Board of Directors

Executive Committee


Meridith Jaeger, UEDA President

Dean, Corporate Training and Economic Development
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Meridith Jaeger is the Dean, Corporate Training and Economic Development at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in Green Bay, Wi.  In her role, she is responsible for the college’s delivery of incumbent workforce training, technical assistance, small business and entrepreneurship initiatives, and strategic partnerships.

Prior to her appointment at NWTC, she was at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh for 17 years in various roles including Executive Director of the Wisconsin Family Business Forum, Director of the Business Success Center, and Director of the Council for Innovation.

Meridith is an advisory board member and co-founder of AeroInnovate.  In 2014, Meridith was the presenter when AeroInnovate was awarded the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Award of Excellence at the UEDA Annual Summit in the category of Leadership and Collaboration.

A member of the UEDA board of directors since 2015, Meridith has served as chair of the Awards of Excellence Committee, chair of the Annual Summit Committee, and chair of the Membership and Marketing Committee.  Most recently, she led a team of Wisconsin-based UEDA members to host the 2018 Annual Summit in Milwaukee, Wi.

Meridith earned her Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in Corporate/Organizational Communication from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Her graduate work had a strong emphasis on the role of higher education in economic development and her research included “The Impact of Faculty Perceptions on Participation in University-Industry Outreach.” Meridith has over 25 years of experience in the areas of education, business, community and economic development. She is committed to building collaborative partnerships across education, business and community.


Julia Potter, UEDA President-Elect

Director, Strategic Partnerships & Special Initiatives, Office of the President
California State University, Northridge

Julia Potter is the Director for Strategic Partnerships and Special Initiatives in the Office of the President at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Her responsibilities include a wide-range of external affairs activities including establishing university-wide partnerships with businesses and industries for contracted applied research and customized workforce development programs, developing relationships for grants and sponsored programs, and fostering regional economic and community development initiatives. She also serves as the point-of-contact for CSUN’s Elevate Campaign, a business development strategy conceived by campus leadership when state funding was significantly reduced. A priority in her work is serving as the community liaison for LACI@CSUN, the on-campus business incubator, formed by the University’s partnership with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). She also serves as the campus Guide for the CSU5, an alliance of the five California State Universities in Los Angeles County. Together, the CSU5 campuses are working to develop new areas of collective expertise that relate to the priorities shaping the future of Greater Los Angeles.

Julia has worked for CSUN for over ten years in various roles. Prior to her current role, she served the University as Director of External Relations for the Tseng College of Extended Learning, the entrepreneurial self-support college at CSUN. She was also the Tseng College’s accreditation lead and served on the University’s re-accreditation committee, a three-year appointment.

Before launching her career at CSUN, Julia worked in the private sector doing business development and stockholder relations for a privately held company as well as in the non-profit sector as a fundraiser.


John Provo, UEDA Vice President

Director, Office of Economic Development
Virginia Tech

John Provo is the director of Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development. Provo provides leadership for the university in the design and implementation of its economic engagement mission. A “pracademic,” he has more than 15 years of experience in higher education and government. He builds relationships between businesses, communities, and the university and leads a team that delivers applied research projects that create economic opportunities.

Provo received his Ph.D. from the School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. He received a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 and a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary in 1989. While in Richmond, he worked for Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade on implementation of revisions to the state’s workforce development system.


Rebecca Robinson, UEDA Treasurer

Director of Economic Development
Kansas State University

Rebecca is the Director of Economic Development at the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, where she leads the organization’s partnership with Knowledge-Based Economic Development, LLC in Manhattan, KS. Ms. Robinson focuses on recruiting or expanding businesses to the region that have a research-based relationship with Kansas State University. In partnership with the community and university, she has facilitated the recruitment of 16 technology-based companies to the Manhattan, Kansas region, creating over 388 new high-wage jobs and a projected economic impact of over $82.2 million. In addition, Ms. Robinson has stimulated University multidisciplinary research and industry collaboration through coordination of over 25 strategic faculty events, attended by over 900 faculty, staff, university administrators, and industry representatives. These events have led to over $1 million in new research awards and collaborations. She consults with emerging companies to provide strategy and business plan development and has facilitated over $350,000 in corporate sponsored research and $12.6 million in investment capital raised. Ms. Robinson has garnered international recognition for her economic development efforts at Kansas State University, including invited presentations at national conferences of the University-Industry Interaction Network (UIIN), the APLU Council on Innovation, Competitiveness & Economic Prosperity (CICEP), Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) and as a multi-year UEDA Award of Excellence finalist. She has participated in numerous University and Community committees and boards, including the KSU Office of Corporate Engagement Working Group, Flint Hills Economic Development District Governing Board, KSU Career Center Employer Advisory Board, the North Campus Corridor Master Planning Task Force and the K-State 2025 Research Themes Committee. Prior to joining the Institute for Commercialization, she worked in marketing, sales, and corporate retail planning. Ms. Robinson earned her master’s degree in Business Administration and her bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Spanish, and Leadership Studies, both from Kansas State University.

