ECSU Board of Visitors


The Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) Board of Visitors is a volunteer advisory organization that advises the chancellor, and serves as an advocate for the university. Board members are appointed by the chancellor based upon their knowledge and experiences in specific academic fields or their broad expertise, ability to influence financial support, and willingness to give time and commitment to ECSU.  Board members are not required to be a graduate of the university.


Tomica Adams


Tomica Adams is a commercial pilot who graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) with a bachelor’s degree in Flight Technology.

In the early 2000s, Adams worked as a demonstration pilot for Raytheon Aircraft Company, flying every civilian Beechcraft aircraft manufactured at that time.  She has been a pilot with United Airlines for nearly 16 years and has flown the B737, B757, B767 and now the B777.  First Officer Adams also supports pilot recruitment and hiring for her company.  Earlier this year, Adams became one of four Black female captains for United Airlines. 

She has been a member of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals since 1998.  Adams is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

 Melvin Blackwell


Dr. Melvin T. Blackwell, a 1987 graduate of ECSU,  is the Senior Pastor of the Little Zion Baptist Church, Smithfield, Virginia. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Virginia University of Lynchburg.

He is affiliated with numerous organizations including The Metro Ministers’ Conference of Virginia, as the incoming 58th President; The Tidewater Board of Directors for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, as the incoming Chair;  and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. He also serves on numerous boards including the Baptist General Convention, the Theological Scholarship Foundation, Inc., and the Bank of America Advisory Panel. 

He is the founder of Back Home Ministries. He is the executor of the Pastor’s U(niversity) Lectures and Forward Leadership Conferences. He is a sought-after lecturer and workshop facilitator. He is an author and software developer. He also fulfills his missionary calling through his support and periodic trips to the people and nation of Kenya, Africa. 

He currently resides in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife Jackie. They have four children: Alexandria, Melvin II, Marcus, and Nijeria. 



Jennifer K. Congleton is a native of Washington and now resides in Winterville, NC. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in public health education and a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from East Carolina University. Professionally, Congeleton has been instructor at East Carolina University and Pitt Community College, as well as the Director of Admissions at Beaufort Community College. Currently she is employed with Vidant Medical Center as the Administrator of Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services. Her previous roles at Vidant (formerly Pitt County Memorial Hospital) were Coordinator for Allied Health Education, Director of Guest Relations, Administrator of Employee Recognition and Retention and Director of Volunteer Services.

Congleton currently serves on the Pitt-Greenville Chamber of Commerce Teen Leadership Institute Committee; Board of Visitors for ECU; Foundation Board for  Pitt Community College;  2015 Volunteer of the Year for the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge; honored to have been selected to be on the A T & T North Carolina Heritage Calendar for 2018; Recognized by the Pitt County United Way as a Black History Month Influential Person Spotlight  Life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and most recently was elected to a second term as Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority;

She is an active member of Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church, Greenville, NC.

She is a firm believer and is driven each & every day by the scripture “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love HIM.”

Demetrius Deloatch


Demetrius Deloatch was born in Northampton County in northeastern North Carolina.  He is a Consultant and Lobbyist for APCO Worldwide, a global public relations firm, where he specializes in all aspects of government relations, including representing numerous organizations and corporations in the state legislature. 

In addition, Deloatch is an Adjunct Professor at Saint Augustine’s University.  He teaches American National Government and provides in-depth analysis of local, state, and federal government and incorporates professional development into his classes to help students prepare for graduation.

Deloatch is a first-generation college graduate and ECSU alum; he holds a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.



James E. Ford is an award-winning educator and consultant on issues of equity in education. Ford is the Executive Director of the Center for Racial Equity in Education (CREED) and the Principal Consultant at Filling the Gap Educational Consultants, LLC. James currently serves on the North Carolina State Board of Education.

Formerly, he served as the 2014-15 North Carolina Teacher of the Year and the representative for 95,000 public school teachers throughout the state. For a full year, he traveled the state and country speaking before thousands of teachers, students, business leaders and policymakers about the importance of education.

While in this position, he lobbied the state legislature to help secure the first post-recession raises for teachers and was made chair of the Governor's Teacher Advisory Committee. The Governor (McCrory) acknowledged Ford during his 2015 State of the State address for his hard work and recognition. In Spring 2015, He, along with 54 other state teachers were invited to the White House to be honored by President Obama in the Rose Garden during Teacher Appreciation Week. 

Ford taught World History at Garinger High School in Charlotte, NC starting in 2010. Ford earned a bachelor of science in mass communication from Illinois State University in 2003 and a master’s degree in teaching from Rockford University in 2009. He is currently pursuing his PhD at UNC-Charlotte in Urban Education.

