2018-2019 Alumni Council

The Robertson Alumni Council serves as a community-driven programming and advisory body for the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. The Council supports Robertson alumni community building, contributions, and ongoing leadership development programs, and acts as a sounding board for the Robertson Program’s Staff and leadership. If you have questions related to the Council or have ideas for alumni programming, please e-mail alumni@robertsonscholars.org.

2018-2019 Council

Alumni Council Co-Chairs: Caroline Whistler and Caroline Leland

Alumni Council Members: Kavitha Kalappa, Jeremy Knight, John Harris, Daron Sharps, and Lauren Berkowitz


Council Profiles


caroine-wCaroline Whistler co-founded Third Sector Capital Partners after completing a Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil researching nonprofit sustainability. Prior to Third Sector she worked at Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) Capital Partners, a leader in applying growth metrics and accountability to equity-like financing for high performing nonprofits. Caroline opened the San Francisco office for Third Sector and leads the government advisory and project construction engagements for the firm. In 2015, she was named in the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 40 Under 40 list in recognition of her leading role advancing Pay for Success in the United States. Caroline was a Duke Robertson from the Class of 2008.


On location studio portraits of Robertson Scholars against a marbled gray portable backdrop.Caroline Leland (UNC 2015) is a content specialist for the Morehead-Cain Foundation at UNC. Prior to her current position, she worked as a freelance writer and podcaster in Nashville, TN and Brooklyn, NY. At any given moment you are likely to find her reading in a hammock, backpacking in the Smokies, training for her next half marathon, or planning her next international adventure. Forever grateful for the support and inspiration of the Robertson community, Caroline is enthused about building a stronger alumni network through her work on the Council.


kk-photoKavitha Kolappa is a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She was a Robertson Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received a BA in International Studies. During her university years, she spent summers working in New Orleans, Cuba, and South Africa. She subsequently received her MD from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. She has previously worked with the Global Health Council, International Rescue Committee, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. Her current academic interests include global mental health, access to medicines, and industry conflict of interest in the public sector; her work has been published in the Bulletin of the WHO, Huffington Post blog, and Lancet Psychiatry. She enjoys yoga, dogs, and warm cups of tea.


jeremyJeremy Knight is the Director of Communications at Students for Education Reform (SFER), an organization that develops college students into grassroots organizers who fight for educational justice in their communities. He leads SFER’s communications and media strategy, which positions students as fierce truth tellers about the state of our schools and communities and thought leaders in creative solutions to address inequity. Jeremy was a UNC scholar in the class of 2013, where he studied city and regional planning and received his B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication. He also received a minor in education at Duke. Jeremy spent his summers teaching in the Mississippi Delta, facilitating a rural participatory community development project in Sierra Leone, and working in the transport planning department in Sydney, Australia.


John Harris (UNC 2012) is an attorney at the Smith Anderson law firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he helps businesses and individuals navigate complex disputes. John attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Robertson Scholar, where he studied political science and public policy. He spent summers working, traveling, and studying in New Orleans, Egypt, Israel, Raleigh, and Atlanta. John accepted a full-tuition Chancellors’ Scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina School of Law, and spent a year after law school in Washington, D.C. clerking for Judge Karen L. Henderson of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. John now lives with his wife, Kerry Anne, and their son, William, in Apex, North Carolina. He’s an avid (some would say rabid) Carolina basketball fan and is involved in the North Carolina political arena.


Lauren Berkowitz (UNC 07) is a plaintiff/union-side labor and employment attorney focusing on the Domestic Violence Leave Act and concerted protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act. During law school, Lauren was elected to the Burien City Council, where she sparked a successful community movement for progressive reform. Lauren’s commitment to justice and politics is lifelong, but she owes her discovery of her passion for women’s rights and community engagement to the Robertson Scholars Program. Lauren spent her summers in Hialeah, FL; Vietnam; and Alaska.


Daron Sharps (UNC 2010) is a fifth-year doctoral student in organizational psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. She teaches leadership courses and researches the psychology of social class in hiring and promotion, as well as prosocial (helping) behavior. Daron has worked as a social sector consultant for the firm FSG, influencing organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Iron Mountain, and Target to define their strategies, measure impact, and manage partnerships for social change. Daron has also completed a year of national service through AmeriCorps. She graduated with a BS in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She believes in the scientific method, extensive travel, and social innovation.