2024 Speakers

Meet leading innovation experts and thought leaders at the 2024 Edison Awards April 17-19, in Fort Myers, Florida.

We are pleased to announce a remarkable group of talented individuals, including visionaries, entrepreneurs, and researchers who will join us as speakers at the 2024 Edison Awards.

They will share their valuable knowledge and experiences to provided tested insights to inspire and enlighten.
Check back for additions to our distinguished speaker list.

Frank Bonafilia


Executive Director, The Edison Awards; Co-founder, Lewis Latimer Fellowship
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Frank Bonafilia

Frank Bonafilia is both the Executive Director of the Edison Awards and co-founder of Edison Universe, a non-profit organization focused on fostering the next generation of innovators. In 2020, Frank co-founded the Lewis Latimer Fellowship–a program that supports the advancement of Black Innovators through mentorship. Frank is a 25-year marketing executive with an award-winning career in financial services, advanced retail solutions and the successful development and launch of profitable new products and services. Early in his career Frank was involved with the Edison Awards when he managed the Sponsorship and Awards Division of the American Marketing Association. In that capacity, he was responsible for the Division’s overall profitability and extension of the Edison Awards brand, which is manifested in the Edison Awards’ current status as an independent organization. Frank holds an MBA from Saint Xavier University and a BA in International Communications from the University of Kansas. When he’s not working he enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife Anna watching their three children Franco, Dante and Gianna participate in sports and school activities.


Founder, Futurlogic Advanced Concepts; Co-founder Lewis Latimer Fellowship
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Jonathan Cropper

Jonathan Cropper is a respected luxury brand strategist, global creative director and futurist. Envisioneering and futurecrafting is his trade and passion.

Jonathan is the founder of Futurlogic Advanced Concepts, a highly confidential, business development, design, and branding studio.

Current areas of focus:

- Future of home-living
- Future of food
- Luxury 3.0
- Post-Covid, social impact entrepreneurship
- Immersive, interactive, content development

He has designed and implemented innovation strategies with the leadership of:

Aston Martin, Credit Suisse Private Bank, Airbus, Feadship, Sir David Adjaye, Four Seasons (Private Jet Program), Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, BIG Architects, S3 Architecture, ITV, Warner Bros / DC Comics, Hearst, Lockheed Martin, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Ralph Lauren, to name a few.

Futurlogic is also an agent representing Aston Martin Design, and is an experience design affiliate for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab at CalTech.

Most recently, Jon was the Head of Global Real Estate, Aviation & Marine Partnerships for Aston Martin Lagonda.

In this unique role, he was responsible for creating the overall strategy, alliance formation, and execution of the brand’s expansion into these new verticals.

Jon began his career at MTV: Music Television, where he helped design the business plans for MTV’s expansion into Asia, Latin America, and South Africa.

After MTV, he was recruited by cultural icon Quincy Jones, to serve as Director of Business Development for his media company at Time Warner. He was responsible for sourcing and evaluating all multimedia and new venture opportunities.

Jon later joined Nissan North America as Senior Manager, Head of Youth and Urban Communications (a new internal unit that he created). In this capacity, Jon was responsible for all youth, multicultural marketing, and strategic alliances for both the Nissan and Infiniti brands. Jon efficiently managed a $100 million annual budget, and oversaw the production of dozens of multimedia communications campaigns.

Jon was recognized by Brandweek Magazine as the “Best Marketer Under 40 in America” for his marketing innovations.

He was also the Chief Marketing Officer for Badboy Worldwide Entertainment Group, Sean “Diddy” Combs’ collection of companies. During his tenure, Jon was instrumental in developing partnerships with Estee Lauder (launched the "Unforgivable" fragrance that became the #1 men's fragrance in the U.S.), Sprint, and Diageo (designed the repositioning strategy for Ciroc Vodka, one of the biggest successes in recent spirits industry history).

Prior to his role at Badboy Worldwide, Jon was an Executive Creative Director and Senior Vice President at Young & Rubicam Brands, where he led diverse creative teams, and formed an advanced mobile media and communications think tank. He designed and executed numerous campaigns for clients such as Sony, Vodafone, Starbucks, Telefonica, Jaguar and AT&T.

Jon received his BA in International Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys travel, multimedia art, collecting first-edition magazines, beautiful architecture, and science fiction.


Director of the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence Program, Northwestern University
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Kristian Hammond

Kristian Hammond is the Bill and Cathy Osborn Professor of Computer Science at Northwestern University and the co-founder of the Artificial Intelligence company Narrative Science (recently acquired by Salesforce). He has spent most of his career focused on the problem of making machines smarter. His research is aimed at bridging the human/machine communication gap between the data we gather and the information that is locked within it.

Since the fall of 2016, he has been the faculty lead of Northwestern’s CS + X initiative, exploring how computational thinking can be used to transform fields such as the law, medicine, and education. He also directs Northwestern’s Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) as well as the Center for Advancing Safety of Machine Intelligence (CASMI). In January of 2023, he was named a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI).

He believes in humanizing computers with the aim of stopping the process of mechanizing people. Kris received his PhD from Yale.


Creative Director, MJPhD, llc,
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Mark Jones

A love of science and a passion for chemistry propelled a farm kid from Virginia to a satisfying industrial career. Mark Jones retired in March 2021 as Executive External Strategy and Communications Fellow for Dow Chemical, having spent a decade on the CTO’s staff. He retired with responsibility, among other things, for next generation sustainability goals associated with innovation at Dow.

Mark is currently Creative Director at MJPhD, llc, an independent consulting business. Mark consults about the chemical industry, improving communications, presentation of quantitative data, and topics related to science. He now writes a monthly column for Design World, writes science articles for a variety of outlets, and does the occasional graphic arts project. Mark volunteers time with the American Chemical Society, AIChE, and other professional organizations. He has also hosted webinars for the National Academies and other organizations. He continues to support the awards ecosystem, serving as a judge for the R&D 100s, Edison Innovation Awards and others. He frequently speaks at universities, both as a guest lecturer and as a keynote speaker.

Mark is a frequent contributor to the American Chemical Society, as previous chair of the Midland Local Section, writing for Industry Matters and, previously, Industry Voices, hosting webinars, currently serving on the Communications and Public Relations and National Historic Chemical Landmarks committees, and former Corporation Associates member. In 2017, he was named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, recognized for his commitment to communicating chemistry. Mark current serves on and is past co-chair of the National Academy’s Chemical Sciences Roundtable. He is a co-author on the recently released National Research Council reports on ARPA-E and “Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels in the United States”. Mark also volunteered his services in creating videos for the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment in 2020. Mark was a member of the Board of Directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) Industrial and Environmental Section, serving on Communications, Regulatory and other committees, and was an active member of the American Chemistry Council’s Biobased Chemistry Network. The White House’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership was a focus from 2013-15, looking both at technology options and improving scale-up of new technologies. He participated in a number of World Economic Forum events, leading discussions around energy and bioproducts. He chaired DOE review panels for the Office of the Biomass Program from 2007-2011 and continues to serve as a reviewer for DOE and other organizations. He supports awards that recognized scientific advancement.  He currently serves on the Edison Awards Steering Committee, served on the R&D 100 Steering Committee, and served or serves as a judge for BIO's Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology and Agriculture, ACS's Heroes of Chemistry, the SCI's Moore medal, the BIG Innovation Award, the R&D 100 Awards and a collection of Dow internal awards.  

Mark is a frequent keynote speaker.  His talks include multiple times at Chemicals America conferences, American Chemical Society national, regional and local meetings, the 2017 SATA conference,  AIChE national and local meetings, multiple R&D 100 conferences, American Association for the Advancement of Science National Meetings, the Edison Universe Meet the Innovators Forum, R&D 100 Conference, REFOCUS, American Center for Life-cycle Assessment, Sustainable Manufacturer, Plastics Recycling, National Academy events, and many universities.

