Speakers and Moderators

Tony Allen, PhD, President, Delaware State University; Chair, President Bidens' Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Tony Allen is Chief Executive Officer of the nation’s most diverse contemporary HBCU: Delaware State University.
A comprehensive research institution with a $140 million budget and a $27 million research portfolio, the 1890 Land-Grant institution is home to four academic colleges serving nearly 6,000+ undergraduates, boasting graduate and adult programs across the state of Delaware and in 23 countries.
Tony started his career as speechwriter for then-United States Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. In 2020, he was named Chief Executive Officer of the 59th Presidential Inaugural after having served on the Advisory Board of the President’s Transition Team. In 2021, he was appointed to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities as Chair, a role in which he continues to serve.
Before joining the University, Tony transitioned from speechwriting to a career in Communications within the financial services sector, beginning as Executive Vice President at MBNA America. He then led Communications for Bank of America’s largest divisions, founding and developing the Corporate Reputation group.
Tony has been awarded honors such as the Whitney M. Young Award for Advancing Racial Equality, the National Urban League’s highest honor; the Excellence in   Education Award given by the Delaware Barristers Association; and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Urban Fellows and Public Allies.
Founding President of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, Cofounder of Public Allies Delaware, Chair Emeritus of the National Urban Fellows, a Distinguished Fellow with the National Academy of Public Administration, a member of the Economic and Community Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Tony also serves on the Boards of Graham and Pepco Holdings.
Tony holds a B.A. in Political Science and a Ph.D. in Urban Affairs & Public Policy from the University of Delaware, as well as a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College (City University of New York). He is the proud husband of Ms. Tara Allen and father of four fantastic children.

Dr. Dennis Assanis, President, University of Delaware

Dennis Assanis is the 28th President of the University of Delaware. He was elected to the position by the UD Board of Trustees on Nov. 18, 2015. He took office June 6, 2016, and was formally inaugurated Dec. 7, 2016.
Dr. Assanis is a distinguished educator with a wide range of academic leadership experience and a worldwide reputation as a scholar and expert in both fundamental and applied studies of internal combustion engines and energy systems.
Before coming to UD, Dr. Assanis served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University and as vice president for Brookhaven National Laboratory Affairs. He previously taught and conducted research at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Dr. Assanis earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Engineering from Newcastle University in England (1980). At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he earned three Master’s Degrees: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (1982), Mechanical Engineering (1982) and Management (1986). Also at MIT, he earned a Ph.D. in Power and Propulsion (1985).

Margaret Bacheler, Director of Educational Initiatives, Angel Capital Association

Dr. Margaret Bacheler is Director of Educational Initiatives for the Angel Capital Association, where she oversees the Ann and Bill Payne ACA Angel University. Dr. Bacheler is passionate about inclusive economic development, creative placemaking, and diversifying the ranks of angel investors and the founders they support. She holds an Ed.d in Educational Leadership from Widener University, an MBA from Saint Joseph’s University, and a BA in World Politics from Hamilton College, where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Currently, she is an active angel investor with Portfolia, in the Active Aging and Longevity II Fund.

Crisbel Baez, Manager of Community Engagement and Special Projects, B+Labs

Crisbel Baez’s journey is one marked by a steadfast commitment to education, community empowerement, and the pursuit of equitable opportunities. Born and raised in Dominican Republic and New York City, Crisbel’s path led her to Philadelphia in 2002. Her enduring connection to the city mirrors her unwavering dedication to fostering positive change within its communities. Crisbel graduated from Temple University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a specialization in International Business and Marketing, and later earned her Master of Liberal Arts (MLA). For over 16 years, Crisbel lent her talents to Temple University’s Ambler Campus, where she served as the Manager of Administration and Events. Among other duties, her role was pivotal in establishing DEI initiatives and goals for the administration.
In March 2022, Crisbel joined B+abs, a Life Science incubator space in Philadelphia, where she currently serves as the Manager of Community Experience and Special Projects. In her capacity, she spearheads the development of programs and events, not only for residents, but also for the broader Life Sciences community in Philadelphia. Notably, Crisbel is actively engaged in a collaborative effort with the Philadelphia School District to establish a transformative 6-week program for students at the Murrell Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School.
Crisbel is dedicated to raising STEM awareness and accessibility in the Philadelphia School System and the workforce, aiming to create generational wealth for disadvantaged populations.

Rick Beuttel, Vice President Hydrogen, Bloom Energy

Rick Beuttel is VP of Bloom Energy’s hydrogen business, spearheading the company’s market strategy, serves as an evangelist for emerging hydrogen solutions, developing relationships with industry leaders to continue momentum around Bloom’s hydrogen technology. Beuttel brings over three decades of experience in the energy and industrial sectors, including extensive work deploying and scaling hydrogen projects across international markets. Before joining Bloom Energy, Beuttel served as VP at Air Products, overseeing the development and execution of large-scale energy projects, where was responsible for the deployment of over $8 billion of capital, including world-scale hydrogen/renewable fuels/ammonia projects.

Gildas Bonnier, Business Development Manager, Hydrogen Energy, Air Liquide


Mike BowmanAssociate Director Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships, University of Delaware


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

Dr. Amy Bridger, Assistant Dean, Innovation & Corporate Strategy, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Dr. Amy Bridger is the Senior Director of Corporate Strategy and External Engagement for Penn State Behrend. She advances the college's Open Lab strategy, developing frameworks, programs, and policies for how business, industry, and external partners engage with the college on teaching, research, economic development, and outreach activities. She also directs Behrend's Knowledge Park, a 106-acre technology research park that has atracted out-of-state tenants such as SKF and Truck-Lite.
She holds a bachelor's degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, a master's degree in Homeland Security from Penn State, and a doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pittsburgh.

