Top-notch team

We are a collective group of entrepreneurial warriors, mentors, community influencers, policymakers, and ecosystem builders. We live and breathe entrepreneurship and are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs all over the globe transform their dreams into reality.

Charles Ross, CEO

Over the past 15 years, Charles has worked with communities of various shapes and sizes to build and sustain vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems. His experience spans across several innovation-related disciplines to include entrepreneurship, business incubation, economic development, and investment management. He has provided strategic leadership for organizations within the public, private, and nonprofit domains and has directly mentored and coached founders/CEOs at over 30 high-growth companies.

Before joining the InBIA management team, Charles was responsible for driving economic impact for local communities through senior leadership positions at Kennesaw State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. In these roles, Charles connected universities’ talent, know-how, and assets to businesses and communities to increase economic prosperity and to improve quality of life.

Prior to his assignments in higher education, Charles directly worked with entrepreneurs to launch and grow technology businesses. As Vice President of the Telecommunications Development Fund, Charles sourced, structured, and managed investments in several early-stage communications companies, and as a Director of Ameritech’s venture capital division he identified and executed strategic technology investments.

Charles joined InBIA as a member in 2006, was elected to its Board of Directors in 2011 and served as Chair in 2017. Charles holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and an MBA from Indiana University.

  Email: [email protected]  

Lindsay Schuenke, Director of Content

Lindsay Schuenke has been with InBIA since December of 2004, when she joined the training and events team. In her time with the association, Lindsay’s responsibilities have primarily focused on coordinating content and details for events, including the annual conference, the fall training, and the advanced summits. She was involved in the inception and launch of the Business Incubation Management Certificate Program and has helped plan more than a dozen conferences and several smaller tours and events. Over the years, Lindsay has managed hundreds of speakers, written thousands of session and course descriptions, managed dozens of tours, and been involved with countless other aspects of planning and executing the conferences and other events. She has a degree in English from Ohio Wesleyan University. Lindsay works remotely from her home office in Maine, where she lives with her husband and four children.

Email: [email protected]

 


 

Julie Zambos, Project Analyst 

In 2020, Julie Zambos connected with the InBIA team assisting with grants, marketing, membership, and events. With a background in marketing, technology and project management, Zambos brings an interesting perspective to the team. The majority of her prior experience with Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) provides her a specific lens to assist any membership-based organization. Over the years, Zambos managed numerous projects including installing Customer Relationship Management software and email campaign management software. Her strengths include communication, project management, and team spirit. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications specializing in Public Relations from the University of South Florida in 2000 and is in the process of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Political Science and Strategic Communication at the University of Central Florida. Zambos lives with her husband and twin boys in Orlando, Fla.

Email: [email protected]

Molly Mordocco, Business Coordinator

Molly Mordocco started her career in the hospitality industry as a sales and catering manager at the University Plaza Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, and later at the DoubleTree Worthington. She also acted as assistant manager at an apartment complex for college students for ​more than two years. First joining InBIA (then NBIA) in 2013, Molly stepped away in 2016 to take some time with family. She rejoined InBIA as the Business Coordinator in 2019 and in this role she is responsible for executing the training program, coordinating the online member community, managing the virtual support networks, and more. A graduate of Ohio University, Molly lives in Ohio with her husband and three sons.

Email: [email protected]

 


Diana Blue

Diana Blue,
Programs and Grants Manager

Diana Blue’s dedication to inclusive education, mission-driven business, equitable access to resources, and innovative project development has helped to successfully launch and grow diverse programs, businesses, schools, and organizations over the past 20 years.

A successful Silicon Valley business owner, Diana returned to her alma mater Western Illinois University, to put her entrepreneurial expertise to use in her most recent role as Assistant Director of the Cooperative Development Center. In the past three years, Diana has helped launch a wide variety of high growth businesses,  administered numerous state and federal grants to build strategic partnerships and improve community outcomes, created the first incubator and entrepreneurial network in West Central Illinois, and connected clients to over $27M in capital.

Diana has won numerous awards for her work, most recently an Award of Excellence from the University Economic Development Association for launching grocery cooperatives in USDA-designated food deserts. Her volunteer contributions are just as diverse, including co-launching the first public school yoga program in South Carolina to co-organizing the Racial Justice Coalition in McDonough County, Illinois. She holds a master’s in Personnel Administration from WIU and was introduced to InBIA through her completion of the Entrepreneurship Center Management course.

 


Maya Thompson,
Marketing Coordinator & Lead Project Coordinator

Maya Thompson started at InBIA in 2020 and has primarily focused on marketing coordination and more recently, assisting as Lead Project Coordinator for the La Idea Incubator Project, under InBIA’s Soft Landings program.
Maya has a passion for entrepreneurship, creativity, and connecting people to resources in professional environments, which she did often in her previous role as a Client Account
Manager. With her background in marketing, communications, leadership, entrepreneurship, project management, and design, she brings a unique skillset and perspective to InBIA. She has
a degree in Communications and is pursuing a degree in Interior Architecture and Design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA. Maya lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, son, and daughter.

Email: [email protected]

InBIA Board Members

Chair

Brad Rickelman,
Assistant Director,
Meridian Technology Center Business Incubator

Brad Rickelman is Assistant Director of the Meridian Technology Center business incubator. Meridian Technology Center is a regional vocational education institution. Brad is past Chairman of the statewide Oklahoma Venture Forum and past President of the Oklahoma Business Incubator Association. Brad currently serves on the City of Stillwater Planning Commission. He was an YSEALI Professional Fellow to Thailand in spring 2019 teaching advanced entrepreneurship training. Brad has taught courses in the lnBlA Entrepreneurship Center Management (ECM) certificate online program. He holds a Bachelors in Business Management, and Masters in Philosophy, both from Texas A&M University. He was Grand Master of Freemasons of Oklahoma in 2013.

 

First Vice Chair

Steve Debretto
Executive Director,
Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago

Steve is the executive director of the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, an economic development organization that sponsors Make City (formerly the Fulton-Carroll Center Business Incubator), a light industrial mixed-use incubator, and The Hatchery, a food and beverage manufacturing center; ICNC also houses two SBDCs in its facilities. Steve was a founding board member of The Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network and served on the steering committee of the Chicago mayor’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. Steve has been an InBIA member since 2012, participating in InBIA events and serving on the 2015 Awards committee.

 

Second Vice Chair

Linda Fowler
President,
Regionerate LLC

Linda Fowler, President of Regionerate LLC, a small, woman-owned consulting firm, specializes in high-impact consulting with diverse stakeholders to activate and support transformative regional partnerships for inclusive growth. Linda has guided regional prosperity and revitalization efforts in several emblematic U.S. cities. Linda supports communities to build cohesive and integrated strategies across a diversified portfolio of investments, including entrepreneurship. Currently, she is working with incubation and acceleration programs in Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia. Prior to launching her firm, Linda worked in private industry and served in federal government (U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce).

 

Secretary

Herman Nyamunga
Director
PowerUp Your Business,
Community College of Philadelphia

Herman is director of the PowerUP Your Business accelerator, a neighborhood-based approach to economic development that offers training to small businesses in the city of Philadelphia. Previously, Herman was the director of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians in Philadelphia, Pa. Herman is a five-year InBIA member who has attended and presented at several conferences and holds certifications in both InBIA’s Incubator Manager program and as a Business Model and Value Proposition Design Trainer. He also served on the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council as a mayor’s appointee.

 

Secretary

Ariella Lukach, PhD,
Vice President,
Strategy and Positioning
Stiletto

Ariella is Vice President, Strategy & Positioning, at Stiletto, a strategic planning and market intelligence firm. Ariella specializes in strategic planning and execution support for high-impact initiatives and new products, market focusing and positioning,
business development, and more. Ariella is passionate about working with communities of innovation and maintains strong relationships and sector expertise to help build strength from individual organizations to international networks. Industry expertise include cleantech, ICT, smart grid, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, smart and urban agri-food, mining, and healthcare. Ariella did her post-doctoral research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Toronto.

Krista Covey,
President
First Flight Venture Center

Krista serves as President of First Flight Venture Center, North Carolina’s original science-based technology incubator. Previously, Krista held leadership positions with VelocityTX, an innovation hub in San Antonio, Texas and the SMARTstart Business Incubator in Pasco County, Florida. She has an extensive background in banking and finance and experience in economic development, economic gardening for growth companies, 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, is part of the Startup Champions Network, and has served on numerous community and industry boards.

