Alumni Dinner by the Dozen

Gather around the dinner table with a notable Carolina graduate and 11 fellow Tar Heels to enjoy great conversation and a fine meal. Begin to build your Honors Carolina network and connect with alumni to learn about their career paths.

Spring 2017 Schedule

All “Alumni Dinner by the Dozen” events are held from 6:30 – 8:00 pm in Graham Memorial 011 (Basement Level) unless otherwise noted.

John Watson and Betsy Blackwell

Tuesday, February 28

After graduating from Carolina in 1977, John spent a year in Germany studying art history, then returned to the US and worked in DC as a research assistant. In 1980 he went to law school, then clerked for a year for a federal judge. In 1984 he started work at the DC office of Latham & Watkins, then a California-based law firm. In 2001 the firm asked Betsy and John to move to Germany, where he worked until 2004. Stints in Paris and London followed, both in the legal discipline of capital markets and the development and execution of the firm’s international growth strategy. John retired at the end of 2015 and returned to Chapel Hill, where he and Betsy are re-inventing themselves as members of the university community.

After graduating from Carolina, Betsy taught elementary school for a year in her hometown (Davidson, NC), then moved to DC to work as a paralegal and as a management consultant. She then got her MBA at Columbia University and went to work in DC in the financial services industry. Eventually she became director of marketing for a major regional ban (her specialty was business to business marketing, market research and targeted marketing) and, after a serious illness, retired to a career as a volunteer. Efforts since Betsy’s retirement have focused on volunteer organizations in the DC area and then, following her family’s move to Europe, internationally in the fields of education, arts religion and other philanthropic endeavors. Highlights include chairing the first Susan G. Komen ball in Frankfurt, Germany, chairing several multi-million capital campaigns, as well as serving on various committees and boards for schools, the Episcopal Church in Europe, American Friends of Chantilly, the Courtauld Institute in London, UNC and, now the Nature Conservancy of NC.

Gabe Montero

Wednesday, March 8

Gabe Montero is a Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat.  An 1989 honors graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BS in Mathematical Sciences (Computer Science Option). Gabe’s entire professional career has been in software development. Starting at IBM, he began in the network space in the early 90sm as part of the rush to install the infrastructure that provides us the internet we all know and love today. Following several interesting turns he then became a founding member of the leading product in the Java EE space. The early 2000’s found Gabe collaborating in various research ventures around performance optimization, fault resistance, and virtualization in the application middleware space. In recent years, and in conjunction with his move to Red Hat, Gabe has shifted gears within the software space and now works on application platforms from cloud enablement, as well as CI/CD enablement, as part of a product team centered around technologies such as Kubernetes, OpenShift, DOcker, and Jenkins, happily consuming at least some of the vast array of new technologies and programming languages out there. When not working, Gabe lives with his wife and kids in Apex.

David Woronoff

Wednesday, April 5

David Woronoff is the publisher of The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines, N.C. The Pilot publishes twice a week with a paid circulation of 13,500 and was named the best community newspaper in the nation in 2002 and 2007 by the Inland Press Association and in both 2015 and 2016 by the National Newspaper Association. The organization has transformed from a twice-weekly newspaper into a statewide media company, during David’s 20 years at the helm.

Today, The Pilot publishes three regional magazines (PineStraw here in the Sandhills, O.Henry in Greensboro, and Salt in Wilmington), Business North Carolina magazine in Charlotte, two telephone directories and also owns the 60-year-old Country Bookshop in downtown Southern Pines.

He moved to the Sandhills from Charlotte, where David served as the director of business development for Business North Carolina, a monthly magazine with a circulation of 27,500. Prior to moving to Charlotte, David did reporting stints at the Anniston (Al.) Star and the Greenville (SC) News. His newspaper career began at The News & Observer where he worked for two years as a district sales manager in the circulation department.

David was named President of the North Carolina Press Association in 2010 after serving six years on its board, as the NCPA’s Professional Development Committee’s chairman for five years and as the Association’s Legislative Committee chairman for three years.  He also serves on the board of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. David was the first community newspaper publisher appointed to the 112-year-old organization’s board of directors.

Aside from his work with industry-related trade associations, David has served on the board of directors for North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, FirstHealth of the Carolinas, FirstCarolina Care, Moore County Chamber of Commerce (chairman), NC Museum of History Associates, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism, the UNC Press Foundation, the Lost Colony Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club (chairman), The Moore County United Way (board and campaign chair), Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities, Moore County Literacy Council, Sandhills Community College Foundation and Moore County Partners in Progress.

David holds a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also completed the business schools’ Young Executives Institute sequence.

Fall 2016 Schedule

All “Alumni Dinner by the Dozen” events are held from 6:30 – 8:00 pm in Graham Memorial 011 (Basement Level) unless otherwise noted.

John B. (JB) Buxton

Tuesday, September 27p_circle_buxton_jb

J.B. Buxton is the founding principal of the Education Innovations Group, a consulting practice focused on state education strategies for PreK-12 and postsecondary public education.  Buxton works with state departments of education, national foundations, and state, regional and national organizations focused on dramatic improvements in public education. Clients include organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Southern Regional Education Board, state departments of education, Arabella Advisors, the U.S. Department of Education, VIF International Education, MetaMetrics and Complete College America. Prior to starting the Education Innovations Group, Buxton served as the Deputy State Superintendent of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Additionally, Buxton was senior education advisor to Gov. Mike Easley (N.C.); legislative director for the N.C. State Board of Education; a White House Fellow working with the Domestic Policy Council under President Clinton; and director of policy and research for the Public School Forum of N.C. Buxton earned his bachelor’s degree in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a Morehead-Cain Scholar and an Honors Carolina participant. He received his Master’s in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

Aisha Forte, J.D.

Wednesday, October 5p_circle_forte_aisha

Aisha received her B.A. in Public Policy Analysis and Political Science from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 2009. While in college, she participated in the Burch Field Research Seminar on Domestic Policy in Washington DC. During her semester in DC she interned at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. She went on to attend Wake Forest University School of Law, graduating in 2012. During law school Aisha clerked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Southern Poverty Law Center and Kilpatrick Townsend LLP. Aisha is a NC licensed attorney currently working at Legal Aid of North Carolina. Her primary practice areas are housing and education.

Elizabeth Manekin

Wednesday, November 9p_circle_alumni_manekin

Elizabeth Manekin is the newly appointed Head of University Programs and Academic Projects at the Ackland Art Museum, right here on UNC’s campus. In this role, she oversees curricular and co-curricular programs, curates the museum’s Study Gallery, and collaborates with faculty and students across disciplines to develop new approaches to teaching and learning with objects. Prior to her return, she was the Assistant Curator of Education at the Yale University Art Gallery. Elizabeth also served as a guest critic at the Yale School of Art and maintains her appointment as a lecturer at the Yale School of Drama. She has worked in the education departments of the Harvard Art Museums and the Addison Gallery of American Art. A Fulbright-Hays scholar, she holds an M.A in Public Humanities from Brown University and a B.A in History and Political Science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

As a student in Honors Carolina, Elizabeth took most of her courses – as well as her naps— in Graham Memorial and participated in the London Honors semester abroad. Indeed, it was through her Honors seminars and thesis that she first came to understand the interdisciplinary potential of visual and material culture.

Neill Bellamy

Wednesday, November 16p_circle_alumni_bellamy

Neill Bellamy serves as Director of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for Tredegar Corporation, a small-cap company based in Richmond, Virginia which is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  Working in various capacities for a global manufacturer, she has had exposure to numerous business and public company issues and has managed a variety of assignments, stretching from corporate planning and mergers and acquisitions analysis to brand and website development.

Neill received her BA in English from Carolina in 1986, where she participated in the Honors Program.  After working as an analyst for Morgan Stanley in New York City, she returned to North Carolina to attend the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, graduating in 1991.  She considers her liberal arts experience at UNC to be foundational to her business and non-profit pursuits.

Neill has three children (ages 19, 18 and 15) and has not yet been successful at steering any of them to UNC but she’s working on it.  Outside of work and family, her focus is creating educational opportunities for children in inner-city Richmond, and she serves in development roles for two local non-profit organizations. She also helps oversee her family’s retail automotive business in Chapel Hill.