Maha AbdelAzim

Associate, Endeavor Insight

Maha joined Endeavor Insight in 2016 after receiving her B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. At Insight, she leads data collection and is involved in other aspects of Insight’s research on entrepreneurial ecosystems in different cities across the world.

Maha grew up in Egypt, where she worked briefly as a reporter-researcher at the Cairo Review of Global Affairs and did some freelance journalism. She has always been interested in politics and learning about different cultures, which is usually the theme of anything she reads. In her spare time, Maha tries to explore as much as she can of the city and just meet new people and have interesting conversations.


Emi Abramzon

Co-founder, Nearpod

Emiliano “Emi” Abramzon was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is a co-founder and the head of customer success at Nearpod.

After graduating from UADE with a degree in Economics in 1997, Emi became a Process Consultant for Accenture. In 2002, Emi attended and graduated with an MBA in marketing & entrepreneurship from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill while simultaneously working in the Product Marketing Department of Red Hat.

After his MBA, Emi worked as a Director of Strategic Marketing at Pulte Group where he led a team responsible for the feasibility studies, strategic growth plans including financial analysis, operational structure, marketing strategies, site selection and site development.

In 2012, along with his co-founders Felipe Sommer and Guido Kovalskys, Emi founded Nearpod. Nearpod is an award-winning education technology company focused on developing digital learning tools, virtual reality and interactive content across mobile devices that provides teachers an easy and efficient way to leverage technology in the classroom.

Nearpod currently reaches almost 5M students monthly in over 10,000 schools. While most of Nearpod’s usage and focus to date has been in the US, the product also sees significant adoption in leading international markets. Using Nearpod, teachers collect over 10M insights into student learning every month.

In his free time, Emi enjoys spending time with his family, reading, and playing sports.


Rajshree Agarwal

Rudolph P. Lamone Chair and Professor in Entrepreneurship; Director, Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets, University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business

Rajshree’s research interests focus on the implications of entrepreneurship and innovation for industry and firm evolution. Her recent projects examine the micro-foundations of macro phenomena, linking knowledge diffusion among firms, industries, and regions to the underlying mechanisms of employee entrepreneurship and mobility.

Rajshree has published articles in journals such as Academy of Management Journal, American Economic Review, International Journal of Industrial Organization, Journal of Industrial Economics, Journal of Law and Economics, Management Science, Strategic Management Journal and Review of Economics and Statistics. Her paper on employee entrepreneurship received the Best Paper Award for 2004 from the Academy of Management Journal, and her work on post exit knowledge diffusion received the Stephen Shrader Award at the 2005 Academy of Management Meetings. She is an associate editor of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal and the editor of the SSRN Entrepreneurship and Economics Journal. Rajshree also serves, or has served, on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal and Strategic Organization. She has received research grants from the Kauffman Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Marketing Science Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the US Department of Agriculture.

Rajshree has taught a wide range of courses in strategic management, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation, industrial organization and microeconomics at the undergraduate, MBA, Executive MBA and PhD levels. Consistent with her interests in innovation, she strives to incorporate the latest pedagogical technologies in her teaching, and has won many awards for teaching excellence and a demonstrated increase in teaching productivity. She is passionate, in particular, about providing business education to science and engineering students to enable them to be effective in diffusing the knowledge they create for economic growth and social welfare. Prior to coming to University of Maryland, Rajshree undertook efforts at the University of Illinois towards creating specialized certificate programs and courses to help serve this need. In part as recognition of these efforts, and in part for her scholarly achievements, the University of Illinois bestowed her with the “University Scholar” designation in 2009, the highest honor given to its faculty in recognition of overall excellence. Rajshree looks forward to creating similar initiatives here at Maryland.


Howard Aldrich

Kenan Professor of Sociology, UNC Chapel Hill; Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Management and sociology professor Howard Aldrich researches entrepreneurship, the origins of new organizational populations, gender differences in business management and organizational evolution.
Among his research projects is a study of the process by which entrepreneurial teams are founded, and it focuses on similarity and differences between team members. He also is examining the contributions made by voluntary association membership to entrepreneurial success, as well as how to design courses and classroom activities to promote active learning.

Dr. Aldrich is Kenan Professor of Sociology and chair of the Department of Sociology. He won the Carlyle Sitterson Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2002.

In 2000, the Swedish Foundation of Small Business Research named him the Entrepreneurship Researcher of the Year and the Organization and Management Division of the Academy of Management presented him with a Distinguished Career of Scholarly Achievement award.

His book “Organizations Evolving” won the Academy of Management George Terry Award as the best management book published in 1998-99, and was co-winner of the Max Weber Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Organizations, Occupations and Work.

He received his PhD and MA from the University of Michigan and his BA from Bowling Green State University.


DeLisa Alexander

EVP and Chief People Officer, Red Hat

DeLisa Alexander serves as the executive vice president and chief people officer of Red Hat, leading the organization responsible for global human resources including Red Hat University. The organization's mission is to be a strategic partner to the business in acquiring, developing, and retaining talent and to enhance the Red Hat culture and talent brand. During Alexander's tenure, Red Hat has grown from 1,100 to 11,000+ associates and has been recognized as one of the best places to work in multiple publications around the globe.

The founder of the Women’s Leadership Community at Red Hat, Alexander received a 2015 Stevie Silver Women in Business award in recognition of her leadership in advancing opportunities for women in technology. She serves on the executive committee for the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED); the board of directors for Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Innovate Raleigh; and the board of advisers for the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, Bull City Ventures, NC State University Poole College of Management, and SoarTriangle.

Alexander joined Red Hat in 2001 and served in the office of general counsel until mid 2006, most recently as assistant general counsel and assistant secretary. During this time, Alexander was responsible for equity and executive compensation, and trademark, copyright, and employment matters. Alexander also advised the company’s management and board of directors on securities and corporate governance.

Prior to joining Red Hat, Alexander was associated with the law firm Kilpatrick Stockton where she focused on mergers, acquisitions, venture capital, and intellectual property licensing. She started her career as a judicial clerk for the Honorable William B. Chandler, chancellor of the renowned Delaware Court of Chancery.


Teresa Amabile

Ford Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Teresa Amabile is a Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School. Originally educated and employed as a chemist, Teresa received her Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University. Her current research investigates how life inside organizations can influence people and their performance, as well as how people approach and experience the transition to retirement.

Originally focusing on individual creativity, Teresa’s research expanded to encompass individual productivity, team creativity, and organizational innovation. Her 40-year program of research on how the work environment can influence creativity and motivation yielded a theory of creativity and innovation; methods for assessing creativity, motivation, and the work environment; and a set of prescriptions for maintaining and stimulating innovation.


Jaclyn Baumgarten

CEO & Co-Founder, Boatsetter

Ms. Jaclyn Baumgarten, also known as Jackie, is a co-founder and CEO of Boatsetter. She serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Collaborative Boating, Inc. She is Director of MCBC Holdings, Inc. since October 23, 2018.

Ms. Baumgarten served as a Partner and COO at AH Global, a Director of Strategy at DaVita, a Development Manager at Westfield Group, a Consultant at IBM, and a Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ms. Baumgarten served as the Chief Executive Officer of Cruzin, Inc. She has 13+ years of experience in strategy and financial planning, and has guided the investment decisions of companies ranging from startups to $1B organizations. Ms. Baumgarten holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College, cum laude, and has a Master of Business Administration from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.


Bernard Bell

Executive Director, Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship, UNC College of Arts and Sciences

Bernard Bell is the executive director of the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences. He has worked is an entrepreneur-in-residence in the Minor in Entrepreneurship. In this role, Bell has been responsible for teaching, mentoring and coaching students with a special emphasis on social entrepreneurship ventures. He is also a member of the Dean’s Working Group for the Minor in Entrepreneurship, where he has served for several years, including prior to joining the entrepreneurial faculty for the program. The Dean’s Working Group helps the dean set the strategic direction for the minor and work with alumni and friends of the University to generate and manage resources.

Bell is also the chairman and CEO of Urban Media Solutions (UMS), a media consulting firm that coaches high-growth startups, corporations and government agencies on traditional media and digital strategy around the urban market. He was most recently the senior vice president in the Office of the President for TV One, the lifestyle and entertainment cable network. He joined the network in 2003 as the second employee and led the successful growth of the network from a $130 million investment to $600 million valuation within 54 months. He started his career at TV One as senior vice president of sales and marketing. In this role, he successfully negotiated and managed all affiliate network distribution agreements, growing the subscriber base from zero to 34 million within 36 months. These license fees have generated $40 million annually in revenue for the network.

Prior to joining TV One, Bell was vice president of sales for Tribune Media Services, where he oversaw the successful launch of Zap2it, Tribune’s electronic program guide, into the cable television industry. Prior to joining the Tribune, Bell was a regional vice president of sales for ICTV, an internet startup based in Silicon Valley. He was previously regional director of affiliate sales for Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV) and started his television career as a sales executive for the Discovery Channel. He started his sales career at IBM as an account executive. Originally from Greensboro, NC, Bell holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as an MBA in marketing from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Additionally, he attended the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College for Executive MBA coursework. Bell most recently served as a corporate director for ICLUB, an investment software company, and is on the board of entrepreneurship for UNC. He has also served on the advisory board for the American Film Institute and is active in Next Generation Men, a non-profit focused on teenage African-American young men. Bell’s passions include real estate, architecture, international travel, Habitat for Humanity, and great wine and the vineyards around them.


Y. Sekou Bermiss

Associate Professor of Management, University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business

Y. Sekou Bermiss is an Associate Professor of Management at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY), and a M.S. and Ph.D in Management and Organizations from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

His research is in the area of strategic management and organizational theory with a focus on how value is socially constructed in organizations and markets.

