In 2014, the North Carolina Coastal Federation formed the President’s Council under the leadership of Dick Bierly, President of the federation’s board of directors at that time. Comprised of prominent leaders in North Carolina, the council enhances the federation’s ability to forge new partnerships and provide for an environmentally and economically healthy and productive coast. Chaired by current Board President Joe Ramus, the council brings a broad perspective of business, philanthropic and leadership expertise to the federation’s work on the coast.

Joe Ramus, Beaufort  — Chairman

Joe has been on the faculty at Duke University for more than 30 years and directed its marine lab near Beaufort for 10 years. His scientific expertise is in estuary and ocean processes, and his public interest is in coastal water-quality conservation and restoration. Joe has served on the boards of directors of Carteret County Crossroads and the Carteret County Economic Development Council. He is currently chair of the North Carolina Sea Grant Advisory Board and President of the federation’s Board of Directors.

Phil Blumenthal 3x4Philip Blumenthal, Charlotte

Philip Blumenthal is President and Director of Wildacres Retreat, Chairman and Director of the Blumenthal Foundation and co-owner of Radiator Specialty Company, RSC Chemical Solutions and RSC Bio Solutions. He is the chairman of the Carolina Thread Trail and serves on several other organizational boards including the Quest Foundation, Wildacres Leadership Initiative and the Institute for Philanthropic Leadership. Blumenthal also serves on several advisory boards, including the Carolina Raptor Center, Catawba River Foundation, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, Trust for Public Land and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment Board of Visitors.

Hugh Cullman, Beaufort

Hugh Cullman graduated from the Naval Academy in 1945 and was assigned to a destroyer patrolling the Chinese coast. In 1951, he married Nan Ogburn of Smithfield, North Carolina, and was recalled to duty and served in Germany. In 1949, Benson & Hedges Tobacco Company, which subsequently was acquired by Philip Morris Companies, hired him. At Philip Morris, he held increasing responsibilities and in 1988, retired as vice chairman, during which time he also served on philanthropic and educational boards. In 1993, Cullman moved to Beaufort and since has served on a number of not-for-profit boards throughout North Carolina.

Dick Daughterty 3x4Dick Daugherty, Raleigh

Dick Daugherty retired from IBM in 1994 after 37 years of service, 22 years of which were spent as the senior executive. At IBM, he served as the vice president of Worldwide Manufacturing for the PC Company. He served as executive director of the North Carolina State University Research Corporation, focusing on the development of Centennial Campus, from 1995 to 2001. Daugherty serves as director on many industry boards, including Wells Fargo Bank, LobbyGuard, Xanofi and Troxler Electronics. He also serves on numerous voluntary and charitable boards, including Wake Education Partnership, Research Triangle Foundation, Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science, North Carolina Symphony, Rex Healthcare Foundation and Lehigh University Engineering Advisory Council.

Tom Earnhardt, Raleigh

Over the last 15 years Tom has written and produced more than 80 episodes of the statewide UNC-TV natural resource series, Exploring North Carolina. His conservation roots run deep with service on numerous conservation boards, including Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy in North Carolina and Audubon North Carolina. Tom has also served as president of the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation and the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. A graduate of Davidson College and UNC School of Law, he has worked in government, the corporate sphere and was a professor of law for two decades. Although Tom and his wife, Dana Jennings, live in Raleigh, he has had a lifelong connection to the North Carolina coast, its people, small boats and any fish that will take a fly. Tom also serves on the board of directors of the federation.

jim_goodmon 3x4Jim 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.

Bobbi Hapgood, Chapel Hill

Bobbi Hapgood is an organizational leader and nonprofit strategist who has spent the majority of her professional life working in the nonprofit world, with experience in organizational planning, fundraising, philanthropic leadership and board governance. She served as program director for Voices & Choices of the Central Carolinas, as a consultant for Rachel’s Network, as communications and development director for the Center for Child and Family Health and as the executive director of the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers. Hapgood has served for 19 years on the board of directors of the Educational Foundation of America, currently serving as president of the foundation. In addition, she is serving on the advisory board of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Youth Forward, the advisory council of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, and the advisory board for the UNC PlayMakers Repertory Company. She is also a volunteer with the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate Program. Ten years ago, Hapgood founded Philanthropic Ventures LLC to guide community, private and family foundations and donor-advised fundholders in improving organizational strategy, giving strategy and fund development.

