The son of an advisor to Republican and Democratic U.S. presidents, Christopher Gergen is CEO of Forward Impact, a for-benefit advisory firm and impact investment platform that works with policymakers, philanthropists, and investors to deploy capital into cities and regions to address systemic economic inequities.
Most recently he was founding CEO of Forward Cities – a national nonprofit that helps cities and regions strengthen their equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems. Christopher is also a founding partner of Raleigh Founded, a co-working company that supports over 400 companies across 150,000+ sq feet of space in the Triangle with affiliates in other markets through its subsidiary company Founded Communities.
Christopher is the co-author of the nationally acclaimed book Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives, an alum of Leadership North Carolina and a 2013 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute where he was recently named a Braddock Scholar. Additionally, Christopher has been a fellow and faculty member with Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative, the Innovator in Residence at the Center for Creative Leadership, and a regular columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer. Other entrepreneurial endeavors for Christopher include co-founding SMARTHINKING, a venture-backed on-line tutoring company that grew to over 1,000 universities before being acquired by Pearson in 2011, launching the Entrepreneurs Corps that placed 400 AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers into 96 non-profits for a year of capacity building support, and starting Café Nunoa – a bar, restaurant, live music venue in Santiago, Chile that Christopher started when he was 24. Christopher has a BA with honors from Duke University, a Master’s in Public Policy from The George Washington University, and an MBA from Georgetown University. He currently serves on the Governor’s NC Works Commission in North Carolina and lives with his wife and two children in Durham, NC.
Reared outside of Detroit, in the union household of his Baptist preacher grandfather, Johnathan M. Holifield is Senior Vice President for New Economies at Bitwise Industries, leading the venture-backed, growth stage company’s expansion, building tech economies in underestimated cities.
He is broadly experienced in local and federal government, with expertise in strategy formation and execution and effectively translating concepts into presidential policy, federal law, and organizational and local development plans.
Johnathan served as executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), where he directly advised the President, Secretary of Education and Executive Office of the President, helping deliver the largest ever federal HBCU investment of $2.5B. He also led the formation of a $40M venture capital fund, enabling a $250M network of early-stage risk capital, and designed community benefits for $1.4B of development projects. He co-founded ScaleUp Partners LLC, an economic competitiveness consultancy, and authored the groundbreaking book, The Future Economy and Inclusive Competitiveness, a seminal treatise for the first-time linking inclusion and American competitiveness. Called a “convention-bending model” by Black Enterprise Magazine, Inclusive Competitiveness was internationally highlighted as an “inspiring development” and “rewarding finding” in the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust – Fellowship Report.
Earlier in his career, Johnathan was vice president of Inclusive Competitiveness at NorTech, founding executive director of CincyTech, vice president of New Economy Enterprise at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, chief executive of the Cleveland Urban League and member of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science from West Virginia University, going from football walk-on to elected team captain and earning All-East honors, and master's in education and law degrees from University of Cincinnati.