North Carolina Economic Development Association
PO Box 30934
Raleigh, NC 27622
Managing Director – Policy and Public Affairs
Managing Director – Membership Engagement and Programs
Director of Outreach and Partnership Development
Chris Kouri has worked as an attorney with the firm of Nexsen Pruet PLLC in Charlotte since 2015. From 2011 to 2015, he practiced economic development and corporate law at the firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. He was General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs for the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the prior six years. Chris was a member of the Charlotte Regional Partnership’s executive committee from 2008 to 2018, serving also as the organization’s general counsel from 2015-2018. He was a candidate for the US House of Representatives (8th District) in 2002. Chris is a 1992 graduate of Yale University, where he earned a BA in African American Studies and excelled athletically as Varsity Captain on the Yale football team. He also holds a Master of Public Policy from Duke University and a JD from UNC’s School of Law in Chapel Hill.
Joanna Helms is Economic Development Director for the Town of Apex, a post she’s held since 2014. She began her economic development career in 1993 as Vice President of the Wayne County Economic Development Commission in Goldsboro, rising to led that organization in 2000 and continuing her service as President after the organization was reconstituted as the Wayne County Development Alliance Inc. in 2006. Joanna served on NCEDA’s board from 2008 to 2011, chairing the Professional Development Committee and editing the 2009 revision to the North Carolina Economic Development Handbook. The organization named Joanna Economic Developer of the Year in 2008. She is also active in the Apex Rotary Club and Meals on Wheels, and chairs the Business Alliance Advisory Board of Apex Friendship High School. Joanna is a 1984 graduate of Western Carolina University, where she earned a BS in geography planning. She and her husband Tim have two adult sons.
Josh Hallingse is Executive Director of the Transylvania Economic Alliance in Brevard. He was named to the position in 2015 after serving as Senior Project Manager at the Charlotte Regional Partnership and Director of Industry Relations at the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development. His career includes work as a Field Representative for North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District. Josh was also a City Management Intern for the City of Asheville in 2007. His other voluntary roles include service on the board of trustees at Blue Ridge Community College and on the board of directors of the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce. Josh is a 2006 graduate of UNC Charlotte, where he majored in political science and religious studies. He also holds an MPA from Appalachian State University and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma, where he was a Governor James Holshauser Scholar.
John Nelms has been a member of the NCEDA board since 2015. He is senior economic development manager for Duke Energy, where he supports the recruitment and expansion of businesses in the company’s service area. The nation’s largest utility, Duke Energy, has facilitated the development of traditional industries such as textiles and furniture, as well as others such as bio-manufacturing and data centers that have emerged more recently. John joined the Duke team by way of Progress Energy’s economic development staff, where he had worked since 2005. His career has also included experience with the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the NC Department of Commerce and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. In addition to his voluntary service to NCEDA, John is on the boards of the North Carolina Rural Center, the North Carolina Military Foundation and North Carolina’s Southeast. He holds a BA in business management and economics from NC State University and an MBA from Campbell University. John and his wife, Autney, live in Raleigh with their two teenage children.
Ryan Wetherington joined the board in 2018. In September of that year he was named vice president at Armstrong Relocation in Charlotte. Prior to that, Ryan served as vice president of corporate services at the Allen Tate Companies, where he provided relocation assistance to clients in the manufacturing, office, professional sports, commercial real-estate, I/T and other industries. He also spent two years as director of marketing, public relations and research at the Lancaster County (SC) Economic Development Corporation and has held economic development and policy positions at the Charlotte Regional Partnership, the City of Wilmington and the Cape Fear Council of Governments. Ryan joined NCEDA in 2013 and co-founded the organization’s Emerging Executives Program, which he co-chaired from 2016 to 2018. He is on the executive committee of the University City Partners, a group that promotes economic vitality in and around Charlotte’s University Research Park and 2nd Vice Chair of the Charlotte Chamber Metro Chapter. A native of Wilson, Ryan graduated from Campbell University with a degree in government and history before earning his MPA from UNC Wilmington. An Eagle Scout, he lives is Charlotte with his wife, Keri, and their two children.
