Abbie Szymanski

Executive Director

Abbie Szymanski was a past board member and Board Chair for the Raleigh-Wake Partnership before taking the helm as the Executive Director in 2018. Abbie leads a dynamic team of non-profit professionals, all working towards ending homelessness as we know it in Wake County. Abbie believes that with a community approach, real changes can be made to the system-wide processes affecting people experiencing homelessness in our region. Previously with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Abbie has a passion for nonprofit management, business, and quality of life for all people.

Abbie lives in a circus with her husband, Chris, Iris (age 5) and Daniel (age 1), and Primrose the cat. She has lived in Wake County for 25 years and loves all of the growth and change that has happened throughout the area within that time.

Dawn Fagan

Grants and Operations Manager

Dawn has been the Executive Director of a medium sized Redevelopment & Housing Authority in Virginia for the last 5 years.  Prior to that she provided consulting and accounting services to housing authorities in Florida and North Carolina.  Her career has spanned 21 years in the housing industry.  Dawn believes the experience with HUD housing programs and HUD accounting will make her position with The Partnership a perfect fit.  Dawn is excited to join The Partnership to assist the Wake/Raleigh homeless response system utilize the limited funding to the fullest and reach the goal of ending homelessness in this area.

Dawn has lived in Wake County for 8 years.  She currently lives in Clayton with her husband, Glenn, and their two Great Danes – Tink & Tuna.  She has three daughters, two granddaughters and one grandson that live in Garner.   She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, working on home projects and doing crafts such as knitting, crocheting and sewing.

Vanessa Kopp

Coordinated Entry System Manager

Vanessa is a North Carolina native and attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She then attended the University of Pennsylvania and received her Master of Social Work degree. During her time at the University of Pennsylvania, she had the privilege of working for the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania (HAP). At HAP, she learned that the driving principle behind housing policy and advocacy relies on a shared belief that “if you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to be able to afford a place to live.”

Vanessa believes the work of The Partnership reflects that vision and provides a crucial platform for housing and homeless service providers to share and advocate for the needs of those it serves. In addition, The Partnership recognizes that an end to homelessness and the beginning of housing stability relies heavily on data-informed, multi-disciplinary, and cross-sector partnerships. She is excited to serve as the Coordinated Entry Systems Manager and support Wake in building a Coordinated Entry and homeless system that we can be proud of.


Thurston Alexander-Smith

Homeless Management Information System Administrator

Thurston has a passion for his community. Though he grew up in Charlotte, he visited Raleigh many times a year to visit family. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University, he continued his graduate work in Sociology at North Carolina State University and has called Raleigh home ever since.

Thurston’s strong belief in the power of social science lead to working with North Carolina’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). For the better part of a decade, Thurston has served and supported North Carolina’s homeless service agencies, proving training and technical assistance for dozens of programs.
The Partnership realizes the value of HMIS and strong data in the quest to end homelessness in Wake County. As Homeless Management System Administrator for the Wake County Continuum of Care, Thurston is excited to focus his experience on his home community.

Ann Fitts

Communications and Community Engagement Intern

Ann Fitts is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies and minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies. As the Communications and Community Engagement Intern, she is working on several different projects, including a Partnership newsletter. Though Ann is new to the nonprofit world, she is excited to be working with the Partnership and learning how her work can make a difference.