Celebrating WomenWe are storytellers, highlighting local female leaders who have been tirelessly committed to the cause of advancing women, the next generation of emerging female leaders who are inspired to make a difference, and those women who have weathered their own life transitions while moving forward on their leadership path.
Lisa’s work with students and children began over 35 years ago as she began her career in youth and campus ministry. After serving communities in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, Lisa and her family relocated to North Carolina in 2009 to serve as Youth Pastors at CityGate Church. In 2013 she was entrusted with the position of Outreach Pastor with a mission to invest in the community. That mission grew and expanded into the CityGate Dream Center, which defines itself as “a community center to inspire, develop, train, and advocate for children, students, and their families”.
Lisa’s impact within the walls of the CityGate Dream Center is significant. The collective impact of the Dream Center reaches above 700 middle and high school students. One of the passions of the Dream Center is a deep connection with Latinx and black families who call Burlington home. Due to Lisa’s leadership and embrace of all people, the Center is full of laughter, conversations in many languages, trust, hope, and love. The Center fulfills the immediate needs of underserved people in the Alamance County community in concrete and tangible ways: backpack and school supply distribution, free haircuts, kids camps and sports leagues, job and health fairs, diverse cultural celebrations, fundraisers for community members in need, and fun days for children of the community.
Lisa’s impact outside of the walls of the Center is equally significant. The trust, hope, and love members of the community experienced were crucial as Lisa led herculean efforts to meet the needs of children’s families during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Center provided a drive-thru meal distribution, emergency diaper and hygiene product bank, free learning pod, and FEMA vaccination site for the community, particularly touching the lives of Latinx and Black families. Lisa and the Dream Center were Leading the Way in caring for the community during this time.
Lisa furthers the Center’s reach by partnering with local organizations such as Alamance Community College, Alamance Partnership for Children, Alamance-Burlington School System, Burlington Police Department, Cone Health-Alamance Regional, Elon University, NC Department of Health and Human Services and others. The partnership and support of these organizations is crucial as Lisa advocates for and serves Alamance County and particularly those communities that have previously experienced a lack of resources.
Susana Goldman is a self-proclaimed avid reader, promoter of reading and one with a love for the library. She has been an unfailing and passionate advocate for equity of services and resources at both the professional and personal level. Susana has worked in the Alamance County Public Library system since 2014 but nearly all of her professional career has been in library services. She is involved in Library Administration, Library Management, Librarians and Children’s Manager Teams where she makes policy and procedure decisions and determines new service and resource offerings to the public.
Susana has a special skill and takes pleasure in grant writing and has prepared grants of varying size for Alamance County Public Libraries. Goldman said she loves being involved in the community and being able to get the public library system out into the community. She has successfully launched the mobile library project. The Mobile Library travels county-wide, providing the same services as the physical library branches. Users of the Mobile Library may place items on hold, have them delivered, and pick them up the next time the Mobile Library comes to their area. Shelves can be browsed our shelves, which are stocked with popular fiction and nonfiction titles for all ages, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, and magazines. There is even story time offered at some stops. This project was four years in the making. Goldman said being in the community and visible is “super important for the library”. but then to be able to connect people with the resources or the technology, in some small ways as well.”
In her effort to connect people with the resources and technology they need, Susana has been engaged in several other initiatives, including but not limited to Mobile Library Café providing internet service to rural areas of Alamance County, discontinuation of fines for overdue books to ensure the library is available to all and align with the library’s vision of creating communities and providing opportunities, and programming to enhance education and literacy.
Susana is a member of the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association (Website committee), Alamance County Racial Equity Collaboration, Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build Committee, and a board member of Alamance Partnership for Children. Susana noted one of the mantras to which she ascribes is “Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important. Capture the good times; and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”
Jennifer Mock is known as a mentor and a supporter of working mothers. She encourages women to balance their professional and personal lives. Professionally, Jennifer is the Academic and Career Readiness Director at Alamance Community College (ACC).
Combining her professional career with her active role in the community, Jennifer is able to use her voice to help bring change. Jennifer is known as one who encourages women to find balance in their lives; balance between professional and personal pursuits.
Jennifer has focused on underserved and marginalized populations, including specialized programming for students with learning differences, justice-involved individuals, English language learners and those with barriers to completing a high school education. Her work at Alamance Community College offers her the opportunity to interact with people of different backgrounds and skillsets which she sees as part of the diversity people bring to the learning experience. One program of particular interest is where students are learning both cosmetology and English simultaneously. Students learn English and complete a two-year cosmetology program making them able to gain employment.
Jennifer organized a team of volunteers from the college to help distribute boxed meals and other materials for several weeks to families in need in East Burlington at the Dream Center on North Church Street. ACC, provided not only volunteers, but also coloring book packets, and program information to help feed and educate approximately 20,000 residents through a partnership between City Gate’s Dream Center, Impact Alamance, United Way, and The City of Burlington. ACC volunteers worked on this project along with other community donors, volunteers and businesses.
She served as a board member of the United Way of Alamance County and the president of the Community Council. The Community Council is a multidisciplinary group of volunteers and professionals who seek to address critical needs in the community, promote volunteerism and connect resources.
She serves as a member of the Kernodle Center Advisory Committee, a committee of the Kernodle Center for Civic Engagement. Mock sees an important component of community engagement is the ability to live and learn through the stories people share. In addition to participating in food drives and school supply drives, Jennifer has been engaged in community awareness programs. She believes in collaboration as she has created and sustained community partnerships with City Gate Dream Center, Women’s Resource Center, Impact Alamance, and United Way. She is someone who loves to see others succeed. Jennifer’s favorite quote is one she strives to live by. “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can” – John Wesley.
Sonya McCook truly Leads the Way as a woman in the male-dominated STEM (Science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field. She was not deterred after a high school guidance counselor and a college professor told her women could not be successful in STEM. She went on to graduate magna cum laude with her bachelor’s degree and cum laude with her master’s degree, both in Mathematics. This Founders Nominee is working with young women to help them achieve their goals and dreams, not just in mathematics and school but also in life.
Sonya began teaching high school math in 1986 and in 1997 began teaching full-time at the college level at Alamance Community College. She became department head in 2008 and has served as the Dean of Business, Arts, and Sciences since December 2014. During her time as Dean, she has provided leadership during the merger of the Business Technologies and Arts and Sciences Division into one unit, supervised up to 70 full-time faculty and over 100 adjunct professors, and manages a multi-million-dollar budget. Sonya has participated in and chaired many committees and serves as Vice-President of the state-wide organization North Carolina Mathematics Association of Two-Year Colleges. Not only did she lead the division during a significant merger, but she also led her faulty through significant curriculum changes to the NC Community College System. Sonya worked with the Alamance-Burlington School system to create pathways for ABSS juniors and seniors to enter the community college. In addition to her work with the division, she also revised the College’s Mentor-Mentee program and served as a mentor to many women and students herself.
Apart from her work at Alamance Community College, Sonya is a member of the Board of Directors for Burlington Christian Academy and Clover Garden School. She and her family regularly volunteer at the Sandwich Ministry and Soup Kitchen at Crosslink Community Church in Mebane, and she is involved in the Lead AWANA program with her church as well. She volunteers with the Samaritan’s Purse and the Mebane Youth Soccer Association.
Jessica Johnson was focused on the needs of mothers and babies during the pandemic. While most don’t think twice about diapers, for families in need and with limited funds, the gift of diapers can have a significant impact. Although there are numerous services available for families, diapers are not one of the commodities offered. The North Carolina Perinatal Association: A Coalition of Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies, is an organization with the purpose to improve perinatal health for childbearing families throughout the state, providing leadership, education, and advocacy for healthy mothers and healthy infants. The coalition identified that families were in need as a result of the pandemic and in particular there was a need of diapers. Alamance Partnership for Children made the connection between the Diaper Bank of NC – Triangle Branch and the CityGate Dream Center identified to be the perfect place to coordinate getting diapers to those who needed them most. Jessica, as Chair of Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Coalition of Alamance County went to work. Every Thursday, hundreds of diapers and more were distributed to families in need. Jessica’s leadership and passion were clearly demonstrated in that effort. She inventoried the diapers and feminine products, placed orders, coordinated volunteers for distribution and promoted the vital resource in the community. Because of the collaboration between multiple agencies serving the needs of the community, this weekly benefit has continued very successfully.
