"I have a lot of friends and supporters in Wake Forest and Raleigh -- across the state -- who have stood by me and understand that I have done nothing wrong," said Bettie Murchison outside a Wake County courtroom on Wednesday.
Murchison is accused of embezzling more than $169,000 from the DuBois Center, where she worked for 13 years and served as executive director for seven.
Wake Forest police launched a four-month investigation in April after a fraud complaint filed by the association that funds the center.
Murchison resigned in February, citing differences between the DuBois board of directors over the direction of the center's programs.
She then started her own corporation, W.E.B. DuBois Community Development Center, which mentors young people and helps families find affordable housing. It has a contract with Wake County Human Services for 118 mental-health clients. Since February, the county has paid $89,000 to her center for those services. The future of it is not yet known.
Murchison said on Wednesday that she stands by her work and her reputation despite the allegations.
"So, my work has been very rewarding, and that's why I chose to continue to work in Wake Forest even after leaving the DuBois Center," Murchison said.
Murchison is also charged with trading in a vehicle belonging to the center for her own personal use.
"These charges are so harmful to her because her reputation is important to her -- not because of ego -- but because it allows her to get this job done," said Murchison's attorney, Charles Putterman.
Putterman said he believes the investigation is not complete and that it will eventually show there was nothing inappropriate.
"We're looking forward to the opportunity to defend and restore her name," he said.
The DuBois Center operated under the radar until last year when the Wake County Board of Education decided to reassign 400 students to modular units near the property. Parents complained it would be unsafe.
At the time, Murchison was an outspoken defender of the program. When she left the center in February, many employees from the DuBois Center followed.