Manuhe is a passionate second-year college student with a tireless work ethic, strong analytical and problem-solving skills. He is pursuing a B.S. in Mass Communication at North Carolina Central University with a concentration in Public Relations and a member of the African-American Male Initiative on campus. Manuhe enjoys valuing connections with students and professionals and promoting these long-lasting connections through continuous networking and community outreach. Manuhe saw the NC IDEA Summer 2021 Internship Program For Under-Represented Student Entrepreneurs as an opportunity to support our state’s growing economy and local entrepreneurs while also learning more about NC’s plethora of innovation and the tight-knit startup community.
Michelle is an MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Michelle received her undergraduate and law degrees from Northwestern University. She spent 5 years as a corporate lawyer doing billion-dollar merger and acquisition deals in tech, renewable energy, and healthcare. For the last 10 years, Michelle has been an entrepreneur. She founded a parent and child education company in Tampa, Florida, which grew to three locations. She also founded the first dental sleep center in Miami, treating sleep apnea with custom-made dental devices. At Fuqua, Michelle is pursuing a concentration in Entrepreneurship & Innovation and working on her new start-up, a food allergy-related tech startup. Michelle will be interning with P&G this summer to gain a better understanding of brand management and operations. Michelle enjoys cooking, hiking, and playing pickleball with her husband and 3 kids. Michelle is committed to the NC start-up community and looks forward to making a positive impact as an NC Idea Fellow.
Solomon is a first-year MBA candidate at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, concentrating in corporate finance and entrepreneurship. Prior to business school, Solomon spent six years with KPMG and Deloitte in New York as a senior consultant, where he specialized in hedge fund and private equity fund tax strategy and compliance services. At UNC Kenan-Flagler, Solomon is currently pursuing careers in venture capital and private equity. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, and the NC IDEA Fellowship is an opportunity to support our state’s economy and entrepreneurs while also learning more about the startup community in North Carolina.
Catherine served as an MBA Startup Fellow with NC IDEA during her time as an MBA student at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, where she focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. Prior to business school, Catherine worked in strategy consulting at L.E.K. Consulting and business analytics and product management at Wayfair in Chicago and Boston. Next, she will join the strategic partnerships and pricing team at IQVIA while continuing to participate in the NC startup ecosystem by advising early-stage tech companies. Catherine loves listening to podcasts, hiking, and trying new food with her husband, Adithya.
Christina is a 5th-year Neuroscience Ph.D. candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she leads the Carolina Graduate Consulting Group. She is passionate about supporting companies advancing human health and wellness, and has worked with life sciences, medtech, and healthcare startups. Upon graduation, Christina plans to stay in Durham and work in life sciences consulting or venture capital. In her free time she enjoys gardening and creating mixed media collages.
Alex is a first-year MBA candidate at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Prior to business school, Alex worked for Navigant Consulting in healthcare strategy, where he specialized in provider operations and technology implementation. At Fuqua, Alex is pursuing a certificate in Healthcare Sector Management and a concentration in Entrepreneurship & Innovation as he pivots to a career in healthcare venture capital. Also an undergraduate alumnus of Duke, Alex has grown to love North Carolina and is passionate about advancing the entrepreneurial community as an NC IDEA Fellow.
Jolie Helton is a second-year MBA candidate at UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business. She is also the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Division of Student Affairs at UNCG. Prior to UNCG, Jolie worked in marketing in both local government and NCAA Division I athletics. She has a love for North Carolina and saw the NC IDEA Fellowship as an opportunity to support our state’s economy and entrepreneurs while also learning more about innovation and the startup community. Jolie graduated from the University of Georgia with a marketing degree and enjoys running and being outdoors.
Austin Mcilwain graduated from Clemson University in 2015 with a biology degree and commissioned as a Military Intelligence Officer in the Army National Guard. Following graduation, Austin moved to Durham where he split his time as an officer for an aviation unit as well as an investment associate for CAPTRUST Financial Advisors. From 2017 to 2018, Austin deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Upon returning from deployment, he started his MBA at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business as a member of the class of 2021. Austin plans to stay in Durham post-MBA with his wife and two dogs.
