Amber Smith, Executive Director
Amber Smith Amber has lived in North Carolina for the majority of her life and is currently a resident of Raleigh. Amber founded Activate Good in 2005 (then known as ME3) when she noticed that people seemed to want to get involved to help the community but were not sure how to get started, and that many causes could benefit from the help of more volunteers. Before Activate Good she volunteered with organizations such as Kiwanis, Hope for the Homeless, and Amnesty International. Recently, she completed a Masters in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management at N.C. State University where she also advised undergraduates in the Nonprofit Studies Minor. Amber hopes all individuals will see the potential they have to make a difference, and act to fulfill that potential.
Activate Good Board of Directors

Nicholas Turza
Nicholas Turza Nicholas Turza grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and received his commission from the United States Army the same day he graduated from Furman University in 2003. After serving near the DMZ in South Korea and seeing combat in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, the Army promoted Nicholas to Captain. He then attended the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare in Fort Bragg, NC and joined the Civil Affairs Branch of Special Operations; he joined the Activate Good board (then known as ME3) upon his Tar Heel State arrival as well. In 2009, Nicholas took a leave of absence from the board for counter-terrorism work in Southeast Asia and then departed for a year-long combat deployment to Kandahar City, Afghanistan with the 4th Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. He returned all in one piece only to be at war with himself, at least during basketball season, since Nicholas is a dual-degree candidate at bitter rival universities, pursing a Masters of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University while simultaneously working toward his Juris Doctorate at UNC's Carolina Law in Chapel Hill.

Charlie Chrisawn, Chairman
Charlie ChrisawnCharlie Chrisawn has lived in Raleigh all his life. He is a graduate from Davidson College, where he was active in volunteering through his fraternity. He is currently employed by Health Decisions, a pharmaceutical research company in Chapel Hill. Charlie brings some fundraising experience to the Board, and has enjoyed both hands-on and administrative volunteer service in his past. Charlie likes the quote, "I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow."

Teri Sims-Foster, Volunteer Community Outreach Chair, Durham/Orange Counties
Teri Sims-Fosster When she isn't traveling around the world, Teri can be found volunteering extensively throughout the Triangle. A native Californian, Teri arrived in the Triangle to attend college. Her zeal for learning and desire to constructively impact the lives of others led Teri to a career in education. Teri has a Master's degree in Elementary Education from East Carolina University and has taught locally in both Chapel Hill - Carrboro and Durham Public Schools. Teri’s love for adventure and her indefatigable spirit launched her to international teaching experiences in South Korea and New Zealand. Her volunteer spirit led her to a small village in Fiji. It was on this small island that Teri experienced first hand the profoundness of a simple act of kindness; as she began the journey back to the US, her wallet was stolen. The benevolence of a small family of villagers provided her a safe haven and further ingrained her passion to positively effect the lives of others.

Chirag Bhangale, Volunteer Community Outreach Chair, Wake County
Chirag Bhangale Chirag was born and raised in Jalgaon, India and much of his family still lives there. He received his degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Mumbai and later his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. Chirag is currently working at Fidelity Investments and lives in Morrisville with his wife. Inspired by his father, Chirag believes in this crazy idea that we must help others without expecting anything in return, so volunteering comes naturally to him. Through Activate Good, he loves to organize volunteering projects for a variety of causes to help nonprofits achieve common goals. Chirag is also extremely passionate about human rights issues and is involved in related activism. He used to be a personal trainer and loves working out. In his free time he enjoys geeking about Android, astronomy and Star Trek.

Cyndy Yu-Robinson, Marketing Co-Chair
Cyndy Yu-Robinson Cyndy Yu-Robinson is a ‘third culture kid’ who has Chinese parents, attended American schools, and spent her childhood in Asia and her adult life in the Bay Area, Philadelphia, and Raleigh (since 2002). Her volunteer work has including caring for patients’ families in the San Francisco General Hospital E.R., working overnight at a women’s shelter in Washington, D.C., and promoting Chinese culture in the Triangle. Cyndy has served on the boards of Triangle Area Chinese American Society, Sustainable NC, and Leadership Triangle, and currently directs the leadership convention for the National Association of Asian American Professionals, which has presence in 30 cities in North America. She has a Human Biology BA from Stanford and a MA in International Relations from UCSD. Cyndy’s day job at AECOM relates to public engagement and community outreach on road, transit, and stormwater projects.

James Jolley, Board Secretary
James Jolley James grew up near Shelby, NC but has called Raleigh home since 2008. He is an attorney and is an associate at Smith Anderson in downtown Raleigh, where he works with the corporate and securities groups. James attended UNC for undergrad and law school and also has a Masters in Education from Wake Forest University. Before attending UNC Law, James was a high school social studies teacher in Wake County, and helped pilot one of the first classes under what would become Activate Schools. During law school and as an attorney, James's volunteer efforts have focused primarily on meeting unmet legal needs through his own pro bono work and in encouraging and supporting other attorneys as they do their part to help those who need legal assistance. James is excited to be part of the board of Activate Good and sees it as a means of encouraging, supporting, and celebrating the strong culture of volunteering in the Triangle.

Tom Zajkowski, Fund Development Committee
Tom Zajkowski Originally from Ohio, Tom has had roots in the Triangle since 2005. Tom holds an MBA with a concentration in international business from the University of Toledo. Though he has a demanding career in finance and often travels on business, Tom has been a lifelong advocate of community service and has made it a priority to give back and hopes to inspire others to do the same. In addition to his service to Activate Good, he has volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA. Tom is looking forward to kicking off Activate Good's Corporate Volunteer Council and can't wait to strategize with Triangle businesses to increase their community impacts.

