Speakers and Moderators



Mason Ailstock, President, AURP; Vice President of Operations, The University Financing Foundation, Inc.

Passionate about place-based design and the convergence of university/industry relationships, Mason Ailstock has been leading the physical and social development of university research parks and innovation districts for more than 13 years. Ailstock serves as the Vice President of Operations for The University Financing Foundation (TUFF). TUFF is a private 501(c)3 that partners with institutions around the country in the achievement of their education and research mission through facility investments providing the assets needed to achieve their core goals, investing over $1 billion since its founding in 1982.

Prior to joining TUFF, Ailstock served as the Chief Operating Officer of the 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park (RTP) where he led the operational, business development, marketing, real estate, and partnership strategies of the largest high-tech research park in North America. As COO, Ailstock was responsible for the recruitment and retention of private sector companies, the development of mixed-use projects involving multiple stakeholders, strengthening relationships with economic development leaders, and expanding partnerships with the three founding Tier 1 research universities as well as the 220 companies located within RTP. Preceding his time at RTP, Ailstock served as the Global Partner Manager at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), playing a key role in the master plan and business development successes of the 250-acre research.

Ailstock received his bachelor of science in architecture & design, and his master in planning & real estate from Clemson University. Ailstock proudly serves as the President of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), a 2016 Eisenhower Fellow, US Green Building Council LEED BD+C, and is a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

Dan Berglund, President, State Science & Technology Institute 

Dan Berglund is the president and CEO of SSTI, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving initiatives that support prosperity through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. SSTI is the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development. Leading SSTI since its inception in 1996, Dan has helped SSTI develop a nationwide network of practitioners and policymakers dedicated to improving the economy through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. SSTI works with this network to conduct research on best practices and trends in tech-based economic development, encourage cooperation among and between state and federal programs, and assist states and communities as they develop and implement prosperity strategies. 
Prior to joining SSTI, Dan worked as a consultant and for the Ohio Department of Development in a variety of positions, including Acting Deputy Director of the Division of Technological Innovation.

Kevin T. Byrne, MBA, AURP Past President; President, The University Financing Foundation, Inc.

Kevin Byrne spent his early career at Arthur Andersen with a primary focus in the real estate and financial services industries. In 1997, Byrne founded Byrne & Associates, which focused on providing investment-banking services to small and middle market companies. After earning his Master of Business Administration with honors from the Wharton School of Business in 2001, he joined a real estate development firm as the Chief Financial Officer, managing a balance sheet of over $200 million and leading new transactions of over $150 million in just two years.

In 2003, he joined The University Financing Foundation (TUFF) and has managed all aspects of the firm including the firm’s new investments in education and research projects, which total over $800 million. Byrne oversees the operations of the firm and, through his leadership, the firm has become involved in all aspects of research park creation and ongoing operations including the development of facilities. He has crafted full-scale park business plans, assisted in the strategic and master planning of research parks and has helped several global parks with the creation of innovative investment structures enabling these parks to maximize the efficiency of their limited resources. Byrne is an honors graduate from Furman University and currently serves as past president of the Association of University Research Parks Board of Directors.

Chris Carlson, Division Vice President, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

As Division Vice President with Whiting-Turner since 1999, Chris Carlson is primarily responsible for oversight of WT’s Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Charlotte, North Carolina offices which currently have an annual revenue of about $300M.  Carlson has 35 years of experience in the construction industry and is a graduate of the University of Florida, with a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management.  Throughout his career, he has managed a multitude of construction types; however, his primary focus has been constructing Higher Education, Science and Technology facilities, contributing to the success of University and Research projects across the Southeast United States.  He has been directly involved as Key Leadership managing over $580 million dollars of University projects in the Southeast prior to his current executive duties.

Carlson was the first individual within Whiting-Turner to acquire LEED Accreditation in 2001 and was instrumental in Whiting-Turner’s corporate membership within the United States Green Building Council whereby he was elected to the LEED Application Guidelines committee to compile a laboratory specific LEED manual.  He has been directly involved in numerous high profile, sustainable building projects such as the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Whitehead Biomedical Research Facility both at Emory University, the Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical & Health Sciences at the University of Georgia, as well as over one million SF of space at the Innovation Quarter in Winston Salem, NC.

