Speakers and Moderators


Amy Adams: George Mason University, Institute for Biohealth Innovation

As Executive Director of the Institute for Biohealth Innovation at George Mason University, Amy Adams is responsible for nurturing and advancing biohealth research and innovation interests of more than 250 faculty and thousands of students who represent a broad range of academic disciplines. Her role includes fostering partnerships with industry, healthcare, government, and academic partners.

Prior to leading the development of the Institute for Biohealth Innovation in 2017, she served in several different capacities at Mason. As a scientific researcher, she used genomic and proteomic technologies to study signaling pathway networks in cancer. Amy also led outreach efforts and created programs including the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program and the Galileo’s Science Café to engage high school and undergraduate students in research across STEM disciplines, communicate science to the public, and foster internal and external collaborations. Her journey began at Mason where she earned a M.S. in Chemistry, B.S. in Biology.

Mason Ailstock: Partner, Rowen

Mason joins HR&A after serving as the Vice President of Operations at The University Financing Foundation (TUFF), a non-profit financing organization based in Atlanta, where he advised on a wide variety of local and international university projects managing assets in excess of $1.5 billion which include innovation districts such as Georgia Tech’s Tech Square in Midtown Atlanta and healthcare networks such as Northwell Health in Manhattan New York. Prior to TUFF, Mason was the Chief Operating Officer at the Research Triangle Park Foundation (RTP) and led the organization’s business development, marketing, real estate, and partnership efforts. Responsible for leading the convergence of higher education including three R1 universities, two community colleges, and a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Mason championed the redevelopment of RTP as a multi-use innovation destination for the Triangle.

With an extensive international network, Mason traveled to Sweden and Saudi Arabia as an Eisenhower Fellow and studied the global evolution of innovation districts and the impacts of place-based design and public-private convergence on their success. Mason is the Past President of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), Co-Chairman of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) University Development & Innovation Council, and member of the Atlanta ULI Center for Leadership.

Mason holds a BS in Architecture & Design and a Master’s of City & Regional Planning from Clemson University.

Former President and Current Board Member, Association of University Research Parks.

Tony Boccanfuso: President & Chief Executive Officer, UIDP

Since 2007, Anthony M. Boccanfuso has led UIDP, a solutions-oriented membership organization comprised of top-tier innovation companies and world-class research universities. UIDP supports mutually beneficial collaborations by developing and disseminating strategies for addressing common issues between the sectors—academic, corporate and government. Its activities help members achieve meaningful impact on a broad array of collaboration matters, ranging from contracting to commercialization and workforce development.

After completing his doctorate in inorganic chemistry, Boccanfuso embarked on a career spanning more than 30 years with a focus on research and innovation. He managed a variety of administrative, programmatic, and strategy initiatives for academic, government, and private sector organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

More recently, Boccanfuso was part of a team selected to create and manage the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance, an NSF-funded initiative with a mission to identify and develop new engineering research directions and catalyze high-impact research that benefits society.

Mike Bowman: Associate Director, Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships, University of Delaware

Mike is Associate Director of the University of Delaware’s Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships where, since 2013, he has been responsible for facilitating commercialization of intellectual property developed at the University of Delaware. He is also Director of the Delaware Small Business Technology Development Center. Previously, Mike was Chairman and CEO of the Delaware Technology Park, Inc. (DTP), a collaboration between the State of Delaware, the University of Delaware and private industry formed to launch and support technology companies across a diverse group of industries including life sciences, renewable energy, information technology and advanced materials. DTP, as Research Park of the Year in 2005 by the Association of University Research Parks, is home to 54 early and expansion stage technology companies while 30 more have graduated to larger facilities to accommodate their growth. Mike was instrumental in incubating the Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology and capitalizing it with public and private funding sources including DARPA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to leading Delaware Technology Park, Mike was a Vice President and General Manager for E.I. duPont de Nemours and Advanced Material Systems business unit, which developed more than 40 new technologies for commercialization and grew to $1B in annual revenue. During the late 1990s, the advanced composites segment of the business was acquired by a private equity firm to form Fiberite, Inc. which was acquired by Cytec Industries (NYSE). Mike serves on the boards of First State Innovation, Fraunhofer USA, Delaware BioScience Association, is the Chairman of the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering Advisory Council, and Veroha.

He has a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. While at DuPont he participated in several executive management programs at Wharton and Columbia University.

Dan Breznitz: Author, University Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Department of Political Science

Daniel Breznitz is the Munk Chair of Innovation Studies, the Co-Director of the Innovation Policy Lab, and a professor of global affairs and political science in the Munk School and the Department of Political Science of the University of Toronto, as well as a Fellow of CIFAR where he Co-Directs the program on Innovation, Equity and the Future of Prosperity. Before moving to U of T, Breznitz spent eight years as a professor in Georgia Institute of Technology and was the cofounder and CEO of a software company in Israel. He is the author of numerous papers, chapters and edited volumes as well as two award winning books Innovation and the State: Political Choice and Strategies for Growth in Israel, Taiwan, and Ireland, and The Run of the Red Queen: Government, Innovation, Globalization, and Economic Growth in China. He just published his third book, Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World, in which he offers pragmatic advice while debunking dangerous myth on innovation, growth and prosperity.

Phil Brooks: Director, STEM Workforce Partnerships, University City Science Center

Phil Brooks joined the Science Center in 2019. As the Director of STEM Workforce Partnerships, Phil is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with life science and technology companies to create training models that will employ Philadelphia residents in the STEM field. 

Phil joined the education based AmeriCorps program City Year Philadelphia where he served as a Senior Program Manager and led over 200 18-24 year old young adults in full time volunteer service. After a 10 year commitment to City Year, he joined the Mayor’s Office of Education as the US2020 (Makers + Mentors Network) Program Manager of STEM Initiatives. Later, his work transitioned to the Commerce Department's Talent Development Unit and finally to the Office of Workforce Development where he oversaw the City of Philadelphia's citywide STEM Initiative that engaged, connected and convened citizens in the region. 

Phil Went to Girard College high school then received his B.S. in Biology form American International College.

Kevin Byrne: Chief Executive Officer, The University Financing Foundation

As TUFF’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Kevin has achieved national recognition as a creative problem solver for institutions facing the traditional dilemma of insufficient capital resources. He has pioneered TUFF’s non-traditional approach to public-private partnerships, real estate financing structures, and economic development initiatives for university research parks and innovation districts. His strength is the ability to translate complex real estate solutions into true resource-saving solutions for institutional executives and boards.

Kevin graduated with Honors from Furman University in 1991, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Upon graduation, he received the Wall Street Journal Student Achievement award, the highest honor given by faculty to a student in school’s Economics and Business Administration department. He later earned his MBA, with Honors, from the Wharton School of Business.

In 2012 and 2014, Kevin served as President of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP). He currently serves on the Board of Georgia’s Partnership for Inclusive Innovation and we was previously appointed by Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor to the Georgia Public Private Partnership Guidelines Commission. He also served on two Brookings Institution advisory committees – the Innovation District Initiative and the Bass Placemaking Initiative.

Merry Hunter Caudle: Associate Director, Economic Development, Georgia Institute of Technology

Merry Hunter Caudle is the Associate Director for Economic Development in the Office of Institute Relations at Georgia Tech. In support of city, state, and regional economic development efforts, Merry Hunter identifies and aligns higher education resources and capabilities to support the recruitment of new companies and overall industry expansion in Metro Atlanta and Georgia. She also supports the continued growth of Georgia Tech’s innovation ecosystem model in Tech Square and surrounding areas, including the development and acceleration of co-located corporate labs. She previously served as Education Policy Advisor, as well as Deputy Director of Communications, for former Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Merry Hunter received her bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Georgia Tech, master’s degree in Communications with a research emphasis on crisis rhetoric in higher education from Georgia State University, and M.B.A. from Georgia Tech. She is a member of the Alliance Theatre’s Advisory Board and the Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation’s Young Executives Board. Merry Hunter is a member of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2020, the Zell Miller Leadership Institute Class of 2019, and is an active volunteer with the Junior League of Atlanta. Most recently, Merry Hunter received the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) Rising Star Award in 2020.

Virendra Chhikara: Director, LSBDC at University of Louisiana Monroe

Virendra Chhikara is the Center Director with LSBDC at University of Louisiana Monroe. He earned his MBA from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2009. Prior to that he completed his MS in Industrial/Analytical Chemistry in 2003 from India. While attaining his MBA, he worked as a graduate assistant for the LSBDC at ULM and was hired following his completion. Virendra has expertise in strategic planning, financial planning, market research, business development, International trade, and analytical research and development.

Cullum Clark: Director, Bush Institute - SMU Economic Growth Initiative

Cullum Clark is Director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative and Adjunct Economics Professor at SMU. Cullum’s work focuses on creating prosperous, high-opportunity cities as a path to improving economic mobility in America. He co-authored the 2021 book The Texas Triangle: An Emerging Power in the Global Economy. Cullum’s work has appeared in City Journal, Real Clear Policy, and numerous other publications, plus the Freakonomics Radio podcast.

Cullum worked in investments for 25 years, founding two firms. He serves as Board Chair of the charter school network Uplift Education and on several foundation and endowment boards. He earned a B.A. in History from Yale, a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in Economics from SMU.

Brian Darmody: Chief Strategy Officer, AURP

Brian Darmody leads AURP initiatives including expanding membership, international partnerships and funding in order to build out additional member benefits. Prior to joining AURP, Brian served as Associate Vice President (AVP) of Corporate Engagement at the University of Maryland (UMD). At UMD, Brian  was responsible for developing the overall university strategy for corporate relationships, as well as the development of projects and policies to support these initiatives centrally and through the colleges and schools on campus of the University of Maryland.

Previously, he was the University’s AVP for Corporate and Foundation Relations in the Division of University Relations, AVP for Research and Economic Development, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Development, Director of State and Federal Relations in the President’s Office and has served in the university’s legal counsel office. He serves on national and state boards, including: Fraunhofer USA, the Maryland Economic Development Association, and the Maryland Tech Council.

He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore and he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Adam Eshelbrenner: Senior Vice President, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Adam Eshelbrenner is a graduate from Kansas State University’s Construction Science and Management department in 2000. Upon graduation, he accepted a position with The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company traveling from coast to coast constructing high level projects in technology driven fields for a multitude of elite institutions and Fortune 500 clients.  In 2007, Adam and his wife moved home to open Whiting-Turner’s Kansas City office, the first in the Midwest.  Today, Adam manages Whiting-Turner’s Midwest Operations and client relations through multiple offices and operating groups that maintain a focus on technology driven research, Universities, manufacturing, and critical facilities.  He and his wife are proud KSU Alumni and are active members of their community through numerous philanthropic endeavors and charitable outreach in Kansas City and throughout the Midwest.  Together, Adam and his wife enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, as well as all the joys in raising (3) active children. 

James Goulka: Chairman & Managing Director, Arizona Tech Investors

James Goulka is Chairman and Managing Director for Arizona Tech Investors (ATI) and responsible for the general management of the organization. Goulka previously served as CEO of software companies NetSelector Inc (sold to Apple, Inc), Jump-Start Solutions, and bid4real.com. Additionally, he was CEO of the National Technology Transfer Center, which commercialized IP developed in all 10 NASA labs and parts of the Department of Defense, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and Taliesin Preservation, Inc. and served as COO and CFO of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. and its world-wide subsidiaries. Goulka began his career in corporate finance and private equity at JP Morgan Chase and Citibank. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Angel Capital Association and is a member of its Education Committee.

Goulka is a governing or advisory board member of several ATI portfolio companies. Previously, he was Chairman of Merriam-Webster Dictionaries and most of Britannica’s world-wide subsidiaries, and a board member of various early stage companies. His not-for-profit board involvement includes Steppenwolf Theater Company, Chicago Shakespeare, the Dallas Zoological Society, and the Associate Board of the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. He has served as a Board Member of the Angel Capital Association and on its Education Committee.

He holds two degrees from Yale.

Linda Hall: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Linda Hall serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina. Linda has led the oversight and management of the Foundation’s finances, investments, human resources, IT and operations for over 15 years.

In addition to the day-to-day fiscal management of the Foundation’s assets, Linda is heavily involved in the strategic financial positioning of the investments made in RTP and management of properties owned by the Foundation and its subsidiaries. Linda plays a key role in: the Foundation’s real estate portfolio development and management; the Frontier RTP campus; the Hub RTP mixed-use development strategic planning; and the acquisition, renovation and leasing for nearly 700K SF of commercial office, lab and retail space.

Linda is a licensed CPA with the South Carolina Board of Accountancy, with over 30 years of experience in both public accounting and in private sectors. Prior to joining the Foundation in April 2007, Linda worked as a consultant in both Florida and North Carolina assisting mid-sized partnerships and corporations in financial, tax and strategic business planning.

Linda currently serves as the Finance Committee Chair on NC IDEA Board, TCREW Board and the 2022 TCREW Champion Awards Chair, Raleigh Industry Roundtable of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and the Membership & Marketing Chair on the RTA Leadership Committee (Regional Transportation Alliance).  Recently invited to join the AURP Membership Committee (Association of University Research Parks).

David Heineking: Assistant Vice President, University of Arizona

David Heineking is the Assistant Vice President with the University of Arizona leading the Planning & Operations Phoenix Department.  David has a master’s degree in administration from Northern Arizona University, a BS in Urban Planning from Arizona State University, and a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Arizona.

David oversees the operations of the Phoenix Biosciences Core in downtown Phoenix collaborating closely with the other two universities and various entities on campus.  Additionally, he oversees operations and development of spaces in Scottsdale and on the Capitol mall. 

Kate Hier: AIA, NCARB, EDAC, WELL AP, Architect, Laboratory Planner, Clark & Enersen

Kate Hier is a Principal and Architect at Clark & Enersen. She is passionate about inspiring others through the design of beautiful spaces, and crafting architecture to be a tool for discovery, connection, learning, and healing. As a leader of the firm’s science and technology market sector, she specializes in the design of higher education and science & technology facilities and has led design on numerous high-profile projects at universities, research parks, and medical education centers across the nation. Her focus lies at the intersection of visioning for the future, consensus building, and design excellence.

Matthew Hulver: Vice President of Research, ASU Knowledge Enterprise

Matthew Hulver is vice president of research, responsible for identifying and deploying strategies to grow and diversify ASU’s research enterprise. He holds a faculty position in the College of Health Solutions.

Before joining ASU, Dr. Hulver was at Virginia Tech where he served as the executive director of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and was a professor, department head, and director of graduate programs in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. Hulver has held multiple leadership roles at Virginia Tech, including assistant dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, co-director of the Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors, and director of Metabolic Phenotyping Core.

Hulver holds a bachelor’s degree in fitness management from Marietta College, a master’s degree in exercise science from McDaniel College, and a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from the University of Kansas.

Jonathan Hunt: Ecosystems Partnership Manager, McMaster Innovation Park

Jonathan leads the ecosystem and partnerships office at McMaster Innovation Park (MIP). Over the years, he has played an integral role in building relationships and forming lucrative global partnerships to support MIP’s growth initiative. Through strategic alliances, Jonathan has facilitated impactful collisions that continue to be vital to the growth and success of the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) life sciences corridor. 

Jeff Johnson: Chief Solutions Officer, ITA International

Jeff Johnson joined the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Foundation, in January 2014 as Director of Tech Center Research Park located in Newport News, Virginia. Jeff is responsible for establishing and leading the research and innovation portion of the 100-acre, $450 million mixed used Tech Center based on the internationally acclaimed Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. Jeff identifies, vets, recruits, and supports technology-based companies that are focused on commercialization discovery and growing business that matter. He has also worked with hundreds of federal labs principal investigators and inventors to accelerate lab to market and commercialize innovation.

Jeff has a strong record in executive leadership with extensive experience in competitive analysis and positioning, strategic marketing and branding, business organizational development, manufacturing management, strategic planning, and predictive analytics. Jeff has worked with several national and international brands. Jeff has over 20 years of corporate experience and has held director and senior-level executive leadership positions with profit and loss responsibilities at global industry leading companies in automotive tires and building material finishes.

Jeff advises early-stage entrepreneurs and innovative high growth firms. In 2009, he founded his own consulting company, Averitas, to help small and medium sized businesses profitably grow. Prior to that, he was Founding CEO and Executive Director of an innovative healthcare-based workforce training program for adults, and an arts-based education program for high school students.

As a certified Six Sigma Champion Trainer, Jeff also holds an Executive M.B.A. from Tulane University, and a B.A. in Chemistry from Virginia Tech. Jeff also serves on a number of boards and advisory committees within the region they include 757 Accelerate, Virginia is for Entrepreneurs (VA4E), Center for Innovation and Technology (CIT), Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce (VPCC), WiGL Power, Nasoni, LLC, and Friends of Jefferson Lab Steering Committee, StartWheel, Association of University and Research Parks (AURP), and Greater Peninsula Now, Inc..

