Launtz Rodgers is currently a contractor supporting strategic partnership engagement, academic research, innovation, industry engagement, and technology scouting for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) based out of Austin, TX.
Launtz served in the US Navy from 1994-2015 as a Cryptologic and Information Warfare Officer. While in the Navy, he led many diverse organizations supporting both national and naval intelligence missions and operations all over the world. He commissioned as an Ensign from the University of Texas at Austin Navy ROTC in 1994 and retired as a Commander in 2015. From 2015-2017 Launtz was a Technical Program Manager for Ticom Geomatics (CACI) leading the development and implementation of multiple Intelligence and Electronic Warfare programs supporting the US Navy. From 2017-2018 Launtz was a Product Manager at Corvalent and led the development of custom Industrial IoT products and applications supporting critical mission equipment across multiple industries.
Launtz is involved in multiple local military & veterans organizations to include the Greater Austin Council of the United States Navy League (Board Member), UTNROTC Alumni Foundation (VP), and the Texas Military Officers Association (TMOA).
Launtz has a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin, a Masters of Science (MS) in Systems Engineering (Information Warfare) from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and a Masters of Arts (MA) in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in Newport, RI. Launtz has a daughter, Jordan, and identical twin boys, Cooper and Wyatt.
David Grover is currently serving as the Lead Innovation Outreach Officer in Austin, Texas for NGA Research’s Strategic Partnerships and Communications Division. His team develops strategic plans for NGA immersion into the local innovation ecosystem including commercial, government, and academic spheres. Investigating early-stage capabilities and concepts that meet National System for Geospatial-Intelligence (NSG) challenges and bringing awareness of NGA’s efforts to the community.
David began his career in 1997 with an ROTC commission as a 2nd Lieutenant from Baylor University. He then served in the US Air Force from 1998-2005 as a B-1B Instructor Weapons Systems Officer (WSO). He accumulated over 1050 total flight hours, including 100+ combat hours, being awarded both the USAF Air Medal and Aerial Achievement Medals in support of U.S. military operations.
In 2005, he joined NGA as an analyst working time-dominant operations. From 2005-2011 he held a variety of analytic positions within the NGA enterprise; ultimately being promoted to NGA’s senior OPIR analyst overseeing all technical aspects of the analytic OPIR mission. In 2012, he transitioned to a scientific Branch Chief role providing oversight and direction to multiple teams of scientists, analysts, engineers, military personnel, and foreign partners. His branch developed and executed a strategic plan for mission growth by forecasting requirements, identifying technology advancement, and building customer-partner relationships. He moved to Austin, Texas in 2019 where he began as the technology and acquisition advisor for NGA before transitioning to the area lead in 2020.
David has a Bachelors’s degree in Engineering from Baylor University and a Masters of Aeronautical Science (MS) specializing in Aviation/Aerospace Management from Embry-Riddle University. David is married to Heather, his bride of over 20 years, and has two children Erik and Julia.
Dr. Perley is an Army biodefense scientist with a decade of experience studying infectious diseases that threaten U.S. soldiers and the public. She spent over 3,000 hours studying deadly pathogens in high containment facilities (i.e., Biosafety Level 3 and 4) and has extensive knowledge of and experience with dual-use research of concern. She also has expertise in early-stage vaccine design and evaluation through Phase II clinical trials. Her most recent work as the Director of Insights and Analysis for the Army Applications Lab focuses on identifying, assessing, and rapidly transitioning disruptive technology into the Army.
Anita C Roberts, Founder– Entrepreneur, angel investor, combat army veteran, Public Relations and Media Specialist, and international speaker.
Anita C Roberts is a retired, army officer and combat veteran, Human Resource, Public Relations, and media maven, angel investor, and international speaker. She received degrees from the University of South Alabama, Prairie View A & M University, and Venture Capital Certification from Haas Berkeley, University of California Executive Education.
She has over 20+ years of entrepreneurial experience and exited her first company in less than 3 years. She went from growing a successful media company, writing, publishing luxury lifestyle magazines to creating community programs to uplift and expand Black-owned businesses in Central Texas. In 2020 in response to the lack of PPP funding for minority businesses she transitioned from providing grants to 25 Black and Women-Owned Businesses to founding Narrow the Gap Fund, a $25M venture capital fund investing in women and underrepresented founders.
After retirement in 2008 Anita was recalled to active duty to serve on President Obama’s 2008 inauguration PR team and again in 2013 as the Chief Public Affairs, US Forces Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan.
Pete Poorman is Director of Corporate Relations for the school of engineering and computer science at the University of Texas at Dallas, where he connects companies with the resources and research capabilities of the university. He joined the university in 2013 from the computer industry, where he held engineering, product management, and marketing roles in companies ranging from technology startups to the very largest firms. Pete holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from UT Dallas.
Lt Col Goldberg is the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) lead for Strategic, Defense, and Commercial Engagement for the Texas Regional hub. He comes to DIU from the Texas National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, where he served as the Chief Innovation Officer and Managing Director of TMDx. Alex leads the Texas Military Department Joint Innovation unit (TMDx) and a portfolio of over 30 companies, which received more than $150M in innovation contracts.
As an Air Force aviator in the F-16 and MQ- 1/9, Alex has more than 2,000 combat hours in IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, and NOMAD SHADOW. He is a former Defense Advanced Project Agency (DARPA) and National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) fellow, Stanford Ignite Graduate School of Business alumni, and a previous winner of the Chief National Guard Bureau Innovation Competition, Geospatial Intelligence Award, and USAF Innovator of the Year. Currently, Alex is responsible for implementing the innovation strategy of the Office of the Secretary of Defense throughout the southwest region of the U.S, as well as acting as the primary liaison between the DoD and venture capital, private equity, and startup communities.
His passion is in solving the toughest problems that face our nation, empowering others to have an impact, and in changing the culture of the Department of Defense to move at the speed of relevance!
Tomias Davis is the Sr Project Manager for American Airlines Emerging Technology. The Emerging Technology team fosters innovative communities and hosts events that push all levels of American to explore more innovative solutions for our end customers and reduce inefficiencies by promoting modern engineering practices. Tomias is currently focusing on promoting a culture of Diversity Equity and Inclusion in all we do through EmergingTechnology to build an active pipeline for diverse candidates from internal and external sources
Art leads a team designed to address ‘how to make the Army a better business partner.’ They analyze the problem, assess resources, develop the vision, mission, structure, and measurement to execute effectively.
Art and the AAL find teams to help solve the Army’s most difficult strategic problems, supporting modernization priorities and focus on solving problems, building value, and developing pathways to transition the technology into the hands of the end-user.
Art and the AAL develop innovative and creative solutions affecting the warfighters, program effectiveness, and improvement of strategic plans.
Army Applications Laboratory (AAL) is the organization responsible for bringing innovative solutions into the Army ecosystem. We specifically look for and work with technologies that have the potential to solve the Army’s modernization efforts. In my role leading the Corporate Ventures team, we work with a network of VCs, researchers, and other innovators to source, diligence, and fund startups providing novel solutions to the Army. Learn more about our technology focus areas and current programming at https://aal.army.
With over 20+ years in the military, Benjamin has gained valuable experience in establishing and running diverse organizations, from small special operations units to large aircraft carrier-based squadrons. His expertise includes in-depth departmental and senior-level management with an understanding of the critical value of inspiring people to high levels of performance. Developing winning teams by empowering and guiding others to achieve and surpass goals is what he loves most.
He has held many roles at large and small organizations, from team leader to nuclear strike advisor to the President of the United States, and appreciates the realities faced by employees, managers, and senior decision-makers. In reaching for any objective, it is essential to understand the complete vision and goal of the organization, and then to drive and align the efforts of everybody to achieve those objectives.
Benjamin is passionate about innovation and solving tough problems. His career has included advising senior leaders at the highest levels of government, developing and implementing the corporate strategic vision, organizational structure development, mentoring leaders and building teams, leading organizational change, complex program management, improving logistics and supply chain functionality, effectively managing risk and safety to include high-risk operations, managing resources, and personnel, operations management, modeling, simulation, & training (MS&T), command center operations, and managing multi-million dollar portfolios.
Dave Cass is the Director of Business Development at Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars has invested in over 2,500 companies worldwide and operates in over 140 countries. He is also a Techstars alumnus and founder of the education technology company Uvize which was acquired in 2016. Prior to a career in innovation, Dave served in the U.S. Navy for ten years as an Officer and Naval Aviator and authored the book “The Strategic Student Veteran: Successfully Transitioning from the Military to College Academics”. Still strongly committed to education, Dave is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Colorado, Boulder teaches in the entrepreneurship department. Dave holds a BA from Tulane University and an MBA from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Kevin Patel is a UTD alumnus (Computer Science 06′ & MBA 10′) who was active in Student Government.
