Leslie Boney

Director Leslie Boney leads the Institute’s efforts to identify key issues of importance to the state and develop consensus for action to address. Prior to joining the Institute, Leslie was Vice President for International, Community and Economic Engagement at the UNC system office, coordinating efforts to extend university expertise and services throughout the state. While serving in the NC Department of Commerce and Governor’s Office, Leslie coordinated the state’s efforts to redesign rural development policy, increase volunteerism, and reform welfare. At the nonprofit MDC, he managed a two-state effort to help rural communities recover from manufacturing job loss. A former teacher and reporter, Leslie serves on the boards of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the Rural Economic Development Center. He received a B.A. from Amherst College.



Sharon Adams

Administrative Support Specialist Sharon Adams joined IEI in October 2011.  She is responsible for assisting with the day-to-day accounting and administrative activities of the organization.  Sharon brings with her 15+ years of university and accounting experience, having previously worked in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as an Accounting Technician, and in the Food, Bioprocessing & Nutrition Services department as an Accounting Clerk.


Ellen Beasley

Rural Faith Community Development Program Assistant Ellen is the Rural Faith Community Development Program Assistant. Rooted in her experience and work in the UMC, rural NC roots, and her studies in extension and leadership, Ellen brings a unique knowledge and passion for collaborative community work to the IEI team. Ellen joined IEI as an intern in 2016 and has increased her role each year since. She is a graduate of NCSU with a degree in Extension Education minoring in animal science, agribusiness management, and leadership. She unofficially serves as the IEI cow expert and the official reigning IEI Fantasy Football League Champion (at time of publication). When she’s not at IEI you can find her with her dog Tiki trying out all of Raleigh’s amazing foods. 



Kirsten Chang

Digital Communications Specialist Kirsten Chang joined IEI in June 2019 as the Digital Communications Specialist, helping to tell stories of IEI’s impact in the state. She has a background in storytelling that includes writing and editing for radio, magazines, and children’s books. In 2017-18, she completed a service year with the Johnson Service Corps, assisting at a senior community center in Orange County. Kirsten received her undergraduate degree in English from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is originally from western North Carolina.  


Patrick Cronin

Assistant Director Patrick Cronin works with IEI’s Director and talented staff to identify, define and develop the work of the Institute in ways that fuel collaboration and build ownership for action among IEI’s stakeholders. IEI’s work, including convenings, tailored research and publications, engages key constituencies from the government, business, education and non-profit sectors in North Carolina and beyond. Prior to joining IEI, Pat spent ten years on the faculty at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. His research interests centered on economic competitiveness issues at the global, national, regional, and firm levels. He taught in Thunderbird’s distance learning program for Latin American managers for eight years. Pat received a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Kylie Foley

Rural Faith Communities Program Manager Kylie Foley joined IEI in April 2016 as the Rural Faith Communities Fellow. In a joint partnership with IEI, The Duke Divinity School, and The Duke Endowment, the Thriving Rural Communities program allows rural faith leaders to use IEI’s resources to benefit their community. Rural churches and places of worship are often anchor institutions that have the credibility and resources to partner with private, public and nonprofit partners to address civic needs in the community. Kylie works directly with faith leaders (clergy and lay) on their community development plans and provides resources according to their needs. Kylie received her undergraduate degree in international affairs and geography from Florida State University. She has previously worked with the Florida United Methodist Conference as well as UMVIM, SEJ, the short-term missions arm of the United Methodist Church.


Greg HedgepethGreg Hedgepeth

Communications Director Greg Hedgepeth is IEI‘s Communications Director, joining the Institute in September 2018 after serving as the chief communications officer/ director of marketing, communications and technology for the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Florida Atlantic University. Greg has served in the field of higher education and marketing communications over 10 years, holding a number of leadership roles. Hedgepeth is an eastern North Carolina native and a graduate of East Carolina University. He also holds a master’s degree in management and leadership from Webster University.  


James Herrick

IT/Project Manager James is the Technology Manager for the Institute for Emerging Issues. He provides insightful technology management as IEI’s goals expand. Specifically, he directs the organization to processes and procedures that yield maximum results in New Media technical strategies and processes, mobile application development, virtual engagement structures and solutions. He is also responsible for identifying all the new technology needed to support IEI’s outreach growth, and for finding multiple solutions to solve the varied programs of in-person and virtual event offerings. James has over twenty-five years of experience working as a Senior Technical Project Manager. He successfully coordinated the management of key relationships with HP, IBM and Arrow representatives across their various organizations. He delivered strategic services planning and solutions and IT Operations and Technical Project Management. In addition, he translated technology and business requirements into actionable plans and implemented results to a wide customer and organizational base. He has supported Federal and Military product offerings with pre and post design work, while serving as the primary designer of an HP Tactical Server Suite for operations in the Middle East. James did his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he earned a B.A. in communications and a concentration in broadcast cinema.  