Mark joined Dow in 1990 following a graduate career that had very little to do with his ultimate career path. He followed a degree from Randolph-Macon College with a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado-Boulder where he studied gas-phase ion molecule chemistry - not an area of great industrial interest. A post-doc at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science preceded coming to Dow. His early Dow career was spent in Catalysis, in what is now Core R&D. Mark discovered a family of catalysts useful for conversion of ethane directly to vinyl chloride, and other catalysts for both chlorocarbon chemistry and alkane activation. Moves to Performance Plastics, Hydrocarbons, Chemicals, Energy and Licensing R&D, Ventures and New Business Development and the Energy Storage Devices followed. Mark co-directed the Renewable Chemistries Expertise Center (RCEC) for over a decade. Mark touched many areas of technology, including experience in chemical processing, the processing of inorganic materials, fuel cell development for both stationary and portable power applications, battery materials, cellulosic conversion, polymer recycling, and broad technology exploration.  

Dr. Laurie

Director, Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA
2024 Edison Awards Speaker

Dr. Laurie Leshin

2024 Edison Achievement Award Honoree

Dr. Laurie Leshin, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since May 2022, is a distinguished geochemist and space scientist with extensive leadership experience in academia and government, including senior NASA positions.

Leshin was president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 2014 to 2022 and previously served as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science dean. At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center from 2005 to 2008, she served as director of science, then deputy director for science and technology, leading strategy, planning, and implementation of more than 50 Earth and space flight projects. In 2010, Leshin became deputy associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, overseeing future human spaceflight.

Her numerous honors include NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the Meteoritical Society’s Nier Prize for outstanding research by a scientist under the age of 35. The International Astronomical Union named asteroid 4922 Leshin to honor her planetary science contributions. Leshin advised President George W. Bush on space policy, and Barack Obama appointed her to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum advisory board. Leshin holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Arizona State University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from Caltech.

Leshin is the first woman to serve as JPL director, a role that also includes serving as Vice President at Caltech, which manages JPL for NASA. Leshin is also a Bren Professor of Geochemistry and Planetary Science at Caltech and will continue as co-investigator for two instruments on NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover.

Maughon, Ph.D.

CTO and CSO; Executive Vice President Sustainability, Technology & Innovation, SABIC
2024 Edison Awards Speaker

Bob Maughon, Ph.D.

Bob Maughon is the executive vice president, Sustainability, Technology & Innovation and Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer at SABIC.  He oversees a global organization with 20 research centers around the world and a talented team focused on driving process, product and application innovation to support SABIC’s growth agenda.  Additionally, Maughon has responsibility for Corporate Sustainability, Product Stewardship, Technology Licensing and Technology Ventures.

Dr. Maughon joins SABIC after a 21 year career at Dow, where he most recently served from 2013-2019 as the R&D vice president for Packaging & Specialty Plastics and Hydrocarbons at Dow.

Maughon serves as a board member of the University of Michigan Engineering Leadership Advisory Board and the AspenTech Executive Advisory Board.

He holds nine U.S. Patents and has numerous publications and presentations at external conferences.

Maughon earned his BA degree in chemistry from Rice University and his PhD in organic chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.


American Engineer, Retired NASA Astronaut
2024 Edison Awards Speaker

Leland Melvin

Leland is the only person drafted into the National Football League to have flown in space. The Pro Football Hall of Fame honored his athletic and academic accomplishments by placing his Detroit Lions jersey under glass in Canton, Ohio. Through these professional experiences working on high stakes teams he developed a deep and nuanced understanding of effective team dynamics.

Leland has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a Master’s degree in materials science engineering. He worked at NASA Langley Research Center in the area of nondestructive testing creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles, resulting in publications in numerous scientific journals. After hanging up his space boots he was appointed head of NASA Education and served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) Education Task Force developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan. Leland was the United States representative and chair of the International Space Education Board (ISEB), a global collaboration on learning about space. He uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer, and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) careers.

Leland holds four honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences and philanthropy. He was chosen as an ICON MANN with Quincy Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Steve Harvey and 24 other men selected for their ability to inspire people of all ages through their vision and commitment to creating positive change throughout the world. Leland has been honored with the NFL Players Association “Award of Excellence” for inspiring athletes to pursue excellence on and off the field. He has written a chapter on the power of visualization in Venus Williams’ book Come to Win. Leland has appeared on Top Chef as a celebrity judge and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman, while Cesar Milan helped him with his unruly pooch Jake on an episode of The Dog Whisperer. He was featured in a Sci Fi Channel program documenting the making of the Reach for the Stars will.i.am song, which was transmitted to Mars and back to inspire students to pursue STEAM. After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut and Senior Executive Service leader he looks to share his stories of perseverance and excellence to inspire communities for lasting positive change.

