Donate Today

About EDCI


The staff at EDCI is a group of dedicated people, working hard to help the local community.

David Reese

David Reese

President and Chief Executive Officer, MBA
(919) 908-8709 ext. 101

David Reese, EDCI’s President and Chief Executive Officer, brings more than 20 years of non-profit management and community leadership experience to EDCI.  The foundation of his work has been to facilitate positive change in the lives of our most vulnerable community members, create systems that move families out of poverty and promote diverse community settings that recognize members for their individual gifts and attributes. David previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for Food Recovery and Distribution at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, as well as the Director of Resource Development and Crisis Intervention Programs for Urban Ministries of Wake County. With a Master’s degree in Business Administration, David has been acknowledged by his peers for his contributions to the North Carolina community.  In 2006, he was recognized as one of the Triangle Business Journal’s top “40 under 40” business leaders and received the Triangle United Way Agency Speaker of the Year Award.  He is a firm believer in leadership development and actively participates in leadership initiatives designed for inner city youth, college and executive level business leaders.  David currently serves on the Board of Directors for Durham’s Partnership for Children, the United Way of the Greater Triangle and KidZNotes. He is also the Co-Chair for Partnership for a Healthy Durham, Education Chair for the North East Central Durham Leadership Council and Chair of the United Way of the Greater Triangle’s Durham Executive Council.  David has coached regular and AAU boys’ basketball for 14 years.  He hails from the Bronx, NY and lives in Durham with his wife Iris and their three children.

Mary Mathew

Mary Mathew

Program Director, MSPH
(919) 908-8709 ext. 105

Mary manages EDCI’s program development and implementation with input from EDCI’s leadership team and key stakeholders.  Mary has ten years of experience in project management and coordination including case management, program evaluation and research both locally and internationally (Canada and Malawi).  She has her Masters of Science in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill in Maternal and Child Health, as well as clinical experience working with low income children and families as a school-based Occupational Therapist.  Mary is a Leadership Triangle Goodmon Fellow with a heart for helping all kids reach their full potential.

Jill Ullman - Headshot 8-2011

Jill Ullman

Development Director
(919) 908-8709, ext. 103

Jill Ullman is the inaugural Development Director for the East Durham Children’s Initiative.  Jill came to EDCI from Citizen Schools, where she served for over four years as Development Director and Managing Director of External Engagement, creating and implementing fundraising strategies to sustain and build the national education nonprofit’s North Carolina region. Before joining Citizen Schools, Jill began her career as a fundraiser at All Kinds of Minds, where she managed the Annual Fund to help provide educators with the tools and knowledge they need to successfully manage different learners in their classrooms. Jill is a graduate of Class XIX of Leadership North Carolina and holds a BA in Art from Guilford College.  Proud to be a native Durhamite, she currently resides in North Durham.


Cate Elander

Manager of Community Engagement, MAPP
(919) 699-6873

Formerly an EDCI Bilingual Parent Advocate, Cate is currently EDCI’s Manager of Community Engagement. She facilitates program recruitment, events and communication with stakeholders, including partners, community leaders and East Durham residents. With a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy, she has over five years of community development and outreach experience at grassroots organizations in Durham, Delaware and New York City.  Cate  is a member of Old East Durham Communities in Partnership and the Angier Avenue Neighborhood Farm CSA.

Denice Johnson

Denice M. Johnson

Parent Advocate
(919) 491-7136

Denice is an EDCI Parent Advocate working with parents with children at Y.E. Smith Elementary School.  Denice has a Bachelor of Arts in Education from NCCU.  She holds nearly 20 years of experience working with various Durham programs serving children and youth, including positions with Fast Track, Cooperative Extension Service, Durham Technical Community College and Head Start.  In addition to being a Parent Advocate, Denice continues to work as the Liaison Coordinator of six afterschool programs with the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership.


Amber Wade

Project Administrator
(919) 908-8709 ext. 102

Amber joined the EDCI staff in February 2012. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in African-American Studies and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching. Her primary role is to support the administrative needs of EDCI. A former elementary school teacher, Amber is passionate about seeing students succeed and be the best citizens that they can be.

