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Thom Ruhe

"The world's greatest natural resource is the entrepreneurial potential of people."

President and CEO of NC IDEA, a private foundation dedicated to helping the diverse population of North Carolina realize their full entrepreneurial potential.

Capitalizing on the many entrepreneurial and programmatic accomplishments of his career, Thom has worked with communities worldwide to reap the benefits of rethinking equitable economic development practices by focusing on empowering people through entrepreneurship.

During his seven-year tenure at the Kauffman Foundation, he directed the Foundation’s programs addressing entrepreneurial education, mentoring, access to capital, and fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems. Thom also led Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, a community resource for experiential-based entrepreneurial education.

Thom has served in various board and advisory capacities, including
The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for fostering Entrepreneurship, the Board of Advisers for The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC, and the Governor’s Entrepreneurship Council.

                    Gov. Roy Cooper and Thom Ruhe

Thom was the founding chief marketing officer (CMO) for Cleveland-based JumpStart Inc., a nonprofit venture development organization and seed-stage investment fund created to invest in and accelerate the growth of high-potential, early-stage companies in northeast Ohio. Before JumpStart, Ruhe was president of

 Optiem LLC (now The Adcom Group), a nationally recognized interactive marketing agency. Earlier experience spans multiple entrepreneurial (startup) endeavors and later growth-stage companies.

Thom has been quoted and published in: the NYTimes, WSJ, Forbes, Inc., and more. Thom has spoken and participated in a variety of functions all over the world, including the United Nations, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (Vatican), the USPTO, NACCE, AACC, USASBE, and Global Entrepreneurship Congress/Week.