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Advisory Council

The Advisory Council leads the Davidson Centre in bringing best practices to the development of new programs, initiatives, and services.

Cynthia Ackrill, M.D.

  • B.S., Duke University
  • M.D., University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • Primary Care Practice, 15 years
  • Applied Neuropsychology/Biofeedback, Center for the Advancement of Human Potential
  • Certified Wellness Coach with Wellcoaches
  • Advanced Executive and Peak Performance Coach Training
  • Fellow, American Institute of Stress
  • Member and former Board Member, International Society of Neurofeedback and Research
  • Charter Member, HeartMath

Dr. Ackrill combines her knowledge as a primary care physician with her experience in the new brain-based, physiologic approaches to behavior, performance, and health, creating innovative ways to optimize energy, creativity and focus for resilience and health. A certified Wellcoach, Dr. Ackrill has also completed training in advanced executive coaching and peak performance coaching. She coaches individual leaders and their teams, consults on wellness programming and speaks at conferences across the United States.

Charles E. Fienning

  • B.A., Harvard College
  • MBA with Distiction, Harvard Business School
  • 1LT, US Army, Armor Branch
  • Senior Advisor and Former President and CEO, Sumter Packaging Corporation, Sumter, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina
  • 2001 Recipient of Order of the Palmetto from Governor of South Carolina
  • 1997 Entrepreneur of the Year, North Carolina and South Carolina
  • 1998 and 2010 Rotarian of the Year, Sumter, SC
  • 2001 Manufacturer of the Year
  • Chair, Davidson Centre for the Professions

Chuck has been an active leader in business and community for many years, serving as Past President of the Sumter Industrial Association, Sumter Little Theatre, Sumter Rotary Club, and Sumter Chamber of Commerce. He has also served as Elder at First Presbyterian Church and Chairman of County Council in Sumter. Chuck is married to Suzanne, and they have three sons and three grandchildren.

Mary Howerton, Ph.D.

  • B.S., Queens University
  • M.A., University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Ph.D., with Distinction, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Management Consultant (Mary Howerton Consulting, Inc.; Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences, McColl School of Business)
  • Current member of Justice Initiatives Board, N.C. Law & Humanities Board, Law & Community Foundation, and American Cancer Society Leadership Council
  • 2010 Martha Bedell Alexander Award (for community service to substance abuse programs)
  • 2003 Doctoral Representative for the School of Education, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • 2001 Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters, Queens University
  • 1997 Recipient of the Governor's Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service

Mary has served on a number of national, state, and local boards including: National Association of Bar Executives, N.C. Lawyers Assistance Program, the N.C. Mental Health Association, and first CEO of Hospice at Charlotte, Inc., the Mecklenburg County Bar Association, and the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation. She has also served as chair for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Drug Fee Coalition, ABC Board, and Anuvia.  An active business and community leader, Mary is married to State Court Judge Phil Howerton and they have three children.

George W. Jacobs

  • B.A., Centre College of Kentucky
  • M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary.
  • Ph.D. (ABD), University of South Carolina
  • Ordained Presbyterian minister, PC(USA)
  • Co-Founder and Director, Davidson Clergy Center
  • President, Davidson Centre for the Professions
  • Adjunct Professor, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Co-Founder, Hurricane Hugo Habitat for Humanity Project
  • Co-Author, Solving Psychiatric Puzzles with Sagar Sethi, MD, Ph.D.
  • Recipient, Presbyterian Women's Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Gubernatorial appointee to the South Carolina Task force for Homelessness

He served in the parish ministry for 15 years focusing on community development. His academic interests include the intersection of literature and spirituality, and he has taught on the college level as well as leading numerous seminars. A former college swimmer and coach, he enjoys hiking and fitness. George and his wife, Gordon, have a college-aged son. 

Gordon Russell Jacobs

  • B.A., Centre College of Kentucky
  • Co-Founder  and Manager, Davidson Clergy Center
  • Co-Founder and Chair, Clergy Renewal Fund
  • Managing Partner, Davidson Centre for the Professions
  • Treasurer, Order of First Families of Virginia

Gordon has held positions in the graphic arts field as an executive graphics coordinator, and has served in executive and volunteer administrative positions. A former college swimmer and coach, she stays active with swimming and competitive tennis. She and her husband, George, work together at the Davidson Centre, and have a college-aged son. 

Peter Macon

  • B.A., Tufts University
  • Lead Consultant, Macon and Associates, Davidson, NC

Peter has extensive work experience with the United States, Europe and Asia in product development and manufacturing technologies for toys, footwear, sports protective equipment and apparel.  His specialties include comprehensive knowledge of expanded foams, polymers, and fabrics with cost-effective implementation of these technologies in many new products.  Peter has served as Senior Warden of St. Albans Episcopal Church and enjoys theater and travel. 

Kelly Ross

  • B.A., University of Minnesota
  • MBA, University of Michigan
  • Senior Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis, Lowe’s Incorporated
  • Former Vice President of FP & A, Former Director of Merchandising, Director of Business Analysis  and Performance Metrics, Lowe’s Incorporated

Kelly is an active volunteer in church, community, and his workplace, and enjoys time with family and outdoor activities.  He and his wife, Pam, have a daughter and a son.

Tish Stoker Signet

  • B.A., Journalism, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Social Work
  • M.A., in Counseling Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute
  • Ph.D., Candidate, Pacifica Graduate Institute
  • North Carolina Licensed depth psychotherapist
  • Former Senior Vice-President in Corporate Communications, First Union-Wachovia
  • Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher

Tish is licensed depth psychotherapist in the Jungian tradition practicing in Davidson. She is integrating learning from a 30-year career spanning clinical social work and counseling, newspaper journalism and corporate communications. Her counseling focus includes adult transition, career refocus, stress management, addiction recovery, and grief and loss.  She orients her work around whole-person health.

Leesa Sluder

  • B.S. Industrial Relations, Phi Beta Kappa, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Executive MBA classes, Harvard and New York University
  • M.A., Counseling Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute
  • Former Managing Director, Bank of America Global Corporate and Investment Bank
  • North Carolina State University, Coach Certification, Business Coach Institute
  • Health Coach, Duke Divinity School Clergy Health Initiative
  • Founding Member, Institute of Coaching, affiliate of Harvard Medical School

Leesa combines a 25-year finance career with a psychology background and Executive Coaching experience. She is active in her community, serving on the board of Charlotte, NC BIG (Business Innovation and Growth), and as Chair of the Board of Managers of the Lowe’s YMCA in Mooresville, NC. She also serves as a pro bono Executive Coach for students in the Queens University McColl School of Business MBA program. She is passionate about encouraging a Triple Bottom Line philosophy in business, focusing on financial profitability, social equity, and environmental responsibility.

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