Advisory Board Members

Mike Atkinson

Atkinson is senior vice president and manager of community development for First Citizens Bank. He graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s in English and a minor in business. The married father of a son and a daughter enjoys reading, real estate, golf and football.


Dr. Benita Bell

Bell is the director of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program at Bennett College. She is also an associate professor of chemistry in Bennett’s Division of Natural and Behavioral Sciences/Mathematics. Bell was awarded a NASA Administrator’s Fellowship, serving in the Office of Biological and Physical Research at NASA Headquarters in Washington. At NASA she developed a clinical research study on the role of soy isoflavones in immunity and heart disease. Bell received her bachelor of science in chemistry from UNC Chapel Hill, her master’s degree in chemistry from N.C. A&T and her doctoral degree in nutrition and chemistry from Howard University.


Denver D. Caldwell

Caldwell is manager of turf marketing and marketing support for John Deere, U.S. and Canada within the Agriculture and Turf Division in Cary. He received his master of business administration from Oklahoma State University and a bachelor’s in management and a minor in finance. He enjoys coaching youth sports, boating and spending time with his wife, Natalie, and their sons, Dewayne and Preston.


Elworth Cheek

Cheek is a member of Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T’s Strategic Planning Council, which works to identify needs of local communities and to shape programs to address those needs, particularly for people with limited resources. Part of his role on the Strategic Planning Council is meeting with area representatives in Congress and the General Assembly to advocate for Cooperative Extension. Cheek formerly served on Randolph County’s Cooperative Extension Advisory Council.


Susan Perry Cole

Cole, who lives in Rocky Mount, is president and chief executive officer of the N.C. Association of Community Development Corporations (NCACDC), which she has served since 1999. A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Cole has undergraduate and law degrees from Rutgers University.


Wilfred DeShon Cromartie

Cromartie is a district field representative for the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation in the central part of the state and is the team leader for the Young Farmer and Rancher Program across the state. He holds a bachelor of science in agriculture education and Extension and an master’s in agriculture education, both from N.C A&T.


Darlene Dixon, D.V.M., Ph.D

Dixon leads the Molecular Pathogenesis Group within the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Laboratory at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She has a doctorate of veterinary medicine from the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. She served as a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University before joining NIEHS in 1987. She is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and is a diplomat in the ACVP


Justin Gayliard

Gayliard is the manager of Demand Group, North America Operations at BASF. Originally from New Jersey, Gayliard is a graduate of Rutgers University who holds a bachelor’s in animal science and minors in education and business. He is working toward a Global M.B.A. at the University of North Carolina while working for BASF in the Agricultural Solutions Division. He lives with his husband, toddler daughter and mother-in-law in Chapel Hill.


Jimmy Gentry

Gentry, who lives in Statesville, is chairman of the CAES Advisory Board. He is also president of the North Carolina State Grange and vice president of the National Grange. Gentry is a former vocational agriculture teacher and school administrator. He has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from N.C. State and two master’s degrees from N.C. A&T


Edward L. Gregory Jr.

Gregory, a native of Weldon, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in agricultural education, from N.C. A&T. He is a risk management specialist with USDA’s Risk Management Agency in the Raleigh Regional Office. He previously worked as county executive director for N.C. Farm Service Agency in Lillington, as a community program specialist with N.C. Rural Development in Henderson, general manager at Lea Funeral Home in Raleigh, and as an agriculture teacher at North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem.


Tanika Dean Harris

Harris is the president/chief executive officer of Educational Playtime Too! Inc. and Twirling Divas Afterschool Dance Studio. Harris graduated N.C. A&T with a bachelor of science in child development. During the past 13 years, Harris has opened 15 childcare facilities including a location in Savannah, Georgia. She is the mother of two children whom she has always taught to “uphold an honest report.”


Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker

Hymon-Parker is the interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES), who administers the academic, agricultural research and Cooperative Extension programs in the College, and its 226 faculty and staff members. A nationally recognized leader in the field of family and consumer sciences, Hymon-Parker joined N.C. A&T in 2009 as associate dean for the Agricultural Research Program. Under her guidance, the CAES continues to lead the University in research funding, bringing in an average of $21 million. She also established and coordinated the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, which has successfully operated since 2010. A native of Warrenton, she has a Ph.D. in education policy planning and administration from the University of Maryland, a master’s in apparel design from Cornell University, and a bachelor’s from N.C. Central University in Durham.


Skipper Jones

Jones is senior vice president of marketing and communications for AgCarolina Farm Credit. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Meredith College, where her academic studies were concentrated in marketing with a minor in Spanish. Jones is also a graduate of AgCarolina Farm Credit’s Leadership Development Program, and also of Leadership Harnett. Jones lives in the Harnett County hamlet of Bunnlevel with her husband, Ashley Jones, and two children.


James Martin

Martin is the undergraduate student representative to the board. He is a senior majoring in agriculture and environmental systems who, after graduating A&T in the spring, plans to pursue a graduate degree in plant science. Martin has been a guest presenter at the Minority Landowner Magazine’s 11th anniversary conference. He is also a member of the A&T Chapter of Young Farmers and Ranchers and is a member of the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society.


Roland McReynolds

McReynolds is the executive director of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. He grew up in Columbia, Missouri, where the family home was surrounded by conventional corn and soybean fields. His grandma was a longtime subscriber to Organic Gardening. His family raised its own layer and fryer chickens and grew most of its own vegetables. A licensed attorney, he decided after the births of his children to devote his legal training and business experience to the service of promoting healthy agriculture for future generations.


Carroll Moseley

Moseley is the senior environmental stewardship and policy manager for Syngenta Crop Protection Inc., and is a native of Lawrenceville, Virginia. Having worked on several farms as a youth, Moseley was inspired by an Extension agent to pursue a career in agriculture. He has a bachelor’s in agronomy and animal science from Virginia Tech, where he also earned his doctorate’s degree in weed science. Prior to his corporate experience, he worked as an Extension agent in Virginia. Moseley serves on agriculture-related boards and organizations and is an avid sportsman who enjoys golfing and cycling. Moseley is also the father of four and grandfather of three.


Jessica Patterson

Patterson, a native of Red Springs, is the board’s graduate student representative and serves as the board’s secretary. A magna cum laude A&T graduate with a bachelor’s in food and nutritional science from the CAES’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, she is pursuing a master’s degree in the same field at A&T. Her student activities include membership in the Food and Nutritional Science Club and the Triad chapter of the National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition. She is also a member of Kappa Omicron Nu National Honor Society. Patterson’s career goal is to practice community nutrition as a dietician.


Erica Peterson

Peterson is the executive vice president of the North Carolina Agribusiness Council. She has a bachelor’s in Communications from North Carolina State University and has dedicated her entire career to agribusiness communications – working in advertising, public relations, marketing and public affairs.


Chad Puryear

Puryear is the chief lending officer for Carolina Farm Credit. He grew up in Lee County, just outside the city limits of Sanford. Puryear has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at UNC-Chapel Hill. He began his career in banking before migrating into the farm credit system. Puryear has served in various positions with Carolina Farm Credit, ranging from loan officer to regional vice president. He is married with two teenage daughters and lives in Mooresville.


Dr. Richard C. Reich

Reich is the assistant commissioner for Agricultural Services in the N.C. Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, having served as director of the agency’s Agronomic Services Division since 1999. He is a native of Forsyth County, where he grew up on and still lives on a small farm. He holds a bachelor’s in agronomy, a master’s in soil science, and a doctorate in soil science, all from N.C. State.