Steve Lerner

Founder and Managing Partner, Blue Hill Group

Former Member, UNC Board of Trustees


Dr. Steve Jay Lerner, PhD, has had a 35 year love affair with entrepreneurial endeavors and UNC. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, it began is 1982 with the founding of FGI. Since then he has been involved with formative companies as a principal, advisor and investor. Early in his career his primary focus was in marketing and corporate development. For the last 15 years the focus has been on strategic planning and corporate finance. His sector expertise ranges from marketing services, to communications and financial services.

Steve’s career has been highlighted by his participation in the founding of a number of companies. Among those that he have served as a founding principal include FGI (1982), FGI Cellular and its successor Sterling Cellular (1989), CMS and its successor KBM (1992), Capstrat (2001), Yankelovich Holdings (2002), Piedmont Community Bank (2009), Data Decision Group (2016). In each of these companies, he was instrumental in planning the strategic direction of the company and served in the role of either Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. He has also participated as an early stage investor and served on the Board of Directors or Advisors for Pappas Ventures, Accent Energy, Connexus, Launchbox Digital,, Petroliance, Presdio Network Solutions, Vantage South Bank and its successor Yadkin Bank. In addition, he has also invested in dozens of early stage companies and in funds that are directed to their development.

Chapel Hill holds a special place in his heart. He received his MA (1980) and Ph.D. (1983) from UNC. He has taught Marketing, Marketing Research and Entrepreneurial Finance at the Kenan-Flagler School of Business. He also served on the UNC CH Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2015. Steve’s wife Sharon Van Horn did her residency at UNC CH and received an MPH from the school of Public Health. Both of his daughters Sarah (2016) and Naomi (2018) have attended UNC CH as undergraduates.