Identifying and adopting best practices, the services and staff are continually changing to provide the best quality of services. Recognizing that engagement through provision of basic needs is the critical first step in building trust and then assessing where each woman is on a measure of self-sufficiency, we then work with each individual to lay out a plan tailored to her needs to support successful outcomes.
We also depend on the women we serve to teach us how to be most culturally relevant to them. For example, when we work with a woman on her budget, we have learned that often she is doing an outstanding job of surviving on a very limited income. We can then look at ways we can provide some necessities, such as food or hygiene products, which allow her to use the cash income for her housing needs.
Partnering with private and public agencies, faith, business and civic groups is also critical to a belief in the power of collaboration. We believe that by identifying shared goals and working together to achieve those outcomes, there is great benefit to the clients and community.
- Carrie Tortora – Gailor Hunt Law Firm
- Tracy Watson – BHGRE Go Realty
- R. Ellen Duncan – Cherry Bekaert
- Frank Folger – Nationwide Insurance
- Crash Gregg – Raleigh Downtowner Magazine
- Larry King, Ph.D. – Retired NCSU Professor
- Charlotte Mitchell – Law Office of Charlotte Mitchell
- Briana Warren – Bri’s Boucakes
- Christina Apperson – Volunteer
- Susan Riley – Blue Cross Blue Shield NC
- Eugene Weeks – Volunteer
- Gregory Jenkins II – Town of Cary
- Austen High – Wake County Deomcratic Party
- Katie Pollara – Rex Healthcare
- Chuck Powell – Enterprise Holdings
- Virginia Wilson – Bayer Corporation
- Jean Williams, Ph.D. – Ex-Officio
The Women’s Center of Wake County, Inc. was incorporated in 1977. The original mission of a small group of volunteers was to serve women re-entering the community from prison. The ex-offenders needed assistance in obtaining employment, reconnecting with family and friends, and strengthening their self esteem to become active citizens in the community.
In the early 1980’s, the women’s movement catalyzed the evolution of the services to a much broader population of women. Career development, consciousness raising groups, peer counseling, and support groups were created to meet the new demand.
In the early 1990’s, the Women’s Center relocated to downtown Raleigh. With that relocation there came a new population of women in need of services – women who were homeless or on the edge of homelessness. The Women’s Center re-engineered and restructured its programs and services to address these needs. With the creation of Basic Needs, Support, and Housing Services, we continue to support, educate and advocate to improve outcomes for the women and families we serve.
The Women’s Center of Wake County staff has over 100 years of combined experience in human services. In addition, over the course of their lives, some of the staff have experienced homelessness, incarceration, or domestic violence. With a combination of education, professional, and life experience, the staff is a group of strong women who both understand the needs of the women and families with whom we work and provide role models showing that barriers can be overcome with positive results.
Jean Williams, Ph.D.
1990 – Present
Jean has been Executive Director at the Women’s Center since May 1990. She represents the agency in a number of community efforts, including the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness and is a member of the United Way of the Greater Triangle Regional Initiatives Committee. Jean works with the Board of Directors to insure that the mission, programs, and services of the Women’s Center are effective and that funding is obtained and fiscal accountability is sound.
Jean began her work career as a Registered Nurse, graduating from Rex Hospital School of Nursing in Raleigh. After a brief career in nursing, Jean was a “stay at home Mom” for 8 years. She began her path toward a new career in human services, returning to college in 1980. She is a three time graduate of North Carolina State University, culminating in earning her Ph.D. in 1999.
Jean has been married to Ed for more than 40 years, has two children, Beth and Ted. She has five grandchildren (whom she adores): Hannah, Hill, Noah, Reese, and Nate.
One of the important life lessons she abides by is that “you cannot buy enthusiasm, loyalty, devotion of hearts, minds, or souls. You must earn these.” Jean commits to working and playing with this in mind each and every day.
1999 – present
Regina Brooks is currently the Client Services Coordinator. Originally from New Rochelle, N.Y., Regina went back to school as an adult and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. For several years, Regina worked with the public housing authority in New York, and played a significant role in establishing a drug free zone for the housing complexes. An avid lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and Albany, N.Y., she helped to successfully obtain the CDBG (community development block grant).
Regina moved to Raleigh in 1998 along with her husband and family. In 1999, she became a part of the Women’s Center as the assistant in transitional services, going on to become the Transitional Services Director for many years. Seven years ago, Regina became the Client Services Coordinator, which includes volunteer coordination, supervision of the reception area, and recruitment and supervision of our staff from Raleigh Correctional Center for Women. She also plays a major role in promoting community awareness about the agency.
Regina is active in her church, as both a choir member and a soloist.
2005 – present
Tameka was born and raised in Fuquay-Varina, NC. She moved to Raleigh 14 years ago as a single mom. At age 24, Tameka graduated from Cosmetology School and at age 26, graduated from a Culinary Arts program, while taking computer classes. Tameka came on board at the Women’s Center in 2005 as the Receptionist and stayed for 14 months. Tameka returned 6 months later, again as the Receptionist, and was then promoted to Basic Needs Technician. She has been in that position for 6 years, assisting clients with their daily basic needs.
