Our Staff

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The diverse group that comprises the Rise & Shine staff is united in our shared passion for educating and inspiring young people. A belief that every child deserves an equal chance to learn, to explore, and to blossom drives everything we do. Each day brings a fresh excitement that's reflected in our scholars' faces as they make new discoveries and experience the joy of learning.

R&S Program Director


After serving in the United States Army for over 30 years, I joined the Rise & Shine team in December 2017. My goal is to manage and lead Rise & Shine in the realization of its mission. I am grateful that God has allowed me to return to the place where I was raised as a young boy, and to work with the children here at Rise & Shine, to give back what so many worked so hard to give to me and others of my generation. I devote much time to collaborating with other community-based organizations, meeting with school officials, and creating innovative initiatives that will help our scholars to succeed in life. We are here for them each and every day, because we have faith in who they are, and who they will become.


A Texas native and graduate of the University of North Texas, I gained a deeper understanding of the importance of access to education by assisting students to secure scholarships at my alma mater. In 2003, I relocated to NC, and have been the Director of Development with local non-profits, including MemoryCare in Asheville, Alzheimer’s Association of WNC, the Presbyterian Heritage Center in Montreat, and now Rise & Shine. This path has been rewarding both personally and professionally. As a mother of three and a grandmother of one, I’m passionate about helping to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential in life.

R&S Office Manager


I have been a part of Rise & Shine for many years. My grandchildren attend the program, so I get multiple perspectives on the impact of our program daily! I continue to be drawn to my work here because of the value of the program to the local community. I'm responsible for maintaining financial records for Rise & Shine, and I have the great pleasure of seeing our wonderful volunteers each day when they walk through the door. As a long-time resident, I know our community well, which allows me to try to ensure that all voices are heard.

R&S Site Coordinator

maggie grimm, Site Coordinator

As a recent transplant to Brevard, I have been given the great privilege of working as Rise & Shine’s Site Coordinator. My primary role is to assist the Program Director in addressing our scholars' educational needs, specifically the Level 3s. In addition, I participate in the planning and implementation of the Enrichment rotation for the Level 1s and 2s. It has been rewarding to use my degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from The University of Georgia in a way that not only helps our scholars further their education, but also have fun while doing it.

R&S Guided Reading Specialist

Laura Leatherwood, Reading Specialist & Tutor coordinator

I joined the Rise & Shine Program in the fall of 2016, after having taught Exceptional Children's classes at Pisgah Forest Elementary School for 28 years. As a Guided Reading Specialist, I enjoy working with the scholars and helping them increase their reading skills through the exploration of rich literature. Our small group Guided Reading sessions give the scholars an opportunity to share their own experiences as well as gain knowledge from the other scholars in the group. I hope that I can instill a love of reading in our children so that they can be successful in every stage in their lives. &

R&S Assistant Program Director


As part of the Brevard College Teacher Licensure Program, I first got involved with Rise & Shine as a work-study student assisting with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities. Four years later, I’m now teaching middle school science at Brevard Academy and spending my afternoons and summers with the Rise & Shine Level 3 Scholars. As Assistant Program Director, I am responsible for making sure that the day runs smoothly and that the scholars are having positive experiences while learning.



Rise & Shine/Neighbors In Ministry board members work tirelessly, devoting countless hours toward sustaining and growing our remarkable program. We supply vision, set and adopt policies, and direct our skilled and dedicated staff. We take pride in our unwavering commitment in the face of many challenges, and believe this has allowed Rise & Shine to produce exceptional results.

This is my way of changing the world
— Ruth Lentz
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SEATED, left to right:
Carol Dugger, Secretary
Judy Griffin, President

STANDING, left to right:
Julia Gray, Assistant Treasurer
Kayla Cermak, Treasurer
Barbara Grimm
Maureen Copelof, Vice President
Tommy Kilgore
Julie Heinitsh
Rev. Ruth Peters