Guest Speakers


Karen AlbrittonKaren Albritton
Partner, Newport LLC

Karen is an advisor to CEOs of emerging growth and mid-market companies, counseling them on management and growth strategies. She’s a member of the Carolina’s practice of Newport LLC, a national professional services firm.

Prior to joining Newport Board Group, Karen spent over 20 years in executive leadership roles with professional services firms including Ketchum, Capstrat, and McKinney. In a decade as Capstrat President and then CEO, she helped grow the agency into an award-winning market leader with a strong, client-focused culture. Among her accomplishments at Capstrat are a number of innovations: launching analytics and social media services, building a national healthcare practice and revamping the firm’s digital offerings. She’s been a part of eight acquisitions of privately-held businesses, both as an acquirer and in successful exits.

Karen is active in industry and community service. Current board service includes the American Marketing Association, the Medical Foundation of North Carolina, National Association of Corporate Directors-RTP, and the International Women’s Forum – Carolinas.

She shares her passion for leadership as a speaker at industry conferences such as the Internet Summit, the AMA Leadership Summit, the Women’s Leadership Conference, National Association for Corporate Directors and the PRSA Counselors Academy Annual Conference. She also speaks to corporate audiences for companies like Credit Suisse, Siemens, Vanderbilt Health and Cotton, Incorporated.

Karen is a Wilson, NC native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned her B.A. degree in Journalism and Political Science.

Clyde BaileyClyde Bailey
President, Bailey's Fine Jewelry

Jewelry has always been in Clyde Bailey’s blood. Clyde Bailey, Jr. grew up running around the small 11-foot wide jewelry store his parents started in Rocky Mount. Clyde followed in the footsteps of his father and went to school to be a watchmaker after marrying the love of his life, Jane. He immediately found a passion for watchmaking and graduated the program early. Clyde returned to Bailey’s in Rocky Mount and helped grow the business, eventually purchasing it from his mother in 1976. Since then Clyde has continued to lead Bailey’s to unprecedented growth, opening additional stores in Greenville and Raleigh, alongside the third generation of the family.

Kris Carroll  Kris Carroll
President, Grady-White Boats

Kris Carroll came up through the ranks at Grady-White Boats, starting as a production control clerk in 1975 and eventually was promoted to vice-president of engineering and manufacturing in the late ’80s. In 1993, Kris was promoted to president of Grady-White Boats.  She was the first woman ever to hold this position in the boat manufacturing industry.

Kris has led Grady-White to the top of the industry through her steadfast belief in putting the customer first, and through building a great leadership team. Under her guidance, Grady-White’s mission of customer satisfaction is achieved through building one-to-one customer relationships. This commitment to the consumer is proven by the fact that Grady-White has been ranked at the top of customer satisfaction surveys in every third-party measure ever done in its respective categories, including every top award from the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA) since the inception of its Customer Satisfaction Award program in 2003, as well as the highest satisfaction rankings in every marine study done by J.D. Power and Associates.

Kris and her top leaders consistently demonstrate their belief in team-building within the Grady-White organization of employees, dealerships, and vendors. They relentlessly encourage the achievement of the company’s vision “Together, delivering the ultimate boating experience” while creating a company environment where everyone can “Enjoy coming to work on Monday… like they enjoy going home on Fridays.

Kris holds active leadership roles in the industry and her community; she is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the NMMA. She has served on the Advisory Council of the Boat Owners’ Association of the United States, the Board of the Center for Coastal Conservation, and is the past chairwoman of the NMMA Boat Manufacturers’ Division Board. Kris is a former board member of Pitt County United Way and provided leadership for many community outreach programs.

Kris’s ability to assemble and inspire the best people, her steadfast beliefs, and hard work continue to set an example for the entire industry. 

Joan MaxwellJoan Maxwell
President, Regulator Marine, Inc.

Joan Maxwell grew up in rural Fairfield, NC. She graduated from Mattamuskeet High School and the University of North Carolina, where she received a BA in history.

In 1988, Joan and her husband Owen founded Regulator Marine in an abandoned A&P Grocery Store in Edenton. Regulator is now operating in a 121,000 square foot manufacturing facility and is one of the most well-respected brands in the boating industry.

Joan and her team transitioned Regulator Marine from a job shop/manufacturing process to a highly sophisticated lean manufacturing process. Under Joan’s leadership, Regulator received ISO 9000:2008 certification, as well as the North Carolina Department of Labor’s top safety award, the North Carolina Star.

In a historically male-dominated industry, Joan remains active in the boating industry’s leading organization, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, where she served as the first female Chairperson and currently remains on the Boat Divisional Manufacturer’s Board while also serving on the NMMA’s Board.

Joan focuses on learning innovative ways to improve the business that God has entrusted to her care. Currently, she is a member of C12, a Christian based leaders’ roundtable that focuses on building better businesses for a greater purpose.

