Over the past 40 years, the Coastal Federation has had profound impacts protecting and preserving our coastal assets.

Today, we also recognize the need to accelerate these actions from both an environmental as well as an economic perspective. We must address the challenges caused by rising sea levels, severe weather events and an ever-growing population along our coast.

That is why the Coastal Executive Leader Council was created under the leadership of Tom Looney, with a mission to support the strategic initiatives of the Coastal Federation and accelerate positive change.

The Coastal Executive Leadership Council is a team of proven leaders in their fields from across NC who each bring unique skills to the table.  This Council will drive awareness and statewide support while accelerating both environmental and economic action across our coastal communities.

The Coastal Executive Leadership Council launched in August 2021, springboarding from the federation’s previous President’s Council.


Tom Looney, Cary


Tom Looney has spent his 40+ year career in technology holding senior executive positions at IBM and Lenovo. He is passionate about our preserving and protecting our coast, education, and rural economic development. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the NC Coastal Federation. He has served as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the NC School of Science and Mathematics and Wake Tech Community College. He is a founding member of the Economic Development Partnership of NC and served on the Board and Executive Committee. He was named to Business North Carolina’s, “Power 100 Most Influential Business Leaders for 2019”. Tom grew up fishing and clamming in the waters off Long Island and currently resides in Cary and Wrightsville Beach.

Council Members

Bill Cary, Greensboro


Bill is a partner at Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP, where he has practiced since 1976 in a wide variety of areas involving civil litigation, environmental litigation and counselling, and business transactions. He took a one year from the firm leave to serve as the General Counsel of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources under Secretary Dee Freeman. Lately, he has concentrated his practice on conservation and climate resilience, especially in conjunction with Defense Department facilities in NC and across the southeast. Since 2015, his volunteer work at NCCF includes working groups on living shorelines, the Oyster Steering Committee, the Shellfish Mariculture Advisory Committee, EO 80 climate risk assessment and Coastal Resilience Summit, nature based stormwater systems, and wetland restoration. Bill was a 2019 Pelican Award recipient.

Jim Goodmon, Raleigh


Jim Goodmon was named operations manager at WRAL-TV in 1968 and became executive vice president of Capitol Broadcasting Company in 1973. In 1979, Goodmon was named President & CEO of Capitol Broadcasting Company, the position he holds today. Goodmon has guided the explosive growth of CBC’s broadcast holdings and led the company’s expansion into satellite communications, new media, real estate and professional sports, including the award-winning development of the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham and the Durham Bulls minor league baseball franchise. Goodmon has been recognized with numerous awards, including the North Carolina Award in Public Service in 2000, the Community Impact Award in 2006 and the 2005 Business Leader of the Year Award from Business Leader Magazine with his wife Barbara. Goodmon serves on numerous boards of directors, including the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Duke University Health Systems, Leadership Triangle and UNC-TV.

Sumit Gupta, Kill Devil Hills


Sumit Gupta is the Co-Founder, Principle Partner, and Chief Executive Officer of SAGA Construction, Inc., (SAGA), an innovative North Carolina firm that has managed the acquisition and development of over $1.5 billion in real estate assets. As SAGA’s leader, Mr. Gupta charted a course of balanced capital growth and gradual territorial expansion, an approach which resulted in SAGA’s position as an industry leader in the Coastal North Carolina region.

Mr. Gupta is a visionary, a leader, an investor and a philanthropist with more than twenty years in the real estate industry, with a portfolio including mixed-use projects (residential/retail/office/hospitality), active adult retirement and lifestyle communities, apartments, tax credit projects, hotels, marinas, and “Continuing Care Retirement Communities” (CCRC’s).

Mr. Gupta’s passion and enthusiasm for his work is not limited to real estate investment itself – he believes the most valuable asset any entrepreneur can acquire is a team of talented, motivated personnel who share a common vision. In essence, he believes it’s not only about what people do, but why they do it.

Mr. Gupta also feels a strong sense of responsibility to his community. Under his stewardship, SAGA’s community outreach and philanthropic initiatives have generated millions in charitable donations and economic impact.

Mary Penny Kelley, Raleigh


Mary Penny Kelley is the Executive Director of Governor Roy Cooper’s Hometown Strong initiative, an effort created to forge partnerships between rural communities and state government. Some of the current priorities for coastal North Carolina include economic recovery from the pandemic, addressing food insecurity, and developing resiliency to weather-related disasters.  Prior to leading Hometown Strong, Mary Penny served in senior positions at the Department of Environmental Quality and the Attorney General’s Office.  She has also run a small law firm in Nash County helping people launch new enterprises and navigate governmental regulation. She is a graduate of NC State University and Tulane University Law School.

Carmen Hooker Odom, Charlotte


Carmen Hooker Odom has spent her professional life working in health and human services. She served as a consultant to the Aspen Institute’s work with state health leadership teams and as President of the Milbank Memorial Fund, a health policy foundation that works with public sector decision-makers. In 2001, she was appointed Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, she worked for Quintiles Transnational Corporation and with Carolinas Healthcare System (Atrium Health).