Leland’s unique travels and experiences have allowed him to create inspired imagery taken on and off planet. He enjoys viewing the beauty and magnitude of the earth through the lens of his camera and cherishes the experience of seeing our planet from space. This perspective is known to create an Orbital Shift that can change an individual’s attitude about how they see their place in the Universe. Leland’s image galleries; On Earth, From Space and In Space, showcase the beauty of our planet and the views that informed his own Orbital Shift. Hopefully these images of our planet, our Universe, and the human made structures inhabiting space will inspire you to help preserve our home.

Leland currently resides in Lynchburg, Virginia.


Board Member/Chairman of Leadership Compensation Committee, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
2024 Edison Awards Speaker

Jack Mollen

Jack Mollen is currently on the Board of Alexion Pharmaceuticals in New Haven, CT, and is Chairman of their Leadership and Compensation Committee. He is also a member of the Audit and Finance, and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committees. In May of 2016, Jack was elected as the 22nd Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), one of the top technology universities in America. In this role, he will ensure the Board is effective in its tasks of setting and implementing the University’s direction and strategy, and act as the primary Board Advisor to the President. He recently chaired the Presidential Search Committee at the University, and successfully brought in Dr. Laurie Leshin as the new President.

Jack retired from EMC Corporation in February, 2014, after serving since 1999 as the Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Special Advisor to the President. With revenues of $25 billion in 2014 and more than 70,000 employees worldwide, EMC is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service. Mollen lead EMC’s global Human Resource practice to ensure the availability of world-class talent to drive business success. His responsibilities included executive, leadership, and employee development, compensation and benefits, staffing, and all of the people-related aspects of acquisition integration. He reported to Joe Tucci, EMC’s Chairman and CEO. EMC has major operations in Massachusetts, where the company is headquartered, and in California, North Carolina, China, Egypt, India, Ireland, Israel, Russia, and Singapore, as well as sales and service centers in more than 80 countries.

In October of 2006, Mollen was recognized as “HR Executive of the Year” by Human Resource Executive magazine, which cited his role in building “a modern, responsive, strategy-focused HR team that plays an integral role in executing business goals."



Comedian, Television, and Radio Personality
2024 Edison Awards Speaker

Chuck Nice

Chuck Nice is a respected veteran of stand-up comedy with a rich history in entertainment. For years, Chuck has been busy making a name for himself across all mediums, including radio, television, and digital media. Recently, Chuck was delighted to deliver a TED Talk on the main stage of the Vancouver conference regarding the unintended consequence of future tech and human interaction. He is the co-host of Star Talk with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and the host of Brain Games on the Road on Disney+/Nat Geo. Chuck has also hosted How to Buy Like Mega Millionaire and Home Strange Home on HGTV, as well as appearing in Adam Sandler’s The Day Of, and many other film and TV projects. No matter how busy, Chuck still finds time to rock the stage most weekends in NYC.


Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Material Impact and Co-Lead, Investment Committee, Breakthrough Energy Ventures
2024 Edison Awards Speaker

Carmichael Roberts

Carmichael is co‐founder and managing partner of Material Impact, a fund that builds resilient technology companies developing products to solve real‐world problems using innovative materials. He is also the co‐lead of the investment committee at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a mission‐oriented group chaired by Bill Gates committed to creating and building companies that address climate change and the long‐term sustainability of the planet.

Prior to venture, as an entrepreneur, Carmichael built several successful companies that create innovative products by applying material science. His strategy as a venture investor is based on his successful career as an entrepreneur in materials innovation, blending a unique business model of licensing university technology and commercializing it through targeted partnerships with Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to his career as an investor, Carmichael co‐founded several ventures, in which he served as President and CEO or Chairman.

Prior to his entrepreneurial career, Carmichael worked in business development at GelTex Pharmaceuticals, acquired by Genzyme for $1.3 billion, and in new product and business development at Dow Chemical (formerly Union Carbide Corporation).

Elected to the Board of Trustees of Duke University in 2013, Carmichael currently serves as Vice Chairman. He was appointed to the Duke University Health System Board of Directors in 2017 and currently serves on the Audit and Compliance Committee.

Carmichael also serves on the boards for the Consumer Technology Association, WGBH, and Massachusetts General Hospital Physicians Organization. Carmichael was selected by the Aspen Institute to participate in the Finance Leaders Fellowship program as a senior leader in the venture capital industry.

Carmichael received his BS and PhD in organic chemistry from Duke University and completed his postdoctoral National Science Foundation fellowship at Harvard University. Carmichael also has an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.


President & COO, SpaceX
2024 Edison Awards Speaker

Gwynne Shotwell

2024 Edison Achievement Award Honoree

As President and COO of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell is responsible for day-to-day operations and for managing all customer and strategic relations to support company growth. She joined SpaceX in 2002 as Vice President of Business Development and built the Falcon vehicle family manifest to approximately 170 launches, representing more than $20 billion in business. Shotwell is a member of the SpaceX Board of Directors.

Prior to joining SpaceX, Shotwell spent more than 10 years at the Aerospace Corporation, holding positions in Space Systems Engineering, Technology, and Project Management. She was promoted to the role of Chief Engineer of an MLV-class satellite program, managed a landmark study for the Federal Aviation Administration on commercial space transportation, and completed an extensive analysis of space policy for NASA’s future investment in space transportation.

In addition to being included on Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, Shotwell was awarded the 2020 Von Karmen Wings award. In 2018 Shotwell was named the Satellite Executive of the Year and she was awarded the AIAA Goddard Astronautics Awards as well as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Ralph Coats Roe Medal. Fortune Magazine placed Shotwell at #42 on their list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2018 and Forbes named her #55 on their list of Power Women in 2019. Gwynne was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2020 and in 2019 was appointed to the National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group. In 2014, Shotwell was appointed to the United States Export Import Bank’s Advisory Committee and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Advisory Council. Shotwell was elected to the honorable grade of Fellow with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Through leadership in both corporate and external science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, Shotwell has helped raise over $1.8 million for STEM programs reaching thousands of students nationwide.

Shotwell received, with honors, her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, and serves on their board. She has authored dozens of papers on a variety of space related subjects.


CTO and VP, Innovation and R&D, Cargill
2024 Edison Awards Speaker

Florian Schattenmann

Florian Schattenmann is Cargill’s Chief Technology Officer and Vice President for Innovation and Research & Development (R&D). He oversees a global team that is driven by the vision of relentlessly creating value for Cargill and its customers via research, application and product development, and technical service support across agriculture, food, animal feed and bioindustrial markets. He also leads the Strategic Growth Business Accelerator, designed to accelerate and scale cross enterprise innovation- and science-driven strategic growth businesses. Current focus areas include alternative protein and human health technologies. Prior to joining Cargill in November 2018, Florian spent eight years at The Dow Chemical Company. His most recent role was Vice President for Performance Materials & Coatings R&D, where he led innovation across a diverse set of specialty businesses. Florian has also held leadership roles at SulphCo Inc. and GE-Bayer Silicones. Earlier in his career, Florian managed several research laboratories at GE’s Global Research Center. Florian is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, holds seven U.S. patents and has numerous publications. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards for Texas A&M AgriLife and College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the College of Science and Engineering at University of Minnesota, and the Department of Chemistry at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA and his Diplom Chemiker degree from the Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany. Florian and his family live in Golden Valley, MN. Besides spending time with his family, he loves playing the bass, road cycling and working out.

Dr. Rodney

Founder, Chief Scientist, Acesio Inc
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Dr. Rodney Sappington

Dr. Rodney Sappington is an innovation leader that has over 20 years of experience across AI/machine learning technologies in medical diagnostics, neurodegenerative disease, advanced manufacturing of nano materials. He was one of the first to develop and successfully deploy deep learning for early detection of high mortality cancers. His experience is a rare combination of high impact leadership across healthcare, digital transformation and AI Alignment.

He has led world-class teams, founded, and built companies, built AI/machine learning and software systems at scale, and has developed novel advanced manufacturing platforms for the optimization of nanomaterials.

He is currently co-PI leading a global team of AI engineers and cognitive neuroscientists attempting to solve the SuperAlignment problem one of the most important issues facing humanity today and perhaps ever.

