Michelle Hughes

Executive Director

NCChild15Michelle joined NC Child in October 2014.  As Executive Director, Michelle oversees the staff, finances, and strategic direction of the organization. Additionally, Michelle serves as NC Child’s primary point of contact to external allies, including policymakers, the media, and private allies.

Michelle has worked in the field of children’s advocacy for almost 20 years in North Carolina.  She has served in a number of executive and leadership positions including Project Director of the Partnering for Excellence Initiative at Benchmarks, Executive Vice-President for Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, and Public Action Director at the NC Child Advocacy Institute, the organizational predecessor to NC Child.

Michelle’s leadership and advocacy for children has been recognized both nationally and in North Carolina.  She is the 2012 recipient of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families Commissioner’s Award and the 2012 North Carolina Pediatric Society, Tom Vitaglione Child Health Advocacy Award.

A graduate of Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland, Michelle holds Master’s degrees in English and Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michelle can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 224 or at michelle@ncchild.org.

Adam Sotak

NCChild03Public Engagement Director

Adam joined NC Child in November 2015. In his role as Public Engagement Director, he leads NC Child’s advocacy efforts to promote economic opportunity and improve children’s health and well-being.

He has over 15 years of community organizing and policy advocacy experience here in North Carolina. During his career he has received numerous awards including the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP’s “Unsung Hero” Award in 2005.

Born in West Virginia, Adam moved to Salisbury, NC (the home of Cheerwine) at age 12. He received his BSW from Appalachian State University and MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill. He lives in Durham with his wife, Tara, and three children Anders, Harriet, and Bennett.

Adam can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 228 or at adam@ncchild.org.


Whitney Tucker WTucker_2015

Research Director

Whitney joined NC Child in October 2017. In her role as Research Director, she leads the agency’s child well-being research initiatives and provides actionable analysis of public policies impacting NC children and families.

Prior to joining NC Child, Whitney spent four years working as Policy and Research Associate at Children’s Trust of South Carolina. In that role, she managed the South Carolina KIDS COUNT data program and coordinated the South Carolina Early Childhood Common Agenda, a statewide advocacy coalition promoting data- and equity-informed public policy changes on behalf of children ages 0-5. Preceding her work in South Carolina, she garnered experience within the Detroit Medical Center and as a Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar in the United States House of Representatives.

Whitney engages in research for academic publication with special interest in advocacy evaluation and policy tools advancing racial and ethnic equity. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Vanderbilt University. A native of South Carolina, she now shares a downtown Raleigh apartment with her cat named Seven.

Whitney can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 225 or at whitney@ncchild.org.


NwanneNwanne Agada
Children’s Environmental Health Program Coordinator

Nwanne joined NC Child in September 2017. In her role as the Children’s Environmental Health Program Coordinator, she helps to promote NC Child’s vision of a state where all children have the opportunity to grow up healthy by combining environmental health science research and communication skills to convene partner, shape, and advocate for policy solution.

Prior to joining NC Child, Nwanne worked for Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services surveying low-income communities in Texas to gain information to create an Exposure Risk Assessment Questionnaire and established a soil sampling protocol that was used to sample the soil of residential homes with suspected heavy metal contamination. Before attending graduate school, Nwanne worked with Air Alliance Houston, a non-profit organization in Houston. She worked to collect data on the amount of smoke and fumes coming from idling vehicles that was later used to pass anti-idling registration in Houston and worked with low-income communities along the Houston Ship Channel to understand the effects on residents’ due to air pollution from industrial complexes.

Nwanne is originally from Houston, Texas. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University Texas, San Antonio and a Master’s degree in Environmental Health from East Carolina University.

Nwanne can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 233 or nwanne@ncchild.org

NCChild10Sarah Vidrine

Oral Health Policy Analyst

For over 20 years, Sarah has worked to promote opportunities for children and families. Her career has included direct service, systems reform, and policy advocacy.  From 2007-2014, Sarah worked as the Director of Policy and Systems Initiatives at Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. She continues to do freelance consulting with a variety of nonprofit agencies.

A native of Kansas, Sarah attended universities in New York and Seattle before settling in North Carolina in 2002. She and her husband, Dominique, share their home with three children, a dog, a cat, and a rabbit.

Sarah can be reached at sarah@ncchild.org.

Rob Thompson

Deputy Director

NCChild04Rob joined NC Child in January 2014. As the deputy director, Rob oversees the organization’s communications, research, and advocacy staff and programs.

Prior to joining NC Child, Rob worked from 2008 to 2013 as the executive director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children. In that role, Rob oversaw the organization’s government relations, membership network, and fundraising.

From 2005 to 2008, Rob directed NC Public Interest Research Group, a consumer and good-government advocacy group. From 2003 to 2005, Rob worked as an organizer at the Center for Campus Free Speech and directed grassroots fundraising offices in Chapel Hill, NC, and New York City.

Rob grew up in Atlanta, GA, and attended Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, where he graduated with a degree in English literature. He enjoys backpacking, basketball, and talking about the weather.

Rob can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 227 or rob@ncchild.org.


Austen High headshot

Director of Development

Austen is a native North Carolinian with a passion for ensuring high-quality education for all. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary social studies education from NC State University and a master’s degree in School Counseling from NC Central University.

