Speakers & Bios

bill-allen-150Bill Allen

Monday Morning Welcome Address
CEO, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)

As the Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and its subsidiary, the World Trade Center Los Angeles, Bill Allen conceived, initiated and supervised the process of developing LA County’s first ever consensus built Strategic Plan for Economic Development by engaging more than 1,000 regional stakeholders from business, labor, government, education and philanthropy to draft the elements of the plan. He is also Co-Chair of the California Stewardship Network, a Vice Chair of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and a member of the Board of Directors of the Weingart Foundation, Regional Economic Association Leaders of California Coalition, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs, Film L.A., Unite L.A., and Sister Cities of Los Angeles. Additionally, he serves on the LA Advisory Board for BIOCOM and the Advisory Board for the CSUN Center for Southern California Studies.

ComingSoonBonnie Bachman

Professor of Economics and Faculty Fellow for Innovation, Missouri University of Science & Technology

Bonnie is a professor in the Department of Economics at Missouri S&T University. develops new programs in Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Innovation All programs are designed for multidisciplinary students (social science, science, and engineering). Programs include: Minor in Global Sustainable Economics and Graduate Certificate in Management for Sustainable Business. Currently developing a Professional Masters in Sustainability across six engineering/science departments and a campus wide minor in Applied Innovation. Bonnie has a MS and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from Rutgers.

deepak-bahl-150Deepak Bahl

Program Director and Co-Principal Investigator, University of Southern California

Deepak Bahl is a Program Director for the USC Center for Economic Development and Adjunct Associate Professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. He has more than 18 years of professional consulting experience and has managed federal, state, and local projects in the areas of community and economic development. His work experience includes strategic planning, business development, project management, teaching at USC, and policy research and analysis. He received his Master of Business Administration from the USC Marshall School of Business, Master of Planning from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and Master of Architecture from Clemson University.

jason-ball-150Jason Ball, AICP

President & COO and Director of Capacity Building, Social Impact Philanthropy and Investment

Jason Ball is an integrator. His expertise lies in working with visionaries and people passionate about their cause to develop plans, strategies, and the associated documentation that helps ideas come to life. Jason is an experienced facilitator and consultant, having worked with a wide range of nonprofits, universities, local governments, and state agencies to drive community and economic development projects throughout Michigan for over a decade. Prior to joining SIPI, Jason was the Director of Client Services for an economic development consulting firm in Lansing, Michigan and was a researcher at Michigan State University.

georgette-bhatena-150Georgette Bhathena

Western Region Executive, Global Philanthropy
(CA, AZ, CO, NV, UT, OR, ID, WA)

Georgette Bhathena currently oversees JPMorgan Chase’s global philanthropy activities in the eight-state region of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. She has been with the firm since 2010. Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase, Georgette spent nearly 15 years in the financial services industry with a focus on community development issues. Her prior experience includes serving as a Community Relations Officer at a peer financial institution, a Compliance Officer at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco in their Affordable Housing Program, and a Compliance Examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in the Consumer Compliance and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) examinations group. Georgette is active serving on various nonprofit boards including Year Up Bay Area and the San Francisco Foundation’s Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative. Georgette holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in economics and finance from the University of Washington and earned her Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with a concentration in housing, urban development, and transportation.

matt-bilsky-150Matt Bilsky, Ph. D.

Post Doctoral Research Associate, Innovator and Entrepreneur
Lehigh University

Matt has a Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. from Lehigh University focused on smart product design, technical entrepreneurship, mechatronics, and engineering education in addition to a BS and MEng in Mechanical Engineering also from Lehigh. Matt also owns Impossible Incorporated LLC to commercialize his passion and experience in Engineering Design and Development. Their first product, also Matt’s dissertation work, is a novel snake-like robot that can drive, drill, and see inside walls to run wires without the mess. It won second place in the 2016 Lemelson/MIT consumer product invention competition in addition to receiving numerous other grants and awards.

soraya-m-coley-150Soraya M. Coley

President, Cal Poly Pomona

Dr. Soraya M. Coley, a veteran administrator with more than 20 years of experience in higher education, became the sixth president of Cal Poly Pomona in January 2015.

