About Us: STI Team

Karen LeVert - CEO and Co-founder 

Karen LeVert is co-founder and CEO of Southeast TechInventures (STI) and also co-founder and CEO of Ag TechInventures (AgTI). Both are accelerators focused on migrating promising technologies from university research labs to the commercial marketplace.

Ms. LeVert's business experience encompasses both corporate and entrepreneurial worlds with leadership experience in entrepreneurial ventures, executive management, finance, and information technology. She began her career with a Fortune-500 company assuming roles from computer programmer, to systems manager, to controller, to general manager of a 500-person business unit. Her first entrepreneurial venture was the launch of a franchise bioremediation company in 1998 that focused on the eradication of grease, sugars, and starches. She sold the business in 2001. Before co-founding STI, Karen co-launched a Silicon Valley venture-funded software company where she served as Executive Vice-President of Business Development. Karen holds an MBA from the University of Dayton and an Information Technology undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan University.

Along with her professional duties, she serves as a Board member for Southeast TechInventures, Ag TechInventures, North Carolina School of Science and Math, LCBA Life Insurance company, NC Biotech Center, and as Board Chair for NC IDEA Foundation. Karen is a former recipient of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development's (CED) North Carolina Entrepreneur of the Year.

Kristina Johnson - STI Co-founder, ex-Officio STI Team Member

Dr. Kristina Johnson is the Chancellor of The State University of New York. SUNY is the nation's largest comprehensive system of public higher education. Prior to joining SUNY, Kristina was co-founder and CEO of Cube Hydro Partners, LLC, a clean-energy infrastructure company focused on building and operating hydropower plants in North America. Previously Kristina served as Under Secretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. As Under Secretary, she was responsible for unifying and managing a broad $10.5 billion Energy and Environment portfolio. Prior to joining the Department of Energy, Kristina served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, the largest research university in the United States. From 1999-2007, Kristina was Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. In addition to her academic career, Kristina is an inventor and entrepreneur, holding over 45 U.S. patents (129 U.S. and international patents) and co-founder of several successful companies including, ColorLink, Inc. Kristina has received numerous recognitions for her contributions to the field of engineering, entrepreneurship and innovation, including the John Fritz Medal, considered the highest award made in the engineering profession. Other holders of this honor include Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and Orville Wright. Kristina received her B.S, M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. She also holds honorary degrees from Tufts University, Trinity College in Dublin, and the University of Alabama at Huntsville.​ Although not involved in STI's day-to-day activities, Kristina continues to leverage her extensive experience and provide guidance in an as needed capacity on behalf of STI.

Meg Elmore - Director, Business Intelligence

Meg Elmore joined STI after 20+ years in high-growth entrepreneurial environments. Notably fifteen years were spent with Ernst & Young Consulting dealing with business expansions, start-ups and turnarounds. Her clients represented a cross-section of Industries and were some of the firm's premier accounts. Success in these environments required and further honed extensive business development, strategic planning, and process development experience. Among other accomplishments throughout her career she founded a national consulting practice focused on emerging technologies and in six years grew annual revenues to $22M; she created a new business development support team that generated over $250M in new sales to new and existing accounts; she orchestrated the spin-off of a $68M eLearning Company; and she was tapped to establish an Alliances, Acquisitions, and Strategy group. Meg is taking the lead on STI's expansion efforts and will bring these skills and experience to bear in order to ensure STI's and each new venture's success.

John Duren - Chairman of STI Board

John Duren is a member of Ariel Savannah Angel Partners (STI Investors) and is a retired chemical company executive who worked most of his career with the Dow Chemical Company. He worked in the U.S. and Latin American divisions of the company and was a Vice President of the company and managed one of its major global divisions before retiring from Dow. During his years in the chemical industry, he had a zeal for new business development and commercialization of new technology. He was also involved with formation of several subsidiary companies and served as a director of one of the subsidiaries during its IPO. He gained experience in mergers and acquisitions while at Dow and while working as a management consultant following his retirement from Dow. Throughout his career, he was involved with environmental businesses and is currently active in marine conservation and fisheries management. He has a bachelors degree in chemistry and an MBA degree.

William (BJ) Lawson, MD

William (BJ) Lawson graduated from the Duke University School of Engineering with degrees in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering, and subsequently earned his Doctorate of Medicine from the Duke University School of Medicine. While in surgery residency, he co-founded MercuryMD Inc., a healthcare-focused software company that transformed physician adoption of technology by providing mobile access to patient information. During the startup and evolution of MercuryMD, BJ's experience included fundraising, technical system architecture, management of a growing development and client services organization, and culminated in coordinating the acquisition of MercuryMD by the Thompson Corporation in 2006.

Karen LeVert - Co-founder, President & CEO

Karen LeVert is co-founder and CEO of STI and also co-founder and CEO of Ag TechInventures. Along with her professional duties, she serves as a Board member for Southeast TechInventures, Ag TechInventures, North Carolina School of Science and Math, LCBA Life Insurance company, NC Biotech Center, and as Board Chair for NC IDEA Foundation. Karen is a former recipient of CED's North Carolina Entrepreneur of the Year.

James N. Siedow - Professor of Biology, Duke University

Jim Siedow received a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and Ph.D. in plant biochemistry from Indiana University. He joined the Duke faculty in 1976. He served as Duke's Vice Provost for Research from January 2001 to July 2014. Jim has held numerous positions in the American Society of Plant Biologists, including President. In 2014 he received the Society's Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award. During his tenure as Vice Provost he served on several boards, including those of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Research Triangle Institute. Professionally, he currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the journal Plant Molecular Biology. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2002) and an inaugural fellow of American Society of Plant Biologists (2007). In other national service, Jim spent a year as a Program Director of the Cellular Biochemistry Program at the National Science Foundation in 1998-99. Internationally he recently held a Distinguished Honorary Professorship in the School of Biology at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China (2008-2010). Jim's research is represented by over 120 publications and involves the study of processes related to plant respiration.

About Us: STI Board of Directors

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