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Introducing our program speakers, participants, and presenters for State of Downtown 2022 presented by PNC.


Josh Dix | Trammell Crow Company

Josh Dix is a Principal with Trammell Crow Company’s (TCC) MidAtlantic Business Unit. Josh oversees the firm’s mixed-use and multifamily projects for High Street Residential, TCC's residential subsidiary, throughout North Carolina. He is primarily responsible for the acquisition, financing, and budgeting of large-scale development projects, as well as the underwriting and analysis of potential projects. Recent developments exceed over $600 million in project costs. In his role, Josh also manages the day-to-day activities required to see projects from acquisition and preliminary concepts, through design coordination, to final product. Josh previously served in the same capacity for TCC in Washington DC, where he worked for 20 years before relocating to North Carolina in 2021.

Johnny Hackett, Jr. | The Black Dollar Corp.

Johnny is from Greenville, South Carolina and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1998. A Broughton High School graduate, he attended North Carolina A&T State University. He enjoyed great career as a Six Sigma Black Belt at Fortune 500 Companies such as Xerox, IBM, BlueCross BlueShield of NC, and the amazing B-Corp Unity Web Agency. An active member of the Raleigh Community, Johnny leads a yearly Rodney Williams MLK Breakfast for his Masonic Fraternity Widow’s Son Lodge #4, while serving on the Board of Directors for Raleigh’s pay-what-you-can restaurant A Place At The Table, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, and Dogwood State Bank’s Advisory Board. Johnny speaks on social and technology agendas whenever possible, such as TedX Raleigh’s Carpe Diem, RTP180’s Agile Series, and was the keynote speaker at Innovate Raleigh Summit’s 10-Year Anniversary 2021. Recently named one of Triangle Business Journal’s 2021 40 Under 40 Award Recipients and Triangle Tribune’s 2021 Newsmakers of the Year.

Ikima Hicks | Kane Realty

Ikima Hicks joined Kane Residential in 2017 as a Property Management Analyst, and was promoted to Regional Manager in 2018. In her current role, Ikima oversees the operations of a portfolio of multi-family assets. She works closely with on-site teams, corporate support departments, and Kane Residential leadership to maintain Kane’s well-known standard of excellence. Ikima holds a Certified Apartment Manager® designation from the Triangle Apartment Association as well as a North Carolina Real Estate Broker’s License. She is an active member of the TAA and is affiliated with SAHMA

Kyle Touchstone | Raleigh Economic Development

As Director of Raleigh Economic Development, a partnership of the City of Raleigh and the Raleigh Chamber, Kyle leads the economic development program for the City of Raleigh through business recruitment, business retention, business expansion and brand awareness activities while supporting talent and equitable economic development. A native of McComb, Mississippi, Kyle brings over 16 years of experience in economic development.

Innovation and the Future of Downtown

Todd Olson | Pendo 

Todd Olson is co-founder and CEO of Pendo, the all-in-one product experience platform. A three-time entrepreneur, Olson teamed up with fellow product leaders and technologists from Red Hat, Cisco and Google to launch Pendo in October 2013. The Raleigh, N.C.-based company has since raised $356 million in venture capital, landed more than 2500 customers and now employs 1,000 people across eight offices around the globe. Pendo has appeared on the Forbes Cloud 100 list each of the last four years, and has been named an Inc. Best Workplace five years in a row.

Bill Spruill | Global Data Consortium

William (Bill) Spruill is the co-founder and former CEO of Global Data Consortium (GDC), the most widely channel distributed global identity verification platform providing data driven Know Your Customer for more than 70 countries through a single API. Over the life of the organization, he oversaw the formation of more than 50 enterprise channel relationships and established a cohort of more than 120 data suppliers creating a unique consortium business model that drove more than $70M in revenues over the life of the business. Bill led the recent acquisition of GDC to the London Stock Exchange Group for $300 million making it one of the largest minority founder exits in the enterprise technology sector in U.S. history.  

Jason Widen | Raleigh Founded

Jason Widen is Co-Founder of Forward Impact whose mission is to unleash the impact potential of next generation entrepreneurial leaders. This work includes supporting community-based strategies to develop and scale high-impact entrepreneurs including Raleigh Founded,  REVGEN, and Portfolio B. Jason brings an extensive background as an investor, developer, and entrepreneur to his current role as Founding Partner and CEO of  Founded Communities, an award-winning entrepreneurial co-working space located in Downtown Raleigh.  Raleigh Founded boasts 460 member companies and 1500 members including key partnerships with NC State and Campbell Law, to name a few. 

Downtown Storefront Entrepreneurs

Sunny Gerhart | St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar 

St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar is Raleigh’s go-to for cliche-free New Orleans cuisine.  Familiar dishes bring surprising flavors; the food doesn’t always do what you expect, and that’s no accident. Sunny Gerhart, chef and owner, is hard to pin down. He’s a milieux - an intense blend of intuition and experience. In that way, he’s a bit like New Orleans, the city that raised him. Hard to describe; easy to taste. 

Julian Zarron Jacobs | Unorthodox Vintage 

Julian Jacobs is the founder of Sir Chance’s Vintage and co-owner of Unorthodox Vintage. As an avid thrifter, Julian identified a need in Downtown Raleigh for affordable vintage and second hand clothing. Julian started Sir Chance’s as a way to combine his passion for style with his entrepreneurial goals. His streetstyle aesthetic and push for sustainability was a hit, and Julian quickly gained traction at pop-up markets around the Triangle. The Pop-Up Shops at Martin Street program allowed Julian to test his concept in a brick-and-mortar space, proving that his keen eye for fashion and sustainability was in high demand. As a graduate of the Pop-Up Shops at Martin Street program, Julian was able to open a permanent location in Downtown Raleigh with co-owner, Alexandria Taylor. Together, they have launched Unorthodox Vintage, a collaboration between Sir Chance’s Vintage and She Thrifty Apparel.

