Meet Our Team.
Board of Directors:
ALLISON ZOLLER - Executive Director
Allison has been passionate about autism services since her oldest child was diagnosed in 1997. Allison’s background is in nonprofit services, in both addiction treatment and working with families who have special needs children. She has organized summer camps for kids with autism and worked as the Family Support Director for The Arc of Orange County. Allison has a BBA in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin and a M. Ed. from the College of William and Mary. Allison co-founded Persever8 with Linda Varblow in 2013.
LINDA VARBLOW - Director of Autism Service
Linda has worked in the autism field since 1999 and is currently an Autism Specialist at the Chapel Hill TEACCH Center at the University of North Carolina. Her background is in Critical Care Nursing and Health Care Management. She has two adult children on the autism spectrum who are both in college. In addition to her nursing degree from Evergreen Valley College in San Jose CA, she holds a BA in Health Science from San Jose State University, an MS in Management from Boston University and an MPH from UNC Chapel Hill.
As a SCORE volunteer, I mentor small businesses. My area of emphasis is writing business plans and business operations to include financial statement analysis & management. I believe that thorough written business plans give a new business (and existing businesses) the best chance of success. I take my clients through a business plan writing process in which they write one section at a time thus making the task less overwhelming. I provide written guidelines for each section that details the criteria for that section along with questions and information that will generate critical thinking about the section topic. I also teach business seminars for SCORE through the Durham Tech, Central Carolina Community College and Wake Tech Small Business Centers, the Orange County Public Library and the NC Cooperative Extension.
Carl worked for Miller Brewing for 27 years and held several positions including Group Director - Sales & Marketing Finance, Corporate Controller, Assistant Controller - Distributor Financial Services, Brewery Controller, Brewery Accounting Manager and other Brewery accounting positions.
Alex Griffin is a remarkable young man. He currently works at the Autism Society Book Store where, among other duties, he manages their website. He also works as a Computer Programmer at the Urban Affairs Center at NC State University. He has earned a belt in Aikido, taught himself to speak Japanese and enjoys both video and board games. He particularly enjoys role playing games. He lives in Cameron Village with a lazy corgi named Einstein.
KARA HUME, Ph.D.
Dr. Kara Hume is a Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a Research Associate Professor in the School of Education. She serves as Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI on several studies with children, adolescents, and adults on the autism spectrum. She serves as Co-PI for the Center on Secondary Education for Students with ASD (CSESA, http://csesa.fpg.unc.edu/), a five year project developing and implementing a comprehensive high school program for students on the spectrum funded by IES. Dr. Hume has worked with children and young adults on the autism spectrum for 20+ years in a variety of capacities, including a home program therapist, teacher, trainer, and consultant. She was a classroom teacher for seven years working primarily with students on the autism spectrum, and has worked with TEACCH Autism Program as a trainer for professionals in the field.
John Matthews is a software engineer with 15+ years of experience, who has the pleasure of experiencing a blur between the lines of work and play. Having a passion for open source software he joined Red Hat in 2007. At Red Hat, John is a Principal Software Engineer focusing his efforts on Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure. John is an avid learner and continues to refine his skills, staying up to date on new technology innovations, often through advising early stage ventures.
John obtained a Bachelors in Computer Engineering and Masters in Electrical Engineering from SUNY @ Stony Book. Additionally, John's interest in entrepreneurship led to him to complete a Masters in Business Administration from UNC @ Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he continues to return annually as a coach in their entrepreneurship program.
Ginny Noble received her law degree from Duke University in 1988. After law school, Ms. Noble worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before returning to Durham and starting the law firm of McGill & Noble with Christa McGill. Ms. Noble practices in the areas of Social Security and Veterans' Disability law and is also certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a Specialist in Social Security Disability Law. Ms. Noble earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, focusing on the welfare state.
Judy Wernette, CFRE is the Managing Partner and Principal for Strategic Partners, Inc. located in Canton, Michigan. Judy is a versatile development professional with over 30 years of hands-on experience in education, social service, and health care organizations. Judy began her career in development practicing all phases of resource development work and has a unique capacity to assess the needs, readiness, and fit of funding strategies in client settings.
Judy is an assured professional who helps organizations create and align their fundraising systems and processes in order to optimize their ability to sort, analyze and act on donor data. Her specialty lies in observing an analyzing the nuances of donor data to create logical fundraising strategies that focus organizations on where their efforts are likely to have the most impact. As a result, her clients waste less time and resources and are able to make more substantial contributions to their communities. Judy is a dependable partner who excels at coming into an organization, quickly determining how well the current systems compare with industry best practices, and implementing a plan of action that immediately places her clients on the road to success.
Before joining Strategic Partners, Inc., Judy directed annual giving programs at Siena Heights University in Adrian Michigan and successfully served as Executive Director of the Lenawee Humane Society in Adrian. Since joining Strategic Partners Judy has provided executive leadership to hospitals and veterans organizations in addition to schools.
Concurrently, Judy has refined her organizational skills serving as an auction clerk for Dan Stall Inc., The Auction Team. For over 30 years, Judy has been a part of a dynamic team orchestrating successful special events and auctions for not-for-profit organizations.
Judy has a Bachelor of Science Degree/Business Administration from Siena Heights University. She has also studied data processing at Northwestern Michigan College and continues to increase her knowledge base through seminars and targeted trainings.
