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-lazo1Secretary – 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. She is sought-after by industry publications, and is often called upon to share her knowledge of marketing and business development in workshops and panel discussions. 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 and Girls on the Run of Western North Carolina. On a personal note, Anne loves the outdoors and is an avid runner. She is a half and full marathoner and enjoys training for those races in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.
nick-baldelliTreasurer – Nick Baldelli, CPA

"Growing up in Miami Florida ingrained in me an understanding of the void caused by drugs and poverty.” After moving to Asheville in 2004, Nick mentored and advocated for at-risk youth in the Asheville area for six years. His experiences in Miami fostered a hunger to reach youth who were stuck in situations that he identified with in his childhood. This passion lead him to work in group homes and treatment facilities serving at-risk youth and their families. After graduating with his Bachelors in Accounting, Nick became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He now works at Gould Killian CPA Group, P.A. in Asheville where he currently provides audit and assurance services to many local governments and not-for-profit organizations. Nick brings his passion for service, and financial expertise to The Joseph Initiative helping restore wellbeing to the families and youth it serves.
amy-rottmannDirector – Amy Rottmann

Amy Rottmann, Ed.D. is a Professor of Education and Program Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne University in the Center of Graduate Studies in Asheville, NC. She earned her Bachelors of Art in English with a concentration in Secondary Education, her Master’s in Education in the Secondary English Education, and her 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.
LaQuita AustinDirector – LaQuita Austin

LaQuita Austin has lived and served the Asheville community since 2010. Her passion is working with individuals with disabilities, which lead her to pursue her Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at Winston-Salem State University. LaQuita is currently a Transition Coordinator at Vaya Health. Prior to joining Vaya Health, LaQuita served as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of North Carolina Division. Her passion and faith is the driving force behind her motivation and commitment to serve her community. LaQuita is a License Professional Counselor specializing in at-risk adolescents. She joined the Joseph Initiative team in August 2016, because she sees the value of and the need for the long-term vision.
Tim Blekicki Director - Tim A. Blekicki

Time 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.