Council Bios

Allison Bramwell

Allison Bramwell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she teaches courses in urban politics, community and economic development, and urban development innovation in the M.P.A. program.  Her current research focuses on collaborative urban governance and the political economy of economic transformation with an emphasis on inclusive regional economic development in mid-sized cities.


Joe Bryant

Joe is an Associate HR Generalist at the world’s largest apparel and footwear manufacturing company, VF Corporation. In true generalist fashion, he manages his day at the World Headquarters focusing on talent acquisition, talent development and associate/community relations within the greater Greensboro area. A native of Greensboro, NC, Joe is an emerging young professional who is passionate about shifting the culture and facilitating change within his hometown. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Minority Business Development Committee via the Greensboro Partnership where the vision is to increase the supplier diversity ecosystem and make Greensboro the number one destination for minority entrepreneurs in the country. The vehicle by which we plan to achieve this goal is through a Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) in which the purpose is to engage local corporations (demand side) and partner them with eager and talented minority entrepreneurs (supply side) to fulfill their procurement needs locally. By fostering and cultivating these relationships, the MBA will contribute to increased economic development in Greensboro.

“I’m excited to be involved with InnovateNC because as a Native of Greensboro I am focused not only on attracting new talent, but cultivating and fostering our own so that they will not leave. As a native, I feel charged to shift the culture and facilitate change within my hometown.”


Robin Coger

Dr. Robin N. Coger is the Dean of the College of Engineering and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University ( She is a dedicated educator and administrator, and her research expertise is in the design of replacement organ devices.  Dr. Coger is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.  She is also a member of the Board of Directors of FIRST.


Keonte Coleman

Keonte Coleman is an assistant professor and interim chair of the Journalism & Media Studies Department at Bennett College. He was an Edward R. Murrow and multiple Emmy Award winning television news producer before transitioning to the classroom.

The Tupelo, MS, native is pursuing a PhD in Higher Education Administration at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

He’s married to the love of his life, and is the proud father of three beautiful children.


Lou Anne Flanders-Stec

VP of Entrepreneurship – Greensboro Partnership Entrepreneur Connection

Working with entrepreneurs every day is the work that keeps her “alive”.  In the last 20 years, she has worked with and for entrepreneurs in private business and academia – either as a consultant to or employee for, developing programming and services for, or providing access to funding for early stage companies.

Prior to academia, she worked over 20 years in the financial management arena, many of them working in finance and treasury roles for manufacturing companies.

She holds an MBA in Finance from the University of North Texas and undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Ouachita Baptist University. She was involved on the Board of Advisors for the Angel Capital Association, and many other service organizations, and was named one of the Piedmont Triad’s 50 Most Influential People for two years.


Whitney Frye

As a cheerleader at UNC Chapel Hill Whitney enjoyed the “best seat in the house.”  As General Counsel and Associate Commissioner of the NCHSAA she continues to enjoy a pretty good vantage point, while serving North Carolina’s student athletes. Whitney is a native of Greensboro and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2007 where she majored in Communication Studies.  Her keen interest in serving her community was peaked by her family’s involvement in the Greensboro community and her experiences as a high school student in the NCCJ’s Anytown program. While at UNC, Whitney worked with her classmates to develop a program called Carolina United that helped students explore diversity and foster collaborative dialogue.  She went on to graduate from NCCU School of Law in 2011 with high honors. Keeping with NCCU’s motto of “Truth and Service” she served as an Attorney Advisor at the U.S. Social Security Administration before joining the NCHSAA. Although, the NCHSAA’s headquarters are in Chapel Hill, she continues to reside in Greensboro because, like others, she believes it is a forward-looking city rooted in tradition and dignity.

I am excited to be involved with Innovate NC and Greensboro’s vision for an expanded inclusive entrepreneurial community because I see Greensboro as a hub for innovation.  Greensboro has historically been a place where new ideas are formed and revolutions are born. There’s no better time than now to be a city that lives up to North Carolina’s motto, “to be rather than to seem.”