Harry Brislin, Director, USA Technology and Research Park

Harry Brislin, IV currently serves as Executive Director of Real Estate Services and Asset Management at the University of South Alabama (USA). In his position, Harry is tasked with the direction of the USA Technology and Research Park and USA Properties, a fully licensed real estate division of USA, with the oversight of all the University and University Health real estate. Prior to joining USA in 2015, Harry began his career at a regionally recognized real estate corporation, The Mitchell Company, where he served as Broker and Vice President of Commercial Sales, Leasing, and Development. He has been active in all facets of the real estate industry along the Gulf Coast, including residential construction and development, commercial sales and leasing, retail and office property management and development, and national tenant representation.
As a native Mobilian, Harry received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration from the University of South Alabama. He is an active member of a multitude of business and community organizations such as the Gulf Coast Technology Council, the USA Center for Real Estate and Economic Development, the Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Camp Rap-a-Hope, a Mobile-based children’s oncology summer camp. Most recently Harry was recognized as one of Mobile Bay’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2019.

Phil Brooks, Director, Stem Workshop Partnerships, University City Science Center

Phil Brooks joined the Science Center in 2019. As the Director of STEM Workforce Partnerships, Phil is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with life science and technology companies to create training models that will employ Philadelphia residents in the STEM field. 
Phil joined the education based AmeriCorps program City Year Philadelphia where he served as a Senior Program Manager and led over 200 18-24 year old young adults in full time volunteer service. After a 10 year commitment to City Year, he joined the Mayor’s Office of Education as the US2020 (Makers + Mentors Network) Program Manager of STEM Initiatives. Later, his work transitioned to the Commerce Department's Talent Development Unit and finally to the Office of Workforce Development where he oversaw the City of Philadelphia's citywide STEM Initiative that engaged, connected and convened citizens in the region. 
Phil Went to Girard College high school then received his B.S. in Biology form American International College. 
When Phil isn't at the Science Center, you can find him spending time with his family and learning martial arts.

Chris Buccini, Co-President, The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc.

Chris Buccini is Co-President of The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc. (“BPG”) a privately-held, real estate investment, development and management company.  BPG develops and acquires hotel, office, residential, retail, and parking properties, and sports and entertainment venues throughout the United States. Chris lead’s the firm’s investment management platform, Corten Capital, and it’s commercial management affiliate BPG Real Estate Services, LLC; and is a director of PM Hotel Group, Inc, a hotel management company with over 3,500 rooms under management. In addition, Chris co-founded and is co-owner of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union.
Chris is the Chairman of the YPO Intercontinental Chapter, a member of the Board of Trustees of Wilmington Friends School; a member of the University of Delaware President’s Leadership Council, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and Hagley Museum and Library Council of Advisors.
Chris received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University.

Chad Burke, Principal, GBBN Architects

Chad Burke is Director of Commercial & Workplace at GBBN, where he oversees workplace, multifamily, and mixed-use projects. Working closely with developers, workplace clients, and Innovation District-affiliated organizations, Chad guides the planning, development, and construction phases of a diverse range of projects. In addition to regularly sharing his insights at venues like Tradeline’s Space Strategies Conference and The Business Journals’ nationally-syndicated column, “the Playbook”, his co-authored series of insights about innovation districts was recently published by ULI’s Urban Land Magazine and by Building Design + Construction. Chad’s recent projects include University of Cincinnati’s Digital Futures Complex and Hillrom's Innovation Center.

Leah Burton, Immediate Past President, AURP; Principal Higher Education Industry Consultant, SAS Institute

Leah Burton began her role as Principal Higher Education Industry Consultant in the SAS Education Practice in 2022. Prior to that, she spent 22 years at North Carolina State University, building the award-winning Centennial Campus, launching the industry partnership office, and contributing to the university’s world-renowned stature as an innovative and engaged public university. Leah is committed to helping educational institutions leverage data to drive student success, faculty success and operational efficiency. At SAS Institute, she works closely with higher education institutions to transform a world of data into a world of intelligence. The use of data analytics to optimize decisions makes a positive impact on our education system, driving student success and building a community of innovators.

Ashley Cagle, Vice President Economic Development, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce

Ashley leads Wake County Economic Development’s comprehensive business expansion, recruitment, and relocation efforts focused on four key market segments: Information Technology, Life Sciences, Cleantech, and Advanced Manufacturing. As a component of this, she also oversees Wake County’s talent attraction, retention and pipeline strategy, focused on growing and recruiting highly skilled talent in the Triangle.
Prior to joining WCED, Ashley was the Executive Director of the Montgomery County (NC) Economic Development Corporation.

Patrick Callahan, Board Member, Tech Impact


Alejandra Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration

Immediately prior to President Biden appointing her to lead the EDA, Castillo was the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA USA, where she championed the 163-year-old organization and its 204 associations serving over 2.3 million women and families across 1,300 communities in the United States. YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism and empower women.
Castillo is an active member in various civic and professional organizations, including the Hispanic National Bar Association, Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia, American Bar Association, and American Jewish Committee. She also serves as a Board Trustee for the University of the District of Columbia. In 2010, Hispanic Business Magazine recognized Castillo among the Top 100 Influential Latinos in the U.S. She received the 2010 Rising Star Award by the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia.

Dora CheathamExecutive Director, Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance

Dora Cheatham was named Executive Director of DESCA in December 2019, after helping DESCA build its presence and validate its hypotheses through Austen Marketing & Communications, an organization she founded in 2013.
Prior to this, she led International Business Development with Celeste Industries Corp—a subsidiary of ITW, Inc—where she implemented and managed New Product Development & Marketing procedures to create and commercialize new products on the global stage, generating several million dollars in new business and helping to establish Celeste Industries as a world leader in aviation industry specialty chemicals, publishing several articles and editorials in aviation industry publications on innovative cleaning technologies in aviation industry cleaning. 

