Board of Directors

The Joseph Initiative Inc. is a non-profit organization formed in the State of North Carolina and operates under the oversight of a Board of Directors. The current Board consists of the following members:

karen-cowanPresident – Karen Cowan

Karen Cowan has had a career of more than 35 years working in the community. She has worked at Blue Ridge Mental Health, Buncombe County Health Department, Social Services, has owned group homes in this community and is currently the Director of Brandi Nichole Family Enrichment Center Foster Care Agency.

Karen is a graduate from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She has undergraduate degrees in both social work and criminal justice.

Karen has been working throughout her life to improve the lives of others around her. She has been a foster parent and a mentor. She has volunteered at the Western Carolina Rescue Mission as a cook, has volunteered as a counselor with Veteran’s struggling with addiction. Karen has volunteered in the City School System as well as with Meals on Wheels as a driver for more than 6 years. She is not afraid to get in the trenches.
anne-lazo1Vice President – Anne Lazo

As the CEO of Eagle Soars Consulting and Motorhead Advantage, Anne Lazo works closely with business owners and their teams to create employee and customer experiences that generate greater loyalty and brand recognition. Anne is a big believer in giving back to her local community and loves serving people. When it comes to her involvement with The Joseph Initiative, she is passionate about creating an organization that values and serves others in a positive and encouraging manner. To help accomplish this goal, Anne is heavily involved in helping The Joseph Initiative with marketing efforts. Over the years, she has volunteered her time and talents to other community-based non-profit organizations including a crisis pregnancy center in New Jersey, an international adoption agency, and Girls on the Run of Western North Carolina. On a personal note, Anne loves the outdoors, is an avid runner, and is currently training for her first ultramarathon in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.
amy-rottmannSecretary – Amy Rottmann

Doctorate in Educational Leadership: Curriculum, Instruction, & Supervision all from University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has contributed to the education profession through various roles: high school English teacher, Director of the UNCW NC Teaching Fellows Program, English adjunct instructor, Director of Student Engagement and Recruitment, and teacher education instructor.
Treasurer – Currently Vacant
Tim Blekicki Director - Tim A. Blekicki

Tim Blekicki earned his B.S. Ed. from Western Carolina University focusing on working with at-risk populations and alternative schools. He current works as an Employment Specialist for The Arc of North Carolina with the Mission Health Project SEARCH program where helps individuals with intellectual disabilities develop employment skills as they transition into the workforce and strive for self-advocacy and independence. Surrounded by community centric role models, Tim was raised to believe in cultural equity, paying kindness forwards, and the strength of a community in cooperation. Tim hopes to leverage his extensive past experience in hospitality for Joseph’s Initiative to help create a passion and career path for those who may feel they have few options.
Angie Garner Director - Angie Garner

Angie Garner is the Community Relations Representative for Mitchell, Yancey, Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties for Vaya Health. Prior to Vaya, she was the Foster Care Program Manager for Buncombe Health Human Services. Within that position, Angie managed the Foster Care Division with 45 employees and 340+ children in foster care. She developed and maintained collaborative relationships across local agencies and with many stakeholders to ensure youth and family involvement. She was /has been a huge advocate for child & family activities, as well as, chaired the Children’s Collaborative. She was a member of the Buncombe, Polk, and Transylvania Community Child Protective Teams & Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Boards. Part of her responsibility was to identify and build relationships constituency groups including health & human service agencies, schools, and advocacy organizations. Another important aspect of her career is that she was the System for Western Highlands Network, where she developed and maintained collaboration across agencies, school systems, and juvenile justice to ensure youth and family involvement across systems.
Yenifer Ex Officio Board Member - Yenifer Silva-Romero

Yenifer Silva-Romero attends the School of Inquiry and Life Science at Asheville. She is a sophomore in 10th grade and soon to be a college student. She hopes to attend UNC-Chapel Hill and take a career in the medical/health field. She wants to become a pediatric physician or an OB/GYN specialist. She loves to volunteer out in the community and help with events. Her parents helped influence her to become who she is because they pushed her to do her best. She expects the best from herself and likes to challenge herself as well. She believes that the mistakes you make throughout your life help you learn from them, so you can improve.