Since the pandemic, he has won multiple National Challenge Awards from Veterans Health Affairs Innovation Ecosystem & Challenge America for solutions to combat COVID-19.
He has since returned & partnered with UTD’s Venture Development Center which specializes in product commercialization to scale these solutions for Veterans at a level that can satisfy the needs of the largest health care system in the nation.
Over the last year, he has had the privilege of learning from, working for, under, above, next to, and alongside each of the panelists and carries a deep respect for each one.
Danielle Krakora currently serves as a Product Manager for Digital Solutions in the VA Office of Information and Technology. Danielle is a leader in technology and innovation and is a 10-year US Army Veteran. Danielle developed the Make-a-thon Model for Building Community Partnerships aimed at increasing opportunities for external and academic institutions to collaborate with VA employees and provide subject matter expertise in support of specialized Veteran solutions. The primary objective is to provide physical and technological solutions to meet the needs of disabled Veterans. The Make-a-thon model will expand VHA’s partnerships with industry and academia across the country to promote a user-centered design approach in solving Veteran challenges through design competitions and socializing solutions. This model works to refine internal VA processes and develop a framework for future innovation events that is replicable and transferable.
General David L. Goldfein has deep expertise in global risk and crisis management, planning and executing complex operations, and developing and implementing policy and communications strategies. His experience has been honed over a 37-year career as a pilot in the United States Air Force, where he commanded at every level and finished his career as the 21st Chief of Staff, the service’s highest-ranking 4-star officer. Goldfein had wide-ranging operational and advisory responsibilities, including oversight of the organization, training, and equipping of over 693,000 personnel serving in the United States and in over a dozen countries around the world; and management of a $168 billion operating budget. He has served as a trusted advisor for senior leadership within the Department of Defense on a range of national security matters and developed key relationships with Members of Congress, private sector leaders, international partners, and philanthropists.
Goldfein is widely recognized as an influential voice for envisioning and operationalizing new multi-stakeholder initiatives across large organizations. During his time as Chief, he developed and championed the Department of Defense’s signature joint warfighting initiative, Joint All Domain Command and Control. Central to his vision was the creation of the Department’s first Information Warfare Command, which brought together the capabilities of Cyber, Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Information Operations.
Prior to serving as the USAF Chief of Staff, Dave was the USAF Vice Chief of Staff, the second-highest-ranking officer, where he presided over the Air Staff and served as a member of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory Working Group, advising on high- interest acquisitions and assessing joint military capabilities for the Department of Defense. As Vice Chief, he pioneered a new and aggressive approach to supporting warriors with invisible wounds, as well as their caregivers. An experienced crisis operations leader, Goldfein led the joint staff through a number of global crises while he served as Director of the Joint Staff from 2013 to 2015, including the escalation of Russian military activity in Crimea and the military contributions to the fight against Ebola in West Africa.
He has held numerous command positions, including as the deployed Air Component Commander for U.S. Central Command, where he directed all air and space operations across 20 countries spanning the broader Middle East. An effective coalition-builder, General Goldfein traveled extensively as a military “ambassador,” working with high-level stakeholders across the region. He successfully envisioned and built the first-ever Gulf Air Operations Center, with representation from all six Gulf Cooperation Council countries inside his headquarters.
Goldfein serves on the Board of the Air Force Association and is a mentor for CAPSTONE and KEYSTONE military leadership courses for newly selected general and flag officers and their spouses.
He was recently recognized as a Distinguished Eagle Scout and a Distinguished Alumni of Philmont Scout Ranch.
Goldfein received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983, with a degree in Philosophy. He later earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma City University and is a graduate of the prestigious Air Force Weapons Instructor Course and the Department of State’s Senior Seminar program as a National Defense Fellow.
Dave is married to his high school sweetheart, Dawn A. Goldfein. Dawn recently published, “Sharing the Journey, A Military Spouse Perspective” as a guide for spouses and a companion work to Dave’s guide for commanders, “Sharing Success and Owning Failure, Preparing to Command”, published in 2001 and in its’ 12th printing. Dave and Dawn continue to pursue their passion for helping military spouses and families in addition to their ongoing work with invisible wounds of war.
As Director of Operations for the VHA Innovators Network, Allison Amrhein guides a team of incredible Innovation Specialists from VA Medical Centers across the country through operational day-to-day functions and leads operational strategic planning for the VHA Innovators Network. Particular areas of leadership responsibility include financial maintenance and planning, internal VA communications and relationship building, development of value metrics and oversight of data collection, and management of the annual Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program application and review process. Prior to her role as Director of Operations, Allison served as an Innovation Coordinator, managing high-value innovation projects and contracts, as well as the Director of Executive Correspondence for the Office of the Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Maintenance during her tenure at VA. Prior to joining VA, she was a health systems researcher and technical writer for a number of non-profit organizations. Allison received her Master of Public Health from the University of Kentucky and Health Administration degree from Indiana University. She is also a certified yoga instructor, dog mom, and has a four-year-old son named Charlie.
Craig J. Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Gig Wage, a venture capital-backed SaaS company that’s raised a total of $13.2 million to date to meet the demands of the future workforce and to build modern payment tools for it. Investors have included Steve Case (Founder of AOL) and his Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Venture Fund, Foundry Group, Green Dot, and more. In an industry where forward-thinking is a rarity, Craig’s vision for innovation has pushed an antiquated industry to modernize by designing a service that meets the demands of on-demand workforces. “Simple. Fast. Easy.”
Prior to building Gig Wage, Craig was a professional basketball player across Europe before returning stateside and becoming an expert in payroll technology, selling over $10 million in payroll-related software for the likes of ADP and others. He was the Chief Strategy Officer of Kairos, a venture-backed facial recognition and emotion detection startup that has been named one of the “Top 20 Startups” by The Wall Street Journal, was selected to participate in the first-ever Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, and has reached a $130M valuation.
As a Black tech entrepreneur with significant business and growth results throughout his career, he understands the importance of work ethic, teamwork, and the sacrifices required to accomplish the impossible. Embodying the motto, “Go for it,” has been the creed that has propelled him. Notable accomplishments include authoring The Sport of the Sales; being a contributor to Forbes, The American Payroll Association, PayTech Magazine, and Thomson Reuters; sitting on the boards of Visit Dallas, the Friends of Fair Park, and Marketplace Risk; and is a Founding Member of Forbes’ Dallas Business Council. As an evangelist of technology and its capacity for wealth creation and therefore its ability to improve lives, Craig’s ultimate mission is to help millions of businesses and everyday people in the gig economy by providing innovative software, unique business models, and a path to financial success.
As an evangelist of technology and its capacity for wealth creation and therefore its ability to improve lives, Craig’s ultimate mission is to help millions of businesses and everyday people in the gig economy by providing innovative software, unique business models, and a path to financial success. He’s passionate about building this legacy for his four daughters and his wife, Tinishia.
Craig graduated in 2004 with a B.A. in Communication and a Minor in Marketing at Morehead State University.
An accomplished 20-year mission-focused business leader having served as a U.S. Air Force Contracting Officer. Jorge led foundational AFWERX business strategies and realized the USAF revitalization of the U.S. Air Force – Small Business Innovation Research Program and other strategic innovation initiatives. Jorge now optimizes Capital Factory programs to help all portfolio companies, commercial partners, and entrepreneurs organize, collaborate, and deliver innovative solutions to all state, federal, and defense partners.
Major General (MG) Rich Staats is the Commanding General for the 75th Innovation Command, responsible for leveraging the civilian education, skills, experience, and certifications resident in the US Army Reserve. As a two-star general command, the 75th is the senior military headquarters in the fourth largest city in the U.S. as well as in the surrounding region.
MG Staats was commissioned at the United States Military Academy and served in positions of increasing responsibility over the next 36 years of commissioned service including six commands at every level from Company Commander to two-star Commanding General. MG Staats served overseas in five of these commands including service in active combat zones for three of them. MG Staats has served in a number of Joint and Interagency assignments and support including the Joint Staff, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Foreign Service Institute, and Multinational Force Iraq. He is a graduate of the Joint and Combined Warfighting School. MG Staats was the first Senior Fellow for the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group.
MG Staats has attended a number of military schools including the Quartermaster Basic and Advanced Courses (honor graduate for both), Intermediate Level Education, Command and General Staff College (Pershing Award winner/top graduate), and the US Army War College.
