Achievement Academy of Durham

Allie Brown
Allie moved to Durham in August 2016 after graduating from BYU with a degree in Sociology. She started volunteering at the Achievement Academy of Durham while trying out a few temporary jobs. When they told her about the chance to serve through AmeriCorps, she jumped at the chance to spend more time with the amazing students at AAD. She is serving her second year with NCLC and pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC-CH. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Zach. They like to play tennis, hike, try new recipes, and watch movies.







Jennifer Gonzalez

Jennifer is serving her first year in AmeriCorps as a half-time Literacy Corps member at the Achievement Academy of Durham. Once a student at Achievement Academy, Jennifer was so impressive to the staff that she was asked to serve after completing her time there. She loves to volunteer and serve others, so saying yes to a year in AmeriCorps was a no-brainer. Jennifer’s goal is to attend Durham Tech Community College to become a certified bilingual interpreter. She has a very supportive husband, and 3 loving children that are her inspiration in life, and can be seen as her hobby as she loves spending time with them.

AVID of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools


Dan Huddleston

After graduating from University of South Carolina with a degree in History in the spring of 2017, Dan returned to his ancestral home in Raleigh. Admittedly, those ancestors are his parents, and his family has only been living there for twenty-two years, but the premise stands. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to coordinate the AVID tutoring program in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools for the next year. In this role, he hopes to help foster a love of learning in the classroom for the AVID students and to help provide them with more tools for academic success. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, and wishing he was better at baking, but so far that wish has not come true. A boy can dream.

Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate

 Mia Avendano Galdamez Hey my name is Mia Avendano, I was born in El Salvador but grew up in Carrboro, NC. I moved to Raleigh to continue my education at North Carolina State University. During my junior and senior year of college I volunteered for Helps Education Fund, Inc at a local elementary school and Homework Haven, an after- school program. During those two years my interest in non-profits became bigger and knew I wanted to continue doing the same kind of work in my post grad years. Luckily the non-profit I worked with was looking for a coordinator the year I graduated.Last year, I served Helps Education Fund as their full time Metropolitan Organization of Volunteers for Empowering Student (MOVES) Coordinator. This is my second year of serving with the Literacy Corps, and I am serving for Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate.
Maya Kruse  

Maya Kruse is originally from Cary, NC. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill, and is very excited to join Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate. She joined AmeriCoprs in order to serve her community, as well as meet people within the community from all different walks of life.

Bess Morrell  

Bess Morrell, 18, recently moved to Hillsborough, NC in July, after graduating from Hanover High School in New Hampshire. She is still adapting to the unusually warm weather and large quantities of iced tea. Bess enjoys ballet, playing piano, arts and crafts, and multiple cups of coffee every morning. She is excited to serve with Blue Ribbon this year, and looks forward to getting to know her new community.

Blue Ridge Literacy Council

Kyra Kinnaman Kyra graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a degree in History. She then went to University of Mississippi where she earned a M.A. in Philosophy. Originally from Washington state, she has lived a little bit everywhere and is excited to call North Carolina her new home. One of her greatest passions is education and the opportunities it allows every person – not only socially and economically, but in the less quantifiable, personal ways as well. She is excited to be a part of Blue Ridge Literacy Council and assist in the great work they are doing in their community among adult learners.

Boys and Girls Club of Franklin County


Amiee Richardson

Amiee Richardson is a performance-driven, conscientious “Learning Leader” of instruction with experience in public school districts. Specific experiences include: PreK-5 Principal in Halifax County Schools; PreK-5 Assistant Principal in Edgecombe County Public Schools, Middle School Assistant Principal, and Assistant Principal PreK-8 in Warren County Schools. She has a strong commitment to academic excellence and solid leadership skills in building consensus between school staff, students, and community members.

Amiee Richardson earned a Master’s Degree in School Administration and Supervision from East Carolina University with recognition as a NC Principal Fellow. She is certified in School Administration and Curriculum & Instruction in addition to Business Education. Amiee Richardson acquired certification as an AvancEd External Reviewer with ELEOT certification for the AdvancEd Accreditation Agency of schools and universities.

In the role of principal, she completed the Distinguished Leaders in Practice program (DLP), and completed the BB&T Leadership Program. Professional organization affiliation includes: NCASA, NBEA, and NCAE. She briefly served as Vice President of the local Edgecombe County Administrators Association.

Amiee lives in Nashville, North Carolina. She is a proud wife of 27 years and mother of five beautiful children.

Future plan includes beginning the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at East Carolina University.

