Join us Thursday, April 15, to virtually celebrate the honorees, young alumni who have achieved major professional success, serve as difference-makers in their communities and loyally support Elon.
This year’s recipients are outstanding young alumni who have achieved high levels of success, continuously work to elevate their communities and are loyal alumni role models. They are:
Jay Reno ’10, Founder and CEO, Feather
A business administration graduate, Jay is the founder and CEO of Feather, a next-generation furniture rental company for city dwellers focused on keeping furniture in homes and out of landfills. Since graduating from Elon, he received his master’s degree from Columbia University, where he studied climate and environmental science. He went on to launch three companies, including a same-day grocery delivery company focused on local food resources, an app dedicated to solving excess capacity at bars and restaurants in New York City as well as his most successful venture thus far, Feather. The company has raised $76 million of venture capital from the top venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins and Spark Capital. Jay has been recognized as one of Inc Magazine’s Rising Stars, and has been featured in the New York Times, ABC News, CBS News, Forbes, Vogue and, most proudly, his hometown newspaper, The Concord Monitor.
Emily Adams ’11, Eastern and Southern Africa Science Coordination Lead, NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office
A biology and environmental studies graduate, Emily’s interest in biology, environmental science and international development came together during her second Winter Term at Elon, when she took a field biology study abroad course in Peru. She never could have imagined that would lead to a career supporting SERVIR, a partnership of NASA, USAID and leading technical organizations around the world that develops innovative solutions to improve livelihoods and foster self-reliance in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Emily is responsible for supporting and/or coordinating the direct science support, capacity building and service planning activities for the SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa Hub, based at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development in Nairobi, Kenya.
Nick Dyer ’11, Head of Digital for ‘The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’
A broadcast and news media graduate, Nick began his career in the television industry at Comedy Central’s parent company, Viacom. Over the past eight years, he has worked across a variety of TV series including “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “South Park,” “Key & Peele,” “Tosh.0,” “Nathan For You” and more. Nick also led digital efforts for the channel’s news and stand-up programming, a role that earned him and The Daily Show an Emmy award in 2017 for “Outstanding Short Form Variety Series,” recognizing the team’s online video content supplementing the late-night television program. He has received industry accolades throughout his career including two consecutive Emmy nominations and the Outdoor Lions Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In his role as the head of digital at “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” he oversees the development of digital content, strategy and production for the late night program.
Kristin Kostka ’11, Associate Director of OMOP Data Networks – Americas at IQVIA
An exercise science graduate, Kristin’s passion for outcome research started in 2009 when she received IRB permission to conduct her first correlational case study examining alcohol education initiatives in NCAA Athletes. With the help of her mentor, Professor Amanda Tapler, Kristin got her first taste of presenting research. She is now an associate director running the OMOP Data Network at IQVIA. She also sits on the steering committee within the Observational Health Data Sciences & Informatics community – a global, multi-disciplinary open source community of more than 200 organizations aimed at improving patient outcomes through large-scale analytics. As part of that work, Kristin collaborates with hospitals, payers and health care providers to help institutions connect and run research within the world’s largest observational health data network. In 2020, she spearheaded a research network of 23 data partners from eight countries to respond to COVID-19. This work has culminated into more than 18 papers on COVID-19 trends in real world data.
Alexandra “Allie” Solender Boyd ’12, Physics Teacher, Apex Friendship High School
A physics and secondary science education graduate, Allie currently teaches physics at Apex Friendship High School in Apex, North Carolina, where she has built the physics program from the ground up. In 2017, she was named National PhysTEC Teacher of the Year for her service to physics education and work within her classroom, after she increased physics enrollment not only throughout the school, but especially in young women. Allie is committed to being a leader in her field through speaking at conferences such as the American Association of Physics Teachers, APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics, and Bridging the Gap. She was also responsible for rewriting Wake County’s physics curriculum and serves on the Science Core Leadership Team to help support other science teachers within the county.
Alex Dempsey ’12, Associate at Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners
A finance and accounting graduate, Alex’s dedication to service started early in his life and permeated through his time at Elon and beyond. While at Elon, he served as the president of the campus Habitat for Humanity chapter, participated in two Hurricane Katrina relief trips, and was philanthropy and service Chairs for his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. Since his time at Elon, Alex has dedicated his career to stopping climate change. While at York Capital, he helped finance more than $1 billion of renewable energy projects across the globe. He later joined the World Bank Group, working on projects that preserved forests and animal sanctuaries in Kenya, distributing clean cook stoves to remote areas of Rwanda, and helping the solar energy sectors in India and Brazil. He graduated with an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in May of 2020. He now works as an associate at Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners in Houston, Texas, where he is investing in renewable energy and net zero carbon infrastructure projects.
Ryan Keur ’12, Managing Partner, Knuckleball Entertainment
A sports and event management graduate, Ryan has spent the first decade of his career post-Elon in the sports and entertainment industry. In 2013, he was named the general manager of the then-Burlington Royals in North Carolina, making him the youngest GM in professional baseball at the age of 24. In each subsequent season, the team achieved record highs in total attendance and revenues. Ryan was awarded the Appalachian League Executive of the Year for each of the three seasons in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He was recruited to Daytona Beach where he became the team president for the Daytona Tortugas, the High-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. After his inaugural season with the Tortugas, Ryan was honored by Baseball America and Ballpark Digest as the overall Minor League Baseball Executive of the Year in 2017. He and his wife, Brittany, now live in Raleigh, North Carolina, where they own two baseball teams, the Burlington Sock Puppets and the Danville Otterbots, and have the greatest ballpark dog, Barley.
Brenna Humphries ’13, Management Consulting Manager, Accenture
A business administration graduate, Brenna has always dreamed of serving others through leadership. She took the first step toward that dream by attending Elon University as an Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellow and serving as an RA and member of the Elon University Gospel Choir. Upon graduation in 2013, Brenna joined Oracle as a software consultant in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. She later obtained an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. While there, she was named one of the “Best and Brightest MBA’s of the Class of 2018” by Poets&Quants, an honor only given to 100 student leaders from the world’s top MBA programs. Brenna lives in Philadelphia and works in health care management consulting with Accenture. In her role as manager, she leads her team to optimize clients’ business processes using innovative technology and attributes Elon University as the launchpad for her leadership and career achievements.
Heather Harder ’14, Marketing & Communications Director, RSE Ventures
A strategic communications graduate, Heather began writing at age 6, and she has never stopped. Her passion for writing led her to become a Communications Fellow at Elon, where she graduated as the Outstanding Strategic Communications Senior. After a brief stint of speechwriting at ExxonMobil, Heather joined Ketchum in Raleigh before moving to New York City to do financial communications at Prosek Partners, with clients such as Ernst & Young and Travelers. In 2018, she was recruited to oversee communications at RSE Ventures, an investment firm led by CEO Matt Higgins and real estate billionaire Stephen Ross. In this role, Heather splits her time between managing the CEO’s brand and working with RSE’s extensive portfolio of consumer and entertainment companies.
Fergie L. Philippe ’17, Actor, Director, Writer & Puppeteer
A music theatre graduate, Fergie first caught the theatre bug at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center where he learned about, auditioned for, and got accepted to New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida. It was here that he learned of his future alma mater, Elon University. Prior to Broadway’s shutdown in 2020, Fergie was playing the roles of Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the Broadway production of “Hamilton.” He is also a writer, dabbling mostly in screenwriting and poetry, and hopes to soon produce his own works with his newly created production company “Et Toi Productions.”
For more information about the awards, please contact Mary Chayse Haithcock, senior coordinator of alumni engagement and special events.