No stranger to executive leadership, Judy’s commitment to her community places her recently in the role of Board chair for Community Alliance, a Washtenaw County agency that provides supportive living and fiscal intermediary services for individuals with developmental disabilities with a $6,000,000 annual budget and she serves on the board of Persevr8, a not-for-profit that provides technical training and life and job skills education to young adults on the autism spectrum. She is also a member of the Rotary Club of Plymouth A.M. and its immediate Past President.
Ted Zoller is Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and T.W. Lewis Clinical Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship in the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, engaged in core strategies of the foundation in the area of entrepreneurship; and serves as an active practicing entrepreneur. Dr. Zoller is also President of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the largest American association of academics and practitioners dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurship. Dr. Zoller’s research focuses on entrepreneurial firm performance and private equity and venture capital dealmaking networks, and he collaborates actively with the Blackstone Foundation to implement these networks nationally through the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. Dr. Zoller is founder of CommonWeal Ventures, a global venture advisory firm; founder and Chairman of the Board of OpenRange, a venture that facilitates public use of private lands; is an active angel investor; and serves on the boards of numerous entrepreneurial ventures and on the executive committees of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers and the Council of Entrepreneurial Development and on the boards of Idea Fund Partners, Southeast TechInventures, and Rex Health Ventures.
Dr. Zoller has taught entrepreneurship courses in the MBA, BSBA, MBA for Executives, and MBA@UNC programs at UNC Kenan-Flagler since 1998; oversees the Center's teaching and outreach programs; and is the primary liaison for the business school to UNC’s university-wide Innovate@Carolina initiative and to partners in the Research Triangle Park entrepreneurial community. Dr. Zoller teaches new ventures, business model and enterprise development, and global venturing courses, focusing primarily on high-growth enterprises. He is the founding instructor of "Launching the Venture," an enterprise-creation program that has significantly increased the number of companies to spin off from UNC-Chapel Hill since its inception; and he is one of the founders of Launch Chapel Hill, the university’s innovative accelerator program ranked in 2015 among the top 5 programs of its kind in North America. He holds a PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill, master’s degrees from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and the University of Virginia focusing on entrepreneurship and economic development, and a dual bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary.
John is a solutions architect working within EMC’s global Engineering Operations and Shared Services organization. John has been working in the IT sector in RTP since 1988 with companies including IBM, Data General, Cisco and EMC in development, quality and operations roles. John and his wife Susan have 3 college aged children and have been active volunteers working with youth and young adults through the Wake County School System, Boy Scouts of America, church and youth sports organizations in the triangle.
Mark had the rare good fortune to discover what he wanted to do when he grew up before he'd even graduated from elementary school. Introduced to his first computer at the age of nine, he was immediately hooked and had taught himself to program by the time he was done with middle school. He launched his first commercial website while he was still in high school and earned his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Grinnell College. When he's not banging on a keyboard, Mark spends his time playing games (video, board, and table-top), or finding outlets for his competitiveness outdoors. He and his wife live with their large-breed rescue dog, all his games, and her many books.
David graduated in 2007 at Stony Brook University with a bachelor degree in Computer Science and an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill in 2014. He is passionate about software, solving problems through technologies, and spending quality time with his family. He is currently employed at Red Hat, working on making public and private cloud technologies easier to use.
Dylan is a graduate of Clemson University with a bachelors degree in Computer Engineering. He is currently employed as an associate software engineer at Red Hat. He is originally from Massachusetts and currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Reginald (Reggie) Reed is a Senior Engineering Manager working within EMC’s Global Engineering Operations and Shared Services organization. He has over 20 years of experience in a variety of Engineering and IT disciplines at Cisco Systems, AT&T and the University of Central Florida prior to joining EMC. Reggie is also an active member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and a past National Director of Technology. Reggie and his wife Julie have lived in the Raleigh-Durham area since 1997 and have a school aged daughter on the autistic spectrum.
Inga has worked for Microsoft for the past nine years in a variety of management positions. She is currently Senior Business Program Manager - Offerings. Other positions she has held include, Experience Manager & Customer Support Planner, Support Experience PMO Lead, Technical Product Manager.Product Owner, and Scrum Master/Coach.
Michael started with web app development in 1994 while a student worker at UNC. Since then, his career has traversed architecture, development, management, technical pre-sales, marketing, consulting and book authoring. Currently, he is a Software Architect at SAS. He has a proven track record of bringing innovative and highly profitable software to market.
Extensive software development experience is complemented by communications skills. He is author for 3 books on topics including Java, XML, databases and web application development as well as papers and blog posts. Presentation experience includes video work and presentations to audiences as large as 3,000 in a conference setting.
Aspyn, originally from New Bern, NC, is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill studying Psychology, Drama and Entrepreneurship. In addition to interning with Persever8, she is the Communications Director of Phi Beta Chi Sorority, works at the Accessibility Resources and Services Office, and is excited to be choreographing for the Phi Beta Chi team in Greek Groove this year. During her time as a Business Development Intern with Persever8, she has been the lead on the social media efforts. This encompasses everything from our weekly #TheWayItIsWednesday posts, to gaining followers on Facebook and Twitter, to managing blog posts on our website.