Michael H. Ebinger, UEDA Secretary

Director, WSU University Center for Innovation

Michael Ebinger is currently the Director of the WSU University Center for Innovation, which is funded for a second time by a 5-year grant from the US Economic Development Administration. His efforts and interests include commercializing technical research and evaluating the economic feasibility of new ideas and products through marketing research, business strategies, and operations. In addition, Ebinger currently teaches courses in the WSU Online MBA program.
Ebinger graduated from the University of Arizona in 1980 (BA with Honors, Anthropology) and 1984 (MS, Soils, Water, and Engineering); from Purdue University in 1988 (Ph. D. in Soil Chemistry and Mineralogy); and from Washington State University in 2010 (MBA). He joined the research staff at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1988 and served as staff scientist until 2003. He became Ecosystems Team Lead in 2003 then interim Group Leader and Deputy Division Leader at different times for the Earth and Environmental Sciences Division through 2005. In 2005 he was named Group Leader of the Atmosphere, Climate, and Ecosystems Dynamics Group, a position he held until 2008 when he moved into program development efforts. He left the Laboratory officially in 2013.

As an R&D scientist at Los Alamos National Lab, Ebinger helped to develop a novel spectroscopic analysis of soil elements (carbon, metals, and radionuclides) that employed laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and assisted in climate change measurements. The soil methodology was granted a US patent in 2010 (US 7,692,789); a derivative of this technology is at work on Mars aboard NASA’s Curiosity Rover. He leveraged his climate change research into pivotal policy development that was part of the foundation for greenhouse gas verification efforts during the Bush and Obama administrations. This information also formed the initial stages of key national security interests in climate change verification in denied-access territories.

Ebinger remains an active classical musician as a student of viola and as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. As an academic, he is developing course material for Professional Science Masters programs on the Spokane and Pullman campuses.

Dan Ripke, UEDA Past President

Director, Economic Development
Institute for Innovation and Economic Development
California State University, Monterey Bay

Dan Ripke is director of the Center for Economic Development at CSU, Chico and has been with the center since 1989. He has expanded the center’s service region from twelve counties to twenty-seven counties, a region which encompasses over 30 percent of the state. The Center for Economic Development provides technical assistance to communities throughout California, hosts regional events, and publishes the Annual County Profile Series, a set of 23 county reports (each 150+ pages) summarizing economic and demographic trends.

His office also hosted the first Economic Gardening Conference in 1999 in Chico, California. In 2003, the CED became the lead Small Business Development Center, overseeing six of the centers at local community colleges, through a grant from the Small Business Administration (SBA). At this time the organization became known as the Northeastern California Small Business Development Center (NECSBDC), serving 23 California counties.

Dan is a regular speaker on topics related to entrepreneurship, economic gardening, regional economic development, as well as the affects of economic and demographic trends on communities, their economies, and their businesses. Dan is regularly quoted in publications including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Sacramento Bee, to name a few.



Dr. J. Douglas Barrett

Director, Institute for Innovation and Economic Development
University of North Alabama

Dr. Barrett is the Director of the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development at the University of North Alabama. He has served as a UNA faculty member since 1997, taught as Professor of Quantitative Methods since 2004, and has served as Chair of the Department of Economics and Finance since 2008. In 2017, he was named the Lagrange Eminent Scholar in Quantitative Methods Dr. Barrett received a Ph.D. in Statistics with a minor in Management Science from the University of Alabama in 1995. He is certified in Strategic Doing through Purdue University, and has a certificate in Foresight from the University of Houston. Dr. Barrett has completed several economic impact studies for clients such as the City of Florence, Huntsville Housing Authority, RegionalCare Hospital Partners, and the University of North Alabama. Dr. Barrett is a founding member, first President, and a board member of the Society of Business, Industry, and Economics. His publications have appeared in numerous academic journals, including Technometrics, IIE Transactions, Journal of the American Statistical Association, Human Relations, Journal of Business Ethics, Communications in Statistics: Stochastic Models, Journal of Sports Economics, and Public Finance Review.