Joan Maxwell demonstrates and demands from her leadership team at Regulator Marine a high level of integrity and positive leadership. Her service is evident in her dedication to not only Regulator Marine, but also to the local community in which Regulator is located. Joan established a Volunteer Program at Regulator Marine, which pays employees their regular wages during working hours while they volunteer their time and services to various local organizations of their choosing. In 2018, Joan established the “In His Service” program at Regulator, which oversees Regulator’s charitable giving, as well as its employee emergency assistance fund. Joan’s passion is to live out Regulator’s core values personally and to lead her team to do the same.

Billy PyattBilly Pyatt
Co-Owner, Catawba Brewing Co.

A product of North Carolina’s public schools from K-12, NC State’s Mechanical Engineering school, and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Masters in Business Administration program, Billy is a true, authentic Carolinian. Yet, he literally experienced the entire world during his 30-year career of engineering, sales, marketing, strategy, and executive leadership roles at Corning, Incorporated.

Billy both blames and credits his wife, Jetta, for fueling his obsession with home brewing in the mid-1990s - she bought the fateful Christmas gift that led to the Pyatt brothers’ launch of Catawba Valley Brewing Company in 1999.   Since retiring from Corning in 2012 to make his hobby a full-time gig, Billy has guided Catawba’s growth from about 1000 annual barrels to an estimated 40,000 in 2019 while (hopefully) steering clear of the corporate world’s drudgery.

 Billy loves to play golf, cycle, hike, camp, and enjoy all spectator sports.   As a lifelong fan of NC State athletics, his beloved Wolfpack often lets him down. But he knows they will rise again – and he will be there when it happens. Billy’s favorite quote is “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day.  That’s a heckuva day.”  - Jim Valvano (former NCSU Head Basketball Coach and 1983 National Champion) 

Doug TatumDoug Tatum
Chairman, Newport Board Group
Author, No Man's Land: Where Growing Companies Fail

Doug is Chairman of Newport LLC, a national partnership of CEOs and senior executives who advise emerging middle-market companies and assist private equity firms with investing in and growing portfolio companies.

He is also a member of the Teaching Faculty at the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship at Florida State and also Advisory Board Chairman for the Business Dynamics Research Consortium at the University of Wisconsin - Extension. Its mission is to study exceptional growth companies, the capital markets, and overall business activity to learn more about their impact on employment and economic growth. He is the former Chairman of the Board for the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), a global not-for-profit organization with 58 Chapters and 14,000 members in the US and internationally, representing middle-market private capital investors, intermediaries and the middle market deal community. In 2017 he was given ACG’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s Intergrowth 2017 conference in Las Vegas, recognizing his dedication to ACG and the middle market community in the U.S. and around the world.

Previously, Doug was Chairman and CEO of Tatum LLC, which grew into a highly respected national professional services firm with 30 offices and over 1000 professionals and employees. The company was sold to Spherion in 2010.

Doug is the Managing Director of TIP Seed Fund LLC, a newly formed seed-stage VC fund with investments and investment rights in a diversified portfolio of companies with unique and proprietary products in the consumer, high-tech, and nutraceutical to pharmaceutical marketplaces.

Doug is the author of No Man's Land: Where Growing Companies Fail, a leading text about growth companies that has been translated into several languages and has won four National Best Business book awards. His insights about the economy and business have been cited in hundreds of media outlets, including Inc. Magazine, The Financial Times, and The New York Times online.

Ward and Smith Speakers 


Laura Arnette

Lauren Taylor Arnette
Family Law Attorney

Lauren leads the Family Law practice and is a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Family Law. Her experience encompasses various areas of civil litigation with a primary focus on complex familial issues. Her practice includes premarital and post-marital agreements, complex equitable distribution, custody and child support litigation, and adoption. Lauren routinely represents and counsels clients on financial family-related issues involving business valuations, pension valuations, military retirement division, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, real property appraisals, and division of executive benefits. She also has extensive experience with interstate custody and jurisdictional issues, high conflict custody cases, custody evaluations, and adoptions.

Lauren handles litigation and non-litigation matters involving mediation, arbitration, premarital and post-marital agreements, separation agreements, and surrogacy agreements. She also represents clients before the NC Court of Appeals and NC Supreme Court on family-related cases after final judgment at the trial court level. Lauren practices throughout Eastern North Carolina. Prior to joining the firm, Lauren was a law clerk to Judge J. Douglas McCullough of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Adam Beaudoin

Adam Beaudoin
Business Attorney

Adam's practice experience encompasses a broad range of business law and transactional matters, including preparation of all components of business entity formation, including articles of incorporation, articles of organization, bylaws, organizational minutes, shareholder agreements, operating agreements, and partnership agreements. He regularly advises business clients regarding corporate governance, procedural requirements, governing document amendments, and fiduciary duties. He also has experience preparing all components of nonprofit entity formation, including articles of incorporation, bylaws, organizational minutes, confidentiality policy, whistleblower policy, and documentation retention policy. 

Adam also assists in the negotiating and drafting all components of contracts and purchase agreements, including stock, limited liability interest, partnership, and asset purchase agreements and in conducting business and non-profit director, shareholder, and member meetings. He has experience in the preparation of all components of franchise documents for franchisors, including franchise disclosure documents, franchise agreements, master franchise agreements, development agreements and in the preparation and negotiation of business and nonprofit mergers, including articles of merger and plan of merger.

