Meet Our Team


Erik Valera

Executive Director

Erik Valera has an extensive background providing capacity building assistance with nonprofit and government organizations. He has the tools and expertise to strengthen youth focused nonprofits. Erik is a highly regarded as a trainer and coach in such areas as; nonprofit management, community engagement, strategic planning, and board development. He believes in paving a path for emerging leaders and creating an equitable environment for historically marginalized communities.

Erik  earned a BA in Communication Studies with a concentration in Public Relations and Organizational Communication from California State University, Los Angeles. Erik lives in Chapel Hill with his wife Annie and son Gabriel, a senior at East Chapel Hill High School. You can reach Erik by email at


Kevin Hicks


Kevin is a self-admitted kid at heart! He funnels that fresh energy into his own youth-serving nonprofit, Triangle Bikeworks (TBW), where young people are enriched in mind, body and spirit through transformative community, cultural and cycling experiences. Kevin’s goal as Founder and Executive Director of TBW is to help provide youth with an opportunity to make the world a better place. Kevin’s board service at Youth Forward stems from a desire to provide foundational services to the nonprofits serving youth in Chapel Hill/Carrboro.

When Kevin isn’t leading cycling tours for children cross country, or trying to keep up with his own eight kids, you can find him working in IT at IBM.

Deshira Wallace


Deshira’s interest in being more involved in children and adolescent issues with her community led her to join Youth Forward’s board. As she’s become more familiar with youth activities throughout the area, she’s been continually inspired by young people doing amazing work.

Among other things, Deshira wanted to be a photographer or a big cats expert when she grew up. So it’s no wonder as an adult she continues to be captivated by the world around her. To satisfy her innate curiosity, she is pursuing a doctorate degree in MSPH Health Behavior at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. She also holds a BA Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University.

Una Kelley


Una’s Youth Forward board service flows from her belief that things can improve when bright, innovative and committed people unite their efforts. She is encouraged and energized by the many incredible organizations working to make the world a better place. Una helps drive positive change as a Grantmaking and Nonprofit Consultant with the Oak Foundation.

Her background includes a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor’s of Psychology from the University of North Carolina. In her free time, Una enjoys spending time with her three children, cooking, and taking day trips to explore the beautiful beaches, mountains and nature of North Carolina.

Stacy Parker-Fisher

Stacy is inspired by people solving hard problems with grace, humor and wisdom. Exemplifying these very qualities, Stacy was one of the founders of Youth Forward, a project of the NC Network of Grantmakers. Her vision was to accelerate the efficacy of organizations serving youth in Chapel Hill/Carrboro by creating connections and access to services, hallmarks of Youth Forward’s ongoing efforts today.

Her background also includes a Masters in Psychology from the University of Illinois; 13 years as a teacher for students with learning and emotional challenges; 7 years as an Educational Specialist in the Department of Pediatrics; and 7 years as Vice President of the nonprofit, All Kinds of Minds. Stacy currently serves as the Director of Learning Differences Programme at Oak Foundation.

Megan McCurley

Megan serves as Youth Forward’s current Board Chair. She’s inspired by mothers who are working full-time jobs; supporting their communities in their time off; and raising their kids to view the world through a social justice/equity lens. Megan shares, “As a person of color and a member of the Latinx community, it’s important that I help to bring in other folks from my community and to elevate our collective voices.”

Megan’s passion for education runs deep. Her entire family are current or former educators. For 16 years, she’s been working in Education and Literacy with a focus on community-based education, participatory education, and equity. She also holds a BS in Childhood and Special Education and a MA in Anthropology and Education. Currently, Megan is the America Reads/America Counts Program Coordinator at Duke University.