The Hunt Institute Announces Second Cohort of John M. Belk Impact Fellows

June 24, 2021

Competitive Internship Provides College Students with Opportunities to Make Social Impact

Cary, NC. – The John M. Belk Endowment and The Hunt Institute are pleased to announce the second cohort of the John M. Belk Impact Fellowship. Building on the success of the John M. Belk Scholarship program, the Fellowship offers a 10-month internship to currently enrolled college students who demonstrate alignment with the mission of the John M. Belk Endowment, an interest in educational equity, and a commitment to serving others.

The selection process was highly competitive, with just 15 Fellows selected from nearly 200 applicants. With the specific goal of developing future social impact leaders, Fellows will be placed with organizations at the forefront of college access, completion, and workforce development in North Carolina. In addition to The Hunt Institute, Fellows will work with the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at North Carolina State University, Carolina Demography, College Advising Corps, EducationNC, the John M. Belk Endowment, LatinxED, and myFutureNC.

“At the John M. Belk Endowment, we are guided by a central belief: the knowledge and understanding that talent is universal, but opportunity is not,” said MC Belk Pilon, President and Board Chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “This second cohort is representative of the future of North Carolina’s leadership, embodying diversity of class, gender, sexuality, race, and cultural heritage.”

Throughout the Fellowship experience, Impact Fellows will gain exposure to a wide array of nonprofit functional areas, including finance and operations, policy and research, philanthropy and grantmaking, communications and marketing, and program management. Fellows will also be exposed to a variety of education leaders and engage in rich professional development opportunities via workshops led by The Hunt Institute.

“It’s been exciting to see the youthful energy infused into The Hunt Institute by virtue of the Belk Impact Fellows Program,” said Governor Jim Hunt. “I have been inspired by all the great work done by our inaugural cohort of Fellows, who have validated my high expectations for future generations of leaders in our state and across the country. I can’t wait to see what this next cohort will achieve.”

The second cohort of Fellows represents all regions of North Carolina, attends both public and private postsecondary institutions, and are interested in the intersection of equity, education, and social justice. The John M. Belk Endowment and The Hunt Institute hope to continue empowering Fellows to become the next generation of education leaders in service of the children and families of North Carolina.

“Our first cohort of Fellows provided instrumental support and critical perspectives to leading education advocacy organizations in North Carolina,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, President & CEO of The Hunt Institute. “Our second cohort will continue this great work. They are an incredible group of scholars and servant leaders, and I am excited to track their accomplishments and development throughout these next 10 months, and throughout their careers.”

The 2021 cohort of the John M. Belk Impact Fellowship is:

  • Victoria Bryant – Public Policy and Political Science – UNC Chapel Hill
  • Lelah Cox – Public Health Education – UNC Greensboro
  • Amaya Gaines – Political Science and Policy Studies – Elon University
  • Leslie Hernandez – Political Science and Global Politics – UNC Greensboro
  • Amber Igodan – Public Health – Durham Technical Community College
  • Verdant Julius – Biology and Psychology – North Carolina A&T University
  • Samra Kanwal – Art History and Business Administration in Management Information Systems and Finance – UNC Charlotte
  • Joanne Kim – Public Policy – Duke University
  • Tafui Leggard – Industrial Engineering – North Carolina State University
  • Jamison Lowery – M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration – North Carolina State University
  • Naomi Michelle Marshall – Digital Media Technology – Sandhills Community College
  • Jonah Perrin – Political Science and Philosophy – Duke University
  • Douglas Reyes – Master of Public Administration – North Carolina State University
  • Logan Sellman – Social Work – UNC Charlotte
  • Jamila Tate – Accounting and Political Science – North Carolina Central University




About The John M. Belk Endowment

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation committed to transforming postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs. Its mission is aligned with the vision of its founder, the late John M. Belk who served four terms as mayor of Charlotte and was CEO of the department store company Belk, Inc. He created the John M. Belk Endowment in 1995 to fund a national merit scholarship program for his beloved alma mater, Davidson College. Now led by Mr. Belk’s daughter, MC Belk Pilon, the John M. Belk Endowment staff and board continue to partner with innovative, results-oriented programs in North Carolina to further Mr. Belk’s values, legacy, and focus on the value of education as a means to personal fulfillment and community vitality. For more information, please visit


About The Hunt Institute

An affiliate of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, The Hunt Institute is a recognized leader in the movement to transform public education. Marshaling expertise from a nationwide partner network since its establishment in 2001, The Institute brings together people and resources that help build and nurture visionary leadership, and mobilize strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success. For more information, please visit:



Share This