About Us

We are passionate about our work and committed to partnering for impact.

Here’s what we know: More systems and organizations are moving away from band-aid approaches to complex issues and are recognizing the need for collaborative partnerships and holistic strategies that address the root causes of challenges we face as a society.

Here’s what we also know: This work is hard! But at Next Stage – this work is our calling.

That’s why, for over a decade, we’ve partnered with nonprofits, private sector companies, government agencies, faith institutions, philanthropy and community leaders to find common ground at the intersection. We listen first, build effective strategies and help mobilize movements that fuel social impact and ESG initiatives.

Our team of consultants, community voice ambassadors, marketing experts and collaboration management strategists work together to understand and meet the unique needs of each client – because we know one solution does not fit all.

If you’re a change-maker who’s ready to disrupt the status quo, we’d love to partner with you.

Our Values

Purpose

We are called to this work.

Collaboration

We achieve ambitious goals together.

Courage

We say the stuff that needs to be said.

Equity

We’re committed to inside-out solutions.

Belonging

We celebrate diverse voices and authenticity.

The Team

Josh Jacobson, Chief Executive Officer

Josh launched Next Stage as a social enterprise in 2014, bridging his professional experiences as a nonprofit practitioner with the consulting work he had made his career since relocating to Charlotte six years earlier. A desire to “live his values” has been a guiding force in his professional life ever since.

Over the last decade, he has led Next Stage in working with more than 200 clients including nonprofits, private sector companies, municipalities, faith institutions, philanthropies and community-based organizations. Josh’s expertise is in strategic positioning and tactical design, helping clients develop the roadmaps and tools to achieve their goals. He leads Next Stage’s work in strategic planning and collaboration management and is a major contributor to the company’s thought leadership efforts.

But more than anything, he is proud to have built a team of professionals who partner with him in creating positive social change. Next Stage has grown significantly over the last decade to include a dynamic team advancing the company’s visionary theory of change.

Given such an expansive consulting career to date, some are surprised to learn that Josh got his start in the cultural sector. Leadership roles at The Juilliard School and the Broadway-producing Manhattan Theatre Club were formative experiences before journeying to the Charlotte region he is proud to call home. In his spare time, he keeps a connection to the arts by serving as guitarist and lead vocalist of an 80s/90s cover band with his neighbor called “No Whammies.” He counts his wife Adara as the band’s number-one fan.

Janet Ervin, Chief Marketing Officer

Janet Ervin brings a depth of experience in strategic positioning, brand development and communications to her role as Chief Marketing Officer at Next Stage.

Prior to joining the team in 2019, Janet spent more than 13 years working with Charlotte-based nonprofit organizations, including the 24 Foundation (formally 24 Hours of Booty). Her expertise includes strategic planning, brand development, fundraising, grant writing, marketing and communications, volunteer development and organizational culture. She also has experience in the corporate sector, including the development of social responsibility and impact strategy and programs. She is passionate about bringing new ideas to social good in the Queen City and making sure that every client is positioned for success.

A North Carolina native and graduate of Appalachian State University, Janet spends her time outside of work volunteering with several nonprofits focused on children and students. She lives in Charlotte with her family, a dog and four chickens.

Nimisha Patel, Vice President, Impact for Nonprofits

With a background in social innovation and human-centered design, Nimisha brings significant experience in consulting and solutioning to the Next Stage team. Her career has included leading strategy design and implementation, cross-sector collaboration and innovation of products, programs and services.

Nimisha joined Next Stage in 2024 having previously led The New Guard, a consultancy working with clients in health care, hospitality, real estate, nonprofits and technology.

She previously served as National Director of Innovation & Design for Health Leads, a national leader in addressing the systemic root causes of racial health inequalities. She also served as Associate Vice President at Duke Health where she led innovation design and implementation.

Her passion for social innovation that leverages data and the operationalizing of strategic plans positions her well to create impact with Next Stage’s nonprofit clients.