His military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal. MG Staats was also awarded the Polish Medal of Distinction and the US State Department Superior Honor Award for actions in combat. He is authorized to wear both the Army and Joint Staff badges.
MG Staats’ holds a Ph.D. from the Electrical Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied as a Hertz Fellow, as well as a Masters in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.
In his role as a Citizen-Soldier, Dr. Staats served for over 25 years as a contributor at various “Think Tanks” in the DC area culminating with a position as the Director of a $100M program supporting the DoD. Dr. Staats is a Distinguished Fellow for the Institute for Stability and Transition and served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the parent organization for the Texas A&M University System. He has contributed to six books and dozens of articles ranging in topics from artificial intelligence and world and society building to game design and the theoretical value of information. In 1996, the European Engineering Society named Dr. Staats one of the top 100 information engineers. He has produced seven commercials, music albums is an active public speaker, and maintains several popular YouTube channels related to work and hobbies.
MG Staats is married to beloved Ann Staats (formerly Klughammer), and they are blessed with five children: Kathy (medical doctor), Liz (chef), Ben (former Marine and CEO of his own company), Chloe (marketing), and Chris (financial analyst). Beloved Ann is a high school teacher of English as a Second Language, and she is an award-winning children’s author.
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Lisa Adams has been the Director for The University of Texas at Dallas Military and Veteran Center since June 2014. Before transitioning to a career in higher education, she served in the U.S. Air Force. She earned her commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and spent over nine years on Active Duty as a C-21 and B-52 pilot. She was in the first generation of women to fly combat aircraft and the first woman to qualify as a B-52 aircraft commander/instructor/evaluator pilot. She then served 11 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as an Admissions Liaison Officer before retiring. Lisa has Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan, a Master’s of Education in Higher Education from Dallas Baptist University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Higher Education program at the University of North Texas. Her research interests include veterans in higher education, student veterans in engineering, and women in STEM. Lisa is a member of the UT Dallas Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars Stewardship Council, serves as the Region III representative on the NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community Advisory Board, and is a member of the Veteran Higher Education Task Force for the George W. Bush Institute Military Service Initiative.
Dallas is the Executive Director at Challenge America, a national nonprofit organization that leverages technology and the creative arts to improve the lives of Veterans and their families. Prior to joining Challenge America, Dallas was an Assistant Professor of Political Science and published numerous works on the intersection of nonprofit organizations and global environmental politics. In a former life, Dallas was a professional whitewater raft guide on the Arkansas, Piedra, Gauley, Lochsa, Salt, New, and Colorado Rivers, to name but a few. Dallas is also a Navy veteran.
Dallas and his team at Challenge America collaborate with VHA Innovation Ecosystem to design and execute a series of technology challenge programs that produce creative solutions to the challenges confronting essential workers on the frontlines of COVID-19. By focusing the talent and goodwill of volunteer engineers, designers, and other subject-matter experts, this COVID-19 Maker Challenge produced more 30 working prototype solutions, many of which are undergoing pilot testing in VA and other facilities.
Dallas earned a B.A. in History from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Colorado State University. He has six peer-reviewed publications to his credit and has presented his research findings in numerous national and international conferences.
Doug Bauer is a six-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps infantry and has completed multiple combat deployments including to Fallujah, Iraq throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the owner/operator and founder of Serac Technology, a managed IT service provider based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Serac Technology focuses their efforts on providing support for general IT operations, cybersecurity consulting and government contracting.
Amy Bernard serves as the Senior Program Manager for Veteran Economic Opportunity as part of the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She manages strategic efforts to promote partnerships, collaboration, and alignment among organizations that focus on meaningful employment, educational, and career pathways, while integrating research findings and policy recommendations that are crucial to the economic success of post-9/11 Veterans. Amy also leads strategic policy and programmatic planning for the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program military curriculum.
Major Amy Bernard retired from the United States Marine Corps in the Spring of 2019, where she served as a Logistics Officer domestically and globally in a myriad of Command and Staff positions. She last served as the Executive Officer of a Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California. She deployed in 2005 and 2007 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and most recently in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. She was selected to represent the United States Marine Corps as the first female Officer to attend Command & Staff College in New Zealand, earning a Master of Arts degree in International Security from Massey University.
Amy Bernard originally hails from Irving, Texas, and completed her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University. In the spring of 2019, she also completed a second Master of Arts degree in Athletic Administration from Concordia University.
Leslie Wegner, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist and owner of North Texas Voice and Speech, which provides medical-based speech therapy services in Texas. She is a Veteran vocalist and flutist of the US Army Band and continues to lecture for military and community music organizations on vocal technique, health, and wellness. She is also the coach of her sons’ Beyblade team, the Texas Tornados, and is looking forward to the next in-person tournament at UTD!
Jason Hendricks is a proud Service Veteran of the U.S. Army. After serving for his country he came to the realization that he was dropping the ball when it came to getting gifts and remembering all 11 brothers and sisters’ birthdays. He needed someone that he could text to run errands and bring the gifts to his family and friends, because he simply didn’t have enough time in the day to do so. He ended up starting Forgot or Knot and have enjoyed helping so many people remember and make their loved one’s special day. Jason’s academic journey has played a humungous role in his success. He continues to further his success as a graduate student at UTD while giving back to communities with high poverty levels.
Helena drives business development collisions between Capital Factory portfolio companies to connect with prime defense contractors and the government. There she identifies and creates opportunities for strategic investment and deal flow, collaborative innovation research and development projects, and vendor relationships between startups and Fortune 500 corporations. She formerly led deal flow for the Accelerator serving North Texas, where she brought in over 40% of the 2019 cohort.
Brandon Friedman is a co-founder of Rakkasan Tea Company, a Dallas-based startup that promotes peace and development by importing and selling premium loose-leaf tea grown solely in post-conflict countries.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Brandon worked for more than a decade in politics, serving last as the Obama administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He began his career in 2000 as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
A frequent media contributor since 2007, Brandon is a regular columnist for the New York Daily News. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera and C-SPAN. His memoir, The War I Always Wanted, was recognized in 2010 by The Military Times as one of “The Best Military Books of the Decade.”
He holds an MPA from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Shrikant is managing Director at Accenture and a member of the Technology leadership team in the US South Market Unit. He leads Accenture’s Cloud First practice for origination and specializing in helping Fortune 500 companies reimagine and reinvent their businesses leveraging cloud-enabled digital transformation. In his 27+ year career, Shrikanthas helped a wide variety of companies drive top-line growth, improve profitability and sustain savings through technology transformations. During this journey he has worked with diverse cross-functional teams from various countries and cultures, to drive innovation and value. Shrikant is very active in supporting the local Dallas community. He regularly volunteers at the Austin Street Shelter, North Texas Food Bank (NTFB), and Feed my Starving Children(FMSC). Shrikant holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Business Administration, from the University of Mumbai, India. Prior to Accenture, Shrikant has successfully led global teams while working for companies like Dell and Wipro. He resides in Plano, TX.
Courtney Brecheen began her career in higher education at UT Dallas in 2009. During her professional and academic careers, she has maintained a commitment to diversity, equity, and advocacy for disadvantaged groups. Examples of high-impact practices developed under her direction in the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE) include the University’s on-campus food pantry, minority student success programs, peer mentor programs, and undergraduate research initiatives. Currently, Courtney’s primary responsibilities include overseeing the Graduation Help Desk, Undergraduate Success Scholars program, Cultural Scholars program, first-generation student programming, OUE survey administration, and student success data analytics, and the Pinch Endowed Scholarship. Additionally, in her roles on various committees, Courtney advocates for historically marginalized students and intentionally strive to cultivate empathy in order to promote equity-driven decision-making. Brecheen enjoys working closely with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and supporting the Office of Admission and Enrollment in recruitment efforts to increase the racial and socioeconomic diversity of UT Dallas. Courtney proudly serves as the Executive Sponsor of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (QuTD). She firmly believes that if the individuals who serve students feel a sense of belonging, inclusion, and safety, they are more likely to make students feel the same. As a first-generation student who was inspired by a hardworking single mother, Brecheen has a passion for ensuring that students from diverse backgrounds use their college experience to develop the intellectual, social, and cultural capital that will improve their personal well-being and social mobility. Courtney holds a doctorate in public affairs. She received the UT Dallas Women Leading in Diversity Award in 2017 and, most recently, received the UT Dallas Staff Diversity Award in recognition of her work.
