Get to know InBIA’s Board of Directors before International Conference!

Before you attend International Conference, it’s important to know who the “must see” people are. If you haven’t guessed already, we’re encouraging you to get to know more about InBIA’s Board of Directors as they are a key part of guiding the Association towards success. Learn more about them through the video and their bios below.

Also, if you haven’t already, it’s time to vote for the future leadership of InBIA! The Board provides input and guidance regarding Association policies; sets financial objectives and monitors their achievement; conducts strategic planning; and shapes, approves and evaluates Association programs and activities. This is an official ballot for the election of members of the International Business Innovation Association Board of Directors. Vote for no more than five candidates, here.

Get to Know InBIA’s Board of Directors from InBIA on Vimeo.


Charles Ross  is director of startup networks for the Enterprise Innovation Institute, an Atlanta-based consultancy affiliated with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). He previously served as a venture catalyst and general manager at ATDC.  Charles has worked in early-stage telecommunications investment and has served on the board of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF) as well as numerous private company boards. An InBIA member since 2005, Charles has presented on incubator management and client funding at InBIA events and is a current member of InBIA’s board of directors, where he chairs the Partner Development Task Force.

First Vice Chairman

Jamie Coughlin oversees new venture creation and incubation at Dartmouth College and directs the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center, a 60,000-square-foot biotech incubator. Previously, Jamie was CEO of the abi Innovation Hub, New Hampshire’s oldest incubator, where he led its successful rebranding effort, helped earn InBIA’s Soft Landings designation, and developed accelerator and co-working programs. An InBIA member since 2010, Jamie has moderated panels and presented at InBIA events.  He is president of the New Hampshire Business Incubator Network, a board member of the New Hampshire High Tech Council, and an appointed member of the Governor’s Economic Advisory Council. Jamie received his BA from Princeton University.

Board Treasurer 

Leslie Lynn Smith is president of EPIcenter, a collaborative and community-wide strategic initiative led by Memphis Bioworks Foundation in Memphis, Tenn., that is helping entrepreneurs conceive, launch and scale businesses across the region. She originally joined InBIA in 2010 with TechTown Detroit, where she ultimately became president and CEO. Leslie has been involved with InBIA committees and delegations, and TechTown’s SWOT City program won the Summit Showdown at InBIA’s 2013 Summit for Advanced Incubation Professionals in Santa Monica, Calif. She previously served on the boards for Midtown Detroit, Invest Detroit’s First Step Fund and the Wayne State University Innovations Council.


Devon Laney, an InBIA member since 2006 and an appointed member of the InBIA board, is president and CEO at the Innovation Depot in Birmingham, Ala. His program was InBIA’s 2011 Dinah Adkins Incubator of the Year, Technology Focus. Devon led the effort to have Innovation Depot designated an InBIA Soft Landings International Incubator, and he was a primary source for the Innovation Depot’s case study in Best Practices in Action from InBIA Publications. He serves on the executive committees of TechBirmingham and BioAlabama and recently completed a second term as president of the Birmingham Venture Club. He is a frequent presenter InBIA conferences.

Audit Committee

Adrian Wallace is executive director of the SEED Center Business Incubator in Lake Charles, La He spearheaded development of the center, which opened in 2013 and has helped create 210 new jobs and nearly $4 million in gross revenue. An InBIA member since 2007, Adrian previously worked in business development, city government, online training, laboratory research and small business ownership. He is certified in incubator management through InBIA and Wendy Kennedy’s training program and has moderated sessions at a number of InBIA conferences. Adrian currently chairs the Louisiana Business Incubation Association, among his many other volunteer activities.

Jorge Varela found numerous startups before his incubation industry involvement as a consultant to the University of Texas at Arlington in 2009. In 2012 he was hired as Assistant Director at TECH Fort Worth and joined InBIA. Most recently, Jorge worked with TECH Fort Worth and two other InBIA-member incubators to host sixty Pacific Alliance companies through a program sponsored by USAID and the U.S. State Department. The program provided Soft Landings opportunities and promoted incubators for economic development. Jorge is Chair of the Executive Committee of the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks and often helps InBIA-member incubators develop angel networks.

Esther Vargas has directed the Emerging Ventures Ecosystem at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. since 2014. She was incubator site manager and assistant director of the Office of Research and Commercialization at the University of Central Florida for eight years. UCF’s Business Incubation Program was named InBIA Incubator Network of the Year in 2013, and client and graduate companies won InBIA awards in 2014 and 2012. An incubation professional with diverse experience in corporate, entrepreneurial and university environments, Esther joined InBIA in 2007 and serves on the board of the Business Incubator Association of New York State.

