Leah Burton, Director, Centennial Campus Partnership Office and Industry Alliances, NC State University

Leah Burton is the Director of Centennial Campus Partnerships and Industry Alliances at NC State University. In this role, she manages the campus-wide strategy for corporate and government interactions with NC State, including the University’s award-winning Centennial Campus.Prior to joining NC State in 2000, Leah was the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, a regional economic development organization marketing the 13-county Research Triangle region. Before moving to North Carolina, she was the Public Affairs Manager for telecommunications company US West. Leah has a communications degree from the University of Colorado.

Amy Adams, Executive Director, Institute for Biohealth Innovation, George Mason University

Amy’s career at Mason began in 2002. She conducted genomics research using cDNA microarrays and reverse transcription real-time PCR to study mRNA expression in breast cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. She conducted research and led outreach efforts in the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine from 2005-2007. Amy used laser capture microdissection, western blot, and reverse phase protein microarray technology to investigate phosphorylation events in signaling pathways to discover new rational drug targets and map protein pathways, which could be applied for disease diagnosis and prognosis. In addition to research, Amy led outreach efforts and built 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 research collaborations.

Laura Bleill, Director, External Engagement, University of Illinois Research Park

Laura Weisskopf Bleill manages the community building portfolio of the Research Park at Illinois. She develops strategy behind the Research Park's events and programming; communications, branding and marketing efforts; and directs the Research Park's efforts to grow and retain its workforce. She also works with the entrepreneurial ecosystem across campus, and has been part of the core National Science Foundation I-Corps at Illinois team. In 2018 she served as an adjunct instructor for the NSF I-Corps national program cohort in Indianapolis. She is the co-PI and co-founder of the AWARE entrepreneurship inclusion effort funded by NSF, which has now has been replicated at other universities. She has a master and bachelor degree in journalism from Northwestern University. An entrepreneur herself, Laura is CEO of a hyperlocal digital magazine in Champaign-Urbana.

Tony Boccanfuso, PhD, President & CEO, UIDP

Since 2007, Anthony M. Boccanfuso has led UIDP (uidp.org), 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—while helping its members achieve meaningful impact on a broad array of collaboration matters, ranging from contracting to commercialization and workforce development. Members use UIDP’s extensive library of practical guidance and project learnings to improve and advance their external engagement strategies. Boccanfuso’s leadership of the organization and its direction are based on a firm belief that partnership engagement improves the lives of ordinary people and the human condition through the development of transformational products, new medicines, and creation of new information and approaches that lead to better decision-making.

Boccanfuso is also a co-principal investigator for the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA, ervacommunity.org), an NSF-funded initiative with a mission to identify and develop new engineering research directions and catalyze high-impact research that benefits society. UIDP is an ERVA core partner and its administrative agent.

Boccanfuso has more than 30 years of research and commercialization experience managing 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. He holds a doctorate in inorganic chemistry and an undergraduate degree in chemistry and political science.

Jose Bodipo-Memba, Director of Sustainable Communities, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)

Jose Bodipo-Memba is the Director of Sustainable Communities for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). The Sustainable Communities program aims to bring environmental equity and economic vitality to all communities in SMUD’s service area through partnership alignment built around four pillars: Social Well Being, Healthy Environment, Prosperous Economy, and Mobility. The program manages over 130 community partnership and is focused on enhancing an inclusive regional workforce pipeline through key public and private partnerships. Mr. Bodipo-Memba has over 19 years of environmental, sustainability, and urban planning experience throughout California, covering a range of project and community types. Mr. Bodipo-Memba is active in the community, serving as the Chair of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Sacramento District Council, a member of the ULI National Public Development Infrastructure Council, a member of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Crocker Art Museum Board, the Center for Fathers and Families Board, and the North State Building Industry Association.

He is the past Chair of the Sacramento Planning and Design Commission, a former Coro board member, and past board chair of Next Move Sacramento. He was a 2010 recipient of the Sacramento Business Journal 40 under 40 award, the 2012 Drexel University Oxholm Community Leadership Award, a proud graduate of the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program, and the 2015 Drexel University 40 under 40 Distinguished Alumni award. Mr. Bodipo-Memba holds a BA in History from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Drexel University.

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

Kevin Byrne spent his early career at Arthur Andersen with a primary focus in the real estate and financial services industries. In 1997, Kevin founded Byrne & Associates, which focused on providing investment-banking services to small and middle market companies. After earning his MBA 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. Kevin 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. Kevin is an honors graduate from Furman University and currently serves as a past president of the Association of University Research Parks.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Cantwell, PhD, Senior Vice President for Research & Innovation, University of Arizona

Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell leads the Office for Research, Innovation and Impact, which includes the Corporate Engagement Program, Tech Launch Arizona, the Forge and the UArizona research parks. She is responsible for expanding the university’s capacity for knowledge creation and discovery; integrating efforts by faculty, students, staff and executive leaders to move inventions and technologies to the marketplace; increasing the university’s connectivity with external collaborators; spearheading industry and public partnerships; and increasing total research funding.