Specifically, he investigates how institutional factors shape the perception of firms by critical stakeholders. Additionally, he explores the antecedents and consequences of human capital mobility and how different forms of employee movement impact a firm’s ability to compete with rivals. His research has been published in the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, and Research in Organizational Behavior. His research has also been highlighted by Harvard Business Review and National Public Radio.

Before entering academia, he worked for Deloitte Consulting in New York City.


Sangeeta Bharadwaj-Badal

Principal Scientist, Entrepreneurship, Gallup Builder Initiative

Sangeeta Badal is the Principal Scientist for Gallup’s Builder initiative. She is the co-author of the new book- Born to Build - which debuted on the Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller list.

Dr. Badal is responsible for designing and implementing entrepreneurship programs that enable startup and small business growth. Her research has appeared in the Gallup Business Journal, CNBC, Entrepreneur, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post.

She has worked with many public and private organizations, educational institutions, and economic development agencies on issues related to job creation, small business performance management, entrepreneurship training and development, and designing strategic evaluation systems to measure program impact.

She earned her doctorate in anthropology and geography from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Before joining Gallup in 1999, she was a faculty member at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.


Chris Bingham

Philip Hettleman Distinguished Scholar, Professor and Area Chair of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School; Co-Director of Kenan Entrepreneurship Initiative

Chris Bingham’s general research interests revolve around organizational learning, adaptation, growth, innovation and strategic decision making in entrepreneurial firms and firms in dynamic markets.

He has studied how firms develop alliance, acquisition, product development and internationalization capabilities; how they assimilate new technologies; and how they systematically capture new opportunities and innovate over time.

Currently he is studying the processes and outcomes of business accelerators, the evolving form of crowdfunding and the nature of effective synergy capture.

Dr. Bingham is an award-winning researcher and teacher. Administrative Science Quarterly, Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, MIT Sloan Management Review, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal and the Academy of Management Review have published his work. Most recently, he won the 2015 Award for Excellence in MBA Teaching at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

His industry experience includes work with McKinsey & Company, Deloitte Consulting and Price Waterhouse, as well as with several entrepreneurial firms. He frequently works with executive audiences and has consulted with numerous organizations, including Astellas, 3M, Corning, Procter & Gamble, 2U, FedEx, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, IHRSA, Sport Management Institute, ExxonMobil, and WL Gore.

He is a former nationally sponsored snowboarder and is fluent in Spanish.
He received his PhD in strategy, organizations and entrepreneurship from Stanford University. He received his BS in accounting and his MBA/MA from Brigham Young University, where he graduated with honors.


Melissa Bradley

Founder, Venture DC/Project 500; Senior Fellow - Metropolitan Policy Program, Brooking

Melissa L. Bradley is a tri-sector leader with more than 20 years of entrepreneurship, investment and leadership experience. In 2015, she was awarded the Anne S. Ferren Award for Curriculum Design and completed her Certificate for Online Learning. During the summer of 2016, Melissa was named as a nonresident senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

Since 2012 Melissa has been a professor of practice at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University where she serves as an expert lecturer on impact investing, social entrepreneurship, peer-to-peer economies and innovation. In 2015 she was awarded the Entrepreneurial Faculty Excellence Award and the Joseph F. LeMoine Award for Undergraduate and Graduate Teaching Excellence and in 2016 she was awarded the MBA Excellence in Teaching Award.

She is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sidecar Social Finance, a social impact agency that provides impact investing advisory and capital services to individuals, institutions, and social enterprises. She is also Founder and Curator of Venture DC, an initiative that seeks to empower emerging entrepreneurs who are addressing and solving some of DC’s most pressing challenges related to health care, education, housing, economic security and access to financial services, specifically in Wards 7 and 8. Launched in 2015, the initiative has collaborated with the public and private sectors to bring human and financial capital to marginalized entrepreneurs across the City.

Bradley has served as a Presidential Appointee under President Obama from 2012-2015. In this role she was Chief Strategy Officer at the Corporation for National and Community Service, served at the Department of Education and was responsible for securing over $20 million in public-private partnerships to support national service and My Brother’s Keeper. From 2014-2015 she served as Acting Director of the Social Innovation Fund, a White House Initiative committed to scaling ‘what works’ in our communities.


Greg Brown

Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Scholar of Finance, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School; Executive Director, Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

In addition to his leadership as director of the institute, Greg is also the founder and research director of the Institute for Private Capital, an institute-affiliated research center.

Greg’s research focuses on financial risk and the use of financial derivative contracts as risk management tools.

He also studies private investment strategies such as hedge funds and private equity. His research has been published in leading academic and practitioner finance journals, including The Journal of Finance, The Journal of Financial Economics, The Review of Financial Studies, The Journal of Derivatives, Financial Analyst Journal and RISK.

Greg received his doctorate in finance from the University of Texas at Austin and graduated cum laude from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in physics and economics.


Craig Buerstatte

Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Economic Development Administration

Craig Buerstatte is a former Army Officer turned entrepreneur, having first tested his innovation skills in remote areas of Iraq, developing new supply chain solutions when resources were strained.

Craig received the Bronze Star Medal for his creative combat leadership and leveraged this experience to found a technology firm in Austin, Texas, and later transitioned into venture capital before returning back to public service in 2014 to help build the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (OIE) at the US Department of Commerce.

Today, Craig serves as Acting Director for OIE; working to foster a more innovative economy through policy initiatives and grant programs that focus on turning new ideas and inventions into businesses that create jobs, increase competitiveness, and economic growth. This capacity-building mindset is the focus of the Regional Innovation Strategies Program, OIE’s flagship grant program that has over $120 million under management that supports business incubators, accelerators and the creation of early-stage venture funds.

Craig earned a B.S. in Economics from The United States Military Academy at West Point, and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, but learned much more from founding businesses and leading Soldiers.


Tom Byers

Professor of Entrepreneurship, Stanford School of Engineering
Co-Director, Stanford Technology Ventures Program

At Stanford University since 1995, Professor Tom Byers focuses on education regarding high-growth entrepreneurship and technology innovation. He is the first holder of the Entrepreneurship Professorship endowed chair in the School of Engineering, and is also a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education.

He has been a faculty director since the inception of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), which serves as the entrepreneurship center for the engineering school. STVP includes the Mayfield Fellows work/study program for undergraduates and the Entrepreneurship Corner (eCorner) collection of thought leader videos. He was the director and lead principal investigator of the Epicenter, which was funded by the National Science Foundation to stimulate entrepreneurship education at all US engineering and science colleges. He is the co-author of a textbook called Technology Ventures: From Idea to Enterprise that is published by McGraw-Hill.

He is a past recipient of the prestigious Gordon Prize by the National Academy of Engineering in the USA and Stanford University’s Gores Award, which is its highest honor for excellence in teaching. He is a member of the board of trustees at Menlo College. He has been a member of advisory boards at Harvard Business School, UC Berkeley, World Economic Forum, and Conservation International. Tom was executive vice president and general manager of Symantec Corporation during its formation, and started his career at Accenture. Tom holds a BS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and an MBA from UC Berkeley. He also earned a PhD in Business Administration (Management Science) at UC Berkeley.


Christian Catalini

Theodore T. Miller Career Development Professor, MIT Associate Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

Christian's main areas of interest are the economics of digitization, entrepreneurship, and science. His research focuses on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, the economics of equity crowdfunding and startup growth, and the economics of scientific collaboration.

Christian is one of the principal investigators of the MIT Digital Currencies Research Study, which gave access to all MIT undergraduate students to Bitcoin in the Fall of 2014. He is also part of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and a faculty advisor at the Digital Currency Initiative. Since 2018, he is a faculty research fellow in the Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

He holds a PhD from the University of Toronto (Rotman School of Management), and MSc (summa cum laude) in Economics and Management of New Technologies from Bocconi University, Milan. In 2009-10 he was a visiting student at Harvard University.

His work has been featured in Nature, Science, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, WIRED, NPR, Forbes, Bloomberg, TechCrunch, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, VICE news and the Washington Post among others.

He has presented his research at a variety of institutions including Harvard University, MIT, Yale University, London Business School, New York University, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, the Federal Reserve Bank, the US Treasury, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the World Bank, and the White House OSTP.


Rebel A. Cole

Kaye Distinguished Professor of Finance, Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Cole holds the Kaye Family Endowed Professorship in Finance at the College of Business of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. He received his PhD in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina in 1988, after which he spent ten years working in the Federal Reserve System, primarily at the Board of Governors in Washington, DC.

At the Board of Governors, he oversaw design, development and implementation of the System for Estimating Examination Ratings (SEER)–the Fed’s primary system for offsite monitoring of banks and bank holding companies–and the 1993 iteration of the Fed’s Survey of Small Business Finances.

Since leaving the Board of Governors in 1997, Dr. Cole has served as a special advisor to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other non-governmental organizations, providing training and technical assistance to central banks in developing countries that include Antigua, the Bahamas, Belize, Bhutan, Cape Verde, China, Ghana, Guyana, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montserrat, Morocco, Palestine, the Philippines, Russia, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Sudan, Syria, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen. Dr. Cole has participated in more than 60 international missions to these countries to assist in the development of stress tests, financial stability indicators, and off-site monitoring systems for commercial banks and other financial institutions.

Dr. Cole has published peer-reviewed articles in top academic journals that include the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Financial & Quantitative Analysis, the Journal of Banking & Finance, the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics and Real Estate Economics. His primary areas of research are commercial banking, corporate governance, financial institutions, real estate and small-business finance. According to Google Scholar, his works have been cited by other scholars more than 6,800 times. According to Scopus, his works have been cited more than 1,300 time. Most of his research papers are available for download from his website at www.rebelcole.com.

Dr. Cole is a frequent commentator in the financial press. During the past few years, he has been quoted in, or appeared on: Accounting Today, the American Banker, the Bloomberg Businessweek, CNN Money, Fox Business News, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, National Public Radio, the PBS Nightly Business Report, the Street.com, the Voice of America, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, and Yahoo Finance.


Joe Colopy

Managing Director, Colopy Ventures

Joe Colopy builds and invests in tech startups through Colopy Ventures, based in Downtown Durham. Prior to Colopy Ventures, Joe was co-founder and CEO of Bronto Software, a leader in cloud-based commerce marketing automation for brands across the world. After being founded in 2002, Bronto grew organically to employ over 300 people across offices worldwide. In 2015, Bronto was acquired for $200mm by NetSuite, a cloud-based provider of financial applications. NetSuite was subsequently acquired by Oracle.

Through his work with Bronto, Joe was a past winner of Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Carolinas.

Earlier in his career, Joe worked at Red Hat and was a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. He earned an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives happily with his wife, four children, dog, bees, two gerbils, and eleven chickens in Durham, North Carolina.


Lin William Cong

Assistant Professor of Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Lin William Cong is an assistant professor of Finance and PhD advisor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and faculty member at the Center for East Asian Studies. He was a former doctoral fellow at the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, a George Shultz Scholar at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and is currently a Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellow. Cong advises FinTech and investment firms and organizations such as the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance (non-profit), and is a member of multiple professional organizations such as the American Economic Association, European Finance Association, and the Econometric Society.

Cong researches on financial economics, information economics, entrepreneurial finance, and FinTech. His academic interests include financial innovation, mechanism and information design, real options, China’s economy and financial system, financial analytics, quantimental investment, and asset management. His work has been published in top academic journals and has been recognized with a number of accolades such as the CME Best paper Award, Shmuel Kandel Award in Financial Economics, and Finance Theory Group Paper Award. He was also a gold medalist in various international and national Math contests, science and engineering fairs, and Math, Physics, and Chemistry Olympiads, and has published several papers in math and science journals in college and high school.

Cong earned a Ph.D. in finance and a MS in statistics from Stanford University, where he served as the president of Ph.D. students, received the Asian American Award for Graduate Leadership, was recognized with the Lieberman Fellowship for outstanding contributions in research, teaching, and university service. He also holds dual degrees from Harvard University where he graduated summa cum laude and top in the Physics department, with an A.M. in physics, an A.B. in math & physics, a minor in economics, and a language citation in French.

Cong is a native of Shenyang, China, and has lived in Singapore and sojourned in Japan and the UK. Outside his research and teaching, Cong enjoys Chinese calligraphy, reading, sports, cross fitness, guitar, as well as learning French and Japanese. Cong is also passionate about education, China-U.S. relations, technology innovations, and integrating fundamental valuation, quantitative investing, and financial technology in investments and asset management, for which he invented the course “Quantimental Investment”.


Andrea Contigiani

PhD Candidate in Management, The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania

Contigiani is a PhD Candidate in Management at The Wharton School. He studies innovation in entrepreneurship, established enterprises, and policy-making.

Peter Cornelius

Managing Director, AlpInvest Partners/The Carlyle Group

Peter is a Managing Director responsible for analyzing the economic and financial environment for private equity markets and examining the implications for AlpInvest Partners’ strategic asset allocation. He joined the firm in 2005 from Royal Dutch Shell, where he was Group Chief Economist. Previously, he was Chief Economist and Director of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Program.

Prior to that, he was head of international economic research at Deutsche Bank and a senior economist with the International Monetary Fund. Peter studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Göttingen where he received his doctorate in Economics. He has been a visiting professor at Leuven Gent Vlerick Management School and a visiting scholar at Harvard University. He is the author of International Investments in Private Equity (Elsevier, 2011) and a co-author of Mastering Illiquidity (Wiley, 2013).


John Dearie

Founder and President, Center for American Entrepreneurship

John Dearie is the founder and President of the Center for American Entrepreneurship. He is the former Acting CEO of the Financial Services Forum, a financial and economic policy organization comprised of the chief executive officers of the largest financial institutions with operations in the United States.

From 2001 to 2015, he was the Forum’s Executive Vice President for Policy, coordinating the group’s policy agenda, which included: financial supervision reform, the competitiveness of U.S. capital markets, free and fair trade, comprehensive tax reform, debt and deficit reduction, and accelerating economic growth and job creation. Prior to joining the Forum, John spent nine years at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where he held positions in the Banking Studies, Foreign Exchange, and Policy & Analysis areas. He was appointed an Officer of the Bank in 1996. He is the co-author of Where the Jobs Are: Entrepreneurship and the Soul of the American Economy (Wiley, 2013), which was called “one of the great economics books of the past few years” by the American Enterprise Institute. His writing has also appeared in the The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Hill, Politico, American Banker, USA Today, and China’s Caijing Magazine.


Ryan Decker

Economist, Federal Reserve Board of Governors

Ryan Decker conducts research with focuses on firm dynamics and entrepreneurship. Since 2015, Decker has been working for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland College Park and was previously an economist for the Center of Economic Studies at the U.S. Census Bureau from 2011-2015.

He received his PhD and MA in economics from the University of Maryland and his BA from Brigham Young University.


Sameeksha Desai

Director of Knowledge Creation and Research in Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Sameeksha Desai is the director of knowledge creation and research in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she embodies strategic and visionary leadership by anticipating trends and identifying patterns in data and evidence to shape the Foundation’s entrepreneurship strategy.

Desai leads the design and implementation of the Foundation’s research-based thought leadership strategy in entrepreneurship, identifies knowledge gaps that must be closed in order to advance entrepreneurship and conducts actionable and practical research that can inform programmatic strategies.

Concurrently to working for the Kauffman Foundation, Desai is on leave from her position as a tenured associate professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, where she teaches and conducts research related to entrepreneurship, economic development and public policy. She is also an editor of Small Business Economics and an affiliate at the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum in Stockholm, Sweden. She has been a consultant for the World Bank Group, a co-chair of the Transatlantic Policy Consortium and a visiting scholar for the Kauffman Foundation.

Desai earned a Doctor of Philosophy in public policy from George Mason University, a Master of Science in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science in sociology from Northwestern University.


John Duca

Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

John V. Duca joined Oberlin in the spring of 2018 to teach advanced macroeconomics, money and banking, and intermediate macroeconomics. From 1991 to 2017, he worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where he last served as the associate director of research and vice president, supervising research in macroeconomics and finance; and from1986 to 1991, he was at the Federal Reserve Board where he briefed former chair Paul Volcker, former chair Alan Greenspan, and the Federal Reserve Board.

Duca has taught part time at Southern Methodist University and the University of Maryland. He has published more than 40 articles on macroeconomics, money, housing, credit, wages, and political economy in refereed journals such as the American Economic ReviewInternational Economic ReviewEconomic Journal, Journal of Money, Credit, and BankingJournal of Urban Economics, and Journal of Banking and Finance.

He graduated summa cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa) from Yale with a BA, and received a PhD from Princeton.

Duca looks forward to actively engaging with students in the classroom, economics majors committees and clubs, and other campus activities to help prepare them for their careers and enrich their lives.

In his spare time, he enjoys gardening and fishing, and is a fan of history and cinema.


Laura C. Dunham

Associate Dean, Entrepreneurship, Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, University of St. Thomas

Laura Dunham is Associate Dean of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and chair of the Entrepreneurship Department. She joined St. Thomas in 2003 from the University of Virginia, where she earned her Ph.D and M.B.A. from the Darden Graduate School of Business.

She teaches undergraduate, graduate and executive programs on innovation and entrepreneurial strategy. Her research focuses on the managerial and ethical challenges involved in innovation and new business start-up and development. Before her doctoral studies, Dunham worked as a management consultant in the strategy division of Renaissance Worldwide, helping clients such as Oracle, IBM, Lucent and GTE identify, evaluate and develop new growth initiatives.


Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Stanford W. Ascherman, M.D. Professor and Co-Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University

Kathleen Eisenhardt is the Stanford W. Ascherman M.D. Professor and Co-Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program.

Her recent book (w/Don Sull) is “Simple Rules: How to Survive in a Complex World” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) which explores how simplicity tames complexity in business, life, and nature.

She is also co-author (w/Shona Brown) of “Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured” Chaos (Harvard Business School Press), winner of the George R. Terry Book Award for outstanding contribution to management thinking and an Amazon Top 10 Annual Business and Investing book. Professor Eisenhardt is also author of over 100 articles in research and business journals, and the first author featured in Harvard Business Review’s OnPoint collection. She is a Distinguished Visiting Professor with Insead’s Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise area.

Professor Eisenhardt’s research focus is strategy and organization, especially in technology-based companies and high-velocity industries. She is currently studying the use of heuristics and other cognitive strategies, strategic interaction in new markets and novel ecosystems, and strategy making by boards of directors. She has received the career Scholarly Contribution Award from the Academy of Management and the Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research. She has been honored by many other awards including the Irwin Award for her contributions in strategy, the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Organization Theory and Management (OMT) and Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) divisions, the ASQ Scholarly Contribution award for the most influential paper five years after publication, and Strategic Management Society’s Schendel Best Paper prize. She was recently noted as most cited research author in strategy and organization studies for the past 25 years. Professor Eisenhardt consults at senior levels with firms in industries ranging from Internet, telecommunications, software, and biotech to agribusiness, semiconductors, and clean tech.

Professor Eisenhardt was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Management and of the Strategic Management Society, and is an INFORMS member. She has served on the editorial boards of ASQ, Organization Science, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. She has been a Fellow of the World Economic Forum (Davos) and Clinton Global Initiative, a member of General Motors’ Science Advisory Committee, and a board member of MWH Global, an international engineering design and construction firm. She serves on the Advisory Board of Start-Up Chile. Eisenhardt received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Brown University, cum laude and with honors). She holds an M.S. in computer science. Her Ph.D. is from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Professor Eisenhardt has several honorary degrees including from London Business School, Aalto University, and Chalmers University of Technology.


Michael Ewens

Assoc. Professor of Finance and Entrepreneurship, California Institute of Technology

Ewens is an Associate Professor of Finance and Entrepreneurship (w/o tenure) at Caltech in the Humanities and Social Sciences group. Previously, he was at Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was faculty from 2010 to 2014.

Ewens received his PhD in economics from the University of California, San Diego in 2010.  Since 2006 he has worked as a quantitative advisor for Correlation Ventures, a quantitative-focused venture capital firm based in San Diego, CA.

Ewens’s research studies the financial intermediation, innovation and management of high-growth entrepreneurial firms.  In this environment which is characterized by extreme agency and information frictions, one can revisit fundamental issues in finance and economics.  All projects attempt to create new large sample data where earlier research had only a few industries or short time periods.


Maryann Feldman

Heninger Distinguished Professor of Public Policy & Finance, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Maryann teaches in the UNC Department of Public Policy and at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Her research and teaching focus on the geography of innovation, the commercialization of academic research and the factors that promote technological change and economic growth.

Among her honors, Maryann was awarded the 2013 Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research. She is the editor of Research Policy, and has written for numerous journals, including the American Economic Review and The Brookings Papers on Economic Policy.

Maryann earned a doctorate in economics and management and a master’s degree in public policy analysis from Carnegie Mellon University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University.


Jon Fjeld

Interim Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Acting Director of Graduate Studies, Duke University; Professor of the Practice, Professor of Philosophy, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Duke University Fuqua School of Business

Jon currently serves as Interim Director and Acting Director of Graduate Studies of Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E), Professor of the Practice of Strategy at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and as Executive Director of Fuqua’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Jon has been teaching entrepreneurship and strategy, and leading the entrepreneurship efforts at Fuqua since 2005. He has created a three course sequence called the Program for Entrepreneurs that applies a disciplined approach to entrepreneurial ventures ranging from social ventures to life science and technology start-ups. In addition, he teaches strategy and entrepreneurship at all levels of the university from undergraduate to executive MBA. His primary focus is studying innovation in large and small firms as well as the methodology of strategy research.

Before returning to academia, he spent over twenty years in marketing, engineering and general management in start-ups and public companies. From December, 2000, until July, 2004, he served as vice president of engineering for Align Technology in Santa Clara, CA. Between 1995 and 2000, he served as CEO of two RTP venture backed firms: Geomagic, a 3D software company and NetEdge Systems, a data networking equipment company. Prior to that, Fjeld spent 13 years at IBM, where he served in a number of management and executive positions within the networking and software business units. He began his professional career as an assistant professor in the philosophy department at Duke University.

Fjeld holds a Ph.D. and MA in philosophy from the University of Toronto, an MBA from Duke University, an MS in computer science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BA in mathematics and philosophy from Bishop’s University.


Bobby Franklin

President & CEO, National Venture Capital Association

Bobby Franklin is the President & CEO of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) whose membership includes thousands of individuals that invest in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and guide the formation and growth of innovative startup companies.

With over 25 years of experience in advocacy and public policy in our nation’s capital, Bobby took the helm of NVCA in September of 2013 after nearly a decade at CTIA – The Wireless Association, where he first served as head lobbyist and then spent the next eight years as the association’s Executive Vice President. Prior to joining CTIA, Bobby worked for wireless provider Alltel Corporation as both their lobbyist and then head of the company’s Washington office. An Arkansas native, Bobby got his start in Washington working in the U.S. Senate for Senator David Pryor of Arkansas.


Michael Freeman M.D.

Department of Psychiatry, UCSF School of Medicine
Cofounder, CentraLink
Founding Chief Medical Officer, Triggr Health

Dr. Freeman is a psychiatrist, psychologist, consultant and former CEO who serves on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. His clinical practice is focused on the treatment of people with mood, anxiety and attention disorders, and his consulting practice is focused on entrepreneurship and performance enhancement coaching.

Dr. Freeman’s research addresses the strengths, vulnerabilities, and mental health issues faced by entrepreneurs. He has held CEO and C-level leadership positions in several public and private sector health care organizations.

Dr. Freeman brings medical, psychological, prevention/self-care and executive competencies to his clinical and consulting practice.


Philip Gaskin

Senior Director of Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Philip Gaskin is the Senior Director of Entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He is responsible for the portfolio of grants and initiatives that relate to the Foundation’s goal of creating more effective and strategic ecosystems to increase new business formation, emerging business growth and overall entrepreneurial success in various sizes of metropolitan regions. Gaskin is developing strategies for engagement in targeted areas that will have measurable impact on entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship support organizations and the entrepreneurial landscape.

Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Gaskin was chief operating officer at Mission Hub, which supports social entrepreneurs and impact investors in building sustainable businesses that drive long-term social and environmental change. Here, he led organization-wide initiatives on process and product improvements for greater efficiency and differentiated value to ecosystems of entrepreneurs and innovators. He served as lead partner to Impact Hub’s global association to promote inter-organizational alignment, shape global business strategy and advance strategic development efforts.

Earlier, Gaskin was a political campaign director for various candidates, including Cory Booker for U.S. Senate and President Barack Obama in Pennsylvania for Obama for America, where he built and scaled grassroots ecosystems of volunteers that delivered historic results, aligning community, city and state leaders to support his initiatives.

Prior, Gaskin was senior vice president, Global Business Strategy for the travel division at BCD Group, a multi-national conglomerate specializing in global travel management and strategic consulting to Fortune 500 companies, overseeing global operations, customer strategy, account and contract management, technology, finance and business development for a 400-person multi-national business unit representing $1B in revenues. Of note, Gaskin led teams that created the industry’s first global service marketplace, an automated and interlinked ecosystem platform providing real-time service and solutions to corporate travelers in over 30 countries.

Gaskin graduated from California State University with a Bachelor of Science in marketing.


Eric Ghysels

Edward Bernstein Distinguished Professor of Economics, UNC- Chapel Hill; Professor of Finance, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Eric Ghysels is the Edward Bernstein Distinguished Professor of Economics and a finance professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

His main research interests are time series econometrics and finance.

He teaches empirical finance and time series PhD courses. He has published in the leading economics, finance and statistics journals. He served on the editorial boards of several academic journals and is co-editor of the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics.

Dr. Ghysels, who speaks French, Dutch and German, has been a visiting professor or scholar at several major U.S., European and Asian universities.

He is an amateur piano player.

He received his PhD and MA from Northwestern University and his BA from the University of Brussels.


Vickie Gibbs

Executive Director, UNC Entrepreneurship Center, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Dell Gines

Senior Community Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Dell L. Gines is the senior community development advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Omaha Office. He focuses on innovative community development strategies designed to help transform rural and inner-city communities. Dell is a nationally recognized speaker on the subject of entrepreneurship based economic development and is the author of the Grow Your Own Guide, a short primer on how to build urban and rural economies using entrepreneurship.

In 2013, he designed and launched Econ Avenue, an innovative grassroots led community economic development project that received national attention when Federal Reserve Board Chair, Janet Yellen, referenced it in her first public speech.

Dell is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and holds a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Finance and is a PhD candidate. In 2011, he was recognized by the Omaha Jaycees as a TOYO award recipient for being named as one of the top ten Omahans under the age of forty making an impact in the community.

The community development function at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City was created in the 1980s primarily to help banks understand their responsibilities under the Community Reinvestment Act. Over the years the bank has expanded its work in the field of community development to meet emerging needs and staff has sought out new opportunities for collaboration to assist low- and moderate-income communities. The community development staff is committed to assisting our stakeholders and the communities we serve respond effectively to challenges through research, relationship building and resource development.


Anne Glover

Chief Executive and Co-founder, Amadeus Capital Partners

Anne co-founded Amadeus Capital Partners in 1997 with Hermann Hauser. Building on her scientific training and operating experience, Anne has been an active venture capitalist for almost thirty years.

Early in her career Anne lived in the US, working in manufacturing with Cummins Engine Company and in strategy consulting with Bain & Co, before returning to the UK to join Apax Partners in 1989 to invest in early stage companies. She became Chief Operating Officer of one of her investee companies, Virtuality Group, after it listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1993, and then returned to investing as a business angel before founding Amadeus in 1997.

A former Chairman of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (2004/05) and Invest Europe (formerly EVCA) (2014/15), Anne is a member of the UK Government’s Council for Science and Technology and of the London Business School’s Private Equity Institute Advisory Board. She currently serves on the board of Glysure. In 2018, Anne was appointed as a Non-Executive Director on the Court of the Bank of England and to the Board of British Patient Capital, part of the British Business Bank.

Anne holds an MA in Metallurgy & Materials Science from Clare College, Cambridge, and a Masters in Public and Private Management from Yale School of Management. She was awarded a CBE in 2006 for services to business and is an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Her past successes at Amadeus include Optos (OPTS:LN) and TCTI.


Eric Glustrom

Founder, Watson Institute

Mary Moore Hamrick

National Managing Principal - Public Policy, Grant Thornton

Mary Moore Hamrick leads Grant Thornton’s public policy initiatives and government affairs efforts, based in Washington, D.C. She is the firm’s primary liaison with members of Congress, the accounting profession’s standards-setters, regulators and other policymakers, ensuring that Grant Thornton’s policy positions are well-represented.

Hamrick is a member of Grant Thornton’s U.S. National Leadership Team and chair of the firm’s Political Action Committee. Hamrick has more than 20 years of experience working for and then with the U.S. Congress. She most recently served as the senior director of external relations and strategic planning for the Center for Audit Quality.


Sabrina T. Howell

Assistant Professor of Finance, New York University Stern School of Business

Sabrina Howell is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the New York University Stern School of Business. She is also a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Professor Howell’s research focuses on entrepreneurial finance, innovation, fintech, energy, and China. She is the recipient of the 2015 AQR Top Finance Graduate Award at Copenhagen Business School and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Professor Howell received her B.A. in Economics and East Asian Studies from Yale University and her Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government, Economics track from Harvard University. She previously worked as an energy consultant for Charles River Associates in Houston, and on energy security policy for Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) in Washington DC.


David Hsu

David Hsu, Richard A. Sapp Professor of Management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

David Hsu is the Richard A. Sapp Professor and a Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from Stanford University with undergraduate majors in economics and political science.

After a few years working in industry, he received his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, followed by his Ph.D. in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Hsu’s research interests are in entrepreneurial innovation and management. Within that domain, he has investigated topics such as intellectual property management, start-up innovation, technology commercialization strategy, and venture capital. His research has appeared in leading journals such as Management Science, Journal of Finance, Strategic Management Journal, and Research Policy. He is past department and associate editor of Management Science. In 2008, Hsu was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Industry Studies Fellowship. At Wharton, he teaches two MBA electives, Entrepreneurship and Technology Strategy. At Penn, Hsu is Associate Faculty Director of the Weiss Tech House, which encourages and supports students in the creation, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies.


Angela Hung

Senior Economist; Director for Financial and Economic Decision Making, RAND Corporation

Angela Hung is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation. She directs the RAND Center for Financial and Economic Decision Making and has more than 17 years of experience in survey, focus group, and experiment design to study individual decision making.

Hung’s work focuses on how people collect and use financial information and how successfully they match their financial decisions to their interests and goals. Her work on financial literacy and financial decision making has been sponsored by organizations such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Labor, the Department of the Treasury, the World Bank, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Institute on Aging, and the Department of Defense. Hung has an M.A. in economics from the University of Virginia and an M.S. and Ph.D. in social science from the California Institute of Technology.


Igor Jablokov

Founder and CEO, Pyron

Igor is the CEO of Pryon, an artificial intelligence startup that is innovating how businesses interface with decisions, knowledge, and workflows. Named an “Industry Luminary” by Speech Technology Magazine, he previously founded industry pioneer Yap, the world's first high accuracy, fully automated cloud platform for voice recognition.

After its products were deployed by dozens of enterprises, the company became Amazon’s first AI related acquisition. The firm’s inventions then served as the nucleus for follow on products such as Alexa, Echo, and Fire TV. As a Program Director at IBM, Igor led the team that designed the precursor to Watson and developed the world’s first multimodal Web browser.

Igor was awarded Eisenhower and Truman National Security fellowships to explore and expand the role of entrepreneurship and venture capital in addressing geopolitical concerns. As an innovator in human language technologies, he believes in fostering career and educational opportunities for others entering STEM fields. As such, he serves as a mentor in the TechStars’ Alexa Accelerator, was a Blackstone NC Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR), and founded a chapter of the Global Shapers, a program of the World Economic Forum. Igor holds a BS in Computer Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, where he was named an Outstanding Engineering Alumnus, and an MBA from The University of North Carolina.


Steve Kaplan

Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance and Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Steven Neil Kaplan conducts research on issues in private equity, venture capital, entrepreneurial finance, corporate governance and corporate finance. He has published papers in a number of academic and business journals. Kaplan is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an associate editor of the Journal of Financial Economics.

He ranks among the top 60 in paper downloads and in paper citations (out of over 280,000 authors) on SSRN (Social Science Research Network). He is the co-creator of the Kaplan-Schoar PME (Public Market Equivalent) private equity benchmarking approach. A Fortune Magazine article referred to him as “probably the foremost private equity scholar in the galaxy.”

Kaplan teaches advanced MBA and executive courses in entrepreneurial finance and private equity, corporate finance, corporate governance, and wealth management. BusinessWeek named him one of the top 12 business school teachers in the country.

Professor Kaplan co-founded the entrepreneurship program at Booth. With his students, he helped start Booth’s business plan competition, the New Venture Challenge (NVC), which has spawned over one hundred companies that have raised almost $600 million and created over $4 billion in value including GrubHub and Braintree/Venmo.

Kaplan serves on the boards of Morningstar, Zayo Group and the Illinois Venture Capital Association. He has been a member of the faculty since 1988.

He received his AB, summa cum laude, in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Harvard College and earned a PhD in Business Economics from Harvard University.


Leora Klapper

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank

Leora Klapper is a Lead Economist in the Finance and Private Sector Research Team of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. Since joining the Bank as a Young Economist in 1998, she has published on entrepreneurship, banking, access to finance, corporate governance, bankruptcy, and risk management.

Her current research focuses on consumer finance, digital payments, and measuring financial inclusion (Global Findex). Prior to coming to the Bank she worked at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Bank of Israel, and Salomon Smith Barney. She holds a Ph.D. in Financial Economics from New York University Stern School of Business.


Kristoph Kleiner

Assistant Professor in Finance, Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

Kristoph Kleiner is an Assistant Professor of Finance at Indiana University. His research agenda focuses on the intersection of labor economics and corporate finance.

Specifically, he collects new datasets to better understand the individuals influencing the economy: small business owners, mid-level managers, Wall-Street bankers, Yelp reviewers, bankruptcy judges, etc. Prior to starting at Indiana University, he completed his PhD at Duke University and interned with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Federal Reserve Board. He teaches courses in Corporate Finance.


Christina Lewis

Founder & CEO, All Star Code

Christina Lewis is the Founder and CEO of All Star Code. She was recognized in 2016 as a “Woman of Power” by the National Action Network, in 2014 as a White House Champion of Change for STEM Access and in 2015 as an Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Finalist.

Christina has a BA from Harvard College in History and Literature and is a sought-after writer and speaker on the future of the workplace, entrepreneurship, equity, philanthropy, culture and personal transformation. In 2005, Christina set a goal of publishing a front-page ‘A-Hed’ at the Wall Street Journal. But, even as her two closest friends published dozens, Christina never published one. She lives in New York City with her husband, dog and two children.


Starr Marcello

Executive Director; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Chicago Polsky Center

Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17, oversees the strategic development of the Polsky Center and works with University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff to launch the next generation of high-impact ventures as the Polsky Center’s executive director. She has been with the Center since 2005.

She runs the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC), which awards over $500K in funding and services to top entrepreneurial companies each year. This year the NVC is celebrating 22 years and is ranked the #1 university accelerator program in the nation. Since 1996, the NVC has fostered more than 800 startups, with 230+ that are still in operation and growing strong, has created thousands of jobs, and has produced exits of over $13 billion, including Grubhub (NYSE: GRUB) and Braintree (acquired by eBay’s PayPal for $800 million). In 2017, Starr testified before the U.S. Congress’ Committee on Small Business on the merits of accelerator programs for job creation and economic development.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Starr launched the Polsky Center I-Corps Program and helped designate the University of Chicago as an official I-Corps site in 2014. Through this interdisciplinary program, Starr teaches elements of the customer development process and human-centered design to researchers and technologists on campus with the goal of helping teams test the commercial viability of their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects.

Starr spends her free time teaching entrepreneurship to high school students. She sits on the Executive Advisory Board of TechWeek and is a board member for United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USABE).

Starr holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and both an M.A. and MBA from the University of Chicago.


Laura Maydón

Managing Director, Endeavor Miami

Laura is the Managing Director of Endeavor Miami, whose mission is to select, mentor and accelerate the growth of high-impact entrepreneurs in South Florida. Endeavor Miami currently supports 22 companies. Prior to joining Endeavor, Laura was at Visa where she held several roles, including product development and management in the B2B sector, as well as negotiating and structuring new business opportunities, and monitoring strategic investments.

Laura has a strong M&A and private equity background. Prior to Visa, she was Head of Investor Relations and a Senior Financial Analyst, M&A for Panamco, a US$3.6 billion Coca-Cola bottling Company sold to FEMSA and an Analyst at Bank of America Equity Partners.

Laura has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Economics from I.T.A.M. in Mexico City. Laura serves on the Board of Advisors of Miami Dade College´s Idea Center. As a current Board Member of the HBS Club of South Florida, she has helped raise funds for scholarships for South Florida non-profit leaders to attend an executive program in HBS for the past 11 years.


Henry McKoy

Faculty Member and Director of Entrepreneurship, North Carolina Central University School of Business; Managing Director of the Eagle Angel Network, North Carolina Central University

Henry McKoy is a seasoned professional in business, community and economic development, policy, government, finance, philanthropy and the academic worlds. He is a faculty member and Director of Entrepreneurship at NC Central University.

He served from 2010-2012 in the North Carolina Department of Commerce where he was appointed by the Governor as Assistant Secretary. At Commerce he was the top Community Development official and representative in NC government. His Division oversaw over half-billion dollars in investments across hundreds of projects throughout NC in areas of Infrastructure, Housing, and Business. He has worked extensively with federal, state, and local government agencies and officials including Mayors, City Council and County Commissioner members, City and County staff, state representatives and agencies, and Congressional offices.

Before entering state government, Henry was a successful, well-respected, and award-winning business and banking leader with more than 15 years of retail and commercial banking experience, community financial development, charitable and community service, at the local, regional, and national levels. He spent more than a decade as an executive with Central Carolina Bank, National Commerce Financial and Suntrust Bank, being promoted and receiving progressively more responsibility while growing and leading several multibillion dollar divisions.

Since leaving banking in the mid-2000s, Henry has served as founder and Chief Executive of a national consulting and financial advisory firm, working with businesses, universities and organizations in preparing for and identifying capital sources, as well as on operational growth strategy. He is considered a national thought leader in those areas and their connections to community and economic development. Henry has been involved with nearly 200 non-profits since 1993, serving on boards and volunteering at the local, statewide, national, and international level.


Rory McDonald

Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Rory McDonald is an Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit. He teaches Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise (BSSE) in the MBA elective curriculum and previously taught the Technology and Operations Management course in the MBA required curriculum. In 2016, he was named one of the world’s top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants.

Professor McDonald’s research focuses on how firms compete and innovate effectively in new technology-enabled markets. Drawing on a mix of in-depth fieldwork and archival data, he studies how executives develop viable strategies in these contexts and how they obtain resources that improve their chances of success. For his research on entrepreneurial firms, Professor McDonald received both the Kauffman Foundation Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship as well as the Kauffman Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. He was also a finalist for best dissertation award in business policy and strategy by the Academy of Management.

Professor McDonald received his PhD in Management Science and Engineering from the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. He also holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, an MA in economic sociology from Stanford University, as well as two engineering degrees from the University of South Florida. Before joining Harvard, he was on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin where he received the CBA Foundation Teaching award. McDonald is on the board of YCG Funds, an Austin-based mutual fund company, and is an advisor to several startups.

Professor McDonald and his wife Anne live in Sudbury, MA with their four children. They are active in their church and enjoy a variety of family activities.


Bonnie McElveen-Hunter

Founder & CEO, Pace Communications and Chair of the Board, American Red Cross

Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pace, the largest independently owned custom content agency in the nation, serving Fortune 500 and leading companies including Southwest Airlines, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Verizon, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

She was appointed as the first woman National Chairman of the Board of the American Red Cross in 2004. In 2007, she co-founded The Tiffany Circle Society of Women Leaders, which has grown to include 63 Chapters nationwide. To date, all Tiffany Circle Chapters combined have raised nearly $90 million dollars for the American Red Cross.

From 2001-2003, McElveen-Hunter served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland.
As Ambassador, she initiated the Stop Child Trafficking: End Modern-Day Slavery and Children of Karelia program, as well as founded the Women Business Leaders Summit®, a model for business entrepreneurship partnering women business leaders which continues around the world. She was awarded one of Finland’s highest honors – The Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Lion.
As a long-time philanthropist and charitable-cause activist, she has served as a member of the International Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity, chaired the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, served on the United Way of America Board as a member of its National Leadership Council, and founded the United Way Billion Dollar National Women’s Leadership Initiative which to date has raised over $1 billion dollars.


Mahka Moeen

Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Mahka Moeen’s research focuses on the co-evolution of entrepreneurial firms and nascent industries. She seeks to understand the entrepreneurial strategies that firms undertake during early industry stages and even prior to the first ever commercialization within an industry context. She has studied these questions within the agricultural biotechnology and bio-pharmaceutical industries.

Her research has been published in Organization ScienceStrategic Entrepreneurship Journal and Strategic Management Journal.

Dr. Moeen is the recipient of the 2017 Emerging Scholar Award in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the Industry Studies Association and the the 2016 Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship. Her doctoral dissertation was recognized by the Kauffman Foundation dissertation fellowship, the Academy of Management’s Technology and Innovation Management division, the Industry Studies Association and the Strategy Research Foundation dissertation scholarship.

She serves on the editorial boards of the Strategic Management Journal and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.

Dr. Moeen teaches courses in strategic management.

She received her PhD in strategy and entrepreneurship from the University of Maryland, her MBA from the Sharif University of Technology’s Graduate School of Management and Economics and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tehran.


Arnobio Morelix

Director of Research, Startup Genome

Arnobio focuses on ecosystem assessment, especially within Deep Tech and Life Sciences IP production.

Arnobio has worked for the Kauffman Foundation, where he created the Growth Entrepreneurship Index and the Main Street Entrepreneurship Index, hailed as the “bible of entrepreneurship trends” by The Huffington Post and used by senators, governors, city leaders, Fortune 500 companies, and the White House. His work has been covered in The New York Times, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal. He also serves data science-focused appointments at Inc. Magazine and Stanford University.


Howard Morgan

Co-Founder, First Round Capital

Despite having retired in 2017, Howard played a key role in building First Round from the ground up.

Howard was Professor of Decision Sciences at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor of Computer Science at the Moore School at the University of Pennsylvania from 1972 through 1985.

He has been a Visiting Professor at the California Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School. During his academic career he served as an editor of Communications of the ACM, Management Science, Transactions on Office Information Systems and Transactions on Database Systems. His research on user interface technology, and on optimization of computer networks led to his bringing the ARPAnet to Philadelphia in 1974. As a result of this early participation in the internet, he advised many corporate and government agencies on the uses of electronic and voice mail, implementing it throughout the Wharton School in the mid 1970s.

Since 1989, he has been President of the Arca Group, Inc., nurturing early stage companies and taking them from seed stage through initial public offerings. He also serves as a Director of Idealab, where he was a founding investor in 1996. Dr. Morgan has served on a number of public company Boards, including Franklin Electronic Publishers and Internet Brands, Inc. He is also Chairman or a member of the board of numerous private companies including: Axial, Augury, MemSQL, Kentik and such nonprofits as Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories and Math For America. He served as CEO of Kentek and Franklin during various turnover or transitional periods. In 1997, he was named Delaware Valley Entrepreneur of the Year. Howard is a respected author and a frequent speaker at major industry conferences.

He received a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University in 1968, and a B.S. in physics from City College of the City University of New York in 1965.


Silvina Moschini

Founder and CEO, SheWorks! and Yandiki

Silvina Moschini, widely known by technology media as @Miss_Internet, is an award winning technology entrepreneur, industry expert and an international speaker on topics including technology, the future of work, diversity and inclusion and entrepreneurship. Her focus on changing how the world works in the digital economy led her to create an ecosystem of innovative companies that leverage the power of the cloud to connect enterprises with on-demand talent and make remote workforce management simple, transparent and inclusive.

As an entrepreneur, she is the co-founder of TransparentBusiness – a web-based solution for building talent marketplaces and managing remote teams and freelancers. She later leveraged TransparentBusiness technology to develop SheWorks! and Yandiki, online platforms that help companies scale exponentially by accessing vetted talent on demand and helping them monitor, manage, rate and pay their virtual teams. CitiGroup selected her platform as a Top People Management Solution.

Via SheWorks!, Silvina works with leading companies such as Google, Cisco, SAP, Microsoft and Facebook to provide online education and flexible jobs opportunities to empower women. She also joined forces with EY to take the initiative to a global scale and drive awareness on the benefits of the Gig economy for economic development, emerging markets and bridge the gender unemployment gap.

Silvina held senior corporate executive roles at Visa International and Compaq Computer Corporation. She was part of the leadership team of early internet start-up Patagon that exited in 2000 for $785 million and is an Endeavor.org Entrepreneur. She serves as a mentor for Google Launchpad, is on the Advisory Council of Advertising Week Latin America and on the board of various organizations including the FLOR Foundation and Dalia Empower.


Steve Nelson

Co-Founder, Carbon

Steve joined Wakefield Group in 1999 and is now Managing Partner. He established the venture capital firm’s Research Triangle Park, NC office. Steve joined Wakefield after 19 years of executive and general management experience in technology, software and Internet-based businesses. During the last three years of his professional career before starting at Wakefield, Steve was at Quokka Sports, a digital sports media company, in several executive capacities. Quokka raised over $140M in capital and successfully completed an IPO in 1999. He served as the San Francisco-based top executive and general manager of a joint venture company between NBC Sports and Quokka Sports, NBC/Quokka Ventures, where legendary and former NBC Sports Chairman, Dick Ebersol, served as the JV’s chairman.

Prior to Quokka, Steve worked in Silicon Valley as a Vice President with Informix Software in Menlo Park, California. His first business experience was 14 years at IBM, ultimately as Vice President and General Manager in San Francisco. Steve is a former member of the board of directors of many companies, including Constella (sold to SRA International), APEX Analytix (sold to PNC), RxMedic (sold to QS/1) and Motricity (NASDAQ – MOTR). He is currently a board member or observer at Appia, FrontStream, Liquidia (where he also served as CEO), SciQuest (NASDAQ – SQI), and is chairman of BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina. He is a past Chairman of North Carolina’s Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED). He is also a Foundation Board member and chairman at the North Carolina School of Science & Math. From 2001-2009, Steve served on the Investment Advisory Committee for two consecutive popularly elected State Treasurers of North Carolina.

Steve was also invited by the Chancellor of the UNC-CH to be a member of the Innovation Circle, named co-champion for their commercialization and collaboration initiatives. He is also a member of the Board of Visitors of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and is a Trustee at Wake Forest University. Then Governor of the State of North Carolina, Beverly Perdue, created the first ever North Carolina Innovation Council and asked Steve to be its co-chair with a goal to advise the Governor on:

  • coordinating public and private investments and policies to promote innovation;
  • moving innovative ideas from the lab to the marketplace more efficiently;
  • strengthening collaboration among business, academia, state and local government

Marina Niessner

Vice President, AQR Capital Management

Marina Niessner is currently a Vice President at AQR Capital Management. Before joining AQR in August, 2018, she was an Assistant Professor of Finance at the Yale School of Management. Niessner holds a BA in Economics and Statistics and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago.

Niessner’s main research interests are behavioral finance, financial social networks, and online media. In her recent work, she applies methods from linguistic psychology to identify fake news on knowledge sharing platforms, and examines their impact on financial markets. In other work, Niessner uses opinions from a social network of investors, to develop a new measure of investor disagreement and examine the extent to which different investment philosophies lead to more volatility in the stock market. Her research has been featured in the IR Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.


Brett Palmer

President, Small Business Investor Alliance

Brett Palmer is the president of the Small Business Investor Alliance. In this role, Brett works to foster a healthy environment for small business investing and a strong and profitable lower middle market.

In addition to managing the SBIA organization, he serves as its principal liaison with Congress, the Executive Branch, and other industry organizations. Brett brings years of valuable public policy and advocacy experience to SBIA. He served in the executive branch as a Presidential appointee in the Commerce Department as Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Legislation. He served in a number of roles in Congress including as a policy aide for the Speaker of the House. Brett graduated from Davidson College with a degree in history.


Chip Paucek

CEO and Co-Founder, 2U

Christopher "Chip" Paucek is the co-founder and CEO of 2U, Inc. (Nasdaq:TWOU), described by Forbes Magazine as the “nation’s leading provider of software for universities” delivering digital higher education at scale.

Paucek’s innovative work at 2U has earned him many accolades, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2012, the Goldman Sachs 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs Award in 2013, and multiple Highest Rated CEO awards from Glassdoor. In 2017, Paucek was named among America’s best chief executives by Institutional Investor magazine, ranking third among mid-cap technology, media, and telecom companies. He is a leading voice and speaker on entrepreneurship and the global education and technology landscape.

Paucek has been involved in education ventures since the early 1990s. Prior to 2U, Paucek served as CEO of Smarterville, Inc., the parent company of Hooked on Phonics. Paucek began his entrepreneurial career in 1993 when he co-founded his first company, Cerebellum Corporation, which produced the award-winning educational television program and video series Standard Deviants. He led Cerebellum as co-chief executive officer until 2003. In 2004, Paucek took a break from the business world to serve as deputy campaign manager for the successful re-election of United States Senator Barbara Mikulski.

Paucek holds a BA from the George Washington University and an MBA from the 2U-powered MBA@UNC program at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. As a native of South Florida, he is an avid Miami Dolphins fan. Paucek lives in Annapolis, MD with his wife Gabbi and two sons Noah and Henry.


Jason Rathje

Ph.D. Candidate, Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University

Jason is currently PhD student in the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) with a focus on strategy and policy. His research interests lie at the intersection of corporate strategy, innovation and national security. Specifically, he studies the evolution of the knowledge economy and how private vs. public R&D expenditure shifts have shaped technological impacts.

This includes research in innovation ecosystems, big-data network analyses, and case-based research on technology entrepreneurship. He has always look forward to meeting and interfacing with individuals interested in the intersection of national security and innovation, so please do not hesitate to reach out to Jason!


Hans Rawhouser

Assistant Professor, Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology; UNLV Lee Business School

Matthew Rhodes-Kropf

Visiting Associate Professor, Finance, MIT Sloan School of Management

Matthew Rhodes-Kropf is a Visiting Associate Professor in the Finance department at MIT Sloan where he teaches entrepreneurship. Rhodes-Kropf is also a managing partner at Tectonic Ventures as well as a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Rhodes-Kropf’s research on venture capital and exits has been published in many leading finance and economic journals. His work seeks to understand how capital markets interact with the creation of new firms, their financing, growth, governance, and their ultimate exit through a successful IPO or sale or through failure. He has published in leading finance and economic journals, including The Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Review of Financial Studies, The RAND Journal of Economics, and The Journal of Business. His 2004 paper “Market Valuation and Merger Waves,” published in The Journal of Finance, was nominated for the Brattle Prize for Best Paper in Corporate Finance in 2005.

Previously a faculty member in the Entrepreneurial Management department at Harvard Business School, Rhodes-Kropf has also published many HBS cases. His work has been profiled in the Financial Times, The Economist, the MIT Sloan Management Review, Kauffman publications, Institutional Investor’s Alpha Magazine, PeHub, and many popular blogs. He is regularly quoted in major print media such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Financial Times, and has discussed his work on television, with appearances on CNBC, BBC, and CNN. Matt gives talks throughout the world on the financing of innovation. At Harvard Matt taught the VCPE (venture capital and private equity) course in the MBA elective curriculum and in executive education programs. He also oversees myriad student ventures and has advised literally hundreds of founders. He was also formerly the Daniel W. Stanton Associate Professor of Business at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, where he taught entrepreneurial finance and received the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Rhodes-Kropf is also a managing partner at Tectonic Ventures. Previously he founded RK Ventures, the predecessor to Tectonic, where he managed two successful funds. Matt invested in companies such as Rackspace, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Xenex, Kymeta, Humatics, and Axioma among others. Matt was formerly the CFO of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, where he worked with the founder to launch the firm and the world’s first Alzheimer’s imaging agent. Matt also helped launch a hedge fund as the COO, and has advised many financial firms including Correlation Ventures. Matt is presently a director at Xenex, Avant-garde Health, 55-ip, and at Neighborhood Trust and an advisor to Kymeta and Humatics.

A graduate of Duke University, Rhodes-Kropf holds a BA in computer science and economics and an MA and PhD in economics. Matt is currently on the advisory board for Duke University’s Graduate School.


Michael Roach

J. Thomas and Nancy W. Clark Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

Michael Roach is the J. Thomas and Nancy W. Clark Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Prior to joining Cornell in 2014, he was on the faculty at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Professor Roach received his PhD in strategy from Duke University and a Bachelor of Business Administration in decision sciences from Georgia State University. He co-founded an educational software company while in high school and pursued an early career as an entrepreneur for eight years before beginning his undergraduate and doctoral studies. He also founded a mobile medical diagnostic application business related to his undergraduate research and remains deeply passionate about all things technology entrepreneurship.


David Robinson

Professor of Finance and J. Rex Fuqua Professor of International Management, Duke Fuqua School of Business

David T. Robinson is a Professor of Finance and the J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Professor of International Management at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of private equity, venture capital and entrepreneurial finance.

His work has appeared in leading academic journals in finance and economics and has been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and The Economist.

Professor Robinson is a scientific advisor to the Swedish House of Finance in Stockholm, Sweden, the Private Equity Research Council, the Private Capital Research Institute, as well as a number of private equity firms and technology startups.  He is the former Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Private Capital.

He earned his PhD and MBA degrees at the University of Chicago, a Master of Science from the London School of Economics,  a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an honorary doctorate from the Stockholm School of Economics. Prior to joining Duke University he was a Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia University.


Carolyn Rodz

Founder and CEO, Alice

Featured in Fortune, Inc., Fast Company, Entrepreneur and more, Alice was founded by three-time Latina entrepreneur Carolyn Rodz. She has helped raise billions of dollars of capital for innovative organizations, created a luxury retail line that sold in over 400 stores worldwide, including Neiman Marcus, Harrod’s, and Bloomingdales, and later launched a global marketing firm that supported specialty product launches within Fortune 500 enterprises and startups positioning themselves for industry leadership.

Carolyn now serves as an advocate for women entrepreneurs, connecting them to sources of capital, strategic partners, and mentors to create businesses that scale. She is committed to closing the gender gap prevalent in the startup environment by helping female founders implement key strategies for sustainable, accelerated business growth.

Carolyn was recognized by Inc. as a “17 Women to Watch in 2017,” by Entrepreneur Magazine as a 2016 “Woman to Watch,” and was selected to participate in the United Nations Foundation Global Accelerator. She is a member of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, a Fortune Most Powerful Women attendee, and has received numerous accolades, including being chosen as a Sam Walton Emerging Entrepreneur and American Express Micro to Millions awardee. She is a TEDx speaker, regular contributor to major media outlets, and is a board member for the Texas A&M Mays College of Business. Carolyn resides in Houston, Texas with her husband and two boys, Luca (5) and Henry (3).


Sonali Shah

Associate Professor of Business Administration, University of Illinois Gies College of Business

Shah’s research centers on improving our understanding of the processes that fuel innovation and entrepreneurship. One stream of research investigates collaborative models of innovation development—such as open source software communities and activities within makerspaces—and their implications for firms and policy.

A second stream of research examines the factors that determine startup success and the precursors of commercial activity.  Shah’s work has been recognized with an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, as well as best paper awards from the Academy of Management, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, and the Industry Studies Association.  Grants from the Ewing Marion Kauffman and Alfred P. Sloan Foundations have funded her research.

Shah completed her PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned bachelor’s degrees in bioengineering and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.  Prior to becoming a professor, she worked at Morgan Stanley & Co. and McKinsey & Co., and volunteered with the American Red Cross, focusing on issues related to refugee resettlement and education.


Amit Singh

President and CEO, Spectraforce

Amit has 19 years of global IT experience, working with a range of small and big (fortune 500) companies.

He is a Project Management Institute certified Project Management Professional (PMP). He has held various delivery and solution roles for Syntel, a global IT consulting firm. He has successfully executed small to large-scale projects, utilizing a global delivery model for various large firms in insurance and finance verticals. Amit (Beta Gamma Sigma) holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from UNC, Kenan-Flagler Business School.


Olav Sorenson

Frederick Frank ‘54 and Mary C. Tanner Professor of Management, Yale School of Management

Professor Sorenson's research interests include economic geography, economic sociology, entrepreneurship, organizational ecology, the sociology and management of science and technology, and business and corporate strategy.

His most extensive line of research examines how social networks affect transactions, thereby shaping the geography and evolution of industries. Although Professor Sorenson has investigated these issues in a wide variety of settings, including banking, biotechnology, and footwear manufacturing, he has most extensively studied the entertainment industries and venture capital.

Prior to joining the Yale School of Management, Professor Sorenson held the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair in Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He has also taught at the University of Chicago, UCLA, and London Business School.


Jessica Tabbert

CEO & Founder, J. Gisele

Jessica Tabbert is a business and hospitality professional with over 16 years of experience in the events and hotel industries, including military protocol (large scale, high visibility military events). Her expertise includes project management, data analysis, customer service, network marketing, event consulting, and community outreach. She is also a veteran of the United States Army and U.S. Air Force Reserve, having served almost two decades.

As a military service member, Staff Sergeant Tabbert was responsible for the training, education, and leadership of men and women in military intelligence, command, control, and communications. She conducted analysis and designed programs to train military members to identify strategies execute mission-oriented plans and directives. Staff Sergeant Tabbert was also placed in leadership positions over the Honor Guard. She was responsible for the complete event planning and successful execution of military ceremonies from 250 to 20,000 attendees.

She continues her passion for event planning and strategic collaboration in her roles as CEO of J. Gisele, an events and entertainment agency specializing in culinary experiences, and as the Founder and Director of the CIC Military Cohort, a for-profit educational platform designed to offer business resources and workspace to veteran entrepreneurs and military spouse entrepreneurs. Using events as a platform, Mrs. Tabbert connects businesses and organizations with their target audience to facilitate networking and partnerships. She uses her knowledge of data analysis, strategic collaboration, and community building to create an environment which sustains business growth, builds relationships, and contributes to community efforts. She founded the CIC Military Cohort as a social entrepreneurship endeavor to empower veterans and military spouses to start and grow small businesses and corporations in South Florida. The program is currently operational at the Cambridge Innovation Center Miami, a coworking space in Wynwood. Mrs. Tabbert is also the Head of Military Partnerships at Caribu, an app that allows parents, mentors, and family members to read to children aged 0-7 when they are not in the same location.

Jessica has a Bachelor of Science in Sports, Entertainment, and Event Management from Johnson & Wales University. As a community leader, she is the Chair of the Mission United Outreach Committee, she volunteers annually with the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation, and is a partner with R Stars Project, a nonprofit organization which empowers high school youth to shine in their communities. She also serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Black Professionals Network and the Conference Director for the National Sales Network.

Mrs. Tabbert is married to Sergeant First Class Nathan Tabbert, an active duty soldier stationed at US Southern Command in Miami. Together they have four children. Jessica is also a huge nerd. When she’s not trying to take over the world, she loves adventure, reading, cooking, and learning things.


Igor Tasic

Founder and CEO, Startup Europe Week

Igor Tasic is the founder and CEO of Startup Europe Week, the largest entrepreneurship movement in Europe and one of the largest in the world, with events in over 300 cities in 50 countries, promoted in collaboration with the European Commission. He is a serial entrepreneur, as well as a specialist in entrepreneurial ecosystems and in internationalization of small and medium-sized companies, being a member of the World Economic Forum’s Digital Leaders Network and advisor on multiple acceleration programs / startups.

He previously worked as a strategy consultant at Strategy& (formerly Booz Allen Hamilton) and as executive in multinationals like DuPont and Telefonica among others.

Tasic is a PhD candidate at UPCT and a MSc. at Columbia Business School / FGV-EAESP.


Mary Tripsas

Associate Professor of Management and Organization, Boston College Carroll School of Management

Professor Mary Tripsas is a leading management scholar whose research and teaching focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and strategy. Her work on the transformation of industries by new technology has illustrated the importance of organizational identity and managerial mental models in shaping strategic responses to technological shifts.

She has explored the emergence of digital imaging, the evolution of the typesetter industry, and is currently engaged in studies of eBooks, air taxis, and innovation in music.

Prior to joining the Carroll School, Professor Tripsas was on the faculties of the Harvard Business School and the Wharton School. Before entering academia, she was a strategy consultant in the Cambridge and Milan offices of the Monitor Group and worked for IBM in the early 1980’s as both a software developer and member of the sales force. She also served on the board of directors of Lexar Media (NASDAQ: LEXR) from 2003 to 2006, when the company was acquired by Micron.


Qingfang Wang

Associate Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Riverside

Qingfang Wang is associate professor of public policy at UC Riverside. Her research area lies broadly in immigration, labor market, and development. With a Ph.D. in geography, Wang is particularly interested in how place–as both work site and residential location–interacts with race, immigration status, and gender in shaping labor market experiences and social-economic wellbeing.

Her work has been funded by the Kauffman Foundation, National Science Foundation, HUD, and other agencies. Her recent work includes research on immigrant, ethnic and female entrepreneurship, and transnational migration of the highly skilled, especially in the higher education sector.


Xinxin Wang

Assistant Professor of Finance, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Xinxin Wang's research interests are in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, venture capital, corporate finance and industrial organization.

Professor Wang strives to understand the relationship between financial markets and real economic output in terms of entrepreneurship, innovation and development. In particular, Wang is interested in the changing landscape of alternative finance and the role new paradigms of funding have on entrepreneurial decision making.

She is completing her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where she earned her MS in finance. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in applied mathematics and a BA in economics.


Phil Weilerstein

President, VentureWell

Since 1996, Phil has been the chief executive of VentureWell. From the beginning, Phil’s focus for VentureWell has been to help bring socially beneficial applications of STEM inventions to market. He’s accomplished this goal by designing and overseeing programs that encourage curricular innovation and student venture creation, provide resources for faculty and student entrepreneurs, and develop community through conferences and workshops for faculty and students.

Phil attended the University of Massachusetts where he was a co-founder of a biotechnology company developing naturally occurring pest control products. He is a Founder and Past Chair of the ASEE Entrepreneurship Division, and a recipient of the 2008 Price Foundation Innovative Entrepreneurship Educators Award, the 2014 Engineering Entrepreneurship Pioneers Award from ASEE, and the 2016 Deshpande Symposium Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education. pweilerstein@venturewell.org


Chris Wheat

Director of Business Research, JP Morgan Chase Institute

Chris Wheat is the Director of Business Research for the JPMorgan Chase Institute. Prior to joining JPMCI, he served as the Director of Analytics at a financial technology startup, where he led the development of advanced analytics algorithms.

He previously was an Assistant Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and at the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers Business School. As a faculty member, he taught and researched topics in strategy, entrepreneurship, global microfinance, economic sociology, and social network analysis.

Chris earned a B.S.E. in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University, an M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, an M.A. in Sociology from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University.


Chad Womack

Senior Director of STEM Initiatives and the HBCU Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, UNCF

Dr. Chad Womack’s work portfolio includes the UNCF Merck Fellowship Program, UNCF STEM Scholars Program and the HBCU Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Initiative.

Prior to his entrepreneurial ventures, Womack completed several research fellowships at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center (VRC), and at the Harvard AIDS Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Womack earned his doctoral degree in biomedical sciences from the Morehouse School of Medicine, and is a proud graduate of Morehouse College, where he was a biology and chemistry major.


Tiantian Yang

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Duke University

Tiantian Yang is an assistant professor of Sociology at Duke University. Her research interests focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, organizations, economic sociology, social inequality, labor markets, social networks, gender, and quantitative methods. She has held visiting scholar positions at the Stockholm School of Economics and the Jonkoping School of Business.

Tiantian received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2014). She also received an M.S. in Statistics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2012) and an M.A. in Sociology at Peking University (2008).


Bilal Zia

Senior Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

Bilal Zia is a Senior Economist in the Finance and Private Sector Development Team of the Development Research Group at the World Bank in Washington, DC. He joined in July 2006 after completing a Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His research is focused on financial development at the household, firm, and bank levels, and his work has appeared in top academic journals such as the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Management Science, and Journal of Development Economics. He uses both experimental and non-experimental methods and some of his recent work includes  impact evaluations of financial and business education programs, testing innovative methods to improve financial access for households and firms, and applying insights from behavioral economics to development finance.


Ted Zoller

T.W. Lewis Clinical Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Ted Zoller oversees the teaching and outreach programs of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

His research focuses on the role and structure of entrepreneurial networks and the interrelationships with investor syndicates. He has posited a “dealmakers’ algorithm” to identify the most important actors in entrepreneurial ecosystems. He is an adviser to the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, and works with them to scale the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, an entrepreneurship networking project based on his research.

His teaching focuses on new enterprise development, business models and early-stage venturing with a focus on developing entrepreneurial leaders and teams. He is the founding instructor of Launching the Venture, which has increased the number of companies to spin-off from UNC to lead national benchmarks.

Dr. Zoller oversees Launch Chapel Hill, a new venture lab that supports UNC teams that are moving to the marketplace, and a senior adviser to the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. He serves as the primary liaison for UNC Kenan-Flagler to the Research Triangle entrepreneurial community.

He is a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he previously served as a vice president.

He is president of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the largest independent, professional academic association in the world dedicated to advancing the discipline of entrepreneurship.

Dr. Zoller collaborates with leading venture accelerators in Europe, including the Accelerace program at the Symbion Research Park in Denmark. He has taught and consulted with numerous entrepreneurial ventures, and is an active, practicing entrepreneur. He founded CommonWeal Ventures, a venture advisory and analytics firm, and is a small business owner.

He serves on the boards of Idea Fund Partners, Rex Health Ventures, Southeast TechInventures, the executive committee of Council of Entrepreneurial Development and the national board of the Specialist People Foundation.

Dr. Zoller is a former associate dean, high-tech entrepreneur and American Management Systems, Inc. principal. He was founding director of economic development at the College of William & Mary, where he developed Jefferson Park, an advanced technology research park.

He received his PhD from UNC, master’s degrees from the University of Virginia and Syracuse University, and a dual bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary.



Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

We Put Knowledge to Work

Fundamental to our belief in a free society is an economic system described as “free enterprise” which is dependent upon individual initiative. This encompasses social and ethical standards derived from this system and embodied in a democratic society.

The Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise fosters mutual understanding and appreciation between members of the private enterprise sector, the academic community, and their government, and to encourage cooperative efforts among these groups.

The Kenan Institute serves these communities as a national center for scholarly research, joint exploration of issues, and course development all associated with the principal theme of preservation, encouragement, and understanding of private enterprise.


A Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise Event