Unifi, Kirkpatrick Receive UNC Sustainability Awards

Friday May 11, 2018

The 2018 Distinguished Alumni in Sustainability award given to Dave Kirkpatrick of SJF Ventures and the inaugural 2018 Distinguished Business in Sustainability award given to Greensboro-based Unifi Manufacturing, Inc.

The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and the Center for Sustainable Enterprise hosted the invitation-only event at The Carolina Club in Chapel Hill on May 10, 2018.

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – May 10, 2018) The makers of a synthetic fiber made from recycled plastic bottles and the co-founder of a venture capital firm that focuses on green sectors are the recipients of the 2018 UNC Sustainability Awards, presented on May 10 at The Carolina Club in Chapel Hill.

Greensboro-based Unifi, maker of REPREVE®, a fabric made from recycled materials, received the award for leadership in corporate sustainability. Dave Kirkpatrick, co-founder and managing director of Durham-based SJF Ventures, was awarded as the 2018 distinguished UNC alumnus. The awards, hosted by The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and its affiliate the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, honor companies and individuals for their exceptional commitment to initiative, innovation and impact in the area of sustainability.

Unifi’s REPREVE® fibers, made from recycled bottles, are used to make everything from car seats to yoga wear. In addition to its earth-friendly products, the company was recognized for its enterprise-wide sustainability practices.

“Unifi is honored to be recognized by UNC as a leader in developing innovative, environmentally-friendly practices as part of our business model,” said Unifi CEO Kevin Hall. “We are proud to have partnered with the world’s leading brands to transform more than 10 billion bottles into performance fibers, and are on track for 30 billion for 2022.”


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The evening’s honorees Kevin Hall and Dave Kirkpatrick.

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Attendees enjoy a signature cocktail, the “Environmintal Julep,” during the opening reception.

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Award winners Kevin Hall and Dave Kirkpatrick talk with UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School PNC Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and the Center for Sustainable Enterprise’s Faculty Director, Al Segars.

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UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School 2018 MBA graduates, who received a concentration in sustainability, celebrate their accomplishments on the patio of the Carolina Club.


The UNC alumni award winner, Kirkpatrick (MBA ’91), has been at the forefront of impact investing since 1999.

His firm, SJF Ventures, has invested in more than 50 companies that innovate in technology, sustainability and resource efficiency, from brokers of pre-owned laboratory equipment to manufacturers of natural cosmetics and cleaning products.

“I am honored to join the Center for Sustainable Enterprise’s list of distinguished alumni in sustainability,” said Kirkpatrick, SJF’s managing director. “At SJF Ventures, we invest in companies with sustainable and positive-impact business models which drive great investment results. UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School alumni have been key team members at SJF and several of our portfolio companies. We anticipate many more sustainability innovators from the business school to be the impact investors and entrepreneurs of the future.”

About the Center for Sustainable Enterprise

Through its affiliation with the Kenan institute of Private Enterprise, the Center for Sustainable Enterprise assembles and shares thought leadership in research, education and best practice. Its goal is to empower business leaders in their quest for shareholder value while exercising environmental stewardship and promoting economic development and growth.

About the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

The Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise is a nonpartisan, business-policy think tank at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. Founded in 1985, the Kenan Institute facilitates collaboration between the private, public and nonprofit sectors to build a greater understanding of how entrepreneurship, economic development and global commerce can work for the public good. It leverages best-in-class research to develop market-based solutions to today’s most complex economic challenges to better the lives of people in North Carolina, across the country and around the world.