A native of Spring Lake, NC, Willetha King Barnette earned a B.A. from North Carolina Central University and paralegal certification through Duke University. She has worked in educational environments for more than thirty-five years, including an international insurance industry trade association, in university settings, and small private institutions. She has served as a guardian ad litem, hospice volunteer, and a patient advocate for cancer victims. She is active in health advocacy causes including organizations dedicated to curing breast cancer and Crohn's disease, as well as efforts to improve caregiving for the elderly and disabled. She resides in Durham, NC.