Meet our speakers


Leslie Boney

Vice Provost for Outreach and Engagement and Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues
North Carolina State University

Leslie Boney is the Vice Provost for Outreach and Engagement and the Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State. In his capacity as Vice Provost, he looks for ways to connect the resources of NC State – its faculty, staff and students – with the community, the state and the world to solve real challenges. At the Institute for Emerging Issues, he leads a team focused on identifying public policy issues facing the state and convening coalitions across the state to address them, with a goal of helping the state achieve a “vibrant and economically competitive tomorrow.”

Prior to joining NC State, he served at UNC General Administration under three presidents over 10 years as Vice President for International, Community and Economic Engagement, working with the 17 UNC campuses to expand their capacity to connect and to respond to the needs of their communities.

In a career that includes time in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, he has worked closely with K-12, community college and university systems. While serving in the NC Department of Commerce and Governor’s Office, Leslie led statewide efforts to redesign rural development policy, increase volunteerism and reform welfare. At the nonprofit MDC, he managed a two-state effort to help rural communities recover from manufacturing job loss. He has written extensively about rural economic development, workforce development and innovation policy.

Leslie is a North Carolina native. After graduating from Amherst college, he worked as a high school teacher and reporter. He currently serves on the boards of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center. He lives in Raleigh with his wife, Ret, and their twin high school seniors.

Margaret A. Brunson, Ph.D

Chief Executive Officer
Illumined Leadership Solutions

Dr. Margaret A. Brunson is a leader and luminary.

She has spent the last fifteen years providing knowledgeable leadership within the fields of education and public health, specifically for mental health provider & nonprofit organizations, and an academic medical center. Her areas of focus for leadership practice include: management of public health programs that serve under-served populations, developing leadership capacity within organizations, engaging communities (people, organizations, systems) to address population health, and facilitating & directing relationships between organizations providing health care to underrepresented communities.

She earned a BA in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Master of Public Administration from North Carolina Central University and Ph.D in leadership studies from North Carolina A&T State University.

Dr. Brunson is the CEO of Illumined Leadership Solutions where she provides Illumined™ coaching, consulting and seminars to individuals, groups and organizations and helps people find purpose and live TheLoveLife™.  She also serves as Director of Hospital Relations for Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, and previously as adjunct faculty at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government.

Her community leadership includes board chair for StandUp-SpeakOut of NC, an organization dedicated to healing through the arts for children victims and witnesses of domestic violence and sexual assault.  She is an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and leader at Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, NC.

Dr. Brunson is an inspirational speaker, writer and published author.  In 2012, she published New Growth: How My Hair Saved My Life.  She has shared her personal message as well as her research-based theory of Illumined Leadership™ across the U.S. and abroad, including Barcelona, Spain. In 2016, she was named 40 under 40 Outstanding Alumni of North Carolina Central University.

Margaret A. Brunson was born and raised in North Carolina to Rev. Dr. Jesse and Mrs. Doris Brunson. She has one sibling, a sister-in-love, a niece and two nephews.

Nation Hahn

Chief Growth Officer

Nation Hahn is the Chief Growth Officer for EdNC. Nation manages the Reach NC Voices initiative for EducationNC which is focused on putting the public back in public policy. Reach uses technology and participatory design strategies to connect with North Carolinians.

Prior to coming to EdNC, Nation managed digital media campaigns for a range of organizations in North Carolina and nationally. At present, Nation also serves his community through a variety of board roles focused on food-related issues, poverty, and education. In his spare time he is a runner which allows him to pursue his other passion which is identifying the best restaurants across North Carolina.


Chris Marlow

Chief Executive Office
Help One Now

Chris Marlow founded Help One Now after meeting a starving young orphan at an abandoned gas station in Zimbabwe. That encounter compelled him to dedicate his life to seeking justice by empowering high-capacity local leaders to care for orphans, vulnerable children, and see their communities transform. His passion is organizing tribes of everyday people to partner with global movements that do good.

Chris is the author of “Doing Good Is Simple: Making a Difference Right Where You Are.” He is a sought-after speaker on topics of justice, mission, leadership, and organizational development, and he is also available to coach leaders who are looking to launch, grow, and sustain their organization well.

Chris lives in downtown Raleigh, NC, with his wife, two daughters, and a German Shepherd pup named Skye.

Marirose Steigerwald

Director of Operations
North Carolina Community Foundation
LNC Class XXI Alumna

Marirose serves as director of operations for the North Carolina Community Foundation, where she is responsible for HR, IT and office operations. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2016, she was a partner in a consulting firm specializing in search and leadership development. She has served in leadership roles in both large and small public and privately held companies. Her direct industry knowledge includes international software, a public utility, regional engineering firms and leadership consulting.

Marirose is a proud graduate of UNC Greensboro, where she received a BA in communication studies and minored in psychology. She holds certifications in behavior and motivator analysis tools and has served in a leadership capacity in a number of organizations, including the communications board of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, past director of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Board, and past chair of the UNCG Alumni Association Board of Directors. Marirose completed the Leadership NC Class XXI and is serving as class ambassador. She received the 2011 Triangle Business Journal’s Women in Business award.