Katie and I are moving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina! Those closest to us already know but it’s time to make this announcement public. Next month Katie will be beginning a PhD program in nutritional anthropology at the University of North Carolina. This process actually began more than four years ago as Katie became very concerned about the obesity and diabetes epidemics. Having worked her entire career in healthcare, she has seen how our current medical intervention approach doesn’t seem very effective, so she will be working to advance the state of the art of preventive cultural approaches.
I am incredibly proud of Katie. Once she set her sights on a PhD, she worked hard to maximize her GRE scores, define a compelling value proposition, and perfect her personal statement. She applied to the top programs in her field and was accepted into all but one of them. We then had the enviable problem of having to choose between several great options, each with its own pros and cons. One late night around the kitchen island, it became evident that UNC was rising to the top, not only because of the program, which is top notch and still maintains a strong focus on the development of its students, but also because of the location.
We have some family in the Research Triangle area and we will be close to Northern Virginia, where I grew up. It is a lush, green, wooded area, with lots of hiking trails – for us and for Max! There are lots of farmers markets and we believe we will be able to live the sustainable lifestyle we have cultivated. We are looking forward to being back in a place with four seasons as well – can’t wait for the leaves to change color this autumn!
Of course this move creates both challenges and opportunities for me professionally. My startup, Smart Office Energy Solutions, is headquartered in Houston and I teach entrepreneurship at Rice University, so I will be commuting back to Houston for much of the next six months. At the same time, however, the Research Triangle has a great deal of cleantech / smart grid research going on, a thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem, and major corporate support for innovation. Accordingly, I will be opening a new Smart OES office in the Triangle to cultivate opportunities there. The East Coast represents a major client market for us so it will be advantageous for us to begin developing a foothold in the mid-Atlantic.
Katie and I will both miss Houston a lot; we have called it home for more than 1/3 of our lives. It has been a great place to start our professional careers: a burgeoning land of economic growth, excellent arts, and low cost of living. It is the people, though, whom we will miss most. Houston’s great people – smart, fun, and friendly – kept us in Houston after we graduated from Rice, attracted me back after my Swiss experience, and may well attract us back again. The week leading up to our departure was filled with warm send-offs and validation that we truly are blessed to have such people in our lives.
Now we are embarking a new adventure. There will be new people and new challenges in our lives – and new opportunities! We have no idea what the future will hold but, as we vowed to each other two years ago, we will face it together. And so the next chapter begins . . . huzzah!