Staff

Senior Leadership Staff

Adam Eigenrauch

Chief Executive Officer
aeigenrauch@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x101

Adam has been with the Emily K Center since 2006. He first served in a program development role and moved into the position of executive director in 2010. Adam was promoted to Chief Executive Officer in 2022 as a nod to the organization’s increasing reach and impact. He earned his B.A. from Ithaca College and his M.Ed. from Penn State.

Favorite book: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Favorite late-night college snack: Pizza

Valerie Anderson, Ph.D.

Executive Director
vanderson@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x201

Valerie joined the Emily K Center as Chief Program Officer in 2017 and was promoted to Chief Impact Officer in 2022. Valerie transitioned to an Executive Director role in 2024. She earned her B.A. from Yale University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Duke University.

Favorite late-night college snack: Ramen, of course!
Best advice ever received about education: Get your education. Once you get it, no one can take it away from you. (Thanks, mom.)

Lauren Gardner

Chief Operating Officer
lgardner@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x102

Lauren began her career at the Emily K Center as an intern and moved into the role of Chief Operating Officer in 2006. She earned her B.S. from Georgetown University and her MBA from Duke University.

Favorite subject: Microeconomics
Favorite school supply: Folders. The more random, the better. (Space cats, anyone?)

Sandy York

Chief Advancement Officer
syork@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x301

Sandy York has been with the Emily K Center since 2017 in the role of Chief Advancement Officer. She earned her B.S. from Duke University and received an M.A. in Sports Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Favorite subject: Biology (science nerd here!)
Best advice ever received about education: College is a time to try new things.

Operations

Lauren Gardner

Chief Operating Officer
lgardner@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x102

Lauren began her career at the Emily K Center as an intern and moved into the role of Chief Operating Officer in 2006. She earned her B.S. from Georgetown University and her MBA from Duke University.

Favorite subject: Microeconomics
Favorite school supply: Folders. The more random, the better. (Space cats, anyone?)

ani Ibarra

ani joined the Emily K Center team in 2022 as the inaugural accounting associate. They earned their B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Favorite school supply: A blue inky pen – 0.5mm!
Favorite college course: Natural Resource Policy

Dave McKnight

Director of Facilities and Operations
dmcknight@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x103

Dave joined the Emily K Center in 2024 as the Director of Facilities and Operations. He earned his B.A. from Davidson College.

Favorite book: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
Favorite school supply: A graph paper notebook and a new pencil

Programming

General Programs

Nephitearya Bailey Singleton

Senior Director of Program Operations
nbailey@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x210

Nephitearya joined the Emily K Center team in 2019 as Director of Elementary and Middle School Readiness and was promoted to Senior Director of Program Operations in 2024. She earned her B.A. from Meredith College and was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow.

Favorite book: The Little Prince
Best advice ever received about education: Don’t measure your success by another person’s yardstick.

Amber Burgin-Brothers

Student Support and Resource Manager
aburgin@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x203

Amber joined the Emily K Center in 2021, serving as student support and resource manager. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from North Carolina Central University and received her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School.

Favorite late night college snack: Hot Pockets!
Best advice ever received about education: Never borrow money for school that your degree path will not afford you to pay back.

Daniel Yu

Data, Evaluation, and Impact Specialist
dyu@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x204

Daniel joined the Emily K Center in 2023 as the Data, Evaluation, and Impact Specialist. He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Economics at the University of Texas and his MBA at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. 

Favorite book: When by Daniel Pink
Best advice ever received about education: It’s not about being the best at everything. Figure out how you learn best and go at your own pace!

Pioneer Scholars

Patrice High

Director of Elementary and Middle School Readiness
phigh@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x226

Patrice joined the Emily K Center full-time in 2024 after working part-time as a Pioneer Scholars Lead Tutor from 2015-2017. She earned her undergraduate degree in African and Afro-American Studies from UNC and her MS in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Affairs from Kaplan University. 

Favorite school supply: Papermate Flair Pens
Favorite College Courses: Blacks in Film, Black Press & U.S. History

Pamela Gonzalez

Elementary and Middle School Program Manager
pgonzalez@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x 212

Pam joined the Emily K Center full time in September 2022. However, “Though I am new to the Pioneer Scholars program, I am not new to the Emily K Center. I am a proud alumni and graduate of the Scholars to College Class of 2016 cohort,” she says. Pam earned her B.A. in Psychology from Meredith College.

Favorite book: A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams
Favorite college course: Sociology of the Border

Scholars to College

Nikole Nickerson

Director of College Readiness
nnickerson@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x220

Nikole joined the Emily K Center team in May 2022 as our director of college readiness. Nikole is well-poised to guide our high school students on their paths to college, having received an undergraduate degree and Master of Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master of Public Administration from Clemson University. She is also currently pursuing her doctorate in education at Appalachian State University.

Favorite book: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Favorite school supply: Definitely a fresh new planner

Jaida Torain

College Readiness Counselor, Class of 2028
jtorain@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x221

Jaida joined the Emily K Center in 2024 as a College Readiness Counselor. She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from UNC Charlotte and will begin her graduate studies in Higher Education Administration at NC Central University in the fall of 2024.

Favorite college course: Positive Psychology
Favorite late night college snack: Motts Gummies

Joshua Crump

College Readiness Counselor, Class of 2027
jcrump@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x222

Joshua joined the Emily K Center in 2021 as a college readiness counselor. In this role, Joshua works closely with students in our 2025 Scholars to College cohort. A proud North Carolina Central University Eagle, Joshua earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the school.

