Meet Some of the Team

Mentoring Matters

We are building unique industry-education relationships. Read more here

The Think Banana team will expand and change over time, bringing in new participants with the ideas and skills to assist our ongoing projects. To date, we have drawn from a committed group of nearly two dozen professionals, including presidents and deans from the world of higher learning, experts in global development and trade, an award-winning historian, and specialists from the fields of urban affairs, public policy, engineering, transportation, urban technology, communications, strategic planning and government.

Michael Gallis, co-founder

Michael Gallis, a global and regional strategist, is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts in developing integrated multi-system approaches to strategic planning. His firm, Michael Gallis & Associates, has developed a unique methodology to understand the form, structure, dynamics and relationships that are shaping the future of metropolitan regions, states, nations and the globe. This has involved working closely with public, private and institutional leaders to respond in new ways  to complex 21st century challenges. A featured speaker at national and international conferences on subjects ranging from urban development and regional planning to transportation, economic development, technology and the environment, Gallis has designed integrated strategies for dozens of cities and regions.


Mark Woods, co-founder

Before arriving in North Carolina, Mark Woods graduated with honors from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, worked as an actor, and produced and directed theater productions at Manhattan Theatre Club, Theatre at St. Clements and Lincoln Center. Beginning in 1975, Woods founded the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival and developed the Actor in the Schools Program, designed to augment high school English curriculum in North and South Carolina, and organized a touring program that brought Shakespeare to communities all over the Southeast.  After several years shaping Charlotte’s Repertory Theatre, he left to launch New River Dramatists to provide playwrights and other distinguished writers the opportunity to develop their work. Consistent in his work—whether launching hundreds of productions, unlocking the imagination of thousands of school children, or serving on numerous boards—has been Woods’ commitment to providing insight into the human condition and man’s struggle to save himself from himself.

Steven Beschloss, co-founder

Steven Beschloss is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and communications strategist. His writing on international and urban affairs, politics, economics, science, education, art and culture has been published by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Parade magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and dozens of other print and online outlets. He is the co-author of Adrift: Charting Our Course Back to a Great Nation and author of The Gunman and His Mother: Lee Harvey Oswald, Marguerite Oswald, and the Making of an Assassin. In addition, he has worked with a wide range of global-minded enterprises to shape their media and content strategies with a particular emphasis on thought leadership and storytelling.

Mike Cerkovnik, co-founder

Mike Cerkovnik has spent his career working at the intersection of education, industry and psychology, as an independent school counselor, as the director of psychological services for three schools in Vermont, and most recently as Head of Lower and Middle School at Davidson Day. Throughout this work, he has deepened his passion for helping students and families use their imagination to design a better future. Cerkovnik is committed to linking innovation and education by developing educational research relationships between his school and universities; by forming partnerships with businesses to promote science, technology, engineering and math opportunities for students; and by offering professional development opportunities for educators.

Greg Earp, co-founder

Greg Earp recently served as a top sales leader for IBM’s Smarter Cities and Industry Products for the Mid-Atlantic region to help cities deliver better services to their citizens. He also worked with industries such as manufacturing, retail, healthcare and transportation to gain greater insight into their operations through analytics and data-driven decision-making. This has drawn on his particular skill at understanding a company’s current business environment and associated issues, formulating options for addressing those issues, and successfully implementing the best option. Working for IBM since 2007, Earp previously ran an IT consulting and federal business development business among other positions drawing on his knowledge and education in computer science.