Nicole Johnson, Director
Nicole has had the wonderful opportunity of living in different countries, having been born in Belize City, and currently calling North Carolina home. She is deeply convicted in her belief that faithful congregations can meet the environmental, social and ethical challenges of the 21st century in practical and tangible ways. Her travels and beliefs have motivated her to seek ways of merging faith, health, sustainability, justice and ethics. Nicole is a graduate of Salem College and of the dual degree MDiv/MA program in sustainability at Wake Forest University. Her PHW work is focused on building connections with congregations in the Triad/Metrolina area and developing denominational initiatives that support the health and wholeness ministries of faith communities. Her favorite things to do include traveling, hiking, growing things, trying new recipes, and spending time with family.
Rev. Jessica Stokes, Associate Director, Mental Health Advocacy
Jessica Stokes is the Associate Director of Partners in Health and Wholeness leading our state-wide mental health advocacy efforts. Jessica earned her Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University and BS in Clinical Psychology from Averett University. She is an ordained Baptist minister and joined the Council’s staff in 2016 after directing an interfaith non-profit in Washington State. Jessica’s background includes non-profit work, hospital chaplaincy, interfaith campus ministry, and the local church. Her convictions are rooted in experiences that range from ministry in Appalachia, as a chaplain in a psychiatric hospital, to learning about systemic issues Eastern NC while living in Greenville and Wilmington, as a PHW Regional Coordinator. She seeks authentic and earnest conversation. Jessica’s work for PHW includes a focus on mental health education and advocacy, specifically tailored for faith communities. Jessica is based in Durham with her wife, Vanessa, and two pets.
Rev. Dr. Arlecia Simmons, Associate Director, East Regional
A native of South Carolina, Arlecia has previously called North Carolina home and started her professional career off in the state as a journalist in Eden. She was a journalism educator in Charlotte and later served as a minister in Durham while attending Duke Divinity School, where she earned her Master of Divinity. She is an ordained Baptist minister and formerly served as a senior pastor in the United Church of Christ. Before joining the Council in August 2022, she taught at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., and directed a project to provide professional development to clergy and lay leaders pivoting during COVID-19. Her interest in health and wellness developed as a newspaper reporter covering health issues and new legislation such as HIPAA. Her convictions are rooted in experiences ranging from seeing members of her family and community plagued by the many comorbidities amplified during the pandemic. She is invested in how systemic issues such as gentrification and food and housing insecurity impact health and wholeness and prevent BIPOC people and those in rural communities from thriving. Arlecia is based in Fayetteville, and she enjoys educating people on her Gullah Geechee culture and publishing books and digital content that she hopes will lead to emotional healing and spiritual renewal.
Rev. Carrilea Hall, Associate Director, West Regional
Carrilea is from Sylva in the mountains of western North Carolina. She attended Brevard College where she played soccer and earned a BA in Health Science Studies. She earned her Master of Divinity and a certificate in Religion and Health from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Carrilea is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and has served in a local congregation for several years. Her passion for faith, health, and justice led her to join the Council as the West Regional Associate Director for PHW. She currently lives in Statesville with her husband, Andrew, and their two daughters, Saige and Maya. Carrilea loves the outdoors, adventures/traveling, and good conversations.
Stephenie Sanders, Program and Engagement Administrator
Stephenie has called North Carolina home for most of her life, living in various cities throughout the Piedmont and Triangle areas. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from UNC-Greensboro. Singing gigs in churches eventually led her to a career of working for religious organizations, where she found great meaning in supporting the church’s work for justice and showing compassion to the members of the church and the wider community. Stephenie joined the PHW staff in August 2022 after working for Binkley Baptist Church (Chapel Hill) for seven years as their Office Manager/Ministry Support Manager. She is thrilled to join PHW in their work to help faith communities live healthy, abundant lives. In her spare time, she loves to sing, bake, spend quality time with her friends, and watch reality competition shows (ask her anything about Survivor). She lives in Chapel Hill with her cat, aptly named Kitty.
Krista Westervelt, Associate Director, Healthy Aging
Krista is continuing on with PHW after completing her Senior Practicum internship in Peace and Conflict Studies with us in Fall 2021. She will complete her degree in Peace and Conflict Studies with a Gerontology minor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in May 2022 and is planning to seek her MDiv after graduation. Prior to joining PHW, Krista served the Chatham County Council on Aging as the organization’s Development and Communications Director. During her tenure at the Council on Aging, she was a featured panelist on “Creating, Fostering, and Maintaining Connections During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond” at the 2020 Meals on Wheels Virtual Conference and a co-facilitator on Senior Support and Care at the “Mental Health and Well-Being During the Pandemic” event hosted by NC State’s Institute for Emerging Issues. Krista is a member of The Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist.