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Meet the Staff

Kendra R. Johnson, Executive Director (she/her)

Kendra R. Johnson joined Equality North Carolina in May 2018. She is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, where she previously worked to advance fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as the State Director for the Human Rights Campaign. In her work to promote equity, Kendra has focused on building a better, more equitable South that is strengthened by diversity, safe schools, inclusive institutions and welcoming communities.

Kendra has been a lifelong volunteer and activist, including founding the first lesbian/bisexual support group at Spelman College in the 90s and volunteering communications services for Brazil’s first historically black college. She recently joined the ranks of Forever SONG after serving as the Southerners on New Ground (SONG) board chair for 6 years and on the board for 11 years. Kendra currently serves on the board of the Griffin-Gracy Educational Retreat and Historical Center, the brainchild of trans revolutionary, Miss Major Griffin Gracy.

She previously worked in bilingual communications in Brazil for 14 years as a writer, editor and translator at that country’s top financial newspapers, Gazeta Mercantil and Valor Economico. Kendra is a proud graduate of Spelman College and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Since returning to the nonprofit sector, Kendra has served as the Interim Executive Director of Women’s Project and the Lead In-Person Assister Guide at Better Community Development during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Alex Case, WNC Organizer (he/him)

Alex is a local resident and native of rural Western North Carolina and joined Equality NC in September of 2022. Alex is a recent graduate from NC State with a Master of Public Administration degree and former graduate from UNC Asheville with a Bachelor of Political Science Degree. From a very young age Alex became infatuated with politics and government which grew into a passion and, eventually, a career. Alex has dedicated himself to helping make North Carolina a safe space for LGBTQ+ youths to create a safer climate than the one in which he grew up.

Born of a family of educators, Alex has always had a passion for education policy and, after discovering his own sexuality, how to create safe spaces for students in their schools and communities. Alex envisions, through his work with Equality NC, creating a climate in WNC in which LGBTQ+ youths and adults alike can live and thrive knowing they are welcome. In his free time, you can find Alex hiking local trails, gaming, or traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway with his dog Todd.

Nate Fischer, Communications Associate (he/him)

Nate is from North Carolina, and is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously worked as an intern at Common Cause North Carolina, doing work on redistricting reform and voting rights. Nate works to monitor important developments in politics and activism so that Equality NC can do its best to uplift LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities. In his free time, Nate enjoys reading, traveling and meeting new people.

Eshe Hamme, Chief Operating Officer (she/her)

Eshe joins Equality NC from California where she was the Director of Philanthropy for UC Berkeley School of Public Health. While at UC Berkeley, Eshe directed strategy around maternal and child healthcare, human trafficking, and food insecurity. Prior to her role at UC Berkeley, Eshe served as a Corporate Responsibility Manager for Silicon Valley Community Foundation where she managed a portfolio of corporate advised funds for various Fortune 500 companies and provided strategic guidance while implementing grant programs, employee engagement programs, and global giving strategies.

Before moving to California, Eshe began her nonprofit career as the Events Coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina. A proud Durham native and Spelman College Alumna, Eshe loves cheering for her beloved Duke Blue Devils and Durham Bulls and can often be found at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Artie Hartsell, MSW, Director of Strategic Initiatives (they/them)

Artie is a nonbinary North Carolinian, born and raised in the Charlotte-area and currently situated west of Asheville. Artie received their BSW and MSW from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and has done direct social work practice with LGBTQ+ youth, adults living with HIV, and foster families. Their undergraduate work centered on LGBTQ+ youth and families, while their graduate work focused on harm reduction for transgender adolescents. Artie was a 2018 Front Line Leaders of America Fellow and has been profiled in Q-Notes several times for their local program, electoral, and policy work while living in Charlotte. At Equality North Carolina, Artie helps drive electoral strategy and creates opportunities for local leaders and impacted LGBTQ+ people to tell their stories across platforms and audiences.

Celeste Jones, Executive Assistant (she/her)

Celeste is a transgender woman of color born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. She moved to Raleigh in 2014 to start her transition in hopes of finding happiness, building a community, and living an authentic life. Since moving to Raleigh she has done just that; getting involved with extensive volunteer work, mutual aid funding, and community outreach. She assisted with food delivery and distribution for families in need with a local soup kitchen, even focusing on grassroots activism while fundraising and collecting signatures for the repeal of the discriminatory bill HB2.

In her free time, she loves to socialize, watch anime, and even dance as a hobby, specializing in modern and West-African styles. She also loves practicing flag throwing, which is something she learned in the high school marching band. If she’s not practicing her moves, you can find her coordinating meetings and sending emails to the Executive Director. She hopes to one day go back to school and study Public Policy to create social and economic equity for all. Her passion and goal in life lies in being a voice and representative for LGBTQ+ youth, people of color, and other marginalized groups in the south.

Rebby Kern, Director of Education Policy (they/them)

Rebby Kern is a nonbinary person of color working to create more inclusive climates for LGBTQ youth and young adults. Rebby has worked for LGBTQ youth-focused organizations serving youth nationwide and locally in the Charlotte region. Rebby oversees the Rural Youth Empowerment Fellowship creating platforms for youth organizing in rural areas to create change and progress for their communities. Rebby is a statewide and nationally certified trainer for K-12 school staff and youth-serving professionals offering best practices and policy guidance to garner inclusive climates in schools for youth.

Z Levy, Triangle Organizer (they/them)

Z is a nonbinary queer person committed to contributing to the fight for racial and gender justice. They join Equality NC after spending over a decade serving young people in California and ensuring they have access to high-quality afterschool programming. Z relocated to North Carolina at a time when they felt compelled to do more and to be of service to the LGBTQ+ community. They are excited to bring their years of experience empowering volunteers to advocate and make changes to the afterschool system to Equality NC. Z is rooted in a strong desire to understand the needs of the queer community in North Carolina and to contribute to transforming the system to ensure all LGBTQ+ people have access to the resources and opportunities they need. You can find Z in Durham playing kickball, riding their bike, hiking near the Eno River, or spending time with their partner and two cats.

Brennan Lewis, Education Policy Associate (they/them)

Brennan joined Equality NC in June of 2022. Previously, they served as the Regional Manager for the U.S. & Canada at Peace First, a global nonprofit that coaches and funds young people to create social action projects. Through work with Peace First, Equality NC, and as the founder of the Raleigh-based LGBTQ youth group QueerNC, Brennan is dedicated to mobilizing young people to lead change both in North Carolina and globally. They envision helping to build a North Carolina that elevates the voices, work, and lives of LGBTQ youth. They currently live and work in Durham, NC, along with their rescue pup, Fig.

Alainna Liloia, PhD, Communications Director (she/her)

Alainna Liloia is a communications professional with a strong background in research and writing. She holds a PhD in Middle Eastern studies with a minor in gender and women’s studies from the University of Arizona and an MA in religious studies from Wake Forest University. Alainna’s doctoral research focused on social issues impacting women in the Arab world and has been published in journal articles and book chapters. She has also written policy analysis and editorials on women and gender issues and human rights, with bylines in Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Business Insider, and The Conversation. Prior to joining Equality NC, Alainna worked in research and communications in a variety of settings, including the think tank Arab Center Washington D.C. Alainna is passionate about intersectional feminism and finding creative ways to make knowledge accessible to all people. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, listening to Lizzo, and making TikToks of her cat.

Laura Meyers, Finance Manager (she/her)

Laura Meyers joined Equality NC in June of 2021 after three years as executive director of PORCH-Durham. Beginning her nonprofit career 15 years ago, Laura has worked for both local and statewide organizations in program and event management, finance, volunteer management, and development.

Laura grew up in Yancey County, North Carolina and moved to Durham in 2006. She married a native Durhamite and is now raising two more. Laura currently serves as secretary of the Durham County Women’s Commission. When not working or volunteering, she’s adventuring all over North Carolina with her family, sticking her nose in a good book, or spending too much time and money finding second-hand gems.

Eliazar Posada, Organizing Director (he/him)

Eliazar (he/him), is a proud Latino son of working class immigrants who grew up in Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and moved to North Carolina in 2007. Eliazar was raised to be an advocate and community organizer and his work began while still in school. From establishing an annual Hispanic Heritage Concert while in high school, to helping establish several student organizations at Campbell University for Latinx and LGBTQ students, to his work in the nonprofit sector, his goal has always been building community.

Prior to joining Equality NC, Eliazar was a part of El Centro Hispano team, where he started as a volunteer in 2015 to Acting President and CEO in 2021. He left to establish his consulting firm Posada Strategy Consulting and seek public office in Carrboro, North Carolina. Through his work he has impacted policy and resources impacting the LGBTQ, Latinx and immigrant communities of North Carolina. He has served on numerous boards and committees, both for governments and nonprofit organizations, like Co-Chair of the Raleigh’s Hispanic and Immigrant Board, the Carrboro Planning Board, Reimagining Community Safety Taskforce, member of the Board of Directors of the Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill/Carrboro, PORCH Chapel Hill, and many more.

Daniel Sannito, Volunteer Coordinator (they/them)

Daniel Sannito (they/them) is a transgender nonbinary person committed to fighting for social justice, representation, and challenging system inequities. They joined Equality NC in February 2023 as the volunteer coordinator. Prior to arriving in North Carolina, Daniel lived in San Diego where they supported their queer community through community organizing in queer nightlife and building queer inclusive spaces in yoga and wellness. Daniel is excited to bring their passion for creating and cultivating connections within the LGBTQ+ community to Equality NC.

Daniel is studying to be a physical therapist at UNCC with the intention to expand and support embodied connection for transgender people in physical therapy and beyond. When Daniel is not studying, working, or snuggling with their pup, Daniel enjoys traveling, writing, and testing new artistic mediums like pottery.

Need to get in touch with a staff member? Contact enc@equalitync.org

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