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“My professional career in operations and my grassroots organizing work have been about building inclusive communities to ensure equitable outcomes. That’s exactly what County Government is all about too.”

-Marilyn Carter




Meet Marilyn

Marilyn is a member of the Orange County Planning Board and a leader in the local Democratic Party. She is also an electrical engineer with nearly 30 years of experience developing strategic plans, balancing revenue and costs, and ensuring excellent customer service. As a leader at Fortune 100 companies, Marilyn spearheaded organizational initiatives for inclusion.

A Policy and Planning Advisor

The County Commissioners elected Marilyn to serve on the Orange County Planning Board. That Board is currently working with the County staff and the Commission to help develop the Orange County Land Use Plan 2050. Marilyn has engaged with community leaders on this effort so that the voices of those most often impacted but least often heard are elevated early in the planning.

Marilyn was honored to be appointed by Governor Cooper to the Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. The pandemic escalated an existing mental health crisis, especially for children and young adults. On the Commission, Marilyn has advocated for oversight that assures access to mental health and behavioral health services for our children and young adults - so that they and their families achieve their fullest potential.

Marilyn Carter being sworn in as a member of the Orange County Planning Board.
Marilyn Carter leading a virtual meeting of the Orange County Democratic Party.
Marilyn Carter with members of several Democratic affiliated organizations.
Marilyn Carter with members of the UNC Young Dems.
Marilyn Carter launching a literature drop in the 2020 General Election.

A Grassroots Leader

As Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party (2019-2021), Marilyn led the development of a metrics-driven strategic plan and the revision of bylaws to ensure that inclusion was intentional. 


Marilyn met the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic by proactively guiding the Party into the virtual world. In the general election, she and her team delivered a record 80% Democratic turnout in Orange County. She also built a diverse talent pipeline of volunteers, many of whom went on to serve our community on boards, councils, and in elected office.

In her time as President of the Democratic Women of Orange County, Marilyn grew the organization into the third largest chapter in the state. Last year, DWOC collaborated with the African American Caucus of Orange County and the UNC Young Dems to produce a well-attended series of talks with Democratic judges.

A Trailblazer

Marilyn’s Mom was a nurse, and her Dad was an electrical lineman and union member. Though her family did not have much, Marilyn grew up determined to study engineering. Community college (a county-funded resource!) made that possible, by enabling her to work to pay her way through college while taking summer classes.

Marilyn graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a BS in Electrical Engineering. She joined IBM Corporation in San Jose, CA and later moved to Durham with the company. While working full-time, Marilyn earned an MS in Engineering at Duke University. She joined Cisco Systems, progressing into operations and senior management. At a time when few women studied engineering, Marilyn was often the only woman in the room. 

Orange County has been Marilyn’s home since 1998. Marilyn and her husband, Mehdi, raised their twin daughters in Chapel Hill, where they attended Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. 

Marilyn Carter with her husband Mehdi.
Marilyn Carter's daughters attended Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools.
Marilyn Carter with her family.


• Board Member, Orange County Planning Board

• Member, Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services

• Member, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP

• Member, League of Women Voters of Orange/Durham/Chatham Counties

• Member, NC Reproductive Freedom Coalition

• Member, Sierra Club

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