Helen Hope Kimbrough, Senior Director, Community Voice

As Senior Director of Community Voice, Helen Hope Kimbrough centers the perspective and lived experience of others with an authentic framework to inform meaningful strategic planning and implementation across the Next Stage client portfolio. Community Voice is defined as a representation of diverse voices that must be heard, understood, and validated. It is a two-way directional approach geared towards listening to community and institutions alike toward building trust as an asset, embracing transparent communication, and moving change-worthy initiatives forward together. Helen also champions diversity, equity, and inclusion for societal and organizational change. Her additional responsibilities include project management, business development, thought leadership, and the fellow internship program.

Prior to joining Next Stage, Helen’s extensive experience focused upon reading and literacy initiatives, providing a valuable knowledge base in the educational sector and outlining challenges faced by access and economic mobility. Likewise, she serves on the board of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation and Parent Child+, and is also an author of four multicultural children’s books, founder of an independent publishing company, and co-host of the Behind The Throne podcast.

A graduate of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, Helen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. She also has certifications in Systems Thinking from Cornell University and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace from the University of South Florida.

One of Helen’s favorite quotes is by Dr. Martin Luther Jr. which states, “Everybody can be great – because anybody can serve.” She is purpose-driven, mission-focused, and devoted to making an impact.

Haley Rafferty, Team Success Director

Haley Rafferty is Next Stage’s Team Success Director, supporting an operationally strong team that is positioned for maximum impact. She brings a depth of experience from the nonprofit world, including tenures at both Discovery Place and Blumenthal Performing Arts. 

Haley is fiercely organized and skilled at database management, writing, development, reporting & analytics, project management and more. Her passion for social good, alongside her strong management skills, strengthens Next Stage’s organization and operations, positioning us for greater growth in the months and years ahead. 

She has lived most of her life in North Carolina, including graduating from Elon University, and considers the state to be home. Haley was lucky to live in Belgium for several years, where she met her husband. She enjoys spending time with her cats, fostering kittens, reading mystery novels and being outside.

Jalah Blackmon, Consultant

Jalah is a skilled public health educator dedicated to using a social justice and health equity lens to empower underrepresented communities and challenge systemic barriers to wellness. Her passion is fueled by a commitment to destigmatize mental health in communities of color, emphasizing education, community, and social support. She deeply believes in challenging and reshaping health outcomes entrenched within systems of structural racism.

She previously served as the Director of Innovation and Capacity Building at Care Share Health Alliance and as a Program Director at Charlotte Mecklenburg Food Policy Council. Additionally, Jalah is the Co-Founder of The Black Light Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit focused on bringing light to dark places for individuals suffering from suicidal thoughts and mental health issues by providing the necessary resources for emotional support, education and intervention.

A graduate of UNC-CH and UNCG, Jalah holds a BA in Exercise and Sports Science and Sociology and a Master of Public Health. Jalah was born and raised in North Carolina and enjoys being a functional fitness trainer.

Oscar Gomez, Marketing Operations Manager

Oscar Gomez is passionate about discovering the potential of marketing by combining data-driven strategies with a unique perspective. With a complete background in Growth Hacking and Media Buying, and several years of agency experience, he’s navigated the ever-evolving marketing landscape, both in B2C/DTC and B2B spheres.

As a first-generation immigrant from Mexico, he’s dedicated to making a difference and supporting fellow Latino professionals and businesses on their journeys. 

He aims to bring innovation, growth, and positive change to the world of marketing!

Wendy Orrego, Visual Design Manager

Wendy Orrego is a skilled art director and graphic designer passionate about using visual design to communicate impactful ideas. With a background in leading design teams and managing high-quality branding projects, she has produced outstanding work for both nonprofit and private sector organizations in English and Spanish.

Hailing from Guatemala City, Wendy holds a degree in Audiovisual Production from Universidad Panamericana de Guatemala. She excels in simplifying complex messages through shapes, colors, and typography, making them clear and beautiful.

