Coffee and Conversation

Join Honors Carolina students for an informal conversations with scholars, researchers, artists, authors, entrepreneurs and business professionals. Enjoy a cup of coffee and learn more about the career paths of these leaders, many of whom are Carolina alumni.

Fall 2017 Events

Kristin Irish, Director & Global Head of Professional Development BMO Capital Markets

Thursday, October 26 (12:30pm – 1:30pm)
Graham Memorial 011 (Basement Level)

Kristin Irish is Director & Global Head of Professional Development BMO Capital Markets.  In her role she is responsible for the overall strategy and management of Capital Markets development, programming, resourcing and learning.  Previously, Kristin was  at UBS running Americas campus recruiting for the Investment Bank, including managing the sales & trading and investment banking summer intern programs.  Prior to UBS, Kristin worked in the Career Development Office at the Yale School of Management (MBA) where she was Deputy Director and Senior Relationship Manager for the Financial Services industry, working with students interested in joining the field, and companies and alumni looking to hire.  Additionally, Kristin spent 15 years in Sales and Trading working at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, T Rowe Price and two technology boutiques.  She has her BA from Lehigh University and MBA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Spring 2017 Events

Vanessa Wittman, former Chief Financial Officer of Dropbox Inc. and 2017 Hillard Gold ’39 Lecturer

Wednesday, April 19 (3:00pm – 4:00pm)
Graham Memorial 011 (Basement Level)

Vanessa Wittman, a top financial executive with strong public and private company experience, most recently served as Chief Financial Officer of Dropbox Inc. She went to Dropbox in early 2015 from Motorola Mobility, a Google company, where she served as Senior Vice President and CFO. Prior to Google, she was CFO and Executive Vice President at Marsh & McLennan Companies, and helped resolve the Adelphia Communications bankruptcy as its EVP and CFO.  Previous roles include corporate development at Microsoft, venture capital at Sterling Payot and investment banking at Morgan Stanley. Ms. Wittman currently serves on the Boards of Sirius XM and Ulta Beauty, acts as a special advisor to Facebook’s Building 8, and is as an independent member of FIFA’s Finance Committee. Join us for an informal conversation with Ms. Wittman prior to her evening talk. RSVP here.

Yaniv Barzilai, Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State

Wednesday, January 25 (10:00 am – 11:00 am)
Graham Memorial 039 (Basement Level)

Yaniv Barzilai is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.  He is currently assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.  He previously spent two years at the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, as the political officer responsible for reporting on the country’s political-military affairs and external relations.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Yaniv was a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow and interned for the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in Washington D.C. and the Special Representative for Somalia at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.  He is also the author of 102 Days of War – How Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the Taliban Survived 2001. Yaniv graduated from SAIS Strategic Studies in 2013.  Previously, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011. Connect with Yaniv via a skype conversation live from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Dr. Wizdom Powell, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Behavior at UNC Chapel Hill

Tuesday, February 28 (12:15pm – 1:15pm)
Graham Memorial 039 (Basement Level)

Dr. Wizdom Powell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a trained population health disparities research scientist and clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Behavior.  Dr. Powell is recognized nationally for the impact of her work addressing social determinants of health inequities among boys and men of color. Resolving the widely acknowledged “gender paradox” that men, despite having more social power than women, are more likely to experience pre-mature death than women is central to this work. She is the winner of UNC’s Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty for 2015.

As a researcher and author, Dr. Powell is shaping how the intersection of race, masculinity, health beliefs and behavior are understood and addressed by psychologists and health professionals. Dr. Powell was awarded the Distinguished Professional Service Award by the American Psychological Association, Division 51 in 2014.

In addition to her long list of peer-reviewed articles, presentations and invited talks, Dr. Powell is the author of book chapters that are essential to the work and training of psychologists and public health professionals. Among these, Everyday racism as a threat to the masculine social self: Framing investigations of African American male health disparities, a chapter in the APA Handbook of Men and Masculinities, published in 2015.

She was selected by the UNC Institute of African-American Research (IAAR) as a 2015-2016 faculty fellow and served as a White House Fellow and Special Advisor on military mental health policies to Secretary Leon Panetta as an appointee of the Obama administration.

Dr. Powell teaches Foundations of Health Behavior II and is a mentor to both MPH and doctoral students.

Robbie Bach, Civic Engineer and Retired President of Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Design

Friday, March 3 (3:30pm – 4:30pm)
Graham Memorial 039 (Basement Level)

Robbie Bach joined Microsoft in 1988 and over the next 22 years worked in various marketing, general management and business leadership roles.  He played an important role as a marketing leader in the successful development of the Microsoft Office business, and subsequently led the creation and development of the Xbox business where he served as the Chief Xbox Officer.  Bach retired from Microsoft in 2010 as the company’s President of the Entertainment and Devices Division.

Robbie now works as a Civic Engineer with corporate, philanthropic, and civic organizations who are driving positive change in our communities. He speaks, lectures, and teaches extensively at schools such as UCLA, Duke Univeristy, the University of North Carolina, Notre Dame, Northwestern University, Santa Clara University, and Seattle University.  In 2015, he completed his first book, Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal.  For more information, see

As part of his civic commitment, Robbie serves on the national board of governors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and for the local Boys and Girls Club chapter in Bellevue, WA.  He has served as chairman of both of these boards.  He is also a member of the United States Olympic Committee board of directors, the board of directors for the Puget Sound chapter of Year-Up, and the board of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, DC.  His corporate responsibilities include being co-owner of Manini’s, Inc., a gluten-free pasta and flour company, and serving on the board of directors for Sonos Inc.

He was an Arjay Miller Scholar at the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he earned his MBA, and a Morehead Scholar at UNC where he earned his degree in economics and was also named an Academic All-American on the Tar Heel’s tennis team.