He is formerly CEO of Epic Advanced Materials where he built the company from ground level up and designed machine learning and analytics synthesis of nano structures for targeted therapies using non-cytotoxic boron nitride nanotubes.

He has given presentations at the White House and at the Carter Center and has presented widely in the US and EU. He is an advocate for green technologies for environmental betterment.

Features of his background include:

• Medical diagnostics and medical devices

• Atomistic simulation and quantum level analyses of atomic and molecular dynamics

• AI-driven nanomaterial advanced manufacturing for aerospace, space-related zero gravity testing, composites and thermal fluids application

• SuperAlignment using active inference, deep learning and cognitive neuroscience frameworks that are focused on agent-based vulnerability and prosociality

• Machine learning and computer vision applications for in situ QA and automated synthesis processes.

• AI/machine learning in high-dimensional data that includes computational diagnostic imaging, PET-CT, CT, MRI.

• Principal Investigator for Machine Learning Driven - Novel Additively Manufactured Composite External Hypersonics development.

• Machine learning for Design of Experiments for nanomaterial and ceramic composite optimization for extreme environments

• NASA zero-gravity testing of pre-ceramics and 3-D printing capabilities for terrestrial applications

• Machine learning development for top pharma R&D

• Led cross-functional data science, machine learning research, business consulting and clinical teams for strategic product development and clinical trial optimization for top 20 pharmaceutical companies

• Led Covid-19 image classification and API development based on early diagnosis and cross-indication using data from Wuhan lab for accelerated treatment for high-risk patients

He has recently launched the Atomic Podcast that focuses on the Cambrian explosion of AI/machine learning at the intersection of pharma, DeSci, and deep tech.

Dr. Timothy C.

Co-Founder & Executive Director, Next Lab, Arizona State University
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Dr. Timothy C. Summers

Dr. Timothy C. Summers is a distinguished figure at the intersection of academia, innovation, and entrepreneurship. His groundbreaking research on hacker psychology, "How Hackers Think," offers a deep dive into the ingenious mindsets shaping technology. As the co-founder and co-leader of Arizona State University's Next Lab, Dr. Summers spearheads digital innovation, leveraging AI to address complex challenges. An accomplished entrepreneur, he has created innovations at the forefront of education technology, cybersecurity, and AI-driven healthcare solutions, notably in the early detection of diabetic blindness. While at ASU, Dr. Summers created ASU Pocket, a revolutionary digital wallet technology that enables learners to store their learning and skills as digital credentials that they own.

Previously serving as an executive advisor at Booz Allen Hamilton and a designer of security systems for the U.S. Department of Defense, Dr. Summers has a storied career marked by significant contributions to digital security and innovation. His work, recognized globally, spans academia and industry, fostering digital resilience and pioneering advancements in AI and cybersecurity ecosystems.

A dedicated member of the Leonardo/ISAST board, Dr. Summers frequently shares his insights on creativity, the hacker's mindset, and digital innovation worldwide. With a strong commitment to fostering innovation and lifelong learning, he is a vocal advocate for shaping a secure, innovative digital future. Dr. Summers hails from Jackson, Mississippi, and his academic journey has taken him from a B.S. at Elizabeth City State University, a Historically Black University, a M.S. from Carnegie Mellon University, to earning a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University.


Agronomist, US Sugar
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Gracelyn Byrd

Gracelyn Byrd is an agronomist at U.S. Sugar, a vertically integrated farming company in Clewiston, FL that produces sugarcane, sweet corn, and winter vegetables such as green beans, lettuce and other leafy greens. Her role involves designing experiments and conducting research to help U.S. Sugar’s farmers identify and implement data-driven solutions to agronomic problems. Byrd’s early career has been defined by her pursuit of valuable skill-building opportunities that set her apart from other young professionals in the agriculture industry.

After graduating from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, earning a B.S. in Agriculture with a concentration in Agribusiness Management, Byrd moved to Clewiston, FL in May 2017 to join Ag Technologies, LLC as a precision agronomist. She honored the company’s mission of creating an environment for growers to confidently identify, develop, implement, and maintain precision agriculture technology solutions on their farms. Byrd became a Certified Crop Advisor, a benchmark of professionalism for agronomists in North America, to strengthen her agronomic problem-solving skill set. She eagerly accepted the agronomist position with U.S. Sugar in 2019, recognizing it as an opportunity to combine her experience with precision agriculture technology and her agronomic skills to develop comprehensive solutions to enhance U.S. Sugar’s long-standing legacy of innovation, sustainability, and stewardship.