Coley came to Cal Poly Pomona from Cal State Bakersfield, where she was the provost and vice president for academic affairs from 2005 to 2014. She served as interim vice president for university advancement in 2011-12.

Her experience includes serving as Cal State Fullerton’s dean of the College of Human Development and Community Service, as administrative fellow, and professor and department chair for the human services department. She was the system-wide provost and vice president for academic affairs at Alliant International University, from 2001 to 2003.

Coley’s career has been marked by efforts to eliminate obstacles that prevent people from reaching their potential and fully participating in society. She worked as a research assistant for the Child Welfare League of America, as the national director of the Child Abuse Prevention Project at the National Urban League, and as a survey manager at a policy research institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

Coley is a member of the American Council on Education Women’s Network, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative, and the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs. She is a former member of the board of directors for Children and Family Futures as well as the Kern County Schools’ “Ready to Start” program. In 2000, she was recognized as “One of Ten Women Making a Difference” by Orange County Metro Magazine.

jane-close-conoley-150Jane Close Conoley

President, California State University, Long Beach

Jane Close Conoley serves as the seventh President of California State University, Long Beach. Prior to assuming this role she was the interim Chancellor of the University of California Riverside. She has also held leadership positions at the University of California Santa Barbara, Texas A&M University, and at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Dr. Conoley is the author, co-author or editor of over one hundred twenty books, articles, and book chapters. Her latest book “Positive Psychology and Family Therapy” was co-authored with her husband, Dr. Collie W. Conoley.

She serves on numerous community boards of directors including Long Beach Memorial Hospital, Long Beach Public Library, and the LA Economic Development Council to name just a few. She has received research, teaching and service honors during her career. Both the American Psychological Association and the Association of Psychological Science honored Dr. Conoley with fellow status. Her research and development efforts in school safety, teacher quality, and student achievement have been supported by over 20 million dollars in external federal, state, and private funds.

william-covino-150William A. Covino

President, California State University, Los Angeles

Since becoming president of Cal State LA in September 2013, President William A. Covino has emphasized the importance of a curriculum that prepares students to transform the future and improve the quality of life in Los Angeles and beyond. He has cultivated new alliances and partnerships that are enriching opportunities for students and the community.

As part of President Covino’s philosophy of putting students first, enrollment at Cal State LA is at an all-time high and the University has opened a new campus in downtown Los Angeles. An unprecedented nationwide study published in the New York Times has ranked the university number one in the U.S. for the upward mobility of its students. Through the Mind Matters initiative, President Covino and the first lady, Dr. Debbie Covino, are aiding student success by providing resources for physical and mental well-being.

President Covino is leading initiatives to strengthen ties with alumni and supporters of the University. As a result of these efforts, Cal State LA has experienced historic levels of philanthropic support.

As part of President Covino’s efforts to build strategic partnerships, the Los Angeles Football Club is constructing a state-of-the-art training facility and soccer operations headquarters at the university. The franchise is also assisting in the development of a new master’s degree program in sports management.

President Covino holds a Ph.D. in English and has published important scholarship on the power and uses of rhetoric, persuasion, and imagination. He is also a nationally celebrated proponent of civic learning.

jim-davis-150Jim Davis

Vice Provost Information Technology & Chief Academic Technology Officer
University of California, Los Angeles
Co-Founder Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition
Co-PI, Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute

Jim co-founded the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) that was recently selected to lead DOE’s Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), the 9th Manufacturing USA Institute and the 3rd DOE institute to be awarded. He is Co-PI of the Institute.

Jim is Vice Provost, IT and CTO at UCLA with broad responsibilities focused on the investment and deployment of information technology in the university’s academic research, education, and public service mission. He has accountability for university-wide planning and strategic investment in computational research, research informatics, educational technologies, mobility applications, research and education data strategies, privacy/security and internal and external community partnerships. Jim oversees UCLA’s Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE).