Dalton Grein

Dalton is an entrepreneurial minded finance executive with over 10 years of operational and advisory experience. Dalton’s engagements focus on working with start-ups, as well as privately owned emerging growth and lower-middle market companies in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Dalton serves at the Fund Executive for the Piedmont Angel Network. The Piedmont Angel Network (PAN) is a committed capital angel fund that focuses on investment opportunities in early stage companies that present high growth opportunities. PAN has invested in 23 companies since 2002 with a primary focus on the life science, technology, software, and advanced materials fields. While the Fund has a preference to invest in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, PAN has made investments across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

I am excited to be involved with InnovateNC in order to continue to develop and grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem. By expanding our inclusive entrepreneurial community in Greensboro, we will allow local entrepreneurs to realize their dreams without being forced to seek resources in other cities. This initiative will also allow us to do a better job of funding and nurturing  these local entrepreneurs and their companies, while also creating jobs for others in the community along the way.


Nancy Hoffman

Nancy Hoffmann is a member of the Greensboro City Council, serving since 2011. She has been a Managing Director with Reffett Associates, an executive search and consulting practice, since 1998 following a 22-year corporate career in textiles, apparel, and home furnishings.

She serves on the following boards: Preservation Greensboro Inc., GreenHill, Institute of Political Leadership, Guilford College Board of Visitors, Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greensboro Public Art Endowment Steering Committee, and Chamber of Commerce Operating Committee.

She has an undergraduate degree from Winthrop College and Master’s degree from the University of South Carolina.


Deborah Hooper   

Deborah Hooper is the Chief Operating Officer of the Greensboro Partnership, the principal economic and community development organization in Greensboro.  Prior to joining the Partnership, she led WFMY News 2, the Triad’s CBS affiliate, as its President and General Manager for the last 16 years of her 25-year broadcasting career.

Deborah has a special passion for entrepreneurship, healthcare and cradle-through-career education. She serves as the Chair of Cone Health’s Board of Trustees, and also serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Community Investment Council, representing Workforce Development for the 5th District.


Paul A. Jeffrey

Paul Jeffrey is President of Wesley Long Hospital, a Cone Health network hospital, since March 2007.  He joined Cone Health in January 2004 as Vice President/Administrator of the Behavioral Health Hospital. In addition to his duties as President, Paul is also Senior Vice President and Chief Inclusion Officer for Cone Health.

Jeffrey earned a Master’s degree in business administration from Florida International University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida.

He has served as a past Vice Chair of the National Conference for Community and Justice in Greensboro and is actively involved with the Latino Coalition of Guilford County and Casa Azul of the Arts Council.   Previous community leadership roles include President of the Triad Healthcare Executive Forum, which is the local chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives; President of the Latino Professional Forum; and President of the Mental Health Association in Greensboro; on a national level, he served on the American Hospital Association Governing Council for Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services.

His free time is spent with his wife and three children and occasionally he finds time for a round of golf.


Sassan Khoubyari

Sassan Khoubyari is leading HondaJet IT PLM and Engineering and Manufacturing Applications Strategy, Development and Implementation since April 2014. Prior joining HondaJet, Sassan hold the position of PLM/MES/Engrg Application Director at Space Systems/Loral, the leader Satellite Mfg. Company in Palo Alto, CA. Prior SSL, Sassan worked at Ford Motor Company for over 20 years in multiple engineering and IT positions. He holds BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Buffalo, and an Executive MBA from the University of Michigan, Ross Business School, Ann Arbor.


Million MeKonnen

Million Mekonnen is a native of Ethiopia and has lived in North Carolina since 2003. Since 2012, Million has been Executive Director of the North Carolina African Services Coalition (NCASC) responsible  in resettling and assisting  refugees in the triad.  His bi-cultural background and focus on community collaboration has led him to a number of volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles. Million received his Masters in Economics at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

I am excited to be involved with InnovateNC because of its unique approach of being participatory in designing inclusive innovation that engage underserved and under-connected  communities to contribute to the economic, social and cultural richness of our community.


Holly Sienkiewicz

Holly Sienkiewicz currently serves as the Director of UNCG’s Center for New North Carolinians, a service and research center promoting access and integration for newly arriving immigrants and refugees.  In this role Holly designs, implements, and evaluates Center programming.  She is also responsible for bridging academic and community partnerships.  Holly received a Bachelor’s degree in Intelligence Studies and Russian Studies from Mercyhurst University, a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Seton Hall University, and a Doctorate in Public Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  She is a native of Webster, NY and has lived in Greensboro since 2008.  Outside of the office, she enjoys hiking with her cattle dog mix, kayaking, and yoga.

“I’m excited about InnovateNC and the potential for it to be a model of inclusion for historically marginalized and underserved populations in our city.”


