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Conference Presenters


Julie Bradwell

Julie has worked 30 years in an inpatient and outpatient physical rehab hospital at Atrium Health and worked for the past 4 years as a Guardian Rep at Empowering Lives Guardianship Services, LLC working with individuals with dual diagnosis.


Bridgette Clifton 


Bridgette is an Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, a Certified Professional of Healthcare Quality and has been serving as the  Vice President of Operations at Longevity Health Plan of NC since November 2023. 


Alison Climo


Alison (Ali) Climo earned a MSW and PhD in social work from the University of Michigan. Ali worked at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC for many years, as faculty and director of undergraduate social work, and then as director of institutional effectiveness. Ali’s community work includes 2+ decades of consulting with aging services organizations and assisting communities in planning to meet the needs of the older adult population. In 2017, Ali helped establish Age-Friendly Buncombe County (NC) and served as its coordinator until 2022. During that time, she also joined the team at Cares (the Center for Aging and Adult Research and Educational Services) at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work, where she is now a senior community engagement specialist in aging. Ali’s work with Cares includes facilitating and supporting collective impact initiatives across the state and developing training and education for individuals, families, and professionals in North Carolina.


Corye Dunn

Corye Dunn joined DRNC in 2011 as the agency’s director of public policy. Dunn, who was born and raised in Durham, N.C., graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and NC Central University School of Law. Prior to coming to work at DRNC, Dunn practiced law in a small firm. She also served as a direct care provider to adults and children with developmental disabilities and worked in nonprofits seeking to expand access to education and increase investment in low-wealth communities.

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Nicki Applefield Engel

As an experienced elder and special needs law attorney, Nicki Applefield Engel helps clients deal with the legal issues involved with the cycle of life. She prides herself on crafting creative solutions and providing peace of mind for her clients and their families. Nicki’s core areas of practice include estate and special needs planning, asset preservation, public benefits, and long-term care planning, guardianships and conservatorships, and probate and trust administration. Nicki approaches her work with compassion, precision, and diligence. She is devoted to providing comprehensive and effective life care planning services for families facing the challenges of life.

Alicia Freeman


Alicia Freeman is a mental health educator and therapist who currently manages the Mental Health First Aid Program at UNC-CH in the School of Social Work, and operates Ascend Counseling, PLLC part-time providing counseling, coaching, and consulting services. Beyond psychotherapy and education, her background also includes serving individuals with disabilities in vocational services, career counseling, and accessibility services.


Alicia chooses to utilize holistic wellness modalities in her life and practice that honor her cultural background. Alicia was raised in a rural Native American community in southeastern NC called Buckhead, and is a citizen of the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe. She values connection, interdependence, and collective healing through cultural and spiritual perspectives. In her free time she enjoys exercising, crafting, spending time with friends and family, and cuddling with her dog Cayden


Timothy Heinle


Mellonee Kennedy

Mellonee Kennedy joined Disability Rights North Carolina in May 2021 as an Attorney. Her work focuses on Medicaid Appeals for the purpose of maintaining people in their homes and out of institutions. She holds an MSW from Florida State University and a JD from St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami. Mellonee previously worked with DRNC when it was Carolina Legal Assistance on the Institutions Team primarily monitoring facilities. She then worked in private practice with a focus on family law and civil litigation. She returned to DRNC following 11 years of legal advocacy for children in foster care through the Wake County Guardian ad Litem program. Mellonee feels it is a privilege to work with DRNC colleagues, people with disabilities, their families, and their communities. She says “DRNC provides the greatest platform available to me in working to create meaningful change as well as defend and assert civil rights.” When not working, she enjoys spending time with her children, dogs, cat, and budgies, Jellybean and Sprout.