Danyelle Gates (she/they) works as an Administrative Assistant in the Office of Communications. She is one of the podcast hosts and audio editors of the UT Dallas CometCast Network. They graduated with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies in the class of 2017.
Sarah Jane (SJ) Murdock (she/her) is the Administrative Project Coordinator for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Administrative Coordinator for the Blackstone Launchpad Texas Network of UT System institutions, and Operations Manager for the Venture Mentoring Service of North Texas. Her previous experience includes coordinating both the Professional Program in Marketing and the Center for Professional Sales at the Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas. She coordinated dozens of conferences for the University of Texas Continuing Legal Education arm of the UT Law School in Austin. Prior to that, she worked in Industry Affairs at NCTA — The Internet and Television Association in Washington, DC. SJ feels strongly about creating safe spaces and speaks on panels about DEI representing the LGBTQ+ community.
In her free time, she is passionate about experiential learning and design as a means of personal transformation and growth. She had one such design accepted into the 2020 Fastaval Scenario Festival in Hobro, Denmark. She also enjoys singing and is a member of Vita Women’s Choir and Enter Stage Left — a virtual theatrical musical troupe.
Arthur L. Gregg is the Assistant Vice President for Multicultural Affairs and founding Director of the Multicultural Center at The University of Texas at Dallas. He is responsible for the Multicultural Center as well as diversity initiatives, training, and cultural competency programs for the UTD campus. Also, he is the Executive Sponsor for the Black Faculty and Staff Association and serves on various committees on the UTD campus. He is a Past President of the Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education (TABPHE) and a graduate of Leadership Richardson. Gregg also serves as a Co-Lead Facilitator for LeaderShape). This year Gregg celebrates his 35th year in the field of higher education. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Houston and a Master of Education in Higher Education from Dallas Baptist University.
Benjamin J. Vann is a passionate advocate of social and economic justice, especially for disadvantaged and marginalized groups. His work with impact investors, venture capital funds, Fortune 500 companies, universities, and foundations have been viewed through the lens of addressing the world’s most pressing social and economic problems. Benjamin is the Founder and CEO of Impact Ventures, a 501c3 startup accelerator with a mission to empower talented, yet under-resourced women and entrepreneurs of color to build generational wealth through inclusive entrepreneurship and integrated capital. Since 2017, Impact Ventures has impacted nearly 3500 people through community networking events, hackathons, workshops, and summits. Since 2020, IV’s flagship accelerator program has train 64 founders to collectively raise $1.2M, create 49 jobs, engage over 70 mentors, and offer over 1300 hours of training and mentorship.
Benjamin brings 13 years of professional expertise in finance, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and impact investing, combined with deep grass-root social sector experience in community organizing, civic engagement, and non-profit management. He is also the President and CEO of TVG Enterprises, a strategic advisory firm focused on providing innovative solutions in the areas of strategy, business development, technology integration, and capital formation. Previously, he held leadership positions in Finance at Good Returns Group, a global social enterprise startup working to transform corporate philanthropy through impact investing and micro-lending. He worked as the North Texas Philanthropy Officer at The Trust for Public Land, Fidelity Charitable, managing the world’s largest Donor Advised Fund and financial roles within Fidelity Investments.
As a dedicated servant leader, Benjamin currently serves as an executive board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Dallas Chapter and The Dallas Foundations Good Works Under 40 Selection Committee. He previously served as a City of Dallas appointee to the South Dallas Fair Park Opportunity Fund, South Dallas Fair Park TIF Board, Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Anthem Strong Families, DISD Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA), and Aspire — Fidelity Investment Regional African American and Latino Employee Resource Group. In 2015, he launched the Dallas County Civic Alliance, a citywide Get Out the Vote initiative that resulted in registering over 10,000 residents in Dallas County. He is also a member, volunteer, and supporter of the DFW Urban League Young Professionals, NSBE DFW, and The NAACP Dallas Chapter.
Benjamin has received a number of awards and recognition by both regional and national media and news publications. He was named Top 500 Most Powerful CEOs in Dallas by DCEO Magazine, he is a member of the leadership council of the SMU Hunt Institute of Engineering Inclusive Economies Consortium (IEC), a 2020 Boston Impact Initiative Fund Building Fellow, and was named top 50 Future Innovators of DFW in 2020 Dallas Innovates Magazine. He is also a 2018 World Economic Forum Global Shaper Fellow, Partner at Dallas Social Venture Partners, 2016 Dana Juett Social Venture Resident, and 2015 Mayor’s Star Council Alumni. In 2019, he was nominated for Cosign Magazine’s Tech Innovator and Public Figure of the Year Award, as well as Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2017. Awarded DFW Urban League Business of the Month, In 2016, he was featured in the 3rd and 4th edition of Who’s Who in Black Dallas Publication, In 2015, he awarded 40 under 40 Future Leaders in Dallas by i10 Magazine, named top 28 #BlackDFWMatters influencers, and featured on the cover of Be Great Magazine, Dallas Millennials Edition.
Benjamin is a Midwest native of Wichita, KS, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Washburn University, where he was also a standout Defensive Back. Benjamin also played professional football in the Indoor Football League (IFL) for the Kansas Koyotes and was the Defensive Coordinator at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Ks. He is a self-taught musician of four instruments, an avid vinyl collector, and a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated.
Andrea is the Network Catalyst, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Techstars. At Techstars her role is to plan, coordinate and ignite diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives across the Techstars network and entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is crucial that we break down those barriers and begin to work together to support our communities of innovators and entrepreneurs. We need to develop the next generation of tech leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors. And we are. Before joining Techstars, she was the co-founder and President at Revolar a 2015 & 2016 Techstars company. While at Revolar Andrea built a full stack team of hardware, software, sales and operations members that successfully launched 2 hardware products and sold over 20,000 units in 16 months. Andrea is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Anjie Vichayanonda is a trademark and copyright lawyer and entrepreneur located in Dallas, Texas. Anjie grew up in Dallas and started her career in marketing, but after a few years, she switched careers and went to law school to pursue a legal career in intellectual property law at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Anjie started out her legal career practicing trademark and copyright law as an associate at a premier intellectual property boutique in Washington, D.C. where her clients included the Disney / Marvel / Lucasfilm / ABC conglomerate, Harley-Davidson, Yahoo, Twentieth Century Fox and The Hershey Company. In 2017, she joined the Dallas office of Haynes & Boone, LLP. In September 2018, Anjie left the practice of law and founded Leg Up Legal, a start-up that provides an online mentoring and coaching platform to connect pre-law and current law students to lawyers. In addition to running Leg Up Legal full-time, Anjie also is Of Counsel to Andrea Sager Law PLLC, a virtual law firm serving small businesses and entrepreneurs, including online boutiques, online consultants and coaches, and social media influencers and content creators.
Punkie Johnson is Saturday Night Live’s newest featured cast player. Punkie is the second Black Indigenous LGBTQ+ Female of Color cast member in the show’s history. Punkie is a Los Angeles-based comedian from New Orleans, Louisiana. Starting her career as an emcee, Punkie is now a paid regular and favorite at The World Famous Comedy Store in Hollywood where she is known as one of the most fearless, ruthless, and rawest, forces on the scene. Recent credits include CORPORATE (Comedy Central), ADAM RUINS EVERYTHING (Tru TV), PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME (Amazon), AHAMED’S RAMADAN DIARIES (Comedy Central Digital), and the upcoming film THE OPENING ACT, where she appears opposite Jimmy O. Yang and Bill Burr.
Maryam is the Executive Director of Venture Forward, where she oversees the organization’s mission to advance the next era of venture capital. She previously served as SVP of Industry Advancement at the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), where she incubated several Venture Forward initiatives. At NVCA, she led research and data, education, and diversity and inclusion programming. She managed the production of the annual NVCA Yearbook, quarterly PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, and NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey. She also created VC University (a joint initiative between NVCA and Startup@BerkeleyLaw), LP Office Hours, and the Stanford/NVCA Venture Capital Symposium.
Prior to joining NVCA, Maryam managed the research department at EMPEA, the global industry association for private capital in emerging markets, as the Senior Director of Research in Washington, DC. Before EMPEA, she was a Senior Research Analyst in the Private Equity & Venture Capital division of Dow Jones & Company, supporting its flagship product VentureSource in San Francisco.
Maryam is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
Jessica Gonzalez joined Santander Consumer USA (SC) in September 2018 as Vice President of the US Operational Strategy and Digital Transformation. She leads a dynamic team that is focused on enhancing business performance and digital solutions. Recipient of Keeping it Simple Santander 2019 Award and Digital Transformation Award. Serves as SC’s Texas Conexion Regional Leader and a member of the SC Diversity & Inclusion Council.