Gintas Civinskas, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Associate, Ayers Saint Gross

Gintas is a Baltimore-based architect and urban designer with Ayers Saint Gross. He has 15 years of professional experience and a diverse portfolio of master planning projects that spans across the United States and around the world. As a lead designer in the planning studio at Ayers Saint Gross, he is focused on the design of university-related and urban mixed-use innovation communities. In addition to The Pearl in Charlotte, he has led master planning efforts for a range of innovation districts around the country, including at 16 Tech in Indianapolis, Discovery Park District at Purdue, Converge Miami, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem, and districts adjacent to The Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Maryland. Gintas is a licensed architect and received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame.

Carlisle Clark, Vice President, Van Scoyoc Associates

Carlisle Clarke joined VSA as a Vice President in 2019 after more than a decade on Capitol Hill. Most recently, he served as the Majority Clerk of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, which has jurisdiction over more than $140 billion in mandatory and discretionary spending.  In this role, Carlisle managed all funding and administrative oversight of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including disaster supplemental appropriations.
Carlisle brings a keen understanding of the legislative process and personal relationships with crucial staff, Members, and Administration officials to help clients navigate the budget, authorizing and appropriations processes.   During his 7 years on the Appropriations Committee, Carlisle served under Subcommittee Ranking Member Blunt (R-MO) and Chairmen Moran (R-KS) and Hoeven (R-ND) and full Committee Chairmen Cochran (R-MS) and Shelby (R-AL).  Carlisle’s relationships with key appropriations personnel give him unparalleled access and insight into funding negotiations across all subcommittees.
During his tenure as Majority Clerk, Carlisle was involved in every aspect of the development and negotiation of regular appropriation bills, disaster relief bills, and continuing resolutions. His years of providing oversight of Federal departments has given him numerous contacts (both political appointees and career personnel) and unique knowledge of how federal funding is allocated and policy is implemented. Carlisle has parlayed his expertise in appropriations and policy into representing a diverse portfolio of clients at VSA, from 501(c)(3) nonprofits to Fortune 100 Defense Companies.
Carlisle is a native of Hollandale, Mississippi, and a graduate of the University of Georgia.

Ryan Combs, Executive Director, Research Triangle Regional Partnership

Ryan Combs is the executive director of RTRP, a position he assumed in February 2017 following his appointment by the organization’s board of directors. Ryan works closely with economic development organizations in each of RTRP’s member counties to market the competitive advantages of the Research Triangle Region to potential investors.
Ryan joined RTRP from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety where he served as Legislative Director for the Department’s Government Affairs initiatives. Previously, Ryan served for eight years on United States Senator Richard Burr’s staff, traveling throughout the state of North Carolina as a field representative. Through that experience, he developed close relationships with business and community leaders to learn about and address important issues facing communities.

Brian Darmody, Chief Strategy Officer, AURP

Brian Darmody leads AURP initiatives including expanding membership, international partnerships and funding in order to build out additional member benefits. Prior to joining AURP, Brian served as Associate Vice President (AVP) of Corporate Engagement at the University of Maryland (UMD). At UMD, Brian was responsible for developing the overall university strategy for corporate relationships, as well as the development of projects and policies to support these initiatives centrally and through the colleges and schools on campus of the University of Maryland.
Previously, he was the University’s AVP for Corporate and Foundation Relations in the Division of University Relations, AVP for Research and Economic Development, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Development, Director of State and Federal Relations in the President’s Office and has served in the university’s legal counsel office. He serves on national and state boards, including: Fraunhofer USA, the Maryland Economic Development Association, and the Maryland Tech Council.
He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore and he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Keisha Demps, Interim Director of Partnerships, NC State University

Over the past 24 years I have served in numerous roles that have allowed me to develop a broad skill set, while exploring new positions and being an asset to my organization.
After earning the opportunity to compete as a professional athlete for two years, I parlayed that experience into a 10 year Division I coaching career. During this time I recruited and trained a notable list of All Americans, All Conference several of which went on to compete at the professional level.
After retiring from collegiate coaching in 2010 I transitioned into workforce development as a Business Services Manager. During this time I was able to lead a team to become the top producer of On the Job Training opportunities for the Capital Area Workforce Development Board in North Carolina. I quickly gained recognition for my innovative ideas and visionary approach to problem solving. My team developed many best practices for assisting employers with workforce needs that are still in place within the One Stop centers in both Wake and Johnston County. For the past 8.5 years I have been a sustaining member of AURP as a Partnership Developer and most recently Interim Director of Partnerships and NC State’s Centennial Campus. I remain committed to pushing the boundaries of developing strategic partnerships at NC State and working to share best practices within AURP with my peers. While I devote much of my time to work, I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, painting and my new love of tennis.
My goal is to continue making significant impacts in my new role and as a member of AURP.

Alex Fang, Director of Social Impact, OneValley

Alex is the Director of Social Impact at OneValley, where he works to help founders build more sustainable startups.
Alex co-founded Surf For Life, an international development organization that has helped over 600,000 children access clean water, shelter, and education.
Alex also co-founded Sublime, a CPG company that raised $28 Million in funding and was acquired for $43 Million in 2019.
Alex serves on the board of Big Skills Tiny Homes, and the Great Highway Park. He also serves as a Berkeley SkyDeck Key Advisor.
Alex holds an MBA from Quantic School of Business and Technology and is completing a Master in Sustainable Finance from Frankfurt School of Management in Germany.

Cait Garozzo, Executive Director, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative

Cait Garozzo has been a part of Philadelphia workforce development since 2010, serving as a case manager, curriculum developer, trainer, and program director for several organizations. Her experience and passion are in designing holistic and responsive programs aimed at preparing people for the modern workforce and building sustainable partnerships across organizations and individuals. Prior to joining UCD in 2017, Cait was the program director for Career Wardrobe where she oversaw the organization's regional expansion. Cait holds a Bachelor’s degree from The College of New Jersey and a graduate certificate in Social Impact Strategy from The University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Cait most enjoys spending time in nature with her husband, two beautiful sons, and their family dog. She is always up for a good book recommendation and is slowly becoming a decent Times crossword solver.

