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]

 


Monica d’Errico, Project Administration Manager

Monica d’Errico has worked with InBIA since April of 2016.  She started her journey as an intern with the IMPACT Index team.  After 2 years, Monica was promoted to lead of the Data Analysts division.  Her outreach and leadership have helped to strengthen ties with our members and enhance the database base for the IMPACT project featured on the InBIA website.  Growing further with our industry, Monica has filled the role of Project Administration Manager.  In this position, she will be serving our community with membership needs, content/ book orders in addition to education and the daily operations of InBIA.  Monica has received a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Central Florida and is currently pursuing her Masters in the same field.

Email: [email protected]

Jack Henkel

Jack Henkel, Director of Programs

Jack Henkel has worked for over 10 years in supporting technology commercialization and entrepreneurship.  He has coached thousands of entrepreneurs, researchers, university faculty, and other technology commercialization stakeholders in their pursuit of pursuing federal R&D funding, developing commercialization strategies, conducting market assessments, and implementing lean startup practices among many other activities.   He has served as a project manager for entrepreneurship accelerators and programs, including several with funding from federal partners such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Economic Development Administration, and Department of Labor.  Jack most recently served as the Assistant Director of the UCF Venture Accelerator and is currently the Director of Programs at the International Business Innovation Association.

   Email: [email protected]

InBIA Board Members

Chair

Esther Vargas, Director, Emerging Ventures Ecosystem (EVE)

Esther directed the Emerging Ventures Ecosystem at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. from 2014-2018. 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 boards of INBIA and the Business Incubator Association of New York State.

Email: [email protected]


Second Vice Chair

Paul Riser Jr., Managing Director, TechTown Detroit

Paul serves as Managing Director of Technology-Based Entrepreneurship at TechTown Detroit. In this capacity, he guides the design, execution and ongoing management of the nonprofit’s technology programming for early and seed stage companies. This includes support for startups in the form of business acceleration, proof of concept, university and health care system commercialization, and incubation services. 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).

 

Email: [email protected]


Secretary

Adrian Wallace, Executive Director, SEED Center Business Incubator

Adrian spearheaded the development of the SEED Center Business Incubator, 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.

Email: [email protected]


Leslie Lynn Smith, President, Epicenter

Leslie Lynn Smith is president and CEO of Epicenter, the Memphis region’s entrepreneurial hub that drives strategy, connects entrepreneurs to resources, and measures impact to create an inclusive, growing economy. Smith’s role in Memphis comes after five years of successful entrepreneurial leadership as president and CEO of TechTown, where she led the creation and launch of novel urban economic development programs, expanded tech-based company creation and launched robust regional entrepreneurship collaborations with great and measurable impact. Previously, she was director of business acceleration for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Smith’s current board service includes InBIA, Center for American Entrepreneurship, and Memphis Fourth Estate, Inc.

Email: [email protected]


Ron Duggins, Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Central Arkansas

Ron is also the founding advisor for a public/private entrepreneurship support organization at the university. Before moving to Arkansas in 2015, Ron directed the Center for Business Development at Meridian Technology Center and oversaw the Oklahoma Technology and Research Park in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He also worked for Autry Technology Center’s James W. Strate Center for Business Development in Enid, Okla. when he joined InBIA in 2007. Ron has extensive international training experience and has presented at InBIA events. He also holds InBIA’s Business Incubation Management Certificate. 

Email: [email protected]


 

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).

Email: [email protected]


Peter Mok, Head of Strategic Partnership, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation

Peter Mok is the Head of Strategic Partnership, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation. He also serves as Vice Chairman of Hong Kong Business Angel Network. He has extensive experience in sales and marketing of technology products, corporate merger and acquisition, venture capital investment and C-Level executive recruitment. Peter holds a BA (Hons) degree from HKU, an LL.B (Hons) from the University of London and an MBA from CUHK.

Email: [email protected]


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.

Email: [email protected]

 


First Vice Chair

Krista Covey, Vice President, VelocityTX

Krista served as Vice President of VelocityTX, an innovation hub in San Antonio, Texas. Previously, Krista was the Director of the Pasco County Economic Development Council’s 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 and currently serves as a member of the InBIA Board. She is part of the Startup Champions Network, and has served on numerous community and industry boards.

Email: [email protected]


Treasurer

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.

Email: [email protected]


Angela Crane-Jones,  Executive Director, Nashville Business Incubation Center

Angela 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.

Email: [email protected]


Herman Nyamunga, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians

Herman is director of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians in Philadelphia, Pa. His program sponsors the Global Enterprise Hub, a soft landings accelerator and incubator; the PhillyiHub Immigrant Incubator Space; and the 52nd Street Micro Incubation Project, which incubates informal businesses in low-income neighborhoods. 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 serves on the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council as a mayor’s appointee.

Email: [email protected]


Lynne Henkiel, Director of Innovation Ecosystems, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2)

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.

Email: [email protected] 


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.

Email: [email protected] 


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.

Email: [email protected]


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.

Email: [email protected]