Betsy joined the University of Arizona after successfully serving as the CEO of Arizona State University Research Enterprise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the university’s applied research and development. Previously she served as ASU’s vice president for research development. During her tenure in that role, annual research expenditures grew by more than $150 million to a total of $610 million.

She has a long career in space systems engineering, from satellite development to life support systems, and sits on the National Academies Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. She holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Brian Darmody, JD, Chief Executive 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.

Keisha Demps, Partnership Developer, Centennial Campus, NC State University

Keisha is part of the partnership development team, brokering relationships with industry and government partners. Her duties include developing and managing outreach and engagement of current and prospective businesses while fostering opportunities for collaboration with faculty and students. Keisha obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona. Little known fact - she spent two years as a professional athlete and trained as an alternate for the 2000 Olympics.

Francesca Domingo, University/Community Relations, EMD Electronics

Kate Engel, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Communication, Nebraska Innovation Campus

Kate Engel is the director of strategic partnerships and communication for Nebraska Innovation Campus. Kate is responsible for recruiting companies to partner with the University of Nebraska and other entities working on NIC. Kate's position allows her to create and implement communication and marketing strategies that assist in the continued development of NIC and strive to engage university faculty, staff, students and industry to collaborate and form partnerships.

Kate grew up on a farm near Red Oak, IA. She is a 2006 graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University and earned a Master of Arts in Management from Doane College in 2011. Kate also earned a Master of Science in Leadership Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2021.

Matt Garner, PhD, Scientist/Founder, Vvntus biotechnology labs

After relocating his family to Amarillo, Texas several years ago, Dr. Matt Garner spent the majority of his energy working with local business owners and stakeholders to develop an initiative to create a Global Food Hub and Innovation District in Amarillo. While this project is still in the early stage, the identified outcomes will bring multiple organizations together to: educate and cultivate the workforce; while furthering the economic ecosystems to support the beef, dairy & food production industries. This work has been supported and endorsed by the Amarillo region’s vibrant business & leadership community. Matt develops & designs animal and human foods and holds a PhD in Microbiology/Food Technology from Cornell University.

Bob Geolas, Partner, HR&A Advisors

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, Bob 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, Bob 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, Bob 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.

Bob 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.

Will Germain, Senior Investment Officer, Life Sciences, Research & Innovation Centers, Ventas, Inc.

Will Germain is a Senior Investment Officer for Ventas, Inc., an S&P 500 company and real estate investment trust that owns approximately 1,200 healthcare, life science and senior living properties in North America and the United Kingdom, and serves as the primary capital provider to leading healthcare companies. As a member of the Ventas senior leadership team, Will is responsible for investments within the growing university-based life science, research and innovation center portfolio, the Company’s #1 capital priority. Since inception, this portfolio has grown by more than 50% and continues to have a robust development pipeline with its exclusive development partner Wexford Science & Technology. Responsible for originating, negotiating and executing acquisitions and development opportunities, Will has been involved in more than $15 billion of completed real estate transactions during his tenure at Ventas. 

Will joined Ventas in 2006. Prior to his current role, he served as Director of Acquisitions and Investments for Lillibridge Healthcare Services, a fully integrated medical office and outpatient building (MOB) operating company. His earlier roles at Ventas included asset management of the Company’s two million square foot MOB portfolio where he oversaw MOB operations including joint venture partnerships, third-party property management and leasing, loan compliance, budgeting and financial reporting, as well as roles in acquisitions and corporate finance. He began his career at General Electric Capital Corporation.

Will is a member of the steering committee of the Global Institute on Innovation Districts which conducts deep impactful research to advance the theory and practice of innovation districts. He is a member of the Board of Phase 1 Ventures (P1V), a program from the Philadelphia Science Center which matches proven entrepreneurs with academic scientists to help move ideas from the lab to the marketplace by strategically contributing expertise and funding to the commercialization process. Will is a member of the Urban Land Institute’s University Development and Innovation Product Council, and serves on the Board of High Jump, a non-profit organization that aims to equalize access to education for Chicago middle school students who have exhibited academic ambition and potential and who are of limited economic means. A New York native, Will earned a Bachelor of Finance degree from the University of New Haven with a minor Accounting and Economics.

