50 inspirational women leaders in the Triangle

50 inspirational women in the triangle

After conducting market research and receiving peer nominations, our firm has compiled a list of 50 women in the Raleigh-Durham area that we find most inspiring. Not only do these 50 inspirational women hold some of the top jobs in the state, but they also give their time in service to non-profits supporting and empowering the women of North Carolina. Spanning multiple industries – biopharma, education, technology, human services, hospitality, culinary experience…, these women inspire and influence change in our community by molding the future of RDU.

DeLisa Alexander

After an impressive tenure in executive leadership at Red Hat, DeLisa now serves other local businesses, sharing her skills and expertise as a consultant, advisor, and leadership coach. She serves as Board Advisor for local venture capital firms and sits on the Board of Directors for several local nonprofit organizations.

Beth serves as the Executive Director of the Hill Learning Center, a nonprofit organization based in Durham that serves K-12 students who are struggling academically with student and educator programs. In addition to her position at the Hill Center, she serves on the board of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, which she co-founded at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

Founded in the early 2000s, Brooks Bell’s namesake company was on the cutting edge of the digital marketing age. She helps company executives use research, data, and insights to help optimize their customer and team experiences. In addition, she is a proven leader, teacher, speaker, and moderator, and currently serves as a Board member for the CDC Foundation.

Marcy Bourne
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Marcy has made her passion a career, working tirelessly to ensure human rights to all humans as the Chief Development Officer of Amnesty International USA. In addition to her role at Amnesty, Marcy volunteers with RDU’s local refugee resettlement agency and community food bank.

As CEO of Brancu & Associates, Dr. Brancu supports emerging and under-represented women leaders and entrepreneurs realize their full potential.

Nimasheena Burns
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Nimasheena is the Vice-Chairman Of The Board, Durham Joint City-County Planning Commission. In addition, she sits on several non-profit boards including the Foundation Board of Directors for the North Carolina Community College System.

Tina Caul

Tina works with local residential buyers and sellers to realize their real estate goals as the founder of Caul Group Residential powered by eXp Realty.

Ashley Christensen
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Ashley is the chef and entrepreneur behind AC Restaurants, a collection of Raleigh restaurants including an event company. A two-time James Beard award winner, Ashley is also active outside of her business supporting local and regional charities, many of which support the restaurant and culinary industries.

Karen Clark
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Karen an experienced and versatile HR executive, is the Chief People Officer at Viably, the first all-in-one banking, funding, and intelligence app for small businesses. Karen finds success by being a strong developer of teams and talent within organizations.

Adrienne Cole
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Adrienne oversees the Triangle’s largest business membership organization as President and CEO of The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. With more than 2,200 member firms representing two-thirds of the private sector employment in Wake County, The Chamber supports the interests of the local business community.

Susan Cook
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Susan brings decades of experience in data systems to lead Zaloni, an innovative approach to solve their clients’ data and analytic needs.

Valerie Currin
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

With almost 20 years at Boom Edam, Valerie is currently serving as their President and Managing Director, ensuring Boom’s vast array of secure and versatile products meet customer expectations.

Kathryn Dunn
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

As a former educator and mom to young kids, Kathryn realized a need for a streamlined collection of resources for parents. The Nurtured Nest offers on-demand classes backed by research covering topics for parenting newborns to school-aged children.

Cindy Eckert
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

As a successful entrepreneur herself, Cindy strives to help other women rise to the top by supporting female-owned fledgling businesses. The Pink Ceiling seeks out women-owned businesses doing groundbreaking work in healthcare and helps them secure the best outcome possible. As CEO of Sprout Pharmaceuticals, she has successfully brought to market ‘female Viagra’.

Robin Famiglietti

An innovative healthcare executive, Robin is the Associate Vice President and Assistant Dean at the Duke Cancer Center. She brings extensive healthcare experience to the job which she has held since 2019. In addition, she consults healthcare clients as the President of RMF Advisors.

Alice Garland
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Former Executive Director of the North Carolina Education LotteryAlice is the Former Executive Director of the North Carolina Education Lottery. During her tenure of over a decade, she increased the popularity of the lottery program in North Carolina and helped earmark over $660 million in earnings for education. She now sits on several boards including the SPCA of Wake County.

