Lorie Clark, High School Specialist & Youth Leadership Institute (YLI)
Lorie Clark has been the high school specialist for BRMA since January 2002. She is also the service advisor to the Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute, and the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN). She believes the work she does with the program is her life’s work. What she finds most rewarding is being able to provide opportunities for high school students and seeing students flourish, grow, and live to their potential.
Lorie was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is a graduate of Chapel Hill High School and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Lorie worked in commercial and public broadcasting for over 15 years. Lorie has served on several boards including The Women’s Center of Chapel Hill, Teens Climb High Advisory Board, the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, and the Board of Christian Education at First Baptist Church. She enjoys photography and traveling, and being a mom to her sons Landon and Jamaal.
Granvel Johnson, Elementary and Middle School Support
Granvel Johnson, M.A. is the New Match Support Specialist for BRMA. Prior to joining the team, he served in leadership and supportive roles with mentoring organizations in Durham, Raleigh, and Los Angeles. He is interested in helping individuals increase their capacity to embrace life’s opportunities, which he believes is essential to success in every area of life. His motto is, “It might not be my fault that it is broken, but it is my responsibility to help fix it.” There is no other way he wishes to spend his life than working in the field of youth empowerment and advocacy.
Although he is a native of Los Angeles, his heart now belongs to North Carolina. Granvel says, “The Triangle has the best of everything… great cultural opportunities, a world-class educational system, and unspoiled natural beauty.” Before moving to NC in 2007, he worked in information technology for twenty years. He earned a B.A. degree from Vanguard University of Southern CA, and his M.A. degree at Duke University. He is a published author, and he enjoys photography and nature hikes.
Carla Smith, Parent Involvement Specialist & Parent University
Carla Smith is the Parent Involvement Specialist for Parent University. Carla’s passion is education; it’s not just her career. Prior to joining the team at BRMA, she has been a parent advocate, school administrator, and teacher.
A native of Salisbury, North Carolina, she received her B.A. in Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill; Middle Grades Teaching Certification from Catawba College; and a Masters in School Administration from UNC-Charlotte. A North Carolina certified school administrator and classroom teacher with nearly 19 years of experience in public school education and parental education/training, she plans to complete a Doctorate in Education with a focus on providing multicultural/diversity training for parents and school staff with the goal of improving home-school relationships and the education of African-American males.
Carla considers parenting her most challenging and awarding venture. Carla and her husband Johnny are the parents of two young men, Jonathan and Cameron.
Michelle Kim, Americorps Member (High School Support)
Michelle is originally from Iowa but has lived in Carrboro, North Carolina for the past two years. She graduated from Grinnell College in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology before moving to North Carolina to work as a research technician at UNC Chapel Hill. She is excited to serve high school students in the community through Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate. Michelle especially enjoys tutoring students and providing support in their academic endeavors, but she is looking forward to learning more about how to best enable students to reach their full potential in all areas of their lives.
Nicola Zollinger, AmeriCorps Member (Middle School Support)
Nicola Zollinger is excited to join Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate as an AmeriCorps member (Middle School Support). She recently received her B.A. in Psychology and Women & Gender Studies from Lafayette College. As a student at Lafayette, Nicola worked extensively with unique and diverse populations, which allowed her to develop a number of comprehensive counseling, guidance, and tutoring techniques. With a passion to serve others, she strongly believes in the welfare of each individual, and upholds the belief that every person should have the opportunity to thrive academically.
Mandy Monroe, AmeriCorps Member (Elementary School Support)
Mandy Monroe joined North Carolina Literacy Corps in 2015 to serve with Communities in Schools of Orange County at McDougle Middle School and is excited to serve a second year – this time with Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate! She came to NCLC after receiving an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida. While studying she worked as an outreach assistant for the Center for Latin American Studies helping coordinate professional development opportunities for K-12 educators. Her thesis research sought to understand how children in an indigenous community in Oaxaca, Mexico learn about plants and animals in an emerging bicultural education system. She holds a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College and spent three years volunteering as an environmental educator for AmeriCorps in northern California and Peace Corps in coastal Ecuador. Born by the sea and raised in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, Mandy feels most at home in outdoor settings and enjoys sharing her curiosity and playfulness about our natural surroundings with kids of all ages.
Rebecca Datus, Social Work Intern
Traveler of the East Coast, Rebecca Datus is from Naples, FL, obtained her B.A. in Sociology at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, and is currently a second (and final) year MSW student at UNC. Throughout her undergraduate career, she held various club leadership positions and was very involved in her community, leading her to obtain Skidmore’s SGA Senior Leadership Award. She has worked with youth in a variety of settings. She treasures her experience with Naples’ Grace Place for Children and Families, which utilized a holistic approach to addressing children’s educational needs, and she recently enjoyed assisting in coordinating Orange County’s Volunteers for Youth mentoring program as a social work intern. For personal enjoyment, Rebecca sings, dances, and writes and has integrated these creative interests into her work with youth. Rebecca hopes to someday be involved in child and education policy work and community development and is excited to be assisting with BRMA this school year.