Casey Collins, Americorps Volunteer with Durham’s Habitat for Humanity

Monday, March 27 (12:15pm – 1:15pm)
Graham Memorial 039 (Basement Level)

As an Americorps Volunteer with Durham’s Habitat for Humanity, Casey works to expand affordable housing opportunities in Durham, N.C by managing the new construction of homes built in East Durham. Casey joined the Americorps program after a few years of work and research experience in community development and social policy, including work in the nation’s capital, Ecuador and rural NC. Graduating UNC with highest distinction (B.A.) and Phi Beta Kappa, Casey has plans to enroll in a law/ public policy masters program after serving his Americorps term. In his spare time, Casey can be found teaching math, woodworking and exploring with his Dalmatian puppy, Aussie.

Brent Kulman, Director of Business Development at Five Points Capital

Friday, March 31 (10:00 am – 11:00 am)
Graham Memorial 011 (Basement Level)

Prior to joining Five Points Capital in 2005, Brent was the Fund Executive of Charlotte Angel Partners (CAP), an angel venture capital fund located in Charlotte, North Carolina, that has invested in a variety of privately-held companies. Prior to forming CAP in mid-2000, Brent spent 13 years in investment banking with Raymond James and Associates and Interstate/Johnson Lane (later Wachovia Securities) where he specialized in raising capital and mergers and acquisitions for healthcare and financial services companies. He began his career with Bank of Boston where he specialized in senior debt and mezzanine financing for Cable TV and publishing companies. Brent received an MBA with a concentration in finance from the Wharton School of Business, and a BA in English from North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Mel Hurston, Senior Vice President of Professional and Support Services for UNC Hospitals

Friday, March 31 (3:00 pm – 4:00 pm)
Graham Memorial 039 (Basement Level)

Melvin Hurston is the Senior Vice President of Professional and Support Services for UNC Hospitals. His work involves the provision of services in support of clinical care. This involves the areas of plant engineering and maintenance, safety and security, design and construction, and space management.  Mel helped to design and construct over 2 million square feet of space in which to treat patients; including five hospitals, numerous clinics and multiple free-standing centers. Mel also helped to develop a telemedicine program that has brought pediatric cardiology expertise to rural parts of North Carolina. This has helped in the healing of many children who otherwise would not have been properly treated.

But his purview does not stop there; Mel continues to make an enormous impact on the lives of those around him. He serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Charles House Association which is comprised of three elderly care facilities in Chapel Hill, and he serves on the Board of Directors for Chatham Hospital in Siler City, NC. His reach expands beyond the borders of North Carolina with his sponsorship of more than thirty children (always ten at a time) through Children International; a nonprofit humanitarian organization that supports and prepares youth to escape poverty traps. Mel has supported this organization for over 25 years and has touched the lives of children in India, South America, the Philippines and the United States.

Like many residents of the Raleigh- Durham/Chapel Hill area, Mel is a transplant. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan (a very long time ago) as one of nine children, Mel grew up knowing that he wanted to go into healthcare administration. With this focus and dedication, Mel received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Finance and Business Administration from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI (1978). Two years later he obtained a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). Mel has worked as a healthcare administrator since 1980 at two Academic Medical Centers: first, at The Detroit Medical Center where he worked for seven years. Then in 1987 he joined the UNC Hospitals healthcare team, where he continues to serve.

Mel is very pleased with his work to increase co-worker satisfaction in what are usually considered difficult areas in which to do so. His efforts continue to help persons realize that their work in support services departments matter and make positive contributions to the well-being of patients.

Fall 2016 Events

Teresa Artis, Media Attourney

Friday, October 7 (Noon – 1:00 pm)
Graham Memorial 039 (Basement Level)p_circle_artis_teresa

Teresa Artis is a media attorney with experience in local and international media companies such as Turner Broadcasting, WRAL, Fox50, and Trans World Radio.

Originally from Greensboro, NC, at UNC Teresa was a Pogue Scholar, was in the Honors Program and graduated with Honors in Economics.  She was a North Carolina Fellow, very active in Student Government, Carolina Union Activities Board, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and an RA in Hinton James.  Teresa was inducted into the Order of the Valkyries and awarded the Jane Craige Gray Award, which is the Chancellor’s Award for the Most Outstanding Junior Female.

After UNC, she earned a J.D. degree and a M.B.A degree from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, respectively.  An active UNC alum, she has served on the Board of Visitors and the General Alumni Association Board.  She also is active with UNC committees of African-American, Native American, Asian and Latino alums who raise money for UNC and that advocate issues important to students, faculty and alums of color.

She and her husband Nate live in Cary.

Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld, Executive Director and Co-Founder of miraclefeet

Friday, October 28 (Noon — 1:00 pm)
Graham Memorial 039 (Basement Level)p_circle_chesca

Chesca is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of miraclefeet, a non-profit that treats children born with clubfoot around the world.  Chesca first became interested in clubfoot while she was working at The University of Iowa. Drawn to the opportunity to have an impact on children’s lives in some of the countries she had grown up in, she joined a small group of parents and surgeons interested in creating an organization to address the issue of untreated clubfoot. In 2010, she quit her job and dedicated herself full-time to getting miraclefeet off the ground, working closely with the Board to develop and implement the current approach of partnering with local doctors. She became Executive Director of miraclefeet in 2012, growing the team to 12 full time people and expanding to work in 13 countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia. Chesca’s prior experience includes working with The University of Iowa, eToys, CitySearch, The Boston Consulting Group, Goldman Sachs, International Rescue Committee and CARE, and living in Ecuador, Pakistan, UK and the US. When not traveling, she loves spending time hiking, skiing, and cooking with her husband, Rudi, and their three children. She received an MBA from Stanford and a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar.