Women to Watch Awards Finalists – Business

Meet the 2020 finalists


Brien ResizeAlison Dupra Brien
Technical Program Manager,

On her LinkedIn profile, Alison Dupra Brien bills herself as a “Jill of All Trades.” Her accomplishments reflect this range of interests and abilities.

One of Apiture’s early hires when the fintech company launched in Wilmington, she is the only technical program manager in the Wilmington office who is working on the firm’s newest product. She oversees the work of more than fifty engineers on a new product and says she enjoys pushing herself deeper in her technical knowledge and competence.

She also loves coaching and mentoring engineering teams and is a fierce advocate for women in male-dominated fields. As a girl, she played the drums because she saw few female drummers; she opted to attend Rochester Institute of Technology because women were outnumbered there.

“I’ve always wanted to blaze trails for other women and am hyper-competitive when it comes to proving that I can rise to any occasion despite adversity,” she says, noting that she also strives to create a workplace that is inclusive and equitable.

Brien’s “trades” also include teaching fitness classes, helping launch several e-commerce ventures, writing, and videography.

“My hope,” she says, “is that I can continue to rise and lead at a software/technology company while still pursuing my love of writing and fitness.”

Shawn Lamb ResizedShawn Lamb
Engineering Manager, Stability, and Radiological Analysis,
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy

Since joining GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) in 2004, Shawn Lamb has helped provide nuclear energy globally while also helping develop next-generation nuclear technologies. In her current role, she manages a fourteen-person team in GEH’s core and fuel engineering division. Her unit develops highly complex nuclear and thermal hydraulic computer simulations for implementation, advanced fuel products, safe shipping and packaging methods for the fuel, and advanced reactor designs.

“I love engineering and how we find solutions, so I want to stay as close to technology and engineering here at GEH as possible,” she says. “I want to keep learning and growing, both professionally and personally in our community.”

A number of leadership roles have spurred that learning and growth. Lamb has championed STEM education initiatives and has coached youth science teams. She has also led the GE Women’s Network-Wilmington. She also serves on the boards of the Wilmington Symphonic Winds, for which she plays the clarinet, and Coastal Buds, Wilmington’s local Down syndrome organization.

The latter organization holds special appeal for Lamb, the mother of a young son with Down syndrome.

“I’ve learned over the years, particularly when my son was born, to be open to the unexpected,” she says. “Sometimes, that can be the best thing that ever happened to you.”

Leath ResizedLisa Leath
President, Leath HR Group
CEO, WorkTok

Lisa Leath will tell you she has human resources in her blood.

“My mom was an HR executive, and she always had wild employee relations stories to share at home when I was growing up,” she says. “Her father was a union president and sat on the other side of the negotiating table.”

A former corporate HR professional with Corning and AAI Pharma (now Alcami), Leath left to form Leath HR Group, a provider of human resources consulting and administration for small-  and medium-small businesses. Besides freeing up business owners to focus on what they do best, Leath helps those clients define and enhance the culture of their workplace to foster growth, she says.

In 2020, Leath launched a new company called WorkTok. The company’s app records and organizes HR-related conversations in the cloud.

“Launching WorkTok during COVID-19 … opened people’s eyes to how hard it can be to feel connected when you’re not physically around people,” she says. “The app is helping managers get a few hours back in their week, while also giving staff an outlet to voice achievements and concerns on a regular basis.”

Leath’s activity in the local community has included serving six years on the board of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area. She now serves on the boards of Communities In Schools and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.

Mahon 2 ResizedDanielle Mahon
Founder and CEO,
Topsail Steamer

A career shift from biotech to food service has proved a “wild ride” for Danielle Mahon. She reports that, almost from day one in 2017, her first location on Topsail Island proved successful, as both visitors and locals enjoyed the takeout Low-Country boil pots she offered.

Topsail Steamer allowed Mahon to share her childhood summertime experiences “down the shore” in New Jersey.

“The gatherings our family and friends have always had around Low Country boils and clambakes made me want to try to bring this beach experience to everyone who loves really fresh seafood and gathering for good times,” she says.

Success on Topsail led to a location at Wrightsville Beach. Customers then wanted the company to ship its steamer kits to them back home, which Mahon managed by partnering with Goldbelly. In May, Topsail Steamer debuted its third location – in Mahon’s “home beach” of Ocean City, Maryland. The lines are out the door despite the COVID-19 lockdown, she says.

“People are hungry for a social experience,” she says. “The opportunity to manage this on their own has fit restrictions associated with COVID-19 to a T. We’re especially thrilled to be supporting the seafood industry, which has been hit hard.”

Looking ahead, Mahon says, “We see great opportunities for Topsail Steamer all over the country, whether that’s physical locations or expanded shipping.”

Stuart ResizedKelly Stuart
Carolinas Commercial Real Estate Team

When Kelly Stuart became a broker/Realtor with Intracoastal Realty Corporation in Brunswick County four years ago, she brought twenty years’ worth of knowledge and experience in economic development and commercial real estate.

Since her first foray into economic development as a consultant to the regional Economic Development Partnerships in North Carolina, Stuart has worked for similar organizations in the state as well as in Northern Kentucky. Most recently, she served as assistant director for Brunswick County Economic Development. Along the way, she has honed her skills in marketing, communications, public relations, and lead generation. She has brought many projects to fruition, held numerous leadership posts, and earned awards for her achievements.

When she decided to sink roots in fast-growing Brunswick County, the move to commercial real estate was a natural one, she says. She joined forces with her father, David Stuart, as part of Intracoastal’s CarolinasCommercial real estate team.

“I hope to continue this growth in our own business, while creating and re-establishing connections across the region,” she says. “As 2021 president-elect of the Realtors Commercial Alliance Southeastern North Carolina, I plan to continue to increase its presence in the Wilmington region and extend its reach to outlying areas, making connections and increasing access to resources across Southeastern North Carolina.”

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Categories: Women to Watch