Steering Committee

Senior executives with diverse marketing, scientific, and business backgrounds serve on the Edison Awards Steering Committee.

Current Members

This distinguished group aids in the selection of our Edison Awards winners and Edison Achievement Award honorees, and provides guidance and oversight for other Edison Universe initiatives.

Andrew Banks

Andrew Banks

Founder, Talent2 International, and Shark, Shark Tank Australia
Steering Commitee Biography

Andrew Banks

Founder, Talent2 International, and Shark, Shark Tank Australia

Currently, Andrew Banks is mostly engaged in venture capital and investing in the digital, biotech and start-up sectors in Australia and the USA through his family office, The Veneto Group.

Andrew was one of the ‘Sharks’ on the television series Shark Tank Australia. An Australian entrepreneur, investor, film producer and talent & learning expert, Andrew began his career as an actor. His core business activities have been involved with building and growing companies in the recruiting, training and HR outsourcing space.

Together with Geoff Morgan, Andrew founded Morgan & Banks in early 1985 and grew the company to become the dominant recruitment force in Australia and Asia with a 17% market share before merging with TMP/Monster.com in 1999. In 2005 Andrew launched Talent2 International, which focused on HR Outsourcing and Executive Search and Selection, with a team of 1,600 professionals operating in 20 countries; it was acquired by the Allegis Group in 2014.

Andrew also focuses on advising clients around senior executive talent and Board appointments; he is a US Film Producer as Lila 9th Founder (Syrup/Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter) and an investor in a few “start-ups” leading to involvement in Shark Tank Australia on Network TEN.

Jim Behmke

James Behmke

Founder, Behmke Innovation Group LLC; Founder and CEO of Behmke Ventures LLC
Steering Commitee Biography

James Behmke

Founder, Behmke Innovation Group LLC; Founder and CEO of Behmke Ventures LLC

James Behmke is an expert in innovation. With 20 years of experience as a patent attorney, after establishing and leading Intellectual Property departments for national law firms, James left the traditional model to establish Behmke Innovation Group LLC, a successful national IP boutique, to better service his clients with his time-tested team of attorneys and staff. James is also the Founder and CEO of Behmke Ventures LLC, where he spends his efforts pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors, including advising, investing in, and founding or co-founding a number of different innovative companies, as well as becoming an award-winning patented inventor himself. James is a long-time steering committee member of the Edison Awards (awarding the most innovative products of each year), has been a mentor to several incubators such as MassChallenge, Propellant Labs, and others, and is frequently invited to give presentations on Intellectual Property and entity formation. Additionally, James is a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEC) and is a member of the C-Suite Network’s Hero Club. James earned his Executive Masters in Business Administration (eMBA) from Smartly Institute (now Quantic School of Business and Technology), his Juris Doctorate (JD) from Franklin Pierce Law Center (now the University of New Hampshire School of Law), and his electrical engineering Bachelors of Science (BS EE) degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). James is also a licensed real estate broker (in Massachusetts) and investor.

Shravan Bharadwaj

Shravan Bharadwa

Manager, New Enclosure Technologies, Apple, Inc.
Steering Commitee Biography

Shravan Bharadwa

Manager, New Enclosure Technologies, Apple, Inc.

Shravan Bharadwaj works with new enclosure technologies, novel materials and processes at Apple. He has worked as a lead in technical manufacturing operations, successfully launching several of Apple’s flagship products. Shravan also invented several advanced manufacturing processes, using robotics and smart automation to drive technical innovation in high-volume manufacturing.

Previously, Shravan worked in design engineering in the United States, India and Japan. His research work focused on smart materials, dynamic systems and mechatronics.

Shravan received his Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Technology from National Institute of Technology, Trichy, India. He is a hobby artist and enjoys conceptual art, sketching and digital creativity.

Sandhiprakash Bhide

Sandhiprakash Bhide

President, Anwaya Consulting LLC
Steering Commitee Biography

Sandhiprakash Bhide

President, Anwaya Consulting LLC

Sandhiprakash (Sandhi) Bhide serves as the President of Anwaya Consulting LLC which specializes in Internet of Things and Digital Transformation. Sandhi is a cofounder, investor, and board director of FleetNurse, Inc., a healthcare services company, serves as the Director of Oregon Executive MBA Consulting Corps which helps local startups and non-profit organizations to launch new businesses, and also CEO of Balak Drishti (Child Vision), a startup that focuses on making good quality, low cost, durable glasses available at a minuscule cost for children of the financially challenged families in the developing countries. Prior to these roles, Sandhi served as the CEO of a stealth bio startup that was involved in a SARS-CoV-2 detection and mitigation and also served as the Senior Director of Innovation/CTO/GM of an internal IOT platform startup at Intel where he led the development of three highly innovative IOT platforms. He is an inventor of world’s first true smart light bulb with sensor, compute, communication, management, and security capabilities – all in one end node and has patents to his name. Sandhi is passionate about strategy, technology, and innovation. He has 40+ years of experience and is recognized as an innovator/visionary in leading the strategy, development, implementation of new, innovative and profitable products and businesses. His recent focus areas are: IOT and smart (cities, lighting, homes, buildings, retail, offices, healthcare, industrial, energy etc.), wearable and ambient computing, smart/advanced sensors, and developing technology for most common problems facing the mankind.