Jessica brings over 18 years of experience as an advocate for Diversity and Inclusion in multiple leadership capacities. She has held positions of President of LULAC for the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science Chapter, represented the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute supporting Congressman Luis Gutierrez. An active volunteer for ALPFA, UT Dallas chapter, Association of Latino Professionals For America. Recipient of the Visa 2014 Volunteer Award for assisting wounded military veterans transitioning to the civilian workplace while simultaneously supporting HERO, Human Exploitation Rescue Operative, saving at-risk youth.
Jessica comes to SC with over 15 years of experience in financial and operational strategy that includes a tenure of 10-years at Visa, leading various disciplines to include Sales, Operations, Risk Management, Program Management, and Finance. Jessica holds a Master’s in Business Administration from West Texas A&M and is a certified Project Management Professional.
Outside of work, Jessica is a supportive veteran wife and mother of five children, who enjoy RVing and competitive sand volleyball.
After 24 years at Capital One, Andrella is somewhat of a celebrity within our Financial Services division. She’s even been referred to as our own personal Oprah and for good reason. Her laugh is contagious, her eyes are bright, and her determination and grit have not only helped her overcome personal hardships, but also inspire our 5,000 Financial Services associates in an unprecedented year of challenges. She’s authentic, perfectly in tune with what our associates need, and helps them bring their whole selves to work each day. We are so grateful for the critical role she plays in making Capital One and our community a better and more equitable place.
Andrella is living proof that you can come out of anything, regardless of circumstance. She overcame her own challenges to get where she is today. Abused by her father as a child, she escaped to DFW on a Greyhound bus with her mom and four siblings with just the clothes on her back. Today, she uses her personal story to help others find their purpose and belonging through kindness, empathy, and leadership. She has been one of Capital One Financial Services’ biggest D&I champions and creates a culture of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
Andrella bravely leaned into an opportunity in 2020 to enable Capital One people leaders to feel equipped to have meaningful conversations following the public outrage over the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. Communities of color also faced more risk with COVID-19, so Black associates needed an ally on multiple fronts. By using human-centered design principles, she developed key content and frameworks to begin leading meaningful discussions with her peers, associates, and Capital One leadership.
She launched “Real Talk” conversations with Dr. Moses Chism, a mental health professional specializing in trauma in the Black communities. These sessions have reached more than 1,500 executives and associates in less than two months. The talks have focused on authenticity, self-love, and overcoming trauma. One associate called them “game-changing in helping everyone open up while feeling fully supported, championed, and safe.” Her efforts in creating the space for pivotal dialogue have enabled, equipped, and empowered leaders and associates during this critical time.
Michael serves as the Executive Director for My Possibilities and is responsible for the overall function and performance of the organization and its partner/subsidiary businesses. His responsibilities include the management of the organization’s long-term strategy and managing all individual components within that process, including financial budgeting and oversight, resource development and community engagement, program design and delivery, people development, and new business endeavors. He oversaw the growth of My Possibilities since 2010 and has successfully developed and completed a 25-million-dollar campaign to enable the organization to find and begin building its college-style educational campus in Plano, Texas.
Since 2006, his entire career has been spent serving in the non-profit industry, specifically supporting children and adults with disabilities. His organizational experience includes the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Opportunity Village in Las Vegas, Nevada, and My Possibilities. Michael has served on several cities and state boards supporting the disabilities community. Additionally, he speaks regularly in the non-profit/social impact space, serving as a voice for other executives striving to do things in a new way that better equips each organization to serve and hopefully complete its mission. Appearances include TEDx, Good Morning Texas, Communities Foundation of Texas, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, The Dallas Regional Chamber, The North Texas Commission, Autism Speaks, The Plano Chamber of Commerce, and many others.
Community service is important to Michael, and he has served leadership and board roles at the Plano Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Plano, the Texas Intellectual, and Developmental Disabilities System Redesign Advisory Committee (IDD-SRAC), and the Sigma Phi Epsilon Alumni Board. He has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Religious studies from Southern Methodist University and is currently in progress to receive his Executive MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas with an expected graduation date of 2022.
Michael was born in Dallas, Texas, and attended Booker T. Washington High School prior to attending SMU. He is married to Julie Carey Thomas who is a private licensed massage therapist and health consultant and together they have twin boys, Jackson & Maxwell (age 6). In his free time, Michael plays golf and soccer, enjoys time at the piano, and he always has an old Datsun that he’s restoring (or trying to restore) in the garage.
Matt Winser-Johns (he/him/his) is the Assistant Director for LGBTQ+ Programs at The University of Texas at Dallas. Matt has worked in Higher Education for over 15+ years and loves working with students.UT Dallas is currently ranked#14in the nation for LGBTQ-inclusivity, based on the latest Campus Pride Index ranking. Matt’s passions include making space for LGBTQ+ at the table. Matt knows Texas has a long way to go in inclusion for LGBTQ+ people, but he is committed to staying here and doing the work.
Matt Houston is the Principal of MLH Enterprises, a Dallas-based firm that provides education, professional development, and leadership consulting to organizations across the country. Clients have included The Nelson Mandela Foundation, KIPP Charter School System, and other real estate development businesses and corporations in the north texas region. Matt was previously Executive Director of Group Excellence, a mentoring and tutoring company that provides programs to schools across the country. By hiring the best professionals, undergraduate and graduate students, and educators, Group Excellence sets the standard in preparing students for college and life.
A desire to drive change, specifically in the area of economic equity for all, is Matt’s personal mission. Houston believes the path to success is through education and business creation. To that end, Matt works tirelessly to advocate for new businesses, wealth and job creation, and communities that create and value their economic engines. Matt is currently a Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership at the University of North Texas at Dallas School of Business. Houston is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy. Matt also serves as an exec board member of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce (serving as Chair from 2013-2015) and is engaged in other community and business organizations. In his free time, Houston is an active member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Matt is a native of Dallas and earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Southern Methodist University (SMU) and his Masters of Business Administration degree from the Neely School of Business at Texas Christian University (TCU). He was also in the Blueprint for Leadership Program Class of 2008 (Center for Nonprofit Management) and Leadership Dallas Class of 2012 (Dallas Regional Chamber).
Michelle Gruben is a writer and e-commerce entrepreneur. In 2014, she founded Grove and Grotto, which has since grown from a small online shop to a successful full-time project. In 2021, Grove and Grotto were selected for an eBay Up and Running Grant, a program designed to recognize outstanding small business performance during the pandemic. A national Merit Scholar (2004), she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas (B.A., Gender Studies, ’06). She lives in Dallas with her wife, Sarah Moore (B.A., Arts and Technology, ’08).
Leah Frazier is a 2-Time Emmy Award-Winning and 10-Time ADDY Award-Winning entrepreneur and was recognized as one of Dallas’s most successful women for 2015. She is a multi-licensed attorney turned marketing and communications guru, who unapologetically left the practice of law to pursue her entrepreneurial ventures. In 2020, Leah was recognized by Dallas Innovatesas one of the Future 50 Leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth for tech, innovation, and disruption and as a winner of the 2020 “Inno on Fire” award from American Inno’s North Texas Innomedia outlet, for her service to the startup, small business, and entrepreneurial community. Just recently, Leah was named as one of the “top 10 inspiring black women in the marketing and communications industry to follow” by Top Rank Marketing. Leah has built a multi-faceted empire as an award-winning journalist, publicist, media personality, digital marketing expert, and in-demand consultant to notable brands. Leah is the CEO and proud owner of Think Three Media –an award-winning creative marketing and communications agency focused in the areas of content marketing, social media marketing, communications, and public relations services for brands spanning the industries of fashion, beauty, public speaking, the performing arts, food, lifestyle, and more. Her work has been featured and mentioned on Forbes, Vogue.com, NBC, CW, CBS Local, Chase TV, Fox TV, Good Morning Texas, Haute Living Magazine, D Magazine, CEO Blog Nation, and many other outlets as an expert in PR and entrepreneurship. Leah has cultivated top-tier partnerships with Toyota, the Dallas Mavericks, Belk, Cantu Beauty, Marshall’s, Via Spiga, Vogue, Brahmin, Neiman Marcus, Warner Bros., Shoedazzle, Yosi Samra Shoes, and more. Leah co-authored her first book in 2018, The Success Factor, which reached #1 as a Best Seller for Women and Business reads and was also awarded an African-American Literary Award. Her second co-authored title, Promise: A Global Women’s Devotionalbecame a best seller in 2020 as well. She recently released her first eBook, Lessons from the Bottom: Losing One’s Self to Gain Successearlier this year, and is working on her signature PR Yourselfbook to be released in Spring 2021
Clio Yun-su Davis is a game designer and cultural consultant who has contributed to tabletop RPGs such asKids on Bikes, Magical Kitties Save the Day, and hearts of Wulin. Their interactive horror novels Fog Knows Your Name was published by Choice of Games in 2019. As a consultant, Clio helps to make games, fiction, events, and educational programs more inclusive and accessible. They have also designed LARPs such as pass the Sugar, Please, and the card game battle of the Boybands. They are currently working on the Avatar: The Last Airbender RPG forMagpie Games, due to be released in 2022.