 Communities in Schools of Durham County

Brittney Arrington

Brittney was born in Greenville, North Carolina and has lived in Durham since 2014. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Social Work from East Carolina University. Currently she is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy Counseling at Capella University. This is her second year serving as an AmeriCorps member with Communities in Schools of Durham at E.K. Powe Elementary. She spends a great deal of her time reading, which has significantly influenced her passion for literacy tutoring. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, hiking, listening to music, and kayaking.


Stephanie Liss grew up in northwest Georgia and graduated from Rice University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Linguistics. After graduation she spent 3 months volunteering at the University of Houston’s Cognitive Development Lab where she enjoyed helping design experiments and working with children. She has spent the last five years living in Spain where she learned Spanish and taught EFL to students of all ages. During her second service year with Communities in Schools of Durham, she hopes to explore her interests in the educational sector, grow professionally, and give back to the local community. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys hiking with her dog Nacho, trying new foods, dreaming up future travel plans, and reading.

 Emily Mercado Emily graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with a concentration in Health, and with minors in Child and Family Development, Public Health, and Spanish. She has various volunteer experiences and is passionate about giving back to her community. Emily was born in Chapel Hill and grew up in the triangle area. She is a strong advocate for education and social justice issues. She plans to be a beneficial and effective mentor and role model for her community and the world. In the future, Emily hopes to continue pursuing her interests in health and youth. She enjoys traveling, the outdoors, and cooking. She has been to Spain, Puerto Rico, Haiti, St. Maarten, and the Dominican Republic. Emily plans to continue to travel throughout the world and expand her cultural awareness.
Sumaya Raphael
Sumaya is a 24 year old Boston native, who grew up in Georgia, and is now new to North Carolina. She graduated from Georgia Southern University in December of 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Health Education and Promotion, and a minor in Sociology. She has a large family that includes 3 brothers and 2 sisters. Sumaya has chosen to serve a year because she wanted to take some time in between earning her Bachelor’s and going to graduate school. She also is hoping to give back to children who grew up in a similar situation as she did.
Chris Sajdak Chris joins NCLC as an alum of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s AmeriCorps program. Moving to Durham in February 2016, he spent a year and a half serving at the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association in Durham leading environmental programming for K-5 students. After spending the summer working at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens Summer Camp, Chris is excited to join CIS of Durham to serve the students of Merrick – Moore Elementary School. There he will be working one-on-one with students during the school day, as well as supporting CIS of Durham’s afterschool program. Chris enjoys backpacking, paddling, trail running, and making music.

Community Empowerment Fund

 Joy Wahnefried  Coming Soon!

Duke Program in Education

 Liz Styron Liz is the proud daughter of military veterans Alton and Deborah Styron (oo-rah!). The youngest of three children, she is a 2009 graduate of North Carolina State University where she majored in Social Work and minored in English. In May 2017, she completed a dual degree Masters program, earning a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School as well as a Master of Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill. She has a passion for non-profit management, community engagement, and service learning models. She is excited to serve Duke University’s Program in Education as a program coordinator with Partners for Success. She looks forward to fostering and supporting meaningful field experiences for undergrad students as well as challenging them to critically reflect about the connections between the academy and the community. She enjoys eating, community service, eating, reading, eating, watching/playing sports, eating, and spending quality time with friends and family…while eating.

Durham Literacy Center

Mercedes Ervin Coming Soon!
 Stephanie Metzen Stephanie Metzen graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2011 having majored in Global Studies and French. Upon graduating, she moved to Ecuador to teach English and then had the pleasure of serving for one year in Nebraska for a mental health non-profit as a member of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Subsequently, she moved home to Durham to serve as an AmeriCorps member for the Teen Career Academy at the DLC. Upon completing her graduate work in Global Studies from UNC, she decided to return to her favorite local non-profit, the DLC, and continue her service, but this time around, with the ESOL program. This year will afford her the opportunity to learn more about the needs of the local adult migrant community as it pertains to access to education and literacy.
Della Owens Della Owens graduated with her Masters of Library and Information Studies from UNC Greensboro in May of 2017. She will be working at the Durham Literacy Center as the Adult Literacy AmeriCorps service member where she will teach literacy skills to adults in order to empower them to reach their goals. She never thought she’d join a teaching position and always said she never would, but life is funny like that. She’s nervous, yet excited to learn and do something out of her comfort zone and, who knows, maybe she’ll find her passion along the way. She loves languages and hopes to become fluent in many, but she’ll start with Spanish. In her free time she enjoys biking, reading, watching YouTube, and spending time with loved ones.