In addition to gaining professional experience, Byrd has been building her career through academics and leadership development programs. In 2022, she graduated from the University of Florida with her M.S. in Agronomy with a concentration in Agroecology and from the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s Emerging Leader Development Program. She is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. Her research will focus on characterizing spatial and temporal variability in Florida soils to determine their impact on the yield and quality of cropping systems.


Innovation & Strategy - Health, Safety, and Emergency Management, Black & Veatch

DiBella, MPE

Florida Secretary of Commerce; President & CEO, Enterprise Florida
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Laura DiBella, MPE

Laura DiBella serves as the Secretary of Commerce, the chief economic development agency charged with retaining and recruiting high-impact industries to the dynamic state's 67 counties.

A certified Maritime Port Executive, from November 2019 to July 2022, Laura served as the first-ever, full-time Executive Director of the Florida Harbor Pilots Association, the statewide organization that represents the ~100 most highly skilled mariners that navigate nearly all vessel traffic in and out of Florida's seaports. Charged to represent and further their mission as the “first responders of Florida’s Blue Economy”, she helped ensure the uninterrupted flow of commerce through Florida's 14 operating deepwater seaports while the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent supply chain crisis ravaged the world.

Previous to the Pilots, from 2014-2019, Laura served as the Executive Director of the Nassau County (Florida) Economic Development Board, as well as, Port Director for the Port of Fernandina, Ocean Highway and Port Authority of Nassau County (2017-2019). While serving both roles she oversaw a number of high-profile recruitment and expansion projects encompassing manufacturing, corporate headquarters, healthcare, and logistics, coupled with many millions in grant funding awards. She was also instrumental in the Federal Marine Highway designation awarded to the Port of Fernandina in 2019.

Laura’s earlier career expands across numerous industries, from manufacturing to marketing, in addition to being a Florida licensed Real Estate Broker for over 20 years – collectively of which delivers extensive experience that has helped her excel in her diverse roles and responsibilities to date.


Manager, 35 Mules
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Danielle Mousseau

Danielle is manager of 35 Mules, where she leads efforts to grow early-stage startups in the program and support Florida’s growing startup ecosystem. Danielle joined FPL in 2008, and has held various roles across the organization, including client and event management, product and email marketing, electric vehicle infrastructure project management and, most recently, economic development. In her previous roles, Danielle’s achievements include marketing efforts that earned second in the nation for email communications among utilities from J.D. Power for 2013. When FPL began growing its clean vehicle fleet, Danielle led and managed more than 70 charging station infrastructure projects across company service centers and offices. In economic development, she was named as one of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers in 2020. Danielle currently serves on the boards of Florida Venture Forum, Synapse, GrowFL’s Advisory Board and the Jupiter Police Foundation’s Advisory Board. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in strategic communication from the University of Minnesota. A native Floridian, born and raised in South Florida, Danielle currently resides in Tequesta, Florida.


Venture Partner, Eclipse Ventures
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Diana Zhou

Diana is a Venture Partner at Eclipse Ventures. Previously, Diana was the Senior Director of Global Business Development at Virgin Hyperloop and led the company’s go-to-market initiatives around the world to deploy and deliver hyperloop transportation projects through public-private partnerships with governments and private entities. Prior to joining Virgin Hyperloop, Diana was a management consultant at Oliver Wyman in New York, where she advised private sector companies and governments around the world on business and corporate strategies, risk and economic modeling, product development and market entry decisions, and strategic and regulatory trends. Previously, she was also a member of the Global Shapers community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. Diana holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and an MPA-International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School, where her focus was on the intersection of business, technology, and economic development. She received a grant from the Harvard Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation for her research on the development of an electric vehicle industry in China. She received her BA in Economics and International Studies from the University of Chicago.


