Bios for E-Launch Judges and Mentors


Kannan Grant

Director of the Office of Technology Commercialization


Bob Locklear

Director of Business Development


Eric Tishaw

Chief Operating Officer

Hometown Lender


Chester Andrews

Program Director

MJLM Engineering and Technical Services

Carlos Bowden


Alabama Pain Center

Shari Burnum

President and Founder

Investor's Resource

Dr. Ranjan Chaudhuri

Fullbright Scholar


Linda DeLuca

Presentation Coach


Chakri Deverapalli

Founder and President


Jan Eiras

President and Founder


Jeff Irons

President and Founder

Ironsclad Consulting

Andrew Jennings

Leadership Coach


Inna Leistner

Estimating and Pricing Specialist


Paul Lindgren, CPA


Seaman, Shinunas, & Lindgren, PC

Dr. Brinda Mahalingam

Adjunct Professor of Economics


Tom McKee

Chief Scientist, Ground Systems

ChandlerMay Inc.

David Mixon


Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLC

Bronwen Murray


In the Loop Communications

Rich Ortiz



Chris Otto

Vice President Product Development


Dr. Ravi Patnayakuni

Associate Professor


R. Foster Perry III


Small Business Development Center

Elaine Plank

President and Founder


Greg Schumann


Schumann Consulting, LLC

Domingo Silvas III

CEO and Co-Founder

11i Solutions

Ruchi Singhal

Executive Director

Nexus Energy Center

George Smith II


Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLC

Dr. Caron St. John

Dean of College of Business Administration


Mark Swanson

Patent Attorney

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings

Dr. Jim Thacker

President and Founder

Huntsville Pain Management

Ron Wicks

Managing Director

Investor's Resource

Lisa Williams

President and Founder

Soldier 1 Corporation

Phil Williams

Alabama State Representative

District 10 (Madison)

Jim Wood


Spiritus, Inc.


Kannan Grant joined the University of Alabama Huntsville's newly established Office of Technology Commercialization in August of 2007 as its director. He has more than fifteen years of experience in technology transfer. Prior to joining the OTC, Mr. Grant served as the CEO of FuturaGene Inc., and as an executive board member for FuturaGene PLC. During his tenure at FuturaGene, Mr. Grant was instrumental in establishing the company's first subsidiary in Beijing, China. He was also responsible for spearheading FuturaGene's foray in the biofuel arena.

Prior to FuturaGene Inc., Mr. Grant served as associate vice chancellor for the Office of Technology Development at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was instrumental in negotiating and signing two of the largest license agreements with significant research components in the school's history.

Mr. Grant earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the University of North Dakota and his MBA from Texas A&M University.

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Bob Locklear has over 25 years of experience in senior roles in telecommunications and networking with both startups and large companies. Bob is currently Director of Business Development at Adtran. Prior to Adtran, he co-founded and served as Vice President of Business Development at Compiled Networks. He collaborated on the incubation that led to the formation of Surgient Networks and served as Surgient’s Vice President of Business Development and later Chief Strategy Officer and secured a strategic investment from Cisco Systems in the company.

Prior to Surgient, Bob held director positions in technology and engineering with Cisco Systems and led development of Cisco’s DSL product line from a $10 million to a $200 million quarterly run rate. Prior to Cisco, Bob was Chief Engineer and later CTO of NetSpeed, which was acquired by Cisco Systems in 1998 for $266 million.

Bob was also a founding general partner of Agave Capital, an angel based investment firm, and has served as managing director of Agave Capital Funds I and II. As managing director, he served on the board of Discoverycom prior to Discoverycom's acquisition by Nokia Networks in 2000 for $205 million and served on the board of Teracruz prior to its acquisition by Crossroads Systems in 2004. He was instrumental in the negotiations that led to the acquisition of both companies. He has also served on the board of Teravicta Technologies (and was interim CEO from May 2003 to June 2004) as well as the boards of Singlestep Technologies and Smartswing, and the advisory board of Voyan Technology.

Bob holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and has been awarded 15 patents.