Madeline Di Nonno is the President and CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the leading research-driven advocacy organization working within the entertainment and media industry to create gender balance, foster inclusion, and reduce negative stereotyping in family entertainment media. Di Nonno leads the Institute’s strategic direction, fundraising, D&I programs, research, financial and operational activities. Di Nonno brings a track record of successful executive leadership in the entertainment, non-profit, digital, and consumer packaged goods industries. Di Nonno is an Executive Producer on the Emmy nominated, People’s Choice and Gracie award-winning television series Mission Unstoppable and the Gracie award-winning feature film documentary This Changes Everything. Previously, Di Nonno has served in executive leadership positions for Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media. Nielsen Entertainment, Hallmark Channel, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and ABC Television Network. Di Nonno is a U.S. State Department Speaker Specialist and public speaker and moderator at global conferences, corporations, governmental organizations, and festivals, such as AdWeek, Cannes Lion, Chatham House, CES, Kidscreen, London Film Festival, New Zealand Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, The White House, UNESCO, and the United Nations. Di Nonno has been featured in global media outlets such as Adweek, Ad Age, Cosmo, Fast Company, FOX 11, Forbes, Glamour, The Guardian, MediaWeek, Huffington Post, Spectrum TV, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, and Variety. Di Nonno holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Di Nonno is an appointed Arts Commissioner of the Los Angeles County Arts Department. serves on the board of Directors for the Television Academy Foundation; and Friends of the Erben Organ. Di Nonno is on the Advisory Board for the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.
David R. Troutman, Ph.D., is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research and Advanced Analytics, Office of Institutional Research and Analysis (OIRA)at The University of Texas System. As the Associate Vice Chancellor for OIRA, Dr. Troutmanand his team of researchers and business intelligence analysts transform data into timely and meaningful information in order to support UT Systeminitiatives and policy decisions across its 14 institutions and to enhance insight, transparency, and accountability. OIRA promotes continuous improvement and institutional analytics through effective institutional research, data analysis, consulting, and facilitation efforts, collaborating with UT System institutions, federal and state agencies, and higher education associations and foundations to transform data into actionable information. Most notably, Dr. Troutman partners with the United States Census Bureau to obtain national wage data for all UT System graduates. This data is presented through seekUT® (seekUT.utsystem.edu), a free online tool that provides post-graduation outcomes of UT System graduates by a program of study. He also oversees the development and implementation of the UT System Dashboard (data.utsystem.edu), a web-based business intelligence system that provides analytics for policy decisions, and measures productivity and accountability in higher education. Dr. Troutman’s work has been featured in peer-reviewed journals and various media outlets. He earned his Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Courtney started with Capital One as an Area Sales Manager almost 22 years ago. She became a top-performing Area Sales Manager and moved up to become a top-performing Regional Sales Manager. While Courtney is well known for holding a high-performance bar, she equally lives the Capital One values, always putting the best interest of our associates, customers, and Capital One at the forefront of her decision-making. She is passionate about associate development and believes there are no limits if you are aware of your strengths, utilize them, own your opportunities and work hard to turn them into strengths.
Lee Adcock joined Capital One as a software engineer creating online experiences for customers but now focuses on building artificial intelligence systems for detecting cybersecurity threats. He was one of the original authors of Capital One’s “Coders” youth software development course and loves the opportunity to share his passion for solving problems using technology.
Wendy is a Software Engineer turned Product Manager and has been at Capital One for 2.5 years. She is from the Northern VA area and graduated from the University of Virginia with degrees in Psychology and Computer Science. In her free time, she loves trying new restaurants and she tutors in math and science.
Margaret Erlandson is a data analyst manager working in Capital One’s Small Business Lending division. She started her career via a love of math and computer science in high school and graduating with a degree in Applied Mathematics from Texas A&M University. She then went to work in the oil and gas sector for 17 years, running programs on seismic data and leading the input QA team. Upon leaving that industry, she studied up on data science, returning to a love of coding, and received a certification from Johns Hopkins University online. She has been with Capital One for almost four years now, writing SQL and python scripts for operations and government reporting. She was a part of Innovate(Her) as a mentor from the empowHer women’s group for the first two years and then became involved with Coders for the next two years. She is now also leading the Coders Plano site for the 10-week school program in the fall and spring semesters. She has led classes in both MIT App Inventor and Web Development.
Amelia is a senior designer and strategist at Capital One. She began her career as a mechanical engineer and quickly realized that she wanted to apply her problem-solving skills to help improve people’s lives. She received her master’s degree in Engineering Design & Innovation at Northwestern University, where she learned how to leverage human-centered design strategies to find the right problems to solve and develop innovative solutions to solve them. She has always loved inspiring and mentoring the next generation of innovators, and she even devoted her master’s thesis project to designing a hands-on board game that helps foster collaboration and problem-solving skills in players of all ages. Today, she applies her skills in design research, service design, and strategy to help Capital One create seamless, world-class experiences for the auto industry.
Lavanya is a Vice President of Software Engineering for the Auto Finance Servicing division at Capital One. Lavanya’s organization is focused on powering Capital One to be the largest non-captive auto lender in the nation by leveraging cutting-edge technology to reinvent the auto finance industry through real-time, intelligent, and omnichannel customer experiences. Her responsibilities include setting technology strategies for customer payments, multichannel customer communications, and helping build tools and products to keep customers in their cars. She is an advocate for closing the gap in women in technology as a member of Capital One’s Women in Technology task force.
DarioVillarreal, Ph.D. is a Strategic Research Manager in the Business Revolution and Transformation Group at Toyota Motor North America (TMNA), which has the goal of identifying and aligning Toyota’s enterprise-wide initiatives to help shape the company’s business, culture, and workforce for the future. Before transitioning to this position, Dr. Villarreal served as Research and Innovation Manager as well as Software and Controls Principal Engineer at the Technology for Human Support (THS) –Future Mobilityteam at TMNA where he led the design and prototyping of robotic technologies with the goal of enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. Before joining TMNA, Dr. Villarreal was an Assistant Professor of Robotics in the Departments of Electrical, Computer, and Mechanical Engineering and Director of the NeuroMechatronics Lab at SMU. As Director of the NeurMechatroncis lab, he supervised graduate and undergraduate students in research topics, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), related to human-robot interactions, control systems, and rehabilitation robotics that led to published book chapters, journal papers, and conference papers. Dr. Villarreal received his B.Eng. Summa Cum Laude in Mechatronics Engineering from Saltillo Tech (Instituto Tecnológico de Saltillo), Mexico in 2012 and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from The University of Texas at Dallas in 2017. During his Ph.D., he worked on developing control algorithms that synchronize a robotic prosthetic leg to the motion of amputees during walking. During the summer of 2016, Dr. Villarreal collaborated with the prestigious university les MINES ParisTech in Paris, France where he developed and validated control algorithms for a full lower-limb exoskeleton.
Douglas Moore is General Manager of Business Transformation and Future Mobility, where he focuses on applying a vision of the future to where Toyota can drive value and innovation. In his prior role as Director of Technology and Human Support, he worked on applying new technology solutions and robotics to enrich lives and advance the freedom of mobility to more people. Toyota is actively researching ways to apply advanced technologies to help people with limited mobility, including seniors or those who are disabled, and in his role, Doug is helping realize Toyota’s goal of mobility for all. Combining his mechanical and computer science background, Doug has been working on cutting-edge robotics and technology for more than 15 years. His research included leading Toyota’s efforts in North America to apply the company’s Human Support Robot (HSR) to help people with limited mobility, such as seniors and people with disabilities.
Before Toyota, he worked to develop brain-based AI models. Doug received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at San Diego and master’s degree from the University of California Irvine.