Will Germain, Chief Executive Office & Managing Partner, MCB Science + Health

Will Germain is the CEO of MCB Science + Health. Prior to co-founding MCB Science & Health, Mr. Germain served as Senior Investment Officer for Ventas, where he was responsible for investments within the company’s growing university, life science, research, and innovation center portfolio, helping grow this portfolio to over $4 billion and 7MM SF. Will is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) University Development and Innovation Council, the Real Estate Executives Council (REEC), and as Vice President of the Board of High Jump. He served on the board of Phase 1 Ventures (P1V) and as a Steering Committee member for the Global Institute on Innovation Districts (GIID).

Ariel Gruswitz, Vice President, Facility Logix LLC


Marc Gurau, Application Development Engineering Manager II, Hydrogen Economy Venture, The Chemours Company

Dr. Marc Gurau, currently leads the Application Development team for Chemours Global Hydrogen Economy Venture.  Chemours’ chemistry and advanced performance materials are crucial for enabling the energy transition and allowing for a robust and sustainable hydrogen infrastructure.  His team provides support to customers in the development and commercialization of systems that use Chemours technology and is committed to evolving the Nafion™ ion exchange materials’ product line to help key stakeholders across the value chain to advance hydrogen via Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) water electrolysis systems.
Marc received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Texas A&M. and has an extensive background in developing, measuring, manufacturing, and implementing fluoropolymer solutions to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.  He is an experienced researcher in industry, academia, and government.

Dan Hale, Executive Vice President, Project Director, Strang, Inc.


Rob Herrera, Founder, The Mill


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

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

Jonathan Hunt, Ecosystem Partnerships Manager, McMaster Innovation Park

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

Kevin Johnson, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Ayers Saint Gross

Kevin brings leadership to the firm’s design practice with 30 years of broad project experience including academic and research science buildings, healthcare, residential, commercial, and planning projects. With expertise in both architecture and landscape architecture, he takes a holistic view of projects to understand how buildings and their surroundings can work together most effectively. Kevin’s award-winning designs prioritize the human experience of the built environment. He enjoys knowing that his projects have a meaningful impact and always tries to incorporate spaces that promote human interaction wherever possible. He has designed projects for many university and institutional clients including Washington University in St. Louis, Howard County Community College, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Smithsonian Institution. 

Eric B. Kmiec, Founder & Executive Director, ChristinaCare's Gene Editing Institute, LLC

Eric B. Kmiec, Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of ChristianaCare’s Gene Editing Institute (LLC). He is widely recognized for his pioneering work in the fields of molecular medicine and gene editing. Throughout his professional career, Dr. Kmiec has led research teams in developing gene editing technologies and genetic therapies for inherited disorders and cancer. His research has helped elucidate the regulatory circuitry that controls gene editing of human cells.  Current clinical research centers on developing CRISPR-based gene editing approaches for solid tumors; squamous cell carcinoma of the lung and esophageal cancer are the lead protocols currently advancing through the FDA approval process. Dr. Kmiec received his BA in Microbiology from Rutgers University, MS in Cell Biology from Southern Illinois University and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Microbiology from the University of Florida School of Medicine. Dr. Kmiec holds faculty appointments at the University of Delaware and the Wistar Institute. Dr. Kmiec has served as the Principal Investigator for research projects supported by the National Institute of Health (R01, COBRE and R21 grants), the National Science Foundation, the NIST-BIRD Foundation, and the American Cancer Society among others. He serves on numerous editorial boards, has authored 170 peer-reviewed publications as primary or senior author, numerous reviews and has edited several books and journals on gene therapy.  Dr. Kmiec is serving as Chief Executive Officer of CorriXR Therapeutics which he co-founded with Christianacare in 2022, focussed on clinical development of CRISPR- directed gene editing for solid tumours.  Dr. Kmiec has 18 issued patents and has received numerous service medals and awards, including an NIH Research Fellowship, a BIRD Award, the Proudford Research Award in Sickle Cell Disease, multiple Bio Science Innovation Awards, and the Philadelphia- Israeli Chamber of Commerce Life Science Innovator Award.  In the public media arena, has work has been featured in many outlets including Futurism, CRISPR Medicine News, STAT News and the New York Times.

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

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

Jennifer Krivickas, Associate Vice President for Research, University of Cincinnati

Jennifer Krivickas is Associate Vice President for Research at University of Cincinnati, where she is also a tenured member of the faculty and Head of the Robert A. Deshon & Karl J. Schlachter Library for Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). Widely-published in art, library, and research-related journals, Jennifer’s portfolio includes executive leadership of UC’s Next Lives Here and Research2030 strategic initiatives including Digital Futures and Urban Futures Pathway initiatives: The Community Change Collaborative (C3), UC on Boards, and Sustainability@UC. Jennifer is also responsible for select internal funding programs and the DEI in Research program.

Katie Lakofsky, EdD, Associate Director, Bioscience Workforce, University of Delaware

Dr. Katie Lakofsky is leading workforce development and university-industry relations for the region’s bioscience sector.  Her position is the result of a partnership between the Delaware Bioscience Association and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute at the University of Delaware.  She is working to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to deliver a talent pipeline for the diverse range of career opportunities in the region’s thriving biotech ecosystem.
Prior to her current position, Lakofsky held several leadership roles within Delaware Technical Community College and the University of Delaware. She has significant experience in designing and implementing educational programs, as well as establishing strategic partnerships to identify and meet workforce training needs. Before transitioning to higher education, Dr. Lakofsky spent several years in the Bioscience private sector working as a project manager for a biotech startup.  Lakofsky received her BS and MS in Plant Biology and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, all from the University of Delaware

Gina Lavery, Senior Vice President & Principal, Econsult Solutions, Inc.