NCEDA President Mark Pope joined the organization’s board of directors in 2011 and previously served as vice president and secretary-treasurer. In August 2018, he was named president of the Wayne County Development Alliance, Inc. Prior to that, Mark served as executive director of Lenoir County Economic Development for 13 years. While there, his leadership helped facilitate the arrival and expansion of numerous companies in Lenoir County, including Spirit AeroSystems, Sanderson Farms, West Pharmaceuticals and Moen. Mark joined the economic development profession in 2005 after a 20-year career in banking. He was named North Carolina Economic Developer of the Year by NCEDA in 2010-2011. A Kinston native, Mark holds an AA in arts from Lenoir Community College and a BS in business administration from East Carolina University. In addition to numerous voluntary leadership roles, he is active in Westminster United Methodist Church and has coached little league baseball, soccer and basketball.
Raul Peralta joined NCEDA’s board in 2015. He is senior vice president of regional business development with ECS Southeast LLP. The company is a subsidiary of Engineering Consulting Services, one of the nation’s largest engineering firms. Raul’s role with ECS Carolinas centers on interacting with companies and communities across North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina to embrace economic development opportunities. Prior to joining ECS in 2004, he was vice president of Titan Atlantic in Raleigh. In addition to his service to NCEDA, he is secretary-treasurer of the 7X24 Carolinas Chapter and second vice chair of the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC). Raul also serves on the Rockingham County Economic Development Board. He holds a BS degree in environmental science from NC State University. Raul resides in Trinity. Along with being a master gardener, he is president of the American Brussels Griffon Association (ABGA) and a former delegate to The American Kennel Club.
Ben Teague joined NCEDA’s board of directors in 2017. He is vice president of strategic development at Biltmore Farms LLC, where he crafts and executes strategies for attracting capital investment and jobs to Western North Carolina. Ben previously served as executive director of the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County and chief operations officer of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. His professional background includes extensive regional economic development work in Mississippi. In January 2017, he was named one of the economic development profession’s “40 Under 40,” a national citation awarded at IEDC’s Leadership Summit. Ben holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Mississippi College and earned an MBA from the University of Mississippi, where he was a John N. Palmer Fellow and president of the campus MBA Association. He is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at Oklahoma University and earned the designation of Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP). Ben resides in Buncombe County with his wife, Haley, and their two sons, Campbell and Coleman.
Maureen Little joined the NCEDA board of directors in 2015. She is vice president of economic development at the North Carolina Community College System. The system and its 58 campuses serve approximately 720,000 learners across their academic, technical, continuing education and customized training programs. Maureen began her economic development career in 1987 as director of business and industry services at Stanly Community College. A Union County native, she is an honors graduate of UNC Charlotte, where she earned a BA. Maureen also is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina and a recipient of the Stanley Frank Class Award. A competitive shag dancer, she and her husband, Rick, are both members of the Beach Shaggers National Hall of Fame. Maureen serves as an officer of the North Myrtle Beach-based organization. The couple lives in Monroe.
Julie Roper has been Economic Development and Government Relations Manager at PSNC Energy since 2014, overseeing communications with city and county officials and managing PSNC Energy’s community giving and involvement in the Research Triangle Region. The natural gas utility serves more than 565,000 customers across 96 North Carolina communities. Julie started her career at PSNC Energy in 1989 in residential marketing and sales. She previously served in the U.S. Air Force. Julie chairs the board of NC Heroes Fund, a non-profit that assists active-duty military personnel and their families. As a member of the board of directors of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, she chairs its Public Policy Committee. In 2015, Julie was appointed to the Gaston County Economic Development Commission. She also serves on the board of directors of the Schiele Museum, a regional museum of natural history in Gastonia. Julie holds a BS in business administration from Belmont Abbey College and earned her MPA from Appalachian State University. She resides in Mount Holly.