Rachel Atmadja is an Interaction Designer with roots in architectural design—she crafts experiences that elevate human potential. A large part of her work as a designer is having the ability to discern where people are struggling, and where people are being excluded from opportunities for a better way to live, work, and play. At present, she is a Principal Interaction Designer at Capital One, where her chief area of focus is to elevate her co-creators to the Customer View. Her solo projects include synthesizing a thought framework to design artificial intelligence entities from the starting point of empathy. Formerly an architectural designer, she now designs digital experiences & services that are built for impact at a scale that she can only dream of. It turns out she never really stopped building things after all.
Sarah Hedden is a software engineer at REV Robotics, where she develops electronic components intended for students to use to build robots. She got her start in the robotics industry as a research assistant at Mississippi State University’s Social, Therapeutic, and Robotic Systems Lab designing a robotic dog for the therapeutic treatment of PTSD patients and continued her pursuit of robotics as a software engineer working on Toyota’s Technology for Human Support team. She is passionate about robotics, software craftsmanship, and STEM education and enjoys developing technology that improves peoples’ lives.
Aurelia Vasquez is a senior manager in the corporate communications division at Toyota, providing support and counsel to enterprise and vehicle cybersecurity, data privacy, the TFS private label business.
Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Aurelia began her marketing communications career at the local Telemundo station selling and writing scripts for TV commercials. After that experience, she moved to Miami where she worked on media relations and corporate communications strategies across Latin America, Spain, and Portugal with the Cisneros Television Group and the Claxson cable TV network portfolio. Over the next 20 years, Aurelia has held a variety of international communications, including public information officer for Miami-Dade County; director of communications for The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s economic development organization; and corporate director of America’s communications for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.
Aurelia graduated with two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature from the University of Texas at El Paso, with a specialized concentration in Business Administration. Having moved a few times for work opportunities, she calls El Paso, Miami, Chicago, and Dallas home. She currently lives in Dallas with her husband Josh and two cats, Chloe and Leo.
Amanda is a senior analyst in the corporate communications division at Toyota, providing support and counsel to Lexus product communications, advertising, and brand initiatives.
Raised in Texas, Amanda began her marketing communications career at Great Wolf Resorts in Grapevine before taking a role senior communications role at the Madison, Wis. headquarters. After this role, she moved back to Texas to work on media relations and brand strategy with the Allison+Partners Dallas office. Working with clients in B2B and B2C industries such as automotive, technology, public affairs, and healthcare, Amanda also completed her Accreditation in Public Relations with the national PRSA Accreditation board.
Amanda graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations from Baylor University with a minor in Business Administration. She is currently in the process of pursuing a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. She currently lives in Denton with her husband, two children, and dog, Molly.
Whitney Holden is an award-winning graphic designer, creative director, design mentor, artist, entrepreneur, and proud Mommy. She currently owns and operates her own design and illustration studio. Previous experience includes designing for major brands such as Funimation and Mary Kay, with a special focus on print publications and brand design. She is in constant motion, and if she’s not pouring my heart into a design project, she’s probably dabbling with her watercolors or on a fossil-hunting expedition with her little paleontologist. Website:https://whitney-holden.com/
Raul Hinojosa Jr. joined The University of Texas at Dallas as Director of Community Engagement in 2008. He is the founding director of this office created to focus on college access initiatives to increase the number of underrepresented students enrolling in college. He also serves as a leader of diversity and inclusion initiatives at the University. Hinojosa serves on several national advisory councils including the College Board College Scholarship Service/Financial Assistance Council. He has a history of being engaged in a variety of community and service organizations. He is the Former President of the Richardson Adult Literacy Center and currently serves on the Richardson Chamber of CommerceBoardof Directors. Hinojosa has also volunteered with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 4871 –Dallas Rainbow Council and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers DFW Chapter Scholarship Committee. He is an alumnus of the Leadership Dallas Class of 2015 –the Dallas Regional Chamber’s (DRC) leadership development program and currently serves on the DRC Leadership Council. Hinojosa has taught strategic communications and non-profit management courses as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas and Texas Christian University. He has also facilitated diversity and inclusion training programs throughout the country. During his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and eating at new restaurants.
It is Bri Crow’s mission to be a catalyst of growth, confidence, and connection across local businesses, entrepreneurs, and go-getters in the communities in which she serves. As a multi-passionate professional and creative, her parent company Bri Crow & Co. has grown into a talent acquisition and consulting agency, a creative services studio, and a local media production over the last two years. She also continues to run her inclusive community organization, Women’s Technology Coalition.
Previously, Bri spent ten years in the technical staffing industry in recruiting and sales roles and most recently was recruited to join a cybersecurity startup where she helped build it into a $10 million dollar business in two years.
Bri is a Texas Tech University alumna and spends her free time outdoors and exploring new cultures. She’s been featured in Dallas Innovates, Voyage Dallas as well as a contributing author and photographer for LaunchDFW; and has been awarded for her “Succeed by Serving” work ethic.
To learn more about Human Dimensions, Bri Crow Creative Studio, Local & Thriving, or Women’s Technology Coalition, email email@example.com or connect with Bri on LinkedIn.
Nicki Lee is an Experience Designer creating dealership tools to disrupt the auto industry. This is her second year running the design thinking workshop of the Innovate[her] Conference and takes any chance she can get to work with students. Her drive to bring design thinking to students stems from finding her love of solving puzzles at a young age from reading Nancy Drew novels.
DebbieMrazek is president of The Sales Company, a Texas-based firm that is helping hundreds of entrepreneurs, individuals, and corporations better assess, understand, and engage in practical purposeful selling. Mrazek sales coach individuals and teams. She also designs and delivers sales programs for teams. She’s also a speaker, author of The Field Guide To Sales, and a conference facilitator. DCEO recognized as one of the 2021 Dallas 500. The most powerful business leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Royce has a Bachelor’s degree in Training and Development from Grand Canyon University and a Master’s in Counseling from the University of North Texas.
At the University of Texas at Dallas, Royce is a career coach in the Jindal School of Management working with undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni to help them communicate their passions and skills so that they can land their next great job opportunity. She brings business experience in Human Resources and Learning Development to teach and coach the practical steps to succeed in finding a job and assimilating into the business culture.
Outside of work, Royce likes to run, bike, play with her rescue pups and her family.
Lisa graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Statistics from Baylor University and has an MBA from The University of Texas at Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management.
In her role, she consults with employers to effectively recruit UT Dallas business students. Being a part of the Career Management Center team allows her the opportunity to create and coordinate connections between employers, faculty, staff, and students.
In her spare time, Lisa enjoys cooking, gardening, Bible study, and watching college football
Dexter Ang is the CEO and Cofounder of Pison. Ang’s responsibilities include defining company vision, growing the team, and business development with consumer electronics and military clients. Ang is the lead for engagements with Bose, Microsoft, Google, Boeing, and the ALS Association and is a SME for Human Factors for the Augmented Reality Enterprise Alliance (AREA). Drawing on his expertise in HCI and mechanical engineering, Ang led Pison’s development of its patented nerve-sensing ENG technology and integration for disruptive capabilities. Prior to founding Pison, Ang worked as a senior trader specializing in signal processing and low latency communication at Jump Trading — a market leader in high frequency trading. During his eight-year tenure there, Ang led a $40 million PnL.
John D. Carmack II is an American computer programmer, video game developer and engineer. He co-founded the video game company id Software and was the lead programmer of its games Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, and their sequels.
Dr. Aldridge brings more than 20 years’ experience facilitating the translation of scientific discoveries into patient and commercial benefits. Her roles have included technology commercialization; improving patient outcomes through quality based initiatives; working with disease-specific nonprofits; development and venture philanthropy; and biotech and life science investing through venture capital. Her involvement in the biotech+ hub at Pegasus Park will work to strengthen the pipeline of opportunities to translate scientific discovery into real therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical devices to grow and more deeply establish a biotech ecosystem in the North Texas region. Dr. Aldridge received her Ph.D. from Duke University in the Department of Immunology and Program in Genetics, and her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science is from Texas A&M University
Bryan Chambers is VP of Capital Factory’s Accelerator and a General Partner in the Capital Factory’s VC fund, the most active VC fund in Texas. Prior to joining Capital Factory, Bryan helped to establish the Blackstone LaunchPad and the UT Dallas Seed Fund at the University of Texas at Dallas, where he actively advises students, entrepreneurs, and early-stage ventures and serves as a member of the entrepreneurship faculty. Bryan was a founding team member at Fixd Repair (Acquired by ANGI Home Services), an insurance technology and home services business where he led the business and corporate development strategy. Bryan has spent his career working with and investing in venture-backed startups including ReachLocal (IPO in 2010) and LevelUp (acquired by Grub Hub in 2018).
