Jesse Lipson founded ShareFile which he sold to Citrix in 2011. Jesse now serves as the VP & GM of Data Sharing at Citrix, where he is responsible for the vision, market direction and product strategy behind the company’s data platform. A self-taught software programmer, Jesse has launched and led multiple cloud and e-commerce businesses since the age of 23.
Christopher is also the founder of Forward Communities, a non-profit that has launched community-based efforts to foster inclusive innovation including developing and scaling high-impact social entrepreneurs including Bull City Forward in Durham, NC, Queen City Forward in Charlotte, NC, and Moore Forward in Moore County, NC. Christopher is the co-founder of Forward Cities – a national learning collaborative between cities focused on building more inclusive innovation economies and InnovateNC – a similar multi-city learning collaborative in North Carolina.
Additionally, Christopher helped the Aspen Institute launch a new Center for Urban Innovation. Christopher is Innovator in Residence with the Center for Creative Leadership, a fellow and faculty member with Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative, and senior advisor for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Christopher is co-author of the nationally acclaimed book Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives and since 2009 has co-authored a bi-weekly column on social innovation for the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer titled “Doing Better at Doing Good.”
Christopher is a 2013 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and an alum of class 24 of Leadership North Carolina. In 1999, Christopher co-founded SMARTHINKING that became the leading online tutoring provider in the United States before being acquired by Pearson Education in 2011. Other ventures include starting Café Nunoa – a coffeehouse/bar in Santiago, Chile when he was 24 and “Entrepreneur Corps”—an AmeriCorps*VISTA initiative that placed 400 full-time business volunteers for a year of service in over 90 non-profits. He lives with his wife and two children in Durham, NC.
Brooks Bell is the Founder and CEO of Brooks Bell Inc., a leading optimization firm in Raleigh. She has been named among “40 Under 40” by the Triangle Business Journal and in the “Top 50 Entrepreneurs” by Business Leader.
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 HQ Raleigh, ThinkHouse, and Leadership exCHANGE. Jason brings an extensive background as an investor, developer, and entrepreneur to his current role as Co-Founder HQ Raleigh, an award-winning entrepreneurial co-working space located in Downtown Raleigh. Seeking to develop the pipeline of young entrepreneurs is one if Jason’s passions. He is the Founder of ThinkHouse, an intentional living community and accelerator for post-graduate entrepreneurs. In addition, Jason was instrumental in the creation of Leadership exCHANGE, an award-winning organization dedicated to training the next generation of leaders and global citizens to change the world. Founded in 1999, Leadership exCHANGE has trained students from more than 80 countries and created programs in Prague, Rome, Panama City, Havana, Bologna, Berlin, Bangkok, Boulder, and Raleigh. His teaching portfolio includes Global Business and Social Entrepreneurship. Jason has raised millions of dollars as an entrepreneur and real estate developer. Most recent projects include the founding of RevGen and raising capital for the purchase and development of 60,000 sq. ft. expansion space for HQ Raleigh.
Jess Porta is the Director across locations. She loves working with members to help solve problems and connect them with unique opportunities. Jess is also an artist, poet, and human rights activist. In the past she worked with victims of human trafficking, after obtaining her Masters of International Studies from NC State and her BA in International Politics and Art History at Penn State. She is a published children’s book author and a proud dog mom.
Director of Development
Christie Williams handles all leasing and event inquiries and work to develop new relationships beyond our current HQ Community.
She has two daughters and two Pit Bulls, and an awesome husband. She is passionate about inclusivity, adoption, local restaurants, and Bluegrass music. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her at an Estate Sale, renovating her home, or repurposing cool furniture.
Stephanie manages all community engagement efforts and leads all B-Corp Special Projects. She went to Washington College for an International Studies and Archaeology double major, and her passion lies in development abroad in post conflict regions. Stephanie is interested in the intersection between diversity, resources, community engagement, and social growth. On the side she utilizes her veterinary tech training in her own pet sitting business, and helps network local live performance events with nonprofit engagement.
Director of Facilities
George England has 10+ years of experience in hospitality and engineering. George enjoys solving problems and providing solutions for clients. He is an entrepreneur at heart and there isn’t a hobby out there that he hasn’t tried. Whether it’s drones, video editing & photography, fishing, virtual reality games, or boating, you name it he’s done it! George’s newest hobby is his newborn son!
Lauren Romer oversees operations across all locations. If you need something changed, updated, or improved- let her know and she will do her best to help. She is an NC State graduate, Go Pack! And also holds a North Carolina Real Estate License. When she isn’t at HQ you can find her checking out Raleigh’s newest restaurants, traveling, or hanging with her dog, Hercules.
Daphanie Doane serves as HQ’s first Community Fellow. She primarily works at our Warehouse location assisting members and running day-to-day operations. She is a senior at Campbell University majoring in Business Administration. Daphanie enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and playing with her pup, Malachi.
Devon, or as his friend’s call him, “Chef,” is your go to guy for cooking, working out, or graphic design tips. He is currently working toward his BFA at UNC Greensboro in New Media & Design with my focus being Branding and Logo Design. Devon keep HQ running like a well oil machine through building refreshes, repairs, and light maintenance.