Monthly Connect Series

The Strategic Partnerships team developed the Monthly Connect series to share relevant information across state government, institutions of higher education, philanthropy, and others. The Monthly Connect series is open to all. 

At the links below you will find PowerPoint presentations, recordings, and other resources related to these interactive sessions. 

To be notified of Monthly Connects, sign up to receive Strategic Partnerships Highlights (monthly - news and resources).


NC Nonprofit Organizations and the Impact of COVID-19

Featured the statewide survey of North Carolina nonprofit organizations and the impacts of COVID-19 launched by the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships and the NC Center for Nonprofits. Panelists discussed the value of the survey, key learnings, and how philanthropy, government, researchers, and nonprofits themselves can use the results for a range of different purposes. Click here for an analysis of the 2,000+ responses, including a link to the publicly available dataset. 

  • Steve Hayes, Executive Director, Guilford Nonprofit Consortium
  • Earline Smith, Housing Program Manager, Cleveland County Community Development Corporation
  • Nancy Taylor, Executive Director, Community Foundation of Burke County
  • David Yokum, Director, The Policy Lab at Brown University; Senior Advisor, Strategic Partnerships

Hometown Strong: Partnerships in Action for Rural NC

Features Hometown Strong leadership and local partners (from Halifax and Madison Counties) discussing existing Hometown Strong efforts and emerging opportunities. Launched in 2018, Hometown Strong leverages state and local resources, identifies ongoing projects and community needs, and implements plans to boost the economy, improve infrastructure, and strengthen North Carolina's hometowns.  Click here for the slide deck. (Password: rM5tk3wB)

  • Tony Brown, County Manager, Halifax County
  • Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development, NC Commerce
  • Mary Penny Kelley, Executive Director, Hometown Strong
  • Jonathan Szucs, General Manager, Advanced Superabrasives (Madison County)

COVID-19 Response: Government-University-Student Partnerships

Features NC COVID-19 Student Response Corps participants: an Appalachian State University student intern, the Elizabeth City State University career services director, the Beaufort County Economic Development Director, and the Director of Lead for NC, a key partner in the initiative. (Password: Dxj6GkPt)

  • Yolanda Carcana, Interim Director of Career Services, Elizabeth City State University
  • Martyn Johnson, Economic Development Director, Beaufort County
  • Dylan Russell, Executive Director, Lead for NC, UNC School of Government
  • Sierra Watson, Intern, Town of North Wilkesboro; MPA candidate, Appalachian State University

Established Government-Research Partnerships

Features representatives from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill, NC Department of Environmental Quality, and NC Department of Health and Human Services discussing different types of government-research partnerships, strategies for initiating and sustaining successful partnerships, and the importance of partnerships during and beyond COVID-19. 

  • Stacey Feken, Policy and Engagement Manager, Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuarine Partnership, NC Department of Environmental Quality
  • Mark Holmes, Director, Sheps Center for Health Services Research, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Alexia Kelley, Sr. Director of Research, Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Leah Devlin, Professor of the Practice, Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Jessie Tenenbaum, Chief Data Officer, NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • Doug Urland, Director, NC Institute for Public Health, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC-Chapel Hill

Strengthening the State Government Talent Pipeline

Features state government HR recruiters and college/university-based career services experts discussing strategies and resources for addressing the related challenges of 1) state government striving to attract needed talent for employment opportunities across the state and 2) talented graduates of NC colleges and universities striving to find and pursue state government employment opportunities. (Password: Monthlyconnect1). 

  • Kelsey Celender, Temporary Solutions Recruitment Manager, NC Office of State Human Resources
  • Nicole Hall, Director, Career and Professional Development, UNC-Greensboro
  • Lynn Kavcsak, Dean, Career and Employment Resources, Wake Technical Community College
  • Sara Royster, Agency HR Consultant III/Critical Needs Analyst and Recruitment Supervisor, NC Department of Public Safety
  • Kristin Siemek, State Talent Acquisition Manager, NC Office of State Human Resources

Identifying Expertise at Colleges and Universities

Features external affairs and government relations staff from Duke University, NC A&T, and UNC-Greensboro sharing insights about the role of external affairs offices, the resources they offer, and the many ways they can be of service to government partners, including to help find the best person on their campuses for research partnerships, collaboration on grant opporutnities, student projects, and more. (Password: Monthlyconnect1)

  • Andrew Cagle, Director of State and External Affairs, UNC-Greensboro
  • Doug Heron, Associate Vice President for Government Relations, Duke University
  • Ray Trapp, Director of External Affairs, NC A&T State University

Developing and Sustaining Government-Research Partnerships

Features representatives from NC State University and RTI International who have helped develop and/or participated in a wide range of partnerships with state government and research institutions. They share strategies for developing and sustaining successful partnerships and addressing potential challenges.

  • Phillip Graham, Senior Director, Center on Social Determinants, Risk Behaviors, and Prevention Science, RTI International
  • Dennis Kekas, Associate Vice Chancellor of Partnerships and Economic Development, NC State

Philanthropy 101

Features representatives from three North Carolina philanthropic organizations discussing best practices for engaging with philanthropic partners, learning about new funding opportunities, writing strong funding applications, and the proposal review and approval processes. 

  • Ret Boney, Executive Director, NC Network of Grantmakers
  • Gladys Hairston, Program Officer, John Rex Endowment
  • Sorien Schmidt, Senior Program Officer, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

Agency Research Divisions

Features the North Carolina Department of Transportation Research & Development Office. Includes information about organizing and communicating research and other partnership opportunities, components of the NC DOT research program and examples of past projects, and strategies for starting a new research program. 

  • Curtis Bradley, Research Implementation Manager, NC Department of Transportation
  • Neil Mastin, Research and Development Manager, NC Department of Transportation