Patti Gillenwater Succeeds Karen LeVert as Chairperson; Three New Directors Join Board

 DURHAM, NC – July 1, 2019 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today the election of Patti Gillenwater as Board Chair; along with the election of three new directors Linda Hall of RTP, Luke Walling of Sherrills Ford and Stelfanie Williams of Durham.

“Given the diverse backgrounds and impressive track records of each of our new board members, I am confident that their leadership and guidance will have a meaningful impact,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “Our newest directors are distinguished members of North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and bring a wealth of expertise and energy to our activities. We are fortunate to have such accomplished business leaders supporting our efforts in empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential,” Ruhe concluded.

We are excited to have the talent and expertise of each of these individuals in furthering the mission of the Foundation:

Patti Gillenwater has served on NC IDEA’s board for two years prior to being elected Chair. She is currently President, CEO and owner of Elinvar, a highly innovative executive search firm. Patti is an experienced business leader who has extensive nonprofit and professional association board experience. Patti’s experience as an entrepreneur is highlighted by her successful navigation of major changes in the industry and her creative approach to reinventing the business model of her firm with the result of sustaining business success while evolving and growing the firm’s capabilities and focus.

Linda Hall is the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina. She has led the oversight and management of the Foundation’s finances, investments, human resources, IT and real estate operations for over 12 years. Linda has over 25 years of experience in both public accounting and in private sectors where she has assisted mid-sized partnerships and corporations in financial, tax and strategic business planning.

Luke Walling is the founder of Temprano Techvestors, a group of technology industry experts that acquire, consolidate, optimize and grow information technology sales and distribution companies. He is known for building and mentoring great teams that guide ventures to success, and has been a founder or material investor in multiple multi-million dollar business exits to date. He passionately supports the development of entrepreneurial community in North Carolina, with a deep focus on rural communities, particularly his home market of Catawba County. Luke has over 25 years of experience in the information technology space in a variety of corporate, entrepreneurial, investor and board member capacities.

Stelfanie Williams is Vice President for Durham Affairs at Duke University where she leads and coordinates Duke’s diverse and innovative community efforts in areas such as economic development, affordable housing, early childhood, K-12 and workforce education, student engagement, neighborhood relations and community health. She has more than 20 years of experience in higher education, primarily in rural communities, and previously served as president of Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC), a four-county community college in North Carolina with campuses in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties.

The newest board members join current directors; Board Chair Patti Gillenwater, Peyton Anderson, Greg Brown, Walter Frye, Karen LeVert, Dr. Garret Hinshaw and Sean O’Leary.

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential. Through our powerful combination of competitive grants and programs, and a network of strategic partners, we help entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling the foundation to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs transform communities and view our work as a catalyst for positive change. Learn more at