LaTanya Lodge | TresLife 

LaTanya has a Masters in Business Administration and is Licensed Cosmetologist. She has created and founded TresLife, an all natural hair and skin care company. Its mission is to redefine what is known as beauty by giving little girls and women natural tools and techniques to love and embrace their natural beauty. They are determined to prove that healthy hair is possible!

Kimberly Clayton Thigpen | The Bath Place 

Kimberly Thigpen is Founder & Chief Soap Artist at The Bath Place, LLC where she creates natural soaps and body products using simple, good for you ingredients. The mother of six began making soaps in response to family members that suffered from eczema. After spending 11 years in the banking industry including, five as a Business Performance Analyst, she decided to launch out into the deep.  She has been a full time entrepreneur for over a decade now and was recently featured as part of Main St. Discoveries in the July 2022 Print Edition of Travel & Leisure Magazine.

Lindsay Wrege | 321 Coffee

Lindsay Wrege is the co-founder and CEO of 321 Coffee, a local coffee shop and roaster that employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her inclusive staff, featuring people with down syndrome, autism, and other forms of neurodiversity, together model inclusion. She started this company in college, and it now employs over 40 adults with IDD. Lindsay believes in the power of using business for social impact.

Building Experiences and Community in Downtown

Grady Bussey | John Chavis Memorial Park 

Grady Bussey is the Community Center Director of John Chavis Memorial Park of Raleigh Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resource Department. John Chavis Memorial Park, also known as Chavis Park, is a public park spanning 28.87 acres near Shaw University in the South Park neighborhood of Southeast Raleigh, North Carolina. Grady has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Recreation of Administration from St. Augustine's University. He has been apart of the Raleigh Parks and Recreation system for over twelve years. During this tenure, Grady has run multiple parks and community centers. Grady is a true believer in building a better Raleigh through community engagement and creating positive recreation experiences in the centers he supervises.

Carly Jones | Artspace 

Carly P. Jones is an arts executive hailing from Raleigh, NC with over a decade of arts nonprofit experience and community work throughout Raleigh. Recently, Jones became the new President + CEO of Artspace, which is a nonprofit visual art center providing accessible arts education, subsidized studio space for artists, and community engaging programs and exhibitions in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Prior to this role, Jones served as Senior Program Director for Artists & Organizations at the NC Arts Council within the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, where she oversaw statewide organization grants and individual artist resources, including the equitable distribution of over $15 million of emergency pandemic aid to the state’s arts sector.

Russ Jones | LODEN Hospitality 

Born and raised in Raleigh, Russ and his partner Henry Ward formed LODEN Hospitality and LODEN Properties to create magnetic, unique places that contribute to the unique fabric of this community. For downtown Raleigh, we are mostly known for the Longleaf Hotel and Lounge and are thrilled to be a part of the downtown culture. We also acquired Guest House Raleigh about a year ago and have enjoyed seeing it thrive.

Christina Coffey | Lee & Associates 

Christina Coffey is a UNC-CH graduate and moved to Raleigh in 1999. She lives in Downtown Raleigh and is a commercial real estate broker for Lee & Associates. She is on the board of directors for Band Together, SAFEchild, Leadership Raleigh Alumni Association, and the North Carolina Freedom Park. When she is not working or volunteering you can find her at a concert, spending time with friends in Downtown Raleigh, or traveling the world!

Britt Thomas | Marbles Kids Museum

Britt Thomas has worked in the children’s museum field for over 20 years and was a member of the leadership team to create Marbles Kids Museum opening in 2007. She currently serves as the Chief Activation Officer and a member of the Executive Team responsible for long-term vision, strategic planning and daily operations. She is a Raleigh native and graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Leadership Perspectives & Award Presenters

Michael Iovino | August Construction Solutions, Inc. 

Michael Iovino founded August Construction Solutions (ACS) in 2013, an award-winning, full-service general contractor specializing in adaptive reuse and tenant improvement projects. Their work is nation-wide and headquartered in Raleigh, NC. Their thoughtful assembly of seasoned professionals has afforded them the opportunity to collaborate with an elite client list, filled with some of the most recognized brands in the world.

Ted Klinck | Highwoods Properties, Inc. 

Ted joined Highwoods in March 2012 as Chief Investment Officer. He became Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in September 2015 and then President in November 2018. In September 2019, he became President and Chief Executive Officer and was elected to the Board of Directors of Highwoods Properties. Prior to joining Highwoods, Ted was Principal and Chief Investment Officer with Goddard Investment Group in Atlanta and prior to Goddard, he was a Managing Director with Morgan Stanley.

David Meeker | Carpenter Development, Trophy Brewing 

A Raleigh native, David Meeker founded Carpenter Development and partnered with Trophy Brewing in 2008. He has made every mistake in the world, lived to tell about it, and has invaluable development experience because of that. David lives in Downtown Raleigh with his wife Kimberlie and two boys.

Rob Reid | Kane Realty Corporation 

Rob Reid currently serves as Director of Kane Residential for Kane Realty Corporation. In this role, Rob oversees the operations, business development, and strategic asset growth of Kane's multifamily development and third-party management portfolio. Prior to Kane, Rob previously served in various roles in the capital markets and public policy fields. Rob and his wife, Sydney, both graduated from Wake Forest University and live in Raleigh with their son, Graham, and dog, Muggsy.