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NC Tech Talk hosted by NCTA: Rep. Tom Murry and Ed Turlington with Brooks Pierce Law Firm

After the show!




Brooks Raiford   Brooks Raiford, President & CEO, NCTA

Brooks Raiford has served as President & CEO of NCTA since 2008. NCTA is the statewide industry association for the tech sector, representing over 700 member companies and organizations that collectively employ over 100,000 North Carolinians.

In the early 1990s, he served as a policy aide in the North Carolina Governor’s Office, where a key focus area was information technology and its impact on a variety of public policy areas. Subsequently, Brooks served as Director of the Independent College Fund of North Carolina, and then President of Leadership North Carolina. Most recently, he was Business Development Director with Balfour Beatty Construction.

Brooks’ current and recent leadership activities include serving on the North Carolina eLearning Commission; the Board of Advisors of North Carolina New Schools; the Board of Directors of the Technology Councils of North America; the North Carolina Advisory Committee of the US Global Leadership Coalition; Member of the Guilford College Board of Visitors; and President of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at NC State University, where he is a former Student Body President and University Trustee.

Recently, the organization that represents the technology associations across North America named Brooks the 2014 “TechVoice Champion,” the first time an association CEO has received this award for advocacy on behalf of the tech sector.

Brooks’ wife Stephanie is a Principal in the Wake County Public School System, and they have two children, Lauren and Will.

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Rep. Tom Murry   Rep. Tom Murry, Representative, North Carolina House of Representatives

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Ed Turlington   Ed Turlington, Partner, Brooks Pierce Law Firm

Ed Turlington is a partner at Brooks Pierce, which is a business law firm of 90 attorneys with offices in Raleigh, Greensboro and Wilmington. He has served as State Government Counsel for over 10 years to NCTA and represents a number of IT companies on legal and regulatory matters. His background includes serving as Chief of Staff to the Governor of North Carolina and in various roles for five US Senators. He holds an undergraduate degree from Duke and a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Grant Thornton, Vaco Raleigh, and Nexsen Pruet

After the show!




Dewayne Southern   Dewayne Southern, Audit Partner and Carolinas Technology Industry Leader, Grant Thornton LLP

Dewayne Southern is an Audit partner in Grant Thornton’s Raleigh office and also leads the Technology Industry Practice in the Carolinas. Dewayne is well-known in the technology industry in the Triangle and committed to the community and helping NC companies find success through efficient and effective business practices.

Dewayne serves technology, manufacturing, distribution and services clients. He has IFRS experience, and the majority of his clients have significant international operations. He also has significant SEC experience and has served public companies his entire career.

In addition to providing standard assurance services, he also has experience in:

• Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 internal control implementations;
• Mergers and acquisitions (including performing due diligence, consulting on purchase accounting and financial reporting);
• Public and private debt and equity offerings; and
• Consulting on internal controls and process improvements.

Community/professional involvement:

• Board of Directors and Finance Committee, Communities in Schools of Wake County
• Board of Directors and Treasurer, Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina

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Matthew McCleary   Matt McCleary, Audit Senior Manager, Grant Thornton LLP

Matt is a Senior Manager in Audit at Grant Thornton LLP and has been practicing in public accounting for more than a decade. His focus is on serving an array of public and private companies, predominantly in the technology industry with revenues ranging from start-up enterprises to public entities with over $1 billion in sales as well as those with significant international operations.

Matt also has experience with an array of SEC filers and privately held companies in the telecommunications, life sciences, software and manufacturing industries.

In addition to his audit responsibilities, Matt has participated in various consulting projects for his clients, including Oracle/Hyperion implementation and upgrade scoping project, transaction services including acquisition due diligence, as well as SEC filings including stock offerings and reverse merger IPO engagements. Matt is also a member of Grant Thornton LLP’s national team for implementation of the new revenue recognition standard.

Prior to joining Grant Thornton LLP in 2005, Matt worked with another public accounting firm focused on SOX implementation.

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Sid Mitchener   Sid Mitchener, Managing Partner, Vaco Raleigh

Sid Mitchener is the partner of technology services and co-founder of Vaco Raleigh, LLC, where he is part of the core management team that manages new business opportunities in addition to day-to-day operations. One of the top producers in the information technology (IT) division, Sid has spent the last seven years assisting in the launch of the technology division at Vaco offices in Raleigh and Richmond, Va. 

Sid has more than 19 years of recruiting and sales management experience in the fields of engineering, IT staffing and consulting, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Virginia Military Institute. Prior to joining Vaco, he spent six years with a $3 billion, privately held technical consulting and placement firm, where he established offices in Knoxville, Tenn., and Atlanta for the contract engineering division. Sid consistently achieved President’s Club sales levels, and both new offices were recognized in the top fifth percent of sales growth for the firm. He later worked as a producing branch manager developing the IT consulting and placement division with a S&P 500 staffing firm in Raleigh. Sid joined forces with David Rhode in 2004 and co-established the Raleigh office of Vaco. 