2000 – present
Jeri returned to her home town of Raleigh in 1989 after living in New York and Philadelphia for 18 years. She has a Masters in Education from Temple University, is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist and a Certified Clinical Supervisor. While her primary interest is addiction, she has over 30 years of experience working in the areas of mental health, developmental disabilities, adult education, family violence, and sexual health.
Jeri began at the Women’s Center of Wake County as a volunteer in 1995 and has been a full time staff since 2000. She is currently the Clinical Services Coordinator, providing mental health and substance abuse engagement services to women in need of treatment readiness. She is also the Program Coordinator at Oak Hollow, a permanent housing program for formerly homeless families. Outside of the Women’s Center, Jeri is an addiction specialist with Southlight Judicial Services and the North Carolina Problem Gambling Program. She is also a member of the advisory board and a consultant for the Research Triangle Institute.
Jeri resides in Raleigh with her young daughter and numerous pets
Lille Ruth Jones
1991 – present
Lillie Ruth Jones has a BA degree in Sociology and a Social Work Certificate from Meredith College (1983). She has worked in several staff roles since she began her tenure in 1991 as an employee at the Women’s Center, including AIDS Health Educator, Volunteer Recruiter/Trainer, Education Program Director, and Client Services Coordinator.
Since April of 2000, Lillie’s areas of responsibility include work in programs related to housing for women and their families.
2014 – Present
Brooke joined the Women’s Center staff in May 2014 and serves as the bookkeeper for the organization. Brooke has a BA from UNCW and a Masters in Accounting from ECU. She has previous experience in banking & working in public accounting as an auditor for local small and large non-profits.
Outside of work, Brooke enjoys running, gardening, and spending time with family. She resides in Raleigh with her husband and two small children.
Mary Lou Parsons
Mary Lou has been employed by the Women’s Center for 21 years. In 1986, she was hired as Education Program Director and coordinated all of the Center’s workshops and support groups. In addition, she wrote and supervised the production and distribution of approximately 2,000 copies of the Women’s Center’s Newsletter each month.
Mary Lou was hired as Executive Director of STAR in Anchorage, Alaska in December, 1989. STAR is a nonprofit agency that serves victims of child sexual abuse and sexual assault. She remained at STAR until February 1994, when she returned to North Carolina. Currently, she is the Intake Specialist at the Women’s Center, which entails interviewing and assessing the housing needs of Women’s Center clients and referring them to the appropriate community resources.
Mary Lou received a B.A. in Psychology from Meredith College in 1983 and a M.Ed. from NC State University in 1986.
The three most important qualities/values in Mary Lou’s life are reverence for life, the ability to face adversity and smile, and the belief that life is about family and relationships.
Jane began her career at the WCWC in 1990 as Assistant Director, working primarily in the areas of data management and project supervision. In 1991, she left the agency on personal sabbatical, but returned in 1998 as Associate Executive Director. She has a BA in Psychology from Wake Forest University and a Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in social planning from The Ohio State University. Her most interesting previous work experience was with United Way, where she worked in planning, evaluation and allocations in both Columbus, Ohio and Baltimore.
Jane’s current areas of responsibility include management of day-to-day operations, coordination of the agency’s Carolina Homeless Information Network (CHIN) data system, funder compliance, and staffing of several board committees. She thinks that the challenges of working at a small nonprofit have helped her to grow both professionally and personally.
Jane and her husband live in Cary. In her free time, she enjoys music and fitness activities and contributing to the lives of two twenty-something sons – one late bloomer and one overachiever.
2000 – present
Elaine is from a small town in eastern North Carolina near Greenville, NC. She received an Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Pitt Community College and a B.A. from East Carolina University in Psychology/Sociology/Anthropology. She has also completed coursework for an M.A. in Counseling from North Carolina Central University and is nearing completion of her thesis. Elaine has been a certified NC Housing Counselor since 2001 and retains an inactive NC Real Estate Broker’s License.
Elaine’s lifelong passion has been to help others improve their quality of life. She has served for more than 16 years in the human service field in various roles in the public and private sector as a crisis counselor, employment specialist, job developer and placement specialist, career counselor and job coach, workforce development trainer and professional, group facilitator, director of homeless and housing services and, currently, as a housing placement coordinator at the Women’s Center of Wake County.
For more than nine years at the Women’s Center, Elaine has assisted single women and women with children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness obtain and maintain housing and employment. She also developed, coordinated and facilitated the Life Enhancement Group which was sponsored by the J. Jill Foundation for three years for women coming from difficult and life changing situations. In 2007, the group and the Women’s Center were featured in the J. Jill national catalog.
Elaine has served and continues to serve on community initiatives and grant development committees to better serve the needs of the women who seek assistance and multi-level support from the Women’s Center of Wake County.