Wildacres Leadership Initiative is served by four full-time professional staff members.
As staff members are often working throughout the state, it is easiest to reach them via email. Click on a staff member's picture to email them.
Executive Director and CEO
Abdul Sm Rasheed is the recently appointed CEO of Wildacres Leadership Initiative and its signature program the William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations. Abdul was a founder and former CEO of the North Carolina Community Development Initiative and Initiative Capital, a US Treasury Certified Development Finance Institution, where he supported the development of public-private efforts supporting local Community Development Corporations, leadership development and capacity building, working with local low income leaders, government, foundations, private corporations, banks and other financial institutions. Abdul attracted $100 million in capital leveraging over $700 million in local development. Housing, retail/commercial, and industrial projects provide housing for seniors and families, jobs and services in low income areas.
For over 20 years Abdul has hosted and conferred with delegations from 6 continents, studying the model and work of the Initiative. Abdul has been a sought-after speaker and served on local and national boards. Abdul has served as chairs for the Richmond Federal Reserve Regional Advisory Board, the Center for Community Self Help (Self Help Credit Union), the NC Housing Trust Fund, the Elizabeth City State University Board of Trustees, and as well as a finance and audit committee chair which made Abdul an executive committee member of Vance Granville Community College Board. He has also served on the boards of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, State Farm Bank National advisory board, Emerging Issues Forum, NC State University, and the National Center of the Black Aged.
In 2017, Governor Roy Cooper appointed Abdul to the NC Rural Infrastructure Authority, a funding and investment system to support economic development, building reuse, and other economic interests throughout the state. Abdul also serves on the board of McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center in Henderson. Additionally, Abdul currently serves as chair of the National Alumni Association of Elizabeth City State University. He also chairs the North Carolina chapter of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) National Association Alumni Roundtable, which is a collaboration of the ten HBCUs in North Carolina. While fully committed, Abdul still finds time to coach a youth basketball team of 10-12 year olds in the local recreational basketball league.
Abdul has traveled extensively throughout the US, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Mexico, and was the guest of the National Conference of Black Housing Developers in Manchester England to advise on housing development for low income communities. Abdul holds a BS in Basic Business, MED in Counseling and personnel Services, MS in Community Economic Development, and is a graduate of the Senior Executive Management Program of the John F. Kennedy School Harvard University.
Abdul lives in Henderson and is married to Marolyn, they are the proud parents of five with seven grandchildren.
Director of Leadership Education
Sayra Pinto brings both the academic credentials and personal values, compassion, and experience to help us build on the traditions of excellence in the Leadership cohort experience while introducing contextual and contemporary innovations for personal and professional growth to that experience. Sayra has been an organizational development consultant focusing on collaboration development and systems thinking with Third Sector, New England’s Inclusion Initiative, the Harvard University Civil Rights Project, the Wampanoag Nation of Gayhead at Aquinnah, and John Snow International, Inc., a national and international public health consulting firm.
Sayra is a Program Affiliate at the University of Vermont’s Master’s of Science in Leadership for Sustainability Program of the Rubinstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. She is currently a Whisenton Public Scholars Fellow at the Kettering Foundation. Sayra earned her PhD in Interdisciplinary Research at the Union Institute & University with concentrations in Ethical and Creative Leadership and the Humanities, a Master’s in Fine Arts from Goddard College, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Middlebury College.
She was born in Honduras and learned about American culture and how to speak English in New Orleans. Her immediate family moved to Boston in the late 80s and largely resides there. However, most other members of her family that immigrated to the U.S. reside mostly in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
Director of Engagement and Impact
Minda Brooks joined the organization in November of 2011. After completing a Master of Arts in Theatre Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Minda returned to her alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill to teach drama. Her love of coaching students on their personal and professional development led her to academic advising and then to Duke to serve as the Assistant Director of the Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship Program, a merit scholarship for NC and SC residents who demonstrated a commitment to servant leadership. There, she directed the selection process as well as the students' experiential leadership development program, which included programming during the academic year and a domestic and international service experience during the summers.
Minda believes there is profound potential for enacting change in connecting across differences and is honored to be a part of the William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations. She lives in Wake Forest with her husband, son, daughter, and dog, Roy (for Roy Williams, Go Tar Heels!).
Chief Operating Officer
Hunter Corn is a proud native North Carolinian with two decades of professional non-profit experience. Born and raised in Cleveland County, he worked in the Office of University Development while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After living in the Washington DC area serving two national non-profits, he returned to his home state working at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce for over a decade. Hunter strongly believes in improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians across the state and has served on the boards of the NC AIDS Action Network and Equality NC. He lives in Raleigh with his husband Stuart.