Michelle Hughes Michelle
Executive Director

Michelle 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) 726-6392 or michelle@ncchild.org.


bio pic

Vikki Crouse
Health Program Associate

Vikki joined NC Child in 2019. In her role as Health Program Associate, she leads NC Child’s environmental health program to ensure that children have the opportunity to grow up healthy and meet developmental milestones in an environment free of toxicants.

Before coming to NC Child, Vikki was a Public Policy Analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy where she focused on research and advocacy in the areas of immigration, tax policy and the state budget. During her time at the League, she helped lead policy issue campaigns, build cross-sector partnerships, and train emerging policy advocates through the Urban Policy Institute. She is also a former fellow with Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ State Policy Fellowship program.  Prior to her work in Michigan, Vikki was a Public Policy Intern at the North Carolina Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center where she specialized in immigration and workforce development policy.

Born in Chicago, she moved to western NC with her family at age 5. Vikki holds a Master of Social Work degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and a bachelor degree in political science and sociology, also from UNC-Chapel Hill. She lives in Cary with her husband and their two cats, Penny and Olive.

Vikki can be reached at 919-726-6531 or vikki@ncchild.org.


Kim Gibson-Forrest B7034146 - 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) 726-6535 or finance@ncchild.org.



Fawn Pattison Fawn
Communications Director & Senior Campaign Advisor

Fawn joined NC Child in 2018. As Communications Director, she boils down complex policy issues to what’s really at stake for kids so North Carolinians can engage in critical public policy issues. As Senior Campaign Advisor, she collaborates with the Health Team staff members to prevent children’s exposures to environmental pollution that can harm health and development.

Prior to joining the staff, Fawn served as a non-profit consultant from 2014 to 2018. She helped organizations (including NC Child!) get even better at communications, fundraising, staff development, and advocacy campaigns.

From 2002 to 2014, Fawn served as Executive Director at Toxic Free NC, where she had the opportunity to collaborate with NC Child on several environmental health issues affecting children, including successful state legislation to remove toxic chemicals from schools and child care centers.

She received her BA from the University of Virginia, and an MA and a Certificate in Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill. In her free time Fawn enjoys hiking with her family, reading long novels, pretending to be a gardener, knitting, and exploring North Carolina’s rich craft beer scene.

Fawn can be reached at fawn@ncchild.org.


La-Mine Perkins LaMine
Community Engagement Specialist

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 (919) 726-6394 or lamine@ncchild.org.


Ileana Rodriguezbio pic
Development Director

Ileana joined NC Child in February 2019. In her role, she works closely with the Executive Director and the Board of Directors to create and oversee NC Child’s fundraising efforts, with a focus on individual and major giving.

Ileana has spent her career nurturing grassroots movements and causes she holds dear. After beginning her career as a program assistant at FPG Child Development Institute, she transitioned to a small agency, where she helped community-based clients connect with greater audiences.

She joins NC Child after serving as the Development Director at Toxic Free NC, where she helped to grow support for environmental health issues, and the Director of Development and Communications at Artspace, a nonprofit visual arts center in downtown Raleigh.

Ileana received degrees in Music and Art History from UNC Greensboro. She lives in Raleigh with her partner, Jared, a cat, two dogs, three sewing machines, nine bicycles, at least ten unfinished knitting projects, dozens of cookbooks, and way, way, way too many records to count.

Ileana can be reached at (919) 726-6325 or ileana@ncchild.org.


Rob Thompson Rob
Deputy Director

Rob 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) 726-6391 or rob@ncchild.org.

Adam Sotak Adam
Public 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) 726-6396 or at adam@ncchild.org.


Whitney Tucker Whitney
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) 726-6540 or at whitney@ncchild.org.


Sarah Vidrine Sarah
Oral Health Policy Analyst

Sarah joined NC Child in 2015. For over 20 years, she has worked to promote opportunity for children and families. Her career has included direct service, systems reform, and policy advocacy. In her current role at NC Child, Sarah works collaboratively to advocate for effective oral health systems. She continues to do freelance consulting with a variety of state and national organizations in other issue areas, including child abuse prevention and child welfare.

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 teenagers and an assortment of pets.

Sarah can be reached at sarah@ncchild.org.



Ciara Zachary Ciara
Health Program Director

Ciara joined NC Child in May 2018. In her role as Health Program Director, she leads NC Child’s health program and policy efforts to ensure that every child in North Carolina not only has high-quality and affordable health coverage, but receives high-quality and affordable care and services they need.

Prior to joining NC Child, Ciara worked for three years as a Policy Analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center. In that role, she focused on community education, advocacy, and research in the areas of Medicaid transformation and increasing access to Medicaid. Ciara also has experience as a public health researcher and evaluator. She worked at a research consulting firm as program manager for projects that provided technical assistance to 33 tribes and tribal organizations to help them build their capacity to develop and sustain an injury prevention programs. Other experience includes a pre-doctoral fellowship with The Annie E. Casey Foundation that aimed to reduce high school drop-out rates in Baltimore City. Ciara also completed a postdoctoral fellowship for a project funded by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that aimed to increase pediatric primary care providers’ capacity to manage child and adolescent behavioral health.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Ciara received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, her Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her doctorate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Ciara can be reached at (919) 726-6500 or ciara@ncchild.org.




Tom Vitaglione Tom
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) 726-6526 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.