Rasheeda McDaniels - Buncombe County Government

Rasheeda McDaniels sees with unflinching clarity the power of neighbors and families to live into a better future together.  This force of vision, ignited by the death of a vulnerable four-year-old in our community, was crystallized through one-on-one conversations that Rasheeda had with neighbors - coming into their homes and simply asking, "What do you need?"  From this question, Rasheeda gathered stories of mothers and fathers who wanted their children to grow up in a safe neighborhood, who worried about their own health and wanted to find ways to stay healthy so they could be there for their kids.  She heard about neighbors who were afraid to walk through their neighborhoods.  She also saw the many ways that neighbors continued to do the best they could and how with some added supports they could do even better.  From these stories, Rasheeda was inspired to start an outreach program through Buncombe County Health and Human Services.  The program employs community service navigators throughout our community to bring resources into communities and strengthens and rebuilds relationships among neighbors.

One of the efforts in partnership with Manna Foodbank has created the successful and nationally recognized "Pop Up Market".  Acting as a distribution line for perishable and nonperishable food, Rasheeda uses community volunteers to provide "Pop Up Markets" regularly in some of our most vulnerable communities.  Tables are adorned with checkered tablecloths and flowers and neighbors can shop for food and visit.  Through this program buddy systems have sprung up, health screenings have connected individuals to vital medical resources and community members have felt empowered to take on other efforts.  Rasheeda has also shepherded a program to help youth stay connected to parents who are incarcerated and also allowed these youth to connect with each other, finding comfort and support.

Rasheeda's efforts continue to build capacity in our community.  Most recently, she has been named "Community Outreach and Development Manager".  In her team, she has community service navigators, prevention social workers, and a prevention nurse.  This team will continue to work side-by-side with our community listening to what they need, observing what is working well, and giving lift to ideas and efforts to improve the health, safety and well-being of our community.

Darryl Rhymes - Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

Darryl Rhymes is the Employment Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President for Inclusion at A-B Tech Community College.

An Asheville native and graduate of both A-B Tech and the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Rhymes started working at A-B Tech in 2008 as a Human Resources Assistant and was promoted in 2010 to Employment Specialist.  He has since served the community as the Diversity Chair for the WNC Human Resources Association, committee member of the WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition, and a board member and Chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast.

Earlier this year, Rhymes was promoted to his current role as Employment Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President for Inclusion.  In addition to ensuring A-B Tech's hiring process is fair and managing job selection committees, Rhymes also teaches both Human Relations and Interview Skills classes at A-B Tech, lecturing extensively on diversity and inclusion.

According to Kaye Waugh, Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at A-B Tech, "Darryl's dynamic personality, caring nature, and supportive spirit are contagious."  These qualities have earned Darryl a reputation in the A-B Tech community as a passionate teacher and inclusive human resources professional, as well as numerous accolades including A-B Tech Employee of the Month in 2009, a Staff Member of the Year nomination in 2013, and Staff Member of the Quarter in December 2014.

On top of his work at A-B Tech and in the community, Rhymes is also a professionally trained singer who is just as passionate about connecting with individuals from the stage as in the classroom or human resource office. 

"My greatest accomplishments are not the awards, promotions, or applause, but rather those moments when I receive a call or visit from an individual who has manifested their goal as a result of my inspiration and instruction." - Darryl Rhymes

Lakesha McDay - Mission Health

Lakesha F. McDay is a native of Asheville, North Carolina and has been employed with Mission Health for 20 years.  While working at Mission, Lakesha has held positions in Administration, Materials Management and Human Resources.  Her journey in Human Resources began in the Talent Acquisition area.  She has held positions as a Strategic Business Partner, a Manager for the Strategic Business Partners, a Consultant for the Center for Leadership and Professional Development, and has most recently been promoted to the Director of Diversity and Inclusion.  Lakesha holds a Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and a post-graduate certificate in Innovation Management from Western Carolina University.

Lakesha has been active in the community as a Loaned Executive for the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, served as a board member for the Asheville Youth Football and Cheerleading League for many years, and was a former board member for United Services Credit Union.

Lakesha is married to Raymond, Sr., and has two children, Taylor (22) a recent graduate of Western Carolina University, and Raymond Jr. (13), an 8th grader at Valley Springs Middle School.

Lakesha is a huge football fan with the Carolina Panthers being her favorite NFL team.

"One of the things that I am most proud of in my life is that I taught my children that sometimes hills and mountains come along and can delay the goals and dreams that you have foryour life, or make the climb difficult, but the beauty of the hard climb is when you finally stop, breathe and take a look around, you will see amazing views and perspectives that you would have never had the opportunity to see and enjoy if the terrain had always been flat." - Lakesha Mcday