Board of Directors

About Our Board

Student U’s Board of Directors oversees our financials, provides expertise and strategy to ensure Student U is financially sound and focused on our mission. With staggered terms, each year several Board Members roll off and new Board Members join. Student U intentionally attracts new ideas and expertise to the Board each year.

Vernetta Alston

Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives

Vernetta Alston

Vernetta is a North Carolina native. She received her B.A. in Political Science from North Carolina State University in 2004 and a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law in 2009.

Vernetta practiced criminal law for several years, primarily at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, North Carolina.

In 2017, she was elected to the Durham City Council. She served on the council for 2 years before being appointed to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2020. She was elected to her first full term in the House in November 2020.

Vernetta and her wife, Courtney Alston, are raising their two children, Reese and Davis, in southwestern Durham County.

Kristin Miller Clauson

Director of Corporate Partnership Development for Share Our Strength and the No Kid Hungry campaign

Kristin Miller Clauson

Kristin Miller Clauson is proud to be a Durham native and Durham Public Schools graduate, back again as she raises her own family. In her professional life, she is the Director of Corporate Partnership Development for Share Our Strength and the No Kid Hungry campaign, a national nonprofit ending childhood hunger in America.

In this role, she's responsible for building innovative partnerships with corporations to raise funds and awareness to move the No Kid Hungry mission forward. At home in Durham, she enjoys being active outdoors, cooking and eating, and is devoted to her family and friends.

"From its founding, Student U has been an unwavering source of hope and inspiration in my life. Student U, its leaders, and its students prove that it is possible to be both ambitious and expansive in our dreams for the future, while also homing a clear-eyed focus on a single individual, a single accomplishment, a single change today… all with the power to ensure our community flourishes tomorrow."

Victoria Chavis

Program Director for Duke College Advising Corps Program

Victoria Chavis

Victoria works with recent Duke graduates and the National College Advising Corps to increase college access and enrollment in North Carolina. Services provided include application assistance, help with applying for financial aid, help with applying for housing, and more. Prior to joining Duke, Victoria led a college-transition program and first-generation college student support at the UNC-Chapel Hill. She has experience in admissions, peer mentoring, and was a college adviser at Purnell Swett High School from 2014-2016. Victoria is a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and a first-generation college graduate from Maxton, North Carolina.

Victoria earned both her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degree in Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University.

Pablo Friedmann

Director of the Durham Public Schools Multilingual Resource Center

Pablo Friedmann

Pablo Friedmann is a former Student U high school math teacher and grade head. Friedmann serves as the Director of Durham Public Schools’ Multilingual Resource Center. Friedmann is, also, a member at-large on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs.

Dr. Iwinosa Idahor

Student Equity, Engagement and Opportunity Coordinator for Durham Public Schools

Dr. Iwinosa Idahor

As the Student Equity, Engagement and Opportunity Coordinator for Durham Public Schools she primarily provides support and facilitates additional professional learning for boys/girls of color programs (We Are KINGS/We Are QUEENS) and coordinators across the district. Along with supporting coordinators, in collaboration with various stakeholders, she also supports the design/development, implementation and evaluation of equity-focused initiatives that centers students from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups. Her myriad of experiences with students spans over 10 years and includes work at the K-12 and college levels, in traditional and non-traditional settings. Iwinosa is dedicated to amplifying the voices and experiences of students through (counter)narratives, advocacy and creating/cultivating spaces and access to meaningful, impacting opportunities and resources. She hopes that her work and impact will lead to equitable and optimal educational experiences and outcomes for students and their families.

Iwinosa is a Student U teacher alumni and received her B.S. in Middle Grades, her M.Ed. in Counselor Education, and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development from NC State University.

D’atra Jackson

National Director of Black Youth Project 100

D’atra Jackson

Born and raised in Southwest Philly, she moved to Durham from Miami. While attending FIU, she became active at the height of the murder of Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman verdict with an organization called Dream Defenders, founding the FIU chapter.

She is the Co-Founder of the Durham Chapter of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100). Dee Dee has had her hand in efforts and actions such as bringing Participatory Budgeting to Durham and #DurhamBeyondPolicing.

She is an aspiring movement DJ named DJ MerQueen Gangsta for the Revolution.

