The programs and activities of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise are made possible through the support and leadership of its dedicated professionals. Our leaders publish in top academic journals, patent their discoveries and launch spinoff companies. Led by Joe DeSimone, our management team provides the highest quality research and delivers the real-world knowledge to put ideas into practice.
Joe DeSimone, Ph.D., Director, leads the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. He is a well-known scientist and entrepreneur with the unique ability to transfer his research from the lab to the marketplace. He holds joint professorship as the UNC-CH Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. An inventor on more than 140 patents with another 100 pending, DeSimone is also the co-founder of Liquidia Technologies, a Triangle-based nanotechnology company. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mary Napier, Ph.D., Executive Director, manages Institute operations, working with Director DeSimone to implement the strategic plan and vision. She also leads efforts to identify and secure sources of funding for entrepreneurial ventures. Her 14 years of industrial research experience, including working with entrepreneurial technology undertakings, will be brought to bear in developing the Concierge Service for Entrepreneurs, the Institute's initiative for helping innovators get companies launched, financed, and running. Napier is an award-winning chemist who previously managed the operations of the DeSimone Research Group. She is the recipient of the 2012 Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award.
Brent Lane, Economic Strategist, strives to make communities economically competitive and prosperous through strategic decisions and investments. He brings three decades of experience—in state and regional government and the nonprofit sector—to his work on the Eastern North Carolina Economic Development initiative. Lane has created innovative enterprises ranging from the first technology incubator in Research Triangle Park to the largest community development venture capital fund in the U.S. He currently serves on the N.C. Department of Revenue Oversight Committee.
Mark Little, Ph.D., is Director of the North Carolina Strategic Economic Growth Initiative and Senior Research Associate for Energy and the Environment. In these roles, he supports high-growth entrepreneurs, helps communities grow and retain business, facilitates strategic regional economic development, and researches solutions to pressing energy, environment, and climate related problems. Little brings to this position a broad, international background in renewable energy development, environmental sustainability, and policy analysis. Prior to coming to UNC, he served as a AAAS Congressional Science Fellow to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Jim Johnson, Ph.D., Director of Education, Aging, and Economic Development Initiatives is a demographer known for linking population trends to the economy. He examines the growing inequality in American society, particularly as it affects disadvantaged youth; entrepreneurial approaches to poverty alleviation, job creation, and community development; interethnic minority conflict in advanced industrial societies; and business demography and workforce diversity issues. When Frank Kenan tasked him to find role models for kids in Durham "other than basketball players and drug dealers," he founded the Global Scholars Academy. His most recent efforts include launching SAFE, a program to prevent falls by the elderly in North Carolina, with the added benefit of job creation and economic return on investment. He's the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Noel Greis, Ph.D., is an expert in global logistics and supply chain management and has won numerous awards for her research on logistics, global operations strategy, technology management, and technology commercialization. Her recent work targets logistics and sourcing in emerging markets around the world, including offshoring and outsourcing issues. Greis currently is partnering with Tsinghua University in Beijing to address issues of U.S.-China trade and is co-director of the UNC-Tsinghua Center for Logistics and Economic Development.
Judith Cone is Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. She leads efforts to strengthen a university-wide culture of innovation and entrepreneurship through the Innovate@Carolina program. She is working with the Kenan Institute on the development of entrepreneurially related projects and programs that will be shared with the campus community. Previously, she spent 15 years with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, leading support for entrepreneurship in this multi-billion dollar foundation. She continues to be affiliated with the Kauffman Foundation as a Senior Fellow, and writes and lectures on entrepreneurship and innovation.
Nick Didow, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Marketing at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, focusing most of his work on the philosophy of science in marketing and methods of research inquiry. The Kenan Institute will utilize his expertise in marketing strategy, particularly sports marketing, as it applies to our work with entrepreneurs. He has been a consultant to large corporations, and has a long record of public service including three terms on the Chapel-Hill Carrboro City School's board of education and an instrumental role in founding the Chapel Hill Downtown Economic Development Association.
Maryann P. Feldman, Ph.D., is the Heninger Distinguished Professor in the Department of Public Policy. Her work spans a broad area of entrepreneurship research, with particular interests in the areas of innovation, the commercialization of academic research and the factors that promote technological change and economic growth. Her academic research in the commercialization of university research is helping to inform the Kenan Institute's entrepreneurially related programs. Her work also has had significant policy impact—she has testified before the United States Congress on issues related to innovation and entrepreneurship and consulted with local governments and entrepreneurial organizations on strategy. She is the 2013 recipient of the Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research.
Paul N. Friga, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Kenan-Flagler Business School where he is leading the Kenan Institute's strategic planning laboratory. He teaches courses in management consulting and strategy and has presented at numerous conferences throughout the world. His current research focuses on experiential learning methodologies, team problem solving, and measuring knowledge transfer. Friga has consulted for Fortune 100, mid-size and entrepreneurial companies, universities and not-for-profit organizations.
Zishan Haroon, M.D., is the Associate Director of the Carolina Institute for Nanomedicine, which works to enhance scientific knowledge as well as to transition research discoveries into clinical trials. He set up the North Carolina Center for BioMedical and Innovation Translation (now Carolina KickStart), provided leadership in licensing opportunities for UNC, and led efforts for establishment of the Carolina Institute for NanoMedicine. He is doing outreach for the Kenan Institute by assisting other departments and units to understand how to become more entrepreneurial. Previously he headed up corporate and business development for Synergenics, a consortium of independent biotech companies. Haroon has been a leading consultant in matters relating to science, business development, sales and marketing.
Deborah Stroman, Ph.D., teaches in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science where she initiated the Sports Track in the Entrepreneurship Minor. This interest extends to the Kenan Institute her work with sport entrepreneurship initiatives. Her research interests are leadership, marketing, entrepreneurship, and social issues of sport. As the director of the Sport Administration internship program, she matches students with valuable experience to advance their careers. She has a diverse background in launching business ventures, financial planning, and corporate management. She is the 2006 recipient of Maryland's Top Minority Business Enterprise Award.
Ted Zoller, Ph.D., is a practicing entrepreneur and an experienced educator who was instrumental in the founding of our Concierge Service for Entrepreneurs. He also directs the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he developed Launching the Venture, a series of courses that helps people turn ideas into new ventures. Most recently he was instrumental in the opening of LAUNCH Chapel Hill, a laboratory and co-working space for entrepreneurs. He also advises entrepreneurial firms and founders worldwide on growth and financing strategies. Zoller is a Senior Fellow of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.