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Past Speakers & Programs

Below are just a few of the past RPWF speakers.

Dr. C. Nicole Swiner, Author, Family Doctor, and Publisher, talked about the Superwoman Complex and self-care.

Panelists and RPWF members Patti Fralix, Evonne Hopkins, and Kathy Morris discussed "What's Changed (and What Hasn't) for Women in the Workplace" in honor of RPWF's 35th anniversary year.

Yvette Holmes reviewed the history, focus, and accomplishments of Southeast Raleigh Promise.

Lizette Cruz Watko shared the history of the Latino Diamante Awards and the Diamante Arts and Cultural Center.

Ali Ingersoll, Disability Talent Strategist, shared her self-care realities and her ambitious work to affect change.

Kendra Leonard, author and entrepreneur, shared essential advice for finding our best lives in a world filled with turbulence and distraction.

Patrick Woodie, President of the NC Rural Center, shared an insightful presentation on North Carolina’s rural demographics, interconnectivity, and the role of the NC Rural Center in promoting rural vitality and value.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, former NC State Health Director, shared what it was like being in such a visible position during a global pandemic and what she is doing since she stepped away from that role.

Kat Williford, CEO of Pamut Apparel, spoke about her sustainably sourced fashion creations, designed with a mission of providing clothing for every body size and shape. Check out her clothing at

Eric Mitchko, General Manager of North Carolina Opera, spoke with us about the February 2022 performances of the opera SANCTUARY ROAD. This newly staged opera made its U.S. debut at Duke Energy Center. The work tells the story of the life of William Still, a key figure in the Underground Railroad. Still helped nearly 800 enslaved African Americans escape to freedom in the years before the Civil War. Widely recognized for his efforts as an abolitionist, historian, and conductor for the Underground Railroad, Still is the central figure of SANCTUARY ROAD, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec. Mitchko spoke about the collaboration of artists that brought this opera to the Triangle.

Heather Rossi, USO North Carolina Program Operations Manager, shared her experience across the military spectrum that included both her time as the child of a military veteran and serving in the Air Force, as well as the work she continues to do at the USO.