Meet the Board
Beth Navon, MSW had been an administrator in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years. Recognized for her expertise in the mental health field and juvenile justice advocacy she traveled all over the country to be on panels, lead workshops and moderate national conferences. She created a nationally recognized service delivery model for youth re-entering the community after incarceration and has published several articles and a book chapter describing how to replicate the model. This model was highlighted in national media, including 20/20's Primetime television magazine and The New Yorker. From 2009-2015 she was Executive Director of The Lineage Project, a non-profit offering yoga and meditation training to incarcerated young people, ages 12-16 as well as those at high risk for incarceration in NYC's schools for suspended students. Ms. Navon graduated with a BA in psychology from Antioch College in 1971 and Simmons College School of Social Work with a Masters degree in Social Work in 1973. In 2003 Ms. Navon was certified in Executive Management from Columbia University's School of Business. Ms. Navon retired in 2015 and relocated from New York City to Durham, NC, where she pursued her interest in studying and choreographing modern dance. She also consults to non-profits in the field of juvenile justice and is a board member of Empower Dance Foundation, whose mission is to provide opportunities for underserved children and youth to access professional dance instruction. She helps to administer a dance project for women over 50 and is the Educational Coordinator for Heidi Latsky Dance in NYC.
Executive Director, The Big Red Project
Meredythe Holmes is the Principal of Holmes Consultants, a private consulting organization that provides training in workforce development, staffing and human resource management as well as community outreach services. She was the founding Executive Director of Made in Durham, the community collaborative that works to ensure all Durham youth complete a postsecondary credential and attain a rewarding career by the age of 25. Ms. Holmes' personal and professional background demonstrates her lifelong commitment to educating youth and providing our community with employment opportunities. Ms. Holmes began her career as a public school teacher and later launched her own company, Monarch Services which for 45 years specialized in staffing, workforce management, recruitment and job placement. Ms. Holmes received a Master of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Career Counseling from Temple University. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Trenton State College in New Jersey. Ms. Holmes has served on the boards of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Carolina Ballet. She was a Trustee of the NC Museum of Art for 10 years and a board member and president of the board of the Durham Arts Council. She also spent several years on the Governor's Commission on Workforce Development and the Durham Public Schools Superintendent's Advisory Council.
Andrea E. Woods Valdés
Dancer/Musician/Video Artists Andrea E. Woods Valdés is the Artistic Director of Souloworks /Andrea E. Woods & Dancers and Associate Professor of dance at Duke University. She is currently in Ph.D. studies at Texas Woman's University. Her creative priorities are arts activism, adult literacy, and Black audience development. She is a former dancer/rehearsal director with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Dance Co. and has danced with Saiko Ichinohe Co., Clive Thompson Dance Co., and Mafata. She holds an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University and a MAH in Caribbean Cultural Studies from SUNY Buffalo. Woods Valdés has received grants from The Jerome Foundation, (NEFA) The National Dance Project, National Performance Network, Arts International, and the North Carolina Arts Council. She has been part of the American Dance Festival Faculty and her work and research have taken her to The Cannes International Dance Festival, The National Black Theater Festival, Taiwan, Russia, Senegal, Morocco, Korea, Poland, Singapore, Belize, Ghana, The Dominican Republic, Cuba, Barbados, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and throughout the US. She has done collaborative works with musicians Randy Weston, David Pleasant, Tiyé Giraud, Madeleine Yayodele Nelson, Philip Hamilton, Shana Tucker, and Atiba Rorie and performance poet, hattie gossett. She calls her projects SOULOWORKS because they are works from the heart, works from the soul.
Artistic Director, Souloworks
Amadou Georges Diop
As a serial entrepreneur and executive at several startups, Amadou Georges Diop is an activist and business mentor to many throughout the Diaspora. Mr. Diop currently serves as the CEO of A&B Wireless Telecom Inc., a Triangle-based telecommunications company, and AfriCater Public Works, a heavy equipment corporation with a focus in the West African sub-region. Prior to serving in these roles, Mr. Diop spent over 15 years in the organic retail industry, where he consistently ranked top in the nation for economic value added (EVA). More recently, he owned three telecommunication stores that were also ranked top ten in the nation in 2015. A native of Dakar, Senegal, Mr. Diop is committed to raising awareness about natural resources and civicism throughout the African Diaspora. Prior to joining the Empower Dance Board, Mr. Diop served on the Boards for Bellan Contemporary Dances and D3 Community Outreach. In his spare time, he enjoys meditation, surfing, hiking and riding his motorcycle. Mr. Diop resides in Raleigh, North Carolina and is the proud father of one daughter, Dominique.