 

Wilson Chan
Associate Director of Strategic Partnership,
Hong Kong Science & Technology
Parks Corporation

Wilson Chan is the Associate Director of Strategic Partnership, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation. He has been involved in the electronics and IT industry for over 20 years with working experience in HK, China, US and the UK. Since joining HKSTP, Mr. Chan has been assisting technology entrepreneurs in business and corporate development in Hong Kong, and the shaping of HKSTP’s incubation & acceleration programmes.

 

Amanda Chocko
Director of SURGE,
Lakeshore Advantage

Amanda Chocko is the Director of SURGE at the economic development organization, Lakeshore Advantage. She has been a leader in the West Michigan startup ecosystem for over a decade with extensive experience in business incubation, accelerator management, program development, lean startup methodologies and enterprise/startup partnerships. Prior to working at Lakeshore Advantage, Amanda spent 8 years at Start Garden where she helped to launch the monthly pitch competition 5X5 Night and the Seamless IOT commercialization accelerator. Over the years she has built relationships with startup communities and university programs throughout Michigan and has helped to organize 11 Grand Rapids Startup Weekends.

 

Eric S. Smith
Executive Director
at UA Center for Innovation


Eric brings with him a decade’s worth of technology commercialization experience and a passion for entrepreneurship. Eric came to the UA Center for Innovation after serving as the commercialization network manager for Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), UA’s technology transfer unit. While at TLA, he built and leveraged a 1600-person world-wide mentor network and managed TLA’s NSF I-Corps Site program. An entrepreneur in his own right, after Eric started, developed and sold his first company, he embarked on a career in technology startups. Eric holds a BSBA in business management and entrepreneurship and an MBA from the University of Arizona.

 

David Fonseca
Executive Vice President,
VelocityTX

David Fonseca has a track record in growing innovation centers, associations, angel investor networks, not-for-profits, and real estate investments. David serves as Executive Vice President of VelocityTX and chairman of Alamo Angels, which has 35 accredited investors and a fund. Committed to fostering entrepreneurship worldwide, David teaches classes at the magister of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, advises for Growth Wheel Inc, and has done keynotes across 12 countries.
David has a BBA in Finance and MBA from Texas A&M Corpus Christi. He was the Young Alumni Award recipient and Doctorado Honoris Causa of Pontificia Universidad de Huatusco, Mexico.

 

Lynne Henkiel,
Director of Innovation Ecosystems,
Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute

Lynne Henkiel is the Director of Innovation Ecosystems in Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Lab in the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2). Her 31 years of experience include working for Georgia Tech as well as IBM and NASA. Lynne manages a suite of innovative business incubation tools and evaluation services, in addition to EI2’s International Soft Landings program. Lynne holds a Master of Science in Technology Management from the University of Miami, FL. She is also a very active member of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) and is currently on the Technology Association of Georgia’s International Business Advisory Board.

 

Matt Gardner
Chief Executive,
California Technology Council

Matt Gardner is the chief executive of the California Technology Council, chair of the National Council of Registered ISAOs (NCRI) and the Treasurer of the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA). He has served as a member of the adjunct faculty at the University of San Francisco in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and as research faculty at William Jessup University. Matt is the author or co-author of publications on innovation including a landmark study of incubators and accelerators in California, studies on the delicate ecosystem for seeding new companies, and the award-winning “Impact” annual reports on life sciences.

 

Paul Riser Jr.,
Director,
Detroit Urban Solutions

Paul is the Managing Director of Detroit Urban Solutions. In this capacity, Paul leads an urban innovation district, founded by several Detroit-based institutions, focused on mobility, digital health, civic and smart city technologies. Previously, Paul served as Managing Director of Technology-Based Entrepreneurship at TechTown Detroit. Paul is also an entrepreneur, chief technologist, information officer, and systems engineer with more than 20 years of professional experience working with startups to global enterprises. He is a founding member of the Legacy Associates Foundation, board member and equity partner of B.L.A.C. Magazine, board member of the New Detroit Coalition, Motown Museum, Cranbrook Institute of Science and the National Advisory Board for the University of Michigan’s Fast Forward Medical Innovations (FFMI).

