Staff photo

Staff members at the Take Flight with SHIFT NC 2016 benefit auction.

Traci L. Baird, MPH, Chief Executive Officer

Traci’s career has focused on enhancing reproductive and sexual health and rights for women and girls. She has extensive leadership experience in public health, including more than 20 years designing and leading programs in international reproductive and sexual health. She has published more than 20 articles and monographs on reproductive health topics. As Executive Vice President for Programs at Ipas, Traci oversaw the growth and expansion of programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Traci has a strong track record of leading effective teams, establishing strategic plans, building relationships with partner organizations and institutional donors, and improving organizational effectiveness. Traci earned an undergraduate degree in Human Biology with a focus on women’s health from Stanford University and a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has volunteered on nonprofit boards for organizations working in the US and internationally. 

Janeen Gingrich, MSW, Outgoing Interim Chief Executive Officer

Janeen joins SHIFT NC with over 20 years of nonprofit experience in development, program direction, technical assistance, and strategic partnerships. She has spent the past 14 years focused on advancement work for non-profits, with an emphasis on capacity building and organizational development. Her expertise includes annual campaign development, foundation relations, strategic partnership development and board and staff development.

Amanda Fritts, MSPH, Community Coordinator – Cumberland County

Amanda coordinates the NC Youth Connected Initiative in Cumberland County – a community-wide teen pregnancy prevention approach. Before moving to North Carolina, Amanda worked for District of Columbia Public Schools with a focus on school climate and student satisfaction. She also worked with early childhood home visiting programs in Maryland as part of the Home Visiting Research Team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Amanda received a BS in Health Behavior Science from the University of Delaware and an MSPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Ariana Goswick, MA, LPCA, Supportive Schools Coordinator

Ariana Goswick leads SHIFT NC's Supportive Schools Initiative, focused on creating school environments that are more welcoming for LGBTQ students.  Ariana additionally provides LGBTQ technical assistance on a variety of SHIFT NC initiatives regarding the unique strengths and needs of LGBTQ young people. Ariana holds a Bachelor's in Psychology and Certification in Human Development from Duke University, and a Master's in Forensic Mental Health Counseling from City University of New York (CUNY) John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Ariana began her focus on LGBTQ young people in New York City, where she researched under Kevin Nadal, PhD, a leading expert on the effects of discrimination on racial/ethnic minority people and LGBTQ people. Ariana’s research focused on parental perceptions of transgender children as well as LGBTQ perceptions of the criminal justice system.  Ariana complemented her graduate research with direct service at Manhattan’s LGBT Center, where she began as a substance abuse counselor with Center Recovery, and then transitioned to a Youth Prevention Counselor with Center Youth.  Central to Ariana’s role was establishing and maintaining a community of inclusion built on the values of respect, openness, sensitivity and personal responsibility.  

Bianka Reese, MSPH, Evaluation Specialist

Bianka leads evaluation for the Every Teen Counts and North Carolina Youth Connected initiatives. She has previous experience in program evaluation of large-scale teen pregnancy prevention programs, qualitative data collection and analysis, and empirical analyses of complex, multilevel datasets. Bianka is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Maternal and Child Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her dissertation research explores the implications of positive youth development for holistic aspects of sexual health and romantic relationships in young adulthood, using a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents. Bianka holds a Master’s of Science in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health, also from UNC-Chapel Hill. 

Debbie Engelbrecht, Chief Financial Officer

Debbie has worked in the financial field for 32 years. A native of Zimbabwe, she later moved to South Africa where she met her husband and started a family. She immigrated to the United States more than a decade ago.

Elise Berrier,  Capacity-Building Specialist - Juvenile Justice 

Elise specializes in capacity-building services for the Juvenile Justice System on the Every Teen Counts Initiative. Prior to joining SHIFT NC, Elise worked as a community health educator for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic and ran a coalition focused on improving access to sexual and reproductive health care in rural communities. She has implemented domestic violence prevention education initiatives for the Compass Center for Women & Families and UNC-Chapel Hill's Student Wellness. Elise obtained her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Women's & Gender Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill.  