Rachel Rosin

Rachel Rosin

Parent Advocate, MSW
(919) 699-6983

Rachel joined EDCI in October 2012 as a Bilingual Parent Advocate. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Rachel moved to North Carolina in 2010 to earn her master’s degree in social work at UNC-Chapel Hill. Among other roles, Rachel has served as a middle school reading teacher in Guyana, a case manager working with Latino elders in Wisconsin, and a home visitor partnering with families of young children in Durham. Rachel is passionate about advocacy and empowerment work with Latino immigrants and is dedicated to supporting families in achieving their goals. In her free time, Rachel enjoys corresponding with pen pals, exploring new thrift stores, reading mystery books, and international travel. She and her spouse Cooper live in a log cabin in Hillsborough.

Esther Mateo-Orr

Esther Mateo-Orr

Parent Advocate


Carlyn Wright-Eakes

Parent Advocate

Carlyn Wright-Eakes is a bilingual Parent Advocate at EDCI working with Spanish speaking families at Y.E. Smith Elementary. Carlyn was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Wesleyan University. Carlyn spent 3 and a half years working in a NGO in Guatemala City developing and coordinating a Creative Expression Program for at risk youth and families to strengthen self-esteem, leadership, confidence and responsibility. In addition, she taught workshops to students from kindergarten through high-school using art as a positive motivation for students to stay engaged in their education. Carlyn has also worked various summers as a counselor and coordinator at a camp and retreat center in Highlands, NC connecting youth with nature and a nurturing community. She is excited to be back in Durham and to be working with the families at Y.E. Smith.


Avilamar Bastidas Castillo

Community Ambassador

Avilamar joined EDCI in January 2013 as Spanish-speaking Community Ambassador. Originally from Venezuela, Avilamar moved to North Carolina in 2000. She graduated from University Santa Maria Caracas-Venezuela with a specialization in Labor Law from the School of Law. She began her career as Ad-Litem Judicial Consultant in labor disputes and also coordinated student engagement in the Venezuelan school system. Her background includes Latino outreach and General Education Development (GED)/English As a Second Languages(ESL).


Clifton Daye

Community Ambassador

Clifton Daye III comes to EDCI with local ties. Clifton is Durham native, and attended Holton Middle School (now know as Holton Career and Resource Center) in the EDCI Zone! Clifton graduated from NCCU with a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice, has taken some agency counseling courses in NCCU’s Agency Counseling Program and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at Shaw University.  Clifton’s experience includes running a group home, conducting case management, mentoring, coaching and holds a wealth of experience and knowledge in networking. Clifton’s energetic manner embodies the “boots on the ground” spirit of EDCI’s Community Ambassador program.


DeDreana Freeman

Community Ambassador

DeDreana brings the community advocate perspective to the Community Ambassador position, seeking to identify parents and children to engage in EDCI. She uses her background in communication and community organizing to connect the organization to the people and the people to the organization. She has a background in information technology and training and Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) training. She graduated from Rutgers University, Douglass College with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications and Public Relations with an expertise in project management, gap analysis, client relationship management, and strategic planning. DeDreana is also a member of the East Durham community, and has several years of community organizing and outreach experience in Golden Belt’s Historic District.


Samantha Cole

Communications Coordinator
(919) 213-7699

Samantha creates sustainable messaging for the mission, goals and programming of East Durham Children’s Initiative. She is passionate about developing voices for causes and non-profit organizations. In her work, Samantha uses digital communication strategy to build and strengthen communities. Before joining the EDCI team, Samantha worked with organizations including the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and Arts & Health at Duke. Samantha completed graduate studies in art history at the University of Georgia and undergraduate studies at Hollins University. She is a proud resident of Durham, NC.

Ebonyse Mead

Ebonyse Mead

Early Childhood Parent Advocate, MA
(919) 841-7055

Ebonyse Mead works as EDCI’s Early Childhood Parent Advocate. Ebonyse is originally from Chicago, and has 12 years of experience working with families and young children ages birth to five in early childhood home visiting programs, including Healthy Families, Early Head Start and Parents as Teachers. Ebonyse has an extensive background working with young children and families in Chicago, IL, Charlotte, NC, and Dallas, TX. Ebonyse graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois-Chicago. She completed a Master of Arts in Inner City Studies Education from Northeastern Illinois University and graduate with a Master of Arts in Human Service Counseling from Concordia University. She recently completed a graduate certificate in Infant Mental Health. Ebonyse is a Certified Family Life Educator through the National Council on Family Relations. She is currently pursuing the North Carolina Parent Educator credential. Ebonyse plans to incorporate her training in Infant Mental Heath in her role as Early Childhood Parent Advocate.