Emilie is a first-year MBA candidate at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Prior to business school, Emilie worked as a proposal writer for small technology companies and then as a project manager for GEICO, where she earned her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. Emilie is passionate about supporting local communities and economies, which is why she is working with NC Idea in addition to a Durham non-profit organization. Over the summer, Emilie will intern with Vanguard’s leadership development program.
Lefko is an MD/MBA student at Duke who has a passion for medical innovation. Having studied neuroscience at Duke as an undergraduate, he fell in love with Durham and the Duke community and decided to stay for graduate school! Lefko has worked with a number of med tech startups spun out of Duke Health and is excited to build his own disruptive healthcare company as a practicing physician. After his first two years at the medical school, he jumped at the opportunity to develop his business acumen at Fuqua as a dual degree student. Lefko is deeply devoted to advancing the entrepreneurial community in North Carolina and he saw the NC IDEA Fellowship as a great way to give back to the North Carolina startup community while also gaining insight into what investors are looking for in a company.
Lance hails from sunny Colorado, earned his BA at Brown University, and served as Senior City Planner for the City of Grand Junction. He came to the state in 2021 to pursue his Masters in City and Regional Planning at UNC – Chapel Hill. While at UNC, Lance works as an economic development analyst with NCGrowth to help communities create sustainable and equitable opportunities for their people. He works with NC IDEA to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in North Carolina. Lance plans to engage in regional development strategy throughout his life – with plenty of hiking and rugby mixed in.
Daria is a first-year MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Prior to starting her MBA, she studied computer science at Spelman College and then transitioned into her full-time career at Deloitte Consulting as a technology consultant. At Fuqua, Daria focuses on technology and social entrepreneurship and will spend her summer at Microsoft as a Program (Product) Manager. The NC IDEA Fellowship is providing Daria the opportunity to gain insight into investing and advising in early-stage tech companies, which she hopes to continue throughout her career.
Sean is an MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Prior to attending business school, Sean was an entrepreneur and supply chain strategy consultant. Based on his family’s roots in Salisbury and Greensboro, Sean is deeply devoted to advancing the entrepreneurial community in North Carolina. As an NC IDEA Startup Analyst, he hopes to give back to the North Carolina startup community while gaining hands-on experience within the investment transaction cycle. Sean enjoys playing soccer, cooking new cuisines, and testing new wearable technology.
Reece is a first-year MBA/MPP candidate at Duke University. Prior to business school, he worked as a product manager for the surveillance sector in Washington, DC. While in graduate school he is concentrating on Strategy and Tech Policy. He is passionate about startups and plans to spend his summer interning for a semiconductor startup based in Toronto. Reece is devoted to expanding the startup community in North Carolina and saw the NC IDEA Fellowship as a great way to give back to this community.
Kat has spent the last seven years working with a diverse range of vulnerable youth, most recently as the Director of Strategic Initiatives a sports-based, youth development nonprofit. Currently a full-time first-year MBA student and Forté Fellow at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Kat is concentrating in Social Entrepreneurship and a founding member of the NEYES Mentors program, providing entrepreneurial mentoring to high-school students in the Durham community. Kat also holds a Master of Science in Child, Youth, and Family Studies with a specialization in Youth Development, as and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies: Global Environment and Health from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The NC IDEA Fellowship is allowing Kat to gain a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of early-stage startups that she plans to put to use empowering at-risk youth and their communities after graduation. Kat lives in Durham with her fiancé (also an entrepreneur!), their cat, and two dogs.
Andrew has spent the past six years working in venture capital, at growth-stage technology companies, and consulting on emerging technology projects, with a specific passion for developing the in-space economy. As a full-time MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Andrew is concentrating in sustainable business and entrepreneurship, while interning at Carolina Angel Network and continuing to work part-time for SpaceFund. He holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering
from the University of Arizona where he gained entrepreneurial experience as a student founder. This summer at NC IDEA, he is excited to work closely with North Carolina-based founders and to help grow the startup ecosystem across the state. Andrew lives in Durham with his partner, Melissa, and their German Shepherd, Pepper.
Morgan graduated from Columbia University in 2018 with a degree in Industrial Engineering, and is currently a third-year law student at UNC. While at Columbia, Morgan founded a cybersecurity change management startup with her father, which sparked her interest in entrepreneurship. While in law school, Morgan’s studies have focused on corporate law with an emphasis on counseling entrepreneurs and guiding startups through the processes of formation, growth, and fundraising. After graduating in May 2021, Morgan will begin her full time career at Hutchison, PLLC, which is a local, boutique law firm that focuses on advising startups.
