Speakers & Bios

Lynn Allendorf

Director, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, University of Iowa

Lynn is a national expert in student business incubation, having developed and run the University’s Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory, one of the first of its kind when it opened in 2004. She was instrumental in bringing the NSF I-Corps program to Iowa. She also teaches undergraduate and MBA courses. Prior to joining the university, Lynn had extensive experience in software publishing at the senior leadership level. She has founded two companies. Lynn has a BS in Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics, as well as an MBA, from The University of Iowa.

Marilyn Bellert

Director, P-20 Center

Marilyn Bellert leads NIU’s innovative P-20 Center, which interacts with 50,000 Illinois residents annually. She oversees three areas of practice. (1) The Regional P-20 Network seeks to improve college and career preparation through collaboration by NIU, 11 community colleges, and 153 high schools. (2) NIU STEAM Works integrates arts into the STEM disciplines, delivering hands-on, interdisciplinary learning events at hundreds of schools each year. (3) Professional Development Collaborative builds effective networks around leading-edge classroom activities. The P-20 Center has received awards from APLU and the Carnegie Foundation. Bellert served for 20 years on local, state, and national education policy boards.

Nancy Howell Agee

President and CEO, Carilion Clinic

Nancy Howell Agee, President and CEO of Carilion Clinic, has dedicated her life’s work to improving the health of people in the communities we serve, as well as people across the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.

Born at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Ms. Agee began her career in nursing in the early 1970s, serving in various management roles over the years. In 1996, she was appointed vice president and gradually assumed increasing administrative and executive leadership roles at Carilion. As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from 2001 to 2011, Ms. Agee was at the forefront of the successful initiative to reorganize Carilion into a patient-centered, physician-led clinic.

A passionate servant leader, her first priority is our employees and patients. She supports many professional and community activities including board positions for The American Hospital Association, The Joint Commission, Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, Virginia Center for Health Innovation, Roanoke Gas Company, HomeTown Bank, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Rockingham Mutual Insurance Co. and the Taubman Museum of Art. Previously, Ms. Agee served on the Radford University Board of Visitors.

Ms. Agee and her husband, Steve, have one son, Zach.

 Nancy Bowen

Associate Professor & Field Specialist Community Economics, Ohio State University

Nancy Bowen is a Field Specialist, Community Economics for the Ohio State University Extension. Her areas of program specialization include Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E), economic impact analysis, community and regional planning, entrepreneurship, workforce development, and renewable energy development. Nancy obtained a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans in 1990. In 1993 she became a certified economic developer through the International Economic Development Council. She has 30 years experience as practitioner and educator in the field of community economic development.

Andy Coe

Principal, Convergent Nonprofit Solutions

With more than 20 years of for-profit and nonprofit experience, Andy Coe is a highly-skilled, well-respected and exceptionally versatile professional. He is an equity principal of Convergent Nonprofit Solutions, a national consultancy focused on developing sustainable funding strategies and raising capital for organizations looking to improve involvement and investment from their constituencies. Andy’s primary responsibility with Convergent is to create opportunities for the firm to apply its unique philosophy about fundraising – known as “Asking Rights” – which includes a practical approach to working with executive and volunteer leadership to create short- and long-term goals that are ambitious but obtainable and always outcomes-based.

Rena Cotsones, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President, Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, Northern Illinois University

Rena Cotsones, Ph.D., is Associate Vice President of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development for Northern Illinois University. She works with regional partners to create and implement collaborative approaches to advancing economic development, workforce development and innovation in the northern Illinois and Chicago region. Most recently, Dr. Cotsones provided leadership for the creation of a community-based, industry-integrated engineering baccalaureate completion program in partnership with the community college in Rockford, Illinois. She also co-created a regional chapter model for SME engagement with the Chicago-based Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). Dr. Cotsones is incoming chair of the Association of Public and Landgrant Universities (APLU) national Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO). She is also a member of the executive committee of DMDII.

Maggie Cowell

Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs

Maggie Cowell is an Assistant Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech. Since 2004, She has been a member of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation-funded research project, “Building Resilient Regions.” She is also part of a team of researchers assessing the potential of the homeland security economy for community economic development at the St. Elizabeths Hospital site in Southeast Washington, DC. Her research has been funded by the Kauffman Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, National Association of Counties, and the United States Economic Development Administration. In 2014, She published a book manuscript, Dealing with Deindustrialization: Adaptive Resilience in Eight Midwestern Regions (Routledge).

Bill Donohue

President and Executive Director, GenEdge Alliance

Bill Donohue is currently the President, Executive Director for GENEDGE, a unit of the Commonwealth of VA and long-term affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology MEP program. GENEDGE has helped industrial enterprises across Virginia to innovate, compete and grow for nearly two decades.

Prior to assuming the president/executive director position in October 2014, Bill was interim executive director as well as vice president/chief operating officer. In that capacity, he led state wide marketing, sales and delivery of services that have fulfilled clients needs to grow their top and bottom lines. Each year, GENEDGE serves 100 plus companies with high quality, affordable consulting services.

Bill has consistently been able to incorporate expertise within a wide variety of high impact disciplines such as Supply Chain Optimization, Growth Services and Innovation, Lean Six Sigma, and Strategic Planning. The creation and delivery of unique client solutions has been enhanced by his prior executive experience with market leaders such as General Electric (GE). This has enabled GENEDGE to deliver timely and clear roadmaps for success, resulting in substantial returns on investment for Virginia’s manufacturing and industrial clients.

According to independent U.S. Department of Commerce surveys of GENEDGE clients since 2000, GENEDGE has generated nearly $3 billion of total economic impact along with over 7,200 jobs created/saved.

Bill is a chemical engineering graduate of the University of Rochester, completed the GE Management Development Program, is a certified Lean Six Sigma master black belt, and is a member of various professional organizations. He and his wife Pam reside in Danville, VA.

Mike Dozier

Executive Director, Office of Community & Economic Development, California State University, Fresno

Mike Dozier serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) at Fresno State, and is the Lead Executive of the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, and Central Valley AgPLUS. OCED also administers the San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center, San Joaquin Valley Broadband Consortium, the Community and Regional Planning Center, Fresno State SBDC, and the San Joaquin Valley Regional Industry Cluster Initiative. OCED partners with the California Association for Local Economic Development and the International Economic Development Council to conduct the annual Introduction to Economic Development Certificate course. Mike is a director on the following: Central Valley Business Incubator, California Association of Local Economic Development (CALED), UC Merced SBDC Advisory Committee, and the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) – President 2014-15.

Katie Dzugan

Network Development Director, University Innovation Fellows

Katie is a former University Innovation Fellow who graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She joined the University Innovation Fellows program as a team member to expand the national student movement. By grooming students to be change agents on campus, the Fellows program empowers students to create programming and resources to support the growing student interest in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Katie provides support to communities of Fellows working to deploy similar strategies and who collaborate regionally. In addition, Katie is expanding the programs communications strategies to meet the aggressive program growth goals. She continues to pursue her passion for learning about the entrepreneurial mindset and lending her knowledge to student catalysts changing the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campuses nationwide. Katie holds a B.S. in Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship, as well as a dual Master’s of Business Administration and Master’s of Arts focused on the nonprofit sector and strategic communication.

englishSam English

Founder and CEO, Attention Point

Sam English is an experienced biomedical entrepreneur with a successful track record in developing and commercializing university technologies. He is the founder and CEO of Attention Point, a provider of online clinical tools for ADHD assessment and management. His previous companies include educational software, diagnostic biochips, and ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. He has been active in the local entrepreneurial community for 15 years and has helped accelerate many early-stage businesses. While at Carilion Clinic, he helped make seed investment decisions into numerous early-stage companies ($1M total) and assisted with the formation of a $12M regional investment fund. After departing Carilion, he has helped companies to attract local angel investment capital of approximately $8M. He is active in the community, recently serving as past-Chair of the Board for the Roanoke – Blacksburg Technology Council and the Science Museum of Western Virginia. He received his PhD in Biochemistry from Clemson University and is a licensing professional in both the Association of University Technology Managers and the Licensing Executives Society.

erskineMatt S. Erskine

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer for the Economic Development Administration

Matt S. Erskine was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer of the Economic Development Administration in September 2011.

Mr. Erskine brings more than 20 years of leadership and management experience in business, public sector, and public-private partnerships. Prior to joining the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce, he led the private-public partnership driving economic development and foreign direct investment for the 5th largest metropolitan region in the U.S. and worked in senior roles at global business consulting firms. Mr. Erskine also served as the Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade in Virginia Governor Mark Warner’s Administration, where he led multiple innovative economic development initiatives, had oversight of 16 departments and agencies, and was a member of the management team responsible for Virginia’s designation as the nation’s best-managed state.

Mr. Erskine received special recognition from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2014 for leadership in and service to the economic development profession.

Mr. Erskine earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar and a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the Harvard Business School. He competes in ultra-distance races, marathons, and triathlons. Erskine and his wife have three children.

Dr. Brad Fenwick

Vice President of Global Academic & Research Relations

Dr. Brad Fenwick is a Professor of Pathobiology and Microbiology. He holds a doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Masters of Pathology from Kansas State University and Ph.D. in Comparative Pathology from UC Davis where he completed his residency and is distinguished alumnus. He is board qualified in Pathology and board certified in Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Fenwick has received numerous awards and recognitions for his research, holds several patents, founded a biotechnology company, and consults globally with companies, universities, and governments. He is a Fellow with the American Council on Education, a Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Jefferson Science Fellow and Senior Science Advisor to the U.S. Department of State and USAID where his portfolio includes Food Security, Higher Education, and International Science, Technology, and Innovation policy development. Dr. Fenwick has held many senior administrative positions, including Graduate Dean, Vice President for Research / President for Intellectual Properties, Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, and Chief Scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As Senior Vice President for Global Strategic Alliances with Elsevier, he is charged with forging non-commercial partnerships with universities, companies, governmental and non-governmental organizations to enhance their success.

Julie Forsythe

Director, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce

Julie has been with a regional chamber of commerce for over 5 years, working first in the workforce development area and presently as Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Prior to joining the chamber, she spent most of her career in staffing and recruiting. She has a BA in Journalism from Iowa State University.

fortinJeff Fortin

Associate Vice President for Research and Director of the Office of Industrial Partnerships

Jeff Fortin, Ph.D., was appointed associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Industrial Partnerships at Penn State on October 13, 2014. In this role, Fortin is responsible for developing and nurturing strategic relationships with industry partners and supporting Penn State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the goal of accelerating the pace at which new technologies move from discovery to implementation and supporting economic development.

Jeff has 20 years of experience in industry.  Before coming to Penn State Jeff spent 15 years at General Electric. He started at GE as a research and development scientist at the Global Research Center.  After 5 years of research and innovation he moved into a lab manager role managing technology and resources in the area of microsystems. In this role he worked closely with many of the GE business units on technology and product development.  Jeff then moved from the Research Center into one of the Oil and Gas business units as an Executive Engineering Director in charge of product development.  In this role he led large global engineering organizations in the definition and development of new technologies and products.

Jeff received his bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Southern Maine and an M.S. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  He also holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from RPI.  His technical expertise includes materials, thin films, microelectronics, microsystems, non-destructive testing, sensors, and many other related areas. Jeff holds over 25 US patents, has published multiple peer-reviewed journal articles, and co-authored 2 books.

Michael J. Friedlander, PhD.

Founding Executive Director, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute

Michael Friedlander is the Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology at Virginia Tech where he also is the founding Executive Director of the Virginia Tech Carilion (VTC) Research Institute and the Senior Dean for Research at VTC School of Medicine. He has served as the PI on multiple research grants from NIH and DoD on the cellular processes that underlie plasticity in the brain in health, development and after TBI as well as PI on NIH P30, P50, T32, R25, and DP7 program grants.  His research has been published in Cell, J. Neuroscience, Nature Neuron PNAS and Science. Dr. Friedlander previously served as the Robertson Endowed Professor of Neuroscience, Chair of Neuroscience and Director of Neuroscience Initiatives at Baylor College of Medicine. Prior to that, he was Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Neurobiology at UAB School of Medicine where he also served as the Founding Director of the Neurobiology Research Center, Director of the Mental Retardation Research Center, Director of the Civitan International Research Center and the first Evelyn McKnight Professor of Learning and Memory in Aging.    

Dr. Friedlander received his B.S. from Florida State and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Physiology and Biophysics. He did postdoctoral research at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and in Neurobiology at SUNY Stony Brook. He is the founding president of the Association of Medical School Neuroscience Department Chairs. He has served as Chair of the Council of Academic Societies of the Association of American Medical Schools (AAMC), on the Howard Hughes Medical Institute – AAMC joint task force on the Scientific Foundations of Future Physicians, on the AAMC National Research Advisory Panel and is an AAMC Distinguished Service Member. He has served on the scientific advisory boards of the Civitan International Research Center, the Mission Connect Foundation for the Children’s National Medical Center, the University of Wisconsin Waisman Center, and on the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Clinical Neurosciences Steering Committee and as the Chair of the National Association of Mental Retardation Research Centers. He has served as President of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. 

Dr. Friedlander is a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Neuroscience, an NIH Fogarty Center Senior International Research Fellowship, a Lucille Markey Foundation Center Award, a W.M. Keck Foundation Center Award, and the American College of Physicians’ Menninger Award for Mental Health Research and the University of Illinois Distinguished Alumnus Award in Molecular and Integrative Physiology. He has held visiting Professorships at Oxford University, the Australian National University, and the University of Paris.

Jade Garrett

Founder of Positive Deviancy, Program Coordinator for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Co-Director of the Mason Innovation eXchange (M.I.X.), University Innovation Fellow – George Mason University

Jade Garrett’s passion for change is focused on entrepreneurship and makerspaces. Jade is the Program Coordinator for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at George Mason University and she started the group Startup Vixens, a female-based community that aims to bridge the tech gap and conquer entrepreneurship. She helped start and currently co-runs George Mason University’s first makerspace – the Mason Innovation eXchange (M.I.X.) – Which provides free and open access for students who want to learn how to use cutting edge tools and technology such as 3D printers and microcontrollers. She sits on the Virginia Governor’s Council for Youth Entrepreneurship and engages with their marketing efforts as well as assists with providing direction with their collaborative spaces initiative. She also founded her startup, Positive Deviancy, which creates assistive technology hardware devices and develops prototypes for startups.

hagen-dyerJennifer Hagan-Dier

TN MEP Director

  • TN MEP Director since 2013
  • Served as Senior Manager for State and Local Tax at LBMC, a TN accounting firm
  • Also served as an Assistant Commissioner in the TN Department of Revenue, where she focused on tax policy and economic development initiatives in TN as a liaison between the Dept of Revenue and Dept of Economic and Community Development.
  • Educated at DePaul University College of Law


Elizabeth Hallgren

Lecturer, Entrepreneurship and Marketing, Iowa Western Community College

Elizabeth teaches entrepreneurship for both Iowa Western Community College and the University of Iowa. She has extensive industry experience as a marketing consultant. Elizabeth has an MBA as well as a BA in Political Science.


lyonDr. Kelly Hunt Lyon

Area Director, Webster University Little Rock Campuses

Kelly’s interest in higher education and economic development dates back to her time as a member of Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker’s staff in the mid-1990s where she was a liaison to the state’s economic development agencies. Her subsequent career and research interest was influenced by working with state agencies, community colleges, and public universities on the state’s School to Work planning grant and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, now Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (AMS). After leaving the governor’s office, she continued work with AMS as marketing manager before moving into high education. She has since worked at a public community college, two public universities, and now works for a private, not-for-profit university with campuses in nine countries. While at UCA she served as the Director of the Center for Community and Economic Development. Under her leadership, the Community Development Institute received state and national recognition for innovation and performance excellence. She currently leads Webster University’s two Little Rock campuses. In 2015, she completed her doctorate in higher education administration.

juanarenaDoug Juanarena

Retired Serial Entrepreneur

Doug Juanarena is a serial entrepreneur responsible for developing and commercializing a variety of technologies and companies over his career.

Doug was born in Panama City, Florida. He grew up on USAF bases throughout the U.S. and Europe. After graduating from high school in Spain, he attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, earning a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1975. After graduation, Mr. Juanarena was employed as a researcher at the NASA Langley Research Center in the field of sensor and instrumentation development. In 1978, he left NASA to form Pressure Systems Incorporated focused on commercializing sensing instrumentation based on the technology he developed while at NASA. In January 1996, Mr. Juanarena sold Pressure Systems to The Roxboro Group PLC of Cambridge, England, remaining as President/CEO until July of 2000. From 1998 until 2005 he played a significant role in the success of Luna Innovations as a board member and corporate advisor. In August of 2000, Mr. Juanarena co-founded Luna Technologies in Blacksburg, Virginia serving as its President and CEO. In August of 2005 he founded GenTek Ventures focused on assisting startups with raising private equity and forming strategic partnerships. In November of 2010 he joined Rackspace Hosting as a VP and site leader for the company’s Blacksburg software development center. In 2013 he was appointed GM of the Rackspace Email business. He retired from Rackspace in November of 2015. Mr. Juanarena has served as a member of the board of directors of public and private technology companies, including NewVa Capital Partners venture capital fund, Nematron Inc., Luna Innovations, Weston Aerospace and a number of early stage technology startups. Over the past 30 years, he has been actively involved in advisory boards at Virginia Tech, Radford University and Christopher Newport University.

Mr. Juanarena has also served on the boards of various civic and community organizations, including the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Technology Council, Hampton Roads Partnership, The Blacksburg Partnership, Hampton Roads Technology Council, Virginia Air and Space Center and the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Juanarena married Sue Vansant in 1977. They have three children and reside in Blacksburg. He is a commercial rated pilot.

Sarah Lyon-Hill

Economic Development Specialist, Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development

Sarah Lyon-Hill develops and conducts projects with communities and other partners around Virginia. She has particular expertise in economic impact, market and feasibility analyses. Some of her recent experience has included an opportunities assessment for agritourism and feasibility report for farm brewery at James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange County, VA; a downtown Farmers’ Market feasibility study for the Town of Hillsville; and an economic impact analysis of a heritage tourism initiative in southwest Virginia called The Crooked Road. Lyon-Hill has 7+ years of experience working nationally and internationally in the fields of community and economic development. As a Peace Corps worker in Northwest Africa, Sarah worked with many community groups and facilitated visioning and strategy meetings, which led to collaborative projects such as a community kindergarten, a region-wide birth certificate writing campaign and a goat microfinance lending program across five women’s groups. She has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech, a B.A. in French and International Relations from Beloit College, and is progressing towards a Ph.D. in planning at Virginia Tech.

Kristin Machac

Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech

Kristin Machac, Assistant Professor of the online MFA in Design Thinking; iPhD student in Human-Centered Design, Virginia Tech; M.Ed Career and Technical Education, Instructional Design and Technology, Virginia Tech; BS Near Environments Interior Design, Virginia Tech. Machac boasts more than eleven years of experience in corporate and higher education in the instructional design field. Former roles included instructional designer, Learning Program Lead, Instructional Design Manager and Director of eLearning Development. Machac possesses fourteen years of teaching and training experience in higher education with coursework that includes Design Thinking, Design Thinking Studio III, Collaboration Studio, Social Entrepreneurship, Basic Drawing, 2D Design, 3D Space Planning and Design, Information Systems Technology, Business Information Systems, and Instructional Design for Online Learning. In 2015, Machac received funding to research the application of design thinking strategies in coworking spaces with a goal to generate sustainable revenue streams. Machac was recently published in the Design Management Institute (DMI) journal for her work on this project and selected to present on the topic at the DMI Academic Leadership conference in July, 2016 in Boston. Machac was selected to present at DevLearn this fall in Las Vegas, NV on the topic of Design Thinking for Course Design. Additionally, Machac has led multiple creative thinking and problem solving workshops, and presented regionally and nationally on topics including “Enhancing Online Learning with Personal Interaction,” “Design Thinking Applied to Course Design,” “Instructional Design for Online Learning,” and “Techniques for Successful Communications in a Virtual World.”​

magliaroDr. Susan G. Magliaro

Professor Emerita, Center for Research in SEAD Education, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, Virginia Tech

Dr. Susan G. Magliaro is Professor Emerita of Educational Psychology in the Virginia Tech School of Education. She has co-authored four books and more than 50 book chapters, refereed journal articles, and reports. She has also contributed greatly to the field of education with over 100 presentations. Dr. Magliaro’s research interests include teacher learning, professional development, and instructional design. Additional areas of expertise include school-university partnerships and school change. Her scholarship appears in such journals as Educational Leadership, Educational Technology Research and Development, the Elementary School Journal, and Teacher Educators Journal. Dr. Magliaro has been awarded over $3 million in sponsored programs, and recently served as the co-principal investigator (co-PI) on the U.S. Department of Education Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) grant at the Virginia Tech implementation site. In addition to teaching educational psychology courses in the School of Education for over 30 years, she served the Director of School of Education and an Associate Dean for Professional Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences until 2012. She currently serves at the director of VT-STEM, the university’s Center for Research in SEAD Education.

Keith Marmer

Managing Director, SG3 Ventures

Keith is co-founder and Managing Director of SG3 Ventures; a venture capital fund focused on early stage life science companies. He is also presently serving as Director of the Health Care Innovation Collaborative; a regional initiative led by the Philadelphia CEO Council for Growth. Prior to SG3 Ventures, Keith was Chief Business Officer at Penn Center for Innovation, University of Pennsylvania. Keith serves on a number of boards as well as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Princeton University. Keith received an MBA, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Physical Therapy and Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences from University of the Sciences.

Karen McNew McGuire

Senior Consultant, Marketing Communications, Carilion Clinic

Karen McNew McGuire is a Senior Consultant in the Marketing Communications Department at Carilion Clinic. She is a Communication Studies graduate from Virginia Tech and spent 20 years news reporting and anchoring. Karen has received several awards including an RTNDA Edward R. Murrow award and a National Capital Chesapeake Bay Emmy award.  With two decades of reporting experience, Karen is a gifted story teller, helping Carilion Clinic find innovative ways to connect with and inspire better health in the communities it serves.  Karen lives at Smith Mountain Lake with her husband Matt and their rescued Westie named Daisy.

Paula Mills

Office of Engagement, Colorado State University

As an Office of Engagement team member, Paula Mills works to connect the best of CSU’s innovation, strategies and resources to Coloradans working to address social, economic, and workforce issues in their communities.  Mills most recently directed the university’s successful pursuit of a 2016 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Designation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.  She also played a leadership role in CSU’s inaugural Agriculture Innovation Summit, convening 400+ leaders from industry, government and higher education.  Her career prior to CSU includes sales and marketing management in the consumer packaged goods industry and leadership of small business ventures.

Brent Painter

Director of Economic Development, City of Strongsville, Ohio

Brent Painter is the Director of Economic Development for the City of Strongsville, Ohio.  Brent’s primary responsibilities are focused on the retention/expansion of Strongsville’s existing business base, as well as the attraction of new companies to the municipality’s four business parks.  He received his Bachelors of Business Administration from Baldwin Wallace University and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Akron.  Currently Brent is an active Rotarian, member of the Advisory Boards for Polaris Career Center and ITT Tech, and serves as the Executive Director of the Strongsville Community Improvement Corporation and the Strongsville Town Center Review Committee.

Diane Palmintera

President, Innovation Associates, Reston, VA

Diane Palmintera is Founder and President of Innovation Associates. For more than 30 years she has been a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. She is best known for working with and leveraging universities and national laboratories to develop regional ecosystems. Ms. Palmintera has guided universities, economic development organizations, national labs and others on enhancing public-private partnerships, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer, commercialization, SBIR/STTR, manufacturing and federal relations. She has provided services, identifying and adapting best practices throughout the U.S. and more than 16 countries. She co-chaired the White House (OSTP) Lab-to-Market Inter-Agency Summit, and has authored numerous books and published reports on university-industry partnerships, university anchored economic development, and national laboratory partnerships. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, (UK) Financial Times, and other media and she frequently appears as a speaker at national and international conferences. More on Innovation Associates can be viewed at and Ms. Palmintera can be contacted at

Elizabeth G. Povar (Liz)

Founder, The Riverlink Group

A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Elizabeth Povar is the founder of The Riverlink Group, a Virginia small business professional service firm focusing on economic and community development advisory services. She previously served as Vice-President for Business Expansion with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and was responsible for leading VEDP’s strategies for Business Retention/Expansion, Partner Communications, Higher Education Partnerships, and the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (aka TalentLink). Her 21-year career with VEDP included serving corporate clients such as Microsoft, Rolls-Royce North America, Merck, DuPont, SAIC, and the SRI Institute.

rothElliot Roth

Founder & CEO of Spira, Inc., University Innovation Fellow – Virginia Commonwealth University

Elliot Roth is the founder and CEO of Spira, a company producing a drink based on a spirulina, a tasty microalgae that’s 60% protein-by-weight. Spira recently finished going through IndieBio, the world’s best biotechnology accelerator program. Elliot was trained as a University Innovation Fellow in the fall of 2012 and inducted in the spring of 2013. Elliot founded and led the first TEDx event for Virginia Commonwealth University. He also was one of the co-founders of Indie Lab, a non-profit community science laboratory dedicated to giving access to experimental science to everyone. Indie Lab helps biotech, physics and chemistry startups build their businesses in a low-risk environment. He’s excited to continue to grow Spira as a company.

sandsTimothy D. Sands

President, Virginia Tech

Timothy D. Sands is the 16th president of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, joining the university in June of 2014. A scientist, educator and inventor, he has dedicated much of his career to advancing the impact of research and innovation in public education. As president, he engaged the university community in a visionary plan to advance Virginia Tech’s role as a global land grant institution, confronting the Commonwealth’s, the country’s and the world’s most challenging problems. The initiative, called “Beyond Boundaries, seeks to define Virginia Tech’s role a generation into the future, and align the educational experience with the needs and opportunities that will be created by changing world economies and the evolving landscape of higher education.

In collaboration with the provost and academic leadership, he has championed the development of signature Destination Areas, thematic focus areas that leverage the university’s signature strengths to attract talent and generate creative energy that extends across the disciplines. The development of these areas involves reimagining Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg residential campus, catalyzing the economic development of the Blacksburg-Roanoke region with a growing health science and technology center of excellence and developing the experiential learning and research potential in the National Capital Region, He prioritizes building new and enhancing existing partnerships and collaborations to use resources and expertise in a focused and efficient way across the country and the globe.

President Sands’ vision for Virginia Tech  embraces the university’s heritage of service and community, and its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).  Virginia Tech students will graduate with disciplinary mastery, technology literacy, cultural competency, resilience, empathy for others and the passions and strengths needed for a life and career of impactful service to humanity.

Before coming to Virginia Tech, President Sands served as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He was acting president during the summer and fall of 2012, before Mitchell E. Daniels became the 12th president of Purdue.

He earned a bachelor’s degree with highest honors in engineering physics and a master’s degree and doctorate in materials science from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the Purdue faculty in 2002 as the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering in the schools of materials engineering and electrical and computer engineering. Prior to becoming provost, he served as the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue’s Discovery Park.

He has published more than 250 refereed papers and conference proceedings and has been granted 20 patents in electronic and optoelectronic materials and devices. His recent research efforts have been directed toward the design and development of novel nanocomposite materials for environmentally friendly and cost-effective solid-state lighting, direct conversion of heat to electrical power and thermoelectric refrigeration. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Materials Research Society (MRS) and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He was recently appointed to Governor McAuliffe’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship.

President Sands is joined at Virginia Tech by his wife, Dr. Laura Sands, a professor of gerontology in the Department of Human Development at Virginia Tech.  All four of their children graduated from Purdue and are proud members of the Virginia Tech community.  Follow President Sands on Twitter at @VTSandsman.

sayginDr. Can (John) Saygin

Assistant Vice President for Research and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at San Antonio

Dr. Can (John) Saygin is a Professor of mechanical engineering, Assistant Vice President for Sponsored Project Administration in the Office of Research, and Director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Lean Systems (CAMLS) at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He is the also the Federal Relations Point of Contact for the Alamo Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), which is an 8-county region (San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area) designated as an IMCP (Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership) by the US Department of Commerce. His expertise and research interests include lean six-sigma applications, productivity and process flow improvement, digital factory, network-centric manufacturing systems, RFID implementations, modeling and analysis of automated manufacturing systems, flexible manufacturing systems, and integration of process planning with scheduling/control. Dr. Saygin is the recipient of the College of Engineering 2009 Excellence in Teaching Award, the UTSA President’s 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence, and the University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2012. He received his BS (’89), MS (’92), and PhD (’97) degrees in Mechanical Engineering with emphasis on manufacturing engineering from the Middle East Technical University, Ankara in Turkey.