Sarah Langer Hall

Senior Policy and Program Manager Sarah Langer Hall is the Senior Policy and Program Manager and works collaboratively with individuals from all sectors and areas of North Carolina to build capacity for collective action on issues facing the state’s long-term competitiveness. Prior to joining IEI, she worked on physical activity and nutrition policy at the N.C. Division of Public Health and evaluated a multi-level childhood obesity prevention program at UNC Chapel Hill. She also worked to support and scale coordinated school health programs at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Sarah holds a graduate degree in public health from the University at Albany. She serves on the board of the United Way of North Carolina. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina and has been recognized by the Triangle Business Journal with the 40 Under 40 award.  

Alicia James

Policy and Program Manager Alicia James joined IEI in 2018 as a policy and program manager. The Maryland native and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate brings a decade-plus experience in state and local government budget analyst positions to IEI, where she works across the spectrum of the Institute’s programs. Whether she’s working to increase civic engagement, or reconnect North Carolina’s rural and urban communities, James brings a passion of place and narrative to her work that she first gained as an undergraduate English major at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she also received a master’s degree in public administration.  

Shevani Mehta

Hunt Intern Shevani Mehta, a senior at NC State, is serving as the Hunt intern during the 2021-2022 academic year. Shevani is studying economics, Spanish, and international studies with a concentration in global relations. After graduating, she plans to pursue a law degree working in public-interest. She is also a Park Scholar and is from Holly Springs, NC.  


Tony Reevy

Director of Development Tony Reevy is IEI’s Director of Development, working with stakeholders throughout North Carolina and beyond to further the Institute’s mission. Most recently, Reevy served as the associate director for advancement, then senior associate director at UNC-CH’s Institute for the Environment. Before that, he spent time working in public radio and university library development, among other endeavors. Tony received undergraduate degrees in chemistry and civil engineering from NC State University, as well as a master’s degree in mass communication from Miami University in Ohio. He also earned an MBA in marketing from UNC-Chapel Hill.  


Simone Rosario

Coordinator, Public Programs and Commons Simone Rosario joined IEI in 2006 as the temporary office assistant and has grown within the organization. As the former office manager, Simone managed the day-to-day operation of the office and all HR related matters. In her current role as Events Manager, Simone is tasked with managing the IEI events that take place and assists with the scheduling of ongoing events. In addition to her work at the Institute, Simone is also a published poet and a semi-professional caterer. Simone received a B.A. in Leadership in the Public Sector from NC State University in May 2013 and her Master of Arts in Public Policy and Public Administration in May 2016.  

Davina Thrash

Business Officer Davina Thrash currently serves as IEI’s business officer. She joined IEI in 2006 as the accounting assistant overseeing the budget, contracting activities, and bookkeeping. She previously served as the executive assistant to the director. Davina has a very diverse background, starting with Executive Director of Programming with Visions Institute for Youth in Raleigh, NC; being a veteran of the U.S. Armed forces, and has been working in the non-profit sector for over fifteen years supporting executive staff members with start-up organizations and companies as an entrepreneur. Davina holds an A.A. in Business Management from Strayer University, a Certificate in Leadership in the Public Sector from North Carolina State University, and a B.S. in Business Management (Finance) from Park University.


Zoe Walker

Digital Inclusion Intern Zoe Walker is a senior at NC State University studying Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy. She is a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and works with Citizen Redistricting North Carolina. In her free time, she likes reading, baking, and doing yoga.



Maggie Woods

Policy and Program Manager As a Policy and Program Manager, Maggie Woods is part of the policy team and contributes to the planning and implementation of IEI’s yearly program of work. Prior to joining IEI, Maggie was the Senior Program Coordinator for International Academic Programs at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, where she managed four programs in five countries. Maggie has served many capacities in the nonprofit and public policy sectors. She’s worked as a consultant on education access programming, was a policy intern at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and served two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA where she developed college readiness programs. Maggie is the current co-leader of the Triangle AmeriCorps Alums chapter, and holds a Master of Public Policy from Duke University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from California State University, Long Beach.