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July 7, 2022 - Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announces the appointments of Nathan Smith (’94), of Fort Mitchell, and Brad Zapp, of Covington, to the Northern Kentucky University Board of Regents.

Smith’s and Zapp’s terms run through the 2027-28 academic year. Smith and Zapp replace Gregory Shumate and Normand Desmarais, respectively, whose terms have expired.

“NKU is pleased to welcome two outstanding stewards of community to the Board of Regents,” NKU President Ashish Vaidya said. “Each one brings years of service and commitment to the university and the community, and I am thankful for the opportunity to work with them to promote NKU’s values of student success and regional engagement.”

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith is the co-founder and chief investment officer of Flagship Communities REIT. In October 2020, his company announced the formation of a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) along with an initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The REIT has been formed to own and operate a portfolio of now 65 manufactured housing communities, comprising 11,328 lots located in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois. Smith’s company is the largest manufactured housing company in Kentucky and is among the largest in the Midwest. Flagship Communities is among the top 20 in the United States with over 160 employees and 66 communities throughout seven states. The company operates communities in several geographic regions and Smith is responsible for directing acquisitions, engineering and zoning of new developments and for all marketing, sales and public relations for the $584 million company. 

Smith has served as chairman of the Manufactured Housing Institute, a 915-member industry trade organization, and as president of the Kentucky Manufactured Housing Institute. In addition, Smith previously served on the board of directors for Safe Harbor Marinas, the world's largest owner and operator of marinas, and was a member of the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport Board. 

This is Smith’s third stint on the Board of Regents after previously serving as chairman of the Board in 2015-16, as well as being student regent while serving as Student Government Association President in 1993-94. He is also a former president of the Alumni Association and is a member of the NKU Foundation Board of Directors. Smith graduated from NKU with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In March, Smith was honored with the Outstanding Alumnus Award at the annual NKU Alumni Awards ceremony. 

“NKU holds a special place in my heart,” Smith said. “Without the education I received there, I would not be where I am today in the business world, so anything I can do for it will never be enough.”

Brad Zapp

Brad Zapp is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist with multiple successful exits, focused on delivering a new asset class of early-stage venture capital through a publicly listed interval fund. Zapp is the co-founder and managing partner of Connetic Ventures, founder and managing member of ZH Holdings, co-founder of Wendal, and co-founder of SimpleCoin. Through his position at Connetic Ventures, venture capital’s foremost data-driven venture fund, Zapp is responsible for all strategic initiatives and partnerships, as well as fundraising and investor relationships. Zapp is also the co-creator of TeamPrint, the first behavioral assessment specific to vetting early-stage startup teams. His investment portfolio includes over 100 unique holdings in 32 states and three countries. 

Wendal is an artificial intelligence platform technology utilizing a proprietary behavioral technology to build better teams and democratize capital across marginalized founders in overlooked geographies. Zapp is the co-founder, product owner, and data analyst for the company, responsible for all financials, fundraising, investor relationships, and the algorithm that has produced close to 60-percent investment recommendations for female or minority founders. 

At NKU, Zapp serves on the advisory board for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He is a 2000 graduate of the University of Kentucky, where he majored in economics and finance. 

“It's an honor to serve on the board of an institution which has had such a huge impact on our community,” Zapp said. “NKU is a driving force of economic growth through those it directly employs but most importantly by providing an educated workforce employers are looking for. The university has an outstanding faculty that I have had the pleasure to work with for many years and a dedicated board I look forward to serving with.” 

The new regents will be sworn in at the Board’s meeting in September. To learn more about the Board of Regents, click here.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit