Michael Haley, Executive Director, Wake County Economic Development
Senior Vice President, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
Michael leads and oversees WCED’s economic development program and staff and is the primary partner for providing support to the 12 other municipalities. In his role, Michael is instrumental in creating an environment in Wake County that can grow and thrive and spends most of his time with community partners working to do so.
Previously, Michael served as the Director of Business Recruitment and Expansion for WCED and prior to that, he was a Program Manager at WCED. Before he joined the Chamber, Michael led strategic economic development policy efforts for the North Carolina Department of Commerce as the Director of Public Policy.
Michael is a native North Carolinian growing up in Jacksonville before earning a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a MA in Public Policy from East Carolina University. He and his family are active members of the community and enjoy cheering on local teams like the Hurricanes. He is also active in his children’s sports and enjoys coaching soccer and basketball. Michael and his family enjoy calling a place like Wake County home and is dedicated to continuing to promote North Carolina as a great place to live, work, and play.
Ashley Cagle, Assistant Executive Director
Ashley leads WCED’s comprehensive expansion, recruitment, and relocation efforts focused on four key market segments: Information Technology, Life Sciences, Cleantech, and Advanced Manufacturing. As a component of this, she also oversees WCED’s talent attraction, retention and cultivation strategy, largely anchored by our largely anchored by our Work in the Triangle initiative.
Prior to joining WCED, Ashley was the Executive Director of the Montgomery County (NC) Economic Development Corporation. Successes during her time in Montgomery County include: securing options on a 3,000 acre mega park which received an NC Site Certification designation and expansion of an aseptic food processor which created 500 jobs in rural North Carolina.
Born and raised in Richmond County, NC on her parents' farm, Ashley holds a BA in Organizational Communications from UNC-Charlotte and a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She loves living and working in Wake County because she is able to live in one place and work in another with easy commutes and endless opportunities for family-friendly activities.
Bridget Harrington, Executive Director, Innovate Raleigh
Bridget is the Executive Director of Innovate Raleigh where she helps promote and develop The Triangle’s growing entrepreneurial community by acting as a catalyst, connector, and convener of innovative enterprises and thinkers. Bridget draws on two decades of leading innovative organizations as a marketing leader, business strategy consultant, and founder.
Originally from Greenville, NC, Bridget graduated from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC Chapel Hill. Soon after moving to New York after college, she co-founded Syndicate Media Group, a strategic marketing agency that helped clients like Microsoft, Coca Cola, Land Rover and Soho House develop ground-breaking experiential campaigns. Bridget led finance and operations of a team of over 40 employees across offices in New York and Los Angeles.
After exiting Syndicate and traveling the world for a year, Bridget was hired by Gannett’s Head of Innovation to work on a new local media strategy as Director of Revenue for The Bold Italic in San Francisco. Working closely with the executive team, she crafted a viable financial strategy, oversaw the relaunch of the brand, and built a marketing and sales team that led the organization to profitability.
Bridget then joined global financial services provider KPMG, working on some of the leading venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. She earned an MS in Accounting from San Francisco State University, and became a CPA to gain deeper expertise within finance and accounting. When KPMG offered Bridget the opportunity to transfer to their Raleigh office, she and her husband made the decision to boomerang back to their beloved home state. Bridget lives in downtown Raleigh with her husband and son.
With twenty years of experience in finance, operations, and business strategy for startups to Fortune 50 companies, Bridget is excited to help The Triangle become one of the top hubs for innovation in the country.
Learn more about Innovate Raleigh here.
Brenda Kalavsky, Operations Manager
As the operations manager for WCED, Brenda handles day-to-day operations for the team and directly supports the executive director. She is the primary point of contact for Edge 5, the economic development board, and is the event manager for the annual Economic Development Forum.
Prior to joining WCED, Brenda had extensive experience supporting executives in the Triangle at D.L. Davis & Company, BB&T, and Xerox.
Brenda holds a BS in Business Administration from Meredith College. She has enjoyed watching Raleigh and Wake County grow and looks forward to seeing the region continue to succeed in the future. When she’s not planning logistics for the next big meeting, Brenda can be found working on her latest DIY project and spending time with her domestic feline, Leelee.
Danya Perry, Equitable Economic Development Manager
Danya leads and oversees WCED’s equity and inclusion efforts in Wake County. In his role, Danya is charged with mobilizing the community and building partnerships to galvanize efforts to ensure opportunities for inclusive economic growth for all Wake County residents.
For the past 12 years, Danya has served as the Vice President of Youth Development for Communities In Schools of North Carolina. In this role, Danya supported schools and communities in building their capacity to surround youth with the necessary support to be successful in life.
Danya is native to North Carolina, hailing from New Bern before earning a BA in Political Science and MA in Public Administration from North Carolina State University. From attending festivals to frequenting museums, he and his family are fully immersed in all that Wake County has to offer. He is also a passionate youth advocate and community activist, capitalizing on any opportunity to volunteer and facilitate positive change in the community. Danya moved to Raleigh in 1994 and has no plans to leave. Wake County and North Carolina is a special place to raise a family and build a spectacular life. He looks forward to making this a reality for all of its residents.
Jennifer Miller, Senior Manager, Strategic Marketing & Programs
Jennifer leads and manages WCED’s internal and external communication, marketing, and public relations strategies. She is primarily responsible for WCED’s national media campaign, local public relations initiatives, and digital and traditional marketing efforts to increase brand awareness of Raleigh, Wake County, and the Triangle as a top place for talent and business.
Prior to joining WCED, Jennifer worked for several large advertising agencies in Michigan and North Carolina, working with small business to corporate level clients. Her experience extends from creating strategic marketing plans, digital marketing, social media campaigns, video production, events, and packaging design. Most notably, Jennifer spent four years working at the Kellogg’s headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, as part of the packaging design agency, Anthem.
Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Jennifer holds a BBA in Business Administration with emphasis on Marketing from Adrian College and was four year starter for the women’s basketball team. Jennifer and her husband enjoy spending time outdoors, attending local sporting events (Go Duke!), and exploring all that Wake County has to offer.
Kathleen Henry, Economic Development Manager
As a key member of WCED’s business recruitment and expansion team, Kathleen Henry manages all aspects of the business recruitment and expansion process and contributes to the overall BRE strategy. She also leads efforts around WCED’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) initiative with the goal of recruiting and marketing the region to foreign-owned companies.
Before arriving at WCED, Kathleen worked for World Trade Center Savannah, an international economic development organization in Savannah, Georgia where she served as the Manager of Research and Trade Development, helping regional companies with their international growth strategies as well as managing the planning, marketing and execution of inbound trade missions and outbound trade and investment development efforts for the region.
Born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, Kathleen moved to Savannah, GA to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Armstrong State University. During her four years at Armstrong, she competed as a member of the university’s national championship tennis team. Kathleen was drawn to Wake County for its great quality of life and for the opportunity to contribute to its exciting economic growth. Kathleen loves spending time outdoors, running the Greenways, experiencing the local food scene, attending sporting events and traveling.
John Johnston, Economic Development Manager
John is a member of Wake County Economic Development’s business recruitment and expansion team, managing all aspects of the recruitment and expansion process for entities considering Wake County.
Prior to joining WCED, John worked in government affairs for the Greater Raleigh Chamber, where he advocated for business-friendly policy to local, state, and federally elected and appointed officials, which included traditional business-policy issues such as economic development, tax, and development, in addition to quality of life aspects such as sports, parks and open space, and arts and culture. His accomplishments include leading the 2017 City of Raleigh Transportation Bond campaign, a $206.7 million bond package that funded necessary street and sidewalk infrastructure investments. Additionally, he has served in leadership capacities for the successful repeal of HB2, the passage of the 2016 Wake County Transit Plan and 2013 Wake County Public School System bond campaigns (totaling $3.3 billion), and the development and execution of five Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conferences to Seattle, Boston, San Diego, Austin, and Indianapolis.
John is a lifelong North Carolinian, raised outside of Winston-Salem before moving to Raleigh in 2013. He graduated from UNC-Greensboro with dual degrees in Political Science and Sociology, and he is currently pursuing studies for a Master’s of Business Administration. In 2016, John was appointed by the Raleigh City Council to serve on the Dix Park Master Plan Advisory Committee, overseeing the development of a 308-acre park in Downtown Raleigh. He also sits on the City of Raleigh Museum Board of Directors and enjoys reading the New York Times and the Economist.
Morgan Ross, Research Manager
As the research manager for WCED, Morgan serves as the lead contact for research, building and site assistance, and the development of reports, presentations and proposals. She assists the team and community by providing data analysis of workforce and industry statistics, as well as researching trends and data points.
Prior to joining WCED, Morgan was a Brokerage Assistant at Avison Young where she supported her seven-person brokerage team. Morgan’s laser focus to details provided the highest quality collateral and marketing materials for her brokers. In 2016, Morgan obtained her NC Real Estate License to further her expertise and knowledge in the industry.
Born and raised in Goldsboro, NC, Morgan holds a BS in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance from NC State University. She enjoys living in Wake County, where you have the amenities of a big city coupled with small town communities, while just being a short drive from the mountains and the coast. She enjoys being outdoors, the emerging local eateries and live music scenes.
Davis Blount, Program Coordinator/Marketing Assistant
As Program Assistant, Davis provides support for the department’s marketing initiatives and talent recruitment. He is primarily responsible for social media content and strategy, including Work in the Triangle’s weekly job fair, Triangle Tuesdays. He also provides support to the senior marketing manager for marquee events, conferences, and campaigns.
Prior to joining WCED, Davis was the Marketing Projects Manager at United Way of Utah County where he developed a passion for community involvement and nonprofit work. His extracurricular activities have instilled him with a passion for digital innovation and social connectivity, two things he believes have made his life better in a number of ways.
A proud Durham native, Davis left North Carolina to pursue a BA in English at Brigham Young University-Provo. Shortly after graduation, he and his wife, Taylor, returned to the area in search of a place to launch their careers. When not at work, Davis enjoys playing tennis, reading, spending time with others, and trying foods that gross his wife out.
Thanks to our Edge investors, who fund our economic development program