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Eric Tishaw is the Chief Operating Officer of Hometown Lenders, a $1 billion a year South-east regional mortgage lender. Based here in Huntsville, Hometown Lenders has grown to become the largest mortgage lender in Alabama, and one of the top mortgage branch operations in the nation. Since joining Hometown Lenders in 2004, Mr. Tishaw has played a major role in helping Hometown Lenders achieve its growth and success.

Recognized as a leader in the mortgage industry, Mr. Tishaw was recently included in National Mortgage Professionals "Top 40 under 40" list, and has written articles for every major news publication in the mortgage industry. He has over 12 successful years in the mortgage business.  He has a finance undergraduate degree and an MBA from UAH.

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Chester Andrews serves as the Director of Programs at MJLM Engineering and Technical Services, Inc.

A native of Spokane, Washington and 20 combined year resident of St. Louis, MO./Chicago, IL.,  Mr. Andrews holds a BA degree in Management, a MBA from Fontbonne University, St. Louis, MO. and he has completed 9 Doctorate of Business hours at Keiser University. He is a graduate of the Department of Defense Contract and Acquisition Intern Program and DAWIA certified at Level II. Additionally, he is a certified Situational Leadership Trainer.

Mr. Andrews’s career includes over 32 combined years working directly for the Department of Defense as a government employee and providing contractor support to the federal government. As a government employee he served eight years in the United States Army, followed by eight years as a Contract Specialist at the Aviation Troop Command, St. Louis, MO.  Additionally, he served as a Project Manager/Business Development at NISH/Chicago, IL, which included a six state territory and Program Manager at Tellabs/Chicago, IL. were he was responsible for successfully managing the triple constraints of a $91million dollar telecommunications program. 

As a contractor Mr. Andrews provides program support to the Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) program office, Close Combat Weapon Systems (CCWS), and Joint Attack Munitions (JAMS) Program Executive Office, Redstone Arsenal.

Included among his training is Executive Leadership Training, Harvard School of Business, Procurement Reform, George Washington Law School, and Advanced Contract Administration, Cost & Pricing, and Contract Law, Department of Defense.

He is married to Angela Andrews, Huntsville, AL.; they have three daughters, Charity, Destiny, and Ivoree.

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Carlos Bowden has twenty-one years of comprehensive executive experience in business startup and growth environments. He is skilled in organizational/infrastructure development, financial planning, and developing staff and managers for business growth.

He has experience in managing to a liquidity event as CFO of DiscoveryCom, Inc., a startup maker of DSL broadband access systems, which was sold to Nokia in 2000 at a valuation of $220 million. From 2004 to 2005 he served as CFO of Operon Biotechnologies, Inc., a $40 million global biotech manufacturer, from its inception as a leveraged buyout through its successful relocation of its North American manufacturing plants and corporate headquarters to Huntsville, Alabama.

From 1990 to 1999, as VP/GM of Bowden Industries, Inc., a $10 million designer and manufacturer of automated industrial equipment and chemicals, Mr. Bowden had executive responsibilities for manufacturing, finance, sales, marketing, and IT. He successfully managed production expansions averaging 100 percent per year, establishing the company as one of the largest in its industry.  As a consultant, Mr. Bowden has advised clients in high-tech and financial services industries on financial, operational, and general corporate matters.

Mr. Bowden has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and an MBA from Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University.

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Shari Burnum, CFP, CExP, is founder and President of Investor’s Resource.  She entered the financial services industry in 1989 with a small, exclusive fee-only planning organization in Birmingham, AL. She attained Certified Financial Planning Designation in 1991 and became an independent contractor doing investment sales and financial planning in 1993. Ms. Burnum attained brokerage, insurance, and supervisory designations by 1995. She moved to Huntsville, AL in 1996 to supervise, run, and work as an advisor for one of the largest national credit unions headquartered in Huntsville.  She opened Investor's Resource in Madison, AL in 2000. As of 2012, Investor's Resource has grown to a leadership team of 4 highly-qualified, diverse professionals with deep skills in the entrepreneur, consulting, tax, and investment arenas. Nationally, Investor’s Resource ranks within the Top 5% of all Raymond James Financial branch offices (out of nearly 5000 advisors) in revenue and is leading several initiatives for other RJFS offices to access cutting edge technology and specialized service offerings for their clients. The Investor’s Resource team manages more than $100 million in client assets.

