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Kenan Institute 2022 Annual Theme: Stakeholder Capitalism
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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

Susan E. Cates

Managing Partner, Leeds Illuminate

Susan Cates is the co-founder and managing partner of Leeds Illuminate, a growth equity fund that invests in the education and workforce development sectors. She brings 23 years of experience in the sector, across operating executive, investing and advisory roles.

Susan previously served as CEO of the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE), chief operating officer of 2U (NASDAQ: TWOU), president of UNC Executive Development and founding executive director of MBA@UNC.

Prior to her operating roles, Susan was a partner and led global acquisitions at Best Associates, a private equity firm with investments primarily in the education sector. She was part of the founding team and principal of ThinkEquity Partners, an investment banking boutique, where she led the education investment banking practice. She previously worked in investment banking at Merrill Lynch and corporate banking at Wachovia Bank.

Susan earned her MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and her BA from Duke University. She serves as a director on the boards of multiple fund portfolio companies, in addition to the board of Primo Water Corporation (NYSE: PRMW) and the Board of Advisors for UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.