Everette Slocum

As a freshman, graphic communication systems student Everette Slocum and his other co-founders created what is now known as BrowBoxWorks. A creative startup built around imagination, Hard work, and dedication coming together to make creative and fun twist on current and new mobile/hardware technology. Currently in the mobile app space, Co-founder Everette of BrownBoxWorks has created a number of different mobile applications for the public use.


Keenan Smith

A graduate of North Carolina A&T, Keenan Smith is the co-founder of BrownBoxWorks. A company whose mission is to create new innovated technological experience through mobile platforms. When not working with BrownBoxWorks he is inspiring other through his motivational speaking platform, “The Kingmaker”. He also is an Olympic hopeful in the Triple Jump and continues to train in hopes to be able to accomplish his dream of capturing the title OLYMPIAN.


Cecelia Thompson

Cecelia Thompson currently serves as Executive Director of Action Greensboro, an economic development nonprofit focused on improving quality of life in Greensboro, NC. In her role, Thompson works on a variety of efforts from attracting and retaining young professionals, managing Center City Park, collaborating with businesses and higher education institutions, as well as leading projects for downtown enhancement efforts. Prior to her work with Action Greensboro, Thompson served as Executive Director of the Guilford Green Foundation and Communications Officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. Outside of the office, she commits volunteer time to Greenhill Center for NC Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Greensboro Symphony, Greensboro Downtown Parks Inc. and Elsewhere. Thompson holds a B.A. in Political Science, Public Administration and Sociology from Elon University.


Cindy Thompson

In 2012, Cindy founded Boundless Impact, a nonprofit organization driving global leadership and engagement initiatives across commerce, education, civic and faith sectors to ensure NC excels in an interconnected world. Cindy is an executive leader and social entrepreneur whose organization provides a platform for globally-minded leaders to connect and mobilize around inclusive innovation initiatives that achieve results to further global common good. Prior to founding Boundless Impact, Cindy enjoyed a successful career as a CFO and financial executive for mid-sized businesses and large corporations in various industries for 25 years.


Bryan Toney

Bryan Toney is the associate vice chancellor for economic engagement at UNCG. In that role, he leads and coordinates a number of initiatives that help academic, business, government and non-profit stakeholders connect, convene, collaborate, create and build capacities to create new opportunities for students, faculty and community members. He serves as the founding chairman of the Global Opportunities Center.

From 2011 to 2014, Bryan served as the first full-time director of the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center at UNCG. Prior to coming to Greensboro, he served as the founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Appalachian State University. Before that, he served as entrepreneur-in-residence at Georgia Tech.

Bryan began his career as founder and CEO of Information Management Inc., a custom software development firm in Atlanta that had a client roster of more than 300 companies including Apple, Motorola, Disney, Federal Express, CNN, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Norfolk Southern and Georgia-Pacific.

Bryan has worked with companies throughout the world and lectured in China, Spain, Germany, Austria and Belgium, where he holds a graduate faculty appointment at the Louvain School of Management. He has a M.S. in Management from Georgia Tech and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee.

“I’m excited about InnovateNC and the potential that it offers to leverage Greensboro’s unique set of historic strengths to build a genuine brand and a new model for inclusive innovation.”


Laura Way

Laura Way, Executive Director/CEO of GreenHill (legal name Green Hill Center for NC Art. Laura is responsible for GreenHill, including its financial well-being, leadership and development of staff. Laura, formerly Director of Operations and Finance at Penland School of Crafts and Vice President of Advancement at McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, brings over 17 years of financial, operational, development and programmatic experience to her role as executive director.

Laura received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from LeMoyne College and an MBA, with concentration in Accounting from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. She has been at GreenHill since October 2009. Since moving to Greensboro, Laura has become actively played a leadership role in the cultural community through her involvement in her role as a Greensboro Delegate, CEOs for Cities, member of the InnovateNC Council, art selection panel for the Cemala Foundation, Public Art Endowment at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, and the Armfield/LaBauer Park Public Art Commission. She served as NCAC Grant Review Panelist and NCAC site reviewer, is a board member for Greensboro Cultural Center Council and is a guest lecturer, UNCG School of Business (Marketing and Business Planning.)


Brent Wickham

A graduate of the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena California; Brent is a design professional with over 20 years of international industrial design experience.  He has worked directly for automotive manufacturers such as Mitsubishi and General Motors, as well as, consulted on numerous projects for automotive and consumer product companies globally.  Brent is currently a design manager for Technicon Design, providing concept and production design services globally for the transportation and product development sectors.