Olivia HoldingOlivia Britton Holding, Raleigh

Olivia Holding is a community and civic leader with strong ties to Johnston County, Wake County, and the coast. Olivia is president of E & F Properties, Inc. and Twin States Farming, Inc. in Smithfield, where she manages commercial real estate and agricultural properties. Olivia is also the president of the Ella Ann L. & Frank B. Holding Foundation. Olivia received a bachelor’s in political science from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 1986 and a master’s in education from George Washington University in 1990. Olivia serves on several non-profit boards, including the North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Aquarium Society, Tryon Palace Commission, Environmental Defense Fund – NC Office, and Research Triangle Park Foundation.

Tom Looney, Cary

Tom recently retired as VP and General Manger Lenovo North America. Prior to that he spent 30 years with IBM in various leadership roles. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Wake Technical Community College, on the Board of the North Carolina School of Science and Math and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. He is a member of the President’s Council and has been a federation volunteer for 20 years. He grew up fishing and clamming in the waters off Long Island. He currently resides in Cary and Wrightsville Beach and is committed to protecting and preserving our coastal assets.

MeekercolorCharles Meeker, Raleigh

Charles Meeker is a partner at Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein L.L.P. in Raleigh, representing private and public clients on local government issues, including public transportation and development. Meeker served as mayor of Raleigh for five terms, from 2001 until 2011, tied with Avery C. Upchurch as Raleigh’s longest-serving mayor. While mayor, Meeker advocated for downtown redevelopment and the creation of a light rail system connecting Raleigh to Durham, Research Triangle Park and Chapel Hill under the auspices of the Triangle Transit Authority. He also successfully pushed for the construction of the downtown convention center and hotel, which opened in 2008, as well as the reconstruction of Fayetteville Street, converting the pedestrian mall to an urban “main street” with outdoor dining, art galleries and open spaces. Meeker previously served as a member of the Raleigh City Council for eight years from 1985 to 1989 and 1991 to 1995 and currently serves on the board of directors of the federation.

Carmen Odom 3x4Carmen Hooker Odom, Charlotte

Carmen Hooker Odom is self-employed as a health policy adviser. From 2007 to 2013, Hooker Odom served as president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, a New York-based foundation that conducts nonpartisan analysis, study and research on significant issues in health policy. Before joining the fund, she was appointed secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services by Governor Mike Easley in January 2001. Before her appointment, she served as vice president of government relations for Quintiles Transnational Corporation in Research Triangle Park and as the group vice president for Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS). She is also an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. Before moving to North Carolina in 1995, Hooker Odom served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives for nearly 11 years and was house chairwoman of the joint committee on healthcare. Hooker Odom co-chaired the North Carolina Health Care Reform Commission and was a member of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine.

David PaynterDavid Paynter, Wilmington

David Paynter is the retired director of the New Hanover County Library System in Wilmington. In his 26 years with the library system, he oversaw the extensive expansion to meet the needs of the growing community, introduced a computerized cataloging system, expanded into virtual media and set up the nonprofit New Hanover County Public Library Foundation in 2006. Paynter is active in the Rotary Club and the New Hanover County Smart Start program, served on the board of public radio station WHQR and currently serves as treasurer for Cape Fear Audubon Society, a director for Audubon North Carolina and a director for Piedmont Trust. He serves on the federation’s Board of Directors and enjoys reading, travel, gardening and birdwatching.

john preyer 3x4John 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.

simonrich 3x4Simon Rich, III, Edenton

Simon Rich, III is a partner and general manager of Stevens Towing Company, which owns and operates a fleet of tugs and barges transporting freight up and down the East Coast. Rich served on the board of the North Carolina State Ports Authority for five years. Rich and Stevens Towing partnered with the North Carolina Coastal Federation and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries to construct 60 acres of oyster reef in the Pamlico Sound through an economic stimulus grant administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He is a graduate of N.C. State University and lives in Edenton with his wife Brooke.

