StepUp Durham Board of Directors


John Wroton, Senior Vice President at Venture Banking at Pacific Western Bank, Board of Directors Chair

John Wroton is Senior Vice President, Venture Banking at Pacific Western Bank (formerly known as Square 1).  He manages a portfolio of venture capital backed companies spread across the U.S., assisting them with all of their banking needs.  Prior to joining Pacific Western Bank, John worked at locally-owned and operated Harrington Bank in Chapel Hill for 13 years before its acquisition by Bank of North Carolina (and subsequent acquisition by Pinnacle Bank).  At Harrington Bank, John led the bank’s risk management efforts, developing policies and procedures to ensure the bank met all lending regulatory guidelines.  He also served as a commercial loan officer, assisting many local small businesses and real estate investors with their banking needs and playing a large part in the revitalization efforts in downtown Durham.  He also worked at a local non-profit in Durham, UDI Community Development Corporation, for four years providing economic development, job training, and affordable housing to low and underserved communities in the area.  John has served in various leadership capacities on the boards of EmPOWERment, Inc. in Chapel Hill and Presbyterian Campus Ministry in Chapel Hill.  John received his undergraduate degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering from Duke University and his MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-CH.  He lives in Durham with his wife and three children.

Bob PhoenixVP of Finance & Administration for Crawford Sprinkler Company of Raleigh, Vice Chair

Bob Phoenix is currently the VP of Finance & Administration for Crawford Sprinkler Company of Raleigh. Prior to this role, he was the President of Leonhardt Pipe & Supply, a distributor and fabricator of fire sprinkler systems for commercial and residential buildings, which services fire sprinkler subcontractors all over the southeastern United States. He was born and raised in Raleigh, NC, where he grew up as a member of White Memorial Presbyterian Church. Mr. Phoenix has an Undergraduate Bachelor's Degree with a double major from UNC Chapel Hill in Business Administration and Music Performance. Bob has lived in Durham since 2007, though much of the time he traveled for work. His first few jobs were in sales, entrepreneurship, investment banking operations, small business finance, and management. Bob is currently the Director of the Brass Choir at White Memorial Presbyterian Church, a group of which he has been a member since 1999 as a Trombonist. Bob is also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh. Bob has engaged as a volunteer with Urban Ministries of Wake County, Band Together, Nourish International, Evolve Mentoring, and the American Fire Sprinkler Association Carolinas Chapter. His passion is understanding people's talents, building collaboration, and facilitating synergy among teams and has found ways to do that in business with his coworkers and in much of his volunteer work.

Rev. Marilyn Hedgpeth, Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Durham, Board Secretary

Originally from Charlotte, NC., Marilyn Hedgpeth has served as Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Durham since 2003.  She and her husband, Hedge, previously served as co-pastors in West Virginia.  They have three grown children and two grandsons.  Marilyn has served on the boards of the FPC Dayschool since 2003, and on the board of Durham's Partnership for Children.  She holds a BA degree from Salem College in Winston-Salem, and an MDiv degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.  Marilyn has been involved in Step-Up Durham since its inception, and enjoys cooking meals for its weekly training sessions.

Thomas Wicker, Clinical Content Analyst at McKesson Specialty Health Technology, Personnel Committee Chair

Thomas is a Clinical Content Analyst for clinical decision support (CDS), specializing in oncology and responsible for developing and maintaining content for Clear Value PlusSM and other CDS tools. He is a member of the team that received an Excellence in Service award from McKesson (Dec. 2018). Thomas has past experience in HIV/ID CDS and in medical education simulation. Formerly a team ScrumMaster and coach for CDS content, he has presented on agile and is an invited speaker/panelist for Agile panel discussions. Going back further, Thomas managed a Regulatory Affairs consulting group and provided business development for PAREXEL, provided substantial in-service training to professionals in several roles across organizations. Thomas was also a public-school teacher, first as part of Teach for America, and then in local schools. Thomas’ main passions are named Isabella and Abigail, his two daughters. In his free time, Thomas volunteers as a tutor at the Latino Educational Advancement Project. 

