Chair of the Wake County Public School Board
Keith Sutton has built his career as an education leader, advocate and public servant on the foundation of civil rights and justice for all. For the past decade, he has served as a member of the Wake County School Board where he and his colleagues are focused on increasing access to healthy schools and closing the achievement gap.
He is the founder of FocusED LLC, a firm designed to support organizations in the improvement and transformation of education. Sutton currently serves as an education innovation consultant where he specializes in providing clients with consultative services focused on developing innovative, high-quality solutions to complex challenges in the education sector.
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Sutton served as the excellence director for BEST NC where he worked to effectively engage a network of members and partners to provide comprehensive support to students, elevate educators and to raise expectations of learning in North Carolina; design and implement strategy to maintain and nurture BEST NC’s partnerships to ensure the collective impact of our work; convened and facilitated working groups on such issues as early childhood educators’ compensation and school accountability; and manage and execute excellence partner convening including event planning in partnerships with a diverse body of organizations and individuals.
Sutton also spent time as a policy development analyst and program development coordinator with the Department of Public Safety, a legislative affairs program manager with the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. His political experience includes work as a deputy director for the North Carolina Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign and outreach director for the Bev Purdue Committee.
He has also served in a number of leadership positions with organizations like the Triangle Urban League and the North Carolina NAACP, as well as a member of Healthy Schools Task Force for the Wake County Public School System, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, the Blue Ribbon Committee on the Future of Wake County for the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Southeast Raleigh Assembly for the City of Raleigh.
Sutton earned his bachelor’s in industrial relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his master’s in education entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of Unity Lodge #64, Prince Hall Masons, the Iota Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., and the proud father of two beautiful daughters, Alexia and Makayla.
Raleigh City Council Member and Mayor ProTem
Raleigh City Councilor Corey Branch is a native of Raleigh and has served Raleigh in numerous ways. While working at AT&T as an Associate Director- Technology, Corey serves as District C Councilor and Raleigh’s Mayor Pro-Tem in working to improve the availability of housing of those from all incomes, a modern and reliable transit system, and programs to aid and assist in development of our youth and young adults of Raleigh.
Corey attended Wake County Public Schools throughout his matriculation. Fuller Elementary, Ligon Middle, and Enloe High Schools each played a role in his early academic success. He continued his education at North Carolina A&T State University, graduating in 2000 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He exemplifies “Aggie Pride” and returns often to Greensboro for sporting and other special events, in support of the institution that contributed so much to his development as a leader, a thinker, and a do-er.
Corey currently serves as Chair of the Transportation and Transit Committee. Previous to being elected, he served as Vice Chair of the Raleigh Transit Authority and continues his work with them as the City Council liaison for the group. He also serves on the city council’s Economic Development and Innovation committee, is the council liaison for the Fair Housing Board and city representative to the Triangle J Council of Governments board. He led the effort in the city funding the Advance Community Health, organized community conversations between citizens and Raleigh Police Department as known as “Barbershop Talks,” and fostering open dialogue between citizens and city staff.
Past leadership positions include leading the Marrkens Development Group as Chair and working as Sound Engineer of the Audio-Visual Team as a member of Baptist Grove Church. He is a former Board of Directors Member for WakeUp Wake County, were he worked to be a voice for South and Southeast Raleigh community while looking out for the city as a whole and Wake County. Corey is currently the national chair of the Leadership Development Institute of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. In his former position as Southern Regional Leadership Chair for the summer Leadership Institute for high school students from seven states, Corey grew the institute by 43% in participation the four years. Corey also organized multiple Legislative Days with the General Assembly for the Association of North Carolina Alphamen for several years. He has held numerous leadership positions in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. on the local, state, and regional levels. Corey enjoys time spent supporting his wife (Chanda) who taught in Wake County Public Schools for many years and held the title of Mrs. Black North Carolina, USA 2017. His joy is time spent traveling with his wife and relax with friends over sports, travel or good food. Corey truly feels that the opportunity to represent District C as City Council Member and Mayor Pro-Tem has brought him full circle, when you consider that his first job was with the City of Raleigh working at the City Hall location in water billing and mail services.
SENATOR JAY CHAUDHURI
State Senator, District 15
JAY CHAUDHURI has spent his career fighting for and working on behalf of the people of North Carolina. For two decades, he has worked at the highest levels of all three branches in state government.
Born in Chattanooga, Jay is the son of immigrants. Jay attended Fayetteville public schools. He graduated from Davidson College, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and North Carolina Central University School of Law with honors.
As Special Counsel to Attorney General Roy Cooper, Jay helped lead an investigation by all 50 Attorneys General that resulted in a landmark agreement with the two leading social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook, to better protect children from Internet predators. As General Counsel & Senior Policy Advisory to State Treasurer Janet Cowell, Jay helped recover almost $100 million back to the pension and escheat funds.
As a State Senator representing District 15 (Raleigh, Cary, and Garner), Jay led the fight on funding class sizes from kindergarten to third grade, and on reducing gun violence in our schools. Senate Democrats elected Jay as Minority Whip, the second-highest ranking position in the Senate Democratic Caucus, for the 2019-20 session.
He lives in the Cameron Village neighborhood with his wife, their two children, who both attend Wake County public schools. They also have a black lab.
JULIE VON HAEFEN
Representative, House District 36
Representative Julie von Haefen has represented the 36th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives since January 1, 2019.
Representative von Haefen received her bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and her law degree from Case Western Reserve University. She practiced law for over 10 years in a variety of areas including criminal law, medical malpractice defense, municipal law and education law. She is licensed to practice law in Ohio, Arizona and California.
After practicing law, Rep. von Haefen became a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) leader at the school, county and state level and a fierce advocate for North Carolina’s public schools. She became involved in her local PTA when the oldest of her three children entered the Wake County Public School System. She went on to become the PTA President at Washington GT Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh for two years. She served as the President of the Wake County PTA Council from 2017-2018, and served on the Board of Directors for five years. Rep. von Haefen also served on the North Carolina PTA Board of Directors from 2017-2019 and was the State Advocacy Chair and Federal Legislative Chair for NCPTA.
Rep. von Haefen and her husband, Dr. Roger von Haefen, a professor at NC State University, live in Apex with their three children. In addition to her work with PTA, Julie is a certified Guardian ad Litem in Wake County and is a longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer.
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