In 2012 Ms. Burnum and Investor’s Resource founded Entrepreneur Door with the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  Entrepreneur Door is a connection between businesses and students that provides aspiring students with entrepreneurial opportunities. "This program is an academic experience for undergraduate and graduate students to explore their entrepreneurial talents," President Shari Burnum explains. "The program provides a ‘meet up’ between business owners who are interested in giving back to the community and students seeking an entrepreneurial experience. It’s not a job or an internship; it’s a way to develop the energy of young entrepreneurs and to assist them in taking their first step. Investor’s Resource is proud to be the founding sponsor of Entrepreneur Door!"

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Dr. Ranjan Chaudhuri is a Fulbright Fellow at the College of Business Administration, University of Alabama in Huntsville.  He is an Assistant Professor in Marketing at National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai and Adjunct Faculty with Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode. He also served as a Faculty in the Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. Dr. Chaudhuri has more than 70 publications in the areas of Marketing Sciences, Rural Marketing and Agribusiness Management, Retail Management and Services Marketing.

He has over ten years of industrial, teaching and research experience. He is the recipient of many awards, including Best Young Teacher Award 2009 conferred by the Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMS), AIMS International Management Researcher of the Year 2010, and Best Teacher in Retail Management 2010.

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Linda DeLuca is an Executive Presentation Coach and Learning Advisor to leaders in many industries including: Pharmaceuticals; Federal Government; Insurance; Education; and Manufacturing. She has worked in multiple disciplines including:  Leadership Training & Development, Organizational Effectiveness & Education; Process Improvement & Development; Project & Portfolio Management; Information Management; and Finance.

Her education includes an MS in Organizational Dynamics (MSOD) from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelors degree from the Wharton School. She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and is a member of the International Coaching Federation. She has earned a Design Excellence Green-Belt Certification from Johnson & Johnson.

Her studies and more than 25 years of experience have provided her with a unique combination of coaching, instructional design, process development, and technology skills which, when combined, help individuals and organizations implement and sustain positive change.

Learn more about Linda here:

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Chakri Deverapalli is President and CEO of SouthernCord, an umbilical cord blood banking company, and Director of Network Support for the College of Business Administration at UAH.  He founded the company in 2010 as a way to make cord banking more affordable.  SouthernCord is an associate company of HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology.  Mr. Deverapalli has an MSE in both Electrical and Computer Engineering and an MBA from UAH.

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Jan Eiras is the President/CEO and co-founder of Quadrus Corporation, an engineering and technology firm headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama.  He has over 30 years of experience in software engineering and entrepreneurial enterprises. He began his career working in applications software development for several different industries including financial, securities, psychological assessment, construction, project management, and business management software. He went on to defense and aerospace work where he specialized in embedded real-time systems for guidance, control, and data acquisition and communications.

Quadrus has grown since its origination in 1995 to be a respected provider of technical expertise in Software, Systems, Test, and Integration Engineering and COTS / semi-custom, and custom software tools to government defense and aerospace projects, large defense and aerospace contractors, and private industry in the areas of interface test, data acquisition and analysis, and simulation.

Mr. Eiras has served on the Board of Directors of Liquor Group Wholesale, Inc., a publicly traded liquor distribution company. He is also involved in developing a variety of other investment and entrepreneurial ventures.

Active in the community, he has served on the Board of Directors of HASBAT (Huntsville Association of Small Businesses in Advanced Technology) and spent four years as its President. He currently serves on the boards of Junior Achievement of North Alabama and the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama.

Mr. Eiras holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida and has taught at the university-level in diverse fields

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Jeff Irons is President of IronSclad Solutions, Inc., a business development and strategy development company, headquartered in Huntsville.  He has over 20 years of business development experience in executive level positions:  Director of Business Development for General Dynamics, Space Systems Division and Washington Office; Vice President for Grumman, Space Systems and Space Station Divisions; Director of Huntsville Business Development for The Boeing Company; and Vice President of Market Development for Teledyne Brown Engineering.  In addition, Mr. Irons served as a minority technical consultant on Capitol Hill for the House Science Committee.  Mr. Irons also has successfully led several turnaround efforts in new business, leading to major program wins and keeping existing programs “sold.”  He holds advanced degrees in engineering and business.

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Andrew Jennings is a founding partner at Transcend Leadership Coaching.  He is a seasoned international business development professional with 20 years’ experience developing and managing direct and indirect sales organizations and business partnerships in Europe, USA and Asia through periods of phenomenal growth and industry and economic changes.

Mr. Jennings brings real world experience in building strategic customer and supplier partnerships, global sales channels, global strategic business plans and go-to market strategies. Using his experience in both small companies and large global corporations across Biotechnology, Automotive Manufacturing and Software Development, he provides practical consulting and business coaching services to navigate the challenging arena of domestic and international business development.

Mr. Jennings holds a Masters degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering as well as a Masters in Business & Finance. Having lived in the UK more than half of his career working for French and German companies.  Spending a significant amount of time responsible for businesses across Asia, he brings a unique global perspective to all his client engagements.

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Inna Leistner has a BSBA in Accounting from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  She excelled as a student and was an active member of the Accounting and Finance Honor Society, Beta Alpha Psi.  In 2009 Ms. Leistner was a recipient of the College of Business Administration Departmental Honors in Accounting Award and the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants Student Achievement Award.  She was nominated for the Becker Professional Education's Scholarship for Success Award and was one of the 50 deserving students nationwide to receive the award in 2009.  Ms. Leistner is a Certified Public Accountant. 

In 2009 Ms. Leistner began her professional career at White Fleming & Company, one of the most prestigious CPA firms in North Alabama.  The firm was acquired by Warren, Averett, Kimbrough, & Marino.   She provided services on numerous engagements, including audits and reviews of financial statements, business and individual income tax, and accounting services for small businesses.  Ms. Leistner performed engagements in a variety of industries, including healthcare, construction, manufacturing and real estate development. In 2010 she received the Beta Alpha Psi Outstanding Alumna Award.  In 2012 Ms. Leistner joined the Acquisition team Boeing, a global leader in the defense and space industry.  She participates in the evaluation of requests for proposals, prepares financial reports for the executive board, reviews proposal submittals, and supports ad-hoc proposal revisions and amendments. 

Inna Leistner (nee Efimenko) was born in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  As a child, she spent a few years in Siberia living and working on a farm.  She married David Leistner in 2004.  They have two young children.  They enjoy reading and spending time together as a family.

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Paul Lindgren, CPA is a Principal at Seaman, Shinkunas & Lindgren P.C.  He represents over 85 business clients in North Alabama and the Southeast.  After serving as a senior accountant at a regional CPA firm, he co-founded the firm as Shinkunas & Lindgren P.C. with Pete Shinkunas.  Since then the firm has grown into two office locations in Athens and Huntsville serving small to mid-sized businesses.  Mr. Lindgren has experience in mergers and acquisitions for companies of up to $15M in revenue, developing multiple business plans and business valuations for several successful corporations, planning for estates in excess of $5M in gross estate value, and in litigation support involving a publicly-traded corporate plaintiff of over $500M in revenues. Mr. Lindgren received his BSBA in Accounting and Finance from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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Dr. Brinda Mahalingam is a lecturer in the College of Business Administration since August 2011. Prior to that, she served as a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of California, Riverside.  She teaches a wide range of courses including Principles of Economics, Introduction to Macroeconomics, Introduction to Microeconomics, Intermediate and Advanced macroeconomics, Money and Banking, and The Stock Market.   Her experiences include working for a private consulting corporation in developing cost modeling for electric utilities, and running a small business. Her research expertise is in the area of Econometrics applied to Macroeconomic problems. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, M.A. in Economics from both San Jose State University and Annamalai University, India.

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Tom McKee is Chief Science Officer of ChandlerMay, Inc.  His role is to direct the company’s future view and strategy concerning technology and all aspects of current intellectual property.  He also is responsible for setting procedures for internal research and development activities.  Prior to this position he was interim CEO for Volatile Analysis Corporation.  Mr. McKee had an extensive career with Philips & LiteOn Digital Solutions (previously Philips Electronics – JV).  He was General Manager, Americas where he successfully managed all aspects of the American Region increasing revenue and maintaining profit for the region.  He was also the Global Key Account Manager to DiamlerChrysler.  In all, Mr. McKee has twenty-three years of experience in engineering, sales, marketing, finance, and executive management.  He has lived and worked in Asia and Europe during his tenure in the International Automotive Industry, and brings a wealth of diverse experience in team building and business growth. He has received nine patents during his career.  He holds bachelor degrees in Mechanical (Auburn) and Electrical (UAH) Engineering, as well an Executive MBA (Auburn).

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David Mixon is a registered patent attorney with a background in electrical and computer engineering. His primary areas of practice include patent and trademark prosecution, licensing and client counseling on intellectual property issues.

David's clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as medium size businesses and startup ventures. He has advised and assisted clients in such wide ranging industries as information technology, computer hardware, satellite communications, health sciences, micro-electronics, environmental technology, telecommunications and automotive manufacturing. He has extensive experience with preparing and prosecuting patent applications on the cutting edge of such fields as computer software, computer hardware, electronics, control systems, manufacturing processes and mechanical devices. David counsels clients on methods of protecting all of their intellectual property and he assists them in developing strategies to maximize the impact of those assets.

David has a wide variety of experience in patent prosecution, trademark prosecution, licensing and other intellectual property matters. He has represented clients in various industries, including: computer hardware; computer software; aerospace; radar; telecommunications; health sciences; environmental; petrochemical; oilfield; automotive; utilities; and manufacturing.

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Bronwen Murray is a digital marketing and social media strategist with In the Loop Communications. Her career spans appointments in technology transfer, new product launch, investor relations roles in healthcare, technology, and nonprofit industries, social media marketing, communications, and branding roles. 

While in the windy city of Chicago, Bronwen worked with the Homeland Security Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center -- a joint venture of Governor Rod Blagojevich and Northwestern University. Her expertise was used to bring the London Business School's Global Security Challenge to the Midwest in 2009. The event was the world's largest international security innovation competition and offered researchers, entrepreneurs and start-ups the opportunity to showcase their security inventions and compete for more than $500,000 in cash grants.

In 2008 Bronwen traveled with a team of researchers to Shanghai, China to evaluate the marketing efforts of Pizza Hut in the BRIC nation. She presented her findings to President of Pizza Hut - US, and subsequent changes were made to branding initiatives. 

Bronwen began her career with Aetos Technologies as communication director. With the R&D 100 winning technology development company, she participated in phases from private-placement through product launch. During her tenure three spin-off companies were conceived, funded, launched, and ultimately, brought new technology products to market. 

She is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds a master of science from the Medill School. Her undergraduate studies in Communication were awarded from Auburn University, summa cum laude.

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Rich Ortiz is the current President and Co-Founder of nVision Defense, LLC and Co-Founder of several innovative technology companies:  nVis360, LLC - a 3D real-time architectural visualization technology company located in Atlanta, Georgia. A partnership with a leading design firm, Plexus r+d. Co-Founder of nVision Defense, LLC - creates and develops 3D Virtual Simulations for real-time, "hands-on" web-based scenario training. Dr. Carroll, President / CEO of Tec-Masters, Inc. bought 30% stake ownership of nVision Defense in 2010. Co-Founder of nVision Systems, LLC – focused on commercial applications: developed recent iPhone App, launched July 2012, Web 2.0, real-time web-browser based 3D Virtual Visualization Technologies. Dr. Carroll, President / CEO of Tec-Masters, Inc. bought 25% stake ownership of nVision Systems in 2010. Rich is currently launching his 4th spin-off technology startup, ONEUNITY Media, LLC – creating smart web technologies and developing an automated DIY Customer Loyalty App called, QIKTAB that focuses on helping small businesses grow through an “Instant Rewards” platform.  Mr. Ortiz is a creative visionary and social media marketing advocate with a strong design background. He currently sits on the WBCNA Board of Directors. Rich is an avid student of “Lean Startup” principles that he believes will revolutionize how entrepreneurs will develop products and services by using a “Build, Measure, Learn” methodology.  He is primarily responsible for business development, strategic business planning, customer relationship management, identifying key strategic teaming partners and a Jedi-graphic designer. Mr. Ortiz holds a BA in Architecture from Kansas State University.