Kenichi N. Hartman is a Senior US Patent Agent And Partner at A.C. Entis IP. Kenichi received his patent training at the Manhattan office of Ropes & Gray, a global law firm with a leading IP practice and is a registered Patent Agent with the USPTO. He brings specialist technical knowledge gleaned from a 12-year research career.
Claire Leurent is Principal of Venture Investments at Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Claire focuses on pharmaceutical investments in areas of strategic interest to Johnson & Johnson.
She spent 14 years in the pharmaceutical industry in R&D and has led teams in design and implementation of clinical plans from First in Human to Proof of Concept studies.
Christine Brennan has over 15 years in the life-science industry including business development, corporate strategy and venture investing. She is currently Partner at MRLV.
Clay Heighten is a founding member of Caddis Partners. After completing residency training in Dallas, he practiced emergency medicine for 13 years. Clay is also a founding member of Green Park and Golf Ventures, serves on multiple boards of directors of early-stage healthcare companies, and is a co-founder of Dallas-based Health Wildcatters, a healthcare-focused business accelerator.
Karl D. Handelsman is the founder and Managing Partner, Codon Capital, and a key contributor and builder in the US biotech innovation ecosystem. Through his network and leadership, he drives Codon Capital to intensely focus on the best biotech targets for investments. Karl coaches at various incubators and teaches healthcare entrepreneurs.
James Graham is an experienced life-sciences professional, skilled in translation and commercialization of biomedical technologies. James currently serves as the director of investments at Research Bridge Partners.
Adil Adi is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Adil serves as the Principal of his eponymous Family Office and the Executive Chairman of WorldLink, a company he founded in 1998. Adil helped establish the Adi Family Office. Although it holds a wide variety of asset classes, the primary focus of the AFO is investing into and scaling companies in the sectors of Life Sciences and Emerging Technology such as Artificial Intelligence.
Daniel Kleinmann is a senior associate at the Adi Family Office where he manages the venture investments with a primary focus on early-stage Healthcare, Life Science, Deep Tech and B2B Enterprise Tech. He is passionate about supporting disruptive technologies that will fundamentally change the way we live.
Travis Whitfill is a partner at Bios Partners, where he invests in early-stage healthcare technologies that have potential to be transformative to healthcare. Travis focuses on business development and strategy, clinical development, due diligence, and deal sourcing and evaluation. He has a diverse background in the sciences ranging from biomolecular science to health services research.
Dr. Sherket Peterson is the Global Business Development and Strategy Manager in Healthcare for ABB. Sherket is a technical leader who thrives on developing innovative scientific solutions to deliver business needs. Prior to joining ABB, she served as a principal scientist at Johnson & Johnson and a National Advisory Board Member for the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Jonathan Mandelbaum is a Senior Associate at OrbiMed. Jonathan is a former drug discovery scientist passionate about building new biotech companies and developing innovative medicines to treat human disease.
Cheryl is passionate about the intersection of finance, technology, and social impact. She is the Head of Venture Growth and Partnerships at Republic, a one-stop-shop for founders to raise capital from both accredited and non-accredited investors. She is focused on introducing underrepresented founders to these alternative funding sources in order to help their startups thrive. In addition, she works on partnerships with other venture capital and ecosystem builders while supporting the growing Republic portfolio of 150+ companies. She is also a scout for Lightspeed and investment partner at the Community Fund.
Previously she worked as an analyst in a Connecticut-based private equity firm with an emphasis on minority and women entrepreneurs. She started her career in Investment Banking at Barclays, working in the Financial Institutions Group and Structured Finance. She holds a BA in Economics with honors from Harvard University.
Abe Minkara is the Chief Investment Officer and Founding Partner of Legacy Knight. Legacy Knight is an independent, family and partner-owned Multi-Family Office providing exclusive investment access and tailored advisory services to ultra-high net worth families and family offices. Prior to Legacy Knight, Abe managed a portfolio of investments at Mark Cuban Companies with a focus on technology, logistics, and consumer product goods (Shark Tank).
Abe is also actively engaged as an advisor and board member with a number of companies leveraging his expertise in strategy, operations, and capital allocation to help accelerate their growth. D CEO Magazine has recognized Abe as one of the 500 most influential business leaders in North Texas for 2020.Additionally Abe is a Member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) North Texas Chapter, Advisory board member at Institute of Excellence in Corporate Governance (IECG), Advisor at NPX (A new Donor Fund), Advisor at NYC based City Rock Ventures (Focus on impact with diverse founding teams), Mentor at Unreasonable Group (Global Impact Accelerator), Advisor at Guardian Bikes (Shark Tank Season 8 company), and Advisor/Mentor at Stadia Ventures (Global Sport Business Accelerator).
Abe received his MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
Jason Santamaria is a Managing Director in the Portfolio Operations group. Focused on Lean Transformation, Jason is involved in identifying, advising and supporting margin expansion opportunities through transactional & operational process improvement, complexity reduction and value engineering in Blackstone’s global portfolio company holdings.
Before joining Blackstone in 2018, Jason held a number of senior leadership roles in large public and private companies, including Serta Simmons Bedding, Newell Brands, Stanley Black & Decker, Avery Dennison, Morgan Stanley and McKinsey & Company. Early in his career, Jason served as an artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps and as a Fulbright Scholar in South America.
He holds an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa.
Elle Bruno is the Managing Director of the Techstars & Western Union Accelerator. Elle has been a founder and startup operator for 19 years. In 2004 she started her first company, an eBay ancillary marketplace, and since then she has been integral in building three venture-backed startups, most notably Trunk Club. Her expertise is in consumer tech, specifically revenue and growth. Elle has been an angel investor and advisor since 2015, with a focus on investing in female founded companies, and was an EIR in the 2020 Techstars& Western Union program. In her free time, Elle enjoys working on her social goods site and contributing to charitable causes such as race education, scholarships for DREAMers, and closing the socioeconomic gap. She resides in Denver with her husband Tim, and three children George, Zoa, and Louise.
Mr. Gorton is a 13-time Serial Entrepreneur and bestselling author who has created industries and tens of billions of dollars in wealth. He has experience building both public and private companies in the digital health, telecom, music, energy, healthcare, book publishing, aerospace and water remediation industries.Throughout his executive career, Michael has founded and led industry-changing companies, including Internet Global, Teladoc, Palo Duro Records, Principal Solar, Water Environmental Technology and Back To Space.Michael is credited with being one of the pioneer/creators of the telemedicine industry, now valued at a quarter trillion-dollars globally.Book Genius named his current book: Broken Handoff the #1 M&A Business book of 2019.
As CEO, Chairman, and Founder of Teladoc, Gorton created and led the healthcare services company that was named by MIT as one of the Top 50 Smartest Companies in the World. Teladoc is now the world’s leading telemedicine company with a NYSE market cap in the tens of billions of dollars. Following Teladoc, Gorton was the founding CEO of Principal Solar, a public company he led to become one of the thought leaders in the solar industry worldwide, that delivered nearly 400 megawatts of sustainable electricity, enough to run approximately 70,000 American homes. With Internet Global, he led the company from concept to the #1 ranked Internet provider in North Texas and the construction of the world’s first DSL network and one of the first national VOIP networks. He is currently starting a roll up in the tele-health and digital health industries, with a goal of fixing some of the major issues in healthcare today.
Gorton’s passion project is asa founding CEO of Back To Space, LLC (B2S). Back to Space is a for-profit company that has four Apollo era astronauts on the team, including Buzz Aldrin, Walt Cunningham, Charlie Duke and Alfred Worden.The Company is building a Guinness Book of World Records map of the Moon, delivers a weekly Space News Flash, and is developing a TV show that has enlisted renown executive producers: Christopher Cowen (Apollo 13, The Decade Series, and Magnificent Desolation), and former Chairman of the Television Academy Hayma Washington (The Amazing Race, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Naked Science).Michael holds a JD in Law from Texas A&M University School of Law, a BS in Engineering from Texas Tech University, and an MS in Physics from The University of Texas at Dallas. He has established his status as a thought Leader and best-selling author through numerous awards, more than 20 white papers, 100+ articles, five novels and one business book on M&A transactions. His historicfiction novel Forefathers and Founding Fathers became an Amazon #1 best seller.Michael has run eighteen marathons, is working on his 3rd degree black belt in karate and has completed a 4,800-mile bicycle adventure across the US.He and his family have a goal of climbing the highest point of elevation in all 50 states. They have completed 42.
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