David Reese, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer

David Reese, President and CEO of the East Durham Children’s Initiative, brings more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience to the organization. Throughout his career, David’s work has focused on creating opportunity for low-wealth families and developing chances for children to succeed. David previously served as chief operating officer for Food Recovery and Distribution at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. He is past co-chair of the Partnership for a Healthy Durham and past vice chair of the Northeast Central Durham Leadership Council. David currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Durham Rotary Club, Durham’s Partnership for Children, East Durham Children’s Initiative, BB&T Bank’s Durham Advisory Board, United Way of the Greater Triangle and Leadership Triangle. He also serves on the Durham YMCA’s advisory board, and the Mayor of Durham’s Poverty Reduction Task Force. In 2006, he was recognized as one of the Triangle Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” business leaders. David holds a Master of Business Administration. He hails from the Bronx, NY, and lives in Durham with his wife, Iris, and their three children.



Nicky Charles, Chief Operating Officer

Nicky joined EDCI as Chief Operating Officer in October of 2016. In that role, manages operations procedures and assists in aligning the strategic vision of EDCI to implementable goals. A recent North Carolina transplant, Nicky served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Executive Director for the School District of Philadelphia’s governing body, the School Reform Commission. Prior to joining EDCI, Nicky was an independent consultant for Made in Durham and Philadelphia’s Lenfest Foundation. Since graduating from Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania, Nicky has fought to address the systemic issues preventing equitable outcomes for students. She has taught several grade levels and worked in various capacities at Independent schools. Nicky is an alumnus of LeadBoston and Philadelphia Leadership programs, serves as Board Secretary for the Community Partnership School in Philadelphia, and is a mentor in the Big Brother/Big Sister program and for women in transition. Her spare time is spent practicing Muay Thai, yoga, and interval training solely for the purpose of balancing her foodie passions. She works to keep her knees healthy enough to run the occasional half-marathon and loves museums, the outdoors, and traveling.


(919) 271-3949

Kimberly Fisher, Director of Program Implementation & Community Engagement

Kimberly joined the EDCI family in 2016 as the Director of Program Implementation and Community Engagement. She has a passion for youth engagement, health education, community organizing, translational health research, and implementation science. Her primary role at EDCI is to expand community-based interventions that meet the diverse academic, psychosocial, health, and economic needs of families at EDCI. Prior to joining EDCI, Kimberly designed and implemented large community-based research and health promotion programs that sought to reduce the burden of HIV and other STIs in underserved communities. Kimberly holds a Bachelor’s of Art in Women’s Studies from UNC Chapel Hill and a Master’s in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago.



Kathleen Guerra, Director of External Engagement

Bio Coming Soon!


(919) 908-8709

Pamela Hines, Director of Family Engagement, MSW, LCSW

Pamela is passionate about enriching the lives of families through direct practice, advocacy, and education. She has extensive managerial and clinical experience along with more than 20 years of experience in victim advocacy, crisis intervention, education, and case management with women and children in the areas of sexual assault, abuse, domestic violence, and workforce re-entry. Pamela received a Master of Social Work degree from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Guilford College.



Mary Mathew, MSPH, Director of Programs & Partner Engagement

Mary joined EDCI as one of its first team members in 2010. Her current role includes overseeing EDCI’s program development and supporting the collective efforts of EDCI partners in the Zone. She also works closely with EDCI’s evaluation team at Duke University to assess the impact of EDCI’s services. Mary’s background includes several years of work and volunteer experience with youth-related initiatives ranging from an evaluation project with orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi to clinical work with low-income students as a school-based occupational therapist. She moved to North Carolina from Canada in 2002 to pursue her Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) with a focus on maternal and child health at UNC-Chapel Hill and is now proud to call Durham home. Mary is passionate about helping all children succeed and reach their full potential despite the odds stacked against so many of them. She is inspired by the commitment and strengths of East Durham families and residents as well as the dedicated partners and team members she has the privilege of working alongside.