Megan Gillikin
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Megan is the owner of A Southern Soiree, a wedding event planning business. She has leveraged her knowledge to create The Planners Vault, a new business model providing consulting services to other wedding businesses. In addition, she is the host and producer of the podcast, Weddings for Real, providing actionable advice for industry pros.

As the owner of The Uncommon Collective, Ashlyn uses her keen eye for design to help create beautifully inviting spaces inside homes across the Raleigh-Durham area. Her work has been featured in local publications including Durham Magazine.

Amanda Hagood
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Owner and CEO of Amanda Hagood Agency, a State Farm affiliate – Amanda helps local clients manage risk and protect their personal and professional properties and assets.

Elaine Hofmann
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

A former Triangle area public school teacher, Elaine is the Principal of Apex High School in Wake County. Elaine brings a background of leadership in education having previously been a Vice-Principal and Principal in other area schools. 

Vivian Howard

Vivian is an award-winning cookbook author, tv personality, chef, and restaurateur. She prides herself on her greatest strengths: fearlessness, creativity enthusiasm, and humor. There is no doubt those traits have helped her find the success she has today.

Peyton Howell

Peyton took the position on the leadership team at the biopharmaceutical company, Parexel, in 2018. Parexel CEO, Jamie MacDonald was quoted in BusinessWire saying “Her strategic and operational skills will be a tremendous asset to PAREXEL as we continue to drive increased value and quality, as well as advance the company’s commercial efforts.”

Wendy John
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Wendy oversees Global Diversity & Inclusion at Fidelity Investments. She is responsible for creating a welcoming environment to attract top diverse talent to Fidelity to align with their reputation as an inclusive employer and service provider.  Wendy believes that “elevating diverse perspectives helps to create the best outcomes.”

Kara Lawson

Kara is a former WNBA player and Olympic Champion, now the head coach of Duke’s women’s basketball team. She played under historic coach Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee where she learned the importance of being mentally prepared in order to achieve success.

Daisy Lovelace
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Dr. Lovelace is an Associate Professor of the Practice covering management, and organizations at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Her course offerings include leadership, effective academic communication, and women in leadership. In addition to her position at Duke, Daisy is also supporting businesses as a corporate consultant and executive coach.

Lydia Luangruangrong, MD
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Dr. Luangruangrong serves as the Vice-Chair of the Emergency Medicine at Duke Regional Hospital. During her 5+ years as a physician on the front lines in the Emergency Department, she has served her patients with patient-centered care focused on quality over quantity.

Mary Martin
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Mary brings a career of healthcare experience to Duke Regional Hospital where she oversees all hospital operations at the 950+ bed facility. In addition to her role as COO, she leads the hospital’s COVID response team and serves as a board member for the Red Cross of Central North Carolina.

Ursula is the Founder and CEO of InHerSight, an online platform for women to discover insight about the companies they work for or exploring to work with. InHerSight gives women the opportunity to provide feedback, ask questions, and gather motivational insight to help them reach their goals.

Olivia Nadasan
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

In addition to her position at VMware, Olivia serves as President of SHE NC – Support, Honor, Empower, a non-profit supporting professional and personal development for women.

Judith Ng-Cashin
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

As Chief Medical Officer and Head of R&D, Dr. Ng Cashin oversees global research and development of Eagle Pharmaceuticals’ pipeline of innovative products. She is an active board member for Revibe Technologies and currently serving as Board Chair for DIA (Drug Information Association), an “international, nonprofit, multidisciplinary association that fosters innovation for improved health and well-being worldwide”.

Pamela Norley

Under Pamela’s leadership as president, Fidelity Charitable® donors granted $9.1 billion to 170,000 unique charities in 2020. In addition to her work at Fidelity Charitable, Pamela volunteers her time at many non-profits, including Points of Light where she serves as Vice-Chair.

Paige Ouimet

Paige is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Her research projects include income inequality and the juncture of finance and labor economics

Kendall Page
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Kendall, a native of Chapel Hill, is an experienced real estate attorney at Kendall H. Page PLLC in the Triangle area. She has over 30 years of experience with real estate law, estate planning, and probate law.

Mikki Paradis

In the male-dominated construction industry, Mikki is using her skills and expertise to make a difference from the top, doing it all as CEO and President of PDI Drywall.