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Nancy Warren

Nancy Warren is a 50-year veteran of public social services, the majority of which has been devoted to serving older adults and adults with disabilities at the local, state and national levels. Before retiring from official public social service, she served as North Carolina’s Adult Protective Services (APS) Program Administrator with the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services. In retirement Nancy spends her time advocating for improvements to NC’s adult protective services program serving as advocacy chair for the NC Partnership to Address Adult Abuse (NCP3A); and adult guardianship serving as co-leader of the statutory reform workgroup for the Rethinking Guardianship Statewide Stakeholders. She currently works as an APS consultant for Health Benefits ABCs, worked as an APS subject matter expert (sme) for the Adult Protective Services Technical Assistance Resource Center (APS-TARC) and served as Project Director for the NC Conference of District Attorneys’ Elder Abuse and Exploitation Resource Manual developed for statewide use by local prosecutors. She is an active member of the Education and Public Policy Committees of the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), represents NCP3A on the National Network of State Elder Justice Coalitions and serves on the NC Baptist Aging Ministry (BAM) Advisory Team.


Catherine L. Wilson

Catherine L. Wilson is a partner with McPherson, Rocamora, Nicholson, Wilson & Hinkle, PLLC in Durham. Her practice centers on estate planning for persons with special needs, fiduciary litigation, guardianships, and complex estate administration issues. She is the current Vice-Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Estate Planning and Probate Law Section of the North Carolina State Bar Association. She is an associate member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national organization of attorneys committed to the practice of disability and public benefits law. She has been a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law since 2016 and is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and Alabama. She is a past Director and Treasurer of the Sixteenth Judicial District Bar, the Durham County Bar Association, and the Durham Bar Foundation. She is a graduate of Lipscomb University, Vanderbilt University Law School, and Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

Timothy Heinle is an expert on civil indigent defense in North Carolina, including abuse, neglect, and dependency cases, guardianship, and child support contempt proceedings. As a faculty member in the School's Public Defense Education program, he focuses on providing education and resources to civil defense attorneys, including parent attorneys and guardian ad litem attorneys in adult incompetency matters. Heinle joined the School in 2020. Previously, Heinle practiced law in areas including trial and appellate level work on juvenile abuse, neglect, and dependency cases; termination of parental rights hearings; incompetency and guardianship matters; and child support contempt proceedings. In 2022, he received the School's Margaret Taylor Writing Award for “outstanding writing that displays [a] clear and direct style,” for The First Seven Days as a Parent Defender and the Performance Excellence Award for "collaborative, dedicated, and innovative efforts that advance the mission of the School of Government.” Heinle earned a J.D. from New England Law in Boston.

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Meredith Smith

Meredith Smith joined the School of Government in 2013. Previously, she was an associate with the law firm of McGuireWoods LLP in Charlotte, where she practiced with the real estate, corporate, and restructuring and insolvency groups on matters related to a wide range of issues including commercial loan modifications, foreclosures, bankruptcy, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, commercial leasing, and real estate purchase and sale contracts. Smith earned a B.A. in political science and Spanish, with distinction, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a law degree, cum laude, from Georgetown University School of Law, where she was a member of the American Criminal Law Review.

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Maureen Williams


Maureen Williams, MEd, BSN, RN, CCM, CDCP, is Four Seasons’ Director of Care Navigation, an innovative service line launched January 2018 that provides personalized, expert guidance through our complex healthcare system for individuals facing serious illness. Maureen brings a rich and extensive background in clinical nursing, leadership, education, and research by providing insight and direct assistance to those needing additional support with healthcare and life decisions.


Maureen earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Andrews University and a Master of Education degree from the University of Georgia in Adult Education. She has had a lengthy career as a Registered Nurse in home health care (12.5 yrs) and hospice/palliative care (>20 yrs), and a clinical instructor in community college and private agency settings, and leadership roles throughout. She has also participated in, contributed to, and edited numerous research studies and publications, serving on several professional editorial boards, and developing curricula for continuing education programs.


Since joining the Four Seasons team in 2013, Maureen has led efforts to grow hospice and palliative care services across all counties served. Her outstanding leadership has ensured that more residents of rural areas can receive specialized and expert end-of-life care, also partnering with area healthcare agencies, community physicians, and local facilities to provide community education around end-of-life care. Maureen is a member of the Aging Life Care® Association (ALCA) as an Advanced Professional member and a member of Sigma Global Nursing Excellence international honor society of nursing. She is a Certified Case Manager® with The Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC) and a Certified Dementia Care Partner® with Inspired Memory Care.

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