in Trace Collaborative, LLC a consulting firm specializing in the implementation of sustainability within the design and construction industry. Susannah is a founding member of HistoricGreen, a national nonprofit transforming and revitalizing communities through education and charitable activities that integrate sustainable design and heritage conservation practices. She recently served on the Board of Directors of the NC Triangle Chapter of the US Green Building Council. You can reach Susannah at: email@example.com.
Willona Stallings, Program Coordinator – Partners in Health & Wholeness
Willona Stallings was born and raised in Goldsboro, NC and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill both as an undergraduate (B.A., Psychology) and graduate student (M.P.H., Maternal and Child Health). After receiving her bachelor’s degree and before returning to school full-time to obtain her master’s degree, Willona served as Data Manager for the NC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and Program Consultant for the NC Sickle Cell Syndrome Program. In her role as PHW Coordinator, she works to build partnerships between the NC Council of Churches’ member bodies and stakeholders in faith-based health initiatives.
Willona enjoys spending time with close friends and family, taking weekend road trips, walking for exercise and bargain shopping. You can reach Willona at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennie Wilburn, Program Associate
Jennie was born and raised in Savannah, GA. She moved to Texas for her undergraduate education at Rice University, during which time she studied in Mexico, Peru and Argentina and participated in service projects in Central America. After graduation she moved to Spain for a year to teach English. Jennie then came to North Carolina for a dual degree M.Div./M.S.W. graduate program at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill where her work focused on advocating for farmworkers and organizing churches for social justice. Jennie is excited to use these skills in her role at the Council of Churches as she works to help improve conditions for immigrants and farmworkers in the state.
Jennie lives in Durham and attends that city’s First Presbyterian Church. In her free time she enjoys dancing, distance running, traveling, walking her dog, and planning her upcoming wedding. Jennie can be reached at: email@example.com.
Joy T. Williams, Regional Consultant – Partners in Health & Wholeness
Ashley Yohman, Development Assistant
Ashley Yohman is a Raleigh native and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a degree in business management and a minor in religion. Prior to joining the Council, she worked with the Episcopal Service Corps in Louisiana.
Ashley likes to play kickball, try new restaurants, and listen to a cappella music. She is a member at First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh. You can reach Ashley at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collins Kilburn, Executive Director Emeritus
Collins Kilburn served as Executive Director of the Council for 20 years prior to his retirement in 2000. He was named Executive Director Emeritus by the Council’s Executive Board in December, 2005.
A native of Memphis, Collins graduated from Memphis State College and received his M.Div. from Duke. He is an ordained United Church of Christ minister, a member of Community United Church of Christ in Raleigh, and a watch care member of Olin Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill.
Kilburn’s career with the Council spanned a total of 30 years, 10 of that as Director of Social Ministries, which included representing the Council on legislative issues. He wrote and performed folk songs linked to social justice issues of the time, such as “Take It All Off,” aimed at the repeal of the food tax and “Do You Have Room for a Little Boom Boom?” related to the MX missile.
Since retiring, he has found more time for tennis and for leading adult education programs focused on spiritual giants of our time. He and his wife, Martha Hamilton, share four children and seven grandchildren.
Duke Divinity School Intern
Reuben Gelblum grew up in Raleigh and has spent most of his life in the Tar Heel state. He also spent ten of his summers at an amazing outdoorsy camp in western NC which gave him a deep awe and respect for nature. He is now in his second and final year of the Masters in Social Work program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reuben went out of his way to find and setup his internship with NCIPL out of a desire to make his passion and concern for environmental issues more central in his life, and he is very excited to get to work with them. Reuben lives with his partner and dog in Chapel Hill. Contact Reuben at email@example.com or 919-590-5614.
Nicole Johnson has had the wonderful opportunity of living in different countries, having been born in Belize City, and currently calling North Carolina home. She is deeply convicted in her belief that faithful congregations can meet the environmental, social and ethical challenges of the 21st century in practical and tangible ways. Her travels and beliefs have motivated her to seek ways of merging faith, health, sustainability, justice and ethics. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to be working with congregations and individuals in creating and supporting more healthy communities. Nicole is a graduate of Salem College and is currently pursuing a dual degree MDiv/MA in Sustainability at Wake Forest University. Her favorite things to do include traveling, hiking, growing things, trying new recipes, and spending time with her husband and two boys.