Wendy is committed to leveraging her design expertise to support social good organizations and amplify their impact. She is excited to collaborate with the dedicated team at Next Stage and bring her unique perspective to their innovative projects.

Extended Team

Christine Davis, Fractional Chief Operating Officer

Christine is an accomplished leader with extensive experience scaling and improving all aspects of key strategic initiatives across the areas of operations, customer experience, culture-building, marketing communications, talent and team performance with passion for managing processes, enhancing internal structures, and promoting multi-skilled team competencies via nurturing mentorship, coaching and inspirational leadership.

Christine recognized her passion for social good while helping to lead an annual marketing marathon granting nonprofits with their marketing and public relations wish lists in just 24 hours, but she often found herself serving on their boards and committees long after the event. Christine enjoys spending time with her two teenage daughters, photography, traveling to new places – especially when it involves exploring a beach town, and is also a mom to her English Springer Spaniel, Sutton.

Randy Jordan, Chief Advisor, Impact for Health

Randy Jordan is a nationally known community health expert and thought leader. A passionate and thoughtful leader, Randy is committed to strengthening and improving healthcare systems and ensuring that every individual has access to high-quality care. 

Prior to joining Next Stage, Randy served as a pharmacist and drugstore owner, a partner at a healthcare specialty law firm, CEO of global health charity HOPE worldwide and CEO of the NC Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, a network of 72 free and charitable clinics that each year provide health and social services to more than 80,000 uninsured and underserved North Carolinians. Throughout his career, he secured federal, state and private funding to support community health initiatives, while creating visionary programs that strengthened the health safety net at both a local and global level. 

In addition to his work at Next Stage, Randy volunteers with the Bernstein Fellows program and will serve as the Community Co-Lead for the Uninsured Workgroup as part of the 2023 North Carolina State Health Improvement Plan.  He and his wife, Jan, enjoy the growing families of their two children and four grandchildren.


Tim Gallagher, Senior Consultant, Impact for Health
 

Tim brings a depth of healthcare knowledge and experience to Next Stage as we build a collaboration management platform for our Impact for Health community. 

As a North Carolina healthcare consultant active in North Carolina’s Medicaid Transformation efforts, Tim routinely provides strategic planning and program management to various clients enabling them to pursue innovations around emerging models of care, adopting technology, and forming value-based partnerships. Previously, he worked at Deloitte Consulting in their Federal Healthcare practice where he served healthcare organizations across the nation. Tim earned his Masters of Public Health (MPH) from the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida and his undergraduate degree in Economics from Rollins College. He is Board Certified in Healthcare Management and a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). He is also certified as a Program Management Professional.

Tim is the immediate past Co-Chair of the Cardinal Triad Consumer & Family Advisory Council (CFAC) serving Forsyth, Davie, Stokes, and Rockingham counties. He participated in the Forsyth County Disengagement efforts and also serves on the Finance Committee of The Enrichment Center, an affiliated chapter of the Arc. Tim lives in Winston-Salem with his wife, Jeanne, and where they are parenting four adult children.

Kyle Nielsen, Fractional Chief Financial Officer

As Next Stage’s Fractional CFO, Kyle brings his expertise in helping business leaders connect to their financials, find actionable insights, and drive performance and puts it to work at Next Stage as our company grows and evolves.

His experience building finance teams spans a diverse set of companies and industries. Kyle’s previous roles include global publicly traded companies, private equity and other closely held firms, early-stage ventures, and non-profits; and, he has worked in healthcare, manufacturing & distribution, and professional services. He has also led numerous finance teams through organizational transformations, system implementations, and modernization efforts.

Kyle attended Grand Valley State University (BBA) and Vanderbilt University (MBA) and began his career in the United States Army. He lives in Charlotte and spends his time outside of work with his family and serving on the board of Agape Dental Ministries.