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Achievers & Accolades

Six Emergent Leadership Fellows Recognized At Cucalorus Connect

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Nov 14, 2017
Six people were recognized as this year's Emergent Leadership Fellows at last week's Cucalorus Connect conference, part of the annual Cucalorus Festival.

The awards were presented during the two-day conference Nov. 9-10, at Cape Fear Community College’s Union Station. According to festival organizers, the awards recognized economic leaders in the community who “have earned their power and influence through hard work."

The awards celebrated the visionaries that have helped shape the community, officials said. The following is a list of the 2017 Emergent Leadership Fellows:

Brett Martin, CEO of CastleBranch, was a recipient of this year’s award. He founded the company in 1997. Officials said his passion and belief in executing great ideas reflect the drive and success of the company as it has grown into one of the largest privately held screening and credentialing resources in the nation. The resident entrepreneur at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Martin sits on the Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee at UNCW as well as the board of directors of the Cameron School of Business. Prior to founding CastleBranch, Martin served as a business and political consultant working with the senior executives of some of the country’s leading corporations.

Rob Kaiser is the co-owner and publisher of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and WILMA magazine. Before moving to Wilmington in 2007, he helped create a business publication in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as its editor and then publisher. He previously worked as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, Asian Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Business Journal and Lynchburg News & Advance. Kaiser has an undergraduate degree from James Madison University and master's degrees in business and journalism from Northwestern University.

Scott Moody, co-founder and chairman/CEO of K4Connect, a company that provides a “connected-life” software platform serving older adults and those living with disabilities, making their lives simpler, healthier and happier. Moody raised over $10 million in venture capital from such investors as Intel Capital, Sierra Ventures, Reinsurance Group of America and Lowe’s Home Improvement. He is also co-founder and former chairman/CEO of AuthenTec, a provider of fingerprint sensor and security solutions, acquired by Apple in October 2012.

Stephen Harper, professor of management at UNCW, is the Progress Energy/Betty Cameron Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. He joined the faculty in 1976. He has written eight books and dozens of articles on leadership and entrepreneurship. Harper has received numerous awards for teaching, scholarship and service. He served on the faculty at Arizona State University before coming to UNCW. He has also been a visiting professor in Duke University’s executive MBA program.

Susi Hamilton is the secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Her recent leadership role in the state legislature combined with her extensive professional experience in economic development, regional planning, historic preservation and the arts made Hamilton a great choice to lead the department, officials said. As a state representative, Hamilton served her constituents in Brunswick and New Hanover counties from 2011 until January.

Travis Corpening is the Nixon Minority Male Leaders Director at Cape Fear Community College. He works at the college as the minority male mentoring program coordinator. He also runs his own company called ShaperSpeaks Personal Development through which he trains and speaks on youth issues. He graduated from UNCW with a master’s in psychology, ethnic diversity and liberal studies. He is currently seeking a Ph.D. in educational management at Hampton University.

Brilliant Sole named Cucalorus Connect Rocket Pitch winner
Four startups vied for a chance to earn capital based on a short pitch in front of a panel of judges at the Cucalorus Connect conference.

This year’s Cucalorus Rocket Pitch contestants were: Creative Unions Event Design, Happy Fish, Brilliant Sole and ModPod. The pitches took place throughout the two-day conference.

The winner of the Rocket Pitch was Brilliant Sole’s Jeff Guard. Brilliant Sole is a smart sensor embedded footwear platform focused on delivering a comprehensive locomotion control system for virtual reality; and consequentially, a fun new controller for traditional video games, officials said.

The startup received a cash award sponsored by the Blake & Bailey Family Fund.
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