PORCH started in 2010 in Chapel Hill, NC by three friends, Christine Cotton, Debbie Horwitz, and Susan Romain. What began with collecting a few cans of tuna for a local pantry has grown into a replicable model of monthly neighborhood food drives to support local pantries and has spread across North Carolina and into other states.
Christine Cotton has an MBA degree from Elon University and an MS degree in Anatomy & Cell Biology from SUNY Upstate Medical University. For 10 years, she worked as a pharmaceutical project manager and director of market development at Banner Pharmacaps. Upon moving to Chapel Hill with her husband and two sons, Christine served as the executive director and was a founding member of the Children’s Fund of North Carolina, a Chapel Hill based non-profit organization raising funds to support the health and wellbeing of North Carolina’s children. She has also been very active in the public schools, serving as president of several school PTAs and as a board member of the Public School Foundation. Christine currently works as a project consultant for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. It is the combination of her devotion to volunteerism, dedication to serving others, and professional marketing background that led Christine to the founding of PORCH. She hopes to continue to utilize her skills and compassion to develop PORCH into a continuously growing organization that will be relevant in and beyond the local community for years to come.
Debbie Horwitz grew up in Chicago, graduated from the University of Michigan, and luckily landed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina after 8 years in the DC suburbs. Debbie’s experience in the business world as a real estate appraiser, breastfeeding counselor, and parenting educator has given her useful knowledge in her journey to her position as director of PORCH. But, Debbie would credit the running of her household as the mother of four children as the most valuable and practical job for developing the skills needed to operate an organization like PORCH. While raising kids, one learns firsthand the importance of patience, organization, thoughtfulness, responsibility, cooperation, and compassion. In addition to these skills, she has years of experience in hunger relief volunteering for various local non-profits including the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service and her synagogue, Judea Reform Congregation. She has also served the community as a long-time, devoted volunteer with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
Susan Romaine After earning a B.A. in history from the University of Virginia, Susan served as a legislative aide for U.S. Congressman Harley O. Staggers, Jr. She then earned her master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, after which she became an associate at Charles Rial Associates, an economic development consulting firm based in Chicago. She relocated to Boston where she served as associate director of the Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts. She then moved to the Washington, D.C. area where she worked as a research analyst for Service Employees International Union. In 2004, Susan moved with her family to Chapel Hill where she pursued her labor of love in hunger relief while also volunteering in the public schools and with her church, St. Thomas More Catholic Church. In 2013, she was elected vice chair of the Orange County Democratic Party and in 2015, she founded Orange County Living Wage. Susan and her family love being a part of the vibrant Chapel Hill-Carrboro community and they feel deeply rooted in their Lake Hogan Farms neighborhood.