Ford was recognized as Charlotte Magazine’s 2014 Charlottean of the Year, and the 2014 National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Teacher of the Year. Ford is a self-professed “equity warrior” who believes education is a human right. He writes and speaks extensively on the topics of race, class, and education equity and advocates for the most underserved student populations. Most notably, an article written after the Charleston shooting about the need to address racism earned him a handwritten note of praise from Secretary Arne Duncan. He writes for Education Post, EdWeek, Charlotte Magazine, Charlotte Agenda and EducationNC.  His work has also appeared in Ebony and ASCD Educational Leadership magazine.
Before deciding to become a teacher, Ford’s early career cemented his connection to children and youth. He worked as a truancy intervention specialist in high schools and director of a teen center that provided educational and after-school activities for youth at risk of dropping out of school. He considers his work and extension of his greater life-calling. He is an activist, writer, minister, husband and father of four.

Rodney Hawkins


Rodney J. Hawkins was born in New York and his family relocated to North Carolina when he was five years old.  Hawkins received his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from ECSU and earned an MBA in Finance from Strayer University.

This United States Armed Forces veteran served in the North Carolina Army National Guard for 14 years.  Hawkins served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and personally executed 27 Combat Logistic Patrols in northern Iraqi.  He earned a promotion to the S2 (Military Intelligence) Shop with the 71st Corps Support Battalion, developed the Combat Logistics Patrol Center Readiness Center, oversaw hundreds of Battalion missions, and earned the Bronze Star.

Hawkins founded Evolve Therapeutic Counseling Services which provides mental health services to adults, children, and their families.  He was a member of the ECSU Foundation Board for seven years and also served as Board Chair.  He is a member of the ECSU Alumni National Association, Inc. and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.



Dr. Linda Bailey Hayden is professor emeritus in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and Director of the ECSU Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Education and Research (CERSER). CERSER programs have resulted in over $25 million in ECSU funded projects with over half of that amount directed to student scholarships. Dr. Hayden is a two-time recipient of the ECSU Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service to the University and was presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by the North Carolina Governor.

As a result of CERSER research, the Antarctic bay, which was progressively exposed over the 30 year period during which, the occupying ice shelf slowly retreated, was named for Elizabeth City State University by the US-Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names Board of Geographic Names and was entered into the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), the nation's official geographic names repository.  Very few researchers or educators have the opportunity to change the world map, however Dr. Hayden‘s team of researchers and students did just that.

Dr. Hayden was awarded the NSF Presidential Award of Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2003. Her interview with HistoryMaker is part of the Library of Congress video collection.

Ramonda Kyser


Ramonda C. Kyser, a Winston-Salem native, currently resides in Charlotte where she is a Senior Consultant with Truist Financial Corporation.  Ms. Kyser is also a certified executive coach who has worked for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on one of its signature programs, Faith in Action.  She awarded grants to communities across the U.S. and created materials about non-profit board development, volunteer recruitment and retention, fund-raising, and strategic planning for long-term growth and sustainability.

Kyser earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Alabama A&M University.  She earned a Public Health post-graduate certificate from UNC Chapel Hill.

Kyser is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and serves on the Trustee Board at First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

Carolyn Mitchell Miales


Carolyn Mitchell Miales has been a dedicated educator for 45+ years.  She was the lead counselor for grades Pre-K through 12 at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, as well as the 504 Plan Liaison, ensuring children with disabilities received accommodations for academic success. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree from ECSU in Social Sciences, a master’s degree from North Carolina Central University, and a Play Therapy Certificate from UNC-Charlotte.  Miales has been an active member of the ECSU Greater Charlotte Alumni Chapter since 2004, serving as program coordinator for the past 16 years.  She has sponsored recruitment events, college fairs, helped make high school students aware of the educational and cultural opportunities at Historically  Black Colleges and Universities (especially her alma mater), and much more.

Miales is a member of the Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Board and the Youth Ministry Team at Mount Carmel Baptist Church where serves on the committee that recognizes students for outstanding academic achievement.

D. Cole Phelps


Ernie Murphrey is the former vice chancellor for business and finance at ECSU, and formerly served as vice president for finance for the University of North Carolina System.

William Nelson


William Nelson grew up in Ahoskie, North Carolina, and currently resides in Elizabeth City.  In 2018, this proud ECSU alum received his bachelor’s degree in Aviation Science and was named the Bearer of the Mace for achieving the highest cumulative Grade Point Average in the graduating class.

A life-long aviation enthusiast, Nelson received his private pilot’s license before graduating high school and now holds commercial single-engine land, sea, and a commercial multi-engine instrument rating.  He currently serves as Airport Director at the Currituck County Regional Airport.

