Meet Our Team

Partnerships Staff

Research universities are a rich source of talent and R&D resources, but navigating through them to forge a university-industry partnership can be complex. The Office of Partnerships at NC State helps organizations save time and money by providing expert assistance and strategic connections. Here are a few of the pathways to partnering with NC State:

  • Find faculty with subject-matter expertise in areas as diverse as advanced analytics and smart fibers.
  • Connect with highly-qualified students for internships, co-ops and full-time hires.
  • Launch businesses built around the licensing of NC State technology and science.
  • Acquire state-of-the-art testing services and lab equipment needed to develop your technologies.
  • Maintain a physical presence on NC State’s award-winning Centennial Campus for real-time access to top talent and resources.

In other words, think of us as your front door to academic resources—resources that can often dramatically improve your business and accelerate innovation.

Dennis Kekas

Associate Vice Chancellor, Partnerships

Dennis serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor where he oversees Centennial Campus Partnerships and Industry Alliances. He also serves on the Steering Committee for the IBM Q Hub at NC State as well as the Board of Microelectronics Center of North Carolina (MCNC). He is a graduate of Clemson University and a former IBM executive with extensive product development experience in networking, point-of-sale and financial transaction systems. Little known fact – he holds eight worldwide patents. 


Leah Burton

Director, Centennial Campus Partnerships Office and Industry Alliances

Leah leads the campus-wide strategy for corporate and government interactions with NC State. This includes management of partnerships and the university’s award-winning Centennial Campus. Leah works to expand corporate and government partnerships with NC State’s faculty and students. She currently serves on the boards for the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) and the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities. Leah holds her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado. Little known fact – she was Drum Major of Colorado’s largest marching band and had the honor of marching in the Parade of Roses and the Orange Bowl Parade.

Keisha Demps

Partnership Developer

Keisha is part of the partnership development team, brokering relationships with industry and government partners. Her duties include developing and managing outreach and engagement of current and prospective businesses while fostering opportunities for collaboration with faculty and students. Keisha obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona.  Little known fact – she spent two years as a professional athlete and trained as an alternate for the 2000 Olympics.

Nanci Farrow 

Partnership Developer

Nanci is part of the partnership development team, focused on developing and managing outreach and engagement of current and prospective businesses while fostering opportunities for collaboration with faculty and students. Nanci is a two-time graduate of NC State, having received her bachelor’s and master’s degree at the university. Little known fact – she is an avid writer and published author, receiving a national writing award from an essay written to the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Heather Gately

Research and Partnership Services Associate

Heather is responsible for supporting the partnership team and providing quality service to partners. She also engages in outreach and events to connect partner employees with NC State resources and amenities. Heather earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from James Madison University. She previously managed member services for NC State Wellness and Recreation. Little known fact – Heather is an avid lover of cats, Philadelphia sports and baking.

Morgan High

Director of Marketing and Communications

Morgan is responsible for marketing and communications initiatives to build awareness of Centennial Campus and its innovative partnerships, as well as NC State as a key partner for industry, academic and government collaborations. Morgan holds her bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University and her master’s degree from NC State. Little known fact – Morgan loves to travel, visiting ten countries in five years.

Amy Lubas

Director, Strategic Projects

Amy is focused on strategic projects to catalyze collaboration between NC State, industry and government. She leads NC State’s Smart Cities Initiative, working closely with partners to expand Smart Cities projects. She also manages the Daugherty Endowment category of the Lulu eGames. Amy holds her bachelor’s degree from NC State and her MBA from the University of Alabama. Little known fact – as a college freshman, she went a year without a TV.

Charisse Rogers

Executive Assistant

As the executive assistant and coordinator for the office, Charisse helps to ensure that all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted as we help create partnerships between the university, industry and government organizations. Charisse attended the University of Cincinnati and has recently moved back to the Raleigh area after living in Boone and the Carolina mountains.  Little known fact – Charisse has traveled to 42 of the 50 states in the U.S.

Contact us to learn more