Keynote Speakers


Dave Phillips- Beta’65

Dave has been a major player in the development of the furniture and textile showroom industries in North Carolina. He’s served as the CEO of various firms he has started, an influential supporter of the Special Olympics, North Carolina’s successful Secretary of Commerce, and the U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, appointed by fellow Deke George W. Bush.

As a youth, Dave had to overcome a physical handicap which led to the amputation of one leg below the knee when he was just 14. Facing this obstacle – not just physical but the bullying from junior high school classmates that came with it – could have been demoralizing to some, but young Dave used it as a lesson to always maintain a positive attitude, and to believe in his ability to succeed despite the handicap.


James Blue- Zeta’91

James Blue, a seasoned, award-winning television executive, is Head of the Smithsonian Channel and Senior Vice President of News and Documentaries within VIACOM/CBS’ MTV Entertainment Group. In these roles, James oversees the development of some 150 hours of documentary and informational programming. In addition to the domestic channel, currently in just under 50 million homes, James also oversees and programs channels in Canada, South America including a Portuguese-language service in Brazil, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Smithsonian content is also distributed around the world on VIACOM’s Pluto TV and Paramount+ streaming services. James also has oversight over unscripted documentary programming throughout the brands in the MTVE Group.

Other Speakers

Melanie is a career coach and founder of Going Places. She’s been helping people get their foot in the door since authoring Bold: Get Noticed, Get Hired in 2013 which is now used in college curriculums courses at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon University. She has since built a successful career speaking to students at colleges around the country including University of Pittsburgh, NYU and University of California Berkeley, while using the Get Hired method to land jobs at some of Silicon Valley’s top tech companies.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s mission is to defend and sustain the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of liberty. FIRE educates students, faculty, alumni, trustees, and the public about the threats to these rights on our campuses, and provides the means to preserve them.

Allan Lutes has been involved in fraternity leadership for over thirty-five years. He served as Delta Tau Delta’s chapter president at the University of Michigan and founded the University of Michigan Alumni Interfraternity Council and Alumni Housing Association, serving as the IFC president while attending college. He has continued as an alumni leader on his chapter’s house corporation board and the University of Michigan Alumni Interfraternity Council. Allan is also the founder and executive director of Sigma Pi Lambda.

After college, Allan obtained his real estate license and began managing commercial and residential property. In 1989, he launched his construction company, now operated as Alpha Design+Build, which focuses on designing and constructing high-end residential and commercial projects. Alpha Design+Build has completed over 400 major projects for fraternity and sorority clients including designing, developing, and constructing chapter houses.

In 2006, Allan created a division within his real estate company to focus on the professional management of fraternity and sorority properties — now known as Alpha Fraternity Management.

In addition to leading Alpha Fraternity Management and Alpha Design+Build, Allan currently oversees 760 apartments and 80,000 sq. ft. of commercial space in downtown Detroit as a licensed real estate manager, developer, and broker.

Allan has also been very active in charities, industry organizations, and his church, serving in many leadership positions. He founded Camp Liberty, Inc., a charity to benefit our military veterans, has been active in Labor of Love Livingston, a charity that performed $880,000 of free repairs for the handicapped, elderly, and financially challenged, and participates with the Washtenaw Home Builders Association Foundation, which provides community support and scholarships related to the building industry.

Brother Jim Gray (Beta – UNC ’70) served at the University of North Carolina as Associate Dean for External Affairs of the Kenyon-Flagler Business School and as Associate Dean for Marketing and Communications at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Brother Gray had previously served as the President of Manning, Selvage & Lee/U.S., the ninth largest public relations agency in the world, and as President of public relations for Brouillard Communications in New York, the corporation division of J. Walter Thompson.

Jim is the president of Gray III Consulting, which assists nonprofit organizations in marketing and fundraising efforts, including the Deke Foundation’s previous 175th Campaign. Jim also is a member of the Deke Foundation’s Board of Director.

Phired Up helps fraternities grow using values based recruitment strategies. The International Fraternity has also partnered with Phired up to assist a pre-identified list of Chapters of DKE to grow. The group of Chapters will be a part of our inaugural growth community coached directly by Phired Up.

Event Staff