May/June 2023

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My grandmother has lived in the same brick house in Virginia since 1965. She picked out the house plan, raised her family there and hosted countless gatherings, including her famous Christmas Eve parties, over the years. Nana’s even had the same next-door neighbor for four decades (Hi, Mrs. G!). So it’s understandable that she, at 87 years old, would want to continue to enjoy the views from her beautiful sunroom.

She’s not alone: Nearly nine in 10 Americans between 50 and 80 say it’s important to remain in their houses as they get older, a recent University of Michigan poll found. But almost half say that they’ve given little or no thought to the steps they’d need to take so they could remain there safely.

I recently stayed with my grandmother for a few days and, after I tripped over a particularly problematic rug, we replaced all her bathroom mats and put new nonslip material under other rugs. Some homes of older adults need more structural tweaks like ramps and handrails.

That’s where Nora El-Khouri Spencer and her Hope Renovations crew in Carrboro come in. The women they train to enter into construction careers also help older adults complete the repairs and renovations they need to stay in their homes. It’s an admirable cause and one that’s caught the attention of everyone from “The Drew Barrymore Show” to CNN Heroes as well as our staff, and we’re proud to highlight the organization in our 10th annual women’s issue.

Read on to learn about the other 12 women – entrepreneurs, coaches and champions of the community – starting on page 70. And send in your nomination for future women’s issues here! – Jessica Stringer, editor


72 Kelly Drayton
Director of Emergency Management, Town of Chapel Hill

74 Deborah Stroman
UNC Professor and Founder, Center of Sport Business and Analytics

76 Frances Shetley
Former Town of Carrboro Alderman and community activist

78 Whitney Bulbrook
President, Carolina Ventures Mortgage

80 Christy Graves & Karen Graves
Vice President & Owner and Founder, Chapel Hill Toffee and Griff’s Toffee

82 Laurie Paolicelli
Executive Director, Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau

84 Laura Kieler
Chief Marketing and Content Officer, PBS North Carolina

86 Anissa McLendon
Dual Language First Grade Teacher Assistant, Glenwood Elementary School
Founder, Empowering Excellence thru Exploration Camp

90 Melody Eggen
Artistic Director, Studio A DanceArts

92 Laura Gelblum
Executive Director, Preschool at the Chapel of the Cross

96 Nora El-Khouri Spencer
Founder and CEO, Hope Renovations

98 Donna Papa
Head Coach, UNC Softball


32 Taking the Reins
UNC Field Hockey’s Erin Matson scores big as new head coach

46 No Reservations
Restaurants can’t see the future, but they can pivot

48 Marking a Milestone
A few local nonprofits and businesses hitting a big anniversary this year reflect on local roots, biggest lesson learned and what’s next

56 Our Top Dentists

104 Shine Bright
A thoughtful renovation makes a Meadowmont gem sparkle


6 Letter from the Editor

10 About Town
Events not to miss

24 Noted
What’s we’ve heard around our towns …

36 What We’re Eating
News from our restaurant community, plus a dish we love

38 Dining Guide

122 Weddings


16 Chamber 80th Annual Meeting
19  Carolina Love Gala
20  ‘Italy on a Plate’ Luncheon
21  Big Night in for the Arts
22  ‘Art Speaks’ Opening Reception


67 The Big Give
Our local nonprofits, how they support the community and how you can get involved

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