Sandhi has BE in Electronics and Telecommunication from University of Pune, India specializing in Computer Technology, MS in Computer Science from University of Wyoming specializing in computer vision, AI, and robotics,, and Executive MBA in strategic management from University of Oregon. He is a sought out speaker at many IOT conferences worldwide and holds several patents in IOT and high tech. He is a founder, coordinator, singer of “Soor Aur Saptak™” (Notes and Octave) Bollywood Music Charity Group which has raised over $350,000+ in the last ten years for the Seva Foundation (Berkeley, CA) to help restore eyesight to thousands of blind/visually impaired/financially disadvantaged pediatric patients in rural India through six eye hospitals. During leisure times, Sandhi loves hiking, photography, writing short stories, and travel.

Frank Bonafilia

Frank Bonafilia

Executive Director, The Edison Awards
Steering Commitee Biography

Frank Bonafilia

Executive Director, The Edison Awards

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.

Stephen H. Carr

Stephen H. Carr

Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University
Steering Commitee Biography

Stephen H. Carr

Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University

Steve Carr, recently appointed professor emeritus from Northwestern University, was co-director of its Master of Product Design and Development Management degree program. He is developing coursework related to materials selection as an indispensable part of product design and development.

Professor Carr’s career has involved teaching in materials science and engineering, research on polymer solids and fluids, and serving for 23 years as the dean of undergraduate engineering at Northwestern.

His research program made important contributions to: 1) the effects of processing on structure/property relationships in flexible or rodlike polymers and their alloys, 2) the origins of piezoelectricity in polymers, 3) structure/ property relationships in electronically conducting polymers, 4) fracture toughness in semicrystalline polymers, 5) mechanochemical processes in pulverizing plastics, and 6) network polymers, especially those found in epoxy resins or in human gallstones.

His leadership in engineering education at Northwestern lead to a substantial reorientation of the educational experience for its students. Recently he has done scholarship and sponsored research centered on attaining a deeper understanding of how engineering students learn and grow themselves.

Jonathan Cropper

Founder, Futurlogic Advanced Concepts
Steering Commitee Biography

Jonathan Cropper

Founder, Futurlogic Advanced Concepts

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.

Maria De Capua

Maria De Capua

Porex Filtration Group Vice President, Biomedical Sciences
Steering Commitee Biography

Maria De Capua

Porex Filtration Group Vice President, Biomedical Sciences

Maria De Capua, MT (ASCP), is the vice president commercial at Porex, a Filtration Group company, with more than 35 years’ experience serving the laboratory business and medical industry. She has held many senior leadership positions at Porex and is responsible with helping drive Porex’s commercial strategy for the Liquid Handling business. Maria began her career as a medical technologist in hematology and diagnostics at the former Doctor’s Hospital in New York City and later held various sales and management positions at the former American Hospital Supply Corp and Porex. Maria is also a member of the University of South Florida Muma College of Business Digital Marketing Advisory Board.

Eric Egnet

Eric Egnet

Founder, CEO of Trendigm
Steering Commitee Biography

Eric Egnet

Founder, CEO of Trendigm

Eric Egnet is a seasoned executive, business strategist, senior technologist, and visionary innovator with over 28 years in executive management and senior leadership roles. He works across different industries helping companies to grow successfully, transform, and innovate their businesses. He is an operating partner, thought leader, and speaker cited in several leading journals and was named one of the top 100 Social CIOs for three consecutive years by the Huffington Post.

Eric is an accomplished entrepreneur and pre-seed investor and currently serves as a CXO executive for several emerging technology companies worldwide. He has spoken domestically and internationally on emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT, cybersecurity, sky computing, and fintech.

As a C-Level officer of early-stage startups, mid-market, and large-market companies, Eric has been part of many successful business exits and double-digit M&A transactions. He has led and strategically diversified businesses, developed and implemented innovative technologies, and participated in several funding rounds. Eric has created competitive advantages, driven sales & marketing, launched new businesses, established strong partnerships, scaled operations, and was crucial in helping one company go public successfully.

He is the founder and CEO of Trendigm, an innovation & strategy consultancy and pre-seed-level private equity firm with investments in a growing portfolio of emerging technology, disruptive innovation, and deep tech companies in the following industries: Robotics, Healthcare, Fintech, Life Sciences, Global Procurement & Supply Chain, Blockchain, Personalized Nutrition, and Ultra-Luxury.

