Each year, Winston Under 40 recognizes the talents and contributions of 20 of Winston-Salem’s young professionals. We are excited to present the 2021 Leadership Award winners!
Registered Nurse, Atrium Health and CEO/Owner, Soul Food Healing Co.
Devin, an alumna of Winston Salem State University, is a community health professional, entrepreneur, and activist. Her current passion projects include the elimination of food deserts and cultivating her open-access community garden. Devin is the owner of Soul Food Healing Co. This holistic wellness company is dedicated to providing a natural approach to boosting immunity and treating common ailments through medicinal herbs, teas, and syrups. She volunteers her time with Elevation Church, Samaritans Feet, the Humane Society, and Samaritan Ministries, to name a few. As a current MSN Family Nurse Practitioner candidate, she plans to deepen her roots in healthcare to elicit a lasting change in the health narrative within our community.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Integrity and Secretary of the University, UNCSA
Amanda Balwah is a Winston-Salem native and has worked at UNC School of the Arts since 2005 where she currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Integrity and Secretary of the University. She has a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill, an MA in Nonprofit Management from High Point University, and an EdS in Higher Education Administration from Appalachian State University. Her volunteer experience includes roles with Heartstrings, the Cub Scouts, and Holy Family Catholic Church. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys camping, reading, traveling, and spending quality time with her husband and two sons.
Assistant Marketing Manager, Hanesbrands
A Winston-Salem native and Double Deac, Paige has called The Dash her hometown, college town, and now her “own-town”. Paige has cultivated a marketing career that has spanned higher education, finance, and apparel. This has led her to the iconic Hanesbrands established in Winston-Salem. There, she manages Shapewear for the mass market channel. Outside of work, Paige has volunteered as a board member for the Junior League of Winston-Salem and a YMCA coach. On any given weekend you will likely find Paige enjoying the outdoors at one of our wonderful parks, catching the latest exhibit at SECCA, or seeking out live music at one of our local breweries.
Dr. Andrew Bradbury
Owner & Optometrist, A Proper View
Dr. Andrew Bradbury is the proud owner and optometrist at A Proper View, a boutique eye care and eyewear business located in historic Reynolda Village. Since opening in 2018, Dr. Bradbury has been focused on offering top-notch eye care to the entire Winston-Salem and surrounding community. Most recently, A Proper View was awarded America’s Finest Optical Retailer from Invision Magazine, a national publication that annually honors the practice that offers the nation’s most unique and exceptional eye care experience. In his free time, Dr. Bradbury enjoys getting outdoors, traveling the globe (pre-pandemic!) and visiting all of the amazing establishments in Winston-Salem with his wife, Allison, and their pup, Watson.
General Manager, Kimpton Cardinal
As General Manager of the Kimpton Cardinal, Kelly oversees all operations of the boutique hotel located within the historic RJ Reynolds Building. Over the past year, Kelly and her team have been able to partner with local organizations like Lead Girls of NC and Journee Bees Village to advocate for and take action towards making meaningful changes within the community. Her scope expands beyond the walls of the hotel as Kelly is an active board member with both the Forsyth County Tourism Development Authority and The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership. In her free time, Kelly enjoys exploring all that Winston-Salem has to offer with her husband and two-year-old daughter.
Photo: Amber Renea Photography
Dr. Leni Caldwell
Visiting Clinical Professor, Dept. of Education, Wake Forest University
Dr. Leni Caldwell is a passionate educator who serves as a Visiting Clinical Professor in the Department of Education at WFU. She attended High Point University where she earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in education and then was honored to complete her doctoral program in educational leadership and cultural foundations at UNCG. She has spent time in the K-12 classroom at The Arts Based School as well in other roles such as a magnet coordinator in WSFCS and as an adjunct professor at Greensboro College. Leni’s passions include instructing group fitness classes, volunteering with her husband as a guardian ad litem, serving on professional and philanthropic boards, and living her best Winston-Salem life!
Photo: Emily Wilson Photography
Content Marketing Manager, Kaplan Early Learning Company
First introduced to Winston-Salem on a 4th grade field trip, Kayla has been in love with the city ever since. Officially moving to Winston-Salem when she began her undergraduate career at Salem College, Kayla earned her BA in English and Creative Writing in 2017 and completed her Masters in Library and Information Science at UNCG in 2019. Kayla now serves as Content Marketing Manager at Kaplan Early Learning Company where she delights in making Kaplan’s rich history and progressive vision come to life every day. As coordinator of the Kaplan Internship Experience, Kayla has found her true passion in mentoring others. Additionally, as an early childhood advocate, and a member of Kaplan’s inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, Kayla has volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Piedmont Triad and Family Services. In her free time, Kayla enjoys devouring way too much pop culture, cross-stitching, working her way through the books on her nightstand, and exploring the triad with her partner and their beloved pets: Honey Crumpet (dog) and Kitty Purry (unsurprisingly, a cat).
