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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. 


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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.


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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.


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Emily Catherine Mealor, MSW

Grants and Operations Manager

Emily Catherine is a North Carolina native with a background in grants management, nonprofit administration, and community development. She studied English and Social Work at Appalachian State University, and received her Master of Social Work from The George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was awarded the Dr. Clara Louise Johnson Outstanding Practicum Student Award for her work with Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Previously she has worked with Visual Art Exchange, The Family Violence Prevention Center, NC Department of Health and Human Services, and the NC Arts Council. Her passions include creative placemaking, disability studies, and writing. She is excited to join the Partnership team to help strengthen and empower local organizations to end homelessness in Wake County. When she’s not working she can usually be found at a local theater or bookstore!

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Frank Baldiga

Data and Evaluation Specialist
Frank worked for many years as a software developer at IBM and at MercuryGate International in Cary. A switch to the field of Human Services led him to an Associates degree in Human Services at Wake Technical Community College.  While at Wake Tech he interned at Family Promise of Wake County as a case manager.
Frank has volunteered at a number of local non-profits including Step Up Ministry, Catholic Parish Outreach and Pardoned By Christ ministry. He has a particular interest in helping current and formerly incarcerated men  transition into society and is a regular volunteer at Wake Correctional Center prison. He believes strongly in social justice and serving those in need. Frank is dedicated to contributing to the mission of the Partnership and helping the team support the great work being done in Wake County to eliminate homelessness.