Summit Leaders and Facilitators

Lisa Abeyta, founder and CEO of APPCityLife, Inc., is passionate about civic innovation. Under her leadership, APPCityLife, a corporation that makes it easy for cities to develop mobile apps for their communities, has grown into a thriving company with offices in Albuquerque and New York. She also cofounded Hautepreneurs, a peer network and business accelerator for women entrepreneurs, and HauteHopes, a nonprofit organization that assists women entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds. She is a member of Congresswoman Michelle Grisham's Small Business Advisory Council, chairs an advisory group serving the mayor of Albuquerque, and is a contributing writer to several national publications. 


Dr. Susan Amat is CEO and founder of Venture Hive, an entrepreneurship education company that creates software and provides innovation management content and support for corporations, governments, universities, and incubator/accelerator programs. A serial entrepreneur, she has built businesses in the entertainment industry, including the first CD-Rom magazine and a national television show, and developed pediatric health monitoring products. She founded The Launch Pad, which was considered the top model in entrepreneurship education and was replicated in universities throughout the U.S., including USC, UCLA, and Case Western Reserve University. In 2012, Dr. Amat was honored as a Champion of Change at the White House.

Scott Bailey is the managing director of Boston’s MassChallenge, whose mission is to catalyze a startup renaissance. The organization runs accelerators and an annual startup competition designed to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to launch and succeed. The 617 global MassChallenge alumni have raised more than $706 million in capital and have created more than 4,800 new jobs since October 2010. As managing director, Scott has helped the organization cultivate a vast network of supporters that are committed to the organization and its startups. He is a strong advocate for the Boston entrepreneurial ecosystem and supports many Boston-area programs and organizations.

Trey Bowles is a serial entrepreneur, social capitalist, and educator who is working to help develop a collaborative U.S. ecosystem at the intersection of education, technology, and entrepreneurship. He is a cofounder of The Dallas Innovation Alliance, a partnership among the city, major corporations, and leading academic institutions to design, develop, and launch a smart cities solution in Dallas. Trey cofounded and is CEO of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs start, build, and grow their businesses. He also cofounded The Mayor’s Star Council with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Southern Methodist University. 

Robin Brule' is a large-system service designer with a proven track record of mobilizing cross-sector partners to improve outcomes for New Mexicans. Currently, Robin serves as the senior vice president of community relations and assistant to the president at Nusenda Credit Union. In addition, Robin serves as an "executive on loan" from Nusenda to Mayor Richard J. Berry, City of Albuquerque, to help accelerate implementation and results in the areas of education, human services, and economic and workforce development as chief strategist for Albuquerque's Living Cities Integration Initiative. She is an Annie E. Casey Fellow and a Presidio Cross Sector Fellow.

Joni Cobb is the founding president and CEO of Pipeline, an elite organization of the Midwest’s most successful, high-performing entrepreneurs. Pipeline members work as one to face business challenges, funnel opportunities to their peers, and build market-leading technology and life-sciences businesses together. Joni spearheaded development of Pipeline’s national advisory board, mentor program, and national alliance building to ensure Pipeline developed with the best possible input on investment strategies, innovation trends, and expertise from around the nation. She is now working on the next step – leveraging and supporting its Missouri and Nebraska operations and partnerships to improve the Midwest’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Diana Colangelo is an economic development specialist with Burlington, Vermont's Community & Economic Development Office (CEDO). She works with entrepreneurs and businesses in all stages, providing technical and business development assistance and support.  She also works with the rest of the Sustainability, Housing, and Economic Development team to facilitate development and to work on policy projects that foster economic vitality in Burlington, including parking and permitting reform. Before moving to Vermont, Diana served as a Housing Advocate and Case Manager at HomeStart, Inc. in Boston. 

Jose Corona recently joined Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office as director of equity and strategic partnerships where his task is to create public-private-philanthropic partnerships that foster equitable opportunities for all citizens. Previously, Jose was CEO of Inner City Advisors (ICA), a nationally recognized, award-winning organization that helps launch and scale small and entrepreneurial businesses. In his ten years as CEO, he oversaw a portfolio of companies that created more than 5,000 jobs and $150 million in wealth for local residents. He also led the launch of Fund Good Jobs, an investment fund that uses capital to influence the creation and retention of quality jobs.

Paul J. Corson has spent the last two decades pursuing entrepreneurial initiatives in the United States and abroad.  His focus on entrepreneurship cuts across the public and private sectors, having worked with NGOs and startups, developed and implemented public policy at the federal level, and spurred technology commercialization and business formation in higher education.  Paul is currently a consultant in Park City, Utah, and he is entrepreneur in residence and a member of the board at Sustainable Startups. Previously, Paul was the executive director of Innovation Fund America, a family of pre-seed investment funds, and he led the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Damon Cox joined the Boston Foundation in 2013 as director of economic development, overseeing the Foundation's portfolio of workforce and economic development investments. Damon brings an extensive background in enhancing opportunities for entrepreneurs, most recently as the director and program designer for the Boston Small Business Contest, a prize competition designed to create and support business development opportunities for residents in Boston's Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods.  Previous to that he was director for capital and evaluation for Boston Rising. In that role, Damon devised and managed Boston Rising's entrepreneurship development initiative, which provided capital and technical assistance to a network of burgeoning business owners in Boston neighborhoods.

Gary L. Cunningham is president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Meda. Meda's mission is to help entrepreneurs of color succeed and communities grow. Prior to joining Meda, Gary served as vice president and chief program officer for the Northwest Area Foundation, president and chief executive officer for NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, director of planning and development for Hennepin County, Minnesota, and county administrator and chief executive officer for Scott County, Minnesota. Gary has also held leadership roles with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and the City of Minneapolis.

John Freisinger is president and CEO of Technology Ventures Corporation (TVC), a non-profit organization that helps federally funded laboratories commercialize their research. TVC uses an entrepreneur-centric, venture capital model to accelerate the adoption of laboratory research to benefit U.S. economic competitiveness. Formed in 1993, TVC has helped entrepreneurs raise over $1.3 billion in equity financing, form 125 new companies and create more than 13,500 jobs. Before joining TVC, John served in leadership roles with several venture-backed entrepreneurial companies including as COO of Smart Systems Technologies and VP of sales and marketing for Essential Communications. His early work was conducted in the former Soviet republics.

Edward Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1992. He regularly teaches microeconomics theory and occasionally urban and public economics. He has served as director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, and director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. He has published dozens of papers on cities’ economic growth, law, and economics. In particular, his work has focused on the determinants of city growth and the role of cities as centers of idea transmission.

George E. Hansen, III is president and CEO of the Enterprise Center in Johnson County, a non-profit venture-development organization serving Greater Kansas City, and executive director of Mid America Angels, the largest angel-funding group in the Midwest. He also operates an advisory service, offering counsel in the areas of operations, strategy, and business development. Previously, George served as CEO of Zave Network, where he led the company through an acquisition by Google, as a director of TGP Investments, and as CEO of both Corporate Lodging and CARSTAR. He is chairman of the boards of Executive AirShare and Matrix Measuring Systems.

Milton Jeffrey is an organizer for Kauffman's 1 Million Cups program in Kansas City and a project manager for BlackOps Development, an elite software development team dedicated to delivering high quality software solutions. Milton is also an entrepreneur who started his own software development company to help other entrepreneurs understand branding, social media and software solutions, and to enable his clients' strategic growth. Previously, Milton was an investment banker for a private Swiss banking syndicate, where he led teams financing both technology and real estate developments.

Having delivered business solutions in 30 countries, Wendy Lea brings a worldly point of view to digital innovation and her entrepreneurial pursuits. OnTarget, Stratify and Get Satisfaction are three of her many leadership successes.  She is currently the CEO of Cintrifuse, a public-private partnership that enables promising high-growth startups to prosper in Cincinnati, and a member of C200 and Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum. In 2012 and 2013, Wendy was recognized as a Women of Influence in both Silicon Valley and San Francisco. She currently serves on two non-profit boards, The Health Collaborative and The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and on the board of venture-backed Xyleme.

Brendan Lind is executive director of LaunchCode, which he has managed since cofounding the organization in 2013. LaunchCode is a St. Louis-based nonprofit organization that creates pathways to economic opportunity and upward mobility through apprenticeships and job placement in technology. Last year alone, LaunchCode placed 191 people in apprenticeships, and the median starting salary offered upon completion of the apprenticeship was $50,000. A second LaunchCode office opened in Miami in early 2015, and two more kicked off in Kansas City and Rhode Island in January 2016. Brendan also serves on the board of Nine Network of Public Media, the leading public media in St. Louis.

Paul Major is president and CEO of the Telluride Foundation, which provides support for local arts, education, athletics, health, human services, conservation and other community-based efforts. He leads the Foundation's multimillion dollar development, grant-making, capacity-building and initiative efforts. Prior to joining the Telluride Foundation, Paul was the director of business development for Booth Creek Ski Holdings' six resorts, and he served as the vice president of athletics and as an alpine Olympic ski coach for the 1984 U.S. Ski Team where he directed and managed the team's 200 athletes and 60 staff who participated in the six Olympic ski sports.

Stuart C. McWhorter is CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, a combination co-working space, accelerator, and mentorship program. His leadership of the center is informed by his more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and early-stage investing. He co-founded and served as chairman and president of Clayton Associates, an investment management company primarily focused on early-stage investments in the health care and technology industries. Stuart was a founding member of OrthoLink Physicians Corporation and has an extensive background in health care management. He serves on several corporate and not-for-profit boards of directors in the Nashville metropolitan area.

Joan Siefert Rose is president and CEO of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, the largest and longest running entrepreneurial network in the country. CED is a trusted source on the state of the entrepreneurial sector not just in North Carolina, but also in emerging entrepreneurial hubs across the nation. CED’s research sheds light on regions that are leading the next wave of innovation in America – places like Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, and Denver. A former 30-year radio veteran, she is the winner of both the George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in radio or television and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.


Tim Williamson is cofounder and CEO of The Idea Village, a nonprofit organization committed to driving positive change in New Orleans through entrepreneurship. The Idea Village is a globally recognized leader in developing place-based entrepreneurial ecosystems. It is leading the efforts to position New Orleans as hub for innovation, entrepreneurship, and new thinking, and has provided direct support to more than 4,500 startups. An authority on New Orleans' vibrant renaissance, Tim is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship and leadership at conferences across the U.S. and internationally. Tim successfully started multiple ventures in cities across the country before founding The Idea Village in 2000.

Kauffman Foundation Facilitators and Leaders

Rachel Carlton, Senior Program Officer in Entrepreneurship
Emily Fetsch, Research Assistant in Research and Policy
Wendy Guillies, President and CEO
Chris Harris, Program Officer in Entrepreneurship
Nathan Kurtz, Senior Program Officer in Entrepreneurship
Yas Motoyama, Director in Research and Policy
Jonathan Robinson, Senior Program Officer in Entrepreneurship
Dane Stangler, Vice President of Research and Policy
Wendy Torrance, Director of Entrepreneurship
Kathryn Widrig, Program Coordinator in Entrepreneurship