I am a communications professional who brings communities together. I have a creative, collaborative approach to solving problems, and my personal values are integrated into professional life. My work has led to national media attention and published articles as well as digital and in-person growth. I also have experience speaking to large groups and teaching. I'm fascinated by how social platforms can create face-to-face relationships and cause movements, and I'm interested in how the arts can be better integrated into all fields and sectors. As a former educator, I care deeply about equity in education. In my free time, I enjoy vintage shopping and helping others with their personal and home style. I love to travel, read, spend time outside, watch sports, and listen to live music. I live and work in downtown Durham (my hometown!) and enjoy spending time with my neighbors in the North Street Community and following my alma mater, UNC, in all sports.
Fount Creative & PictureDurm
Tina Vasquez is a first generation American of Puerto Rican, Cuban and Jamaican descent. She is the co-founder of the consulting firm, biwa|Emergent Equity, and joined Empower both as a parent and dance teacher. Originally from New York, Tina moved to the Triangle in 2016 after a 15-year professional dance career. She is Certified as a Movement Analyst by way of the Laban Institute for Movement Studies, has a B.A. in Individualized Study from NYU Gallatin and an MS in Organizational Behavior, Systems and Analytics from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Polytechnic Institute. She has also been trained by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond on Undoing Racism. She has infused anti-racism principles throughout her professional career of teaching, dancing and organizing. Tina enjoys creating art whenever possible and feels incredibly fortunate that she and her family get to be a part of the Empower community.
Brenda Williams serves as Deputy Treasurer for the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer Unclaimed Property Division. The Division is responsible for recovering, safekeeping, and returning unclaimed or escheated property to its rightful owners. Under Brenda's leadership, the Division recovers more than $150 million each year on behalf of NC citizens and maintains a database of approximately $1 billion in unclaimed property. Through education and outreach, the Division returns nearly $60 million each year to the rightful owners. Brenda has successfully led the Division through significant restructuring and modernization of operations to increase efficiency, strengthen internal controls and improve performance metrics. Brenda formerly served as the Department’s Financial Literacy Director, responsible for overseeing partnerships with state and local government, private industry, and the nonprofit sector to provide financial education to citizens of all ages. She led the Department in the development of programs to expand access to financial education resources and tools to underserved regions of the state.
Prior to joining the Department of State Treasurer, Brenda led the Family Financial Literacy Coalition (FFLC), a program of Community Link, in Charlotte, NC. Under her leadership, the FFLC provided free tax preparation services and financial education to more than 6,000 low-to-moderate income households throughout Mecklenburg and surrounding counties each year. Brenda has done considerable advocacy work on behalf of the community's most vulnerable citizens. She currently serves on the Board of Directors with SAFEchild. She formerly served on the Mecklenburg Nursing Home Advisory Committee, the North Carolina Financial Literacy Council, North Carolina Council on Economic Education, the Attorney General's Task Force for Prevention of Fraud Against Seniors and was a licensed foster parent for 5 years. She has served in leadership roles on several nonprofit Boards of Directors assisting with developing evidence-based strategies for service delivery, implementing data collection and program evaluation tools, and expanding impact through collaboration. Brenda holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a 2021 MBA degree candidate at the UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina Class XXI.
LaManda Chestnut-Pryor thrives as a transformational educator, leader, and children's advocate serving the North Carolina and New York communities for over 20 years. Her current role as the principal at a charter school in Durham, NC has expanded her expertise as a passionate and innovative leader. Combining her educational background, years of being an administrator and teacher inside of inner city schools with her practical community, family and parental experiences, LaManda has created real life steps to address the disparity in school discipline. She is relentless in her pursuit of establishing a safe, caring and nurturing learning environment that promotes acceptance of the individual and puts the kid's needs first. By focusing on continuous improvements to the processes of conflict resolutions and developing the child's self-esteem, LaManda feels that as far as our children's learning potential is concerned; the best is yet to come.
Pam Oxendine is a community leader, skilled in both the art of etiquette and refinement, as well as marketing and business administration. Mrs. Oxendine's career has spanned from owning a modeling school to owning a cultural event center, A Cultured Alliance. Currently, as an etiquette instructor, Mrs. Oxendine trains, equips, and empowers youth and adults with proper etiquette and social skills via a proven curriculum. Professionally, Mrs. Oxendine has spent her corporate (Nortel and Time Warner Cable) career developing marketing and communications program initiatives and logistics and is currently an administrator at N.C. School of Science and Math. She holds a BA in Business Administration from Shaw University and an MPA in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University. Mrs. Oxendine discovered her true passion for leadership in the community, having served on boards for the Durham Regional Financial Center as Chair, Durham Committee of the Affairs of Black People as Committee Vice Chair, and League of Women Voters as Chair. She is currently a board member of the Durham County Board of Elections. Among all her accolades, Mrs. Oxendine is most proud to be the mother of the Empower Circle Founder, Nicole Oxendine and all her children and grandchildren.
Executive Assistant to Executive Director & Foundation Board