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Meet The Team


Bahby Banks, PhD, MPH

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Erin Stephens, PhD, MPH

Erin_Stephens headshot.jpg

Erin Stephens, PhD, MPH

Dr. Bahby Banks  
Founder, Principal Consultant

Dr. Bahby Banks, CEO of Pillar Consulting, helps organizations assess the impact of their initiatives. In her role, Dr. Banks partners with non-profit, academic, corporate, and philanthropic organizations to provide consultation on the development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of their efforts. Her work has led to a career that has spanned research in the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Australia; she has co-authored several peer-reviewed publications in national and international journals. With 15+ years of leadership and capacity building expertise, Dr. Banks’ clientele has included PricewaterhouseCoopers, Harvard University, Wake Forest University, NC A&T State University, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and UNC at Chapel Hill.


Under Dr. Banks’ leadership, Pillar Consulting has spearheaded efforts funded by the National Science Foundation, DuPont Foundation, deBeaumont Foundation, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

Dr. Banks received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Boston University, and her Doctorate of Philosophy in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Learn more about Dr. Banks at

Dr. Erin Stephens  
Senior Consultant

Dr. Erin M. Stephens is a Black feminist sociologist and educator who engages an intersectional analysis in her work and in her research. She has 17 years of experience advocating for social and institutional change to better meet the needs of marginalized populations, particularly women and youth of color. Alongside her commitment to social justice, her expertise in research, education, and facilitation has provided her the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of projects, such as designing programs to support the varied experiences of women students in higher education, writing and implementing curriculum to support youth development, researching gender pay inequity, and working on various health initiatives. She brings her experience in program development, gender justice, youth development, research and assessment to her role as the Program Director for The Beautiful Project, an arts-based collective in North Carolina that uses photography, writing, and care to advance the wellness and representational justice of Black women and girls. Erin’s expertise as a sociologist and advocate offers strategic insight to institutions committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Erin has a Ph.D. in Sociology from George Mason University, an MPH in Health Education and Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her B.A. in Anthropology at Davidson College. Her most recent research used social media ethnography and network analysis to examine the emotional demands and consequences of Black online activism in the Movement for Black Lives. Her work can be found in the edited volumes Gender in the Twenty-First Century: The Stalled Revolution and the Road to Equality (2017; edited by Shannon N. Davis, S. Winslow and D.J. Maume) and Women, War, and Violence: Topography, Resistance, and Hope (2015; edited by Mariam R. Kurtz and Lester R. Kurtz). 

Additional Consultants and Advisors

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Jessica Landes Johnson, MPH

Jessica Johnson is the Infant Mortality Reduction Program Manager at the Alamance County Health Department.  She has over ten years of experience focused on the health and educational outcomes of children and families.  Throughout her career, she has worked in the nonprofit and government sectors, specifically focused on improving the inequitable outcomes in maternal and child health through program planning and evaluation and policy development. 


She is fully bilingual and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked closely with the local Latinx population to provide case investigation and vaccine access.  Most recently, she graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health where she earned her MPH with a concentration in Leadership in Practice.  


Melissa Renteria, MPH

Melissa Renteria has an MPH in Leadership in Practice from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her B.A. in Sociology at the University of California, Merced. She has worked on programs focusing on farmworker health, tobacco control interventions, food insecurity, HIV/AIDs, and SNAP-Ed. Melissa is a powerful force in the workplace and uses her positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. She is determined to help women, especially women of color, have a seat at the table.


She is a native of Imperial Valley, California, and has been a North Carolina resident since 2018. Melissa enjoys hiking, cooking new recipes and playing with her Goldendoodle Mocha in her free time. 

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Lolita Watkins,


Lolita Watkins is a veteran multicultural educator, educational program planner, and community activist. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Ms. Watkins worked in the public schools of North Carolina in Guilford County Schools as an academically gifted specialist and nurture specialist in addition to teaching middle school social studies working primarily with minority and marginalized students.


As a resident of Greensboro, North Carolina, she has been very active in social justice issues through her church, community and professional affiliations. She has successfully led or participated in grassroots efforts locally and statewide pertaining to food insecurity, voter engagement, women's and neighborhood empowerment. She is a member of the National Association of Multicultural Educators.

Our Interns

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Karlye Denner


Alyssa Meritt


Ayo Onasanya

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