Durham Literacy Center- Youth Education Program

 Robert Manzo Suspected of taking home YA novels supposed to remain in his fifth-grade classroom’s library, Robert still has a copy of Huckleberry Finn marked with the name “Mrs. Smith (5th Grade)”. While he is regretful, he’s sure Mrs. Smith would, to this day, pretend that she’s never heard of the book, while giving a wink. As an AmeriCorps member, Robert makes volunteer tutor schedules, creates lesson plans, and tutors young adults on their way to earning their GED or high school equivalency (HSE) diploma. Find him on the second floor of the Durham Literacy Center. Visitors, future students, and prospective tutors are welcome, no matter your age, skin color, gender (non-) identity, religion, or who you are. In his spare time, Robert tends to his library and reads its fruits.

Fairview Family Resource Center

 Iffat Maqsood Iffat Maqsood is currently a graduate student at High Point University of High Point, NC. She has completed her double major in Health Management and Public Relations. During her studies, she developed a strong sense of devotion to the non-profit sector. She is a strong believer of community empowerment through education and service. She likes being with people and helping them, and she has the ability to understand and encourage people. She was born in Pakistan and came to the USA after getting married in 2011. Her role as Volunteer Coordinator will help her to play her role as part of the community and to develop strong ties into it.

Helps Education Fund

Chynna Ratliff

Chynna is originally from Salisbury, North Carolina, and moved to Raleigh to attend North Carolina State University. She graduated in May 2017 with her Bachelor’s in Psychology. Chynna first began volunteering with the Helps Education Fund during her senior year. Towards the scary inevitable time of graduation, and being thrown into the real world, Chynna luckily learned of the opportunity in AmeriCorps. Currently, she is serving as the Metropolitan Organization of Volunteers for Empowering Students (MOVES) Coordinator for the Helps Education Fund. Upon concluding her service year, Chynna hopes to attend graduate school, and further promote the importance of literacy.

Literacy Connections of Wayne County


Michael Allen lives in Goldsboro, NC. He holds Master degrees in both Social Work and Library Science.  Michael received his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and History from the University of Hawaii. Michael has worked in video production as well as the mental health/substance abuse recovery field. He hopes to continue working in the nonprofit sector and learning new methods to better help others.  Michael is motivated to serve his second year at Literacy Connections of Wayne County due to his passion to see more people utilize literacy as a means to be further engaged in the democratic process.

Literacy Council of Buncombe County

 Amber Beal Amber Beal comes to us a veteran of Americorps, having previously served in the NCCC and Project MARS in WNC. A graduate of UNC Asheville, lover of languages, culture and food, she always enjoys being an active member in her community since her childhood.  She hopes to continue her education by becoming an educator and fulfill her lifelong goal of serving in the Peace Corps. She enjoys reading and going to the park in her downtime, as well as playing with her family’s pet goats (ask her about them anytime). Amber serves as the Recruitment and Awareness Coordinator for Buncombe County Literacy Council.

North Carolina Central University

Ortencia Blake Coming Soon!


Bria Yates

Bria Yates is a Raleigh, NC native and senior undergraduate student at North Carolina Central University. She is an aspiring Neurosurgeon who is completing her bachelor’s degree in Biology. Although, her passion is to becoming part of the medical field, she does have experience working with Kindergarteners as a Teacher’s assistant and as a Mathematics Coach for grades 6-8. Bria is an active learner and has a hands on, engaging approach when it comes to tutoring. She plans to implement these skills in the AmeriCorps Program.

N.C. State Multicultural Student Affairs

Carmen Palacios-Aguirre  

Coming Soon!

Olivia Sandin Being a military brat, Olivia Sandin considers herself from everywhere.  She was born in Maryland, then lived in Germany, New Jersey, and Maine, and her parents currently live in Leland, North Carolina.  She is a junior at N.C. State University, where she is majoring in Social Work and Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Spanish.  After graduation, Olivia wants to receive her MSW from N.C. State University and use it to open a coed home for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. She is extremely passionate about social justice and gender equity, and hopes to inspire youth to do anything they want and to challenge themselves to grow and learn something new everyday.

Reading Connections


Alex Bernosky

Originally from Wyomissing, PA, Alex graduated from Elon University with a degree in Public Health. After graduation, she wanted to enroll in a year of service to give back to her community and to understand how literacy intersects with the health, well-being, and strength of a community. Alex is serving with Reading Connections in Greensboro, and working with adult learners. In her free time, Alex enjoys coffee, reading, and volunteering with animals.
 Rebekah King My name is Rebekah King and I am from the small town of Mayodan, NC. I moved to Greensboro to attend UNC-G where I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in History. I have a passion for helping others, since I have accomplished so much thanks to the kindness of others. After my AmeriCorps experience, I hope to go back to school for Non-Profit Management and give back to my community.

UNC America Reads

 Erica Day  

Coming Soon!

Areej Hussein Coming Soon!