Board of Directors

Victoria Bennett

Member, Contracts Manager and Negotiator – Advance Auto Parts Corporate Office

Victoria was a member of the first graduating class of KIPP Gaston College Preparatory in 2009. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also minored in Social and Economic Justice. While at UNC Chapel Hill, she was a member of the Robertson Scholars program and had the opportunity to also attend Duke University, where she received a certificate in Child Policy Research. She went on to graduate from North Carolina Central University’s School of Law.

After law school, Victoria served as a Legal Communications Specialist with the NC Department of Health & Human Services before joining the Advance Auto Parts team as a Contracts Manager and Negotiator. Victoria is also a sworn Guardian ad Litem with the Durham County Courts, a domestic violence and sexual assault trained hospital responder and court advocate with the Durham Crisis Response Center, and a volunteer with Durham County Teen Court. She is passionate about justice and serving the people of her community. Victoria is a current member of the NC Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division, the American Bar Association Law Student Division, the National Black Law Student Association, and the National Lawyers Guild.

Mary Brown

Board Chair, Retired Journalist

Mary Earle Brown recently retired with her husband to Chapel Hill after spending 23 years in Atlanta. A graduate of the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia’s masters program in economics. Mary pursued a career in business journalism as a writer of economic publications for Chase Manhattan bank, a member of the staff of the Economy and Business Section of TIME and Economics Writer for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. In Atlanta, she was executive director of the Japan-America Society of Georgia. Mary was a member of the board of the Margaret Mitchell House for almost a decade and served as its president, a member of the board of the Atlanta History Center and of the Cherokee Garden Library.

Minnie Forte-Brown

Member, Chair -Durham Public Schools Board of Education – Durham, NC

Minnie Forte-Brown, a Durham native, is a retired communications specialist and master teacher formerly in the Department of English and Mass Communications at North Carolina Central University. The DPS Board Chair is a member of the NC School Board Association Board of Directors and also serves as an officer for the National School Board Association. She is on the Steering Committee and Resolutions Committee and serves as the Vice-Chair for the Council of Urban Boards of Education. Additionally, she was appointed by former Governor Bev Perdue to the NC Council of the Status of Women and the Gang Advisory Task force. She is also co-founder of the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI).

Tonza Ruffin

Member, Attorney

Attorney Tonza Ruffin is a native of Bertie County, North Carolina. She graduated from Bertie High School in 1988 and went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science with a minor in Women’s Studies from East Carolina University. After becoming a mother at a young age, Attorney Tonza Ruffin went on to earn her Juris Doctorate Degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. While in law school, she had the opportunity to clerk with the Fulton County Public Defender’s Office, The Federal Defender’s Office and Attorney Dwight Thomas. After finishing law school, Attorney Tonza Ruffin returned to her home in Bertie County, North Carolina and worked with Attorney Teresa L. Smallwood after being admitted to the North Carolina Bar. For the past 15 years she has continued to serve her community through her defense of individuals charged with crimes. She is on the capital roster in North Carolina which allows her to represent individuals charged with Capital Murder. For the past four years, Attorney Tonza Ruffin has served on the Faculty of the Felony Defender Trial School at the UNC Chapel Hill Institute of Government and was recently selected to serve on the Halifax Task Force of the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, North Carolina.

Doug Kahn   

Member, Managing Partner – Mistoda Capital

Douglas J. Kahn is Managing Partner of Mistoda Capital, LLC, a private investment firm focused on LBOs, restructurings, and small cap mezzanine capital. He previously served as Executive Officer and President of Croscill Home, a subsidiary of Croscill, Inc. after serving as Chief Operating Officer for several years. He also served as a Senior Vice President at Donaldson, Lufkin, and Jenrette Securities Corp in New York, overseeing the Merchant Banking and Investment Banking Groups. Mr. Kahn is a graduate of Cornell University and earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He currently sits on several Boards, including Jacob Ash Holdings, Rite Screen Corp, the Board of Visitors for Duke Health, and the Foundation of Hope for Mental Illness.