Greg King: Associate Vice President for Economic Development, Georgia Institute of Technology

Greg King is the Associate Vice President for Economic Development at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Each day he works with companies to establish successful partnerships and meaningful relationships with campus to support their business and innovation plans.

Within Technology Square and other campus innovation areas he works to enhance the alignment and access to research, education programs and technology development important to economic development and growing communities of innovation. In addition to his role at Georgia Tech, he represents the University System of Georgia in support the state’s industry recruitment and expansion efforts by finding alignment across the system around the talent and technology needs of companies that are considering investment in Georgia.

Jeff Koenig: Board Member, Desert Angels

Jeff Koenig is a board member of the Desert Angels in Tucson and, via that and other groups, invests prolifically in startups and other alternative asset classes.  Jeff also owns Open 4 Business, providing fractional CEO and CFO strategic planning services to small businesses from pre-launch to exit.  He draws on the experience of having purchased, started, operated and/or sold a dozen small businesses.  With his own methods and tools, Jeff also offers an executive education and lab series in strategic financial planning to COOs who need help rounding out their CEO and CFO skills.  Jeff has served the boards of non-profits like the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and via a federal appointment to the National Regulatory Fairness Board.  With what time is left, Jeff mentors throughout the local Tucson entrepreneurial ecosystem (UA Tech Launch, The Forge) and practices risk assessment as a technical mountain biker.

Erin Koshut: AURP President; Executive Director, Cummings Research Park

Erin Koshut is the Executive Director of Cummings Research Park (CRP) in Huntsville, Alabama. With 300 companies situated over more than 3,800 acres and employing 26,500 employees, CRP is the second largest research park in the U.S. and the fourth largest in the world. Erin is responsible for managing and marketing CRP, and for providing a business environment that is conducive to growing existing industry and recruiting new industry into the Park. In her role as CRP Director, Erin continues to lead the implementation of the 2016 comprehensive master plan that ensures another 50 successful years for CRP. Partnering with stakeholders and community leaders, Erin is working to transform the culture in the Park and create a vibrant environment where employees connect, work, live, learn, and play. Erin is a certified Business Incubation Manager.

Ryan Lilly: Global Ventures Program Manager

Ryan has helped 1,500+ entrepreneurs one-on-one and another 5,000+ in workshops in three U.S. states over the last twelve years. He has worked with both traditional small businesses and technology startups while in university-run incubators, city government, chambers of commerce, and various economic development organizations. 

Previous to Global Ventures, Ryan served as Vice President of the Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership in Ocala, Florida for nine years. There he oversaw an incubator and entrepreneurship initiatives throughout the Ocala Metro area. Ryan’s background also includes launching incubators in Illinois and in his home state of Virginia.

A passionate speaker, Ryan has shared his ideas at over 50 local, state, and national conferences related to entrepreneurship, economic development, and the emerging field of entrepreneur ecosystem building.

Ryan earned a B.S. in management from Virginia Tech with a concentration in entrepreneurship and holds a certificate in serial innovation from the University of Illinois as well as a certificate in Business Incubator Management from the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA).

He has trained with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Entrepreneurship (RUPRI), and The Kauffman Foundation. Ryan is a 1 Million Cups Chapter founder and a certified Kauffman FastTrac facilitator.

Victor MacLaughlin: Founder and CEO, Capital2Market

Victor has over 25 years in financial services including consulting, commercial banking, investment banking and being a FinTech entrepreneur.  Aside from starting, managing and growing financial businesses, he is also the co-author of Virginia's Intrastate crowdfunding exemption allowing private businesses to generally solicit and raise capital from non-accredited state residents up to $2 million. Prior to founding Capital2Market in 2016, Victor served as the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Sales for WealthForge Holdings creating solutions for issuers and platforms seeking solutions to raise capital online for private placement issuers and marketplaces.  Victor graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BBA in Marketing and currently holds FINRA licenses Series 7, 24, SIE and 63.

Dr. Hala Madanat: Vice President for Research & Innovation, San Diego State University

Dr. Hala Madanat is the Vice President for Research and Innovation at San Diego State University and Albert W. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Public Health. Dr. Madanat stewards the university’s expansive research enterprise, leads the development of SDSU’s Mission Valley Innovation District, and oversees SDSU’s research advancement, research support services and technology transfer efforts, the SDSU Research Foundation, as well as the university’s start-up incubator, the Zahn Innovation Platform Launchpad.

Under Dr. Madanat’s leadership, SDSU’s research reached $164.5 million in fiscal 2022 – surpassing California State University system records. Dr. Madanat was integral in launching Techstars San Diego Powered by SDSU, a world-class accelerator open to startups from around the world. She led the effort for the first national Academic Health and Human Services Department, a collaboration between SDSU and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services to establish the Live Well Center for Innovation and Leadership to address the need for a diverse workforce pipeline and the health disparities pervasive in our community today.

Dr. Madanat has a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Jordan, a M.S. in Community Health Sciences, and a Ph.D. in Sociology with a minor in Public Health, both from Brigham Young University. Dr. Madanat is also a graduate of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce LEAD Advance program.

Allison Madden: Chief Operating Officer and Corporate Secretary, USF Research Foundation

Allison Madden is director of operations for the University of South Florida Research Foundation in Tampa, and also serves in the officer position of secretary of the USF Research Foundation, Inc. The Research Foundation is a non-profit, direct-support organization serving the research mission of the University of South Florida. Allison is responsible for corporate governance, strategic planning, and all areas of USF Research Park operations including planning, construction, vendor and client relations, and compliance. The Research Park is a vital component of USF’s Innovation Enterprise which infuses $582 million yearly into Florida’s economy, sustains more than 4,000 public and private sector jobs, and returns more than $71 million in tax revenue to local, state and federal coffers.

