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People. Planet. Profits.

Tuesday, November 19

6:15 - 8:15pm

Koury Auditorium, Kenan-Flagler Business School


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Keynote Speaker: Markus Wilhelm

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"We are very proud of the jobs we are creating. [...] People who have been fighting hard to find a job, people with families, this is what it's about for me, for our company."

Founder of Strata Solar LLC, Markus Wilhelm has been ranked as one of top 10 people to watch this year in North Carolina. He has set a vision for his company to create sustainable long term job growth. Believing in creating local jobs for local projects, Strata Solar works very closely with employment and economic development offices to hire and train individuals who have been hard hit by the economic downturn and helps them achieve a secure future in solar development. Building utility scale solar projects in regional 'clusters' and hiring individuals to go back in the field in a new industry with a bright future, hired teams can move from one job to the next without fearing unemployment in a time of economic uncertainty.


Strata Solar LLC, of Chapel Hill, has emerged as the industry’s 200-megawatt gorilla, accounting for roughly half the solar generating capacity that is registered to go online in North Carolina this year. The Chapel Hill-based company develops and maintains solar energy farms and solar panels on businesses in NC and now around the country. Locally in Orange County, homeowners may not even realize it but their power is now coming from a much cleaner energy source. 

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Ginger Dosier

Tossing a clay brick into a coal-powered kiln, then firing it up to 2,000˚F, emits about 1.3 pounds of carbon dioxide. Multiply that by the 1.23 trillion bricks manufactured each year, and you’re talking about more pollution than what’s produced by all the airplanes in the world.

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Ginger Dosier, Founder of Biomason, has developed a way to grow bricks using bacteria and sand that could cut the world's carbon emissions by at least 800 million tons a year. Sound pretty incredible? We're not the only ones who think so. Based in Raleigh, NC Ginger was awarded by Richard Branson with a 500,000 Euros check, earning first place as the global winner this year in the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. Metropolis Magazine also named her the winner of its 2010 Next Generation contest. She was also a finalist in this year's Cherokee Challenge. She has been featured on TEDx World Wildlife Fund, Fast Company, and  


Rachel Cook

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Rachel is the Founder of Seeds, a microlending game that transforms the world through gaming. The idea for Seeds came to Rachel, a former equities trader, at 3:00am sitting on a Chicago desk trading the European shift. She was reading an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times about the positive effects of microlending on women and its sound financial investment, and, realizing that the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman, she saw an opportunity to connect those dots.


The Seeds game asks users to rebuild a crumbling civilization, monetizing impatience (users can level up faster by buying virtual dollars with real money) and through the sales of virtual goods, proceeds are then reinvested in microloans. Players can buy "leaves" - the game's currency - in $1 or $2 increments, and the money goes toward microlending for women entrepreneurs in need of start-up capital in East Africa. Harnessing the 3.5 billion hours spent gaming per week for for-profit investment in microloans, Seeds has created a new idea: gaming that leads directly to social good.


She has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, the Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Tech Cocktail among others for building such an innovative model for microlending. 


Jennifer Curtis

The daughter of an avid cook and an organic gardener, Jennifer Curtis grew up appreciating food and its profound connection to personal health and the environment. She co-founded Firsthand Foods to build a more sustainable food sytem for North Carolina. Firsthand Foods is a Durham-based meat company that markets and distributes pasture-raised, local meats free of antibitotics and animal by-products throughout the Triangle.


Connecting North Carolina's pasture-based livestock producers with local food lovers, restaurants, food service providers, and retailers, Firsthand Foods does all the legwork necessary to trace its products back to the farm of origin so that customers can know exactly where their meat comes from and how it was raised. 


Previously, Jennifer also founded Curtis Consulting, which enabled her to work for over 10 years designing and managing projects dedicated to helping small-scale farmers overcome economic and environmental challenges.  Before moving to North Carolina, she served as a policy advocate promoting sustainable agriculture and pesticide policy reform at the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. She received her M.S. in Environmental Management & Policy from UNC's Gillings School of Public Health.


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Moderated by:

Carol Hee


Dr. Carol Hee is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise. She also teaches Sustainable Enterprise and Envrionmental Strategy in the MBA Program as an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship. Carol joined UNC Kenan-Flagler after working at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


She is a 2010 recipient of the Page Prize, given in recognition of excellence in the teaching of environmental strategy. She also received an honorable mention in the Dr. Alfred N. and Lynn Manos Page Prize for Sustainability in Business Curricula.


Her research  interests concern how companies can reduce costs, minimize risk, and gain competitive advantage by implementing strategies guided by enviornmental and social concerns.


A UNC Alumna, she earned her PhD from UNC’s Department of Marine Sciences for research concerning the global carbon cycle and factors controlling the storage of carbon in marine sediment. She also earned her MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler.

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