Alan Wood has been President and CEO of Burke Development Inc. since 2015. The public-private partnership promotes economic growth, innovation and sustainability in Burke County. From 2009 until 2015, he was director of the Stokes County Economic Development Commission, where he led efforts to expand broadband deployment, diversify regional agribusiness and provide digital marketing opportunities for small businesses. As senior development manager at the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, Alan helped recruit the Google Data Center, as well as important projects in the biopharma, consumer foods and composites industries. He worked in the furniture manufacturing and local banking earlier in his career. Alan serves on the board of directors of the Burke County Chamber of Commerce and on the Advisory Committee of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. He holds a CEcD designation from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). Alan is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, where he received a BS in business administration with a concentration in marketing. He and his wife, Kelly, live in Morganton.
NCEDA President Steve Yost joined the board in 2012. Since 2009, Steve has been president of North Carolina’s Southeast, an 18-county regional marketing organization based in Elizabethtown. NC’s Southeast collaborates with businesses and county and state-level governmental partners in bringing job growth and economic investment to a region stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Uwharrie Mountains. A native of Stanly County, Steve has worked in the economic development profession since 1994, and his background includes experience as executive director of the Columbus County Economic Development Commission and as senior developer for the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s southeastern regional office. He holds a BA in political science from Appalachian State University and an MPA from UNC Chapel Hill. In addition to his NCEDA leadership role, Steve has served on the boards of the NC Museum of Forestry Board of Directors and the Cape Fear Council Boy Scouts of America. He is an Eagle Scout. He and his wife, Deborah, live in Whiteville.
Secretary-Treasurer Pat Mitchell began her latest leadership role at NCEDA in 2017. She was an officer and director of the organization prior to becoming assistant secretary of Commerce for rural economic development in September 2013. Pat is an assistant professor of public administration at Appalachian State University’s Department of Government and Justice Studies. She served nine years as director of economic development in Ashe County and two of those years as county manager. From 2001 until 2004, Pat taught courses in East Carolina University’s MPA program. She is a graduate of Berry College in Rome, Georgia where she studied language arts and political science, and she holds masters and doctoral degrees in public administration from the University of Georgia. She also holds the CEcD designation from the International Economic Development Council. In addition to her service at NCEDA, Pat serves on UNC School of Government Foundation’s board of directors. She lives in Fleetwood.
Randall Johnson joined NCEDA’s board of directors in 2013. He is executive director of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Southeastern Office in Wilmington. The office strengthens the region’s life science economy through the development of jobs, businesses and investment in clinical research, renewable energy, and marine, agricultural and industrial biotechnology. Randall is a cum laude graduate of Wake Forest University, where he studied psychology. He holds an MBA from WFU’s Babcock Graduate School of Management and has completed numerous International Economic Development Council courses. He is also a graduate of Leadership North Carolina. In addition to his service to NCEDA, Randall has voluntary leadership roles with the Southeastern Economic Development Commission, the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, the Institute for Emerging Issues’ Environmental Council and the Advisory Committee for Biotechnology in Southeastern North Carolina, which he co-founded. Randall resides in Wilmington with his wife, Leigh, and their young son, Ace.
Andrew Tate is the vice president of real estate for the North Carolina Railroad Company. He previously was president and CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, leading the recruitment of business and industry to the area, including Raumedic, GF Linamar, Demmel, Norafin and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Andrew joined the North Carolina Economic Development Association board of directors in 2011 and was the association’s president in 2016-17. He is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and Leadership North Carolina. Andrew and his wife, Brooke, are in the process of moving from Hendersonville to Raleigh with their three young sons.
Jessica Martin-Lane joined NCEDA’s board of directors in 2016. She is the president of Asheville-based WR-Martin (formerly Martin-McGill, Inc.), a women-owned business that provides management consulting services to North Carolina government clients and private businesses throughout the United States. The firm’s more than 30-year expertise helps communities and private clients embrace opportunities in strategy, operations, planning, funding, communications, real estate, and financial management. Before joining WR-Martin in 2007, Jessica began her career as a management consultant for Ernst & Young, and later directed client solutions for Hewitt Associates / Exult. In addition to her NCEDA leadership role, Jessica serves on the board of Eliada Homes, an organization that provides housing, therapy and social services to children and families in need. Jessica holds BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering and an MBA from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. Jessica and her husband, Alan, are the parents of two young sons and live on a blueberry farm in Western North Carolina.