Tracy Parham
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Tracy began her career over 30 years ago as a nurse at UNC Health. She later transitioned into a career in information technology. Since being named CIO of UNC Health in 2013, she has successfully combined her expertise in patient care and IT for the betterment of all those served.

Nina Parker
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

After 10 years working as an agent, Nina made her vision a reality by launching the Nina Parker Realty Group, a realtor group built by agents for agents. She inspires other agents to lead the charge of their own business, driving success for themselves and their families.

Michelle Proctor
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

In addition to her role at SAS, Michelle volunteers her time serving on the Board of several non-profits including Dress for Success, a local organization providing women tangible services to help empower them to move forward in their careers.

Nellie Scott
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Outside of her role as Senior Manager of North America Growth Markets at SAS, Nellie uses her talents as a speaker to volunteer at several local non-profits helping to empower and educate women in business.

Christy Shaffer
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Christy’s background in biopharma makes her a valued partner of Hatteras Venture Partners, a team working to build life science companies through investments in biomedical companies. She also donates her time to several local non-profits working to change the lives of the local population.

Lotta Sjoelin

Lotta saw a need in local women’s shelters for basic living items such as pillows. An interior designer by trade, Lotta had a vision for more. As Founder and CEO of A Lotta Love, a non-profit creating dignified home spaces for homeless and housing unstable women and children, Lotta has grown her vision and helped countless women and children feel safe and seen in local shelters.

Hiller Spires
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Dr. Hiller Spires is the Executive Director of The Friday Institute of Educational Innovation housed on NC State University’s campus. The Friday Institute’s mission is to advance K-12 education through innovation in the digital age. Dr. Spires is continuously learning research-based, best practices for digital literacy learning to advance education.

Zion Tankard
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Zion serves as Executive Director of Le Leche League International based in Raleigh. With a background in education, she leads a team that teaches the importance of breastfeeding. In addition, she is an active member of the community promoting a strong community and social justice. She is also currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education with a focus on Women’s History.

Cynthia Verst
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

As President of Design and Delivery Innovation at IQVIA, Dr. Verst is a leader in the biopharmaceutical industry. She was previously named one of the top women in biotech by FierceBiotech, an annual award that spotlights 15 female leaders in life sciences, academia, and regulatory roles.

Melissa Waller
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Melissa serves as President of the AIF Institute. She is the former Deputy Treasurer and Chief of Staff for the North Carolina Department of State. Melissa is the institute’s director of public & private partnerships. In addition, she serves as the Director of Public and Private Partnership for the Kenan Institute at UNC. and sits on several local boards.

Morgan Weston
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

A triangle native, Morgan serves as the Director of Marketing and Communication for Research Triangle Park. She supports RTP and its foundation by creating and delivering content to promote the work done by RTP, the United States’ largest research park.

Pam Whitaker
Briefcase Coach's 50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

Pam is the CEO of Key Resources, Inc., a staffing firm that she founded in 1997. Since its inception, Pam has worked to build a quality pool of candidates to help meet the needs of other businesses. She strives to increase clients’ productivity by providing a skilled workforce to meet their needs. In addition, she is a member of several local boards and civic organizations.

Wendy Woods
50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

A native of Raleigh, NC, Wendy grew up working in the restaurant industry and cooking with family at home. With more than 30 years of experience in the culinary industry and four thriving restaurants, Wendy is creating welcoming environments around culinary experiences through her leadership over Rocketship Restaurants

MaryJo Zaborowski
50 inspirational women in the Raleigh Durham area

MaryJo brings a background in research, development, analytics, and informatics to her role as the Chief Information Officer for biopharmaceutical company, Paraxel. MaryJo strives to lead her global teams to have a competitive advantage in the industry through innovation in technology and data science.

Jequette Zeigler

Jequette is the Founder of Above New Medians, a multipurpose platform for young entrepreneurs worldwide. They strive to connect young, fresh talent with a business plan and professional outlet to their next network and business opportunity.

Sophie Zhu

Working from Lonovo’s US Headquarters, Sophie helps fulfill Lenovo’s bold mission to deliver smarter technology to all as an Executive Director.

Sarah Johnston

Sarah Johnston is a former corporate recruiter and industry “insider” who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. She has relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and has had to execute job searches in completely cold markets. She has been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space, HR Weekly’s Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the “best resume writing firm for experienced executives” by Balance Careers and a “top follow” by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.

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