Elizabeth Hundley Finley, Director of Strategic Communications

Elizabeth oversees communications for SHIFT NC. Prior to joining SHIFT NC, she worked with many of North Carolina’s other leading child advocacy organizations, including The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (Smart Start) and Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. Elizabeth is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

Janae’ Roberts, MPH, Program Specialist

Janae’ is the NC Youth Connected Program Specialist, focusing on providing direction and technical assistance to all school district, community-based partners, and other human services agencies in Cumberland County. Prior to joining SHIFT NC, Janae’ resided in Atlanta, Georgia where she obtained her Master’s in Public Health from Emory University, with a focus on behavioral science & health education, and worked as a Continuous Quality Improvement Associate at a state foster care & adoption agency. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was able to begin her undergraduate career completing research at Johns Hopkins University and working for The Jackson Heart Study, the largest single-site epidemiologic investigation of cardiovascular disease among African Americans. Janae’ maintains an interest in adolescent & women’s health and community-based program planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Jenny PalmerSchool Engagement Specialist

Jenny works with North Carolina schools and school systems to help them make comprehensive sexuality education part of the community norms. Prior to joining SHIFT NC, she was Director of Health Education at Wake Teen Medical Services. One of her main responsibilities there was delivering comprehensive sexuality education in schools after the 2009 passage of the Healthy Youth Act. Jenny has worked with young people for almost 20 years, both in schools and outside, coordinating peer education and youth leadership programs, teaching Spanish, and advocating for youth-friendly health policy. She received her BA from Vanderbilt University and completed her Master’s degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

Kennon E. Jackson, Jr., MA, Director of Innovative Technologies

Kennon manages the BrdsNBz Text Line System, which includes the North Carolina BrdsNBz Text Message Warm Line and franchisees across the country. Kennon has a wealth of experience working with nonprofits, government agencies, and academic institutions, including the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the United States Department of State, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health Center for Adolescent Health. He has a BS in Biology from Davidson College, and a Master's in Public Policy from Duke University.

Kia Thacker, MPH, Director of Priority Populations

Kia leads SHIFT NC's Every Teen Counts Initiative. She previously worked on the Gaston Youth Connected project to create strategies to reach the most vulnerable youth and managed the project’s Teen Action Council. Prior to joining SHIFT NC, Kia worked in substance abuse prevention. She has a Bachelor’s in Sociology from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MPH from UNC-Greensboro.

Madison Ward Willis,  MPA, Community Coordinator - Wayne County

Madison is a coordinator for NC Youth Connected — an initiative to facilitate coordinated, community-wide approaches to teen pregnancy prevention. In addition, she oversees SHIFT NC's 100 County Campaign in Eastern NC. Prior to SHIFT NC, Madison worked for five years as Director of Adolescent Programs at Compass Center for Women and Families, focusing efforts on primary pregnancy prevention work with middle school girls. Madison holds a Master's in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University and completed her undergrad work at Peace College with a BA in Child Development.

Marcia Swartz, MSW, Clinic Improvement and Linking Specialist

Marcia is part of SHIFT NC’s NC Youth Connected team. Marcia provides technical assistance to health centers on best practices for quality adolescent care and strengthening referral and linking networks to those centersMarcia has over 20 years of experience working in adolescent and women's reproductive health in a variety of settings, including non-for-profit, state and county agencies, and community health care settings. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Social Work with a focus on public health. She has provided numerous trainings and educational programs in institutional and community health settings with diverse population groups.

Melinda DeJongh, Director of Resources and Special Projects

Melinda is SHIFT NC’s lead grant writer, and coordinates the Annual Conference and the Resource Library. She has been with SHIFT NC since 1999, which means she remembers when the fax machine was the most-used piece of technology in the office. Melinda holds a Bachelor’s in English from Guilford College, with a concentration in Women's Studies. Originally from Tennessee, she has lived in North Carolina for most of her life.

Meriel Shire, MSW, MPH, Clinic Improvement and Linking Specialist

Meriel works with health centers and youth-serving organizations in Durham County, providing technical assistance for best practice promotion and strengthening referral and linking networks as part of the All Together Now initiative.  A native of Connecticut, Meriel holds Master's degrees in Public Health and Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Bachelor's degree from Bard College.  Before moving to North Carolina, Meriel worked as a Policy Research Assistant for the Contraceptive Choice Center in St. Louis.

Michela GarrisonMPH, Evaluation Specialist

Michela leads evaluation for the All Together Now initiative in Durham, NC and the Healthy Tomorrow Alliance initiative in Greensboro, NC. She also provides evaluation support for the High Point Access Initiative. Michela has experience domestically and internationally in sexual and reproductive health evaluation and program development, and in teaching and developing sexual health education curricula. Michela has a Master’s of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Bachelor’s degree from Vassar College.

Michelle Reese, Director of Clinic Improvement Services

Michelle provides leadership and technical assistance to SHIFT NC healthcare improvement and access projects. Having held a similar role in SHIFT NC's Gaston Youth Connected Initiative, she helps the organization respond to growing needs and interest to improve adolescent health care in the state. She has more than 14 years of experience working in adolescent reproductive health issues, starting as Director of Community Health Education at the Mecklenburg Council on Adolescent Pregnancy. She has also worked in 4H Youth Development programs, HIV/STI health education, and on health equity initiatives. Michelle has participated in Advocates for Youth’s European Study Tour on adolescent sexual health. She holds a Bachelor’s in Health Promotion from UNC-Charlotte and is a graduate of the Emerging Minority Leaders in Public Health Fellowship at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Pat Hilliard, Administrative Coordinator

Pat provides in-office support for training and program activities, as well as coordination for public events. Pat received her Bachelor’s in English and Religion from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.

Riz Khan, Clinic Improvement and Linking Specialist

Riz Khan is the Clinic Improvement and Linking Specialist on the High Point Access Initiative. Prior to joining SHIFT NC, Riz worked as the Manager of Clinical Administration with UnitedHealth Group. She executed audits and coaching to a team of clinical nurses/personnel to ensure client satisfaction and maintaining efficient and profitable operations. She also worked for 11 years with Aetna as a Quality Analyst monitoring quality assurance, medical cost management, regulations, and clinical analysis. Riz is fluent in 4 languages and has experience working with diverse community members including adolescents and refugees at community wellness clinics, schools, and other service organizations within High Point, NC. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration with a certificate in Healthcare Leadership.

Sally Swanson, MSW, MSPH, Chief Program Officer

Sally oversees SHIFT NC's programs department, the department that coordinates all signature initiatives. She has also earned the alternate title "Director of Awesomeness." Previously, she directed the Gaston Youth Connected initiative, a nationally recognized prevention project that reduced teen birth rates in Gaston County by more than 40%. Sally previously worked in HIV prevention, counseling, and testing, as well as in domestic violence services. She holds Master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Sarah Davis, MPH, Director of Public Health Strategy

Sarah leads SHIFT NC’s All Together Now initiative, focused on improving access to sexual health services for teens and young adults in Durham. In addition, she provides technical support and advisement to multiple other SHIFT NC efforts, working across a variety of health and youth-serving systems. She provides leadership for program planning and resource creation, including past work on the Gaston Youth Connected initiative. Sarah has more than 15 years of experience working to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable groups, from a variety of perspectives. She brings a strong background in applied public health, and has successfully worked in and with health care, education, and community-based non-profit organizations. Sarah was a high school teacher with Teach For America in the Mississippi Delta and holds a Master’s of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Tamara D. Roberston,  MPH, Capacity-Building Specialist - Foster Care 

Tamara Robertson is the Capacity Building Specialist for the Foster Care System on the Every Teen Counts Initiative. Prior to joining SHIFT NC, Tamara was a Public Health Educator with Wake County Human Services in the HIV/STD Community Program and interned with the Coastal Health District's Adolescent Health and Youth Development Department in Savannah, Georgia. Tamara earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Studies from Georgia Southern University and Master of Public Health from Armstrong State University. 

Tania Connaughton-Espino, MPH, Director of Integrated Community Initiatives (NCYC)

Tania coordinates SHIFT NC’s community-wide initiative (NC Youth Connected) in Cumberland county. Originally from Mexico City, Mexico, Tania came to North Carolina to obtain her Master’s in Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has worked extensively with the Latino community on reproductive health issues and developed Spanish-language family planning and women’s health resources during her time with the NC Healthy Start Foundation. She also has experience implementing Cuídate!, presenting parent workshops in Spanish encouraging parents to talk to their children about sex, and leading trainings for lay health advisors. Tania served as the Team Leader for the NC Division of Public Health’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives (TPPI) and provided technical assistance to TPPI-funded projects in Eastern NC and projects funded under the Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP).