Founder & CEO
A native of NC and a business school graduate of UNC-CH, Bill began his business career in Wilmington, NC at Lowrimore, Warwick & Company CPA’s before moving into industry. In his 40 year business career he served in a variety of executive management roles in finance and general management. In each case he sought to bring a Christ-centered worldview into his management style and the workplace.
Bill and his wife, Jenny, raised 4 children while he served for years as an elder in their church in Hickory, NC. During this time, he also co-founded the local outreach of Crown Ministries, a financial stewardship ministry. Beginning in 2015, they began praying about God’s direction for the next season of life – and how that could be used more fully to the glory of Christ. God put in their hearts a strong desire to minister among college students and young adults and in 2016 they moved to Chapel Hill where they currently spend as much time as possible with college students on the UNC campus and within their church.
Their founding vision for the Center for Christian Thought at UNCW grew from their involvement with the Christian study center at UNC-CH and their observation of the need for a Christian worldview within an academic setting, in the midst of a post-modern world. They view God’s Word as rational, relevant, and sufficient for whatever life holds.
Branch Smith is a professional engineer with Paramounte Engineering. One of the aspects that he loves about his career is being able to help people make their visions turn into reality. Turning the ground over for new experiences and new futures is his desire, which is what this Christian Study Center can be. It can be a gathering place for future students, staff, and faculty of UNCW to come into contact with the truth and love of Christ.
Branch earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in civil engineering from NC State University in Raleigh, NC in 2003-2004. He was active in FarmHouse Fraternity and a student civil engineering club (ASCE). He moved to Wilmington in 2006 and soon married his wife Misti and now they have two girls and one boy all under the age of 8. He is an active member of F3, a mens workout group in Wilmington. His family is active in their local church and greater Wilmington community, and enjoy downtime in the boat on the Intracoastal waterway.
John Zino is currently an Chief Consulting Engineer at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy in Wilmington, NC and has thirty-five years of technical and management experience in the fields of nuclear science and technology. He holds a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from North Carolina State University, an M.S. in Radiological Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering also from Georgia Tech.
Over the past nine years, John has been actively involved with the Ratio Christi apologetics ministry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington both teaching and lecturing on topics related to the intersection of science and the Christian faith. John holds a part-time faculty position at UNCW teaching first-year seminar classes for University College and Honors College in the areas of science, philosophy, and religion. John is also the executive director of the Coastal Apologetics Network (CAN) in Wilmington NC, a Christian ministry dedicated to teaching, training, and equipping local churches, pastors, ministry organizations, and students on the essentials of defending the Christian faith in a modern-day culture strongly influenced by scientific naturalism.
Tom has served as chapter director with Ratio Christi in Wilmington, NC since 2014, helping students at UNCW, CFCC, and local high schools ask good questions and seek good answers about the Christian faith. He is also a part of Coastal Apologetics Network, an organization focused on equipping the local church in understanding and defending the truth of Christianity.
Tom holds a JD from Campbell University, an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He and his wife have been married since 1996 and have four daughters. Originally from western North Carolina, Tom has lived in the Port City since 1994.
Nivine Richie, PhD, is the Associate Dean for Graduate & International Programs and Professor of Finance in the Cameron School of Business at UNC Wilmington. She received her BS in Finance at Penn State and her PhD in Finance at Florida Atlantic University and currently teaches courses at UNCW in investment analysis, derivatives, fixed income, and research methods. She has published studies in multiple business periodicals.
Nivine is also a women’s Bible study author and teacher in Wilmington, N.C. She is the author of Enduring Faith: An 8-Week Devotional Study of the Book of Hebrews. In addition to her involvement with the Center for Christian Thought, she is actively involved in the Christian faculty association on the UNCW campus. Nivine has participated in and taught many small group studies over the years, and she seeks to help others launch their own small groups. She loves the coast, camping, and a good cup of coffee. Find her at www.unfoldinghisword.com.