Allison joined USF in 1988 and has also served as chief financial officer and business manager for the USF Research Foundation. She earned a MBA with focus on management and BS with honors in information systems and decision sciences, both from USF. She is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Societies. 

Ken Marcus: Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Ken has over 23 years of research park executive management experience in operations, development and finance.  He began his career with Tech Parks Arizona in September 1999. 

As a senior level executive, Marcus is directly responsible for the management, operations and finance for the UA Tech Park at Rita Road, the UA Tech Park at The Bridges, and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation.  He has more than 30 years of experience in business management, finance, real estate and economic development.  Highlights of his expertise includes university relationships, financial budgeting and reporting, government compliance and relations, operational management, funding packages, cash management, lease negotiations, tenant retention and expansion, emergency response and disaster recovery plans, and development strategies, creative solutions to complex projects as well as strategic, business and financial plans.

In collaboration with key partners, Marcus’ leadership has significantly advanced the Parks’ development and elevated operations by improving infrastructure and increasing amenities, through completion of projects such as the Solar Zone, various tenant spaces, University spaces and corporate fitness center. Marcus ensures Park Operations are maintained to the highest quality exceeding industry standards.  This has resulted in new facilities including improved food operations, critical infrastructure, energy efficiency systems, sustainable principals, new meeting spaces and collaboration areas.  Marcus has greatly contributed to the tenant experience by helping create a vibrant live, learn, work, play and stay environment.

Marcus is an active community member having served as a member and leadership roles of several professional organizations such as the International Association Science Parks, Association of University Research Parks, Pima Community College Audit and Finance Committee, Tucson Rodeo Committee, Nogales Community Development Corporation, Institute of Management Accountants, Building Owners and Managers Association of Tucson, Pima County Board of Adjustments and two Homeowner Associations. 

Joe Martin: Communications Director, Phoenix Bioscience Core

Joe is the director of communications for the Phoenix Bioscience Core, a joint collaboration between Arizona's three public universities, the city of Phoenix and the Arizona Board of Regents. As the lead storyteller for the PBC, Joe is responsible for guiding the narrative and brand perception of the campus and its role of advancing public health in Arizona through collaboration and innovation. He is also responsible for brand management of the campus, including digital and social strategies, paid and earned media. 

Joe originally started his career as a business reporter for the Houston Business Journal after graduating with a degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His career included writing about the development of the Texas Medical Center, economic development efforts in the city of Houston, and the emerging technology and startup sector. After three years covering the Bayou City, Joe and his wife Tara returned to Phoenix. He started at ASU in 2017 working in Enrollment Services Communications as an early outreach communications specialist, where he focused on recruiting and marketing strategies for first-year students to ASU. He has also worked as the communications manager for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership before beginning his time at the PBC in June 2021. 

Zach Miles: Associate Vice President for Partnerships and Technology

Zach currently serves as the Senior Associate Vice President for Economic Development at UNLV and the Executive Director of the UNLV Research Foundation.  Zach is responsible for driving new ideas to life changing products and services and engaging industry in mutually beneficial collaborations.  A key function of his industry engagement duties including the management of the 122 acre master planned and developed UNLV Harry Reid Research and Technology Park.

Zach has worked in academic based economic and research park development for the past 20 years having similar roles and responsibilities at the Oklahoma State University and the University of Utah.  Zach is proud to have been part of the team at the University of Utah that earned the honor of being the top research university in the nation for technology transfer, according to the Milken Institute’s 2017 ranking of Best Universities for Technology Transfer.  Further, Zach was the founder of the Black Fire Innovation facility at the UNLV Harry Reid Research and Technology Park, a living lab and acceleration, incubation, and co-working space focused on innovating the hospitality and entertainment industry.  Recently, Zach orchestrated and drove the approval of two new developments at the UNLV Harry Reid Research and Technology Park that will see a pediatric hospital and movie production facility joining the innovation ecosystem; both of these are approximately 34 acre developments.

Zach received his Bachelor of Science with a major in Microbiology from Weber State University and his Juris Doctor from the University of New Hampsire.

Rick Naimark: Associate Vice President, Arizona State University

Rick Naimark joined ASU in 2015 as associate vice president for program development planning. Naimark’s primary role at ASU is to lead efforts to expand the university’s educational and research capacity across Arizona and beyond through physical campus development and program partnerships with government and community organizations. Naimark came to ASU after 29 years with the City of Phoenix, where he most recently served as deputy city manager. Over his tenure at the city, he oversaw a variety of departments. He also led efforts to develop the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus and Phoenix biomedical campus. He has a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an undergraduate degree in public policy from Stanford University. Naimark is active in the community, serving on various community boards including Hospice of the Valley, The Arizona Science Center, Artlink, The Friends of Phoenix Public Art, The Arizona Jewish Historical Society and the Phoenix Citizens’ Transportation Commission.