Presently, she is Board Chair of Cardinal Innovations, a behavioral health managed-care organization, a member of the UNC Press Advisory Council, and a member of the Board of Prevent Child Abuse NC.

Ms. Hooker Odom served as a member of the Coastal Federation’s Northeast Advisory Board and as a member of the Coastal Federation’s Board of Directors. She also served on the Coastal Federation’s President’s Council.

John Preyer, Raleigh


John Preyer is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Restoration Systems. He oversees all company operations including land acquisition, site design and construction, as well as serving on the senior management team responsible for all financials. Before founding Restoration Systems, he served as legislative director for U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina. As legislative director, Preyer had responsibility for the senator’s committee assignments including armed services, banking and environment & public works, and was the designated security officer with a Department of Defense Top Secret security clearance. He currently serves on the board of the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation and served on the board of the federation from 2002 to 2006.

Simon Rich, III, Edenton


Simon Rich, III is a native of North Carolina and graduate of North Carolina State University.  Simon is the managing partner of Stevens Towing Co. of North Carolina, a barge transportation company primarily focused on serving the Steel Industry.

Stevens NC owns and operates a fleet of barges transporting steel, iron ore, and other products up and down much of the East Coast.  The company also owns Riverbulk, a barge terminal and shipyard facility near Edenton.

Simon served on the board of the North Carolina State Ports Authority.  Simon, his wife Brooke, and their two daughters live in Edenton.

Burrows Smith, Wilmington


Burrows Smith, managing partner in River Bluffs Development Group, is a native of the coast.

Burrows grew up on Wrightsville Beach and his life along our waterways has left him with a meaningful passion for conservation and for protecting our natural surroundings. Burrows became an active board member of the Coastal Conservation Association, an organization dedicated to advising and educating the public on the importance of conserving our marine resources.

Burrows Smith has a vast, successful history in the construction industry. In the early 1980’s he formed Burrows Smith Construction and in 1988, he merged with A.C. Skinner to form Skinner-Smith Construction, specializing in the construction of new subdivisions in New Hanover County.

Some of his notable projects include: Masonboro Landing, Masonboro Forest, Cove Point, Porters Neck, Shinn Creek Estates and Treybooke. His development resume includes Sea Watch at Kure Beach, Wrightsville Sound Office Park, Westbay, Plantation Landing and Sagewood. Burrows and his family also owned the popular Dockside Restaurant, considered by many to be an Intracoastal Waterway landmark, until 2006.

In developing River Bluffs, Burrows and his team have shown a tremendous respect for and dedication to our area and our natural environment. They have invested significant resources into the infrastructure of our community to ensure that both the future residents of River Bluffs and those living outside our gates in the surrounding communities enjoy our easy coastal lifestyle for generations to come.

Mason L. Williams


As a Raleigh, North Carolina, native, Mason Williams has strong roots and family ties throughout North Carolina. He has real-estate investments in Wake, Carteret, Warren, and Avery Counties. His professional career has been dedicated to the real estate industry, including construction, development, investments, and ownership. Mason held leadership positions at Ammons Construction Company for thirteen years, and founded three successful companies, including Mason Williams Construction Company in 1993, Williams-Russell Building Company in 1999, and Williams Property Group in 2006.

Mason is an engaged civic leader and conservationist, and has held leadership positions with the National Association of Homebuilders, Raleigh/Wake Homebuilders Association, North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Friends of Cape Lookout National Seashore, Wake County Planning Board, Triangle Community Coalition, Montessori School of Raleigh, American Cancer Society, Historic Oakwood Cemetery, and Unique Places to Save.

Mason is also an avid sailor and ocean sports enthusiast, having successfully completed a circumnavigated of the globe, and is a private pilot and flying enthusiast.

Smedes York, Raleigh


Smedes York is Chairman of York Properties, Inc., McDonald York Building Company and Berkshire Hathaway York Simpson Underwood. He served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1964 to 1966, receiving an Army Commendation Medal for his service in South Korea. Smedes holds degrees from both N.C. State University, Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering with High Honors, and UNC Chapel Hill, Master of Business Administration.

A Raleigh native, Smedes has spent many years serving in various capacities in his community, including Raleigh City Council (1977-1979) and two terms as Mayor (1979-1983). Smedes also held leadership positions with the North Carolina Chamber, the N.C. State University Board of Trustees, YMCA of the Triangle, the Research Triangle Foundation, and the Urban Land Institute, where he continues to serve as a Trustee. Current board positions include North Carolina Amateur Sports, North Carolina Beautiful and Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), and Emeritus member of board of Research Triangle Foundation.

Smedes has received many honors for his business and civic leadership, including the Raleigh Hall of Fame, Needham Broughton Athletics Hall of Fame, North Carolina Business Hall of Fame, N.C. State University Civil Engineering Hall of Fame, Wake County Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame, and the Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS Hall of Fame. Smedes also received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the Watauga Medal from North Carolina State University, and the Distinguished Citizenship Award from the North Carolina Chamber.