Angela Doughty

Angela Doughty
Intellectual Property Attorney

Angela is a North Carolina State Bar Board Specialist in Trademark Law and a Certified Information Privacy Professional - United States (CIPP/US) that serves as the firm's Director of Legal Process Management. She oversees several initiatives to optimize and increase the efficiency of the firm's legal services. In addition to adopting and executing practices, such as Legal Lean Sigma, Angela is responsible for moving the firm through the implementation of process improvement, design methodologies, and innovative technology. 

Brad EvansBrad Evans
Litigation Attorney

Brad is one of the firm's Managing Directors.  His experience encompasses various areas of civil litigation in both the federal and state courts.  He has experience in all aspects of civil litigation, including depositions, hearings, mediations, arbitrations, jury trials, and appeals.  Brad advises clients and litigates cases involving all forms of commercial, business, estate, professional licensing, and intellectual property disputes.  He regularly represents contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers in construction litigation in state and federal courts.  He has litigated numerous matters concerning trade secret misappropriation and intellectual property infringement.  He has handled numerous disputes for agribusiness entities, including corporate dissolution, contract, and antitrust disputes.

Merrill Jones

Merrill Jones
Business Attorney

Merrill's practice experience encompasses a broad range of business law matters, including start-up businesses, business transfers and acquisitions, transactional matters, and tax matters. He has extensive experience representing contractors, design professionals, and project owners in drafting and negotiating construction, design, and design/build contracts. His practice also includes the representation of health care organizations and their owners in corporate, transactional, and merger and acquisition matters.

Merrill assists hemp industry clients with the formation of companies, including negotiation of operating agreements and buy-sell agreements, preparation, and negotiation of hemp industry agreements, such as manufacturing agreements, as well as mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. His peers have rated him as being "preeminent" in his respective fields of law. Merrill has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1994.

Deana Labriola

Deana Labriola
Business Attorney

Deana's practice encompasses a broad range of business matters, from drafting and negotiating corporate agreements and documents to managing all aspects of mergers, acquisitions, and debt and equity financing transactions for a variety of companies. She represents privately held companies, and assists them in all aspects of their business, from corporate governance and transactions to business structuring, development, and expansion opportunities. This includes serving as outside general counsel to a number of closely held companies inside and outside of North Carolina. Deana is an experienced corporate transactional attorney and has worked on mergers and acquisitions, and other debt and equity financing from the seller, buyer, investor, or borrower side. 

Steve LongSteve Long
Tax and Employee Benefits Attorney

Steve Long leads the firm's Tax and Employee Benefits practice. He has extensive experience working with employers in banking, retail, and technology to establish and maintain retirement plans, executive compensation agreements, stock incentive plans, and other employee benefits.

Steve also advises charities and other tax-exempt organizations regarding their IRC 403(b) and IRC 457 retirement plans, as well as issues related to compliance with Internal Revenue Service and state regulations concerning executive compensation, fundraising and lobbying activities. Additionally, he counsels business owners and individuals in retirement and estate planning. 

Aprill Mills

April Mills
Client Service Executive

April Mills is a seasoned business development professional with more than 15 years of experience. She is responsible for introducing the firm to new clients and identifying additional lines of business from current clients. She works with attorneys in all five Ward and Smith locations to develop meaningful relationships in the Triangle, in addition to facilitating strategic partnerships with key community organizations.

Prior to joining Ward and Smith, April was a Senior Business Development Executive for Dixon Hughes Goodman, a Top 20 CPA firm. In that position, she worked with companies in industries including manufacturing and distribution; construction and real estate; technology and life science; financial institutions; dealerships; government contracting; healthcare; and non-profit.

Steve Stephenson

Steve Stephenson
Business Development Attorney

Steve leads the firm's business development and client relationship efforts. His practice experience encompasses business law (including formations, transfers and acquisitions, tax planning, and controversies) and estate planning. Most of Steve's legal career has been devoted to counseling business owners and managers, and other professionals, on a diverse range of legal and business issues. He has lectured extensively on business law, tax, and estate planning matters, and has authored and co-authored manuscripts on those subjects. Steve presently is engaged in building and maintaining relationships with business managers and professionals across a broad range of industries. He also has been and remains involved in a broad array of civic, charitable, economic development, and philanthropic activities.

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson
Trusts and Estates Attorney

Matt focuses his practice on estate planning and estate and trust administration issues. He has experience working with closely-held business owners on succession planning, tax, and other issues. Matt also represents clients regarding long-term care planning, disability issues, and guardianship matters. The North Carolina State Bar certifies him as a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. Matthew has prepared manuscripts for and presented at various continuing legal education programs related to estate planning, estate administration, and elder law.

Devon Williams

Devon Williams
Labor and Employment Attorney

Devon leads the Labor and Employment practice. Her practice focuses on a wide range of labor and employment issues, including wage and hour matters, federal contractor compliance, employment discrimination and harassment, employee discipline and termination, personnel policies, and background checks. In matters relating to employee benefits, she concentrates on issues confronting welfare benefit plans (such as medical, dental, and other plans) and their sponsors, including the provisions and impact of the Affordable Care Act.


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