Gina Lavery is Senior Vice President and Principal of Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI). Ms. Lavery has led a range of projects for ESI, primarily focused on urban planning, real estate, transportation, higher education, and public policy—particularly where these areas intersect with economic development. This work has included developing economic and fiscal impact studies to support major development projects, providing advisory services on incentive programs and public financing for private and public sectors clients across the US, and supplying market insights for clients making real estate decisions.
Prior to joining ESI, Ms. Lavery was a research analyst for Jones Lang LaSalle, where she was responsible for market research and analysis within the Greater Philadelphia commercial real estate market. From 2009-2016, Ms. Lavery worked at the University of Pennsylvania, in various roles within the Office of Government and Community Affairs. At Penn, she monitored legislative and policy developments within city government, and implemented a strategic communications and outreach plan to advocate for the University’s interests with local government officials and to find opportunities to communicate its economic and social impact in the region.
A native of Philadelphia, Gina is actively engaged in several organizations including ULI Philadelphia, LAI Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Real Estate Council, and Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW). Gina also serves on the board of the Riverfront North Partnership.
Ms. Lavery received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and European History from the University of Pennsylvania and earned a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from Penn’s Weitzman School of Design. With a concentration in Smart Cities, she focused her studies on leveraging data and statistical modeling techniques to design better cities.

Martha Leal-Gonzalez, Director Planning and Knowledge Management, Institute for Innovation and Technology Transfer of Nuevo Leon

For the last 25 years, she has been focused on the fields of technological and competitive intelligence, technology, innovation, and project management. Currently, she holds the position of Planning and Knowledge Management Director at the Institute for Innovation and Technology Transfer of Nuevo Leon, which manages the Research and Technology Innovation Park PIIT. She oversees the work for the design of the Special Program for Science, Technology and Innovation for the State, the programs to promote scientific vocations and science communication, to increase the participation of women in science and technology careers.

Kelvin Lee, PhD, Institute Director, NIIMBL

Kelvin H. Lee is Director of the Manufacturing USA National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) and he is the Gore Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. He previously served as Director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute. He received a BSE in Chemical Engineering from Princeton and PhD in Chemical Engineering from Caltech. He spent several years in the Biotechnology Institute at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland and also completed a postdoc in Caltech’s Biology Division. Prior to his current appointment, he was on the faculty at Cornell University where he held the titles of: Samuel C. and Nancy M. Fleming Chair Professor, Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Director of the Cornell Institute for Biotechnology, and Director of the New York State Center for Life Science Enterprise.

Michael Littman, PhD, Division Director - Information & Intelligent Systems, National Science Foundation

Michael L. Littman is currently serving as Division Director for Information and Intelligent Systems at the National Science Foundation. The division is home to the programs and program officers that support researchers in artificial intelligence, human-centered computing, data management, and assistive technologies, as well as those exploring the impact of intelligent information systems on society. Littman is also University Professor of Computer Science at Brown University, where he studies machine learning and decision-making under uncertainty. He has earned multiple university-level awards for teaching and his research has been recognized with three best-paper awards and three influential paper awards. Littman is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Allison Madden, Corporate Secretary and Director of Operations, USF Research Park, University of South Florida

Allison Madden is director of operations for the University of South Florida Research Foundation in Tampa, and also serves in the officer position of secretary of the USF Research Foundation, Inc. The Research Foundation is a non-profit, direct-support organization serving the research mission of the University of South Florida. Allison is responsible for corporate governance, strategic planning, and all areas of USF Research Park operations including planning, construction, vendor and client relations, and compliance. The Research Park is a vital component of USF’s Innovation Enterprise which infuses $582 million yearly into Florida’s economy, sustains more than 4,000 public and private sector jobs, and returns more than $71 million in tax revenue to local, state and federal coffers.
Allison joined USF in 1988 and has also served as chief financial officer and business manager for the USF Research Foundation. She earned a MBA with focus on management and BS with honors in information systems and decision sciences, both from USF. She is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Societies.

Scott Malfitano, Vice President, CSC


Jennifer L. Marshall, Deputy Director, Standards Coordination Office, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Jennifer Marshall works directly with executives across the federal government, and private standards developing organizations (SDOs) to help the U.S. remain a leader in international standards development for critical and emerging technology (CET) that impact the global economy and international trade. Ms. Marshall coordinates international standards development policy and strategies related to multiple technical areas including NIST priorities in critical and emerging technology. In addition, she participates in international standards development efforts as a member of the US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for ISO TC 229 (Nanotechnologies) and is the US TAG secretary to IEC TC 45 (Nuclear Instrumentation). She is an expert in leading and coordinating standards development efforts in homeland security and public safety that impacts EMS, fire, and law enforcement communities. Jennifer has managed homeland security standards developing efforts spanning chemical, biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear (CBRNE) detection equipment; personal protective and operational equipment (PPOE); urban search and rescue robots; and various security technologies.  
Prior to NIST, Ms. Marshall worked for the DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate from its early inception in 2003 where she developed multi-year research, development, test and evaluation (RDTE) plans for the CBRNE countermeasures, infrastructure protection, and standards development programs that supported the Federal, state and local public safety community. 

Kathy McCoy, PhD, Professor, University of Delaware

Kathleen McCoy, who joined the University of Delaware in 1985, is professor and chair of the Department of Computer & Information Sciences. Her research focuses on computational linguistics/natural language processing (in particular, natural language generation) and accessibility for people with disabilities. McCoy earned her bachelor’s degrees in computerand information sciences from the University of Delaware. Shereceived her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in computer and information sciences from the University of Pennsylvania. McCoy served as director of UD’s Center for Applied Science and Engineering in Rehabilitation from 2000-2009. She has also been co-chair (2012-2013) and chair (2013-2014) of the College of Engineering Standing Committee on Diversity. McCoy is currently Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing(TACCESS).