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Chris Otto is a technology entrepreneur working in the healthcare IT space.  He pioneered automatic fall detection for the elderly. He co-founded Halo Monitoring, an "aging in place" technology company. Halo Monitoring’s flagship product was a wearable device which automatically detected falls – no need to press a button – a dramatic improvement over the state of the art medical alarms available at that time.  Chris served as the company CEO from 2007 to 2012 when Halo was successfully acquired by MobileHelp based in Boca Raton, FL and now serves as MobileHelp’s Vice President of Product Development.  Chris has been recognized as a thought leader in the aging in place technology space.  He is author on five issued patents and eight pending patents in the fields of ambulatory health monitoring, telecommunications and wireless networks. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Engineering from University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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Ravi Patnayakuni, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Information Systems at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  He is a Certified Supply Chain Professional and a SAP Business Associate.  He holds a DBA in MIS from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, and a BE in Civil Engineering from BITS in India.  His areas of expertise are in IT in supply chain integration, supply chain management, diffusion and implementation of IT, IT and business value, and knowledge management and systems development.  He has numerous academic publications and is associate editor of Information Systems Journal.

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R. Foster Perry III has over 30 years in management positions in international sales and marketing, aerospace and defense business development, strategic planning, market research, establishing representative and distributor networks, and organizational development and knowledge management. He applies his knowledge to his new position as Director and Senior Consultant of the Small Business Development Center on the UAH campus.  In that position, Mr. Perry provides professional assistance and direction to pre-venture businesses, small business owners and managers in start-up counseling; business management; coaching; licensing; taxes; business accounting; marketing; feasibility studies; human resources; and developing business plans.  He provides these services for companies in both commercial markets and government contracting.

Mr. Perry has taught for over 10 years courses in international business and management, including market selection and analysis, writing export/import and broader international business plans and supply chain management.

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Elaine S. Plank, President and CEO of SafeHealth, Inc., founded the company in Huntsville in 1993.  SafeHealth provides credentialed professionals in the area of Occupational Health, Safety, BodyMind Healthcare and Health Insurance for veteran employees.  Ms. Plank is a Board Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist, COHN-S (one of only 3,000 internationally).  She has experience at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, government contractors and private industry.   Ms Plank has developed a business with known credibility and has won numerous awards including the U. S. Small Business Administration, Alabama Women in Business Champion in 2005, the Small Business of the Year, (Business Services) from the Chamber of Commerce in 1996, the American Business Ethics Award in 1998. 

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Greg Schumann, Owner and Business Consultant with Schumann Consulting, LLC, is a retired Lt. Colonel from the US Air Force and a Huntsville native.  He has over 30 years combined in military and industry experience. Mr. Schumann is recognized as a “triple threat” executive with outstanding leadership, business development, and technical skills. He has a demonstrated track record in identifying and developing new lines of business in such companies as Nichols Research, Teledyne Solutions, MTS, and Decisive Analytics Corporation. He is a problem solver and strategic thinker. He is a strong leader with excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Mr. Schumann holds a BS at Auburn University and an MS from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

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Domingo M. Silvas III is the CEO of 11i Solutions.  As Co-Founder of 11i Solutions and as a key architect to its intellectual property, Domingo M Silvas III has been the leader of this organization since day one.  As Chief Executive Officer, he is responsible for the vision and management of the company. His background includes extensive experience as a capital strategist, business development specialist, CEO for both private and public companies and member of the US military. Among Mr. Silvas’ core competencies is the ability to develop stringent reporting structures capable of exceeding government requirements.

Prior to 11i Solutions, Mr. Silvas served as the CEO of AquaGold, a publicly-traded US company with subsidiaries in Canada and China. His tenure included a year consulting with the company on business strategy and sales development. As AquaGold’s CEO, he was directly responsible for corporate compliance on public markets as well as manufacturing, logistics and sales.  One of his most visible contributions to the company’s success included facilitating an eight year, $200 million sales contract in China.  Mr. Silvas also founded and managed Leads Direct, a lead generation technology company with annual revenues of $10 million.

