Higher Ed Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Toolkit
Advisory Board

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On behalf of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Center for Customized Research and Service and Venn Collaborative, our funder and dissemination partners, we are pleased to announce the formation of our national advisory board for the Higher Education and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Toolkit project. The eight leaders gathered have been nominated by their peers as experts in entrepreneurial support and higher education leadership. They bring a diversity of experience and insight to the project that will be invaluable in helping us understand the challenges that our institutions and their partners face and in identifying the solutions to overcome them.

The advisory board will begin its work in mid-March and will be deeply involved in the toolkit development process, including assisting in reviewing content, participating in our May Design Workshop, and assisting with building awareness and dissemination of the toolkit when completed. 

Kevin Carter
Head of Business Development, EcoMap Technologies

Kevin Carter is responsible for building strategic partnerships, finding market applications, and growing revenue for the company. EcoMap centralizes information about your ecosystem into an easy-to-navigate online platform, creating a front-door for your ecosystem that makes it easy for stakeholders to understand, engage, & promote it. Prior to joining EcoMap, Kevin helped to build up the student entrepreneurship ecosystem at Johns Hopkins University as the first Student Program Manager for FastForward U – the university’s e-ship program. There he helped to develop the university’s first accelerator program, alumni entrepreneur mentorship network, and managed grant funding for student entrepreneurs from $500 – $30,000. He has also run and volunteered for local non-profit initiatives such as Emergence Baltimore and GiveBackHack Baltimore. Kevin shares the same core belief as EcoMap: it should be easy to access information about what’s happening in the ecosystems all around us. The biggest throughline in his professional career to date is the emphasis on building relationships, connections, and programs that have real meaning to the stakeholders involved.

Jasmine Cordero-West
Associate Director, Rutgers Advanced Institute for the Study of Entrepreneurship and Development (RAISED), Rutgers University

Jasmine Cordero-West is the Associate Director of Rutgers Advanced Institute for the Study of Entrepreneurship and Development (RAISED) at Rutgers Business School. Jasmine combines her commitment to urban renewal and the socio-economic development of urban communities with the experience and training gleaned from work in corporate leadership development to the training and development of entrepreneurs. Jasmine oversees various entrepreneurship programs. Under her leadership, the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative (EPI) has helped over 250 entrepreneurs to sustain and grow their businesses. Jasmine serves on the NJIT Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge board of advisors, Urban League of Essex County Opportunity Corporation/Real Estate Committee and as panel reviewer for various entrepreneurship awards and grants committees. She has also been a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. Jasmine was named one of NJBIZ’s Forty under 40. She is co-author of Entrepreneurship Education in Practice: The Development of a Hybrid Training Model in an Urban Environment paper. Prior to her employment at Rutgers she worked at Johnson & Johnson Corporate Headquarters developing young talent for leadership roles within the corporation. She received her Masters in Human Resources Management from Rutgers University.

Jerry Edmonds, Ed.D.
Vice President, Workforce Development and Community Engagement, Vance Granville Community College

Jerry E. Edmonds III is currently the Vice President of Workforce and Community Engagement at Vance Granville Community College, Henderson, North Carolina, a post he has held since October, 2019. Dr. Edmonds previously served as Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Halifax Community College, Weldon, North Carolina. Prior to his role as Dean, Dr. Edmonds served as Halifax Community College, Small Business Center Director, a position he held from August, 2014 until August, 2018. Prior to his current roles, Mr. Edmonds held a variety of executive leadership positions within Johnson & Johnson and IBM where he was the recipient of numerous training, recruitment, marketing, and leadership awards. In his previous role as Halifax Community College, Small Business Center Director, Mr. Edmonds was named the North Carolina Small Business Center Network, (SBCN) “Rookie of the Year” for his effectiveness in increasing the level of assistance provided to small business owners throughout the Halifax Community College, Small Business Center service area. Mr. Edmonds earned his Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis on Marketing, from Marshall University in 1985 and his Masters of Science with an emphasis on Human Service Management from Springfield College in 2001. Dr. Edmonds earned his doctoral degree in Higher Education Leadership from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin in May, 2020. Dr. Edmonds’s passion for rural economic development is reflected in his doctoral research which examined North Carolina Economic Development Leaders’ Perception of The NCCCS As It Relates to Rural Economic Development. Dr. Edmonds served as President of the Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina Chapter of Rotary International, where he served as President from 2017 – 2018. Dr. Edmonds is currently a member of the Henderson, North Carolina Chapter of Rotary International and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. Dr. Edmonds also served as a board member of the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) Workforce Development Leadership Council (WDLC) and he currently serves as director on numerous boards including, NC IDEA, Maria Parham Medical Center – Duke LifePoint Healthcare and Lakeland Cultural Arts Center.