Attorney, Craige Jenkins Liipfert & Walker LLP
Andrew Darcy is a local attorney and proud Winston-Salem transplant from the Northeast. Andrew is dedicated to helping this community and is an active board member of H.O.P.E. of Winston-Salem (H.O.P.E. – Help Our People Eat). Additionally, Andrew is an active board member of the Estate Planning Council of Winston-Salem, an interdisciplinary group that works across professions to further the growth and scope of its members’ knowledge of estate planning procedures and techniques. Andrew currently lives in Ardmore with his fiancée. There, you will find them walking their dog around the neighborhood when neither is working or volunteering time to various organizations that are near and dear to the area that they call home.
Owner, Earth Sage, LLC
Director of Human Resources, Royce Too
Rachel is an Ohio native and Lourdes University alumni, who has made Winston-Salem home the past 7 years. She has worked for a variety of manufacturing and distribution companies in the Triad, quickly moving from an HR Coordinator to her current role as HR Director for Royce Too. Rachel is also the Owner of Earth Sage, the Triad’s first zero-waste refillery shop. Rachel opened the shop in February of 2021 with a mission to create a space for the community to explore, learn, and experience more sustainable options for their everyday purchases in an effort to reduce single-use plastics. When Rachel is not working at Royce, teaching yoga, or working at Earth Sage, she is spending her free time hiking, hanging out with her four rambunctious cats, spending time with her loved ones, and enjoying the downtown restaurants.
Owner & Executive Chef, LeanBack Soul Food
Crissy Faison is owner and executive chef of LeanBack Soul Food, a Triad catering company featuring a wide range of dishes with a focus on Southern cuisine that brings friends and family together. She is also the CEO and founder of the non-profit company LeanBack GiveBack Foundation, whose mission is to work with the community to increase opportunities and resources for women in the culinary field, encourage food interest in children, and care for the world one community at a time. Under the Foundation, Crissy has created the LeanBack Kidz Cooking Club and the LeanBack GiveBack Thanksgiving Affair. Crissy is a graduate of NC A&T University. When she’s not in the kitchen, she loves to travel with her pet bunny Pancake and spend time with family and friends.
Senior Account Executive, The Variable
Chiedza has a passion for marketing and advertising. Born and raised in Winston-Salem, she always knew that she wanted a long-lasting relationship with the city and its vibrant community. After graduating from college, she worked in the marketing department of a clinical research start-up headquartered in the Innovation Quarter. She is now a Senior Account Executive at The Variable. She volunteers as an advisory board member for Winston Under 40, as vice president of the Winston-Salem Urban League Young Professionals, and as a member of the Junior League of Winston-Salem. Chiedza also enjoys spending time with her husband, trying out new recipes and restaurants, and listening to podcasts.
Director of Strategic Initiatives, The Winston-Salem Foundation
Andrea Hulighan is The Winston-Salem Foundation’s director of strategic initiatives, working to advance the Foundation’s grantmaking and programmatic activities for the Black Philanthropy Initiative, the Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, and Youth Grantmakers in Action. Andrea earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and Religion from Salem College and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. She has volunteered with several community organizations over the years including Girls on the Run, the YMCA NWNC’s English as a Second Language program, Crosby Scholars, and The Forsyth Promise. Andrea loves spending time with her extended family, and she enjoys going on fun mini-adventures with her husband and two young children.
Licensed Therapist & Owner of Knew Era Consulting
Brandon Lowe is an LCMHC (Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor) and LCAS (Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist) licensed therapist in Winston Salem and the triad area. He has been providing behavioral health services to the community since 2006 and founded Knew Era Consulting in 2015. Knew Era Consulting collaborates with many local hospitals, doctor’s offices, insurance providers, Veterans Affairs, Winston Salem Forsyth County Schools, universities, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, and nonprofits to provide the community with high-quality behavioral health services in both English and Spanish. Brandon is a graduate of UNC Greensboro and NC A&T State University.
Operations & Partnerships Manager, Love Out Loud
Liz has worked with Love Out Loud since 2016 – where she fell in love with connecting people all over the city with their deep passions. She spends her time building and maintaining relationships with over 300 local nonprofits and helping facilitate Pathways – an initiative to help volunteers find their purpose – find their passion – find their place in service in the community; and manages marketing, operations, and communication platforms. She holds a deep passion for efficiency in operations and helping grassroots programs/nonprofits engage more deeply into their passion areas and streamline back-office work through Love Out Loud’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program. Liz also volunteers with Latino Community Services, PRAVA NC, Unity Wellness Center, and the Junior League of Winston-Salem. She is a former ECU Pirate with a bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communications. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management at UNC-Greensboro.