Eboni Garvin, Administrative & Business Coordinator

Eboni Garvin is a native of Miami, Florida, but has called the Triangle area home since 2005. She joined the EDCI team in 2017, but her passion for nonprofits began when she was 18 years old. Eboni holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business administration and management from South Carolina State University, and a Master’s degree in public administration from North Carolina Central University.



DeDreana Freeman, Special Assistant to the President

DeDreana brings the community advocate perspective to EDCI’s Community Engagement team, working to identify parents and children to engage in EDCI programs. She uses her background in communication and community organizing to connect the organization to the people and the people to the organization. DeDreana's past experience in the fields of information technology and health care systems is a value-add in integrating community engagement and program development. She graduated from Rutgers University, Douglass College & the School of Information & Library Science with a Bachelors of Arts in communication with a concentration in public relations, and over the last 10 years has honed her skills in project management, gap analysis, client relationship management, and strategic planning. DeDreana is also an active resident of the Northeast Central Durham community, serves in a number of capacities on boards of directors for community organizations, and has several years of community organizing and outreach experience.



Carla Fryling, Early Childhood Program Manager

Carla joined EDCI in April 2015. Her background is in behavioral services clinical practice and administration, nonprofit program management, and coaching. Carla has expertise in advocacy and prevention initiatives for children and youth, the homeless housing population, and has 25 years of experience working with women and children with a history of sexual abuse. She is passionate about creating effective, sustainable social change in communities. Carla received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Edinboro University and a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University.



Tonya Post, MPA, EDCI Leap Academy Manager

As EDCI’s preschool manager, Tonya manages the EDCI LEAP Academy, ensuring three- and four-year-olds have an enriching preschool experience that fosters their love of learning through exploration and discovery and provides children with confidence and comfort in a classroom setting before they head to kindergarten. Tonya has Master of Public Administration from North Carolina State University. She has a background in early childhood (birth to kindergarten) and was the director of the Ellen Brewer Infant-Toddler Lab Home at Meredith College for six years. Tonya has experience working with communities around hunger and health issues across seven counties in central North Carolina. She served on the Partnership for a Healthy Durham’s Obesity and Chronic Illness subcommittee for four years.



Brittany Cheatham, Communications Coordinator

Brittany joined EDCI in January of 2017. She comes to us with experience developing and executing communications and community engagement plans for several organizations, including: The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, The City of Raleigh, Hampton University, and WAVY-TV 10. Brittany holds a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and Communications from Hampton University with a concentration in Public Relations, and a Masters Degree in Communications from Johns Hopkins University with concentrations in Corporate, Nonprofit and Political Communications. A native of Durham NC, Brittany is a graduate of Hillside High School. Her passion for her community lead her back to Durham where she is proud to live and work to make a difference while giving back.


(919) 673-1818

Darryl Barnes, Middle School Family Advocate

Darryl joins the EDCI team as a new Middle School Family Advocate. His primary role includes outreach and family assessment coordination. Darryl has 17 years of experience helping urban youth in middle and high school, mentoring young men, and coaching basketball. He is a longtime advocate for community outreach and urban revitalization. Darryl came to know EDCI through Healthy Families Durham, an EDCI partner. Having moved to Durham from New York City, Darryl had no extended family here, and EDCI provided a sense of community. His son attended many of EDCI’s events and programs, including Story Hour and the EDCI Leap Academy. Darryl and his wife have also participated in EDCI community wellness incentives like Zumba, and they are both active walkers on the Durham Healthy Mile Trail. Darryl recently completed a two-year tenure as an Americoprps Vista Fellow with EDCI, and is dedicated to continuing to work side by side with the families that he has garnered relationships with. The knowledge and experience that he has gained over the last two years helps him empower middle school students and families to do great things. darryl.barnes@edci.org



Denise Blanco-Duran, Early Childhood Family Advocate- Bilingual

Denise joined the EDCI team in August 2018. She is passionate about empowering families to find the support they need to thrive in life. Her work in the U.S. has been mostly with immigrants and/or ethnically, racially and culturally diverse populations, including refugees. Denise has been committed to social justice efforts since very young through activism, volunteering and advocacy roles. She has a Master's of Social Work degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Cartagena (Colombia). When not at work, Denise enjoys going on hikes in the forest with her family, watching independent films and dancing to live music.


