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.
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 27
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 5
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.
Wednesday, November 9
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.
Wednesday, November 16
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.
Spring 2016 Schedule
William Tricomi serves as Associate University Counsel at Carolina. His work is primarily focused in the areas of Procurement, Finance & Accounting, Energy Services, Facilities Use, Trusts and Estates, Foundations/Associated Entities, Information Technology contracting, Insurance, and Land Use/Property. Prior to his work as university counsel, Will was a law firm associate at Moore & Van Allen, PLLC. Will earned his B.A from UNC in 1996 with a double major in economics and political science. He was very active in the Honors Carolina program and enjoyed the Honors London Study Abroad Program. While at UNC, he also served as the Vice Chair of Honor Court. Prior to attending law school, Will hiked part of the Appalachian Trail and spent time in Europe. He graduated from Duke University School of Law in 2000.
Beth and Rob Black
Prior to founding Cherokee Creek Boys School, Beth was a marketing, training and communications professional. She began her career by working for over a decade with the Walt Disney World organization. She fondly embraces this time as foundational for all her subsequent work in the area of corporate culture building and customer service excellence. Additionally, Beth was the co-founder of Advantage Training, a consulting firm focused on service excellence training and strategic marketing. As the Director of Healthy Community Initiative, Beth used the research of Search Institute to create a community campaign to address the challenges of teen drug use in Orlando.
In addition to being a founder, Ron serves as Vice President and General Counsel for Cherokee Creek Boys School. He is a native of Waco, North Carolina where his family still resides. Ron received his Jurist Doctorate from Wake Forest University and his undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina in Political Science. He has been practicing law as a sole practitioner in Orlando, Florida for the past 40+ years. He is currently engaged in real estate law and is also privately involved in real estate development. He is an avid golfer and if Beth ever lets him retire, he will be found on the links nearly every day!
Wednesday, March 30
A native North Carolinian, Janie attended St Mary’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina and UNC-Chapel Hill. She started her interior design business in Richmond, Virginia in 1990. Working on projects nationwide, Janie Molster Designs creates customized bespoke interiors for residential and hospitality clients. She has had projects published in national design publications such as Southern Living, Traditional Home, Southern Home, and Renovation Style as well as The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She is currently a Traditional Home magazine nominee for 2016 Design Superstar and a board member of Southern Living magazine’s Designer Network. Janie says that “a broad-based liberal arts education has been invaluable to me with regard to the skills I need to run an entrepreneurial business. I am a creative, a marketer, a public speaker, chief financial officer, and head of human resources.”
Shawn Wilkerson is the President of Wildlands Engineering, a full-service ecological restoration firm, specializing in stream and wetland restoration, water quality management, and watershed planning. Often his work encompasses overseeing and managing large-scale compensatory mitigation projects. Wildlands is a diverse team of thirty-six professionals that consists of stream and wetland designers, engineers, hydrologists, ecologists, real estate brokers, and GIS analysts. Wildlands’ five offices are located in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, NC; Fairfax, VA; and Charleston, SC. Shawn also serves on the Board of the North Carolina Ecological Restoration Association, has a Master’s in Science of Civil Engineering with a Water Resources Concentration and is a North Carolina Real Estate Broker.
Throughout his career Shawn has focused on creating innovative and thoughtful ecological restoration projects. His ecological team has designed more than 163 miles of streams and over 167 acres of wetlands in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Wildlands Engineering currently has twenty-one major turn-key mitigation projects with over $51 million in contract value and has five active mitigation banks.
Fall 2015 Schedule
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Manoj Chari is Senior R&D Director at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. She works in Advanced Analytics R&D with responsibility for software products related to the area of Operations Research, the science of applying mathematical techniques to support decision making in industry and government. SAS customers in a diverse array of industries and government agencies use this software to make important operational, planning and strategic decisions. Here are a few examples of how the software is used:
- Determining optimal composition of materials in laundry detergents
- Pricing of airline tickets and hotel rooms
- Deciding inventory levels at auto dealerships
- Deciding credit limits for credit card customers
- Deciding staffing levels in an intensive care unit
Manoj got a rigorous foundation in this discipline during his doctoral work in Operations Research at UNC Chapel Hill. After finishing in 1990, he started his career off on an academic track, spending over a decade on the faculty of the Department of Mathematics, Louisiana State University. He also held visiting academic positions at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and the Indian Institute of Science. He was an Alexander Von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Technical University of Berlin. He returned to the applied roots of his discipline and to the neighborhood of his alma mater when he joined SAS Research and Development in 2003.
Tuesday, October 27
Southern entrepreneur and renowned international tastemaker, Laura Vinroot Poole has spent nearly twenty years as the owner of celebrated boutiques Capitol and Poole Shop in Charlotte and recently co-founded the innovative shopping app House Account. Her widely admired style and notable accomplishments in the fashion industry have been revered by prominent publications from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue. Laura resides in her hometown of Charlotte with her husband Perry and daughter Fifi.
Dr. Bradford Picot
Wednesday, October 28
Dr. Bradford L. Picot has been recognized as one of Charlotte’s top dentists for five consecutive year. He is a Carolina alum who graduated from the Kenan-Flagler Business School as a Morehead Scholar. He founded SouthEnd Dentistry in 2009 and has been providing patients a conservative and comfortable approach to dentistry using the latest technology ever since. Known for his charismatic personality and ability to produce lifelike restorations, Dr. Picot handles many complex cosmetic cases locally and nationally.
Dr. Picot also has strong desire to serve. Some of his philanthropic endeavors include: founding the UNC Malawi Dental Project, an annual service project encompassing free dental care and education on HIV/AIDS in Malawi Africa; donating a student locker room for the UNC School of Dentistry building; and establishing the annual CommitMEN Scholarship Fund with fellow alumni at Shaker Heights High School. SouthEnd Dentistry volunteers at the NC Missions of Mercy (NCMOM) portable free dental program, an outreach program of the NC Dental Society. Dr. Picot is also involved in American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women and was a featured speaker at the Foundation for the Carolinas.
Charles “Chuck” Watts
Wednesday, November 4
Charles “Chuck” Watts has practiced law in large and small firm settings, has worked in the governmental and corporate settings, and has worked in academic settings. He went on to practice at one of the largest Washington, D.C. law firms, Covington and Burling. He then joined the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Law, where he taught courses in the corporate and commercial law curriculum, and did research and writing in areas ranging from corporate legal theory and corporate governance to critical race theory.
Upon returning to North Carolina, Mr. Watts practiced law with firms in Charlotte, Chapel Hill and Durham, and taught at the NCCU Law School before joining the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company as Senior Vice President – General Counsel & Corporate Secretary. Mr. Watts’s interest in corporate practice, governance and law has combined with his interest in public service to result in him serving on numerous non-profit boards and committees on which he has served in leadership roles. Mr. Watts graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics. He also received an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Indiana University and a Juris Doctor Degree from the Howard University School of Law where he was editor-in-chief of the Howard Law Review.