Ross 3x4William G. Ross, Jr, Chapel Hill

William G. Ross, Jr., was the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources from 2001 to 2009. While he was secretary, the state expanded the size of the state park system, enacted the North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act, built the Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and developed the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan. Since 2009, Ross has focused on matters of environment and health as a visiting professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. In addition, he is an attorney and a consultant at Brooks Pierce, working on initiatives relating to natural resource conservation and sustainability, including America’s longleaf and living shorelines. Ross serves as chairman of the National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology of the U.S. EPA and as co-chairman of the Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative. He serves on the boards of the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Audubon North Carolina, and is a member of the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health advisory council.

Billy_Sewell 3x4Billy Sewell, Jacksonville

Billy Sewell started his career with Golden Corral as an associate manager in 1989 and served as general manager and district manager before beginning the Platinum Corral franchise with two stores in 1996. Currently, Sewell has grown Platinum Corral to 28 stores in 6 states. He served on the North Carolina Economic Development Board from 2005 to 2010 and was vice chairman in 2009 to 2010. During this time, he also served as chairman of Onslow County Economic Development from 2008 to 2010. Currently, Sewell serves as chairman of the marketing committee of the Golden Corral Franchise advisory council. He is also currently a member of the Campbell University board of advisers and the National Restaurant Association board of directors. He has been honored with several awards including the North Carolina Restaurateur Award in 2009 for contributions and service to the restaurant industry. Sewell is a partner in Lux Farms in Hyde County, which has entered into a Wetlands Reserve Program easement with state and federal agencies in partnership with the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

Bland Simpson, Chapel Hill

Bland Simpson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has written a number of books about coastal Carolina. He is also pianist for the musical groups The Red Clay Ramblers and the Coastal Cohorts. He is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust; North Carolina Maritime Museum; Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center; the North Carolina Nature Conservancy and the North Carolina Writer’s Conference and he served for many years on the Board of Directors of the federation..

Stanback Composite from Duke w permission 3Fred and Alice Stanback, Salisbury

Fred and Alice Stanback, natives of Salisbury, are outstanding leaders in environmental and conservation efforts in North Carolina, both through financial support and through leadership on numerous boards and advisory groups. Both are alumnae of Duke University, and have supported environmental education at the university level at Duke, as well as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Catawba College. At Duke, the Stanback Internship Program supports summer internships for graduate students at many different organizations each year, including the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Coastal Advocacy Institute. In 2008 Fred and Alice Stanback were awarded the North Carolina Award for public service from Gov. Mike Easley, the state’s highest civilian honor, for their work in conservation.


Smedes York 3x4Smedes York, Raleigh

Smedes York is chairman of York Properties, Inc. and affiliated companies Prudential York Simpson Underwood and McDonald York Building Company. 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. York served on the Raleigh City Council from 1977 to 1979 and two terms as Mayor, from 1979 to 1983. He was past chairman of the North Carolina Chamber, the North Carolina State University board of trustees and the YMCA of the Triangle. He served as Chairman of the Urban Land Institute from 1989 to 1991 and continues to serve as a trustee. Current positions include serving on the board of directors of the Research Triangle Foundation, North Carolina Amateur Sports and the N.C. State University Foundation. York was inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame, Needham Broughton Athletics Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame, and he received the Watauga Medal from N.C. State University and the Distinguished Citizenship Award from the North Carolina Chamber.

Nancy Hanes White, Raleigh

Nancy Hanes White has been a leader in animal and environmental issues in North Carolina for many years. Nancy has served on the boards of the North Carolina Nature Conservancy, the SPCA of Wake County, The North Carolina Zoo and the Museum of Natural Science, where she was also a docent. Currently, she is the Vice President of the UNC Institute for the Environment Board of Visitors and is on the board of the Southern Environmental Law Center. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Nancy and her husband Monty enjoy nature on their farm just outside of Raleigh.