Darcie Smith, Fund Development Committee
Darcie Smith Darcie is a long time resident of Durham, North Carolina. She has been employed in the environmental field ever since earning earned a Masters in Environmental Management from Duke University. Her previous volunteer experience has centered on students of her high school and college alma maters. She has volunteered as a swim-team coach, treasurer of an alumni board, chair of a scholarship committee, and admissions interviewer. Darcie committed to joining the board of Activate Good after hearing Amber and Charlie’s enthusiastic and inspiring presentation at a community nonprofit event. As a new member to the Board and to the Fund Development Committee, Darcie is seeking to find a niche within the organization that will allow her to leverage her leadership experience while raising money at the same time.

Blake L. Michael, Fund Development Committee
Blake Michael Blake has called Durham home since 2015, but first moved to the Triangle in 2004. A North Carolinian through and through, Blake hails from the small town of Lexington. Reared on a diet of barbecue and college basketball, he left home to earn his BS in Business Administration, and later MBA, from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Blake works in commercial real estate finance, and currently serves as a Senior Associate with Rialto Capital Management’s Raleigh office. Volunteerism was an integral component of Blake’s upbringing, working with organizations including Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, and UNC’s Dance Marathon. He is eager to leverage his past experiences and the tireless dedication of the Activate Good team to maximize volunteering throughout the Triangle community.

Richard Bobholz, Fund Development Committee
Richard Bobholz Richard grew up in Wisconsin and Iowa and obtained his B.S. in Economics from Michigan Technological University and J.D. from Drexel University Kline School of Law. Richard has been very active in volunteering since he fell in love with it in 2008 at Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, Florida. Richard is the managing partner at Law Plus Plus, a B Corporation Law Firm, the first of its kind in North Carolina. Richard enjoys helping small business owners realize the benefits of giving back to the community through their business. Beyond work and volunteering, Richard enjoys running, writing, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Staff and Consultants

Michelle Pendergrass, Operations Coordinator
Michelle Pendergrass Michelle is a lifelong Raleigh resident and alumni of NC State University. While pursuing her degree in Textile Design, Michelle found her passion in volunteering and decided to leave a glamorous life of fashion behind for a career in the nonprofit sector. Michelle started her journey by serving on the Carolinas District Board of Circle K International, and has since been involved with many organizations, including Marbles Kids Museum, the National MS Society, the Caring Community Foundation, and Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Michelle hopes that she can help others realize their potential to make a positive impact on the world by volunteering!

Rose Thompson, Volunteer Coordinator
Rose Thompson Prior to moving to the Raleigh area in 2008 & to becoming a stay-at-home mom to her three amazing kids, Rose gained extensive work experience in the nonprofit world and was able to serve diverse populations. She directed programs for a Volunteer Center in Wisconsin, managed a New York state pregnancy prevention initiative which provides case management to at-risk youth, received her Family Development Credential from Cornell University, recruited and matched volunteer mentors & youth for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Georgia, and directed camps for the YMCA in Asheville, NC. Rose also taught Communications in Greenville, South Carolina after she earned her B.A. in Secondary Education English from Clemson University. She and her family are happy to have planted roots here and are active in the community. Rose is enthusiastic about dedicating her combined work experience and talents to the role of Volunteer Coordinator with Activate Good and looks forward to assisting volunteers to serve the many worthy causes of Triangle Area nonprofits.

Courtney Hamm, Fund Development and Events Coordinator
Courtney Hamm Courtney grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia and holds a BBA in Marketing from Radford University and a MA in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College. She moved to North Carolina in 2014 and she and her boyfriend are parents to four wonderful rescue animals--basset hound Ginny, bull-staff terrier Tucker, and cats Cobain and Nibbler. Courtney is passionate about building stronger communities and has worked with a variety of issues, including creating international trade in Southwest and Southside Virginia, organizing and marketing artists, events, and festivals at a local, regional, and national level, and cultural placemaking. She is very happy that at Activate Good she gets to work with so many wonderful nonprofit organizations throughout the Triangle.

Krystal Hare, Youth Programs Coordinator
Krystal Hare Originally from Pennsylvania, Krystal graduated in 2012 with her B.A. in Communications, and a Public and Professional Writing Certificate focusing on nonprofits and small business - both from the University of Pittsburgh. Rodanthe, NC, was a vacation spot for Krystal growing up, and her cousins always made bets that she'd move to the state one day. She proved them right in 2013 when she moved to Swansboro, NC, to join her now-husband (a current WCPSS teacher). Her degree followed her south as she continued to freelance for Pittsburgh Magazine, and began marketing for the Onslow County Public Library system - an opportunity that also meshed her love for education and helping others. After moving to Raleigh in July 2015, an AmeriCorps contract with Activate Good serendipitously found her in January 2016, after which she was able to join the team full-time later that October. Krystal's favorite thing about Activate Good is that all her loves are rolled into one organization that supports causes as dynamic as the Triangle nonprofit community.
Volunteer Leaders
Thank you to all of our past and present volunteers for all that you do.
  • Jen DeNeal
  • Keith Morris
  • Janelle Vadnais
  • Stacy Bromley
  • Margo Scott
  • Sandi Matthews
  • Marissa Bloomfield
  • Christin King
  • Tayler Rhoades
  • Megan Rodgers
  • Katherine Sipple
  • Corinne Wilder
  • And all of our amazing project leaders!