Speaker Tim Moore is currently in his second term as the presiding officer of the North Carolina House of Representatives. First elected to the General Assembly in 2002, Speaker Moore represents Cleveland County. He is a lifelong resident of Kings Mountain and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned is Juris Doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. After passing the North Carolina Bar Exam, Speaker Moore returned to Cleveland County to practice law in Shelby, becoming a partner at the firm of Flowers, Martin, Moore, & Ditz, P.A., where he practiced until 2009. He then founded his own firm, Tim Moore, Attorney at Law, P.A., in Kings Mountain, where he currently practices. Speaker Moore also serves as the County Attorney for Cleveland County and General Counsel for the Cleveland County Water Board of Commissioners. He resides with his two sons, McRae and Wilson, in Kings Mountain, where he is a member of First Baptist Church.
State Senator Phil Berger has served as President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate since 2010, the first Republican to hold the office since the 19th century. Representing Rockingham County, he was first elected to the Senate in 2000, where he quickly earned respect for his advocacy for common sense, conservative reforms in state government. In 2004, his Senate colleagues elected him Minority Leader. Senator Berger grew up in a working-class household in Danville, Virginia, where he learned the value of hard work. He worked in a local factory and as produce manager in a grocery store while attending Averett University and raising two children. He was the first in his family to graduate. Senator Berger then worked his way through law school at Wake Forest, graduating early. He practiced law briefly in Charlotte and Raleigh before settling in Eden, where he runs the Berger Law Firm. Senator Berger is married to his high school sweetheart, Pat. The couple has three kids – Phil Jr., Kevin and Ashley – and four grandchildren.
Gary Lanier has served on NCEDA’s board of directors since 2014. He is executive director of the Columbus County Economic Development Commission, a position he has held since 2010. Since 2014, Gary has also served as the county’s planning director. His entry into the economic development profession came after a 30-year career in engineering and manufacturing with Black & Decker, Eaton Corp. and Hubbell Power Systems. Gary holds a BS in engineering operations from NC State University, where his outstanding scholarship earned him the JW Joseph Award. He also holds an MBA from Western Carolina University and an Ed.D in adult and community college education from NC State. In addition to his service to NCEDA, Gary is on the board of directors of North Carolina’s Southeast. A longtime scout Leader, he is on the executive board of the Cape Fear Council of the Boy Scouts of America and is a Vigil Honor member of the Klahican Lodge of the Order of the Arrow. In 2012, Gary was honored with the Silver Beaver Award. A resident of Tabor City, he and his wife, Emily, have two grown sons.
Adrienne Cole began serving as an NCEDA board member in 2016. She is president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, the Research Triangle Region’s largest business association, with over 2,300 members. Prior to assuming her current position in 2017, Adrienne was executive director of Wake County Economic Development, a program of the chamber. She and her team worked with the county’s 12 municipalities, the Research Triangle Park, county and community leaders, and state and regional partners to market Wake County and region as a global destination for jobs, companies, people and investment. Adrienne’s professional background includes experience as business development director at the global construction giant Lend Lease and economic development leadership roles in Carteret and Pamlico counties. Adrienne is a 1993 graduate of Meredith College, where she majored in American civilization and political science. She also holds an MPA from Appalachian State University. Along with her NCEDA service, she is a member of the boards of directors of the RDU Airport Authority, Marbles Kids Museum and Research Triangle Regional Partnership. Adrienne, her husband, Walt, and their three children are residents of Raleigh.
Chris Platé joined the NCEDA board in July 2017. He is executive director of Monroe-Union County Economic Development, which oversees economic growth and diversification in one of North Carolina’s fastest-growing counties. Chris was NCEDA’s Economic Developer of the Year in 2016, an award that recognized his success with major expansions at O’Neil Digital Solutions, ATI Specialty Materials, Glenmark Pharmaceutical and other companies. In 2002, he launched the Aerospace Initiative in Monroe, a cluster development strategy that has since yielded the highest concentration of aerospace companies in the Carolinas. Prior to joining the staff of Monroe-Union County Economic Development in 1999, Chris held economic development positions in York and Chester counties, South Carolina. He earned a BS degree in economics from Clemson University, where he minored in political science and law. Chris and his wife are parents of two children.