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Ruchi Singhal founded founded Nexus Energy Center in 2009 and serves as its Executive Director.  The Center is an Alabama-based non-profit that has been successful in winning grants to help grow the clean energy economy.  The Center received its first grant from the DOE Better Buildings Program.  The grant program has come to be known as the WISE (Worthwhile Investments Save Energy) Home Energy Program.  Since receiving the grant, Nexus has gone on to win two grants from Alabama sources to improve energy efficiency.  Prior to founding Nexus, Ms. Singhal served as Program Director of Renewable Energy Outreach, a program to bring more renewable energy businesses to the Tennessee Valley.  Ms. Singhal holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MS in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University.  After graduation, she worked for the state of North Carolina in various energy and air quality positions.

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George Smith II is a corporate attorney in the Huntsville Office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLC.  George's practice focuses on formation, financing and ongoing representation of emerging and established businesses, with an emphasis on government contracting, healthcare and technology companies.  He also counsels clients regarding merger and acquisitions, tax issues, equity and debt financing, executive compensation, joint ventures, strategic alliances, estate planning, healthcare and other related issues. 

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Caron St. John joined UAHuntsville as the Dean of the College of Business Administration in spring 2010. Before coming to UAHuntsville, she was the Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Research and Outreach in the College of Business & Behavioral Science at Clemson University, with responsibility for MBA programs, Executive Education programs, the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the Small Business Development Center, and the Renaissance Center.

In 2007, Dr. St. John was the winner of the Dr. Charles Townes Award for Individual Achievement in Innovation for contributions to innovation and entrepreneurship in the upstate of South Carolina and in January 2010 was recognized by Greenville Business Magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in Greenville, SC for 2009. She was also recognized by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce with a Special Chairman’s Award for Education in Business for 2009. Dr. St. John has served as the PI or Co-PI on grants from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Commerce totaling over $1.5 million and has published research in leading management journals including the Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, Operations Management Journal, Organization Research Methods, Computers and Operations Research, and Production and Operations Management. Through her work with the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, she developed several programs to involve students in the new business development and technology commercialization efforts of inventors, entrepreneurs, and established firms in the region.

She received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology and a MBA and PhD in business administration from Georgia State University. Before pursuing an academic career, she was involved in new product and new business development with Celanese Corporation in Charlotte, NC.

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Mark Swanson is a registered patent attorney with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings.  Mark’s practice focuses on Intellectual Property, including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret issues. He has drafted and prosecuted patents to protect many different types of inventions, including polymers, heat transfer devices, and mechanical devices.  Mark also regularly advises clients on trademark issues, copyright issues, license negotiations, and intellectual property strategies in general.

Mark worked as a chemical engineer in industry for fourteen years before pursing his law degree, where he worked in environmental compliance and production. His industrial experience provides an insight and understanding of the issues faced by many clients.

Mark has a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Whitman College, a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama, where Mark graduated Magna cum laude.

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Jim Thacker, MD founded Huntsville Pain Management in 2012.  HPM is a multidisciplinary group of professionals committed to the compassionate understanding of patients in pain and to the scientific assessment, diagnosis and treatment of pain related disorders.  Dr. Thacker is a graduate of the University of Georgia. He attended medical school at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta Georgia.  He then completed his internship at Lloyd Noland Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama. Next, he completed his residency in Anesthesia at Medical College of Georgia again in Augusta, Georgia. He practiced as an Anesthesiologist for 15 years.  In fact, Dr. Thacker was the Director of Anesthesiology for Parkway Medical Center Hospital, Decatur for seven years.

Having personally had several back surgeries, he decided that he wanted to pursue Pain Management as a way to get him and others out of pain. While practicing anesthesiology, Dr. Thacker started learning and practicing pain management in Decatur, Alabama. He completed a fellowship in Pain Medicine/Interventional Pain Medicine at California Spine Institute. He then moved to Colorado, where he practiced pain management for another 10 years. In 2011, Dr. Thacker decided to sell his Colorado pain clinic and move back to Huntsville to rejoin his three children and extended family living in the area. It was at this time that he opened Huntsville Pain Management.   

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Ron Wicks is Managing Director of Investor’s Resource.  He has 20+ years of information technology and business operations and marketing experience in large and small businesses and is currently serving in Investor’s Resource, a growing top-rated financial and investment consulting firm.