Charles E. Shoopman, Jr.

Assistant Vice President, Institute for Public Service, University of Tennessee

Chuck Shoopman is Assistant Vice President of the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service (IPS). The Institute is composed of five outreach organizations that connect people and solutions to improve the efficiency and performance of businesses and governments across Tennessee. Chuck leads the organization’s efforts to help business and government leaders improve job retention, promote job growth, strengthen leadership capacity and build stronger, safer communities. Shoopman is a Past-President of the University Economic Development Association (UEDA), representing over 170 member institutions across the U.S., and a current member of the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) Board of Directors. Before rejoining UT in 2004, Shoopman worked over ten years with the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Economic Development organization. While at TVA he served in a variety of leadership roles, including Acting Vice President of Economic Development. Program responsibilities ranged from managing the organization’s revolving loan programs and small business assistance efforts to international industrial development activities. An alumnus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Vanderbilt University, Chuck and his wife Kathy are the proud parents of two adult sons and two adult daughters.

squireVern Squier

President and CEO, Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County

Vern Squier, CCE, is president and CEO of the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County/Centre County Industrial Development Corporation. He brings to his role at the CBICC more than 30 years of experience working with chambers and economic development organizations, including creating and revising state policy, in the state of Kansas and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Since joining the CBICC in September 2011, Vern has been working intently with local officials and community leaders to intensify economic development efforts in order to restore a healthy private-sector balance to Centre County’s economy. He has moved the organization from its land-based economic development mission to a robust, programmatic focus on business recruitment, retention and expansion, and entrepreneurship.

steidleSamantha Steidle

Innovation Officer, Virginia Western Community College

Samantha Steidle is an educator, innovator, and entrepreneur. As an educator, she’s taught entrepreneurship, marketing, and small business management at Virginia Western Community College since 2012. As an innovator, she serves as Virginia Western’s Innovation Officer. Through this role, she identifies business and community problems and helps develop solutions to address these issues through better communication and collaboration ultimately increasing economic empowerment for others. As an entrepreneur, she founded Virtual Marketing and The Business Lounge, Roanoke’s first coworking space which later led to building the CoLab brand. The CoLab now has 150+ members, mostly entrepreneurs. Samantha earned her Bachelors in Accounting from Radford University in 2004 and her Master’s in Business Administration from University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire in 2010.

David C. Stieren

Acting Chief, Programs and Partnerships Division, NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership

David Stieren is the Acting Director for Partnerships and Program Development at NIST MEP. He oversees an office that is responsible for the development and deployment of approaches that are used by the nationwide network of MEP Centers to provide technical and business assistance for U.S. manufacturers to help them grow and compete in the global marketplace. This includes developing and managing the partnerships that support these efforts at the national, regional, and state and local levels. Mr. Stieren is a mechanical engineer who has been at NIST MEP since 2007. Prior to joining NIST MEP, he spent approximately 20 years in the NIST Laboratories as a research engineer, project manager, and program manager. Mr. Stieren has experience working with the manufacturing processes, systems, and supply chains operating in many industries of the U.S. manufacturing sector. Mr. Stieren’s professional experience has included details on the staff of the NIST Director and the staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon, as well as details at both the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Small Business Administration. He has also served as Executive Secretary of the National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Working Group on Manufacturing R&D, and he has led MEP’s interagency collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation since 2011. Mr. Stieren was educated during the 1980s and 1990s at the U.S. Naval Academy, Catholic University of America, University of Maryland, and George Washington University, and he holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Technology/Engineering Management. Additionally, Mr. Stieren was as an Adjunct Professor in the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the 1990s.

Scott Swenson

Regional Director, Kirkwood Small Business Development Center, Kirkwood Community College

Scott is a small business and start-up business counselor with over 25 years of experience in operations, organizational development, management consulting, sales, and business growth strategy for small and mid-size organizations. Scott has served as the Regional SBDC director for over 3 years. He is also a mentor in residence with the Iowa Startup Accelerator and a co-founder of Vault Coworking. Scott has his BBA in Marketing from the University of Iowa.

Scott Tate

Senior Economic Development Specialist, Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development

Tate designs, develops, and implements applied research and technical assistance projects to service the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and advance economic development across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Tate has conducted workforce and industry analysis, directed local and regional planning efforts, assisted start-up businesses, performed feasibility studies, and consulted for non-profit organizations. Current and recent projects include: study of the state-wide economic potential of the small satellites industry; analysis of workforce skills and occupation transferability for coal industry workers in southwest Virginia; helping secure $2 million in Department of Labor POWER funding for Virginia and leading projects to advance emerging economic sectors in the region; development of a regional economic blueprint for a ten county region in south-central Virginia; and the creation of a Virginia plan to develop its aerospace and aviation workforce. Tate joined OED in 2014, and previously served as a community development extension specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension. Tate earned a master’s degree in business management from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business in 1994, and completed an interdisciplinary doctorate in political and cultural theory from Virginia Tech in 2012.

wadinskiKeaton Wadzinski

Founder and Executive Director, ReinventED Lab

Keaton Wadzinski is a fourth year student at the University of Virginia studying education innovation and social entrepreneurship. He is the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit ReinventED Lab. He sits on the VA Governor’s Council for Youth Entrepreneurship. Keaton hosts K-12 design sessions as a Design Project Facilitator for Albemarle County Public Schools. He is also the Program Manager at HackCville, where he leads the design of student-taught curricula.

Julie Wenah

Counselor and Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Commerce

Julie Wenah is a Presidential Political Appointee in the Obama Administration serving as a Counselor and Policy Advisor in the Economic Development Admiration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In this role, Julie is responsible for co-leading a National Economic Council initiative supporting communities across the nation to become more globally competitive.

Prior to, Julie Wenah served as the Special Assistant to the General Counsel at the Department of Commerce. During her time at Commerce, she traveled on the Secretary’s West Africa Trade Mission connecting U.S. and African businesses.

In addition, she co-hosted consultation workshops in Washington DC, West Africa and East Africa with energy stakeholders in refining power purchase agreements as a more bankable instrument and negotiation tool. During the President’s week of hosting African Leaders, she worked on the Bloomberg and Commerce U.S. Africa Business CEO Forum, the White House Africa Leaders’ Summit, and hosted a Driving Investment in Power Africa meeting as a culmination of the power purchase agreement consultation workshops.

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, she worked at the White House as an Associate for the President’s Boards and Commissions and advanced domestic and international trips for First Lady Michelle Obama. Ms. Wenah began her experience at the White House as an intern in the First Lady’s policy shop working on healthy eating initiatives, military families, and mentoring.

Previously, she worked for NASA as a Legal Fellow on Intellectual Property and K-12 STEM education. Ms. Wenah is an advocate of mentoring youth and currently mentors with the White House Leadership and Mentoring Initiative.

At Lamar University, Julie Wenah founded the Pre-Pharmacy Interscholastic Leagues of Students (PILS), started the first ever Women’s Empowerment Conference in March of 2007, and was Homecoming Queen. In addition, she served as a Peer Advisor and Resident Advisor at Cardinal Village, and was President of the Zeta Beta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Incorporated.

Ms. Wenah received a dual degree JD/MPA cum laude in International Development from Texas Southern University and her B.S. in Political Science with a minor in Chemistry from Lamar University.

whittJonathan Whitt

President and CEO, Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council

Jonathan Whitt is the President and CEO of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council. He works closely with leaders from the business, government, and higher education sectors to connect and unite the region’s technology community, improve access to talent, develop high-impact companies, and market the Roanoke-Blacksburg region as a competitive destination for launching or growing a technology venture. Prior to his current position, Jonathan served as Executive Director of the Region 2000 Technology Council (Lynchburg, VA region). During his time there he was a leader in the development of several regional technology-based economic development projects; including the creation of the Region 2000 Partnership, the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research, the Future Focus Educational Foundation, and the Lynchburg Regional Governor’s STEM Academy.

Wolk2014Dr. Rick Wolk

President, UEDA & Principal, Rosewood Coaching

Rick is an executive coach, educator and an entrepreneur with experience in all aspects of running organizations that strive for management and marketing excellence. In addition to his 10+ years of teaching university students, Rick has also successfully managed business development, sales, marketing, human resources and administrative functions for intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial ventures; his experience includes P&L responsibility, general management, international business, new product development, and start-ups. Rick earned his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his PhD from Leeds Beckett University in the U.K. Rick also earned his B.S. from Northwestern University and is a graduate of Phillips Academy Andover. Rick’s Green Gazelle research allows him to work with Alaska’s entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial ecosystems to influence high growth sustainability entrepreneurship, helping entrepreneurs to be more financially successful, to create more jobs, and to be more ecologically positive. When he is not working, you will most likely find Rick in a kayak, on cross-country skis, or just hanging out with his executive coach, wife, and business partner Bobbie Sue.

Carrie Zethmayr

Northern Stateline Region Manager, Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, State of Illinois

As Northern Stateline Region Manager for the State of Illinois Department of Commerce, Carrie manages the region’s business and economic development efforts, serving as the state liaison with the business community, site selectors and companies considering first-time investment in Illinois. Prior to joining the state, Carrie served as Executive Director of Trade & Investment for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council where she spent seven years managing regional marketing and business attraction projects. Carrie holds a Global MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages from Beloit College.





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University Economic Development Association
PO Box 97930
Pittsburgh, PA 15227

216.200.UEDA (8332)