Prior to joining NC Child, Austen worked in non-profit fundraising and volunteer recruitment. Austen also serves on the Board of Directors for Wake County Women’s Center.

In her free time she enjoys cooking and answering questions with her trivia team, The Bee’s Knees.

Austen can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 234 or austen@ncchild.org.


Samantha Hynd

Operations Assistant sam

Samantha joined NC Child in September 2016. In her role as the Operations Assistant, she provides project management and administrative support to NC Child team members to ensure efficient operations across all areas of the agency. She focuses on fund development, external communications, and office management.

Prior to joining NC Child, Samantha worked for The Children’s Campaign, a nonprofit children’s advocacy organization in Tallahassee, Florida. In that role, Samantha supported the work of upper management. She also coordinated recruitment opportunities for their workforce development program by managing resumes, scheduling interviews, and extending offers to interested applicants.

A native of South Carolina, Samantha holds a Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Florida State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with minors in Psychology and Criminology from College of Charleston.

Samantha can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 229 or samantha@ncchild.org. 


La-Mine Perkins
Outreach Coordinator

La-Mine coordinates the outreach activities of the NC Coalition to Protect Child and Family Health.

Prior to Joining NC Child, La-Mine was the Professional Education Coordinator at Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina where she oversaw the development, coordination, and implementation of PCNAC’s Professional Education program.  A New York native, La-Mine relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina in January 2004.  In New York she worked at St. Christopher-Ottilie Children and Family Services, where she provided support to the Independent Living and Group Placements departments.

La-Mine attended college in New York and is currently enrolled at NC State University.  La-Mine lives in Fuquay with her husband and three children. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and attending community events with her family.

La-Mine can be reached at lamine@ncchild.org.


Kim Gibson-Forrest kim
Finance Officer

Kim joined NC Child in September 2017.  As the Finance Officer, Kim manages the organization’s finance and human resource functions.

Prior to joining NC Child, Kim was the Chief Operating Officer for a non-profit in Chapel Hill  for the last decade overseeing all office, finance, human resources, IT and legal matters.

Kim grew up in upstate New York and graduated with an accounting degree from Binghamton University.  She enjoys spending time with her husband and six kids watching them in action in their football and soccer games, wrestling matches and swim meets.

Kim can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 226 or finance@ncchild.org.


Latoya Beatty

2017-2018 Research and Policy FellowBeatty_Latoya-1_CH

Latoya joined NC Child in July 2017 as the 2017-2018 Research and Policy Fellow. In her role Latoya reports to the Director of Research and Data and works closely with NC Child’s well-respected staff and contract lobbyist on a variety of projects.

Prior to joining NC Child, Latoya worked at the Bladen County Health Department where she coordinated Young Moms Connect, a program that provided community resources for mothers aged 13-26 and their children. Latoya previously conducted research in adolescent smoking, health disparities, and physician shortage in underserved areas. Latoya’s current research and policy interests include maternal and child health, health disparities, child abuse, and rural health.

A native of Bolton, NC, Latoya holds a Medical Degree from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C, a Master’s in Public Health from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and a Bachelor’s in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Latoya can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext.237 or at latoya@ncchild.org.


Abby Hamrick

2017-2018 MSW Intern Abby Hamrick

Abby joined NC Child as an intern in June of 2017. She is originally from Shelby, NC, and is excitedly pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at UNC Chapel Hill, with a concentration in community management and policy practice. Abby graduated with her BSW from Appalachian State in December of 2016.

While completing her undergrad, Abby worked for the Appalachian-GEAR UP partnership, and she is passionate about college access and other education issues. She is an Education Policy Fellowship alum, and throughout her time at ASU she advocated on behalf of students to upper-level administrators, as well as state officials through Student Government. Abby is eager to learn more about disparities facing NC children and more about holistic approaches to child welfare advocacy. She will graduate in May of 2018.

Abby can be reached at abby@ncchild.org.


Tom Vitaglione

Senior Fellow, Health and Safety (Volunteer)

For three decades, Tom Vitaglione served in the NC Division of Public Health providing essential services to the children of North Carolina. As chief of the Children and Youth section of the Division of Women’s and Children’s Health, Tom supervised all health programs for the state’s youth including a wide range of prevention and specialized services. He was instrumental in promoting and bringing about the Children’s Health Insurance Program and was a strong advocate for the Infant Homicide Prevention Act. Tom received his master’s in public health from Columbia University.

Tom can be reached at 919.834.6623 ext. 238 or at tom@ncchild.org.


Melissa Johnsonmelissa-johnson

Fellow, Early Intervention and Mental Health

Dr. Johnson received her B.A. in psychology from Duke University, and completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980. Her clinical, teaching and research activities have all focused on infant mental health and on high-need children and families, particularly preterm infants, as well as children with medical conditions, developmental disabilities, or experiences of abuse and neglect.

From 1986 until her retirement in 2016, she was employed at WakeMed Health and Hospitals as a pediatric psychologist and coordinator of the Developmental Team of the Pediatric and Neonatology services. She is certified in the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale and the Assessment of Preterm Infant Behavior, and is a Senior Trainer in the NIDCAP© and is certified as an NNACP site reviewer. She is past president of the North Carolina Infant Mental Health Association, is a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Partnership for children, and is active in a number of statewide early childhood and family advocacy organizations and projects.