Board Spotlight: Honoring the Service of our Board Members

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At the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF), our board members play an integral role in the success of the organization, providing strategic direction, solid governance, financial accountability and oversight, and offering support and guidance to staff. These leaders are a powerhouse of individuals in their own spheres of influence, who have come together to serve as early childhood champions. As the end of the year draws nearer, we would like to take the opportunity to recognize the momentous impact of five members whose terms are ending: Patti Gillenwater, Chair; Easter Maynard, Past Chair; Harold Sellars, Treasurer; Peggy Carter; and Sherry Franklin.  

Patti Gillenwater has been a vital member of NCECF’s Board of Directors since 2014, serving as Vice Chair from 2018 to 2021 and taking on the role of Chair in 2022. As CEO of Elinvar, Patti’s dynamic approach to problem-solving, strong commitment to NCECF’s mission, and extensive experience in mission-driven leadership has significantly strengthened NCECF’s work over the past nine years.

Easter Maynard, a dedicated board member since 2015, has been instrumental in shaping our organization’s trajectory. She served as Vice Chair from 2016 to 2017 and as Chair from 2017 to 2019. As the Director of Community Investment and Board Chair for Investors Management Corporation (IMC), Easter’s leadership brought strategic insights that significantly influenced our initiatives during her eight year tenure with the NCECF. 

Harold Sellars, a valued member of our Board since 2014, has played a crucial role as Treasurer from 2015 to 2019 and continuing through 2023. Harold’s background in financial management and former experience as Senior Vice President at Mechanics & Farmers Bank (M&F) brought invaluable financial acumen to our organization. His expertise has significantly supported our financial management and has left lasting impacts on our organization’s fiscal strength during the past nine years.

Peggy Carter has been a vital member of our Board since 2018, making significant contributions to our organization and serving as Chair of the Policy & External Affairs Committee since 2021. Peggy retired as vice president of the Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation and previously served as the vice president of corporate affairs for Sara Lee Corporation’s apparel operations. She has played a pivotal role in strengthening our fundraising efforts and has also been instrumental in shaping our communication plans for greater impact during her five year tenure with NCECF.

Sherry Franklin, a dedicated Board member since 2020, has played a crucial role in steering our organization toward a stronger commitment to racial equity. With over 25 years of experience in Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education, Sherry brought a wealth of knowledge to steer the direction of our initiatives. Sherry served as Chair of the Racial Equity Committee throughout 2022 and her leadership has been instrumental in centering the Board’s work on racial equity through a lens of inclusivity over the past three years.

We also want to recognize the many contributions of Banu Valladares who joined our board of directors in 2019 and had stepped down from her position earlier this year. Banu’s extensive non-profit background in education, the arts and humanities and expertise forming strategic partnerships with national, state and local agencies were incredibly valuable attributes to our leadership team. 

“NC Early Childhood Foundation has benefited from the deep commitment of Patti Gillenwater, Easter Maynard, Harold Sellars, Peggy Carter, Sherry Franklin, and Banu Valladares and we thank them for their years of service to the organization. They have served as tireless ambassadors of our work and unyielding champions for young children and their families. They are irreplaceable and I have learned so much from their servant leadership,” shared Muffy Grant, NCECF Executive Director. 

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Please be sure to subscribe to our biweekly newsletter and consider making a donation today to continue a strong 2023 by helping us transform the lives of North Carolina families, from their earliest days, while also supporting a small growing, family-friendly team. 

The NC Early Childhood Foundation is driven by a bold – and achievable – vision: Each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for life-long health, education, and well-being supported by a comprehensive, equitable birth-to-eight ecosystem. We build understanding, lead collaboration, and advance policies to ensure each North Carolina child is on track for lifelong success by the end of third grade.