Rena Cotsones, Ph.D.

Associate VP, Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development
Northern Illinois University

Bringing people together for a common good has been a lifelong passion for Dr. Rena Cotsones.

As Associate Vice President of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development for Northern Illinois University, Rena works with regional partners to create and implement collaborative approaches to advancing education, economic development, workforce development, and innovation initiatives in northern Illinois and Chicagoland.

Most recently, Rena provided leadership for the creation of a community-based, industry-integrated engineering baccalaureate completion program in partnership with the community college and industry partners in Rockford, Illinois. This collaborative workforce solution has inspired the development of other innovative approaches to education and workforce development in the region and won the 2017 Award of Excellence for Talent Development from the University Economic Development Association (UEDA),

Rena chaired the national Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO) of the Association of Public and Landgrant Universities (APLU) in 2017. She helped lead the team that won APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation for NIU in 2013. She is a member of the national core team for Strategic Doing. a program of Purdue University’s Agile Strategy Lab and is a certified Strategic Doing faculty member. In northern Illinois, she serves on the boards of numerous Chambers, economic development and education organizations.

Rena started her career as a broadcast journalist after graduating from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University. Her dissertation focused on elements of successful town-gown collaboration in diverse university communities.


Margo Fliss

Manager of Strategic Engagement
University of Alaska Center for Economic Development

Margo leads facilitation, strategic planning, and client services for CED. Previously, she served as CED’s Lead Analyst and worked in the education sector for numerous school districts and universities in California and Alaska, as well as served as a VISTA volunteer with UCLA BruinCorps. These experiences provided Margo with expertise in stakeholder engagement, consensus building, action-oriented strategy, public speaking, grant management, outcome based metrics, and policy analysis. Margo holds a Master of Public Policy from Mills College and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She earned her “Foundations in Design Thinking” certification from IDEO in 2018. Margo currently serves on the board of thread: an early care and education resource and referral non-profit, and is the executive director of the Miss Alaska Scholarship Foundation.


Mridul Gautam, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of Nevada, Reno

As vice president for research and innovation and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, Dr. Mridul Gautam articulates and implements a shared vision for research and guides the administrative division focused on developing world-class research and discovery, the careers and competitiveness of faculty, and the institution’s capacity as a high-impact research university and economic cornerstone of Nevada.

Dr. Gautam’s leadership style reflects his core values of integrity, the pursuit of excellence, fairness, respect and collaboration. The University of Nevada, Reno is increasingly connected to the region and state it serves, and Dr. Gautam has been a leader in fostering new levels of collaboration and building relationships both on and off campus. Especially notable is his leadership in the creation of an Innovation Ecosystem, anchored by the Nevada Center for Applied Research and the Innevation Center University of Nevada, Reno—Powered By Switch. The University’s Innovation Ecosystem is advancing entrepreneurialism, innovation and commercialization, and it is tangibly contributing to Nevada’s economy and the creation of knowledge- and technology-based jobs.

As an administrator and as a member of the University President’s Council, Dr. Gautam encourages the highest quality of services and infrastructure to enable faculty, students and staff to excel in their research, scholarly and artistic endeavors, and to do so in a safe, healthy and ethical environment. He demonstrates an ability to develop an effective and appropriately scaled infrastructure to meet the needs of a University that is experiencing growth in the size and quality of its student enrollment and research productivity. He believes in hiring the right people, setting them up for success, fostering accountability, encouraging process improvement and then getting out of the way.

Dr. Gautam is an internationally recognized researcher and expert in the area of heavy-duty mobile source exhaust emissions, aerosol sampling, and particulate matter measurement, characterization, and control. Prior to joining the University in 2013, he served as associate vice president for research at West Virginia University (WVU) as well as the vice president for the WVU Research Corporation. Dr. Gautam serves on several national and state advisory committees including the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Council on Research and its Research Task Force on Laboratory Safety, as well as the National Academies’ Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable.


