Tillis Announces Women For Tillis Coalition
March 24, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. - Thom Tillis, conservative candidate for U.S. Senate and North Carolina House Speaker, today announced the Women for Tillis Coalition, to be chaired by leaders from across North Carolina, including Maria Luddy, Willa Kane, Mary Susan Fulghum, Jeanne J. Smoot, Hannah Salem, Kristen Laster, Betsy Gray Barrus, Nan Dupree Miller, Blanche Robertson Bacon, Beth Southern, and Blake Simpson Fricks.
Maria Luddy is a former English teacher and has been married to Raleigh businessman, Robert Luddy, for ten years. Maria serves on the board of Birthchoice and helps support the Gabriel Project, two local pro-life organizations. In addition, Maria shares her husband’s support of school choice – including private and charter schools. She has a B.A. in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.A. in Educational Administration from American University.
Willa Kane is a Raleigh native, a founding vestry member of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, and a national trustee for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. Willa has also served on the board of The Healing Place of Wake County, Friends of Habitat, North Carolina Theatre, and Kids Voting-NC. Willa is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she did her post graduate study in journalism at the University ofFlorida and she is married to Raleigh businessman John Kane.
Mary Susan Fulghum, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. is a retired OB-GYN who is very active in the Raleigh community. She currently serves on the Rex Healthcare Foundation Board, North Carolina Symphony Society Board of Trustees, St. Timothy’s School Board of Trustees, Sir Walter Raleigh Cabinet, Raleigh Fine Arts Society, and Junior League of Raleigh. Maria serves as the Chair of the North Carolina Early Childhood Advisory Council. She graduated from the University of North Carolina and is married to Dr. James S. Fulghum,III, M.D., neurosurgeon.
Jeanne J. Smoot served under President Reagan and President Bush as Director of Academic Programs and on the National Humanities Council, respectively. She is the past President of Wake County Republican Women and a past Chair of the Fourth Congressional GOP District, as well as a former Vice President and Capital Area Region Director of the North Carolina Federation of Republican Women. Jeanne is married to David M. Smoot, and they have four grown children and six grandchildren.
Hannah Salem is the founder of Salem Strategies and a veteran of numerous political and public affairs campaigns. She has over 10 years of experience working for candidates, elected officials, and Fortune 500 companies, as well as unique insight and experience working with the U.S. Military. In 2011, Hannah was recognized by Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz as the 2011 Air Force Key Spouse of the Year for her efforts to strengthen and streamline communication among military spouses. Hannah more recently served as Chief Legislative Aide and Campaign Manager to North Carolina State Senator Ronald Rabin. She resides in Spring Lake, North Carolina, where she volunteers with many NCGOP organizations and serves as the Key Spouse Mentor to the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron at Pope Army Airfield.
Kristen Laster, a North Carolina native, opened Southern Strategy Group’s North Carolina office as Managing Partner in July 2012. Kristen has spent her professional career specializing in government relations and lobbying state and local governments, with a proven ability to establish and maintain working relationships with all branches of government. Born in Boone and raised in Fayetteville, Kristen graduated from WesternCarolina University with a degree in Public Relations. Kristen and her husband, Scott, live in Fuquay Varina with their two sons.
Betsy Gray Barrus attended North Carolina State University, where she earned a B.A. degree in Political Science. During her time at N.C. State, she worked part-time for the Financial Director at the NCGOP and volunteered for several political campaigns. From 2003-2006, Betsy worked for the Bush Administration as the Deputy White House Liaison to the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 2006, Betsy Gray returned to Raleigh, where she was a Corporate Accounts Manager for Maxwell Marketing. She is married to Alban Barrus III and is currently a stay at home mother to two boys, Alban (3½) and Gray (6 months).
Nan Dupree Miller received her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest Universityand her M.A. in English from North Carolina State University. She taught college composition and literature for 26 years: 8 years at NC State and 18 years at MeredithCollege, where she opened and directed the Meredith College Writing Center. As a “Road Scholar” or lecturer for the North Carolina Humanities Council, she has given presentations on literary topics in libraries across the state.
Blanche Robertson Bacon is from Salisbury, North Carolina and graduated from St.Mary’s Jr College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She served on boards of St. Mary’s School, Wake County Boys and Girls Clubs (where she was the first female president), North Carolina Museum of History, WakeMed Hospital, Penick Village Retirement Home, Junior League of Raleigh, Member of Christ Episcopal Church, and she is also a former vestry member.
Beth Southern is Associate General Counsel at Hanesbrands Inc., based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Prior to joining Hanesbrands in 2012, Beth was in private practice in Winston-Salem at the law firm of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, LLP. Beth received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. She resides in King, NC with her husband, Bill, and children Kate (4) and Flynn (2).
Blake Simpson Fricks is a corporate attorney for Smith Anderson and has been actively involved in the Raleigh community through her involvement with Neighbor to Neighbor,Marbles Kids Museum, the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Ballet and Holy Trinity Church. She was appointed by Governor McCrory to serve on the North Carolina Child Care Commission. Blake attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a B.A. degree in Political Science in 2003 and her J.D. in 2007. Blake is married to Wesley Fricks, a board member for the North Carolina Community College System, and they have two boys, Wells (3½) and Smith (1).
“I’m honored to have the support of these talented and successful women from across the state,” Tillis said. “I look forward to working closely with them over the course of the campaign.”
To learn more about Women for Tillis or to get involved, fill out the form below: