2019-2020 Board Members
BOARD MEMBERS FULL BIOS
Training & Communications Director
Charnessa Ridley is the Associate Director of the Campus Violence Response Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In July of 2019 began her 2nd term as the Board Chair of North Carolina Women United.
Her life’s work, personally and professionally, has included a commitment to gender-based violence prevention and crisis intervention. She has worked for over 13 years I years as an advocate for those who have been impacted by sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual or gender-based harassment, and other forms of violence including homicide. She has held key potions in North Carolina, within the field of victim advocacy, she enjoys the opportunity to make change in these spaces.
Charnessa received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a minor in Pre-law from Elizabeth City State University, and an Executive Master of Public Administration from North Carolina Central University. In 2018 she became an Instructor for East Carolina University, where she currently teaches Leadership Studies in the political science department.
She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and served on the leadership council for North Carolina Black Women’s Roundtable.
Elaine Martyn has dedicated her career to the pursuit of justice, health, and dignity for all through strategic advocacy, policy, fundraising, and grantmaking in the US, Europe, Asia, and the United Kingdom. She has been a lifelong advocate for refugees, immigrants, medical education and women’s economic empowerment and rights, and has a passion for the arts.
Elaine serves as Vice President and Managing Director for the Private Donor Group at Fidelity Charitable®, an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 240,000 nonprofit organizations with over $35 billion in grants since inception in 1991.
Ms. Martyn double majored in medical studies and English literature and communications at Gannon University, and has a Master’s degree in Victorian literature from the University of Leeds. In 2013, she was appointed as a special international advisor to the U.S. State Department’s Under Secretary of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy. One of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen 2018, she was named one of Save the Children’s Centenary Changemakers for Children in 2019. She has published on topics including equal opportunities, medical education, mentorship and philanthropy. She serves on the advisory boards of Prosperity Catalyst, New England International Donors and Harvard Medical School’s Global Health Advisory Council
Elizabeth Perry is proud to have grown up in Raleigh, NC and to still call it home. Locally grown, Elizabeth attended elementary, middle, and high school in Raleigh and graduated in 2000 from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Psychology. She holds General Securities Representatives (Series 7), Uniform Combined State Law Examination (Series 66), and life and health insurance licenses. As a Financial Advisor, she collaborates with individuals and businesses to educate and to partner with them to reach their financial goals.
Her journey to Edward Jones started with her first job at IBM. After 8 years there, she left to join ADAMA. In her role there, she increased her Finance knowledge as well as her skill in working with others on budgeting and forecasting.
Outside of work, Elizabeth takes part in various volunteering opportunities, cycling and fundraising for the MS Society and Alzheimer’s Association. She also greatly enjoys her time working at Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen. At the end of the day, her favorite thing is being greeted by her dog Jonas.
Tara Romano has been involved with NCWU since 2006, when she co-coordinated the 2006 Wake Women’s Agenda Assembly. She joined the board in 2008, and was President from 2013-2017. Tara has been active in the women’s movement in North Carolina for more than a decade and believes that public policy informed by women’s actual experiences, and with women’s input, is a key component of building a more just and equitable North Carolina. She is the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. In 1999, Tara climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Nancy serves as AAUW NC web manager (and as past state president helps in other capacities at the state level) and supports a few online, nationwide AAUW communities. She is a member of seven other branches (five of them virtual). Her academic background is in mathematics (BA, MA, PhD), and after a few years in academia, her professional life was spent in a variety of computer support/consulting roles. She has a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke Continuing Education. She lives in Wake County with her husband
OUTREACH DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
Portia Taylor is a native of Durham, NC. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she studied psychology, Africana studies, and women’s and gender studies. Portia plans to make a life long effort of using community experiences and her own intellect to consistently and thoughtfully extend her talents to the social, political, and economic movements of North Carolinians. In her spare time, Portia enjoys wine tasting, culinary freestyling, Grouponing and visiting museums.
Lyric Thompson is a women’s rights advocate, speaker and professor based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Currently she is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), where she leads the institution’s formulation of evidence-based policy recommendations and manages ICRW’s advocacy efforts with the U.S. Government and internationally. She is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University, where she teaches a graduate level course on women’s rights advocacy.
Lyric is on the board of NC Women United, and leads or is a member of a number of advocacy coalitions on women’s rights issues, including Girls Not Brides USA, the Coalition for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality. She is on the Editorial Board of Apolitical, and writes regularly on gender and foreign policy for such outlets as Ms., Huffington Post, Devex, The Hill, Thomson-Reuters Foundation and openDemocracy.
In 2019 and in 2018, Lyric was named as one of the 100 Most Influential People Impacting Gender Policy by the public policy platform Apolitical. In 2016, Lyric was honored by Professional Women in Advocacy for Excellence in a Campaign for Women Serving Women, recognizing her leadership advocating with the U.S. government for the world’s first piece of foreign policy dedicated to the rights and empowerment of adolescent girls. In 2011, Diplomatic Courier Magazine named her among the Top 99 Under 33 Young Professionals Impacting Foreign Policy.
"North Carolina Women United provides an opportunity to network with like-minded and progressive women across North Carolina, build leadership skills and advocate for policies that have the potential to benefit all Women"
Charnessa Ridley, NCWU President
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Director of Communications