Jim is also on UCLA’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering where he has done research and consulted extensively on AI, machine learning, intelligent systems, monitoring and control, and data/modeling systems across diverse industries including chemicals, refining, paper, packaging, metals and glass. Jim has work experience with Amoco Chemicals.

Robert E. Gordon, Jr.

Director, Archway Partnership, University of Georgia

Rob Gordon is the Director of the Archway Partnership, a University of Georgia public service and outreach unit created to assist communities in addressing self-identified community and economic development priorities. Through its work, the Archway Partnership serves communities, supports faculty research, and enhances student instruction through real-world learning opportunities.

In addition to serving as Director, Rob holds Affiliated Faculty status in UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs where he regularly teaches courses on public finance and economic development.

Rob received his J.D. degree, with honors, from The George Washington University Law School and bachelor’s degree in finance from UGA.

will-j-hagan-150Willie J. Hagan

President, California State University, Dominguez Hills

President Hagan is the chief executive officer of California State University, Dominguez Hills, the most culturally diverse institution in the country’s largest senior system of public higher education. Established in 1960 and located in the South Bay Region of Los Angeles, CSU Dominguez Hills enrolls close to 15,000 students, awards more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees each year, and boasts an alumni base of more than 100,000—sixty-five percent of whom live and work within 25 miles of campus in the greater Los Angeles Area.

Since being appointed the university’s 10th president, President Hagan has successfully refocused campus-wide efforts to improve rates of retention and time to degree for current students and broaden access for hopeful students, particularly those from underrepresented communities. President Hagan previously served at CSU Fullerton where his 16-year tenure in a number of senior leadership positions, including Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, culminated in his appointment as the university’s Interim President.

Before joining CSU Fullerton, Dr. Hagan served as Associate Vice President for Administration at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) and as a lobbyist at the state and federal level for both UCONN and the Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education.

A first-generation college student, President Hagan’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of education and an inspiration to the students he now serves. He holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Fine Arts from UCLA.

chad-hardaway-150Chad Hardaway

Associate Director, Office of Economic Engagement and Director, Technology Commercialization Office, University of South Carolina

Chad Hardaway is Associate Director of the University of South Carolina (USC) Office of Economic Engagement and Director of the Technology Commercialization Office. In these roles, Chad seeks to align USC assets with outside corporate and government partners. Chad oversees a portfolio of over 500 university technologies and is responsible for moving those technologies out of the laboratory and into the marketplace. In addition, he works with University Technology Startups and South Carolina Technology Companies to form partnerships, find capital, explore research opportunities, develop new markets, and ultimately move products into the hands of consumers.

dianne-f-harrison-150Dr. Dianne F. Harrison

President, California State University, Northridge

Dr. Dianne F. Harrison began her appointment as president of California State University, Northridge in June 2012. Prior to her appointment, she served as president of California State University, Monterey Bay since 2006 and for nearly 30 years worked at Florida State University, where she began as a faculty member and served in various administrative leadership roles, including vice president for academic quality and external programs. President Harrison is known for her commitment to students, academic excellence, strategic leadership, and for building strong partnerships with public and private organizations. She holds a Ph.D. in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s of social work and a bachelor’s in American Studies, both from the University of Alabama. Her academic and research areas of expertise include HIV prevention among women and minority populations and higher education issues related to university leadership.

Dr. Harrison currently serves on the executive board for the California Campus Compact, the Steering Committee of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, and as a commissioner on the WASC Senior College and University Commission. In 2015, she was re-appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to serve another term on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, having been initially appointed in 2011 and serving in 2014 as chair of the Commission. In September 2015, she was appointed to the NCAA Board of Governors and has served on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and the Division I Presidential Advisory Group since July 2014. Her appointments at the NCAA includes service on the NCAA Board of Governors’ Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, the NCAA Division I Committee on Institutional Performance and the NCAA Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Limited Resource Institutions Academic Advisory Group. As an active civic leader, she serves on the boards of directors for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), and Valley Presbyterian Hospital. She is a member of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator Leadership Council and the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs. She also serves on the Board of Governors of the Valley Economic Alliance, the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, and the Advisory Council of BizFed.  She and her husband, John Wujack, reside in Northridge.

jean-horstman-150J. Jean Horstman

CEO, Interise

J. Jean Horstman is the CEO at Interise. She was appointed in 2006 to develop an organization that could scale the initial Boston University applied research initiative, at that time serving 12 to 14 small business owners a year, into a national organization. Under her leadership, Interise has built a network of partners in 79 cities, supporting a current alumni network of 4200 small businesses, to which another 1400 are added annually. Interise has been recognized by the World Bank as one of the 25 “must-see programs for growing established entrepreneurs” and was recently featured by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in its podcast series on economic development.

dion-jackson-150Dion Jackson

Program Director, USC Center for Economic Development, AMP SoCal

Dion specializes in community outreach and economic development strategic planning. She is currently the coordinator of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership for Southern California, a collaboration supporting the industrial ecosystem for aerospace and defense companies and their supply chain, and a federally designated manufacturing community. Dion holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning with an emphasis in Economic Development, a Master of Business Administration, and a Master of Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California.

michael-kelly-150Michael H. Kelly

Executive Director, The Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy & Jobs

Michael H. Kelly currently serves as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy & Jobs, a non-profit organization comprised of leaders in the business, labor, academia and non-profit sectors dedicated to ensuring a path for economic growth and the creation and retention of quality jobs in the greater Los Angeles region.

Prior to working with the Los Angeles Coalition, Mr. Kelly has worked in a number of high-level positions, both in the private sector and with California State government.

He currently serves on the board of directors of the Center for Sustainable Energy, chair of the FUSE Corps L.A. Advisory Committee, the chair of the Philanthropic Foundation for California State University, Dominguez Hills, and a member of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s Diversity in Entrepreneurship Committee, the Pacific Council on International Relations, a partner at Saving The West, advisory board member for WorkingNation, as well as an adviser to Transmosis. He was also the recipient of the EnCorps Teachers Program 2010 “Torchbearer of the Year” Award.

Michael received an Economics Degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He was a Dean’s Merit Scholar at USC.

ScottKohl2015Scott Kohl

Co-Principle Investigator and VESTA Campus Director, Highland Community College, KS

Mr. Kohl directs the Viticulture and Enology Program at HCC including overseeing daily operations in the 8-acre vineyard and accompanying college winery and winery incubator. In addition, Mr. Kohl leads the educational and extension activities delivered by the program to train and consult for the grape and wine industry throughout Kansas. Mr. Kohl graduated from Fort Hays State University with a B.S. in Mathematics and from Kansas State University with a M.S. in Theoretical Mathematics.

raymond-luk-150Raymond Luk

Founder & CEO, Hockeystick

Raymond Luk is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. He is the founder of Year One Labs, a startup accelerator and Flow Ventures, a venture consultancy. He is the founder and CEO of Hockeystick, a private market data network used by the top investors and startups in Canada and around the world.

joey-mak-150Joey Mak

Director of Economic Development & Innovation, University of Illinois

As the Director of Economic Development & Innovation, Joey works with the private sector and communities to design and implement initiatives that foster economic growth in Illinois. He also directs the Illinois Defense Industry Adjustment (DIA) Program, a public-private collaboration to strengthen the state’s defense supply chain. Previously, Joey led the Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology for the Illinois Department of Commerce, where he oversaw the agency’s efforts to assist small businesses and emerging sectors. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago with degrees in Political Science and Anthropology and received his MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

tim-mcelroy-150Tim McElroy

Senior Account Executive, EMSI

Tim McElroy is a Senior Account Executive at EMSI. Tim works with universities to supply data for economic planning, program review, and workforce readiness. He is passionate about people learning valuable skills that enable them do work they enjoy and contribute to their regional economies. To that end, he builds connections between students, education, and employers.