Favorite book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Favorite college course: Diversity and Family Transition

Sergio Madera-Garcia

College Readiness Counselor, Class of 2026
smadera@emilyk.org
910-680-0424 x224

Sergio joined the Emily K Center full-time in 2024 and was previously a part-time Curriculum Specialist with Scholars to College. Sergio is a recent graduate of North Carolina State University where he earned his M.Ed in Higher Education.

Favorite late night college snack: Mangoes
Favorite school supply: Colored gel pens (especially the Sharpie kind)!

Ginny Larkin-Thorsen

College Readiness Counselor, Class of 2025
glarkinthorsen@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x223

Ginny began her role as college readiness counselor for the Emily K Center Scholars to College program in early 2022. She is currently working closely with the Class of 2022 as they make their college decisions. Ginny earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MPA from North Carolina State University.

Favorite late-night college snack: Frozen garlic bread
Favorite school supply: Notebooks and pens!

Shanice Green

Scholars to College Program Assistant
sgreen@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x225

Shanice joined the Emily K Center in September of 2021, serving as our Scholars to College program assistant. Shanice earned her undergraduate degree from North Carolina Central University and received her M.Ed. from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Favorite school supply: Colorful pens
Favorite late-night college snack: Peanut M&Ms

Scholars on Campus

Tommy Yandle

Director of College Success
tyandle@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x240

Tommy joined the Emily K Center team full-time in October 2022 after working part-time with the Center from 2016-2021. Tommy was the first in his family to complete a college degree after earning his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He then received his M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from North Carolina State University. 

Favorite book(s): Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
Favorite school supply: A fresh, new Moleskine journal

Kelsey Lam

College Success Advisor
klam@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x241

Kelsey joined our Emily K Center team in 2022 as a college success advisor with our Scholars on Campus program. A proud Durham Public Schools graduate, Kelsey went on to earn her B.S. from Appalachian State University and her M.Ed. from North Carolina State University.

Favorite college course: Leadership for Social Change
Favorite school supply: Planners!

Game Plan: College

Christina Villegas

Director of Postsecondary Access
cvillegas@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x230

Christina joined the Emily K Center in 2019 as a postsecondary access advisor with Game Plan: College, bringing more than five years of experience with direct college-access work in both urban and rural settings. Today, Christina oversees our Game Plan: College program as our director of postsecondary access. She earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Favorite late-night college snack: Hot Cheetos and coffee
Favorite subject: Math

Cindy Emelina Cortez

Postsecondary Access Advisor
ccortez@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x231

Cindy joined the Emily K Center and our Game Plan: College team during the summer of 2022. In her role as postsecondary access advisor, Cindy works closely with area high schools to help students identify and pursue their best-fit postsecondary options. Cindy earned her B.A. from East Carolina University.

Favorite book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Favorite college course: Gender in Gamer Culture and Abnormal Psychology

Ronicia James

Postsecondary Access Advisor
rjames@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x232

Ronicia joined the Emily K Center in 2024 as a Postsecondary Access Advisor. She is an alum of ECU, where she earned both a BA and Masters in Business Administration.

Favorite college snack: Snickers bar & Doritos
Favorite book: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Gordon Stanley

Postsecondary Access Advisor
gstanley@emilyk.org

Gordon joined the Emily K Center in 2023 as a Postsecondary Access Advisor. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology from Duke, as well as an M.Ed. and Ph.D in Counseling Psychology. Gordon has had a career in education as a university admissions director, college counseling director, and career counselor at several universities.

Favorite course: The Psychology of the Child in History and Literature
Best advice ever received about education: Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t (with credit to Bill Nye, the Science Guy)

Development

Sandy York

Chief Advancement Officer
syork@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x301

Sandy York has been with the Emily K Center since 2017 in the role of Chief Advancement Officer. She earned her B.S. from Duke University and received an M.A. in Sports Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Favorite subject: Biology (science nerd here!)
Best advice ever received about education: College is a time to try new things.

Beth Angle

Development Assistant
bangle@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x303

Beth joined the Emily K Center team in January 2022 and serves as our development assistant. She earned her B.A. (with a double major!) from Emory University.

Favorite school supply: Give me all the Sharpies, Post-it Notes, and binder clips!
Best advice ever received about education: The 5 P’s I learned at my high school: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Christin Danchi

Associate Director of Development
cdanchi@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x302

Christin joined the Emily K Center team in 2021 and serves as the associate director of development. A talented violinist, Christin earned her Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a Master of Music in Violin Performance from Carnegie Mellon University.

Favorite book: Whatever book I’m reading! However, I am a serious Lord of the Rings fan.
Favorite college course: Honors Seminar: Music and Politics

Jordan Farthing

Grants Manager and Communications Specialist
jfarthing@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x304

Jordan joined the Emily K Center staff in 2017 and currently serves as grants and communications specialist. A proud Tar Heel, she earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Favorite book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Favorite college course: History of Ancient Rome

Julia Van Patter

Associate Director of Communications
jvanpatter@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x305

Julia Van Patter joined the Emily K Center team in 2023 as the Associate Director of Communications. She earned her Bachelor of Music (with a Business Minor) from UNC Greensboro and a Master of Public Administration from NC State University.

Favorite school supply: Jumbo highlighters  
Favorite late-night college snack: S’mores Pop Tarts