Eight 49ers named to Charlotte Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list

Eight 49ers named to Charlotte Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list
Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Charlotte Business Journal has named eight 49ers, including two research faculty members, to its 40 Under 40 class for 2022.

The awards program, which has been a staple in the greater Charlotte region for the past 29 years, recognizes members of the local community who are under the age of 40 and have already made a significant mark in their careers. Honorees are selected for their business success, community involvement, leadership ability, and influence on the region, public policy and quality of life.

Faculty honorees 

george banksGeorge Banks, professor of management in the Belk College of Business, is a leading researcher in the emerging field of inclusive leadership science, focusing on topics impacting business, such as leader emergence in underrepresented groups, and how diverse leaders respond to crises like the ongoing global pandemic. 

Banks, who was named chair of the Department of Management in 2021, has published 60 articles in top peer-reviewed journals and five book chapters. He ranks in the top 4% of all actively publishing management scholars in the world and among the top 250 most productive management researchers in modern history, 

He has demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by incorporating his knowledge and creating a classroom model to make leadership more balanced with regard to gender and race. 

As a researcher, he has received $1.7 million in external grants since 2019. Most recently, he is the lead on the $114,000 planning grant from the National Science Foundation to better understand how artificial intelligence can support the development of future organizational leaders. The grant is part of a broader partnership between UNC Charlotte and Georgia Tech. 

He also helped shape the University’s future as co-chair of the strategic planning committee for what became “Shape What’s Next,” the University’s 10-year strategic plan, which articulates a vision for a top-tier University that is ready to meet new challenges. 

Banks teaches courses on business ethics and human resources in the nationally ranked Master of Business Administration program where he shares state-of-the-art scientific knowledge on topics such as reducing discrimination in hiring and promoting equality in the workplace.

colby fordColby Ford ’13, ’14 M.S., ’17 Ph.D., is a genomics cloud architect in the University's School of Data Science, where he combines artificial intelligence, data science and cloud computing to track infectious diseases and human genomics. 

His work has helped put UNC Charlotte in the national spotlight and helped to understand, identify, navigate and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. He has been recognized by media outlets, including The Economist, Wired, Fortune and others for his work on the Omicron structural prediction.

Ford, a native of Lenoir, North Carolina, began his college education at 14 as a student at Caldwell Early College High School. He is a three-time alumnus of UNC Charlotte, earning an undergraduate degree in mathematics, a master’s in data science and business analytics and a doctorate in bioinformatics and computational biology. 

An AI consultant and genomics researcher for the UNC Charlotte College of Computing and Informatics Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics, he teaches the School of Data Science graduate course Cloud Computing for Data Analysis. 

Ford is the co-founder of Amissa, a startup that uses wearable devices to enhance Alzheimer’s disease caregiving and research. He also founded a Microsoft and Databricks partner firm called Tuple that provides cloud computing and AI consulting services for organizations in the genomics and life sciences space.

 Alumni honorees

Chemere Davis ’14, senior business operations manager for Microsoft. She earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in marketing and analytics. 

Heather Hopkins ’16, property manager for the Spectrum Companies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history.

Mellissa Oliver ’12, land planning and entitlements for PulteGroup. She earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. 

Ian Patrick ’07, ’09, owner of biloba Architecture and a council member for the Town of Harrisburg. He has earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and a Bachelor of Architecture. 

DeAndrea Salvador ’13, who was elected to the North Carolina Senate in 2020. She is the youngest Black woman ever to serve in the state Senate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Tony Vo ’04, co-owner of Waterbean Coffee. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. 

An awards ceremony for the honorees will be May 19 at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Charlotte, and they will be featured in CBJ’s May 20 print edition. UNC Charlotte is the academic partner for this year’s awards program.