bill-michalerya-150William D. Michalerya, MEng, MBA, PE

Director of Federal Research Engagement
P. C. of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Lehigh University

William Michalerya has primary responsibility for developing Federal, State and regional programs in research and economic development. Mr. Michalerya served as Associate Vice President for Government Relations & Economic Development at Lehigh and in multiple leadership positions in regional, state and national initiatives in economic development. He is past president of the University Economic Development Association, and active in the International Economic Development Council. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Master of Engineering from Cornell University, as well as an MBA from Lehigh University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Pennsylvania.

liz_nilsen-150Liz Nilsen

Senior Program Director, Purdue Agile Strategy Lab

Liz Nilsen is Senior Program Director at the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab, shepherding the expansion of the Lab’s programming and partnerships with other universities interested in deploying Strategic Doing. She is a former senior program officer at VentureWell, where she provided leadership to the Pathways program for the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), an effort to engage with 50 colleges and universities to embed innovation and entrepreneurship undergraduate engineering education. She previously led STEM initiatives at the Penn State Center – Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania STEM Network, and served as Director of Outreach and New Economy Program Development at the Institute of Advanced Learning & Research, a Virginia Tech initiative. She earned her BA from Stanford and an MBA from Northeastern University.

sung-no-150Dr. Sung C. No

W.E. Tucker Endowed Professor, EDA University Center/Southern University and A&M College

Dr. Sung C. No is Co-Director of EDA University Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development at Southern University. He also holds W.E. Tucker Endowed Professorship and runs the 21 Century Financial Analysis and Security Trading Lab. He strives to fulfill the mission of AACSB International: Engagement, Innovation, and Impact at Southern University and A&M College. He engages in numerous outreach and workforce developments across the State of Louisiana, initiates innovative ideas and publications, and makes a positive impact on the University Center’s stakeholders. He was a recipient of Teacher of the Year at College of Business from 2005 – 2009 each year in a row, the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014 and the System President’s Teaching Excellence in 2014.

michelle-norgren-150Michelle Norgren

Director and Principal Investigator, VESTA National Center

Michelle Norgren has served as the Director and Principal Investigator of the VESTA (Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance) National Center for the past 13 years and under her leadership the program has grown from a three state partnership with an enrollment of 25 students to an ever growing 16 state, 23 institutional partnership with participation of over 1700 students from around the world.  Prior to taking on the leadership of the VESTA National Center, she served as the assistant director of the Center for Scientific Research & Education, coordinating numerous K-12 educational outreach programs for the College of Natural & Applied Sciences at Missouri State University including the Region 7 Missouri Science Olympiad, the District VIII Missouri Junior Academy of Sciences, and served as the director of both the Ozarks Science & Engineering Fair, and the Missouri Junior Academy of Sciences.  Michelle is actively involved with the promotion of pre-college student science and engineering research on the international level, having served as president of the International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Advisory Council and continues to serve as a member of the ISEF Display and Safety Committee and as the director of the Ozarks Science and Engineering Fair.

In addition to her science background, Michelle has an in-depth knowledge of distance education, having served as a pioneer for Missouri State University in K-12 on-line learning through her development of the first on-line physics course taught to Missouri high schools in what grew to become, the Missouri Virtual School and the model for the VESTA program.  Utilizing a variety of distance education technologies, Michelle continued to teach both chemistry and physics on-line through the Missouri Virtual School in addition to taking on the leadership responsibilities as director of the Missouri Distance Learning Association.

Michelle graduated from Missouri State University with a BS in Education with lifetime teaching certifications in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and General Science for grades 7-12, and a Master of Science degree in Educational Administration.

john-ochs-150John B Ochs, Ph. D.

Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University

John Ochs is the founding director of Lehigh’s Technical Entrepreneurship (TE) Capstone Program, recognized by the National Academy of Engineering as one of the top 30 schools in the nation to provide students with real-world hands-on experiences. He is also the founding director of Lehigh University’s Masters of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship ( ). The TE Masters won the first place award for the UEDA 2014 “Excellence in Talent Development.” In 2015 the Journal of Engineering Entrepreneurship (JEEN) presented him with the Engineering Entrepreneurship Pioneer award and he is a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

tom-odonnell-150Tom O’Donnell

Senior Director, Innovation Initiatives and Director, Innovation Hub – Lowell & Haverhill; Visiting Faculty, Manning School of Business, Office of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Tom O’Donnell is currently Senior Director, Innovation Initiatives at UMass Lowell. This includes oversight and operations of the UMass Lowell Innovation Hubs in both Lowell and Haverhill, MA, co-working and incubator facilities supporting early stage, technology-based startups in a variety of areas including advanced materials, cleantech, robotics and information technology. Tom is also a faculty member at UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in innovation, technology commercialization and new venture creation. Tom holds a B.S.E.E. from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, M.S. Computer Engineering from Boston University and M.S. Management from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

kathleen-oshea-150Kathleen O’Shea

Senior Research Analyst, ICIC

As a senior research analyst at ICIC, Kathleen is responsible for managing a diverse portfolio of engagements directed at inner city economic growth. She is the lead on ICIC’s partnership with JPMorgan Chase on their Small Business Forward initiative, which includes evaluating entrepreneurial support organizations across the country. Kathleen also directly supports all of ICIC’s anchor initiatives by managing advisory projects and tracking urban anchor strategies nationally. She is a lead author on ICIC publications and provides content for ICIC’s robust communication platform.

Prior to joining ICIC, Kathleen worked at The American City Coalition, a Boston nonprofit working to revitalize distressed urban neighborhoods, where she supported a public committee that was tasked with reviewing development projects in Lower Roxbury. She also worked at Boston College’s Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action, where she helped to develop the initial proposal for an anchor strategy at Boston College. Kathleen holds a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College.

eric-porter-150Eric Porter

Managing Partner at ComNet, LLC

Eric Porter is the senior partner with ComNet, LLC, founded in 1998. He had held various senior level positions with Emery Worldwide, AT&T and MCI Communications. In 2005, after a long corporate career, Eric embarked upon a new phase of his life: entrepreneurship.  Armed with a severance package and a driving will to succeed, ComNet acquired Regional Broadband of Lafayette, LA.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the acquisition start-up blew its projections off the charts.  In 2006, ComNet, LLC expanded to include construction, construction management and program management services. In February of 2017, ComNet launched “Creating Neighborhood Developers,” in partnership with EDA University Center at Southern University.

john-provo-new-150John Provo, Ph. D.

Director, Office of Economic Development
Virginia Tech

John Provo is Director of Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development (OED). In that role he provides leadership for the university in the design and implementation of its economic development mission. A “pracademic” with more than 15 years of economic development experience in higher education and government, he leads a team that builds partnerships linking resources from the university, community, and industry. They also deliver applied research projects to address economic development needs across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Recent work by OED has included economic analysis for Virginia Tech’s winning bid for one of six-FAA test centers for unmanned aerial systems, developing economic development strategies for coal-dependent communities in Southwest Virginia based on transferable skills of laid-off coal miners, and training faculty and student entrepreneurs in commercialization as a part of the Virginia Tech team leading an NSF I-Corp regional node. Also as part of OED, Provo directs Virginia Tech’s long-standing US EDA-funded university center, which leads economic development projects for rural regions in Southwest and Southern Virginia. He further led university-wide teams securing Virginia Tech’s designation by the Association of Public and Land University as an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University,” and winning a bid to host the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) 2016 Annual Summit. Provo currently serves as chair of the American Planning Association Economic Development Division, as well as chair of Virginia’s University-Based Economic Development Officers. In addition to UEDA he remains active in other professional associations including the International Economic Development Council and the Virginia Economic Development Association. He presents regularly before scholarly and academic groups, speaking and publishing on a variety of topics, most recently including a chapter on “Reshoring and the Manufacturing Moment” in the Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy, published last year by Edwin Elgar. He also teaches an economic development studio course in Virginia Tech’s Urban Affairs and Planning program, which has just launched a study on the potential emergence of innovation districts in several regions of Virginia. 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, Virginia he worked for Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade on implementation of revisions to the state’s workforce development system.