Ted Hyman, FAIA, Partner, ZGF Architects LLP

Since joining ZGF in 1989, Ted Hyman has taken responsibility for many of the firm’s most challenging and technologically complex projects, encompassing a broad range of academic and research facilities, hospitals, courthouses,and other civic buildings nationally. He has played a key role in guiding the development of the firm, and in January 2014, he was named Managing Partner and now oversees the firm’s strategic and overall performance. As a LEED AP®, he has a particular passion for sustainability, and played a key role in the design of a number of the greenest buildings in the United States, including the J. Craig Venter Institute La Jolla, which has achieved LEED Platinum® and was designed as the first net-zero energy biological laboratory in the world and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Headquarters, also LEED Platinum® and net-zero energy. He continues to share his strategies and approach to creating innovative solutions with the professional community at national and international conferences, and remains involved in various committees with the American Institute of Architects. In 2016, Ted was one of a handful of U.S. architects invited to participate in a historic forum in China to address China’s commitment to signing the Paris Agreement and establishing Zero-Net Carbon (ZNC) as a necessary and achievable goal for buildings and developments.

Matt Jensen, Partner, The Boyer Company

Matt Jensen is a partner at The Boyer Company currently working on medical, research, office, and flex office developments. He directly manages securing new development opportunities, leasing new and existing buildings, and overseeing the construction and property management of both new and existing projects. He has supervised the development of projects throughout the United States and is currently managing active projects in the Phoenix, Mesa, Tucson, and Salt Lake City market areas. Recent projects include public-private-partnerships with the University of Arizona, City of Tempe, and the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. In his free time Matt enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, skiing, biking and running.

Kelly Meissner, Director, Sustainability, Ventas, Inc.

Kelly Meissner is the Vice President, Corporate ESG & Sustainability at Ventas, Inc., an S&P 500 company and real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns approximately 1,200 healthcare assets, including medical office buildings, research and innovation properties and senior living communities in North America and the United Kingdom. Ms. Meissner joined Ventas in 2011, holding roles in Acquisitions and Asset Management before starting the ESG and Sustainability department in 2016. Prior to Ventas, her experience includes strategy and operations consulting and real estate private equity.

Ms. Meissner is the Chair of the Nareit Real Estate Sustainability Council and is an active member of the Real Estate Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee. Ms. Meissner holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Economics and Biology from Northwestern University. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two young children.

Jeanne Mell, Principal, JMell Communications

Jeanne Mell is an accomplished writer, editor, and speechwriter with executive-level experience in strategic planning, public relations, branding, media relations, community engagement, program development, and financial communications. Jeanne launched JMell Communications in 2021 to help innovation-focused organizations and mission-based companies – and their leadership – shape and share their stories.

Prior to JMell Communications, Jeanne served as Vice President Corporate Communications at OraSure Technologies (NASDAQ: OSUR). Before joining OraSure, Jeanne served as Vice President Marketing Communications and Community Engagement at Philadelphia’s University City Science Center, the first and largest urban research park in the U.S., where she positioned the Science Center as a leader in innovation, entrepreneurship, and tech-based economic development. Immediately before joining the Science Center, she was Senior Vice President, Communications for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to joining the Chamber, Jeanne had a career in journalism at the Associated Press in New York and Philadelphia, ABC News, Good Morning America, Popular Photography Magazine, and Gannett. She started her career at Inc. Magazine. Over the course of her career, Mell has served on the boards of organizations including the Association of University Research Parks, Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, Campus Philly, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the National Museum of Industrial History.

Aaron Miscenich, Executive Director, [email protected] Research & Technology Park

Aaron has worked with companies from the concept stage all the way through growth and maturity. On the economic development side, he has managed efforts that have created a knowledge-based economy in Louisiana through public and private funding including federal, state, and local sources, public/private partnerships, and straight development capital.

John Mitchell, Director of Corporate Engagement, ASU Fulton School of Engineering

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

Laura has 25 years’ experience in leading change, generating results, marketing products and services, lobbying, building relationships, and successfully negotiating new business opportunities and contracts. A trained facilitator and an MBA candidate, she brings a wealth of knowledge in export markets and has helped companies of all industries in expanding to new markets. An award-winning business person, Laura has a passion for merging traditional industries with high-tech solutions and creating clusters of innovation.

Anne O'Donnell, Senior Executive Director, Corporate Relations, University of California, San Diego

With 20 years of experience building impactful corporate relations programs, Anne leads a team developing central holistic corporate relationships across campus for industry access to innovation, talent, education and partnerships. She works closely with university leadership, faculty and staff across campus, including research centers, to connect industry needs to university resources.

Prior to this role, Anne led the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering corporate engagement programs as the director of the Corporate Affiliates Program (CAP), a program providing more than 75 high-tech and life science member companies with access to faculty, research and students. Later, she became the executive director of Corporate Research Partnerships where she built the dean’s agile research centers, leveraging multidisciplinary faculty teams on projects highly relevant to industry.

An alumna of Mount Holyoke College, Anne earned a master’s in public policy and a master’s in theology at Harvard University. Anne currently serves on the Board of Directors for University-Industry Demonstration Partners (UIDP) and as the Membership Committee co-chair, and is a member of the National Association of Corporate Relations Officers (NACRO). Anne is an International Coach Federation (ICF)-certified professional leadership coach and a mom to five kids.