Nelson serves on ECSU’s Aviation Advisory Board, South Hampton Road YMCA Board, and First Flight Society Board of Directors.

D. Cole Phelps

D. Cole Phelps is the founder and managing attorney of a law firm in rural North Carolina that supports five employees. He graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Community Services and went on to receive a Juris Doctor degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, NC.

Among many accomplishments, Phelps was elected as the youngest County Commissioner in North Carolina at 23 years old in 2012 (while still a law student). He was re-elected in 2016 and served as the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board. He currently serves as the Third-Vice Chair of the First Congressional District, North Carolina Democratic Party. His civil affiliations include being the founder of both the D. Cole Phelps Scholarship Foundation, Inc. and the D. Cole Phelps Holiday Invitational Tournament.



Wendy Pierce is a native of North Carolina. She is a graduate of ECSU and holds a Master of Public Health from Walden University. As Team Coordinator of Community Benefit and Grants with Sentara Healthcare, she provides leadership and project management support to strengthen relationships with organizations that provide safety net services and decrease health disparities across northeastern North Carolina and Virginia. She brings diverse community health leadership experience including project management, grants management, business development, community health needs assessment leadership, and development of community partnerships to support population health.  She also serves on several community committees.

Billie Reid


Billie Reid is an Elizabeth City native and ECSU alum; he was the first of nine siblings to graduate from college.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from ECSU, Reid taught at Plymouth High School and then returned to Elizabeth City to teach in the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Public Schools while earning a master’s in Educational Administration from East Carolina University.  He went on to become Assistant Principal at Northeastern High School followed by Principal at H.L. Trigg and Sheep Harney Elementary.  Reid is one of the four original members of the Pharrell Williams education foundation, From One Hand to Another (FOHTA) and continues to serve as one of the Executive Directors.

He is a member of the ECSU National Alumni Association, Inc., an active supporter of the Elizabeth City Area Alumni Chapter, and a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.  Reid served on the ECSU Foundation Board for 11 years, and received a 2017 Chancellor Legacy Award for notable alumni achievement and service.



Bryan Spence is currently the Sr. Program Manager at LinkedIn (and was previously the Lead HBCU Recruiter in Global Talent Acquisition at Microsoft) where he drives the HBCU strategy for Campus Recruiting.  Bryan currently lives in Elizabeth City, NC and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Management and Marketing from Elizabeth City State University and his MBA from East Carolina University.  

Bryan has spent the past 10 years working in a variety of management, operations, and human resources roles – first in the financial industry for 6 years and now recruiting and program managing in the tech industry for the last 4 years.  His collegiate experience included serving in several leadership roles, chartering the university chapters of the National Black MBA Association and the National Society of Leadership and Success, and serving as the first student representative on the university’s planning council all while graduating at the top of his class.

He has recruited from hundreds of universities, served on several academic advisory boards, program managed diversity conferences and developed thousands of students in his tenure.  He is passionate about exposing minorities to opportunities that help them achieve their definition of success.



Taylor Sugg currently serves as President of TowneBank, Northeast North Carolina. Prior to joining TowneBank in January of 2011, Mr Sugg was the Dare County Market President for Wachovia Bank from 2000 to 2010. He has 30 years of banking experience.  Since moving to the Outer Banks in 1992, Mr Sugg has been active in his community, serving on a variety of boards.  He presently serves on the College of the Albemarle Foundation executive committee and as Treasury for the First Flight Society.  Mr Sugg graduated from the University of North Carolina and resides in Kitty Hawk with his wife, Nancy, and their daughter.



Clastrola "Classy" Williams, senior manager for facilities and operations at RTI, International, drives strategy and operational excellence within the Facilities Strategy Services Division at RTI's global headquarters in Research Triangle Park. Ms. Williams utilizes her transformative leadership skills and approaches to enhance the customer experience through use of indoor or outdoor facilities.

Ms. Williams has twenty-four years of experience serving in facilities and engineering roles, including thirteen years with Johnson Controls in various regional and local positions. At RTI, Ms. Williams helped enhance sustainability by reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30%. Ms. Williams helped RTI earn a Green Award from The Triangle Business Journal and National Alexander Hamilton for Green Enterprise Risk Management. Ms. Williams currently oversees the engineering, operations, and maintenance teams and is a key contributor to RTI's Facilities Master Plan.

Ms. Williams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Meredith College. Ms. Williams is a LEED-accredited professional and Certified Energy Manager. Ms. Williams is a member of many professional organizations and currently serves on the Raleigh Charter High School Diversity Committee. Ms. Williams and her husband, Wayne, have two children.