h-puentes-150H. Puentes

Director of Outreach, CONNECT

Currently, H. serves as Director of CONNECT ALL at CONNECT, the oldest business accelerator in San Diego focusing on early stage tech and life science startups. At CONNECT ALL, he leads and organizes government, business, community, and innovation leaders to help bring entrepreneurial resources to traditionally undeserved communities of San Diego. Previously, headed marketing at Grantoo (now Fuel) where we designed, budgeted, and implemented campaigns to increase user acquisition and retention to drive traction in preparation for a $3.5M Series A round that we would eventually close. Experience as a management consultant for a tech and a private equity fund in London, and as regional director at a large non-profit member organization in the US and Canada. Master’s degree from The London School of Economics and bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.

estelle-reyes-150Estelle Reyes

Director of Community Engagement,
Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)

Estelle Reyes is the Director of Community Engagement at LACI, where she focuses on creating a pipeline for all talent to enter the cleantech and sustainability sector.  She is building programming around high school student engagement, college internships, workforce development, and women in cleantech to capitalize on the rapidly growing green job market.  Previously, Estelle was the Executive Director at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Greater LA, a First Grade Teacher, and a Financial Analyst at Goldman Sachs. Estelle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Brown University, and a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

rex-richardson-150Rex Richardson

Vice Mayor, City of Long Beach, California

In 2014, Rex Richardson, 30, was elected to the Long Beach City Council to represent the neighborhoods of North Long Beach, becoming the youngest councilmember in the City’s history and the youngest African American elected official in the region. He is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, Iota Zeta Lambda Chapter.

Prior to his election to the Long Beach City Council, he spent four years serving the people of Long Beach’s 9th Council District as Chief-of-Staff to the former Long Beach City Councilmember Steven Neal, where he helped navigate and push through some of the 9th District’s most impressive accomplishments, including the formation of the Uptown Property and Business improvement District, the Liquor Store Modernization Program, and the annual “Getting Back to Work” regional jobs summit.

Before his service to the City of Long Beach, Richardson was the Political and Community Coordinator for Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 721, a community organizer in South Los Angeles County, and a leader for numerous Democratic and community campaigns. He attended college and served as Student Body President at CSU-Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), and is a graduate of Leadership Long Beach, and the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy Leadership at CSU-Monterey Bay.

Vice Mayor Richardson is currently chair of the City of Long Beach’s Federal Legislative Committee, Vice-Chair of the 710 Oversight Committee and member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Richardson is an elected Regional Board Member of the Southern California Association of Governments, where he works with leaders from other cities across the region to develop collective approaches to solving the problems that affect transportation and mobility across Southern California.

In his spare time, he has given back by serving on numerous boards and associations, including California Pools for Hope, and the Fairfield Family YMCA.

Rex, his wife Nina, and daughter Alina, are proud homeowners in the Coolidge Triangle neighborhood of Long Beach. He lives by the motto, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” -Albert Einstein

chuck-shoopman-150Charles 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 efforts to help business and government leaders improve job retention and promote job growth. An important focus of that work is the DRIVE! for the Future Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative aimed at promoting the competitiveness of the automotive cluster in a 69-county, four state region in the Southern U.S.

tom-smith-150Tom Smith

Michigan Coordinator and Co-Principal Investigator, VESTA National Center

Tom Smith serves as the Michigan coordinator, co-principal investigator, and is an instructor for the Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA), a National Center of Excellence for online wine and grape education funded by the National Science Foundation. He is also the Associate Director of the Institute of Agricultural Technology at Michigan State University and was recently named the Executive Director of the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC). Mr. Smith’s major responsibilities focus on skills and workforce development in food and agriculture and serving and supporting the national network of extension pesticide safety education programs.

ian-trammell-150Ian Trammell

Executive Director, Economic & Cluster Development, NJII

Ian Trammell holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Fordham University, graduate degrees in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of America, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Rutgers University. His work experience includes public and private education, both in teaching and administration. He served as a Catholic priest for a decade in many pastoral and executive leadership capacities. Ian has given many dynamic presentations, lectures, and workshops to audiences large and small throughout his career. He has served as Founding Executive Director with the Force 21 and MechaForce public-private partnerships for the German dual-education model until 2016. He is currently the Executive Director of Economic & Cluster Development for NJII and Program co-manager for NJ MarketShift, a DOD funded activity for aerospace and defense supply chain mapping and fortification. Ian is married to the love of his life, Camille, and has three wonderful and accomplished stepchildren.

elli-travis-150Elli Travis

Economic Development Specialist, Virginia Tech

Elli Travis works to connect communities across Virginia to resources within the university through applied and community-based research and strategic planning. She is passionate about working with organizations to plan and evaluate their work in ways that bring economic prosperity to their regions, especially in the areas of agricultural and community development. A native of Washington, DC, Travis received an MS from Virginia Tech in Agricultural and Applied Economics and BA in Economics and Russian from Indiana University. She is currently pursuing a part-time PhD at Virginia Tech with a focus on program impact evaluation.

tom-white-2-150Tom White

Executive Director, LACI@CSUN

Tom White’s passion is building companies. He is the Executive Director of LACI@CSUN, the business incubator at California State University, Northridge. The mission of LACI@CSUN is to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across the CSUN campus. There, Tom builds corporate and community partnerships, engages faculty, staff, community and student entrepreneurs, and develops programs to attract portfolio companies and facilitate their growth.

Tom is also a customer experience architect, a design-thinking strategist and an award-winning storyteller. He is a TEDx Speaker, and created C2, The Commerce of Creativity Distinguished Speakers Series at CSUN. Tom has spoken on “The Seven Secrets to Launching a Megaselling Start-up,” and at LACI authored the “Master the Pitch” series to teach storytelling presentation structure and technique to portfolio companies.

Tom creates value by fueling customer attraction and commitment to generate growth. As a marketing executive, Tom helped Lockheed-Martin win the $70 billion F-22 fighter jet contract from the US Air Force. He also developed customer strategies that helped companies like Motorola, Volvo, Philips, Iridium and others to raise billions in sales and investment.

Tom has created repositioning initiatives for advertising agencies and design firms, achieving unprecedented growth by developing new programs that attracted partnerships from clients including Ferrari, Shell, Unilever, Paccar, GE, HP and others. Based on success with new customer acquisition, Tom successfully positioned agencies for strategic growth and sale.

In the academic sector, Tom successfully oversaw the increase in enrollment and financial turnaround as President of The Columbus College of Art and Design. He was also instrumental in development of the strategic plan for the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. Tom has taught design at his alma mater CSUN and at the UCLA Extension. Most recently, Tom is developing a new Design Thinking curriculum at the Tseng College at CSUN.

Tom received his undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from CSUN with highest honors from the Industrial Design Society of America, and his MBA from Pepperdine University.

steve-wolbert-150Steve Wolbert

CEO and Director of Network & Opportunity, Social Impact Philanthropy and Investment

After working in outreach and fundraising capacities in the non-profit sector, Steve Wolbert created an opportunity to assist a for profit company to move beyond “checkbook philanthropy” and into a more focused effort on how corporations can impact a community. Steve saw the impact this model of philanthropy can create by facilitating and implementing community partner driven projects at a “for profit pace.” Steve’s vision for SIPI is to see and provide hope where most aren’t looking. When people ask him what SIPI is, his response is simple, “SIPI is a platform for change.”

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University Economic Development Association
PO Box 97930
Pittsburgh, PA 15227

216.200.UEDA (8332)