Eric is a team-oriented business builder with proven expertise in developing, growing, and scaling organizations through strategy, innovation, transformation, and execution. He has a solid track record for providing strong business leadership, management, and creative direction. He has a keen understanding of applying tactical business and innovative technology strategies to create new business offerings, advanced capabilities, market differentiation, and competitive advantages.

Eric started his career in computer operations and software development at Borden Inc., a 7-billion-dollar global manufacturing conglomerate. He designed and developed significant business applications and systems for the company and was promoted twice over five years.

He was pursued and recruited into healthcare by a search firm. In the ensuing years, he rapidly became more strategic, innovation-driven, and business-focused, holding C-Level Executive and Chief Information Officer positions for several very successful growth companies.

He served as EVP and CIO of Cross Country Healthcare, the nation’s largest Travel Nursing company. After initially joining and helping grow TravCorps, the industry founder, a 35-million dollar privately held company, it was purchased by Morgan Stanley five years later for 115-million dollars. TravCorps and Cross Country Staffing then merged later that year same year, creating Cross Country Healthcare. The company went public two years late, and Eric helped the combined Boston MA / Boca Raton FL company align technologically, operationally, and culturally. He then helped lead, scale, and diversify Cross Country Healthcare to become a 650-million dollar company and the industry’s technology innovation leader.

Eric then launched a successful healthcare media company and an independent management consultancy for Boston-based venture capital firms. He served as an operating partner and CIO for Millenium Pharmacy, a venture-backed company in robotics pharmacy automation. He helped Millenium expand and grow its technology, operations, and team during his tenure, doubling its client base and raising fifteen million dollars in a new funding round.

After successfully selling his companies, Eric started a Healthcare IT company with former executive business partners from TravCorps. This company grew and became Vitalize Consulting, which helped U.S. hospitals implement major clinical electronic medical record (EMR) systems from multiple commercial vendors nationwide. Vitalize grew to six hundred and fifty consultants and was acquired six years later by SAIC, a 17-billion-dollar national security and defense company, for two-hundred-million dollars.

Eric then became President, COO, and CIO of MSI Global Transformation Solutions, a private company with international offices across all regions of the globe, providing immigration, compensation, tax, global mobility, domestic relocation, talent management, technology services, and global expansion services worldwide. He helped create, lead, and scale an array of MSI domestic and international businesses. Eric drove significant business and technological advancements and introduced global consulting services in his tenure of over eight years while establishing strong industry partnerships and managing a client portfolio of multinational companies that included: Apple, Visa, British Telecom, iRobot, Adidas, Lockheed Martin, and more.

Eric possesses an in-depth understanding and action-oriented mentality for what it takes to set, execute, and achieve aggressive business goals and objectives. Eric has a proven ability to develop, coach, and lead action-oriented teams of highly skilled individuals to work together to achieve business results. He is a creative and strategic “outside the box” thinker, leader, and entrepreneur with the vision, commitment, desire, and passion for successfully driving and accomplishing business growth plans.

Dr. Christine Gulbranson

Dr. Christine Gulbranson

CEO, Christalis
Steering Commitee Biography

Dr. Christine Gulbranson

CEO, Christalis
David Holly

David Holly

Senior Business Development Executive
Steering Commitee Biography

David Holly

Senior Business Development Executive

David Holly is a Senior Business Development Executive with over 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors. Additionally, he has worked with several entrepreneurial ventures to commercialize innovations and technologies in the financial services, healthcare, and information services industries.

David’s an implementation specialist that works collaboratively with founders, investors, and corporate venture teams to design and manage a commercial program office to provide the essential building blocks for new venture success related to product/service delivery, client acquisition, and capital funding.

David obtained his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Northwestern University and his Bachelors of Science degree in Finance from DePaul University.

In 2009, David founded Triunity Inc., a Consulting and Management Services Company, to pursue his passion for strategy, business model design, and entrepreneurial ventures. As President and CEO of Triunity Inc., he worked with a wide range of clients to design and implement strategies and programs that enhance service delivery, revenue generation and returns on technology investments. Recognizing the need to grow beyond the single consulting and advisory services model, David partnered with Quadrant Management Consulting, a Management Services Company specializing in technology and IP commercialization. At Quadrant, he manages a portfolio of clients and venture partner relationships. He’s the founder of Centric Learning Solutions LLC, an eLearning portfolio company featuring innovative online education and collaboration technology.