Lou Cooperhouse, an InBIA member since 2002 and a current InBIA board member, is director and founder of the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, N.J. The Rutgers program has earned InBIA’s Soft Landings International Incubator designation and previously was recognized as “Incubator of the Year”. Lou is also President of the N.J. Business Innovation Network and has significantly expanded this state organization, doubling its size to 26 members.  A frequent speaker at InBIA events, Lou is recognized as a leading global authority in business innovation, incubation, and industry clustering, and has over 30 years of management and entrepreneurial expertise.

Nominating Committee

Maryanne Maldonado, vice president and COO of the Houston Technology Center in Houston, Texas, originally joined InBIA in 2007. Under her direction, HTC has supported over 300 clients and 95 graduates whose companies created over 5000 jobs and contributed $2.6 billion in economic impact. Maryanne oversees three acceleration campuses and HTC’s marketing and special events. She also directs HTC’s international program, with activities in Asia, Russia, Thailand, China and Mexico. A popular speaker who worked with InBIA’s Training Institute and a “Who’s Who in Energy” in the Houston Business Journal, Maryanne enjoys yoga, travel, and spending time with her husband, children and grandgirls.

Policy Manual Task Force

Jeff Milanette is CEO of the Ethiopia Climate Innovation Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and president and CEO of Innovative Partners Inc., an incubation consulting firm that has been an InBIA member since the organization’s inception in 1985. His many industry accomplishments include establishing the San Diego Incubator Corporation, developing the Rutgers Business Innovation Center, serving as president and CEO of the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Forum, establishing and managing PortTech Los Angeles, and consulting with numerous InBIA member programs and international organizations.  Jeff’s current project in Ethiopia is a World Bank initiative employing incubation and entrepreneurship to help the country adjust to climate change.

Krista Covey has been in economic development with the Pasco Economic Development Council in Pasco County, Fla. since 2011 and has served as the director of its SMARTstart Business Incubator since 2013. She has an extensive background in banking and finance and experience in economic development, business incubation, management, business development, marketing and public relations. An InBIA member since 2013, Krista has completed the association’s Business Incubation Management Certificate Program and currently serves as an appointed member of the InBIA Board. She is the incoming president of the Florida Business Incubator Association, part of the Startup Champions Network, and has served on numerous community and industry boards.

Ted Baker is in his fifth year as CEO and executive director of the Muncie Innovation Connector, a technology incubator and coworking space in Muncie, Ind. He previously built, grew and sold several successful businesses and is remains involved with several community economic development projects. An InBIA member since 2010, Ted has presented at InBIA events and served as a judge for the incubation awards. He currently chairs the boards of Hillcroft Services Inc., an $18M non-profit that serves the disabled population in Muncie. Ted was also instrumental in the startup of two other nonprofits that are still in operation.

Angela Crane-Jones joined the Nashville Business Incubation Center at Tennessee State University in 2003 and has served as executive director since 2012. She implemented a service delivery and revenue diversification initiative, successfully expanding NBIC’s client base while reducing its budgetary reliance on service fees from 80% to 54% in one fiscal year. The Center for Nonprofit Management recognized these efforts with the Frist Revenue Development Award in 2015. An InBIA member since 2005, Angela’s business advising skills and leadership helped her clients receive multiple awards, including InBIA Client and Graduate of the Year awards in 2015, 2014 and 2010.

Catherine Pommier is director of the Montpellier Agglomoration Business Innovation Centre (BIC) in Montpellier, France. She previously served as deputy director of the incubator and as managing director of an economic development agency in southern France. The Montpellier BIC is an InBIA Soft Landings International Incubator and was named InBIA’s 2007 Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year. Catherine served as a panelist at the last four InBIA conferences and conducted InBIA incubation training in Morocco in 2012. She has been active in the incubation industry for 18 years, has been an InBIA member since 2010, and currently serves on the InBIA board of directors.

Gail Gillian-Bain is President of Food Business Incubation International (FBII). FBII believes in supporting entrepreneurs where everyday successful, innovative and high growth companies are being launched through the support received from its members. FBII is able to open doors and create access to markets, facilitate industry-led activities aimed at developing international markets, assist companies to understand and implement food safety and traceability systems, and market attribute/quality standards. Gail is also the founder of Bain Consult, a team of experts who support client partnerships through entrepreneur program improvement and development in our client’s local communities and former President and CEO of the Canadian Acceleration and Business Incubation Association.