Staff

Senior Leadership Staff

Adam Eigenrauch

Chief Executive Officer
aeigenrauch@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x1001

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.

Chief Impact Officer
vanderson@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x2001

Valerie joined the Emily K Center as Chief Program Officer in 2017 and was promoted to Chief Impact Officer in 2022. 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 x1002

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 x3001

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 x1002

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?)

Jason Jones

Director of Facilities and Operations
jjones@emilyk.org
919 680-0308 x1003

Jason joined the Emily K Center in 2022 as our first director of facilities and operations. He received his B.A. from Morris College and his M.S. from Grand Canyon University.

Favorite late-night college snack: Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream Chips
Favorite school supply: A really nice backpack!

Laura K. Phillips

Front Desk Assistant
lphillips@emilyk.org
919-690-0308 x 4001

Laura joined the Emily k Center as a front desk assistant in 2021. She’s often the first one our students see when the come for programming each day. Laura earned her B.A. from Furman University.

Favorite book: Out of Africa, but there are so many favorites I could go on and on!
Favorite college course: It for sure wasn’t math — Japanese history

Programming

General Programs

Valerie Anderson, Ph.D.

Chief Impact Officer
vanderson@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x2001

Valerie joined the Emily K Center as Chief Program Officer in 2017 and was promoted to Chief Impact Officer in 2022. 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.)

Donovan Livingston, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Program Operations
dlivingston@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x2003

Donovan brought his passion for education to the Emily K Center in the summer of 2022 and joined our team in the newly created role of Senior Director of Program Operations. He earned his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his M.A. in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Donovan then went on to earn his Ed.M. from Harvard University (perhaps you’ve seen his commencement speech that went viral?) and his Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Cultural Foundations from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Favorite college course: Intro to Poetry
Best advice ever received about education:
“If the truth is told, the youth can grow
They’ll learn to survive until they gain control […]
Read more, learn more, change the globe” – Nas

Amber Burgin-Brothers

Student Support and Resource Manager
aburgin@emilyk.org
919-473-3067

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.

Sally Hodges-Copple

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

Sally rejoined the Emily K Center team as our Data, Evaluation, and Impact Specialist in September 2021, after time away for graduate school. A Durham native, Sally earned her B.A. from Rice University and her Master of Public Policy at Duke University.

Favorite book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Favorite subject: Spanish

Pioneer Scholars

Nephitearya Bailey Singleton

Director of Elementary and Middle School Readiness
nbailey@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x2002

Nephitearya joined the Emily K Center team in 2019 as director of elementary and middle school readiness. 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.

Scholars to College

Nikole Nickerson

Director of College Readiness
nnickerson@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x2004

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

Monserrat Banda

College Readiness Counselor, Class of 2026
mgodinez@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x4002

Monserrat joined the Emily K Center team in the summer of 2021 working with our elementary and middle school students. During 2022, she transitioned into the role of college readiness counselor with our Scholars to College program. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Monserrat is no stranger to the Center — she is a proud Emily K Center alumna and we’re so glad to have her on our staff team!

Favorite school supply: Sticky notes!
Best advice ever received about education: Make learning fun however you can! (I used colored gel pens for my notes.)

Joshua Crump

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

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

Ginny Larkin-Thorsen

College Readiness Counselor, Class of 2024
glarkinthorsen@emilyk.org
9190680-0308 x 2005

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!

MaKayla Leak

Lead College Readiness Counselor, Class of 2023
mleak@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x2005

MaKayla joined the Center in 2019 and currently serves as a college readiness counselor for the Class of 2023. She earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Favorite late-night college snack: Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
Favorite college course: Social Anthropology

Shanice Green

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

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

Kelsey Lam

College Success Advisor
klam@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x2005

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
919-525-1165

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

Aliaha Austin

Postsecondary Access Advisor
aaustin@emilyk.org
919-680-0308

Aliaha joined the Emily K Center’s Game Plan: College team during the summer of 2021, serving as a postsecondary access advisor. She earned her B.S. from East Carolina University.

Aliaha works with the following high schools: JD Clements Early College High School and the School for Creative Studies.

Favorite college course: Linguistics
Favorite school supply: Mechanical pencils

Henry Capers, Jr.

Postsecondary Access Advisor
hcapers@emilyk.org
984-409-2112

Henry joined the Emily K Center team in September 2021, serving as a postsecondary access advisor with Game Plan: College. Henry is well-positioned to help students with their college goals having earned his B.S. from St. Augustine’s University and his MPA from North Carolina Central University. He is also currently pursuing his doctoral degree at Walden University.

Henry works with the following high schools: Durham School of the Arts, Northern High School, and Riverside High School.

Favorite late-night college snack: Cool Ranch Doritos
Favorite college course: History of Black Cinema

Cindy Emelina Cortez

Postsecondary Access Advisor
ccortez@emilyk.org

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

Development

Sandy York

Chief Advancement Officer
syork@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x3001

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

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.

Sara Askey

Director of Communications and External Affairs
saskey@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x3004

Sara has been with the Emily K Center since 2012 and currently serves as the director of communications and external affairs. She earned her B.S. from North Carolina State University and her MPA from the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Favorite college course: Power and Influence
Favorite school supply: Notebooks or Trapper Keepers (if you know, you know!)

Christin Danchi

Associate Director of Development
cdanchi@emilyk.org
919-680-0308 x3002

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 and Communications Specialist
jfarthing@emilyk.org
919-680-0308×3003

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