2022 Keynote Speakers

Will be announced soon.

2021 Keynote Speakers

Monday, March 22nd at 5:30 pm

BB&T Lecture Series Speaker Dr. Burt Folsom, Distinguished Fellow of Hillsdale College


Burt Folsom is a native of Lincoln, Nebraska.  He studied at Centre College before receiving his BA at Indiana University.  He holds a Master’s degree from the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh. 

He has taught at Murray State University, Northwood University, and currently holds the Charles Kline Chair in History and Management at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan.

Dr. Folsom also worked for several years at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Center for the American Idea.

He has published numerous books, including Myth of the Robber Barons, now in its seventh edition, in which he explains the role of market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs.  His work on the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt began with New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America (Simon & Schuster, 2008), a best-selling text on FDR and the growth of government during the New Deal.  Dr. Folsom then published FDR Goes to War, which he co-authored with his wife Anita. This text shows the growth of government, loss of personal freedom, and impact of FDR’s policies before and during World War II, even while ordinary Americans met the challenges of fighting a two-ocean war.

The Folsoms have written on the failure of government subsidies in Uncle Sam Can’t Count, published on April 15, 2014 by HarperCollins.

Their latest book is Death On Hold, published in 2015 by Nelson Publishers.

Burt’s articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Business History Review, Investor’s Business Daily, the Washington TIMES, and countless other publications.  He has made numerous television appearances on The Glenn Beck Show, FOX & Friends, and C-Span.  On talk radio, he is a frequent guest of Dennis Prager, Rusty Humphries, Michael Medved, and many others.

He and his wife Anita write for their blog at BurtFolsom.com.

Tuesday, March 23rd at 5:30 pm

"What Leaders Do?" - Darion Jeralds, MBA, MSSCM


Darion Jeralds graduated cum laude from UNCW as the Outstanding Graduate for Operations Management in 2010. While at UNCW, he was a captain of the Men’s Basketball team and was honored as the CAA Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2009. After graduation, he was hired as a Sourcing Specialist for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas. In this role supporting nuclear manufacturing, he managed order fulfillment and captured savings for direct material suppliers . In 2012, Darion was promoted to Commodity Leader, where he executed contracts for deflation, terms and intellectual property, while managing supplier spend for the nuclear Services business.

In May 2014, he earned an MBA from UNCW and was promoted to Sourcing Program Leader. As a program leader, Darion was responsible for organizational simplification, strategic analytics and commercial programs, including innovation and supplier diversity. During this role Darion was recognized with the JJ Murphy Extra Step Award, a prestigious honor presented to GE leaders who demonstrate substantive effort in utilizing small and diverse businesses in the US. In 2015, he joined the GE Advanced Supply Chain program and began working toward a second master’s degree in Supply Chain Management from Pennsylvania State University. After graduating from PSU in 2017, Darion held multiple management roles with increasing responsibility supporting supply chain operations and fulfillment.  In April 2020, Darion was promoted to Senior Strategic Sourcing & Materials Manager, leading a seasoned team of sourcing professionals responsible for managing the commercial relationship with suppliers to optimize GE Hitachi cost and inventory.  In July 2020, Darion was also named as the Chief Diversity Officer for GE Hitachi.  In this role, he is responsible for driving the culture of diversity and inclusion across the organization.

Darion’s community outreach activities include serving as a volunteer for United Way, and coaching youth sports with the local YMCA.  Darion is also a graduate of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Wilmington Program and has led various community service projects in support of the annual Leadership Wilmington event.  In 2015, His family represented the Cape Fear chapter as the March of Dimes Ambassador Family.  Darion is an avid supporter of UNCW, as he currently serves on Board of Directors for the Alumni Association and the Seahawk Club.  He goes back on campus regularly to participate in events like CSB Business Week, Student-Athlete Etiquette Dinner and the Cape Fear Minority Enterprise Development Week.  In 2017, he was names as the UNCW Distinguished Young Alumnus of the Year.  Outside of work and volunteerism, Darion enjoys spending time with his wife (a UNCW alumna) and their four children. 

Wednesday, March 24th at 5:30 pm

"Top 5 Lessons I've Learned About Being an Entrepreneur" - Melissa Phillippi, CEO & Co-Founder of Performance Culture, Inc.


Melissa is passionate about engaging organizations to create strong cultures and inspired employees. She believes good leaders, managers, and an effective performance management process not only achieves the desired culture but also gives organizations a competitive advantage.