 

Lisa Smith,
Executive Director,
Bowie Business Innovation Center

Lisa Smith has been a thought leader, consultant incubator manager and ecosystem developer for the business incubation industry in the U.S. and internationally during her 22 years as an InBIA member. Lisa is the founding Executive Director of the Bowie Business Innovation Center (Bowie BIC), a public/private partnership, hosted by Bowie State University, supporting underserved technology companies and government contractors. During her consulting career, Lisa advised 30 US. Communities on the creation of entrepreneurial development initiatives. Her international work included establishing the first networking of technology business incubators in the U.S. for Scotland’s economic development agency.

 

Lynnette White-Colin,
Senior Vice President, Small Business Growth,
New Orleans Business Alliance

Ms. White-Colin is the Sr. Vice President of Small Business Growth at the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), a public-private partnership with the City of New Orleans. The organization works to deliver economic development for the city through efforts supporting business attraction and retention; talent and workforce development; strategic neighborhood development and small business growth, which is led by Ms. White-Colin. Lynnette develops and implements strategies toward alleviating barriers to growth for underrepresented founders, and works to ensure the local small business ecosystem encompasses resources necessary for overall small business growth, which includes advocacy and support for entrepreneurial support organizations. This work includes development of electronic tools, designed to help business owners make better informed decisions for their entities. Lynnette holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans and serves on the boards of the New Orleans Redevelopment Unlimited and the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce.

 

Hayden Blackburn,
Executive Director,
TECH Fort Worth

Hayden has centered his career around social entrepreneurship and economic development. Hayden coaches entrepreneurs commercializing innovative technologies, facilitates connections between entrepreneurs and angel investors, partners with universities to commercialize technologies, and is a leader in the development of an entrepreneurial culture and mindset across the DFW region. He has helped organized multiple community staples for entrepreneurs, including Startup Weekend and 1 Million Cups Fort Worth. Hayden serves on the boards of organizations working in economic development and education, including Near Southside Inc., the Fort Worth Public Library Foundation, and the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District #4 in Fort Worth, TX. Before joining TechFW, Hayden was the creator and founding Director of IDEA Works FW, a mixed-industry incubator that was formed in 2013 as a public-private partnership to fill a gap in the Fort Worth entrepreneurial ecosystem. Before that, he was involved in launching Stages of Recovery in Lubbock, TX, a sober living program and community that supports those in recovery from addiction to alcohol, drugs, and other related behaviors.

 

Kristin Burton,
Entrepreneurship Professor,
Purdue University Northwest

Dr. Kristin Burton is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Purdue University Northwest. In this role, she is an entrepreneurial academic charged with
assisting students in developing their entrepreneurship skills and connecting them to the vibrant start-up community in Northwest Indiana. Dr. Burton is heralded as an inclusive ecosystem builder. Her research focuses on advancing opportunities for women and minorities in entrepreneurship. This research is used to create innovative programs and pathways to help alleviate barriers, so entrepreneurs can continue
building communities that flourish. Throughout her 20- year entrepreneurial career, Dr. Burton has co-founded several start-up companies, led two university entrepreneurship centers, and created a regional
business incubation hub.

 

Linda Ufland,
Director of Entrepreneurship, Commercialization, and Innovation for the Office of Workforce and Economic Development,
UT-Rio Grand Valley

Linda Ufland is the Director of Entrepreneurship, Commercialization, and Innovation for the Office of Workforce and Economic Development at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley located in deep South Texas. Linda is charged with providing leadership and oversight to the Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center (ECC) with focus in business incubation, entrepreneurial development, commercialization and innovation, and incubation management consultation across the region. She drives the vision for the UTRGV ECC in assisting local and international entrepreneurs to create and scale ventures in the Rio Grande Valley that will impact our region’s economy and create opportunities for generations to come. Her focus is to develop partnerships with economic development organizations, and international organizations to envision and develop solutions for the region and beyond with a strong commercialization path. The UTRGV ECC is a founding partner of the eBridge project, largest entrepreneurial center in the region. eBridge supports the economic development of South Texas with a focus on scalable businesses. Linda was raised in Matamoros, Mexico but attended high school in Brownsville, Texas. She earned a bachelor’s in international business and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her professional drive comes from a sincere dedication to public service and to being part of a transformational economic and entrepreneurial change in our region.