Editor’s note: Chuck Hester is the Co-Founder and  Managing Partner of A Purpose Partnership, a marketing and business consulting firm that works with clients to kickstart their success. During his 35-year career, Chuck has worked with numerous small- and medium-sized businesses, with a highlight having served on the iContact executive team that grew the company to $50 million in sales and excited at $169 million.


RALEIGH — More than 700 technology executives were on hand last night as the North Carolina Technology Association (NC TECH) held its annual NC Tech Awards at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The awards represented a unique intersection of technology and human culture, current and future leaders, and hope for a bright future for the region. 

“This year has been a strong one for the tech community, as evidenced by the volume of nominations and applications for this awards program and the record-setting support from over 80 sponsors,” said Brooks Raiford, NC TECH president and CEO. “We’re pleased to highlight such a diverse mix of organizations and leaders at this year’s event.”

The event celebrated the importance of technology in North Carolina and the companies that are making a difference in the State’s economy. 

Chuck Hester (Photo courtesy of Chuck Hester)

It also highlighted the growing tech sector outside of the Triangle. Winners and finalists were not only based in the Raleigh and Durham areas but in Wilmington, Winston Salem, and Carthage as well. 

David Reeser, CEO and Founder of OpiAID was on hand to accept the Use of Technology Award in AI + Data Analytics award. His company is based in Wilmington and part of an ecosystem nurtured by Jim Roberts, founder of WALE – Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs and the Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington – NEW.

Reeser’s company uses data science in a meaningful way to make addiction treatment safer and more effective.

“The tech ecosystem is number one in the world, which is amazing considering we have a population of less than 300,000,” Reeser said.

The winners are …

(List provided by NC TECH)

Leantime founders Gloria Foloran and Marcel Folaron. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Hester)

Technology Corporate Award Winners
Use of Technology Award Winners
Individual Award Winners
Chief Information Officer (CIO) Of the Year (Private Sector)
Arthur Phidd, CIO – REEDS Jewelers
Chief Information Officer (CIO) Of the Year (Public Sector)
Michael Ware, CIO – NC Department of Environment Quality
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of the Year
Guy Shamilov, CISO – Varonis
Tech Difference Maker of the Year
Mark Sorrells, President – Fayetteville Tech Community College
Tech Woman of the Year
Sabina Schneider, Chief Solutions Officer – Globant
Public Leader of the Year
Representative Jake Johnson, NC House of Representatives
TECH CEO of the Year

Jesse Lipson

Jesse Lipson, Founder + CEO – Levitate
Beacon Award (Outstanding Achievement)
Scot Wingo, CEO – Spiffy
In addition, NC TECH named the Top Ten Startups to Watch. Companies recognized included:
View all finalists and winners here.

The awards also named the top 10 Startups to Watch, with the list including Active Defender – a technology solution for school safety; Leantime – a platform that uses AI to enhance workflow and project management; and Social Cascade – a healthcare patient education platform.

The event was not only a celebration of the North Carolina technology sector but also of how it is composed of entrepreneurs spanning multiple generations. 

Tech industry veteran Scot Wingo, CEO of Spiffy and General Partner of the Triangle Tweener Fund won the Beacon Award for Outstanding Achievement. 

Wingo has been actively involved in entrepreneurship in the Triangle for several decades. He was honored for his work creating the Tweener List – a comprehensive list of companies with annual revenue of more than $1 million and less than 80 million and The Tweener Fund, www.tweenerfund.com, a ‘sister’ fund that invests in 10-15 tweeners a quarter.

“It’s a true honor to be recognized for your passion project, I would do it without any accolades, but it is great to receive recognition for the work and hopefully it helps others consider giving back by paying it forward themselves.  That’s how we build the best startup ecosystem in the country,” Wingo said. 

On the other end of the generational spectrum is NC House Representative Jake Johnson. NC Tech’s named Public Leader of the Year. Johnson won his first county election at 22 in 2016. Johnson was recognized as a champion of technology advancement in North Carolina. 

The emphasis on company culture, doing good in the community, and paying it forward was evident in the award categories, including  Tech for Good and  Diversity, Equity + Inclusion it Tech.

Companies that were finalists and nominees in these categories are doing work in opioid addiction, technology access for rural North Carolina, and school safety.

It was great to see representatives from so many generations who are genuinely enthusiastic about what can be done with technology and how North Carolina companies can be successful while serving the public good.

More NC TECH news

NC TECH to honor 10 startups with Beacon awards – here are profiles