Thyaga Nandagopal, Acting Division Director, National Science Foundation

Dr. Thyaga Nandagopal is a Senior Advisor in the Office of Director at the National Science Foundation, working on programs related to technology, innovation and partnerships. Prior to this recent role, he was the Deputy Division Director of the Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF) Division in the Directorate of Computer & Information Science and Engineering (CISE) at the NSF, where he oversaw the division's investments in the theory and foundations of computing systems and communications technologies, with an annual budget of nearly $200M. His current interests are in research policy, partnerships, quantum computing, artificial intelligence and advanced wireless networks (beyond 5G). He has brought in over $150M from external partners into NSF-funded research programs. He previously served as a Program Director at the NSF in the Networking Technologies and Systems (NeTS) program, where he managed mobile systems and wireless networking research across multiple funding programs with an annual budget of over $50M. At NSF, Thyaga is also leading the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research program, a $100M effort over the 2017 - 2024 timeframe. He serves as the co-chair of the Wireless Spectrum Research and Development Senior Steering Group (WSRD SSG), which co-ordinates spectrum-related research and development activities across the Federal government. Dr. Nandagopal is also a co-chair of the NSF-wide Quantum Leap Steering Committee, that coordinates NSF investments in inter-disciplinary research in quantum computing, communications and sensing. He is an IEEE Fellow, and holds a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Laura O'Blenis: President & CEO, Stiletto: Make a Point

Laura O’Blenis is the founder of Stiletto and Co-Founder and former Managing Director of the Canadian Association of University Research Parks. With more than two decades of experience in economic development and working with post-secondary institutions, Ms. O’Blenis and her team develops strategies that get results for workforce and broader economic development impacts for communities throughout North America. A skilled consensus builder, O’Blenis has facilitated more than 700 strategy sessions in communities globally. Specializing in innovation ecosystem building, innovation districts, research and technology parks, and innovation hubs, she has travelled the world to study global trends and best practices that have been applied to Stiletto processes and strategies. She was awarded the Startup Canada Female Entrepreneur of the Year for Atlantic Canada in 2016, was a finalist for Businessperson of the Year for the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce in 2018, is the recipient of the 2019 NBCC Alumni Award and was most recently recognized as one of the top 25 Most Powerful Women in Atlantic Canada (2022).

Jan Odegard: Executive Director, Ion

Dr. Odegard is the Executive Director at the Ion. The Ion is the epicenter for Houston’s innovation ecosystem and currently anchors the 16-acre Ion District that is being developed by the Rice Management Company. The Ion serves as a hub focusing on quality collaborations between entrepreneurs, incubators, accelerators, investors, corporations, academics, and the broader Houston community. The Ion’s mission is to create opportunities to advance and sustain economic growth in Houston and to foster innovation in energy, healthcare, space, transportation, manufacturing, and other industries. It is home to event space hosting daily programs, Common Desk coworking, the Ion Investor Studio, the Ion Prototyping Lab powered by TXRX, and tenants such as Microsoft, Chevron Technology Ventures, ARA Partners, Cognite, Carbon Clean, Rice University, OpenStax, to name a few with more to be announced. 

Odegard has over 25 years of leadership experience supporting innovators and enabling research and life-long learning engagements in computing, data science, and information technology. 

Before joining Ion, Odegard served as the Executive Director of the Ken Kennedy Institute at Rice University, where he focused on building strategic partnerships to serve as catalysts for research, education, and external engagements in data and computing. During his tenure at Rice, Odegard also served as the Associate VP for Research Computing from 2015 until he joined the Ion. While at Rice, Odegard worked with colleagues in the industry to launch the Oil & Gas High-Performance Computing Conference series in the spring of 2008 and then to launch the Ken Kennedy Institute Data Science Conference series in the fall of 2017.

Odegard was an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Stavanger, Norway (1999-2001) and served as department chair (2000-2001). From 1996 to 1997, he was the founding executive director of the Computational Mathematics Laboratory and a research associate in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice. From 1997 to 1999, he served as the founding executive director of the Rice Center for Multimedia Communication. Odegard received the Michael Pearlman Memorial Service Award from Rice University in 2009 and was elected Senior Member of IEEE in 2002. 

Odegard received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Rice University in 1996, earned a Bachelor of Science degree (1987) and a Master of Science degree (1990), both from Texas A&M University in electrical engineering and holds an associate degree (1986) in electrical engineering from Telemark College of Engineering, Porsgrunn, Norway.

Aaron Olver: Managing Director, University Research Park

Aaron Olver is the Managing Director of the University Research Park. Established in 1984, University Research Park, a University of Wisconsin-Madison affiliate, is an internationally recognized research and technology park that supports early-stage, and growth-oriented businesses in a range of sectors, including engineering, computational and life sciences. Olver previously served as Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce and City of Madison Director of Economic Development. He has an undergraduate degree from UW-Madison and a graduate degree from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Tom Osha: Executive Vice President, Wexford Science + Technology

Tom is employed by Wexford Science + Technology as an Executive Vice President. In this role, he guides Wexford's implementation of its Knowledge Community strategy across their development stakeholders globally to position Wexford's research park developments as critical hubs in the regional innovation ecosystem.

Tom is an engaging speaker who has recently delivered keynotes on creating innovation ecosystems and helping Universities, research institutions, cities, regions, and federal governments, leverage their research and technologies into knowledge-led economic development, at the Associated of University Research Parks, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Research Administration, and the NATO Industry Summit. He has also appeared on CNBC, CBC, CNN, and CBS and his opinions have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, The Globe and Mail, and The New York Times, among others.

Additionally, Tom serves as an innovation advisor to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade - Canada; helping Canadian companies successfully expand their operations into the United States and assisting US companies in developing Canadian partnerships and markets. He also serves as an advisor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on global innovation, and the Bookings Institution for Innovation District research and measurement.

Previously, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at Broadwing Inc., an NYSE-listed, telecommunications provider, providing executive leadership in the areas of corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and innovation.

Prior to that, he served as Special Assistant to United States Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), providing advice on foreign policy issues. Tom also provided policy advice to the Reagan Administration and developed a research methodology that has become a standard at Congressional Quarterly magazine.

Vickie Palmer: Chief Executive Officer, AURP

Vickie Palmer was appointed CEO in 2022, following 15 years’ experience significantly expanding the Association’s membership and sponsorship community. During her time with AURP, she has led the organization’s membership, event management and overall operations while working closely with the organization’s prior CEOs, Board of Directors and membership community. 

