Diversity Engagement Coalition


The Western North Carolina Diversity Engagement Coalition (DEC) is a network of organizations dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion. DEC brings people together to collectively support the professional development, engagement, and inclusion of multicultural professionals within the member organizations in Western North Carolina.


The WNC DEC brings together partner companies to help create a more diverse workforce in Western North Carolina. The Coalition addresses the needs of the community by looking at professional development in a holistic way. The Professional Leadership Series will help individuals build skill sets to advance their careers. The mentoring program will help create opportunity by building a professional network. The WNC DEC invites businesses to adopt best practices for a diverse workforce and provides resources and articles for those businesses. A community is based on culture. The Asheville community and Western North Carolina offer many arts and cultural experiences.


Community Organization Leaders Helping You Get Ahead

Lakesha McDay, CDP

President, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition
Director - Diversity, Inclusion & Health Equity
Mission Health

A native of Asheville and has been employed with Mission Health for more than 20 years, Lakesha has spent the last 10 years of her career in various roles within Human Resources.  Her passion is facilitation and the learning that happens through it.  Helping to broaden the awareness of inclusion and equity is so much a part of work that she loves.

Lakesha holds a Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a post-graduate certificate in Healthcare Innovation Management from Western Carolina University.  She is an active member in the community and is currently serving on the UNC Asheville Foundation Board of Directors, the Center for Diversity Education Advisory Board and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County Board of Directors.

"One of the things that I am most proud of in my life is that I tried to teach my children that sometimes hills and mountains come along and can delay the goals and dreams that you have for your life or make the climb difficult, but the beauty of the hard climb is when you finally stop, breathe and take a look around...you see amazing views and perspectives that you would have never had the opportunity to see and discover if the terrain had always been flat!"

Nicole Norian, SPHR

Vice-President, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
University of North Carolina at Asheville

Nicole Norian has worked in human resources for over thirty years.  This role has strengthened her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others by positively impacting people's careers.  She currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources at University of North Carolina at Asheville.  Her career has been primarily in higher education human resources, with seven years of human resources experience in county government.  Nicole has a Masters of Science degree in Counseling and Personnel Services from Drake University, and is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

"I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  When we recognize what makes each of us unique, we are able to come together and blend our differences to create meaning and beauty in the world around us.  It is equally essential for us to seek and understand all that we have in common - the shared values, goals, and dreams for the future - because we accomplish more and benefit more when we live, work, learn, and celebrate together." - Nicole Norian

Frank Castelblanco

Treasure, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition
Director, Regional Services - Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC)

Frank Castelblanco received his Doctorate in nursing from Gardner-Webb University, his Bachelors in English from Rutgers University and has attended numerous classes in between.  He is the former Director of Cardiac Emergencies for Mission Health.  Prior to that role, he had experience as a Cardiovascular Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit, Step-down unit, Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, and Progressive Care Units.
Frank is a proficient lecturer and educator of ages K-12, College and Adults.

He is a Cultural Diversity specialist and speaker.  He serves as a Board Member of the Buncombe County Health and Human Services, Asheville-Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement, Center for Diversity Education at the University of North Carolina in Asheville, Asheville Latin Americans for the Advancement of Society, Pisgah Legal Services, and Director of the Health Careers Academy within the Minority Medical Mentoring Program at MAHEC.  Frank has prepared and presented posters for the National Teaching Institute, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, American Heart Association - Scientific Sessions, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Council on the Advancement of Nursing Science.

Lisa Eby

Communication and Community Engagement Division Coordinator, Buncombe County Health and Human Services
Steering Committee, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition

Lisa Eby has over fourteen years of experience in Health and Human Services.  She has spent the last ten years working as the Human Resources Director for Health and Human Services, integrating her knowledge of systems thinking and organizational effectiveness to foster a culture of workforce engagement, innovation and compassionate service.  Lisa also oversees the communications for Health and Human Services.

Lisa earned a Masters of Social Work degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and also holds a Masters degree in Biostatistics from the Medical College of Virginia.  Lisa is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).


Sheila Meadows

Vice President of Human Resources, Mission Health
Steering Committee, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition

Deborah Miles

Director, Center for Diversity Education
University of North Carolina at Asheville
Steering Committee Member, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition

Deborah Miles is a graduate of Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.  She began the Center for Diversity Education in 1995 at the Jewish Community Center before it moved to University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2003.  The mission of the Center for Diversity Education is to celebrate and teach diversity in order to foster conversation and respect among cultures.  Each year, the Center provides programming for over 25,000 students, teachers and citizens throughout Western North Carolina.  The Center also provides services to the local business and non-profit community for diversity trainings, walking tours and exhibit rentals.

In 2005, Deborah was presented with the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for Race Relations given by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and in 2009 was the recipient of the Grace Lee Pace Award from Warren Wilson College.

Deborah is married to Marc Rudow and they are the parents of three grown sons.

Kaye Schmidt

Kaye (Waugh) Schmidt

Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
Steering Committee Member, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition

Kaye Schmidt is the Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.  She has over twenty years of experience working directly in human resources in a variety of industries which include finance, hospitality, manufacturing, and higher education.  Kaye has been employed with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College since 2005.

Kaye believes that a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to building and maintaining a successful and vibrant community.

Carol Steen

Carol Nguyen Steen

Director of Human Resources, MAHEC
Steering Committee Member, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition

Carol Steen currently serves as Director of Human Resources for the Mountain Area Health Education Center, Inc. in Asheville.   Her areas of interest and expertise are in management consulting, HRIT solutions, and  people management.   She has been featured in the Triangle Business Journal as a 2009 MBA Game Changer and more recently, she was listed on Verve Magazine's Top 30 Under 30 List and Biltmore Beacon's Top 40 Under 40 Emerging Leaders.  In addition to the WNC DEC, Carol serves on various non-profit boards in the community, including the WNC Human Resources Association, Young Professionals of Asheville, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Management and Society from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA with double‐concentrations in Financial and Services Consulting Management from North Carolina State University's College of Management. In addition, Ms. Steen completed coursework for a Certificate in Human Resources Management from Duke University. She became certified as a Professional in Human Resources in 2011 through the Human Resources Certification Institute and received her SHRM-CP in 2015 from the Society of Human Resources Management.

Carol often presents on various Human Resources or Workforce Development topics throughout the community with organizations that have included WNC Non-profit Pathways, South College, City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy, Students@Work Initiative, Asheville Job Seeker Conference, Business Over Breakfast Series, and UNC’s Eshleman School of Pharmacy.  Her passion is to continually support the local workforce and enhance the HR profession.