Partnerships and Economic Development

NC State’s Office of Partnerships and Economic Development  develops and grows university, industry and government partnerships for economic and societal benefit by making the process of doing business with NC State as easy and productive as possible. This is achieved by helping companies and other entities find the right partnership opportunities, whether it’s sponsoring faculty research, hiring student interns and supporting Senior Design Projects, or identifying space on Centennial Campus. The department also supports economic development efforts of the state of North Carolina and the Triangle region by actively recruiting companies with high-paying jobs.

Our Approach

NC State develops partnerships locally and globally, providing real-world opportunities to faculty and students. We thrive at the intersection of industry, academia and government. Together, these relationships lead to increased innovation, workforce development and economic impact.


Meet Our Team

The department is led by Associate Vice Chancellor Dennis Kekas.

Dennis Kekas

Dennis Kekas

Associate Vice Chancellor, Partnerships and Economic Development

Dennis serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor where he oversees the Centennial Campus Partnership, Industry Alliances and Economic Development offices as part of NC State’s ongoing research partnering activities with industry and government. He also has a dual appointment with the College of Engineering, where he oversees all activities of the Institute for Next Generation IT Systems (ITng). Dennis serves on 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

Leah Burton

Director, Centennial Campus Partnerships Office & 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

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.


Morgan High

Morgan High

Director of Marketing and Communications

Morgan is responsible for marketing and communications initiatives to build awareness of Centennial Campus as a top innovation destination. Her duties also include increasing awareness of 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 University. Little known fact – Morgan loves to travel, visiting ten countries in five years.


Amy LubasAmy 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.


Nanci WashingtonNanci Washington

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.


Tom White

Tom White

Director, Economic Development Partnership

Tom leads economic development initiatives for NC State, serving as the liaison to local, regional and state economic developers and workforce development practitioners. He connects NC State faculty, staff and students with new and expanding industry across the state. His duties include implementing the Industry Clusters strategy statewide, chairing the UNC-General Administration Economic Transformation Council, and leading both corporate recruitment and retention/expansion activities with several governmental agencies. Tom holds his bachelor’s degree from Duke University and his master’s degree in public affairs from NC State. Little known fact – he has completed 25 consecutive Marine Corps Marathons (1990-2014).