(Research Triangle) – September 20, 2016 – Winkie La Force, who helped build Leadership Triangle into one of the region’s premiere coaching and engagement platforms for emerging and established business and community leaders, will retire from her role as president in January.

Jesica Averhart, currently community engagement director at The American Underground startup hub, will assume executive director duties by first quarter 2017 after a transition and orientation period.

La Force arrived at Leadership Triangle in 2002 and quickly made her mark. She established an alumni network so that graduates could keep in touch and help bring along new classes. She set and met ambitious fundraising goals. She steadily increased corporate and nonprofit involvement. And she launched the annual Leadership Triangle Awards Gala.

“Winkie is one of our region’s greatest assets and a driving force for the progress we’ve experienced over the past several decades, says Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate, Capitol Broadcasting Company, and, chair, Leadership Triangle.

“Winkie leaves very big shoes to fill and our board was unanimous that Jes Averhart is the perfect successor to lead this institution into the future. Like Winkie, Jes personifies Leadership Triangle’s values. You won’t find anyone more collaborative, community-minded and action-oriented than Jes.”

Averhart joined the staff of The American Tobacco Campus in 2011 and took on a series of high profile roles. She helped to conceive and launch Mission Post, a corner of the award-winning campus designated as a collaborative space for nonprofits. She helped to organize and execute beloved community events such as the annual tower lighting. In 2014, she moved to the nationally recognized American Underground startup hub where she spearheaded corporate partnerships (with the likes of Google for Entrepreneurs, Fidelity, Coastal Federal Credit Union, Wells Fargo and others) as well as happenings such as Durham’s annual Black Wall Street activities.  

La Force plans to remain active in the Triangle community. Among other adventures, she’ll apply her well-honed leadership skills to exploits involving her roster of four grandchildren.

About Leadership Triangle

Leadership Triangle is a non-profit organization established in 1992 to educate and promote regionalism across the separate communities of the Triangle. It does this through regional and leadership development classes, seminars and awards. We strive to build leadership capacity, cooperation, and networking opportunities across the public, private and civic sector, preserving local uniqueness while acting regionally to deal with issues such as traffic congestion, water quality, housing affordability, open space, school funding, economic and social equity.