Jennifer Halsey Evans ’94 on why losing an election in college was ‘one of the best things that happened to me’
During her senior year at Carolina, Jennifer Halsey Evans ’94 ran against her close childhood friend and classmate, Jim Copland ’94, for student body president.
The two alumni prevailed over five other candidates to force a run-off election. Jim won. Had Jen been elected, she believes her career would have taken a much different trajectory, and she believes she would have stayed in North Carolina.
“I needed that loss to redirect me, to force the diverse experiences in New York and California that have enabled me to come back and serve in a broader capacity, said the North Carolina native.
As an entrepreneur and investor in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 22 years, Jen feels only gratitude for what was then a humbling period of time.
“Losing the election was one of the best things that happened to me,” said the alumna of the life-defining moment.
Instead of focusing on campus and state politics, Jen spent her senior year exploring diverse career options. Following her graduation from Carolina, she began her career in the healthcare investment banking sector as a financial analyst with Goldman Sachs in New York.
Her growing interest in medical technology startups led the alumna to the West Coast. In 1997, she founded Asante Partners, a healthcare-focused strategic advisory firm, and served as managing director of the company for 15 years.
Jen is now an investor focused on accelerating growth for medical technology startups. Her portfolio companies develop products to improve therapy in interventional neuroradiology, oncology, diabetes management, and digital diagnostics.
Companion Medical, her primary portfolio investment, designed the first FDA-cleared “smart insulin pen” that uses Bluetooth technology and an integrated disease management mobile app to help insulin users know how much insulin to take and when to take it.
The potentially life-saving functionalities of the InPen system are even more critical during a pandemic, according to Jen.
“Those with diabetes are at higher risk of severe illness, and InPen enables seamless remote monitoring with caretakers and physicians,” she said.
While her experiences serving as Speaker of Student Congress at UNC didn’t lead to a career in politics, Jen’s passion for educational and social advocacy has been the guiding principle in all of her work as an alumna.
“I’m grateful to have the resources now to be able to lead and to build bridges for students who need access and opportunity to achieve their goals and dreams,” said the chair, who described her own humble upbringing as a continual source of energy and motivation to open doors for others.
In July, Jen was elected chair of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship Fund (MCSF) Board, succeeding Keith Cowan ’78. She will serve for a two-year term.
Jen is co-chair of Carolina West, a consortium of UNC alumni who live on the West Coast. For the past three years, she has worked closely with Barbara Rosser Hyde ’83 on the steering committee for the Campaign for Carolina. She previously served as chair of the 200-member UNC Board of Visitors and was a professor of the practice in UNC’s Department of Economics, leading an undergraduate honors seminar on entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley for two semesters.