(919) 908-8709

LaDonna Brown, Bilingual Parent Advocate

LaDonna joined EDCI’s staff in August 2015 as a Bilingual Parent Advocate. Rooted in Jamaica, her parents immigrated to Michigan, where LaDonna grew up and served the homeless population alongside her parents. From there, LaDonna had a growing passion to advocate for those in need and work with revitalizing communities one family at a time. She has worked in Venezuela, China, and Jamaica doing interpretation and translation; teaching ESL, Spanish, and French; budgeting; and organic farming and nutrition. Her experience is rooted in her passion to help people thrive and reach their goals. Prior to moving to North Carolina, she worked with United Way, recruiting and training volunteers while creating effective ways to connect resources with families in need. LaDonna earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and French from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and her Master of Arts at Wayne State University.



Katherin Castillo, Youth Program Advocate- Bilingual

Katherin Castillo is a Mount Airy, North Carolina native who graduated from Appalachian State in 2017 with a degree in Criminal Justice. Her undergraduate research focused on working with youth and learning more about prevention strategies, early intervention, and the effects of the school-to-prison pipeline. Before joining EDCI, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Community Engagement Specialist for the America Reads America Counts program at Duke University. She currently is also working with another non-profit, Book Harvest, as a Pre-K/ K Parent Navigator. Katherin loves to build relationships and is very passionate about working with parents and students!


(919) 908-8709

María Mejía, Early Childhood Parent Advocate

Maria joined EDCI in December 2015. Her background is in early childhood education. She has a Bachelor of Arts in education and holds nearly 18 years of experience working with children and families. Her main goal is to provide parents with support, guidance, and parenting skills by understanding the nature of their needs. Prior to moving to North Carolina, she served as a services coordinator for children with disabilities and empowered parents to be an active part of their children’s development.



Natalie Pickett, Middle Years Family Advocate

Natalie first joined EDCI as an AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow in 2015 and spent a year helping to develop out-of-school time pilot programs. She left to obtain her Master of Social Work degree and rejoined EDCI in August 2018 as a Middle Years Program Advocate. Natalie's background and interests are in youth development, family engagement, non-profit program design, and affordable housing. She is also passionate about social justice issues and civic engagement. Natalie has a B.S. in Child and Family Studies from Louisiana State University. Outside of work, she enjoys baking, all things true crime, and being a lifelong LSU football and baseball fan.


(919) 908-8709

Gabriele Gavin, AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow

Bio Coming Soon


(919) 908-8709

Tara McCurdy, EDCI Leap Academy Lead Teacher

Tara is the new lead teacher at the EDCI LEAP Academy. She has been working in Early Childhood Education for 8 years, and has a degree in Physical Education/Sports Medicine, with a secondary degree in Early Childhood Education. She is currently studying Complimentary Alternative Medicine (massage therapy). Tara has a passion for helping people, especially children, and she absolutely loves seeing them develop into beautiful butterflies—spreading their wings and flying high.



Estefani Soto, EDCI Leap Academy Teaching Assistant

Born and raised in Durham, Estefani is pursuing a career in Early Childhood Development. She has a passion for working with children because of their creativity, energy, and joy. Her two-year-old daughter loves to play, color, and explore the environment around her; and she is the reason Estefani decided to work with children. Estefani is excited about working with all of the families at the Academy.


(919) 908-8709

Spotlight Content

Let's talk about impact

Let's talk about impact

At EDCI we're celebrating our fifth year in operation. We have a lot to be proud of and a lot to work toward. We invite you to read our Impact Summary. 
Read More

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