Board of Directors

Doug Bickers – President

Doug grew up in Winston-Salem, NC, then moved to Raleigh to graduate from North Carolina State University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He is currently working at Cisco Systems in Research Triangle Park. While in Raleigh, Doug met the love of his life, Geri, and they married. Geri is working as Outreach Coordinator at Shepherd Youth Ranch. Their daughter, Sara, teaches English in Durham and their son, Daniel, works for a construction company in Georgia. Doug accepted Christ while not yet a teenager, and has worshiped and served in various churches since, most recently at North Raleigh Church of Christ. He enjoys working with children, and first connected with Shepherd Youth Ranch while volunteering with the Distinguished Riders program to provide therapy for children on the Autism spectrum. Doug has volunteered in many other programs and events at the ranch over the last several years, and loves to see how families from the community are encouraged and uplifted at Shepherd Youth Ranch.

James Forte-Vice President

James is a native New Yorker and has lived in the Raleigh area since 2004. He is a career-long life science marketer with 21 years of experience in corporate strategy, brand strategy, marketing, and sales, and currently serves as CEO of Fairwater Marketing Strategies, a B2B marketing strategy consulting firm. 

James started his career in investment banking on the corporate communications team at CIBC World Markets in NYC. He continued his career in public relations roles on the East and West coasts, eventually serving as head of Marketing at biopharma consulting firm Campbell Alliance in Raleigh (now part of Syneos). 

James has a B.S. in Communications from St. John’s University in NYC and studied international business at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. He lives in the Raleigh countryside along with his two children, Devon and Elena, as well as their dog Daisy and cat Charlie. He enjoys adventure travel, hiking, and auto racing along with spending time at church. 

Ty Thomas – Treasurer

Ty is a Raleigh native.  He has been married to Amy for 16 years and have two beautiful children, Macon and Molly.  He has been working in Commercial Real Estate for 22 years.  He is a partner at Eastern Commercial.  He is part owner of Carolina Copacking which is our bottling company in Henderson, NC  .  He is also Managing Director of RATHCA Products Co. which just acquired another company (Sauce Products) called TonTon sauce.  Their Ginger dressing is sold in 3 regions of Costco.
Ty has proudly served on the board at SYR since inception because he believes in Ashley and everything that SYR stands for! He is proud to serve for SYR as a Christian run organization!

Stephanie Loyka-Brushi-Secretary

Stephanie has lived in North Carolina since 1997.  She earned her degree in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and her Masters in Environmental Management from Montclair State University, both in New Jersey.  Professionally, she has worked in business development for environmental engineering firms in brownfields redevelopment, sustainable transportation and healthy communities initiatives.  She’s always loved being around horses and developed an appreciation for equine assisted youth services after an experience in Western North Carolina, and working with local youth programs.  Shepherd Youth Ranch came across her path shortly after and she embraced the opportunity to participate with both through their youth volunteer programs and leading ranch prayer walks.

Matt Baldwin-Member

Matt is the Vice President of Operations at Workplace Care.  He has been in the area since 2003.  He enjoys time with his wife, Sandra and their three children – Faith, Grace and Matthew.  Matt says he enjoys serving on the board because he has personally seen SYR impact youth and walk with them through some very difficult periods of life.

Sandra Harris – Member

Sandra is a graduate of Meredith College where she studied Business Management and Interior Design. She and her husband, Greg, have two children and live in Cary. Growing up in eastern North Carolina on a farm, Sandra has always had an appreciation and love of animals with a fascination of their impact on children. That love has been transferred to her daughter, Holly, who is an avid horseback rider and began volunteering for SYR in 2012. Sandra’s career in project management includes over 20 years in the medical software industry.