Recipient of the 2021 AURP Vision Award, Vickie brings to a proven record of success in association management primarily with The Kellen Company, a global association management company, and Management Plus, Ltd. She has over 25 years leadership experience with such associations as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Elder Life Care Planners (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) and the National Guardianship Association. 

Prior to her jump into the non-profit sector, she held executive convention management positions at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort in Tucson, AZ (formerly ITT Sheraton). Vickie obtained a bachelor of science with major in hotel and restaurant management from Northern Arizona University’s W.A. Franke College of Business. Additionally, she is a commissioned Stephen Minister. 

Delilah Panio: Vice President, U.S. Capital Formation, Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)

Delilah Panio is Vice President of U.S. Capital Formation for Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) based in Southern California. In this role, Delilah advises U.S. companies on the opportunity to list and raise capital on Canada’s premier equity markets. 

Previously, Delilah spent 10 years at TSX and TSXV in business development and strategy. She has advised many companies on the going public process and provides an understanding of private and public financing options in Canada and the U.S. 

Delilah is also the founder of Fortuna Funding which provides practical and intentional guidance on accessing aligned capital, particularly for female founders. She is a frequent speaker and pitch competition judge and coach, and recently partnered with UBS and SheEO on Project Female Founder. 

Delilah is currently Chair of the Funding Committee for Women Leaders of Octane and an Advisory Board Member for MAPLE Business Council (a trade organization between Canada and Southern California), WE Global (an innovation studio for women entrepreneurs), and The Allyship (driving change for women in venture capital). She is an Activator for Coralus (formerly SheEO) and led the 2016 US launch for this financing vehicle for female and non-binary founders. 

Delilah is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of We Are Enough, a non-profit that educates women on why and how to invest in women-owned businesses and/or with a gender lens, which will be launching a global campaign next year. 

Delilah holds an MBA in Enterprise Development and a BA in English and has completed a certification as a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner. 

Manas Pathak: Founder, EarthEn


Scott Rasmussen: Vice President of Leasing & Business Development

Scott Rasmussen is the Vice President of Leasing and Business Development for McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.   As part of the senior management team at MIP, Scott is responsible for developing park strategy, overseeing marketing, business development and leasing of the 58 acre park actively expanding from 700,000 square feet to 3.5 million square feet under management.

MIP’s master plan includes space to support companies operating in biotechnology/life sciences, advanced manufacturing and data sciences, all within a vibrant community with amenities such as restaurants, gym and daycare, and an on-site hotel.

Scott has spent his career operating at the intersection where healthcare, science and technology meet with real estate development, operation, and management.

Scott received his Bachelor in Health Sciences and Master of Health Sciences from the University of Western Ontario.  

Oaklee Rogers: Ph.D., OTR/L, Assistant Dean, Provost Leadership Fellow, Northern Arizona University - Phoenix Bioscience Core

Oaklee Rogers, Ph.D., OTR/L is the Assistant Dean for the College of Health and Human Services at Northern Arizona University (NAU), located at the Phoenix Bioscience Core (PBC). Previously, she served as the Department Chair for the Occupational Therapy (OT) Program. Dr. Rogers has designed and taught numerous courses related to education, leadership, and mental health. Throughout her time at NAU, she has served in various leadership roles and was awarded the Outstanding Occupational Therapist of the Year from the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association in 2017. Dr. Rogers has obtained grant funding, published in peer-reviewed journals, and presented at state, national and international conferences.

Tom Schumann: Executive Director, Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation

Thomas is an experienced business counselor providing financial and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses across a variety of industries and stages of development. Tom uses his background in economics, accounting and finance to help growing companies secure the financial resources required for growth through private investment and commercial and non-traditional lending. His educational background includes degrees in accounting and economics, an MBA, a doctoral candidate in Computer and Information Systems. He holds certifications as an SBA commercial loan underwriter and an INBIA Certification in Business Incubation Management, and he is a certified trainer in the Profit Mastery and Growth Wheel programs. At the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI), Thomas leads a state-of-the-art, award-winning business incubator that focuses on the commercialization of bioscience and medical device technologies emerging from Arizona’s higher education community. CEI is expanding its mission by launching LabForce, state-wide workforce training initiative focused on developing the skills and talent required by the Arizona bioscience industry. Thomas came to CEI after a 25 year career in Michigan universities where he held a variety of leadership positions and spearheaded multiple state-wide outreach initiatives to support businesses and entrepreneurs, such as the Inventors Center of Michigan, the Michigan Manufacturing Resource and Productivity Center and the Michigan Business Incubation Association. Throughout his career, Tom has been at the forefront of technology use in education. He was recognized by the Michigan legislature as “Michigan’s E-Learning Pioneer”.

Jaclyn Shaw: Interim Vice President, Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise / Associate VP, Strategic Initiatives & Research Partnerships, University of Texas 
at San Antonio

Jaclyn L. Shaw is the Interim Vice President for Research, Economic Development and the Knowledge Enterprise and Associate Vice President for Strategic Research Initiatives at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Jaclyn is responsible for the leadership and oversight of strategic research development efforts within the Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development and the Knowledge Enterprise (REDKE). Jaclyn serves as UTSA’s liaison for external research and development (R&D) partnerships with government agencies, research nonprofits, national laboratories, and private corporations. She leads federal relations, proposal development, faculty development, internal seed investments and research marketing and communications.

From 2013 to current, Jaclyn has served in various roles at UTSA, including Chief Operating Officer with the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute, Assistant Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Research Partnerships and the Director for Research Support within the REDKE. Major responsibilities include operational planning and partnership development efforts for the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII). She also serves as REDKE’s advisor to the National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC) and the School of Data Science, in support of the university’s expansion as an Urban Serving University in San Antonio, Texas. 

