Meet the Umoja Board of Directors
Gene Ettison CPSS CHW CRC
Gene Ettison is a native of Asheville and an entrepreneur. He is a Chef and the energetic founder of The Ettison group, an enterprise that now includes a printing and branding company, and a doughnut food truck. Gene is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, Community Health Worker and Certified Recovery Coach. He is active in the Voice Of Affrilachia Re-Entry Team with United Way of Rutherford County.
alexandria monque ravenel
alexandria monque is a native New Yorker born and reared with the southern charms of her native Charlestonian parents who fled the South in their teen years. alexandria made her way south and eventually to WNC in 2016. As a social entrepreneur, she has founded several businesses including a Montessori school, a women-focused and empowerment bookstore, and gallery for underground artists. Now, alexandria is co-owner of Noir Collective AVL, a boutique shop and art gallery in downtown Asheville featuring Black artists and creatives, which was founded by her brilliant child, Ajax Ravenel. alexandria also spends time at YMI Cultural Center where she coordinates equity partnerships with the community & inspires cultural change. She is also co-owner of Collaborative Organizing, a private social justice consulting firm.
Patti Holcombe West is a native of Yancey County, NC. Patti and her husband co-founded 5th Street Ministries, a non-profit in the Piedmont of North Carolina in 1990. This non-profit turned into one of the largest in the area, serving a variety of issues, from housing to healthcare to advocacy. Through that experience, Patti worked closely with the unhoused population, providing temporary housing and assisting individuals and families to a more permanent solution. In doing so issues such as mental health, substance use, prison re-entry, generational poverty, and trauma had to be addressed. Patti retired in 2021 after 31 years and continues to look for ways to address these same issues with Umoja.
Elizabeth Ivey MSW CPSS
Ms. Ivey is a mixed medium artist and owner of Sister Soul Sessions, LLC which facilitates and supports mental health and wellness for adolescents and women, specifically of African American descent, in an effort to elicit healing self-awareness, self-motivation, and self-empowerment to develop secure individual autonomy, family togetherness, community involvement through a mindful individual lens, and creating connections with others.
Pierre was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Asheville. He is a graduate of Asheville High School and attended UNCA. Pierre is the owner of PK Griffin Enterprises LLC and a Master Barber. He is an active Minister at Full Deliverance Outreach Ministry in Lexington, NC and the father of four children.
Brandi Hayes CPSS CHW CET
Brandi was born and raised in Asheville. She is a graduate of Erwin High School. Her background is in health care, and she has worked for 10 years at Mission Hospital, beginning as a CNA and later as a Care Assure Patient Coordinator. She is also a Certified EKG Technician and a Community Health Worker. She currently supports a team of Buncombe County Community Paramedics in her role as a Peer Support Specialist. She is the mother of four and the wife of Umoja Founder and Executive Director Michael Hayes.