Jennifer McDermott, Executive Director, Global Technology Workforce Strategy, JP Morgan Chase Corporate University Connectivity


Suzet McKinney, PhD, Principal, Director of Life Sciences, Sterling Bay

Dr. Suzet McKinney serves as Principal and Director of Life Sciences at Sterling Bay, where she leads the company’s life sciences practice and is responsible for the expansion of the company’s footprint into major target markets nationwide. A nationally recognized public health expert, medical executive, thought leader, and strategic thinker, her unique and varied skill set intersects the healthcare and real estate industries and includes strategy development, operations, organizational transformation, planning, public/private partnerships, innovation districts, and economic development/community empowerment. Dr. McKinney is a public company and non-profit board director. She serves on the boards of Wintrust Financial Corporation, the Chicago Urban League (Chair), The Chicago Network (Chair), and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Dr. McKinney earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University, a Master of Public Health degree from Benedictine University and a Doctorate in Public Health degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Don Mell, Executive Director & Site Lead Delaware Market, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Don Mell is the site lead for Delaware Market at JPMorgan Chase & Co. He leads strategic planning and tactical execution of initiatives supporting growth and opportunity for JPMorgan Chase and its 11,000 employees in the Delaware Market. Prior to his current role he served as the firm’s government affairs consultant in Delaware.
Before he took on his responsibilities at JPMC in 2010, Don served as a senior advisor for several statewide races in Delaware, including two gubernatorial contests.
Earlier in his career Don was a journalist with the Associated Press and CNN. Based in Beirut, Lebanon, Rome and New York for much of the 1980s and 1990s, he covered the Lebanese civil war, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Iran-Iraq War and the first Gulf War. He also covered events in India, northern Africa and in Europe, before supervising the AP’s worldwide photo operations from its global headquarters in New York. There, he was responsible for coordinating and executing the company’s coverage of ongoing and breaking news stories with photo and editorial staffs worldwide.
Don represented the Associated Press in the company’s official and unofficial efforts seeking the release of Terry Anderson during his nearly seven years as a hostage (1985-1991) in Lebanon. He was involved in public and private missions on Anderson’s behalf as part of the ongoing private and governmental efforts to end Anderson’s captivity and that of his fellow hostages.

Jeanne Mell, Principal, JMell Communications, LLC

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.

Sara Merriman, Director, Life Science & University Partnerships, Brandywine Realty Trust

Ms. Merriman joined Brandywine Realty Trust in January 2017 and now serves as Director, Life Science & University Partnerships.  In this role she cultivates relationships with Life Science, University and Health partners across Brandywine’s existing and prospective markets with an eye toward customer acquisition and program delivery.  Prior to this role she served as Senior Director for Business Attraction & Retention for the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce.  In that capacity she directed all activity supporting business recruitment in Philadelphia including client relations, prospect research and marketing initiatives, working most closely with large-scale users in the life science, professional and financial service sectors. Ms. Merriman is a member of the Philadelphia chapter of ULI, where she serves as co-chair of the life science product council, and Professional Women in Construction.

Norbert Mórucz, President, Hungarian Science Parks


Phil Myrick, CEO, Phil Myrick, LLC

Phil Myrick is one of the world’s leading practitioners of placemaking – applying decades of research into how people interact with their environments and each other to create vibrant places, destinations, districts, and developments. As a 20-year veteran of the Project for Public Spaces, and former CEO, he has helped create more engaging, lively and interactive places for municipalities, universities, cultural destinations, and mixed-use developments. Using placemaking to spark cross-disciplinary engagement is at the heart of Phil’s work with knowledge communities. Intentional programming so specific audiences interact is where placemaking can play a powerful role.

Katie Nash, Senior Director, External Affairs, University City Science Center

Katie joined the Science Center in 2018. As Senior Director, External Affairs, Katie is responsible for driving strategic engagement and outreach efforts to local, state, and federal government officials, community leaders, key stakeholders, and other organizations in service of regional economic development and to advance the Science Center’s goals and mission. In her role, Katie leads government relations, public policy development, the public fundraising process, and direct regional economic development initiatives for the Science Center.
Katie brings to the Science Center 15 years of experience in nonprofit and government public engagement, policy development, program management, PR, communications, and marketing. Before coming to the Science Center, she served as Director of Public Engagement for the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, where she helped launch the Keystone Scholars universal at-birth higher education savings program and helped coordinate the Treasurer’s Task Force on Private Sector Retirement Security. She also held positions at the New York Lottery, the New York State Assembly, and the University of Penn. 
Katie holds a BA in Anthropology from Haverford College and an MPA from the Fels School of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. Her hometown is State College, PA but she and her husband Erik now reside in West Philly.
When Katie isn’t at the Science Center, you can find her performing improv comedy, gardening, and quilting.

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

Laura O’Blenis is the president and CEO of Stiletto Consulting, a company she founded in 2010. Named one of Atlantic Canada’s 25 Most Powerful Women in Business in 2022, Laura has over two decades of experience in innovation cluster development, ecosystem building, and research and technology parks. She is passionate about fostering innovation and economic growth in high-tech fields, and she has travelled the world to study global trends and best practices that Stiletto now incorporates to support economic development in communities across North America. She holds a variety of regional, national, and international leadership positions, including AURP board member, chair of the Start-up Canada National Ecosystem Task Force, past president of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, and founding executive director of New Brunswick's Knowledge Park. She is frequently sought out as a speaker to share her entrepreneurial journey and her passion for building communities of innovation.