Kirti is a third-year undergraduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Data Science. She is passionate about making innovative healthcare technology more accessible to patients. Kirti is actively involved in scientific research and has raised funding for investigating her novel treatment for Alzheimer’s through a biomedical innovation competition. As a budding entrepreneur, she hopes to better understand the startup ecosystem in North Carolina and the markers for success in early-stage startup companies through the NC IDEA fellowship. In her free time, she is a Bollywood dance choreographer and enjoys watching movies and trying local restaurants.
Kyle is a first-year MBA candidate at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business pursuing a career in venture capital. Prior to business school, Kyle graduated with a triple-major from the University of South Carolina and worked 8 years with a Fortune 500 financial services provider where he held leadership roles in fields such as sales management, strategy and expansion, client services, and audit. Most recently, he led a $140M B2B sales region in the southwest US, where he worked with 120+ entrepreneurs to build scalable SMB sales processes. Kyle also volunteers with and has served on the board of Junior Achievement, where he teaches financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship to underserved schools. He is married to wife Taylor, who is a biologist, conservationist, and educator.
Sekou is a first-year MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Before attending business school, Sekou was an Actuary and Risk Management professional in the European Insurance Industry. He spent more than seven years helping financial services companies manage their risks and optimize their capital allocation. At Fuqua, Sekou focuses on Finance and aims to use his Fellowship experience to gain insight into investing and advising in early-stage companies. Sekou’s long-term goal is to fund a Fintech company to develop financial inclusion in underdeveloped countries. Sekou is passionate about sports, cinema, and art. He also enjoys traveling and discovering new places.
Katie is a first-year MBA candidate and Forté Fellow at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Prior to business school, Katie spent six years in both the US and UK as a Sales and Marketing Project Manager for Artisan Partners, a global asset manager. At Fuqua, Katie is pursuing a concentration in marketing and after graduation hopes to work in product marketing management within the health and wellness industry. Katie has a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Human and Organizational Development. In her free time, she enjoys
yoga, running and traveling and is looking forward to getting more involved in the North Carolina economic landscape.
Jeff Mainwaring graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2010 with a mechanical engineering degree and commissioned as an Army Aviation Officer. Following graduation, Jeff spent eight years as a helicopter pilot, progressively leading teams ranging from 12 to 90 Soldiers in numerous theaters of operations. He culminated his Aviation experience with two company commands before transitioning roles to a Program Manager position in the Army Acquisition Corps in 2018. Jeff is currently pursuing his MBA with Duke’s Fuqua School of Business class of 2022. He will return to the military post-MBA with his wife and three children.
Nya Patton is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in International Studies and double minoring in Entrepreneurship and Business. Before attending UNC-CH Nya embarked on a Global Gap Year Fellowship where she lived in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil and Belfast, Northern Ireland working with NGOs in her areas of interest. Nya enjoys the innovative and creative aspects of working at startups, and has worked as a Blockchain Technology specialist and Marketing Intern at two community focused enterprises.
Dechen is an MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Before Fuqua, she graduated from Duke undergrad with a double major in public policy and global health. She then moved to New York City, where she worked for a young healthcare technology company, Phreesia, for nearly five years, helping the company grow and scale and ultimately go public her last year there. While at Phreesia, she worked primarily in market development, overseeing the launch and go-to-market strategy of new product lines. Dechen is passionate about healthcare technology and is excited to be back in her home state of North Carolina. As an NC IDEA fellow, Dechen looks forward to getting involved in North Carolina’s startup and healthcare ecosystem.
Olivia Watkins is a second-year MBA Candidate at North Carolina State University Poole College of Management concentrating in Financial Management. Prior to beginning her MBA program, Olivia was a farmer on small-scale agriculture farms with Kahumana Organic Farms and Soul Fire Farm, and a research analyst with Aloha Green Apothecary and Croatan Institute. In the future, Olivia looks forward to using the Fellowship experience to bringing her social impact leadership skills into the finance world and create opportunities for organizations to make sustainable financial investments and decisions.