Board of Directors

Fertile Ground Food Cooperative

Board of Directors: Emails & Bios


Erin Byrd, President:  [email protected]

Erin Dale Byrd is a mother, community activist, political strategist, and cultural worker in Raleigh NC. She was raised in a military family with roots in Tennessee and Texas. As Executive Director of Blueprint NC, a collaborative of 48 progressive organizations working for a fairer, more just North Carolina, Blueprint NC is part of the State Voices national network.  As director, she is responsible for fundraising, compliance, managing staff and driving the organizations' vision for collective impact. Her expertise is in campaign planning, coalition building, and community organizing.  She has 13 years of experience in successful coalition work on campaigns including increasing the minimum wage, public financing of judicial campaigns and same-day voter registration. Erin's work focuses on organizational capacity building with an emphasis on culture, civic engagement/organizing, planning, communication, and evaluation. She is Board Chair of Southern Partners Fund, a member of Black Workers for Justice and a founding member of the Fertile Ground Food Cooperative in Southeast Raleigh. She has been awarded the Ella Baker Award from the Youth Organizing Institute, Women to Watch from Women AdvaNCe, SiStars Award from the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Annie Mackie Ward from NC Women United, the William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations and most recently won Local Hero Citizen of the Year for 2015 from Indy Week magazine. Erin is most proud of her accomplishment as a mother of two Prince Kings. She has a degree in Sociology from the College of William and Mary.

Listen to her interview about Fertile Ground on the State of Things here: Activism Inspired By Life On A Military Base: Meet Erin Byrd

Rukiya Dillahunt,  [email protected]

Rukiya Dillahunt retired from the Wake County Public Schools as an administrator in 2010. Rukiya has devoted her entire professional life as an advocate for parents, school personnel and the educational rights of students. Rukiya is an active member in the North Carolina Association of Educators- Wake County Retired Teachers. She served as President of the Wake-North Carolina Association of Educators local for 3 years. Rukiya is a member of Black Workers for Justice and the Education Justice Alliance. She serves on the Board of the North Carolina Peace Action and is a former member of the advisory board of the North Carolina State Employees  Credit Union. Since her retirement from Wake County Public Schools, Rukiya has been actively involved in the struggle against the School to Prison Pipeline.

Jim Senter, Secretary: [email protected] 

Jim Senter, a Fertile Ground board member since 2016, is a native of New Orleans and still has family connections to the Crescent City. He’s been a member of a rural residential co-op for 26 years and a resident there for 12. He has published articles on the history and economic theory of the co-operative movement and has a passion for fruit trees and native plant gardening.

Kwesi Craig C. Brookins, Ph.D: [email protected]  

Craig C. Brookins (a.k.a Kwesi) is an Associate Professor in Applied Social and Community Psychology and Africana Studies at NC State University where he also directs Community-University partnerships through the Center for Family and Community Engagement. He is currently the university lead on an initiative with Wake County designed to address significant community-identified needs in Wake County and the city of Raleigh. This initiative, the Wake Community-University Partnership (or WakeCUP), is designed to connect community partners with university faculty, students, and resources in ways that are reciprocal and designed to generate collective community impacts in two engagement zones, Southeast Raleigh and Eastern Wake. For over 30 years, Kwesi has participated in a variety of community engagement initiatives across the region and state of North Carolina. In partnership with public and private organizations, he has conducted research on, implemented, and provided technical assistance on several community-based programs. These have included rites-of-passage interventions with African American youth, community capacity-building, and citizen engagement. Most recently, he was a 2018-19 American Council of Education Fellow in which he spent a year at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond where he focused on how anchor institutions such as universities and hospitals can more strategically partner with urban communities to create wealth and wellness.

Ajamu Dillahunt:  [email protected]

Ajamu Dillahunt retired from the North Carolina Justice Center in January of 2013 after 8 years as Outreach Coordinator for the Budget and Tax Center (5 yrs) and the Workers' Rights Project (3 yrs).  Prior to the Justice Center, Ajamu worked for the US Postal Service for 24 years and served as president of the American Postal Workers Union local, state Research and Education Director and Arbitration Advocate. He is a Popular Educator and has served on the Boards of United for a Fair Economy (UFE), the Institute for Southern Studies (ISS) and Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF). He is a \ member of the North Carolina Climate Jobs Roundtable, a former member of the Policy Committee of Labor Notes Magazine and a founding member of the Black Workers for Justice.

Janet Howard: [email protected]

Co-operator since the mid-80s serving as a member worker of local food cooperative and assisting with establishment of a grower cooperative in the 90s; mother of 2 adults; grandmother to 2 grandsons; Raleigh native; visited 14 countries (8 on African continent). Life mission: empowering others as we journey to self-actualization (one’s full potential). From her list of favorite quotes are - Until lions have their own historians, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. W. African proverb
When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion. W. African proverb

Samone Oates-Bullock Dillahunt: [email protected]

Samone Oates-Bullock is a Raleigh native and community engagement enthusiast! She has dedicated her life’s work to ensuring that people from all backgrounds have access to the knowledge, resources and support they need to overcome both personal and systemic barriers.

She previously served as a member of the Made in Durham board of directors and Youth Network, where she worked to integrate the youth voice and perspective to the partnership’s work and help bridge the gap between the business, government and nonprofit leaders who make the decisions and the young people who their decisions affect. Her service and commitment to lifting up the next generation of youth garnered her the 2017 WRAL Celebrating Black History Month Award. She is currently a Public Engagement Specialist for GoTriangle, where she develops and implements comprehensive and culturally competent public engagement, marketing and communications strategies across the Triangle.

Samone earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University. She joined Fertile Ground’s Board of Directors in 2020.