Melissa Phillippi is CEO & Co-Founder of Performance Culture, Inc., a cloud-based performance management platform that helps leaders build better teams for better results.

Working collaboratively with Co-Founder Dallas Romanowski, Melissa created Performance Culture’s Coach the Coach program, a foundation for the performance evaluation process. Additionally, she has created Leadership and Manager Training Workshops focused on helping Leaders grow in their communication, emotional intelligence, coaching, and leadership skills.

Prior to joining Performance Culture, Inc., Melissa worked in banking and financial sales and became a top performer among her peers. She graduated with a B.S. in Business Economics and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation.

2019 Keynote Speakers

Tuesday, March 26th at 4:00 pm

Chris Cox

Chris Cox

Chris Cox serves as the President of Apiture and oversees all aspects of business operations. Apiture is an open API banking platform, focused on creating cutting-edge technology for financial institutions. The platform allows banks the fast and flexible deployment of features that their customers have come to expect—mobile focused, user-centric, convenient and secure. Previously, Chris was the General Manager of First Data’s digital banking business. He also led mobile payment product development efforts at First Data. Prior to joining First Data, Chris was a Principal Consultant at Diamond Management & Technology Consultants and a Staff Consultant at CSC Consulting. Chris has more than 20 years of experience in banking, payments, mobile commerce, product innovation and technology strategy. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Miami University in Ohio, and a Master’s of business administration from Duke University.

Wednesday, March 27th at 4:00 pm

Derreck Kayongo


Derreck is the founder of the Global Soap Project, which recycles used hotel soap and redistributes it to impoverished populations around the world. In creating this global humanitarian initiative, he demonstrated that a simple, yet novel idea has the power to transform the lives of millions. A Top Ten CNN Hero in 2011, his passion for helping others and commitment to innovative thinking earned him his current role as CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

From Ugandan refugee to successful entrepreneur and renowned human rights activist, Derreck inspires audiences to dream big as he shares his vision for harnessing the power of observation to identify issues and solve challenges in any community or organization.

2018 Keynote Speakers

Maurice Smith

Maurice Smith

Maurice Smith is the President/CEO of Local Government Federal Credit Union. LGFCU is a financial cooperative serving the financial needs of employees, appointed officials, elected officeholders and volunteers of local governments in North Carolina.

Smith began his career in financial services as a loan officer for State Employees’ Credit Union. Smith served in several capacities including vice-president/city executive and vice-president of marketing and training. Smith joined LGFCU in 1992 as the Executive Vice-President and was promoted to President in 1999.

Smith received his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and earned a Juris Doctorate from the NC Central University School of Law. Smith is licensed to practice law in North Carolina, the District of Columbia and before the United States Supreme Court. Smith is also a North Carolina Certified Superior Court Mediator.

Smith achieved a NC Real Estate Brokers License, Certified Credit Union Executive Designation and attended several management and marketing schools.

Smith and his wife have two children and live in Cary, North Carolina. He is a Deacon at Wake Chapel Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, and participates in several community and civic activities.

Smith is a self-proclaimed cooperative nerd. He believes that a business model that empowers its members to engage in democratic, self-help, classless principles is superior to other business types. As a fan of credit union ideals, Smith is avid about his beliefs.

Frank Bisignano

Frank Bisignano

Frank Bisignano is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First Data Corporation. The company, which reported revenues of $11.6 billion in 2016, has 24,000 employees and operations in 34 countries. The company’s clients are comprised of more than six million merchant locations and over 4,000 financial institutions around the world.

Since his arrival at First Data in 2013, Bisignano has transformed the 46-year-old company from the world’s largest traditional payment processor into a technology innovator. He has also transformed the company’s balance sheet, leading a $3.5 billion private placement in the company and its $2.6 billion initial public offering in 2015, the largest U.S. IPO of the year. The company has grown both organically and through acquisition, most recently with the acquisitions of BluePay and CardConnect in 2017.

Before coming to First Data, Bisignano served as Co-Chief Operating Officer and CEO of Mortgage Banking at JPMorgan Chase. Prior to Chase, Bisignano served in many leadership positions at Citigroup, including Chief Administrative Officer and CEO of the company Global Transaction Services unit.

Bisignano was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He has three children, Morgan, Alexa, and Henry. He and his wife, Tracy, reside in New Jersey.

2017 Keynote Speakers

Judy Girard

Judy Girard

Judy Girard is a long-time television executive, having worked extensively overseeing programming, production, and operations at both TV stations and Cable networks.Upon her retirement in 2008, the National Academy of Arts & Sciences bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Emmy to Ms. Girard.