Conaway Haskins
Vice President, Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation

Conaway Haskins has spent nearly 20 years helping public and private sector organizations navigate economic development, public policy and strategic management challenges and opportunities at the local, state, and national levels. He currently serves as Vice President for Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation where he provides strategic vision and operational results for the Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Division. In this role, he advises, supports, and funds statewide and regional technology-based and innovation-led economic development initiatives. Prior to joining VIPC, he served as Associate Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation and as the State Economic Development Specialist for the university’s Virginia Cooperative Extension division. He was responsible for leading and executing technical assistance, applied research, and public engagement efforts serving communities and regions across the Commonwealth. Before that, Conaway led a variety of efforts for the Virginia Community Economic Network, Virginia State University, Council on Foundations, US Senator Jim Webb, and the Cameron Foundation. He began his career as an economic and workforce development researcher at the Aspen Institute. Conaway is an active member of the Virginia Economic Developers Association and International Economic Development Council. ​He earned a Masters of Regional Planning degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Government & Politics from George Mason University. He lives in the Richmond, VA area.

Stephanie Pierce
Economic Development and Entrepreneur Relations Manager, K-State Innovation Partners, Kansas State University

Stephanie Pierce serves as the Economic Development and Entrepreneur Relations Manager at K-State Innovation Partners where she has worked since 2018. In this role, she manages special projects specific to companies interested in expanding or relocating to the Manhattan region as well as programs designed to identify economic development or corporate engagement prospects. In addition, Ms. Pierce works heavily with programming and initiatives intended to grow and support K-State’s and the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This involves working with startups formed out of the University, driving initiatives that support regional startups, and connecting entrepreneurs to resources at the University. Prior to joining K-State, Ms. Pierce worked in small businesses for several years and had multiple entrepreneurial endeavors. Ms. Pierce earned her master’s degree in Business Administration and her bachelor’s degree in Marketing, both from Kansas State University.

Sammy Popat
Campus Connector, Discovery District Manager & Interim Director of MAVRIC, University of Maryland College Park, Office of Innovation and Economic Development

Passionate about entrepreneurship, innovation, economic development, community engagement, and higher education, Sammy serves as the University of Maryland’s first Campus Connector, as well as the Manager of the University’s research park, the Discovery District. Through these roles, he is responsible for ensuring greater communication and more strategic collaboration across campus, in particular to those who are involved with the institution’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. To that end, he co-hosts regular meetings with these stakeholders through the Economic Impact Committee. He also supported the launch of the Terp Entrepreneur Network (TEN) through the Alumni Association and facilitated the development efforts and design of the Innovation Gateway, a concierge platform that enables a variety of stakeholders to more easily access and engage with the university’s innovation and entrepreneurship resources. As the manager of the Discovery District, Sammy oversees place-making and community engagement efforts between the scores of government, corporate, campus-affiliated, community, and entrepreneurial tenants who are based within the research park. His professional experiences range from co-facilitating graduate courses on design leadership at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and working for the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship supporting the NSF’s I-Corps program to raising philanthropic funds for non-profits and running his own ventures. Sammy has two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park, as well as a Master’s in Professional Studies in Technology Entrepreneurship.

Scott Resnick
Principal, Hardin Design and Development

Scott Resnick is a leader in the Wisconsin startup ecosystem. He is the former Executive Director and cofounder of StartingBlock Madison, a 50,000 sq foot entrepreneurial hub that connects startups to capital, mentorship, and technical expertise clustered in healthcare, mobility, risk and insurance, and social impact. Startups inside StartingBlock have proceeded to raise tens of millions of venture dollars. StartingBlock is a public-private partnership funded by the University of Wisconsin, City of Madison, State of Wisconsin, and Economic Development Administration. StartingBlock’s motto: “Think big. Fear less. Listen deeply.” In 2008, Scott co-founded Hardin Design & Development. He currently serves as the company’s Chief Operations Officer. Headquartered in Madison, the company has grown to an eight-figure revenue, building enterprise GIS and web applications for Fortune 500 clients. Resnick oversees business development, partnerships, and company operations. Scott is also a Senior Advisor to Biobot Analytics, a MIT spinout that uses wastewater epidemiology to create revolutionary public health insights. He is board member of Madison Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that owns and manages affordable housing and provides venture debt financing. Scott is a former two-term member of the City of Madison Common Council. He entered with a pledge to make Madison a platform for innovation, specifically targeting social mobility. Resnick led efforts to close the digital divide by piloting free internet access for students on free & reduced lunch, created the first of its kind $1.5 million seed fund to spur women and minority entrepreneurship, and legalized opportunities in the sharing economy.

Idella Yamben, Ph.D.
Director, Wisconsin Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC), University of Wisconsin System

Dr. Yamben is a Lean Startup mentor, a startup coach, and supports program development serving underrepresented communities in deep technology commercialization. She developed CTC’s virtual Lean Startup platform model used for both the Ideadvance and SBIR Advance programs, two programs supported by state and university partners. Dr. Yamben served as a national USDA SBIR reviewer and NIH I-Corps mentor. She leverages her scientific training and Lean Startup expertise to de-risk business model development with CTC clients. She also leads efforts to manage mentor training and networks that serve underrepresented groups within STEM fields. In addition, Dr. Yamben is responsible for CTC operational milestones and oversees outreach initiatives and training for targeted, underrepresented groups. Dr. Yamben completed a BS in biology from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from UW-Madison.