Ron has successful experience as an entrepreneur and continues providing business start-up and growth consulting. Ron’s experiences include: acquire/own-operate/sold a profitable business; successful and award-winning information technology systems solutions consulting across the US in Fortune 1000 commercial clients and large federal government agencies including DoD, NASA, USPS, Corp of Engineers; Vice President of Product Marketing; over 10 years of business consulting experience in product and market research, competitive analysis and go to market strategies; Founder/President of start-up technology and integration solution provider focused on Motorsports data integration and analytics; and Founder/Inventor for emerging new product patent.

He is also one of the founding members of the “Entrepreneur Door” organization which is designed as a meet up for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations and business ventures. He holds an MBA degree.

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Lisa Williams was the co-founder and president of 3D Research Corporation from 1997-2006.  As the president of 3D Research, Ms. Williams was responsible for the management and operations of a multi-million dollar company with 17 different locations throughout the United States and one international site.   The success of 3D Research is evident by its ranking in the 2004 and 2005 Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in America. 3D Research was acquired by the Schafer Corporation in December 2005. Ms. Williams is currently the President of Soldier 1 Corporation.

Ms. Williams was born in Saigon, Viet Nam on the 4th of July.  She came to the United States at the age of six. 

Ms. Williams received her BS degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1985.  She received an Honorary PhD from UAH from the College of Business Administration in 2004.  Ms. Williams worked as a production engineer for Morton Thiokol on several rocket motor systems, as a Systems Engineer for Wyle Laboratories supporting the International Space Station, and as a test engineer for TASC and Schafer on several missile systems before starting 3D Research Corporation in 1997. 

Ms. Williams was awarded the 2004 Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Alabama by the Small Business Administration, the 2004 Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs of America as well as the 2004 Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s Executive of the Year. The Women’s Economic Development Council honored Ms. Williams in the technology category at its 2004 Women Honoring Women awards ceremony.  The University of Alabama in Huntsville awarded Ms. Williams the UAH Business Fellow Award in 2004 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2005.

Ms. Williams has also been recognized with the National Leadership Award.  She is a graduate of the Huntsville/Madison County Leadership Program.  In 2002, Ms. Williams’ company won the nationally recognized Department of Defense Nunn-Perry Award in the DoD Mentor-Protégé program. As a result of Ms. Williams’ leadership, philosophy, and practice, her company was selected as a Finalist for Huntsville’s Family Friendly Business of the Year for 2004.  

Ms. Williams is active on many boards and councils.  She is on the boards of the Tennessee Valley Corridor representing the 5th Congressional District, the Women’s Economic Development Council, Junior Achievement, and a board member of SCORE-Counselors to America’s Small Businesses.  She is very active in mentoring and counsels many small businesses in the state of Alabama.  Ms. Williams resides in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, Phil Williams and son, Tyler Williams.

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Representative Williams was elected in a special election in 2009 to represent House District 6 in Madison County. He was born and raised on a small farm in Alabama, graduated from The University of Alabama in Huntsville with a degree in International Business, and speaks fluent French.

Representative Williams has been involved with the development of small businesses for most of his career through recruiting economic and industrial development to Alabama.

After working with contracts negotiations in the Small Business and Contracts offices as a Contract Specialist with the U.S. Army, Phil co-founded several businesses:

  • 3D Research Corporation
  • Synapse Wireless, and
  • Soldier 1 Corporation

Representative Williams' volunteer activities include:

  • serving as a Director of the Alabama Archives Board for Alabama History
  • mentoring, without pay, to small businesses in the Huntsville area
  • serving as an active board member of Huntsville’s Heritage Foundation
  • participating in the Madison County/Huntsville Leadership Program, including fund raising so that any “at-risk” young person in Madison County would have the fees to prepare for and take the GED test.

Phil and his wife Lisa live in Huntsville with their son.

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Jim Wood   A former U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot who logged hundreds of day and night carrier landings flying missions over Iraq and Bosnia, Jim is also an accomplished professional actor who performed Off-Broadway in New York City.  He also spent time teaching at the U.S. Naval Academy before moving to Huntsville and working within the Missile Defense community for the past 14 years.  Jim started Spiritus, Inc. in 2000 and has served as its President since the company's founding.  He holds an M.S. in Management Information Systems from the University of Maryland."

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