President, Governments & Environment, Black & Veatch
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Mike Orth

Mike Orth is the president of the Governments and Environment market sector at Black & Veatch, which focuses on serving the needs of government clients at the federal, state and municipal level as well as the growing field of environmental services. During his 32 years with Black & Veatch, Mike most recently served as executive vice president and managing director of the company’s water business in the Americas, where he guided the company’s growth in supply, storage, treatment and conveyance. Mike was appointed to the Black & Veatch Board of Directors in August 2022.


Vice President of Economic & Business Development, Babcock Ranch
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Lucienne Pears

In her role as Vice President of Economic & Business Development, Lucienne strives to create a sustainable economy in Babcock Ranch. She grew up in rural upstate New York, graduated from Salisbury University on Maryland's eastern shore studying environmental science and urban planning. Living in SW Florida since 2002, Lucienne spent nearly a decade consulting on land development projects. In 2009 Lucienne shifted her focus to economic development, committed to improving the lives and opportunities of residents. During her years in Charlotte County’s EDO, Lucienne was recognized twice (2017 & 2018) as one of the Top 50 Economic Developers in North America by Consultant Connect, a consortium of site selection consultants, economic developers, and industry CEOs. She has also been honored as a Person to Watch by Florida Trend magazine. Under Lucienne’s leadership, the EDO secured several key-commitments: the sale of Murdock Village, over $2 billion in capital investment in Charlotte County, and over $3.2 million in grant funding for infrastructure improvements to support economic development. Since joining Kitson & Partners in 2018, Lucienne has been a key teammate in attracting projects and funding to Babcock Ranch, including securing $7M in funding from the FL legislature for the construction of a regional emergency shelter. In addition to attracting primary employers to create jobs in keeping with the Babcock Ranch vision for sustainability, Lucienne also works to support and grow the existing business community and focuses on long term strategies to keep Babcock Ranch at the cutting edge of Innovation.


Principal Solution Architect, Pure Storage<
2023 Edison Awards Speaker

Thomas Stutesman

Thomas Stutesman started his career in technology in 1978 when a local business contacted his high school to see if anyone in the computer club could help them with a system problem. Tom solved the problem and received payment for his work. That was the start of his technology consulting career. Throughout his career he has held various engineering, product management, marketing and sales engineering leadership roles. He has performed technology engagements with 90 of the Fortune 100 companies. His most rewarding roles have been working with youth and community service. As an officer in the Civil Air Patrol, he coached and mentored the CyberPatriot program, which is a national cyber defense competition for Middle and High school students. The teams he worked with won state and regional competitions, including going to the National Championships beating out over 5000 other groups. For over 20 years he coached and refereed youth soccer. He also launched a traveling soccer program that grew from a few teams to over 100 in just three years. When he retired from the program he had coached over 2000 games and refereed nearly 1000 games. In the area of community service he was an elected official in his community serving 22 years as a trustee. In that time frame he helped raise bonds to purchase over 1000 acres to create open space and parks. He also worked on restoring hundreds of acres of land to natural wetlands which greatly improved water quality. In Business Thomas’ area of expertise is in Applications, Database analytics and performance. In the 1980’s he launched a data analytics company which focused on consumer buying patterns. After several years of successful profitable operation it was acquired. He then took a role focusing on sales of marketing of the tools he helped create. He has managed the creation of several products that drove over 1 Billion Dollars of revenue each. He specialized in pre-IPO organizations helping them determine marketing, product and sales strategies. One company, Powersoft, he managed Global Field Marketing and worked on the merger with Sybase in 1994 for 940 Million. He has held technical marketing leadership roles at Informix (Acquired by IBM), StorageTek-Sun (Aquired by Oracle). At NetApp he was hired to manage the technical partner relationship with IBM, he helped drive over 100 Million is partner sales his first year. At Hitachi he helped form the Converged Solution Organization and managed solution development, technical sales and marketing. This group grew from zero revenue to 250 Million annual revenue in 24 months. He then transitioned to focusing on database technologies becoming the Global Expert on Database for all of Hitachi. Creating numerous tools and integrations his engineering teams were always on schedule and under budget. Presently he is working with Pure Storage where he is the Principal Solution Architect in the office of the CTO. His daughter is a graduate of The United States Air Force Academy and an active duty Captain. His son is a cybersecurity specialist in the United States Airforce. His wife, business partner and High School Prom date make their home in Florida.