The first five recipients of WRAL TechWire’s Hall of Fame honors for lifetime achievement are well-known contributors to the growing, evolving success of North Carolina’s high tech, life science and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

They are:

  • Monica Doss, who helped create the nation’s largest organization focused on startups and entrepreneurs: The Council for Entrepreneurial Development.
  • Dr. Charles Hamner, who was a driving force behind the growth of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and one of the nation’s largest life science industries.
  • Dr. Jim Goodnight, co-founder and CEO of Cary-based SAS, a growing global software and services firm that’s never had a year losing money since its founding on July 1, 1976.
  • Venessa Harrison, who started her career as a telephone operator and steadily rose through the ranks of Bell South/AT&T to become president of AT&T for North Carolina and who spearheaded a drive to make sure the state was among the very first to deploy AT&T’s growing fiber network.
  • Dennis Dougherty, often considered the founding father of the venture capital industry with the creation of Intersouth Partners in Durham.

The five will be honored Tuesday night at WRAL TechWire’s fifth TechWire Awards program.The event is set at Google Fiber’s new Triangle HQ located in Raleigh’s warehouse district.

Also to be honored that night are the 12 winners from 36 finalists in WRAL TechWire’s startup and enterprise awards.

Capping the night will be the announcement of the TechWire Editor’s Choice Awards which will go to one organization, three individuals who led a collective effort to secure legislation important to North Carolina’s startup community, and an individual who has played a major role in driving broadband use and access in Triangle underserved communities.

HoF details

The five Hall of Fame winners were selected with advice contributed by a panel of leaders who are deeply involved in the North Carolina ecosystem, from investing to consulting to media and entrepreneurship development.

Here are some of the comments from our panelists about each of the honorees. All will be featured through in-depth profiles beginning Monday in WRAL TechWire’s “First Edition” at 8 a.m.

Monica Doss

“Monica will forever be remembered as the Queen of Entrepreneurship in North Carolina. CED, under her watch, became the largest entrepreneur development organization in the world.

“Realize that 25 cities from around the world come to the Raleigh-Durham area to learn how CED used entrepreneur development as part of economic development to make the Triangle one of the most promising economies in the world.

“The rest of the state could learn a lot from her leadership and has for three decades.”

Dr. Charles Hamner

“I hope Charles Hamner will rise to the top of this list, not only for what he has meant to this state, but also for his stature as a man of unusual dignity, leadership, humility, intelligence, energy and commitment to the advancement of the supremely important life science base of North Carolina.

“What can be said that hasn’t been said about Charles Hamner Jr., D.V.M., Ph.D., who was long-time president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, chairman of The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences and a gentleman who continues to contribute to the state’s growth?”

Venessa Harrison

“The career of Ms. Harrison commands deep respect in so many ways, from humble beginnings as an operator to the leader of the largest telecommunications providers in North Carolina.

“Long before breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ became a common phrase, she was earning her way through the ranks of Bell South then AT&T.

“Without her it is unlikely AT&T would have landed the contract to help create the North Carolina Next Generation Network. Her desire to win that deal also helped propel North Carolina to among the top priorities to receive the resources and investment needed to bring AT&T’s fiber services to the state.”

Jim Goodnight

“Dr. Goodnight is Wilmington’s greatest export in the business community and our state is lucky to have him here. SAS is one of the most powerful companies in the world.

“And Dr Goodnight is now using that powerful impact for good with his generosity in donations and sponsorship towards education.”

Added another:

“SAS has never lost money – a remarkable streak reflecting Dr. Goodnight’s devotion to innovation and a competitive spirit that has ensured SAS will remain a leader in analytics even as it remains a privately held company. His philanthropy also is to be admired and respected.”

Dennis Dougherty

“Intersouth has always been one of the most influential venture capital funds in the South. Dennis and his partners are not only fueling the startups in North Carolina but are also generous with their time to mentor the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.”

Added another:

“Dennis and his team at Intersouth, including long-time partner Mitch Mumma, have provided seed and investment capital for numerous startup success stories in North Carolina and across the southeast. While the firm isn’t making any new investments at this time, there is no doubt that Intersouth has helped paved the way for the growth of our region’s tech success and helped establish venture capital as a funding source as well as advice and counsel for entrepreneurs.”