Choice Neighborhood Initiative Project Manager, City of Winston-Salem
Hasani has a passion for community and business development and addressing social issues resulting from deep-rooted problems that require systemic change. Hasani has focused his career and education around social and economic mobility for underrepresented communities. He is a double-Ram, with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Winston-Salem State University. Hasani collaborates with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s local implementation partners, civic leaders, and community groups on a neighborhood revitalization effort in the Northeast community of Winston-Salem. He is an active member of the Kate B. Reynolds Local Impact Advisory Council, Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County Schools Equity Advisory Committee, and the Minority Business Enterprise Entrepreneurial Advisory Committee. Hasani loves to travel and relax with his wife Alexia and three kids.
Kasem Rodriguez Mohsen
Founding Partner, Equilibrium Impact Ventures
CEO, Bustelo Group
Kasem is a data scientist, author, speaker, equity advocate and a three-time exited social entrepreneur. He is currently a Founding Partner at Equilibrium Impact Ventures, a firm that designs and manages experimental funding vehicles to support sustainable social impact and which allocates two-thirds of its investments to underestimated entrepreneurs (namely, Black, brown and women founders). Kasem is also CEO of Bustelo Group, a conglomerate of entities focused on supporting Black, brown and women entrepreneurs through community-building, education, network amplification and angel investment. Kasem was a fellow in the inaugural Builders + Backers Fellowship Program, a member of the Leadership Winston-Salem 2022 cohort and currently serves as a mentor and entrepreneurship educator for Flywheel Foundation, an investor and accelerator director for The Come Up by HUSTLE, and as a board member of Winston-Salem MIXXER Makerspace.
Senior Commercial Banker, Triad Business Bank
Fuller Parham is a Senior Commercial Banker with Triad Business Bank where he focuses on creating solutions for the banking needs of locally owned businesses and real estate professionals in the Winston Salem and greater Triad area. Beyond banking, Fuller volunteers as a Business Mentor for the Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech where he works with entrepreneurs and small business owners who are looking to launch or grow a new business. Additionally, Fuller currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce and is the Finance Chair for Westlawn School’s Board of Directors. Fuller graduated with a BS in Finance/Banking from Appalachian State University in 2004 and completed the full-time MBA Program at Wake Forest University in 2011 with a concentration in Finance. Outside of his community involvement and work as a Commercial Banker, Fuller enjoys exploring the world with his wife and their three young sons as well as playing golf with the little bit of time that’s left over.
Clinical Practice Manager, ABC of NC Child Development Center
Darlene Steele is the Clinical Practice Manager on the Executive Team at ABC of NC Child Development Center, a nonprofit school and clinic committed to providing high-quality behavioral health services to children with Autism. Darlene is active in the community as a member of Zeta Phi Beta, Sorority Inc., the NAACP Winston-Salem Branch, The National Society of Leadership & Success, and the Top Ladies of Distinction Inc., Winston Salem Chapter. Darlene holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Development and Leadership from Fielding Graduate University and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resource from Southern New Hampshire University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Organizational Development & Change with a concentration in Inclusive Leadership for Social Justice at Fielding Graduate University.
Photo Credit: Darrick J. King
Joy Nelson Thomas
Founder & Executive Director, LEAD Girls
Joy Nelson Thomas is the Founder and Executive Director of LEAD Girls. Joy holds a B.A from Salem College and is a certified Life Coach through an ICF (International Coach Federation) recognized institution. She also is certified in safe-talk and suicide prevention. Joy’s ‘why’ in life is: “impact every girl that comes in her life in some way.” Joy has been selected as a 2021 Triad Business Journal C-Suite winner, 2018 Women of the Year through ABWA (American Business Women’s Assoc.), a 2019 Wonder Woman of the Year through Yes! Weekly, given “Hidden Figure Recognition” by The Acey Group and featured in many publications. She serves on boards/committees of the African American Leadership Society; the Clinical Translational Science Institution at WFU School of Medicine; Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods; Association of Fundraising Professionals; and Winston-Salem Fashion week. When Joy is not working to change a girl, a community and the world, she’s spending time with her husband Jasper and her son JT.
Photo credit: Alyson Rorem, Jasper & Fern
Recruitment & Onboarding Supervisor, Novant Health Medical Group
Michelle Thomas is a native of Winston-Salem, N.C. She has over twenty-two years of healthcare experience as a leader, connector, relationship builder, mentor, and patient advocate with Novant Health. Currently, Michelle serves as a recruitment and onboarding supervisor for the Novant Health Medical Group. For her outstanding impact in provider engagement and recruitment in the neurosciences and psychiatry institute, Michelle was awarded Clinic Administrator Rookie of the Year 2018. She is active in her community volunteering with multiple health initiatives such as vaccination sites, health fairs, and philanthropic programs. She is an active supporter of the United Way of Forsyth County, Bethesda Center for the Homeless, Trellis Supportive Care of Forsyth County and the American Heart Association. She is a proud member of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church where she serves as a greeter. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration graduating Cum Laude from East Carolina University. When Michelle isn’t recruiting, she enjoys walking her bichon poodle Myles, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.