Gregory W. Deason, Past President, AURP; Senior Vice President and Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Purdue University

Greg Deason leads the team that is accelerating startup and tech-based company activity at Purdue University, known as the Foundry. The Foundry is dedicated to expanding the entrepreneurial ecosystem and providing robust resources to inventors and entrepreneurs leading to new company formation, ideas to the marketplace and job creation. Announced in 2013, the Foundry has had record-breaking performance with startup companies. Deason has been instrumental in the creation of Purdue Research Parks in three additional locations in Indiana, and in the creation of the Purdue Technology Centers Complex – the largest university-affiliated business incubator complex in the U.S. During Deason’s tenure at the Purdue Research Park, the statewide network has grown to more than 250 companies and over 4,600 jobs, providing an annual impact of $1.3 billion to the Indiana economy. In 2013, Deason received the Career Achievement Award from AURP recognizing him for excellence in research park creation, development and service to the industry. In 2010, Deason was named an Outstanding Alumnus of Purdue University and remains active in service to the College of Agriculture.

Laura Frerichs, Director, University of Illinois Research Park, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign Economic Development 

Laura Frerichs is responsible for managing startup company oversight of the University of Illinois Research Park, and supporting the University’s economic development efforts. There are 90 companies located in the Research Park, which is a development including 200 acres on the campus of the University of Illinois. She developed innovative entrepreneur support programs including the Entrepreneur-in- Residence program, I-Start launch program, Student Shared Services, SBIR and Industrial Design assistance. Frerichs led recruitment of new research and innovation centers in the Research Park for large publically traded firms including: Abbott, Abbvie, John Deere, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Dow Chemical, Grainger, Riverbed, Citrix, ADM, Raytheon, Yahoo, and other publically traded firms. She has also been instrumental in leading more than 100 event offerings annually for clients including technical training, entrepreneur education, and networking activities. Under her leadership the Research at the University was named AURP Outstanding Research Park of the Year in 2011, by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 3 College Town Incubators in 2013, and by Forbes in 2010 as one of 10 Incubators Changing the World. Champaign-Urbana has emerged as one of the top 20 cities for venture capital per capita, with 3.4 the national average invested for early stage firms.

Heather Gaines, JD, Associate General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, University of Arizona

Heather Gaines joined the University of Arizona Office of the General Counsel in September 2013. She works extensively with Tech Parks Arizona and provides legal advice to other departments throughout the University in connection with a wide variety of transactional matters. Prior to joining the University, Gaines was a shareholder in a Tucson law firm, where she represented public and private real estate developers, lenders and other business owners in real estate and business transactions. 

Gaines received both her bachelors of arts and juris doctorate from The University of Arizona and is a member of the State Bar of Arizona and the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

Robert Geolas, Partner, HR&A Advisors, Inc.

Robert ‘Bob’ Geolas is a nationally-recognized leader in the development of innovation districts, university campuses, and research parks. As the Partner in charge of our Raleigh office, Geolas brings his vision of placemaking as a public service to HR&A, working with clients to deliver economic growth and real estate strategies that enhance assets and communities.

Prior to joining HR&A, Geolas served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Research Triangle Foundation, the steward organization for the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. As President, he led the master planning effort to reshape Research Triangle Park, ensuring its place at the forefront of technology and applied science, while also serving its historic mission to support the universities and create opportunities for all North Carolinians. Previously, Geolas helped to create one of the country’s most successful public-private research and development campuses as Executive Director of the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research.

Geolas has received several awards for his work to further the missions of institutions, including the Vision Award from the International Association of University Research Parks, Alumni of the Year Award from North Carolina State University, College of Humanities and Social Science and the Triangle Top 20 CEO of the Year Award from the Triangle Business Journal.

John M. HanakManaging Director, Purdue Ventures, Purdue University's Foundry

John Hanak is the Managing Director of Purdue Venures – the seed capital entity within Purdue University’s Foundry – a pre-incubation accelerator focused on commercializing university-developed technologies through startup companies.  Formerly, he served as the Statewide Director of the Purdue Technology Centers, a network of high-tech incubators across the state of Indiana.  He has held officer-level positions at a Fortune 500 metals manufacturer, a middle-market machine-building company and a technology product development firm. Additionally, Mr. Hanak co-founded a technology commercialization and consulting firm – North Riverside Partners; and a small investment partnership – CN Associates.

Prior to arriving at the Purdue Research Foundation in 2005 and co-founding North Riverside Partners in 2003, Hanak served as President, CEO and board member of Digital Innovations, a Chicago-based technology product development and marketing firm.   Before joining Digital Innovations, he spent over 20 years in the steel industry and was a Vice President at Ispat Inland Steel, a $2.3B subsidiary of Ispat International (now ArcelorMittal), with responsibility for all administration and legal matters.

Hanak graduated from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor of Science and graduated with distinction from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago with a juris doctorate. He has served, and continues to serve, on a number of corporate and volunteer boards, including Shure, Inc., Time Pilot Corporation, Legacy Capital Advisors and the College of Business Administration at Valparaiso University.  He is a board member and recent past president of the Venture Club of Indiana and recently completed a term as chairman of the board of directors of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA).

Carol Kraus LaufferPrincipal, Business Cluster Development

Since joining Business Cluster Development (BCD) in 2002, Carol Lauffer has helped communities, universities and corporations across the U.S. to plan and deploy successful strategies and programs that support entrepreneurship, create new businesses, move innovative products to market, and build strong ecosystems and clusters, resulting in economic diversification, job creation, technology commercialization, and economic growth.

Prior to joining BCD, Lauffer was Managing Director of Panasonic’s corporate, venture-backed incubator in Cupertino, California and a Principal in its $100 million venture fund. Carol has 30+ years of experience supporting entrepreneurship and small business, and economic development. In addition, she has served on the management teams and advisory boards of several incubators.

As a dedicated member of the industry, Lauffer served on the board of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), holding the post of Chair of the Board of Directors of InBIA in her final year. Currently, she serves on board of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). Shel is a course instructor for both organizations’ professional development programs, and a frequent speaker on best practices for entrepreneurial support organizations, ecosystem assessment and development, and targeting technology clusters for economic development. In April 2015, InBIA honored Lauffer with the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, recognizing her significant contributions to the association and the industry.

She earned a master of city planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor of arts from Northwestern University.

Jeanne Mell, Vice President Marketing Communications and Community Engagement, The University City Science Center

Jeanne Mell joined the University City Science Center in 2009 as Vice President Marketing Communications. She is responsible for corporate marketing, program development, communications, public and media relations and community engagement. Mell also oversees Quorum, the entrepreneurs’ clubhouse and the Science Center’s participation in the Blackstone LaunchPad Philadelphia program.

Before joining the Science Center, Mell was Senior Vice President of Communications for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, where she had overall responsibility for print and electronic communications, public relations and media relations. Before making the move to PR and marketing, Mell was a journalist. Most recently she served as Director of Photography and Design at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del. She also worked at the Associated Press in New York and Philadelphia, ABC News, Good Morning America and Popular Photography Magazine. She started her career at Inc. Magazine, when it was a startup.

Mell chairs Campus Philly’s Board of Directors and also serves on the board of the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) and chairs AWE’s Marketing Committee. She also serves on the board of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress. A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Mell has a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Thomas E.Parkinson, Senior Director, IllinoisVENTURES

Thomas E. Parkinson is Senior Director of IllinoisVENTURES, based in Champaign-Urbana. He has been investing in, mentoring and advising technology-based startup companies in the Chicago area, the broader Midwest and in Central Appalachia for more than 30 years. He was a partner with Woodland Venture Management, based in Chicago, where he helped raise and manage two venture capital funds that invested in high-growth companies in under-served and fly-over regions of the country. Prior to that, he was the Executive Director of a successful seed capital fund affiliated with Northwestern University and the CFO of an award-winning technology business incubator.

Parkinson has taught courses in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ohio University, and most recently at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He taught the capstone class in Kellogg’s Discover-Test-Launch sequence for student entrepreneurs for four years. His students have gone on to raise several million dollars in startup capital and launch more than a dozen new businesses in the US and around the world.