Her career began in 1968 as a management trainee for Walter Annenberg’s Triangle Broadcasting. She served as a production assistant to Dick Clark before becoming a producer-director of Newscasts and Specials.  In 1979 she joined Hearst Broadcasting as Director of Programming at WBAL-TV Baltimore and then on to their flagship station WTAE-TV Pittsburgh.

In 1987, NBC placed her at WTVJ in Miami. In 1988 she went to NY to oversee programming and operations at the flagship station, WNBC-TV. A few years later she was named VP of Program Development for the NBC owned and operated stations where she helped develop such shows as Maury Povich and Jerry Springer.  In 1993, Ms. Girard became Senior Vice President of programming and production at Lifetime Cable Network. The network moved into the top 10.

Wanting a break from business, in 1997 Ms. Girard took a year to travel with the Dalai Lama, climb Mt Kilimanjaro, get married, and just do life. With batteries recharged, she jumped at the chance to turn around the fledgling Food Network for the EW Scripps Company. Food Network became the fastest growing cable network in 2002 and today still consistently places in the top 10.  In 2005, Ms. Girard assumed the Presidency of Scripps’ flagship network, HGTV, now the number 3 cable network in the country.

Ms.Girard is the co-founder of the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW),the first single gender, non profit charter school in North Carolina. The school educates young women from largely economically challenged families and rigorously prepares them for college, leadership, and success.

Doug Lebda

Doug Lebda

Doug Lebda is the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Founder of LendingTree.com.  Frustrated by getting his first mortgage, Doug saw a need to empower consumers in what is, for most, the largest financial transaction in their lives – financing a home. He envisioned a process where lenders would compete for the borrower’s business in a fair and open marketplace. And through this process, lenders would be able to target exactly the right consumers to grow. With that vision, LendingTree.com was founded in 1996 and has revolutionized how consumers shop for loans and how lenders reach new customers, helping over 32 million borrowers through the mortgage process.

After the company was founded in 1996, it was launched nationally in July 1998. Doug led LendingTree through a successful IPO in 2000, through the dot-com meltdown of 2001 and a successful sale to IAC/InterActiveCorp in 2003. From 2005 to 2008, Doug served as IAC’s President and Chief Operating Officer, leading the company through a transition from a holding company to a unified operating company. In 2008, Doug rejoined Tree.com as it spun out from IAC as a separate public company. In 2015, Tree.com changed its corporate name to LendingTree, Inc. to better reflect the company’s go-forward strategy and flagship brand. Today, LendingTree connects consumers and businesses more broadly than just mortgages including personal loans, small business loans, auto loans, student loans, home services and more.

In addition to LendingTree and his non-profit work, Doug helps lead other companies that are transforming the way consumers transact online. He is the Co-Founder of Tykoon (an innovative financial platform for families and children) and is an active mentor and angel investor. In his free time, he enjoys time with his three daughters, is an avid runner and enjoys an occasional round of golf. Doug has also completed two ironman triathlons, accomplished the Mount Rainier summit with a group of LendingTree employees and has competed in several ultra-marathons.

2016 Keynote Speakers

Pierre Naude

Pierre Naude

Pierre has more than 30 years experience in the financial technology industry. Named CEO of nCino in 2012, Pierre played a key role in the initial founding and oversees all aspects of the organization including strategy, sales, marketing, professional services, customer support and product engineering. Prior to joining nCino, Pierre served as divisional president of Community Financial for S1 Corporation, a leading global financial services software company, until its acquisition by ACI Worldwide in February 2012. Prior to S1, Pierre was vice president and managing partner of Worldwide Technology Consulting Services at Unisys Corporation, and general manager at Pioneer Systems, a software company focused on middleware solutions. Pierre earned his degree from Upper Iowa University.

Jerry Greenfield

Jerry Greenfield

Jerry Greenfield and his long-time friend and business partner Ben Cohen are the men behind one of the most talked about and least conventional success stories in American business. Co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., Greenfield has helped to build a store front venture into an ice cream and business marvel by making social responsibility and creative management strengths, rather than weaknesses. With his best seller, Ben & Jerry's Double-Dip: How to Run a Values Led Business and Make Money Too (co-authored with Cohen), Greenfield created both a nuts-and-bolts guidebook to the promise and pitfalls of "values-led" business, and an inspiring wake-up call about the growing international influence of the "socially conscious" or "mission driven" corporation.