Dominique Halaby

Georgia Southern University

Dominique Halaby, D.P.A. is the Director of the Business Innovation Group (BIG) at Georgia Southern University. BIG includes the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research, Center for Entrepreneurial Learning and Leadership, Small Business Development Center, Innovation Incubator and Fab Lab. In 2015, BIG was recognized as a Gold Award Winner in Entrepreneurship by the IEDC.

Dr. Halaby is also overseeing the development of Georgia Southern University’s City Center in Statesboro, Georgia. The City Center is a 22,000 square foot two-building complex. It is joint initiative between Georgia Southern University, the City of Statesboro, and the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Bulloch County. In addition, he recently secured the necessary funding and is currently working with the Hinesville Development Authority and City of Hinesville to construct a third 10,000 square foot facility in downtown Hinesville, Georgia.

In addition to his official duties, Dr. Halaby has served on several community and business boards. Currently, he serves on the university’s Intellectual Property Committee, as well as on the boards of the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau and Spaceport Camden Education and Workforce Committee.

Prior to joining Georgia Southern, he served as the Director of the Center for Community and Business Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development. Dr. Halaby spent most of his recent career building a non-profit organization in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) dealing with workforce and economic development. He successfully secured over $35 million in funding, including one of the largest federal training grants awarded in South Texas. Under his leadership, the organization was recognized in 2003 by the Society for Human Resource Management as The Best to Place to Work in Hidalgo County for companies with less than 100 employees. He was successful in achieving broad collaboration in the RGV among healthcare providers and educators to strengthen home-grown approaches to meet their skilled workforce needs, and in several community planning and antipoverty initiatives. These projects won awards as national finalists for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Best Practices in 2003 and 2006, as well as being recognized by the Texas Workforce Commission as the Transitional Workforce Award recipient in 2004. In addition, Dr. Halaby served as Interim Director of the Rio Grande Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization and assisted public universities in South Texas and new business ventures in accessing the $200 million Emerging Technology Fund.


G. Jason Jolley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Rural Economic Development
Ohio University

G. Jason Jolley, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Rural Economic Development and MPA Director at the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. At Ohio University, he also serves as a Research Fellow in the Center for Entrepreneurship and directs Ohio University’s portion of the US Economic Development Administration University Center (joint with Bowling Green State University). His applied research portfolio includes serving as principal investigator on a subcontract with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth to support a Regional Innovation Cluster (RIC) project with the U.S. Small Business Administration. He also leads the Voinovich Schools™ portion of the Ohio Economic Development Institute, an Ohio Economic Development Association initiative, in partnership with JobsOhio and Ohio University’s™ Voinovich School, to provide state-level certification to Ohio economic development practitioners.

Dr. Jolley previously worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Senior Research Director for the Center for Competitive Economies, an applied economic development research center in the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Kenan-Flagler Business School. At UNC, he led the Center’s research activities in economic development incentive policy evaluation and development, strategic planning, impact analysis, and industry cluster characterization to address issues of economic competitiveness.

Dr. Jolley’s research focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship, and tax policy. He has authored/coauthored over 25 scholarly articles and 50 monographs/professional reports. His research has been published or is forthcoming in Journal of Economic Development in Higher Education; Economic Development Quarterly; Business Strategy and the Environment; Review of Policy Research; Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy; State and Local Government Review; Journal of Public Affairs Education; Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting, & Financial Management; Municipal Finance Journal; and Economic Development Journal, among other scholarly outlets. Dr. Jolley writes a semi-regular column, “Practical Views from the Ivory Tower” for State Tax Notes, a professional tax publication. He received a Ph.D. in public administration from North Carolina State University, where he specialized in economic development and research methods, an M.A. in political science from the University of Tennessee and an A.B. in economics from UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Jolley current serves as President of the Mid-Continent Regional Science Association and on the editorial boards of Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy and Coastal Business Journal.