He has a bachelor of arts from Northwestern and master of business adminstration A from Kellogg, with a specialization in Urban Economic Development. He is a member of the National Advisory Committee for Pipeline, a prestigious entrepreneurial fellowship program based in Kansas City.

Lance Patterson, Chief Executive Officer, Patterson Real Estate Advisory Group LLC

In the fall of 2009, Lance Patterson formed Patterson Real Estate Advisory Group LLC, having most recently served as President and Chief Operating Officer at Barry Real Estate Companies where he was responsible for the company’s capital market activities and general administration. Patterson’s career spans 35 years in commercial real estate finance and includes experience as a banker, capital advisor, developer, loan guarantor and investor – all built on a foundation of deeply analytical capital skills.  Over his career, he has forged relationships across the capital markets and enjoys working closely with clients to help leverage great products through appropriate capitalization.

While at Barry, Patterson was responsible for the financing, acquisition and development of more than $1.5 billion of transactions.  Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer of First Fidelity Mortgage Corporation, where he spent 12 years as an intermediary providing capital market services for commercial real estate clients throughout the southeastern U.S.

Lisa F. Pool, CID, LEED AP, Principal, Perkins+Will

As Director of Workplace for the Minneapolis office, Lisa Pool has been with Perkins+Will since 1994. She has specialized in large corporate workplace environments working with multiple Fortune 500 companies. She is a key resource for Perkins+Will’s workplace strategy, mobility and change management services, helping her clients transition to new environments by providing clear messaging strategies resulting in awareness, understanding, and buy-in. Lisa focuses on the client's needs and project vision, implementing innovative programming and space planning solutions that reflect the culture, mission, and financial objectives of the client. She is exemplary at guiding her clients through the planning process and is passionate in exceeding their expectations for service and results. 

Pool's clients benefit from her years of best practice knowledge and an understanding of high-performance work environments where employees are both innovative and productive. Her project management skills and design planning expertise have led to impressive results executed with limited budgets and tight schedules. Lisa's ability to work with clients at a national level across their facilities has resulted in real value for end users.

She has presented her ideas and innovative case studies at CoreNet Global, has been a part of numerous panels on workplace planning and design for the local chapter, and has been a speaker at Minnesota Real Estate Journal Office Summit and MNCREW.

Jamie Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer, SioTeX Corporation  

With over 30 years of experience in technology management, Jamie Rhodes is a serial entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer of SioTeX Corporation. He previously founded National NanoMaterials, Perceptive Sciences Corporation and before that was the co-founder of a venture capital funded start-up focused on the telecom industry.  Rhodes spent the early years of his career working with numerous start-ups, most notably National Instruments in its early stage. 

To give back to the community, Rhodes has lent his expertise to other entrepreneurs.  With the support of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce (GACC), he founded the Central Texas Angel Network, which provides funding and support to Texas entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of industries. He has also organized angel groups around the state of Texas into the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks, which represents over a dozen angel groups, hundreds of investors, with more than $120M invested over the last few years.  He has cofounded an investment group focused on minority angels and minority entrepreneurs. He is past vice-chair of the board of the Angel Capital Association, a national organization spun out of the Kauffman Foundation representing seed stage investors. 

Rhodes was honored to be named one of the 30 Most Influential People in Central Texas in the Last 30 Years by the Austin Business Journal and was named the Technology Volunteer of the Year by the GACC.  He is an IC2 Fellow. He has served on advisory boards at St. Edward’s University, Texas State University and the University of Texas. He has been an Entrepreneur in Residence at Texas State University and Director of New Ventures for the Texas A&M University System. He holds both a bachelor of science and masters of science from the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business.

Laurie G. Simmons, Executive Director, Rio Grande Valley Angel Network; Director, University of Texas’ Commercialization and Innovation Center, Rio Grande Valley campus

Laurie Simmons serves as the Director for the Center for Innovation and Commercialization (CIC) at the Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).  In this capacity she works directly with student, faculty and community entrepreneurs in helping them take their idea for a product or service from “just an idea” to launching a business enterprise. She is responsible for overall center operations, including the development and implementation of business support programs to help start-up businesses maximize growth and success.  Furthermore, she works to create ecosystems that link inventors, researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors.

In addition to her role as Director for the CIC, she is a founder and Executive Director for the Rio Grande Valley Angel Network (RGVAN.) RGVAN is a group of accredited investors who organized together to facilitate investing in early stage companies.

Prior to joining UTRGV in 2015, Simmons served as the Executive Director of the Tropical Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization, a vetting agent for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.  An entrepreneur herself, she owned and operated an award-winning advertising and public relations agency from 1985-2007. Her broad-based background in a variety of markets brings real-world experience to the process of launching new ventures. 

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelors in Journalism / Public Relations, Simmons has served on many boards, associations and actively participates on committees for various economic development, education and charitable initiatives in South Texas.

Carol Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, Association of University Research Parks

Carol Stewart is Chief Executive Officer of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP). She is founder and Immediate Past President of the AURP Canada Chapter chartered in 2007 and was a board member of AURP board member since 2010. 

Prior to taking on the role of CEO at AURP, Stewart was the founding director of the David Johnston Research + Technology Park at the University of Waterloo and managed all operations from its first building in 2004 to the ground breaking of the eleventh in 2017. This last building (EVOLV) is the largest Net Positive multi-tenant commercial building of its kind in North America with a goal of disrupting the development industry. The park hosts the world recognized Waterloo Accelerator Centre, over a million square feet of innovation tech space, 85 companies and 4,000 knowledge workers. The R+T Park contributed $500 million to the Canadian economy which happens to be 10% of the combined annual economic impact of all 26 parks across the nation. Before managing the park, she split her career between not-for profit and tech in various management roles which included education, marketing, and professional services at the Canadian Industrial Innovation Centre (CIIC) and Maplesoft. Stewart also participates on industry committees such as the APLU-CICEP, various boards and tech association, economic development and charitable initiatives in Waterloo, Ontario.

Leigh Stringer, Principal, EYP Architecture and Engineering

Leigh Stringer is a workplace strategy expert and researcher whose work has been covered recently by BBC News, The Globe and Mail, Fortune, CNN and Good Morning America.  She is a principal at EYP Architecture and Engineering and the author of two bestselling books, The Green Workplace and The Healthy Workplace.

Stringer works with corporate, government, higher education and institutional clients to help them create sustainable and high-performing workplace environments that enhance well-being and human performance. She has worked with, among others, Under Armour, LG, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Bank of America, Zurich Financial, Ernst & Young, American Express, The MITRE Corporation, the Architect of the U.S. Capitol, the British House of Commons, the U.S. General Services Administration, the World Wildlife Fund and Columbia University. She is currently collaborating with Harvard University’s School of Public Health on a new Health and Human Performance Index and the Center for Active Design in New York on their Fitwel building certification program to create new tools, connect like minds and blur the boundaries across industries in order to advance and improve our well-being at work. 

Leigh Stringer is on the board of directors of the non-profit, Global Women for Wellbeing, an organization that aims to give women a voice to create better health and wellbeing for themselves, their businesses, and their communities.

Twitter:  @string0820
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/leighstringer/ 

Scott Taylor, President and Chief Executive Officer, Carter

As Carter’s president and CEO, Scott manages the day-to-day operations and leverages his relationships to source and create new business opportunities for Carter as an investor, developer and advisor. Scott is responsible for providing executive oversight to both the development and investment teams. Carter is one of the nation’s top multi-disciplined developers and is currently handling mixed-use, multi-family, student housing, corporate/institutional, and education projects across the country. Scott is one of the principal owners of Carter.

Over his 28-year career, Scott has been involved in the development and investment activities of more than 15 million square feet. Prior to joining Carter, Scott was president of Atlanta-based Holder Properties. He began his real estate career as an industrial/land broker with Cushman & Wakefield of Georgia in 1989.

Jeff WilliamsAICP, LEED AP, Senior Project Designer, Associate Principal, Perkins+WillJeff Williams

Jeff Williams is a versatile urban designer with experience in both the public and private sector. He is responsible for leading some of Perkins+Will’s largest and most complex projects. He has led a diverse range of projects at all scales, from new cities to groundbreaking urban regeneration projects. In recent years, Jeff has developed a portfolio of master plans focused on science and technology, research parks and innovation districts, including work with major universities, cities and private developers. His clients include the Qatar Foundation, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Cummings Research Park and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

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