Sid donates his time to the Membership and Ambassador committee for the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) and serves on the board of directors for Triangle Technology Executive Council (TTEC) as director of public relations. An active volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Raleigh, he has participates in the Tour de Cure charity bike ride benefiting the American Diabetes Association.

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Sam Whitt   Sam Whitt, Attorney, Nexsen Pruet

Sam Whitt is a seasoned transactional lawyer with a broad range of experience. His practice is focused primarily on general counsel services and start-up initiatives focused on specific verticals, such as sustainable development and Internet applications.

Sam represents corporate clients ranging from start-up ventures to Fortune 500 companies. He has served as General Counsel and a C-level executive of several venture-backed companies in the Research Triangle Park, NC area. His hands-on experience and versatility enables him to counsel clients on a broad range of activities, such as:

  • General Corporate

  • Mergers & Acquisitions

  • Financing: Debt & Private Equity

  • Economic Development

  • Contract Analysis

  • Corporate Strategies

  • Asset Protection

Sam earned his B.S. in Accounting from BYU and worked for a “Big 8” public accounting firm prior to Law School. He earned his Juris Doctor from George Mason University School of Law where he served on the Law Review. He is a native of Vienna, Virginia. He and his wife raised their five children in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he remains an active member of the community through church and various civic organizations. In his younger years, Sam was recognized as “40 Under 40” by the Triangle Business Journal.

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Pivot Points by EntreDot: YP2M, Chuck Hester Enterprises, and eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc.

After the show!




Benjamin Gage    Benjamin Gage, Managing Partner & Startup CEO Coach, YP2M (Your Product to Market)

Mr. Gage is a career entrepreneur, inventor, and small business coach with a specialty in managing start ups and innovative product launches. For the past thirty years, Mr. Gage has led and supported over three dozen brand launches or disruptive systems changes as founder or service provider, from concept to market, both large and small clients. Mr. Gage is currently managing partner of YP2M (Your Product 2 Market), which is focused on taking your dream concept to its’ 1st million. YP2M supports a plurality of early stage clients in the sport, fashion, medical, creative, and technology industries including mobile apps and wearable technology.  Mr. Gage launched the world’s first sport fashion brand and one of his first clients is now the fastest growing brand in America in its product category. A former sports professional who competed globally, he holds several patents in the (PLM) Product Lifecycle Management category, a BA from Wake Forest University, and completed WFU’s MBA Babcock School of Management’s Technology Incubator Program.

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Chuck Hester   Chuck Hester, Chuck Hester Enterprises

Chuck Hester is a LinkedIn power connector with more than 13,000 direct connections. He is a sought-after expert on the subject of using LinkedIn for media relations, personal and professional branding, and how to use social media to build business contacts. He’s addressed conferences in Canada, Australia and throughout the United States.

The Chief Connections Officer at Chuck Hester Enterprises, Chuck helps businesses get their stories told through influencer relations, good old fashion PR strategies and hard work. He also offers LinkedIn Corporate Boot Camps that help businesses maximize their use of LinkedIn, find and retain customers and enhance their social media footprints. You can find him on LinkedIn at

His new book, Social Media for the Rest of Us: A Boomer’s Perspective is being published by Motivational press in early 2015.

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TJ Breeden   T.J. Breeden, Founder & Executive Director, eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc.

T.J. is the Founder & Executive Director of eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc.; a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, that provides Career Transition Assistance, Small Business Training, and Entrepreneurial Developmental services to veterans, military spouses, and under-served minority communities.  The organization employs a grassroots approach to assisting those who seek to advance their small business interests; partnering with state & federal agencies, universities, local chambers of commerce, and military installations in an effort to extend high-tech training & resource solutions to under-served communities.  

T.J. is a 2012 recipient of the White House’s “Champions of Change” award, as well as the US Small Business Administration’s 2013 “Veterans Entrepreneurship Advocate of the Year” award for his efforts in advancing small business growth within the military community.  He also serves on the City of Durham, NC’s  “Small Business Advisory Committee,” is a former board member of the Board of Directors for the Greater Durham Black Chamber of Commerce, and was recently invited to serve on the NC Advisory Committee for the US Global Leadership Coalition; a broad-based network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders in all 50 states who support a smart power approach of elevating diplomacy and development alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.   Lastly, T.J. is also the Program Director of the Urban Leadership Lab, a social-incubator that provides urban youth with access to mentorship and career development training. 

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