Meet our Board

2017-2018 Board of Directors 


Charnessa Ridley


President, Executive Committee
Member Organization: North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA)

Charnessa Ridley is the Technical Assistance Specialist with NCCASA. She has over 10  years professional experience in the field of victim services. Charnessa has traveled across the state of NC and abroad providing training and technical assistance to over 30 rape crisis centers and a host of allied professionals. She holds an Executive Master of Public Administration, certification in Non-Profit Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Charnessa is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and also serves on the leadership council of North Carolina Black Women’s Roundtable. 


Pat Orrange 


Membership Director
Member Organization: Women's Forum of NC

Patricia Orrange, a life long advocate for women's issues and concerns, was born and educated in Buffalo, NY.  Upon retiring, she moved to Raleigh, NC and became active in a number of women's organizations, serving as an officer and on the Boards of NARAL ProChoice NC, League of Women Voters, Blueprint NC, and the Women's Forum of NC. In 2010 she became the convening chair of NC Women Matter, a project of the Women's Forum, which is a coalition of women's organizations from across the state focusing on women's issues and getting out the female vote. 


Lyric Thompson is a women's rights advocate, speaker and professor based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Currently she is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), where she leads the institution’s formulation of evidence-based policy recommendations and manages ICRW’s advocacy efforts with the U.S. Government and internationally. She is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University, where she teaches a graduate level course on women’s rights advocacy.

Lyric is on the board of NC Women United, and leads or is a member of a number of advocacy coalitions on women’s rights issues, including Girls Not Brides USA, the Coalition for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality, the Coalition to End Gender-Based Violence Globally, the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. She is on the Editorial Board of Apolitical, and writes regularly on gender and foreign policy for such outlets as Ms., Huffington Post, Devex, The Hill, Thomson-Reuters Foundation and openDemocracy.

In 2018, Lyric was named as one of the Gender Equality Top 100 by the public policy platform Apolitical. In 2016, Lyric was honored by Professional Women in Advocacy for Excellence in a Campaign for Women Serving Women, recognizing her leadership advocating with the U.S. government for the world’s first piece of foreign policy dedicated to the rights and empowerment of adolescent girls. In 2011, Diplomatic Courier Magazine named her among the Top 99 Under 33 Young Professionals Impacting Foreign Policy.



Tara Romano


Immediate Past President
Member Organization: NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina

Tara Romano has been involved with NCWU since 2006, when she co-coordinated the 2006 Wake Women's Agenda Assembly. She joined the board in 2008, and was President from 2013-2017.  Tara has been active in the women's movement in North Carolina for more than a decade and believes that public policy informed by women's actual experiences, and with women's input, is a key component of building a more just and equitable North Carolina. She is the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. In 1999, Tara climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.


Want to join our board? Check out vacant positions below. If you are interested in joining, email us at
Vacant Positions:
Vice President
Outreach Director
Technology Director 


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