Tom OshaExecutive Vice President, Wexford Science + Technology

Tom guides corporate strategy and implementation of Wexford’s Knowledge Community template across its portfolio. He works with Wexford’s partner universities and research institutions, entrepreneurs and innovators, growth companies, and economic development stakeholders globally to envision innovation districts and position Wexford’s current developments as critical hubs in the regional innovation economy.
He also serves as the President, of the Wexford SciTech Venture Fund, an early to late-stage seed fund focused on bringing impact capital to enable university start-ups to become investment ready.
Tom is the founding board chair of the Global Institute for Innovation Districts, and a former member of the Leadership Council of the Brookings Institution and served on their Centennial Scholars Program Advisory Board for Innovation Districts and the Bass Initiative for Public Spaces.  
He is the author of numerous papers, including The Evolution of Innovation Districts: The New Geography of Global Innovation (Wagner, Katz, Osha).

Vickie Palmer, Chief Executive Officer, AURP

Vickie Palmer was appointed CEO in 2022, following 15 years’ experience significantly expanding the Association’s membership and sponsorship community. During her time with AURP, she has led the organization’s membership, event management and overall operations while working closely with the organization’s prior CEOs, Board of Directors and membership community. 
Recipient of the 2021 AURP Vision Award, Vickie brings to a proven record of success in association management primarily with The Kellen Company, a global association management company, and Management Plus, Ltd. She has over 25 years leadership experience with such associations as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Elder Life Care Planners (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) and the National Guardianship Association. 
Prior to her jump into the non-profit sector, she held executive convention management positions at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort in Tucson, AZ (formerly ITT Sheraton). Vickie obtained a bachelor of science with major in hotel and restaurant management from Northern Arizona University’s W.A. Franke College of Business. Additionally, she is a commissioned Stephen Minister. 

Chuck Peters, Managing Member, Altair Real Estate

Chuck grew up in the real estate business, the son of a real estate investor. While atending Gannon University, Chuck co-founded ErieNet, and he and his partners sold the company in 1999. In late 2005, he acquired many of the assets of Signature Management. Chuck has provided comprehensive advisory, brokerage, and property management services for the City of Meadville, Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority, Knowledge Park, and many others. He has previously led consulting engagements for the Edinboro University Foundation and Wood Street Commons in Pitsburgh. He was appointed by Governor Wolf to the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

Bret Schreiber, Vice President, Life Sciences and Technology, Fulton Financial Corporation

Bret Schreiber, with two decades of experience in government and community relations, has cultivated strong relationships with local, state, and national legislators and policy leaders. Currently serving as the Vice President for Life Sciences and Technology at Fulton Bank, a $22 billion financial institution in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he is leading the establishment of a new division aimed at driving innovation and growth in the life science and technology sectors across five states. Previously, Mr. Schreiber played a pivotal role in developing Maryland's thriving Life Science ecosystem as the head of the Office of BioHealth and Life Sciences for the Maryland Department of Commerce. He also spearheaded efforts to bridge academia and innovation as well as workforce development initiatives. His diverse career includes leadership roles in government and community relations, policy development, and strategic planning for various institutions, including the Johns Hopkins Institutions. With a bachelor's degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Schreiber also has a strong connection to lacrosse and credits his family, including his wife Sharon and three children, as significant influencers in his life.

Dougan Sherwood, Head of Innovation Districts, Cambridge Innovation Center

Dougan Sherwood is Head of Innovation Districts for Captains of Innovation, the consulting arm of Cambridge Innovation Center, one of longest standing coworking spaces in the world and where Dougan first began working in 2000. Following years in Kendall Square, Dougan co-founded CIC's first expansion site in St. Louis, MO and oversaw CIC’s expansion throughout the U.S.
In 2020, Dougan founded the Kate Sherwood Foundation in honor of his late wife who was a school counselor and a doctoral student focused on understanding the effects of childhood trauma on young adults.  
He is a graduate of the University of Utah.

Kristy Shuda McGuire, M.S., PhD, Dean of Biomedical Studies, The Wistar Institute

Kristy Shuda McGuire, M.S., Ph.D., is dean of Biomedical Studies at The Wistar Institute where she leads the Hubert J.P.Schoemaker Education and Training Center, overseeing education and workforce training programs for high-school, undergraduate, and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows. The Center’s signature program is the Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program, which started as a partnership in 2000 between The Wistar Institute and the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). Dr. Shuda McGuire spent 11 years at CCP as a faculty member in the Biology Department and served as theacademic coordinator for the BTT Program. Dr. Shuda McGuire joined The Wistar Institute as Associate Dean in September 2019. She received her B.S. in Biology from Loyola University Maryland, her M.S. in the Science of Instruction from Drexel University, and her Ph.D. in Genetics from Thomas Jefferson University, where she continues to serve as a member of the adjunct faculty in the Jefferson College of Life Sciences. 

Sterlina Smith, Senior Leader-Data Ethics Practice, SAS

Sterlina Smith is a Senior Manager in the SAS Data Ethics Practice (DEP), a cornerstone of the company's Responsible Innovation efforts. Prior to joining the DEP, she led the SAS Corporate Social Innovation and Brand division's data for good programs and has served in numerous other roles over the course of her 22 years at SAS. She is also a licensed attorney in the state of North Carolina.
The DEP works internally and externally to guide SAS and its customers in developing and deploying technologies that promote human well-being, agency and equity; establish SAS as a leading contributor to the growth of responsible innovation in AI and analytics; ensure SAS' approach to responsible innovation is coordinated globally; and develop best practices to quickly respond to regulatory changes.

