The Navigator Program
It is the vision of First Flight Venture Center, FFVC, to be an important catalyst in the success of our high-science, high-impact entrepreneurial companies. We do this through multiple programs that provide tailored resources, guidance, connections, and support required for their navigation of the global marketplace.
The Navigator Program at FFVC leverages the talent and experience of seasoned entrepreneurs and executive level individuals, our Navigators, to help FFVC resident companies build successful ventures by serving as trusted advisors. The Navigator’s participation is voluntary and based on their desire to give back to the entrepreneurial community.
A Navigator is paired with a senior executive from a company, allowing the company’s executive to gain from the Navigator’s knowledge and experience, and helping advance the company toward graduation from FFVC. Working with a Navigator is a fundamental element and benefit of the overall FFVC program.
Esther was selected by Business NC Magazine in 2009 as Woman Extraordinaire of the Year for her influential leadership within her company and her impact on its economic success and forward-thinking strategies. Throughout her career, Esther has mentored others in their pursuit of education and further professional development..
Esther has served on the Advisory Board for North Carolina Biosciences, Global Manufacturing BioPhorum, Biotechnology Training and Education Center at NC State University, and the American Chamber of Commerce of Copenhagen-Denmark. In addition, she has served on the board of directors for non-profit organizations supporting multiple sclerosis research & patient support, and currently serves on the UAE-Union Atlantic Enterprises board of directors (for-profit) and Shepherd Care Medical Clinic (non-profit).
Esther holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Hawaii and an executive business management certification from Harvard Business School.
Mr. Gray has assisted companies to plan and execute successful go-to-market strategies for a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic products across numerous diseases states. His experience includes leading development and launch of novel technologies in diagnostic imaging, endoscopy, surgical instruments, stents and implantables, drug/device combinations, neurodiagnostics, biologics, and pharmaceuticals. Mr. Gray has run high-performing, customer-oriented businesses in range of disease areas and markets including neurology and neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease and stroke, ophthalmology, oncology, diabetes, gastroenterology, urology, sports medicine and orthopedics, and regenerative medicine. In his most recent assignment, Mr. Gray led commercialization efforts for novel noninvasive biomarkers targeting multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive disorders, Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, stroke, and traumatic brain injury. His business activities span all of the major global healthcare markets and he brings insight into local market needs having lived overseas and utilizing his Japanese language skills. Mr. Gray received his B.A. from Earlham College and M.A. in International Business from Columbia University.
Additionally, Dr. Honoré has published more than 100 scientific papers, is inventor on 23 patents and championed 40 drugs to progress from idea to clinical development including three products that entered the prescription drug market. He has held several positions, including: VP Drug Discovery at Novo Nordisk A/S; Senior Executive VP Nervous System Research, Novartis Pharma Inc; VP Discovery Research, Purdue Pharma LP and President and CEO, Aestus Therapeutics Inc.
Dr. Honoré’s successes are attributed to his ability to translate science to product opportunities and his understanding of the need to integrate research, clinic, market and financial stakeholders. The organizational models he developed to obtain record pipeline productivity in several companies are key to his business achievements.
Dr. Honoré has a master’s degree in pharmaceutical science and doctoral degrees in medicinal chemistry and neurobiology, in addition to business training from Harvard Business School and European Management Centre.
In 2015, Damon formed Kaliber Investments and is an owner in the fund. Kaliber Investments is a healthcare investment fund for accredited investors, with an emphasis on small to mid-cap pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Damon graduated from George Mason University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in biology and began his career in pharmaceuticals. Damon holds an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the Certified Licensing Professional designation from the Licensing Executive Society and the FINRA Series 65. Damon serves on the board of directors of The Green Chair Project and is a member of the Advisory Board of both Trill Financial and Epicypher.
His most recent CFO experience was with two publicly traded companies in the medical device and energy industries. His management experience includes finance and IT leadership, strategic planning, debt/equity raising and deep M&A expertise. He has deep international experience which started with an expatriate position with Honeywell in Europe.
Mark is on the Board of Military Outreach USA and serves on the Audit Committee for Opportunity International. He was previously on the Board of St. Alexius Medical Center and the Finance Committee for the Alexian Brothers Health System.
Mark received his MBA in IT from the University of Minnesota and his BS in Accounting from The Ohio State University.