Sean McMillan

Director, Office of Economic Development
University of Georgia

Sean B. McMillan is director of economic development for the Atlanta office of the University of Georgia. McMillan earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from Auburn University in 1988 and his master’s degree in business administration from Georgia State University in 2000. He joined the Georgia Department of Economic Development in 1992 as both budget director and assistant director of administration, holding those titles until 2000. Over the following 10 years, he served as senior project manager, director of existing industry and recruitment and director of new business recruitment.

Since 2008, McMillan has played a key role with Georgia Quick Start, the state’s workforce development program, serving as director of regional and Kia project operations until his recent appointment at UGA


Russell Mills

Director, Center for Regional Development
Bowling Green State University

Russell W. Mills, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Regional Development and associate professor in the department of political science at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Prior to his appointment at BGSU, Dr. Mills worked as a policy analyst at the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington D.C. where he developed and evaluated agency-wide reauthorization proposals for political and policy implications and coordinated with internal and external stakeholders to ensure communication of proposals to Department of Transportation, Office of Management and Budget, and Congress. His work at CRD focuses on local economic development, improving air transportation access to communities, and examining the drivers of foreign direct investment (FDI) and reshoring. Dr. Mills is also the Principal Investigator for CRD’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center program that provides technical assistance, data, analytics, and applied research to local businesses and economic development professionals. He has received grants from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Airport Cooperative Research Program, the Dirksen Congressional Research Center, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), and the IBM Center for the Business of Government and his research has appeared in a variety of outlets including Legislative Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Public Policy, Public Administration Review, Administration & Society, Regulation and Governance, The Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis and popular outlets including the Washington Post and Bloomberg News. Mills has a B.A. in political science from Westminster College in Pennsylvania, a MPA from the University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. in political science from Kent State University.


Beth Phillips

Economic Development Programs Manager
University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services

As the leader of CIS’s economic development programs, Beth Phillips works to connect businesses, communities, and organizations to the resources of the university and its partners. With over thirty years’ experience in economic and community development in Tennessee, Beth has engaged in projects across the state to attract new jobs and investment, support existing businesses, and enhance community economic competitiveness.

She specializes in helping regions leverage their unique assets to grow jobs and investment. From helping a rural county grow tourist spending to accelerating technology growth within an industrial cluster, she is passionate about helping communities realize their vision by developing effective partnerships and strategies.

Beth is proud to have led the development of the Tennessee Certified Economic Developer program, the state’s professional training program for economic development practitioners, and a model for state-based economic development training across the country. The program has trained over 500 participants, and 45 economic development practitioners in Tennessee have earned their professional certification.

A longtime resident of Knoxville, Beth holds an undergraduate degree in marketing and transportation from the University of Georgia and an MBA from the University of Tennessee.


Susan Sciame-Giesecke

Indiana University Kokomo

Sciame-Giesecke is the seventh Chancellor of Indiana University Kokomo, after contributing to many areas across the campus for 40 years. As chancellor, she is taking bold steps, working with sister regional campuses to advocate for the importance of higher education as a benefit to everyone, improving retention and graduation rates in those regions, and leading regional partnerships in education, business and economic growth, and research. Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke has led successful initiatives to enhance degree programs, student success and graduation initiatives, athletics and other student life programs, and she has worked to deepen and broaden community and K-12 connections throughout the 14-county service region. Under her leadership, with strong support from IU Kokomo’s faculty and staff, numerous new degree programs have been launched including a Bachelor of Applied Science program in conjunction with other IU regional campuses, and a degree in hospitality and tourism. Capital projects Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke has overseen include the current $14 million renovation of the Main Building, transforming it into a 21st century learning space. She’s also led construction of a new advising center, a new outdoor courtyard, the Cole Family Fitness and Wellness Center, and the Cougar Gym. Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke also facilitated discussions for the development of a regional economic development organization, which include six counties in the campus service region. She led efforts to create a funding formula, organizational structure, and bylaws for the new organization. Prior to her permanent appointment as chancellor, she served she served as the interim chancellor from 2012 to 2014 and the executive vice chancellor of academic affairs from 2010 to 2012. Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke holds a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University, a master’s degree from Illinois State University and a doctoral degree from Indiana University. In addition to her campus administrative roles, she also directed the Indiana University Enhancing Minority Attainment Conference and the Indiana University Faculty Leadership Institute, each for several years.

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University Economic Development Association
PO Box 97930
Pittsburgh, PA 15227

216.200.UEDA (8332)