Chris is a native Kentuckian and the daughter of missionary parents who served Eastern Kentucky for more than 40 years. She relocated to North Carolina in 1981 and has come to call NC home.
Prior to coming to the Council, she spent several years in corporate America with The Diabetes Treatment Center and Honeywell International before joining a faith-based, nonprofit medical clinic serving the uninsured and under-served of Franklin County. Chris is excited to be a part of the Council’s PHW program where she can utilize her background in health care and service. She and her husband, Joey, have two children, a cat, and a surprisingly friendly bearded dragon.
In her free time, Chris enjoys reading, basketball, and traveling, especially to the mountains.
Regional Coordinator, Southeastern Region
Josie Walker is a native of Eastern North Carolina, but has lived in different parts of the United States, as well as southern Germany. Traveling has exposed her to unique outlooks on life that help her keep an open mind in new situations. Josie has always had a passion for self-sufficiency, which led her to pursue a degree in Urban and Community Horticulture at North Carolina A&T State University. She feels that people should be able to have access to fresh, healthy food and growing it themselves should be a right, not a privilege. Prior to becoming a horticulturalist, Josie had a variety of jobs like teaching English as a Second Language, working as a barista, teaching high school mathematics, and coordinating volunteers for an after-school program. Working in different sectors not only gave her pragmatic experience that can be used to help others, but it has also given her an opportunity to make contacts in many different industries, which will benefit the PHW congregations.
Michelle was born and raised in North Carolina. She pursued higher education at UNC Chapel Hill where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with a concentration in Economics, Trade, and Development. Identifying as half Peruvian, Michelle‘s area of study was Latin America. She credits her time studying in Ireland and volunteering in Costa Rica for how she was shaped both personally and professionally during her undergraduate time. She continued her education as a Fellow at Student Action with Farmworkers, a non-profit organization in Durham, NC. She has been a staff member of the NC Council of Churches since February of 2017. Michelle spends half of her time at the Council working for NC Interfaith Power & Light and half with Partners in Health and Wholeness. She strives to listen and empower all communities of NC through social and environmental justice. She enjoys traveling, singing, dancing, and sushi.
Shannon Axtell Martin
Regional Coordinator, Piedmont Region
Shannon has moved and traveled most of her life. After growing up back and forth between California, Connecticut and Saudi Arabia, she finally settled in North Carolina. Shannon graduated with her Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University School of Divinity and her BA in Religion and Philosophy (with a Concentration in Outdoor Ministries) from Catawba College. She then completed a yearlong Residency as a chaplain at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Shannon’s love for interesting, diverse, and healthy foods was instilled in her from an early age, and she has become increasingly interested in the intersections of justice, food, health, and faith. She is excited to join with congregations to work to increase the faithful health of the communities in and around the triad*. Shannon loves working with people, laughing, cooking, being outside, painting, her husband Robert, and their border collie Benny.
Regional Coordinator, Northeastern Region
Jessica Stokes is the PHW Regional Coordinator for Eastern North Carolina. She joins the Council with a deep love for North Carolina, returning home after directing an interfaith nonprofit in Washington State. Jessica has lived throughout NC, studying and working in Winston-Salem, Wilmington, and the Outer Banks. Jessica earned her Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University and BS in Clinical Psychology from Averett University. She is an ordained Baptist minister. Jessica’s background includes non-profit work, hospital chaplaincy, higher education, and the local church. Her convictions are rooted in experiences that range from ministry in Appalachia and a coastal psychiatric hospital to international travel. Jessica’s work for PHW will include a focus on mental health education and advocacy. Jessica is based in Greenville and connects with congregations and partners in the Eastern part of the state.
Regional Coordinator, Western Region
Nicole Johnson has had the wonderful opportunity of living in different countries, having been born in Belize City, and currently calling North Carolina home. She is deeply convicted in her belief that faithful congregations can meet the environmental, social and ethical challenges of the 21st century in practical and tangible ways. Her travels and beliefs have motivated her to seek ways of merging faith, health, sustainability, justice and ethics. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to be working with congregations and individuals in creating and supporting more healthy communities. Nicole is a graduate of Salem College and Wake Forest University with a Master’s of Divinity and Master of Arts in Sustainability. Her favorite things to do include travelling, hiking, growing things, trying new recipes, and spending time with her husband and two boys.