Meet Our Board of Directors
Martha Barnes Wren
“I retired in 2011 after over 38 years in public education. I have done many things in education beginning as a Spanish teacher and ending as the Executive Director of Programs for Exceptional Children in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. I am the proud mother of two wonderful daughters and five perfect grandchildren. My oldest grandson has severe Autism and my youngest grandson has Down Syndrome. My passion for, in some small way, leaving the world a better place includes opening doors for people like my grandsons. My favorite quote is, not surprisingly, “You must be the change you want to see in this world.” – Mahatma Gandhi.”
I am a retired National Board Certified Exceptional Children’s Teacher and Behavior Specialist. Throughout my 31 year career, I always advocated that with only minor accommodations and teaching the right skills, students with disabilities could achieve amazing potentials and levels of independence. Now those students are adults and want the same things that we all want; to be productive citizens, contribute to their families and communities and to work! I believe that the WhirliDogs Café and Training Center will give many that crucial first experience that employers always want. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
I am a retired educator. During my career, I have taught English as a Second Language and Spanish from Kindergarten to the college level. I retired as the English as a Second Language and World Languages Coordinator in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools in 2014. I have always been a passionate advocate of social justice and social equality. Fortunately, through my job and community volunteering I had plenty of opportunities to help students and families remove the barriers and roadblocks that prevented them from developing to their best potential, with the ultimate goal of becoming productive citizens of our communities. The WhirliDogs’ initiative gives me the chance to continue working for equal opportunities for all. “Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.”― Robert G. Ingersoll
I’ve worked in customer service for 20 years. About 15 of those years have been in the restaurant business. I have two boys. My oldest is Isaiah he is so carefree and loves soccer. My youngest is Ethan and he is a happy soul who is full of curiosity and is his brothers #1 fan. Ethan was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and schizencephaly. We do not let these conditions define who he is which is why I’m so proud and honored to be on this board. I want to help show those with disabilities that they are not defined by their conditions. “Recognize that every interaction you have is an opportunity to make a positive impact on others” -Shep Hyken
I am the CEO of Wilson’s nonprofit youth service organization Sharing Positive Outcomes Together known as The SPOT. I have years of experience as a grant writer and non-profit program facilitator. Challenges have always been a motivating factor for me. Being part of a team that has a vision of an unmet need in the community adds to my commitment and drives the work to be completed so that the WhirliDogs program becomes a reality for our underserved citizens in Wilson. My passion has always been seeing a child grow in his/her social skills, academics and overall wellbeing.
I currently serve as the Human Relations Director for the City of Wilson. Part of my work includes understanding and advocating for those that need just a little extra help in navigating everyday life. I believe that everyone has the potential to be an asset to their community and I am committed to helping as many as I can find that potential. One thing that I am passionate about is bringing people together to build an even better Wilson. In order to do that, I firmly believe that Wilson has to be a place that leaves no group behind. There is an old African proverb that I live by, which says, “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” Each of us has the tools and characteristics we need to be a force for good in our community.
As a lifelong Wilsonian, I am a proud partner of WhirliDogs. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend, however my professional experience is in corporate finance. Each of us partners bring distinct talents and experiences to the organization; I will serve as the treasurer safeguarding the financial resources and advising the board on risks and opportunities. I believe all people should be empowered to reach their full potential. We are all capable of miraculous abilities and at WhirliDogs, we are creating a place that cultivates that empowerment and showcases those miraculous abilities. We are creating a place where glass ceilings are broken and dreams come true. We must embrace our innate power to make our community a better place for all.
I am an attorney with Poyner Spruill LLP in Rocky Mount, and I am new resident of Wilson. One of the things I love about Wilson is that there are so many citizens that roll up their sleeves and do the work to make our community a better place for all its residents. When I first learned about WhirliDogs Training Center & Café, I immediately thought (1) what a great idea, (2) Wilson needs an organization doing this work, and (3) I would love to be able to grab a hot dog in downtown Wilson. I am honored to be a part of an organization that is creating something that will have a positive impact on Wilson for years to come.
The SPOT-Wilson Youth United
The SPOT has been a recent nonprofit partner supporting the WhirliDogs’ mission in several ways. They have allowed WhirliDogs to use their food truck for fundraising and training opportunities. Their commercial kitchen has been the site of the WhirliDogs Servsafe and Prep Academies.
Diversified Opportunities Inc.
We are grateful to Diversified Opportunities Inc. for supporting the WhirliDogs Project during its initial fund raising phase.
Wilson Community College
Wilson Community College has been involved in meeting with the WhirliDogs Advisory team on many occasions. WCC would like to assist the WhirliDog training efforts by providing a minimum of two work based learning students per semester from both the Culinary and Business Administration and Accounting programs once the program is in place.
Wilson County Schools
Wilson County Schools is excited and plans to be available for collaboration and assisting with providing merchandise for the retail space. The schools are looking forward to Work-Based Learning opportunities at the WhirliDogs Cafe.