Dan BrennerRetired Educator

Dan Brenner started his career as a Medical Photographer at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His education career began in 1982 at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, where he taught courses in Commercial Photography, Photo Science and Media. He later went on to teach TV Production, Video and Digital Film Production at Eastern Suffolk BOCES. He was an adjunct Instructor at New York Institute of Technology and Five Towns College. He has an A.A.S  from RIT, a BA from NYIT and a MA from NYIT. In addition to his work with StepUp Durham, he volunteers with Partners for Youth Opportunity. He is the proud grandfather of Ben, Reece, and Zach.

Thelma Thomas, Vice President Market Leader at BB&T Bank

Thelma Thomas has worked in the banking industry for more then 20 years, most recently with BB&T Bank as a Vice President Market Leader.  Thelma has a great passion for volunteering and teaching financial literacy in her local communities.  She studied Biology at Bowie State University. She and her husband live in Creedmoor with their twin boys. 

Diana Nickole Graham, Founder/CEO of DNG Speaks

Diana Nickole Graham (DNG), MPA, MBA, approaches society, United States and abroad, with a desire to aid others in their path to self discovery and success.  Academically earning a Master’s in Business Administration, Master's degree in Public Administration, preceded by a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and an Associate of Arts in General Studies all with Honors. Ms. Graham is honorably discharged from the United States Army North Carolina National Guard and was deployed in 2005 as a Battalion - level Patient Administrator during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Through entrepreneurship DNG continues to serve as a premium serial proprietor and prime federal contractor; her consulting firm, Crowned for Success Global Consulting, LLC focuses on Administration (Virtual Assistant Services), Process Creation / Improvement, and Veteran Advocacy inclusive of extensive trainings and facilitation on numerous subject matters. DNG Speaks, comprised of Coaching, is another company that exist to provide personal effectiveness through development, creating an atmosphere to Be the Best You! Additional fulfillment as Professor Graham at Apex School of Theology via main campus lectures, online instruction, Directed Studies orchestration and facilitation, along with advising and expanding boundaries as Adjutant at North Carolina Wesleyan College, Aspire. DNG is also a published author, her first book is entitled Duly Noted.  This publication is noted as a self-help / improvement for assessing where one is and moving forward. 'It's your life, do something with it.' 

Cheryl Hodge, Manager of Cash Payables and Management at NC Mutual Life Insurance Company

Cheryl Hodge, CTP started her career at Clemson University and currently works as Manager of Cash Payables and Management at North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.  She is a member of White Oak Missionary Baptist Church in Apex, and serves in many capacities.  She serves as a financial assistant for the White Oak Foundation, Inc. ,  Treasurer for the Greater Durham Black Chamber of Commerce and Bookkeeper for The Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham.  Cheryl lives in Durham with her husband and is a proud bonus mom to three boys and one grandson. She loves working with children, especially teenagers and firmly believes that giving is so much better than receiving.

Nancy GriggElder at Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church

Nancy Grigg is originally from Wilmington, Delaware. She got her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and then worked at DuPont in engineering development for several years. After earning her MBA from Duke University, she moved into Human Resources work with Nortel, focusing on organizational development, team building, and executive coaching.  While at home raising her three children, Nancy has been involved in volunteer capacities at her church, Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church in Durham, where she is currently serving as an elder. She enjoys working on Blacknall’s local ministries team, and has taken an active role in raising awareness and volunteer participation in StepUp Durham. In all her endeavors, her passion is connecting people to resources and to each other.

Tommy Green, Lead Community Health Worker at Orange County Health Department

Tommy Green, CHW, NCPSS, is the Lead Community Health Worker for the NC Formerly Incarcerated Transitions program. He worked as the Assistant Operations Manager for McLaurin Parking Company before he began his work for the Orange County Health Department. Tommy studied African American History and Biomedical Research at the University of North Carolina and is currently enrolled in Walden University’s Bachelor of Science in Psychology program. Mr. Green was born in Oxford, NC and raised in Durham, NC where he currently resides with his wife.

Betty-Renee Nottage, Chef at Durham Regional Hospital and Owner of INGRAM'S IMAGE Catering

Betty-Renee is a native of Clinton, NC and currently residing in Durham, NC. She spent a large portion of her adult life overseas in Europe and Asia starting at the age of 18. She is a proud mother of a 17, 13 and a 4 year old. She is a former military spouse of 10 years and she obtained an AAS Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality, a BSBA Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and an accredited Chef Certification. She has had the privilege of studying abroad learning foreign languages, literature and culture. While overseas she discovered her love for the culinary arts and completely submerged herself upon returning to the United States. After a tough part in her life, Betty-Renee found and regained her confidence through various programs like StepUp Durham. Betty-Renee is a StepUp Graduate and proud to be the first graduate to be voted onto the StepUp Board of Directors.

Gregory Bellamy, Dean of College and Career Readiness at Durham Technical Community College

Gregory Bellamy is currently the Dean of College and Career Readiness at Durham Technical Community College. Prior to becoming Dean, Mr. Bellamy served for 10 years as Program Director for Workplace and Corrections Education. He managed programs that were designed to use customized or modified basic skills curriculum based on employer needs and the skill level of students. Simultaneously, he managed all basic skills courses taught in local, state and federal correctional facilities. Before joining Durham Tech, Mr. Bellamy was an instructor at Vance-Granville Community College for several years and taught basic skills courses at two state correctional facilities. He received his B.S. from Nova Southeastern University, his MPA from North Carolina Central University, and is ABD at North Carolina State University. Although he is an Air Force Veteran, Mr. Bellamy has a passion for boating. He recently volunteered as a member of the US. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He enjoys helping others realize their own potential and seeing the best in themselves. Mr. Bellamy was raised in Durham in the Southside/St. Theresa community and now resides in Roxboro, with his wife Angela. He has two adult children and one grandson.    

Prashant Sheth, Certified Public Accountant

Prashantkumar Sheth (PK), MBA, LLM, CPA, CGMA is an accomplished Financial Executive and a Global Tax Expert. PK relocated to Durham in March, 2018. He has 20 plus years of experience in working with Global corporations, including many Fortune 500 Companies. PK is an Ex-Partner with a Big Four Accounting Firm. PK is a sought after Coach and Mentor and has served on various ethnicity/diversity initiatives with global organizations. PK believes in adding value to the community that contributes to his life and in that spirit has served on many not-for profit boards in the past. PK's passion is to motivate the younger generation and help them lead to a successful life through clarity of vision, planning, discipline and execution.

Antwan Lofton, Assistant Vice President of Staff/Labor Relations/Family Programs for Duke University and Duke Univ. Health System

Dr. Antwan Lofton currently serves as the Assistant Vice President of Staff and Labor Relations/Staff and Family Programs for Duke University and Duke University Health System. He has oversight for developing program initiatives and provide services to all employees to improve the quality of the work environment. Dr. Lofton is committed to supporting a positive work environment across the entire Duke community. He believes that a healthy and successful organization relies upon the mental and physical well-being of our employees and their families. To that end, his department provides resources and programs to support managers and employees in achieving a healthy and highly functional workplace through: coordinating services and programs to facilitate work-life balance; tracking and bench-marking key indicators of work life quality, staff and customer satisfaction; providing meaningful opportunities to recognize and reward staff achievements. Antwan previously served as the Senior Director for Equal Employment Opportunity and Employee Relations at Howard University/Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC. In this Lofton was responsible for the management of eight unions between the University and Hospital. He was involved in all major employee relations cases as well as providing oversight of the University and Hospital's Affirmative Action Plan.