Jason Rittenberg, Policy & Development Director, SSTI

Jason Rittenberg is the Policy and Development Director for SSTI. His work includes coordinating SSTI's policy activities, cultivating partnership and project opportunities, and contributing to the SSTI Weekly Digest and research projects. Jason previously led and supported research and analysis projects for the Council of Development Finance Agencies, the State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and the Cline Center for Democracy. He is a co-author of News on the Internet: Information and Citizenship in the 21st Century. Jason holds a B.S. from Ohio University and an M.A. from the University of Illinois.

Mark Romney, Chief Industry Alliance Officer, Aggie Square - University of California, Davis

Mark Romney, Chief Industry Alliance Officer with UC Davis Health in Sacramento, has been actively engaged in facilities planning for 26 years, including a special concentration on research facilities. He co-authored several NIH CO6 Grant Applications, resulting in grant awards exceeding $6 million. Romney co-authored the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s Shared Lab Facility Grant and the Large Facilities Grant, providing over $25 million in grant funding for the construction of the stem cell program facilities, and he has stewarded the process of planning and implementing an innovation district master plan on the UC Davis Health campus.

Bob Segar, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Campus Planning and Community Relations, University of California, Davis

Bob Segar has worked at UC Davis for over 25 years, first as Campus Planner and now as Assistant Vice Chancellor, Campus Planning and Environmental Stewardship. He has guided campus master planning at UC Davis with an emphasis on enriching academic and community life. During this period, UC Davis has enhanced existing academic, housing and recreation districts and developed whole new neighborhoods, including the campus's "new front door" — the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts, the Manetti Shrem Museum, the Buehler Alumni Center, the Welcome Center, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

He created the original master plan for West Village — the largest planned zero-net energy community in the country — served as director of the campus Centennial Celebration in 2008-2009 and served as the chancellor’s coordinator for delivering the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts. Bob’s responsibilities now include overseeing operating units that manage the planning, development and maintenance of a sustainable campus environment and serving as planning director for Aggie Square — a collaborative technology and innovation center located on the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento. Prior to joining UC Davis, Bob worked at the Stanford University Planning Office and in private practice. He is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Michigan.

Joel Swift, Architect, AIA AUA, Swiftenvirons

Josephine Tucker, Managing Director, Clean Energy and Infrastructure Advisory, JLL

Josephine Tucker is Managing Director, Clean Energy and Infrastructure Advisory for JLL and has more than 15 years of experience working domestically and internationally across the transportation, energy, water, and real estate sectors. In her role, Josephine helps education and government clients seek economic growth that sparks community vitality and productive real estate assets. As an economist and financial services leader, she has spearheaded numerous strategic business initiatives including acquisition targeting, new market entry, product expansion and partnership development.

Josephine brings a wide range of sustainability expertise to the table having worked on clean energy and infrastructure projects across federal, state and local entities, including intelligent transportation initiatives, smart city commercialization, EV charging, fleet and micro mobility to name a few. In addition, Josephine has published articles concerning smart cities, public-private investments, and social impact investments.

As part of JLL’s Public Institutions practice, Josephine will advise and implement programs from clean energy and transportation, to environmental and social infrastructure to help clients address aging infrastructure and deliver climate-resilient and energy-efficient infrastructure.

Serdar Tufekci, Vice President, Major Partnership, ENGIE North America

Serdar Tufekci was the first CEO of OSEP and has recently transitioned to Head of Major Campuses with ENGIE North America. Prior to his role at OSEP, Serdar was the vice president of the Technical Services group at ENGIE which provided engineering, construction, project management, and contract management services to ENGIE’s North American business unit. Serdar has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Istanbul Technical University, an MBA from Purdue University, and a Master’s degree in engineering from The Ohio State University.

David Tyndall, Founder & CEO, Collaborative Real Estate

David Tyndall is the founder and owner of Collaborative Real Estate, a full-service real estate firm specializing in innovation districts and university research parks. Working for over 35 years in construction and development, moving from field engineer to company owner, David has learned firsthand what it takes to produce quality buildings.

David maintains daily involvement in all of Collaborative’s development, management, and leasing services. With two decades of involvement with the Technology Square project in Atlanta and many other university-based research and commercialization facilities, plus past experience as a real estate attorney, venture investor, and commercial construction professional, David has unique insight into the needs of technology-related landlords, property managers, and tenants. This perspective allows him to fashion creative means to attract and service specialized tenants. David has spent the last decade with a focus on crafting property management and operational techniques that Collaborative uses to ensure the continuous delivery of the collaboration value owners, tenants, and visitors are looking for – even long after the hardhats and cranes are gone.