Prior to joining UTSA in 2013, Jaclyn served in multiple roles (2011-2013) within MedStar Health, the mid-Atlantic’s largest healthcare system. She was responsible for operational management for the public health arm of MedStar St. Mary's Hospital. As a means to fund major initiatives within the system, Jaclyn secured funding from government and private sector partners for public health programming, capital projects and health information technology. 

Before joining MedStar, Jaclyn acted as an Emergency Manager (2008-2011) in southern Maryland and held the position of Chair for the Tri-County Homeland Security Council for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). She led emergency joint operations, providing financial and programmatic support for fire, police and emergency medical services. 

Jaclyn obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Hawaii, a Master of Science degree in Integrated Homeland Security Management and a Certificate in Security Assessment and Management from Towson University (University System of Maryland).

Eric Smith: Executive Director, UA Center for Innovation

Eric Smith is the executive director for the University of Arizona (UA) Center for Innovation. In this role, Smith is responsible for the daily operations and growth of the UA Center for Innovation, which includes administration, budgeting, financial management, grant submissions & sponsorships, client recruitment, building mentor & advisory networks, community outreach, and staff management.

Eric Smith brings with him almost a decade’s worth of technology commercialization experience and a passion for entrepreneurship. Smith came to the UA Center for Innovation after serving as the commercialization network manager for Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), the UA’s office responsible for moving UA research and technological innovation into the marketplace.

While at TLA, he focused on building and leveraging a network of domain experts and business leaders who consult on university technologies to help reveal their commercial relevance as they are prepared for the market. He also managed TLA's National Science Foundation Innovation-Corps (I-Corps) Site grant program which teaches inventing teams about lean startup methodology and customer discovery. An entrepreneur in his own right, after Eric started, developed and sold his first company, he embarked on a career in various technology startups. Smith holds a BSBA in business management and entrepreneurship and an MBA from the University of Arizona.

Carol Stewart: Vice President, Tech Parks Arizona

Carol Stewart, a long-standing authority on research parks, is the Vice President for Tech Parks Arizona at the University of Arizona.  Carol Stewart leads the UA Tech Park at Rita Road and is developing the UA Tech Park at The Bridges.  She is also president of the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, a technology business incubator network serving the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the international community. 

Stewart’s expertise in university research parks spans decades and nations with more than 20 years of experience working with research parks, technology commercialization, business incubation, governmental relations and business development.

As a pioneer in the research parks world, she has driven national policy, standardized programs, created national and international networks, built technology clusters, engaged stakeholders, and assisted countries with the development of their national science and technology policies.

Stewart is passionate about her community and serves as a champion in university-based economic development. She is a member of Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Flinn Foundation Steering Committee, a member of the Canadian Global Mentor Program and she also serves on the Board of Directors for Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, Pima County’s Workforce Investment Board, Sun Corridor Inc., Arizona Technology Council, Desert Angels, and is a member of the City of Tucson Mayor’s Economic Development Advisory Council.

She also serves as the North American Division President for the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP). IASP is the worldwide network of science parks and areas of innovation. IASP gathers 397 members in 73 countries. Previously, Stewart served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), which represents 200 research parks (80% US and 20% international).  She collaborates with numerous leaders worldwide to build and grow university-related research parks through education, unification, and collaboration. She helps to expand and advance the impact of research parks and areas of innovation by showcasing best practices across the globe.

Her proven success record also includes co-founding the Canadian chapter of the Association of University Research Parks, founding director of the David Johnston Research + Technology Park at the University of Waterloo spearheading the development of the park, advancing the park to over the one-million-square-foot milestone, leading the marketing efforts and launching the professional services division of Maplesoft, a global spin-off company from the University of Waterloo, and enhancing the entrepreneurial culture of Canada at the Canadian Industrial Innovation Centre (CIIC).

Raymond Trapp: Vice President of Strategic Engagement, Research Triangle Park

Raymond Trapp has recently joined the Research Triangle Foundation as Vice President of Strategic Engagement. Prior to joining RTF, Trapp served as Director of External Affairs for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Trapp has also previously served as a Guilford County Commissioner representing District 8 from 2012 – 2017. He won his first election to the County Commission in 2012 and was re-elected without opposition in 2016.

His professional work and service have earned numerous awards, including the National Association of Counties’ 2016 Public Health Achievement Award for the “Food Desert Storm” project addressing food insecurity in Guilford County, and his inclusion in the Triad Business Journal’s 2011 “40 Business Leaders Under 40.”

Trapp served in the U.S. Navy as an Interior Communications Specialist aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). He is a proud alumnus of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where he completed his Master of Science in Agricultural Education.

Greg Wright: Founder, SparkTowns

Named an “Innovator to Watch” by the Wisconsin Biz Times, Greg Wright transformed a small-town arts advocacy organization into a new model for place-based, people-centered economic development. This model was recognized as the Economic Development Initiative of 2020 by the Wisconsin Economic Development Association and led to him teaching economic development to MBA candidates. 

In early 2022, Greg founded Spark Towns to meet the demand to bring this model to more communities. Spark Towns is rethinking place within the context of the digital era. It applies emerging research in zoning, social capital, creative placemaking, and ecosystem building to put greater power behind local people with big ideas. The firm has now worked with leaders from Utica to Detroit Lakes to Carson City. 

Like a lot of successful innovators, Greg’s career path is nonlinear. He started his career teaching high school English and running equity, diversity, and inclusion programs in those schools. Along the way, he earned a master’s degree in policy, organization, and leadership studies from Stanford University. 

Greg lives with his partner and their two dogs in Princeton, Wisconsin. They live above their restaurant and down the street from their small hotel, thus giving him ample experience to learn and relearn about entrepreneurship every day. The intersections of these disparate experiences are where Spark Towns draws its best ideas.

Mykola Zomchak: Chief Technology Officer, Noty.ai