Our Staff

For the staff directory, please visit our Contact Page
  • Darlene Azarmi

    Western NC Organizer

    Darlene grew up in Western North Carolina, which significantly shaped her political perspective. As a college student at UNC Wilmington, Darlene balanced her time working and volunteering for campus committees, student groups, and national organizations. Her activism, love for travel and consistent community involvement fueled her passion for organizing. She received a BA in Environmental Studies and started her organizing career at an environmental advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., Darlene then moved to Colorado, where she helped pass that state’s campaign-finance amendment. She continued good government work in Oregon, where she served as a campus organizer and petition office director for the Oregon Public Interest Research Group. Darlene currently lives in Asheville.

    darlene@democracy-nc.org | 828-216-3430

  • Leigh Bradley

    Office Manager

    Leigh holds a BSW from Indiana University and an MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has been with the organization since 1996.

    leigh@democracy-nc.org | 919-908-7910

  • Becky Carver

    Development Director

    Since moving to Durham in 1981, Becky has been a dedicated volunteer and activist, primarily around reproductive rights and other social justice issues. She has a B.S. from the University of Tennessee and M.S. from American University. Building on her special education and mental health experience, Becky has over twenty years in the nonprofit sector as Executive Director, Director of Development, Deputy Director, Project Director, and volunteer board member effectively promoting and advancing organizations’ missions and programs. She has worked at Wright School, The Alcohol/Drug Council of NC, Cornucopia Cancer Support Center, and Planned Parenthood. She understands the importance of making systemic changes to remedy the challenges we face in our communities and beyond and the need to work in coalition to achieve common goals.

    becky@democracy-nc.org | 919-908-7912

  • Cheryl Ellis

    Organizing Director

    Cheryl is a proud alumna of the University of Virginia. As Organizing Director, she trains and leads Democracy NC’s Organizing Team and develops and oversees implementation of our organizing, base building and voter engagement work. Since moving to NC in 1986, Cheryl has worked in both the private and public sectors. Through her work in the public school system and human services for over 20 years, she saw the plight of those who were disenfranchised and many times forgotten and dedicated her career to standing for and with the least of these. In 2008, Cheryl was re-energized to engage politically in the health care reform movement because of her son’s personal experience of being denied coverage. She moved through the ranks of Organizing for America (now Action), starting as a volunteer and moving up to the position of State Coordinator. In that role, Cheryl led staff and volunteers across North Carolina into a new era for OFA as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working on multiple issues including health care, gun violence prevention, immigration reform, climate change, women’s rights, minimum wage and Medicaid expansion. Cheryl has also served as a volunteer peer counselor for The Women’s Center in Raleigh, a member and leader of Southern Wake Concerned Citizens and member of the NC Association of Educators.

    cheryl@democracy-nc.org | 919-908-7931

  • Jennifer Frye

    Associate Director

    Jenn has been with Democracy North Carolina for over a decade. She started as a student organizer in 2003 and served on the board of directors before joining the staff in 2006. Before joining the Dem NC team, Jenn worked in homelessness and gun violence prevention. She has a BA in Political Science and German from UNC Chapel Hill. Jenn is an alumnus of the Public Allies North Carolina leadership development program and is currently a fellow in the 2014-2016 class of the William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations. As Associate Director, Jenn manages the daily operations of Democracy NC, participates heavily in the planning and implantation of the organizing and leadership development work and is responsible for staff and board development.

    jenn@democracy-nc.org | 919-908-7915

  • Jake Gellar-Goad

    Volunteer & Administrative Coordinator

    Jake graduated with a Master of Public Administration degree from North Carolina State University in Raleigh and began as a Field Organizer with Democracy North Carolina in 2011. In 2014 he moved into his current role as the Volunteer & Administrative Coordinator based in Durham.

    Born and raised in North Carolina, his activism grew through volunteering with and supporting a variety of social justice, voting rights, and LGBT equality-oriented nonprofits, causes, and campaigns including serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for a successful mayoral campaign in Chapel Hill piloting public campaign financing at the municipal level in 2009.

    jake@democracy-nc.org | 919-908-7914

  • Isela Gutiérrez-Gunter

    Associate Research Director

    Isela got her start in social justice work as a student activist in 1997 and has been hooked ever since. She has over a decade of experience in advocacy-oriented nonprofits, beginning with her first job at the ACLU of Washington State in Seattle. Most recently before moving to North Carolina, Isela worked as an advocate for statewide juvenile justice policy reform at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition in Austin and to promote local drug policy reform at the Defender Association’s Racial Disparity Project in Seattle. She has a BA in History from Scripps College and a MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill.

    isela@democracy-nc.org | 919-908-7918

  • Bob Hall

    Executive Director

    Bob has worked with grassroots groups across the South since 1970, collaborating on a variety of economic and social justice projects. He has served on numerous non-profit boards and governmental commissions, provided expert testimony in court cases, and consulted with officials in a dozen states on voting rights and campaign finance reform. He was the founding editor of Southern Exposure, the magazine of the Institute for Southern Studies, where he worked for 25 years. Honors include the MacArthur Fellow award, NC Press Association’s First Amendment Award, NC AARP’s Advocacy Friend of the Year Award, and NC NAACP’s Political Trailblazer Award. He has an MA from Columbia University.

    sprc@mindspring.com | 919-908-7925

  • Nancy Shakir

    Field Organizer, Southeast NC

    Nancy resides in Fayetteville, North Carolina where she is a community activist and volunteer. She has a BA in History from Rutgers University, and MA from St. Peter’s Jesuit College. Her other studies include Organizational Behavior at Polytechnic, NY and further graduate work in History at Rutgers University and Fayetteville State University. She hosts a radio and local TV show and serves on the boards of several community organizations.

    nancy@democracy-nc.org | 910-527-5441

  • Linda Sutton

     Field Organizer, Central Piedmont

    Linda has been active in the Winston-Salem community since the early 70’s, working as a union organizer and Special Voter Registration Commissioner. She co-founded the Winston-Salem Voting Rights Coalition, a grassroots organization of non-profit, nonpartisan community groups that has registered thousands of voters and engaged them in electoral reforms such as early voting, same day registration and campaign finance reform. In 2008 she received the Urban League’s Community Leader of the Year Award. Linda is based in Winston-Salem and also works in Forsyth, Guilford, Davie and surrounding counties.

    linda@democracy-nc.org | 336-870-2168