Two Raleigh residents will speak at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Brooks Bell and Jesse Lipson, a married couple working in the tech industry, will talk about entrepreneurship and improving North Carolina's economy by bringing back jobs lost because of backlash to the state’s LGBT law, House Bill 2. They will also look to draw distinctions between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton about their views on innovation and job creation.
“Hillary has a true agenda for progress for the industries of tomorrow,” Lipson said. “If you look at it from a social and trade perspective, Trump is extremely regressive and is really dragging us back into the past in a world that's pushing forward to the future.”
Since the age of 23, Lipson has launched several e-commerce businesses. In November 2005, he founded ShareFile, a secure enterprise file sync and share system. After the business grew to 3 million users within six years, Citrix acquired ShareFile in 2011.
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Lipson now works as Citrix corporate vice president and general manager of the Cloud Services Business Unit. Today, ShareFile has more than 50,000 corporate customers and 17 million users. .
"I'm very scared about what a presidency of Donald Trump would look like," Lipson said. "It's probably the first time in the 20 or so years that I've been voting that I've truly been scared that one of the candidates in the general election being elected could put our country into some pretty disastrous situations."
Bell is a lifelong Democrat who graduated from Duke University in 2001. Two years later, she started Brooks Bell, Inc., a company that assists consumer brands in getting their messages out.
Bell plans to share her life story and discuss the impact HB 2 has had on the business community. One of the issues she said she is most passionate about is improving North Carolina's education system so the state can be more competitive and have a strong talent pool employers could recruit.
She said she appreciates Clinton for her ideas more than for her appeal as the potential first female president.
"It's a wonderful bonus that she's a woman, and I think it will have historical significance, but I would still support her even if she was a man," Bell said. "She has an incredible track record. She's going to be a great leader because she's seen it all and addressed complex challenges."
While the DNC has yet to release a full list of dates and times for speeches, the couple said Lipson is scheduled to speak Monday and Bell Wednesday.
Both hope to win over former Bernie Sanders supporters and help improve public trust in Clinton.
"This is such a great opportunity for us to speak to the next generation of Democrats and independents because a lot of people our age just have not been a part of the traditional political process," Bell said. "But (in) this particular election, there's really a lot at stake and we're really happy to be able to contribute to the conversation.”