50 women voting on how we spend $100,000

DFJ Executive Board


Cary is married to her biggest encourager Rob and Mom to Ashlin and Carver who attend Apex High School. Cary grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC and has lived most of her adult life in Raleigh. She’s a Clemson Tiger at heart where she attended early in college, but graduated from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. Cary’s faith and international mission experience working with women’s artisan co-ops in Central America and Africa inspired the birth of Designed For Joy. She's a serial entrepreneur and has founded small several businesses around creating community for women in the Raleigh area. Cary’s a big believer in encouraging women to pursue their passion.

A native New Yorker, Kristen is a city girl who is most comfortable among skyscrapers, concrete sidewalks, and lots of people. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, textiles is her love language. After working at Liz Claiborne for years, she moved to San Diego and ran logistics at Eagle Creek, a leading outdoor travel gear company. Her NC State alum husband Shawn convinced her to move back East and now Raleigh is her happily ever after. Proud parents to three kids; Jack & Stella who both attend High School at Wake Christian Academy and Eli who attends Dillard Drive Middle School. Adoption holds a special place in Kristen’s heart, and they are blessed to have adopted one of their children from Kazakhstan. Serving women locally through Designed For Joy, as well as internationally through mission trips, gives Kristen the opportunity to be the church that Jesus calls us to be.

Angela has called the Triangle-area home for almost 30 years. She and her husband, Tim, live in Apex and have three children: Brandon, a first-year law student; Joshua, a student at Wake Tech; and Mia, a seventh-grader. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Angela worked in corporate and marketing communications at SAS for 11 years. As a stay-at-home mom, she became involved with several non-profits, including International Justice Mission (IJM) where she is currently the team leader for the IJM Raleigh Volunteer Team. Angela is passionate about advocating for those that society often overlooks - both internationally and right here in her community.


Kathleen began working with non-profit finances in 2012 as the bookkeeper for the West Raleigh Baseball Association and continued in 2015 as financial administrator for the Vs Cancer Foundation. Currently, Kathleen works with numerous non-profit organizations as a staff accountant at Maddison & Caison LLP. In between raising her sons, Evan and William, and studying for the CPA exam, Kathleen enjoys hiking with her pup Cleo, going to live music shows, and baking.

Sherika HiSmith
Sherika has called Raleigh, NC home for 12 years. She is a nurse by profession and by nature. She attended the University of South Florida where she studied nursing and public health. She has worked with various nonprofit organizations for over 10 years. Her passion is women’s and children’s health. Being of service is in her DNA. Advocating, educating and empowering are a few of the guideposts she lives by. Sherika enjoys her family, bike riding and sunshine (as a native Floridian).
Heather Douglas Wilkins
Heather grew up in Michigan and spent most of her adult years working post grad school in Boston, MA. Her and her husband relocated down to NC 4 years ago and live in Holly Springs with their daughter Amelia. After graduating from Central Michigan University, Heather went on to secure her juris doctorate at New England Law and worked as an attorney in real estate, insurance defense, and M+A for private firms in the Greater Boston area. Realizing billable hours were not for her, she took an in-house position with American Tower (NYSE:AMT) which would lead to a 20 year career in telecommunications focused on legal operations, sales, innovation and strategy. Heather currently leads strategic efforts for Crown Castle International (NYSE:CCI) and is responsible for growth, expansion and partnerships nationally. She also serves on a non-profit board in the wireless industry that is focused on advocacy and cultivating relationships between the wireless industry and the local communities they serve. Heather loves spending time outdoors with her family and their dog Miles and welcomes any opportunity to shop!
Rebecca S. Ayers, PhD
Rebecca S. Ayers, PhD Rebecca has enjoyed the peak of good living in Apex for the last 18 years. She moved to Apex with her husband Chris after finishing graduate school. In her day job, Rebecca serves as the HR Strategy Program Manager for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. HR Strategy provides federal agencies consulting services across a broad range of strategic human capital areas and OPM's software-as-a-service performance management system, USA Performance®. Rebecca has facilitated and worked with both public and nonprofit organizations to identify organizational goals, develop strategic plans, and implement performance management systems. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Raleigh after 10 years of active membership, serving in a variety of volunteer positions from team member to president. Rebecca and Chris have been active in Hope Community Church as small group leaders and through Global Hope India, leading short term mission trips to India. All her volunteer and nonprofit work center around helping women and children. For fun she enjoys running and playing soccer and traveling the world with her favorite travel partner, Chris.
Kenisha Harris, MSPM
As a natural proponent of diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) and one who enjoys challenging assumptions or accepted norms productively, Kenisha seeks to infuse the DEI mindset throughout every facet of her life, both professionally and personally. During her tenure in the tech industry, Kenisha enjoys working as the Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Conga, a global digital transformation tech company. She’s also served as a Principal DEI Business Strategy Consultant. Additionally, she’s been a Project Management Leader within government contracting companies and startups. Her mission is to expand thought leadership and awareness regarding DEI as an imperative business strategy from a global and regional perspective. From the tender age of 14, Kenisha has been an avid world traveler and one who's always had a sincere curiosity about various cultures and perspectives. This curiosity and her passion are what called her to shift from being a technical program manager in IT to becoming a leading force within DEI. When not working on furthering her education, Kenisha enjoys anything dealing with the arts, American football, and international travel.