David Snow, Executive Director, Technology Ventures, University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation

David E. Snow currently serves as the executive director of Technology Ventures with responsibility over intellectual property management and licensing activity for the University of Arkansas and president of the University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation (UATDF). The combined mission and vision of these organizations work to grow a diverse and engaged entrepreneurial community facilitating the use and commercialization of research generated innovations, creating new sources of wealth in our community, and building safe innovation districts were anyone can belong. UATDF, a non-profit, is focused on building and expanding an innovation corridor in Northwest Arkansas through talent development, fostering open innovation and technology commercialization, community engagement, and place-making strategies, primarily at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park. Dr. Snow’s professional journey has moved from traditional academia through various startups as an entrepreneur, intellectual property protection and IP transactions, and now working across public and private partnerships to build innovation districts. Prior to the UA, he led research commercialization and technology transfer efforts for Texas Tech University system. Dr. Snow holds a PhD in chemistry, an MS in electroanalytical chemistry, a BA in biochemistry, is a registered patent agent with the USPTO, and is a Certified Licensing Professional.

Toby Teeter, Director, The Collaborative, University of Arkansas

Toby Teeter is the director of the Collaborative, the University of Arkansas innovation center in Bentonville. Previously, he was the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce president/CEO, where he focused on fostering a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and championing innovation culture, as well as attracting both talent and new industry to the region. Prior to that, he was the founder of Omni Brands, a direct-to-consumer product studio and 3PL fulfillment center; the founder of Inuvo, Inc., a publicly traded ad tech company now based in Little Rock; and founder of LocalRaces.com, an online registration platform for running and cycling events. The balance of his career has included stints in private equity management, as a commercial real estate developer, a lobbyist, a litigation attorney, and as a M&A/corporate attorney. He earned a BS in Insurance & Risk Management from Missouri State University and a JD from the University of Missouri School of Law.

David Tyndall, Founder and CEO, Collaborative Real Estate

David Tyndall is the Founder and CEO of Collaborative Real Estate, a full-service real estate firm specializing in innovation districts and university-anchored real estate. Working for over 40 years in real estate and development, moving from construction field engineer to company owner, David has learned firsthand what it takes to produce and maintain quality buildings. As CEO, David maintains daily involvement in all of Collaborative Real Estate’s property management, leasing, and development services. His specific experience in building and managing university-based research and commercialization facilities – including 20+ years of managing (and officing daily in) the TechnologySquare area of Midtown Atlanta, combine with his past experience as a real estate attorney, venture investor, and commercial contractor to give David unique insight into the needs of technology-related developers, landlords, property managers, and tenants. David has spent the last decade crafting very specialized management and operational techniques that Collaborative uses to ensure the continuous delivery of the engagement and collaboration value owners, tenants, and visitors are looking for – even long after the hardhats and cranes are gone.
Known in the industry as a thoughtful and innovative manager of innovation-related real estate as well as a successful developer and investor in those asset sub-classes, David is a frequently invited speaker for national and international organizations and associations on the subjects of creating collaborative real estate environments, issues of coordinating the needs and constraints of academic and corporate researchers, and future trends in the role of culture and community in the workplace generally.

Sebastian Wicklein, Director, Business Development and R&D Coordination, Fraunhofer


Tonya Witherspoon, Associate Vice President, Industry Engagement & Applied Learning, Wichita State University

Tonya Witherspoon’s passion for innovation and education has fueled her success in connecting industry leaders with faculty and students at Wichita State University to drive engagement and create and expand education through applied learning and career opportunities for students. Tonya has a well-established background in technology, innovation, and education and has been a leader in multiple high impact changes through the WSU innovation campus and in the community. A serial tech entrepreneur, she has founded several companies and has served in executive roles for technology companies building hardware and software for enterprise customers.  Tonya is a published author, invited speaker, and enjoys networking and connecting people and ideas.

Steve Wray, Executive Director, Block Center for Technology and Society, Carnegie Mellon University

Steve Wray is executive director of the Block Center for Technology and Society where he leads the operations of the Block Center while collaborating with CMU staff, faculty leadership, external advisors and a network of partners to set strategy, track goals and expand the reach of the center. 
Steve has extensive experience connecting the public, private and non-profit sectors with analysis and strategy development, and is a creative leader, skilled at conceiving and managing complicated research, campaign, and strategy initiatives. He is a national and internationally recognized expert and speaker where he excels at translating complicated issues and concepts to diverse audiences.
Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon and the Block Center, Mr. Wray was a senior vice president and principal at Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) from 2017 to 2023. In this role, he focused on the development and implementation of programs and projects that support ESI’s vision and short- and long-term plans. In particular, Wray was the founding partner for ESI’s Center for the Future of Cities, the firm’s thought leadership effort bringing together work and expertise on smart cities, innovation, mobility, and economic development.

Yushan Yan, Henry B. du Pont Chair, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Delaware

Yushan Yan is the Henry Belin du Pont Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. He served as the founding Associate Dean for Research and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware, Department Chair at the University of California Riverside and Senior Staff Engineer/Project Leader at AlliedSignal. His recognitions include University Scholar Professor from the University of California Riverside, Presidential Chair from the University of California, Distinguished Engineering Professor from the University of Delaware, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Donald Breck Award from the International Zeolite Association, the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Energy Technology Division Research Award from the Electrochemical Society, Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the Braskem Award for Materials Science and Engineering from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and Fellow of the Electrochemical Society. He was one of 37 awardees of the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E OPEN 2009, one of 66 awardees of the ARPA-E OPEN 2012, and one of 40 ARPA-E OPEN 2018. He has been an inventor on a number of issued or pending patents, some of which were licensed to form startup companies (e.g., NanoH2O). He is currently the founder and CEO of a University of Delaware spinout W7energy (W7enery.com). His research has led to 250+ publications that are widely cited (19,000+ citations; h-index = 75, Web of Science; h-index = 82, Google Scholar), and extensively covered by the media including New Scientist, Business Week, C&EN News, Materials Today, MRS360, Chemical Engineering Progress, China Press, Chinese Daily News, CNBC, CNN.com, KABC, Radio Australia, and VOA. He studied Chemical Physics (BS) at the University of Science and Technology of China, Heterogeneous Catalysis at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chemical Engineering (PhD) at the California Institute of Technology.