Zack Kaplan

Civil Rights Lawyer

Zack Kaplan

Zack Kaplan is a civil rights lawyer passionate about advancing education equity and racial justice in North Carolina. He previously served as a law clerk on the North Carolina Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, a Dellinger Fellow at the North Carolina Department of Justice, and a 5th grade teacher at Maureen Joy Charter School in Durham. Zack joined the Student U community as a Summer Academy teacher in 2014 and has done his best to stick around ever since. He attended UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke Law School, and lives with his wife and two puppies in Durham.

Nicole Kendall

Student U Parent and Early Childhood Educator and Caretaker

Nicole Kendall

Student U Parent and Early Childhood Educator and Caretaker

Daniel Kimberg

Director of Strategy and Operations for NC Integrated Care for Kids (NC InCK)

Daniel Kimberg

Dan serves as the Director of Strategy and Operations at NC Integrated Care for Kids where he strives to improve health and well-being outcomes for Medicaid-insured children and youth through work across numerous systems (food, housing, behavioral health, schools and early childhood). Prior to joining NC InCK, Dan worked in and around schools for a decade as a part of Student U in Durham, and then supported cities around the country in developing strategies to combat housing instability through racial reconciliation and equity-based policy reform. Dan has a Master’s degree in “Social Justice and Childhood Ethics” from Union Theological Seminary and graduated from Duke with a Bachelor of Arts in a degree he created titled “Advocating for Educational Reform through Policy and Practice.”

Virginia Lee

Dr. Virginia Lee

A professional educator with a forty-year commitment to fostering holistic human development for all students . From 2005-2018 Virginia was principal and senior consultant of her own consulting firm, specializing in teaching, learning and assessment in higher education. She served as President (2007-2010) of the POD Network in Higher Education, the largest professional organization for educational developers in higher education in North America. Previously she was an administrator at centers for teaching and learning at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University where she was also an adjunct faculty member.

Virginia received her B.A. cum laude, Smith College; M.B.A ., Stern School, New York University ; and Ph.D., School of Education, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Alyzia McAlmon

Student U Alumna and Equity and Youth Empowerment Manager, Americorps VISTA with the Durham Public Schools Foundation

Alyzia McAlmon

Alyzia is a former Student U Student from the first graduating class of 2014. She has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Political Science from East Carolina University. After graduating from ECU, she returned to Durham where she served as the A.J Fletcher Community Engagement Fellow with Duke’s Office of Durham Affairs from March 2017-2018.

Alyzia is currently serving as the Equity and Youth Empowerment Manager, Americorps VISTA with the Durham Public Schools Foundation. In this role, she is supporting the creation of the organization’s Youth Advisory Council, developing training materials and helping launch the equity mapping process for Durham Public Schools.

In her spare time, she travels the world to experience life from a different perspective.

She has now settled in North Durham and aspires to go back to school to receive a Masters of Social Work. She plans to further advocate for disadvantaged students of color in Durham as a Social Worker.

Jason Mundy

Director of Diversity, Equity and Engagement at Durham Academy

Jason Mundy

Over the course of a 26-year career in education, he has been a classroom teacher, college counselor, dean of students, diversity practitioner, and spent a decade as a high school principal. Jason founded the Colorado Diversity Network as a statewide effort to train teachers and school administrators around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. His past board work with the Breakthrough Collaborative, and The Challenge Foundation has focused on equal access of educational opportunity.

Jason received his B.A. in History from Duke University in 1996 and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University in 2006.

Leslie Person

Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor at Pinnacle Financial Partners

Leslie Person

He has over 18 years of experience in financial services, but first moved to financial center management with Bank of America after 17 years as a retail manager; including a start in larger format stores before moving to the drugstore industry during the height of consolidation through mergers and acquisitions. Today, Leslie provides guidance to small business owners that helps them gain the confidence, resources, and skills needed to follow through with their business plans and long-term financial goals.

Leslie received his B.A. in Psychology and Business Administration from East Carolina University. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Carolina Small Business Development Fund.