Jessica built a career in human services, working for several years at the Alamance County Health Department where she touched the lives of countless mothers and babies. She was Infant Mortality Reduction Program Coordinator, provided case management services for women during and after their pregnancy through the Healthy Beginnings program and Partners for the Healthy Baby Curriculum, wrote and oversaw state and local grants, lead committees and coalitions such as Centering Pregnancy Standard of Care taskforce, Teen Friendly Services Work Group and Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition. Jessica was instrumental in implementing volunteer doula service in Alamance County. Doulas are trained to offer physical and emotional support before, during, and after childbirth. They contribute to improved health outcomes for both mother and baby and help overcome maternal and child health disparities. In all her roles, Jessica makes certain that those working with moms understand diversity and equity. Throughout her career, Jessica has focused on improving inequitable outcomes in maternal and child health.
She most recently accepted the role as Perinatal Health Strategic Plan Coordinator at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in Raleigh where she also represents the Women’s Health Brand and Perinatal Health Strategic Plan on statewide and local advisory groups and committees. When asked what she considered her favorite quote, Jessica said “We can do hard things” – Glennon Doyle. This Rising Star said it reminds her that it is “okay to have big feelings about things beyond our control, all while pushing forward to do what is right”.
Shereá Burnett is a native of Alamance County. She identifies as Afro-Indigenous and is a proud citizen of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation. Shereá attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in Political Science and Afro-American Studies. She also minored in Social and Economic Justice. Shereá received her Juris Doctorate Degree from Elon University School of Law. As an afro-indigenous activist, she has worked in the community to educate the public about the Occaneechi Band of Saponi Nation. Shereá serves in various capacities for local nonprofit and community-centric organizations. Her interests include community service and advocacy work.
She is one who works hard to break the barriers of race and gender inequalities in Alamance County. Over the years, Shereá has matched her commitment to volunteerism and social change with her service on numerous boards and committees. In addition to chairing various committees to bring change, she has conducted community interviews, discussing topics such as voter rights, access to safe polling locations, equality to vote free of intimidation. She has been a panelist on talks on the topics of human trafficking awareness, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, human rights for members of the LGBTQ+ community and more.
As an active member of the Burlington Junior Women’s Club, Shereá has held the offices of secretary/editor and president in addition to chairing various club committees. She was awarded the Burlington Junior Women’s Club’s Ways & Means award for her fundraising efforts, including securing grants for the organization.
When Shereá sees a problem, she goes about making a difference to address it. The recent pandemic highlighted a gap in Alamance county around literacy. Black, Indigenous and members of the Latinx communities had no or limited access to transportation to local libraries. She worked with community partners and her own online platform (ThisWomansWords) to create an online summer reading program. She assisted in heading up a virtual reading program in Alamance County which was distinct in that it promoted minority-centered books to instill a passion for literacy in children. Many of the books prominently feature minority characters so that American Indian, African American, Hispanic and Latino children see people who look like them. The series also features books typically read by middle school-age children.
Burnett is employed at Family Abuse Services of Alamance County as Director of Rapid Rehousing, a program that helps those experiencing homelessness, often women and their families. She is also Adjunct Professor, Legal Research at Greensboro College. She is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Alamance-Guilford section of the National Council of Negro Women where she has held numerous leadership roles. She is engaged in Alamance Achieves Community Voice Project, and Alamance County Health Equity Collective. Rising Star Nominee, Shereá shared words she would tell her younger self that resonate. “Your purpose is greater than you know. Your work will speak to people you have never met. Your works will enter rooms where you will never step. You are making a difference.”