Donnell Rini-Swyers

Tax Director, White & Case LLP

Donnell Rini-Swyers

Tax Director, White & Case LLP

Shruti Shah

Partner at Symphonic Capital

Shruti Shah

Shruti Shah is partner at Symphonic Capital, a pre-seed investment fund for early stage startups. Previously, she was an entrepreneur in residence at Nike and advisor, investor, and consultant to a handful of startups. She also worked as Entrepreneur in Residence at Silicon Valley Bank, where she worked with the early stage practice team on strategic partnerships and coached a handful of entrepreneurs.

She was previously the co-founder and COO of Y Combinator backed Move Loot, an online full-service marketplace for buying and selling used furniture, where she led national expansion and general business operations. Over the course of three years, she and her co-founding team raised $22 million dollars to scale the business across the United States. Move Loot was featured in numerous publications including Forbes, TechCrunch, Bloomberg Business Week, CNN, TIME, Fortune and more.

Shruti was honored by Forbes as a 2016 30 Under 30 recipient in Retail and E-Commerce and the Aspen Institute as an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar in reimagining capitalism. Prior to co-founding Move Loot, Shruti worked for the New Schools Venture Seed Fund, a seed fund that invests in early-stage education technology companies, and she was also a public school teacher in Baltimore, through Teach for America, where she taught 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade at Graceland Park O'Donnell Heights Elementary Middle School.

Shruti earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Entrepreneurship from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and she earned her Master of Science in Education with a focus on Urban Education from Johns Hopkins University.

Chantal Stevens

Executive Director at ACLU of North Carolina

Chantal Stevens

Chantal serves as the Executive Director of the ACLU of NC, after working in education for 20 years prior, first at the university level at CUNY and the City College of New York, and then moving to nonprofits where she first served as the National Director of Programs at A Better Chance. She left A Better Chance after a decade to become the Executive Director of The GO Project and in 2017, she joined Oliver Scholars as the Interim CEO.

Chantal tried out being an entrepreneur, running a small, one-woman consultancy, through which she worked with education focused nonprofit organizations on strategy, systems and process creation for finance, fundraising, Board development and programs before moving to Raleigh to work for the ACLU of NC.

An active member of her community, Chantal has served as a Board Member of St. Mark the Evangelist School for five years. For 13 years, she served as a volunteer fundraiser and Parent Chair for the Annual Fund of the Spence School. For 12 years, Chantal served as an Advisory Board Member of the National Partnership for Educational Access.

Lanita Wimerbly

DPS School Treasurer at Neal Middle School

Lanita Wimberly

She started her career in Information Technology where she worked on a variety of enterprise level software development projects in a variety of roles throughout the software development life cycle. After 22 years in IT and starting a small apparel personalization business, she made the transition into education where she started as a long-term substitute before taking a teaching position in the Exceptional Children’s department. After 6 years in the classroom, her love for math and new challenges led her to accept the position as Treasurer. Lanita is also the mother of 4 beautiful human beings that have been or are current DPS students with 2 that are currently enrolled in Student U. Next to her children, Lanita is most proud of her servant heart, volunteering whenever she has an opportunity to do so.

Lanita received her B.A. in Speech Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after graduating from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

Lauren Shor

Corporate Lawyer

Lauren Shor

Lauren is a former Student U summer academy teacher and advocate. Lauren graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies and later earned a Juris Doctor degree, both with High Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a corporate lawyer focusing on mergers and acquisitions and maintains a robust pro bono practice with a focus on asylum matters.

Dr. Kanecia Zimmerman

Physician at Duke University

Dr. Kanecia Zimmerman

Dr. Kanecia Zimmerman is a physician at Duke University with expertise in pediatric critical care medicine. She is also a researcher at the Duke Clinical Research Institute and has overseen multiple large, federally-funded research programs from the National Institutes of Health and the US Food and Drug Administration. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kanecia created the ABC Science Collaborative (ABC). ABC connected K-12 school districts and scientists across the country to ensure that school communities had the most accurate and up-to-date scientific information for decision-making about return to school and mitigation strategies. Kanecia’s work has led to changes in local, national, and international policy. Today, she continues her work with K-12 schools across the state, helping them use science to address longstanding and emerging needs.

Kanecia received her B.A. in History as well as an MPH and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received an M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine in 2007.

our community stories

The brilliance and successes of Student U’s community

Play Video

The Kendall Family

Play Video

Elijah & Ethan

Play Video

Elliot & Taryn

CONNECT

Get the latest updates within our community