David served as a Managing Principal at EKI-Digital, a Chicago-based mid-tier technology consulting firm. At EKI-Digital, he managed large enterprise IT initiatives in the public sector. He was responsible for implementing a project management office, identifying IT talent to staff, managing software and application delivery across a diverse vendor portfolio. David excels at managing stakeholder relationships, setting leadership expectations, and achieving project time and budget objectives. In this capacity, he generated over $20MM in new business over three years by engineered deals for IT Outsourcing, Enterprise Program Management Offices, and Technology Consulting. Before joining EKI, David was a Vice President/General Manager at ADP in the Dealer Services Division. He was responsible for a strategic initiative focused on developing a market for payroll and HR services in the automotive dealer channel. In this capacity, he was instrumental in structuring inter company deals that leveraged ADP Employee Services Division’s existing product and services capabilities. David’s efforts resulted in new business revenues of $5MM per annum with existing clients of the Dealer Services Division.

Before ADP, David was Vice President and COO for Aon Data Solutions (ADS), a strategic venture focused on providing outsourced data integration and business intelligence to Aon’s institutional clients. In this role, he successfully negotiated the divesture of the ADS business to ADP Corporation by engineering a deal to have ADS partner with ADP to win a multi-million contract with a local government entity to provide data integration and management services.

David spent most of his career in the financial services industry with JP Morgan Chase, formerly Bank One Corporation. During a successful 17-year career, he acquired a broad base of experience while serving in various roles ranging from foreign exchange trading to managing eBusiness development. David developed a reputation as a “corporate intrapreneur” through a series of leadership roles with several successful upstart business initiatives.

He was a pioneer in establishing the first institutional marketing department in the Corporate Bank. After the First Chicago and Bank One merger, he was assigned to build and manage its institutional marketing and training function for the Treasury Services Group, a $1.5 billion revenue division. He left his marketing role in the Treasury Services Group to create and lead an eBusiness development team to leverage rapidly emerging eCommerce technologies that were changing the landscape of the financial services industry. In this capacity, he successfully engineered deals to acquire and deploy eCommerce technologies and business models around the bank’s established Government, Mid, and Large Corporate, institutional client segments.

David Hurst

David Hurst

Founder and CEO, Orbital Transports
Steering Commitee Biography

David Hurst

Founder and CEO, Orbital Transports

David has been a technology entrepreneur for most of his career. He has over 30 years of experience as a software engineer, managing software development teams, developing complex systems and delivering products. He has consulted with venture capital firms and advanced technology start-ups, performing technical due diligence and business strategy assessments. In 2013, he left the IT industry to follow his passion for space exploration. David founded Orbital Transports to develop the space logistics and orbital infrastructure technologies needed for the emerging space resources economy, and ultimately to support human settlement of the Solar System. As an advocate of space-related and space-scalable businesses, he also founded the NewSpace Chicago community of space entrepreneurs and others engaged in building commercial space ventures in Chicago. Prior to Orbital Transports, LLC, he founded multiple successful technology companies, including Athena Security, Inc., a network security company, which was acquired by SolarWinds in 2012. He has received 4 patents. He graduated from Northwestern University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Mark E. Jones

Mark E. Jones

Executive External Strategy and Communications Fellow (Retired), The Dow Chemical Company
Steering Commitee Biography

Mark E. Jones

Executive External Strategy and Communications Fellow (Retired), The Dow Chemical Company

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 a frequent contributor to the American Chemical Society, as previous chair of the Midland Local Section, writing for Industry Matters, 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.

Sandra Kauanui

Sandra Kauanui

Director, Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship; Professor of Entrepreneurship, Florida Gulf Coast University
Steering Commitee Biography

Sandra Kauanui

Director, Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship; Professor of Entrepreneurship, Florida Gulf Coast University

Dr. Sandra Kauanui is the Director of the Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Florida Gulf Coast University. Dr. Kauanui created the curriculum for the Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Major and Minor at FGCU along with her team. Due to the success of Entrepreneurship at FGCU, she also planned and executed the Runway Program Incubator that helps students from across campus to start and build their businesses while pursuing their degree.

Dr. Kauanui received her doctorate in Organizational Behavior with a secondary degree in Entrepreneurship from The George Washington University and has an MBA from William & Mary University. Dr. Kauanui joined Florida Gulf Coast University in September 2007. Prior to Dr. Kauanui’s current appointment, she was at the College of Business at California State Polytechnic University for eight years. When leaving the University in 2007, she was awarded Emeritus status. Before becoming an academic, Dr. Kauanui started and ran her own successful business for twenty years. The business, which employed up to forty employees, provided financial, strategic planning and accounting services to entrepreneurial firms.

Dr. Kauanui is an active researcher, keynote speaker and workshop presenter and has authored and co-authored over eighty publications in her academic career primarily in Entrepreneurship. She has been an invited guest speaker in the US, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Israel, and Romania.

Ashley Maher

Chief Executive Officer, Charlotte Community Foundation
Steering Commitee Biography

Ashley Maher

Chief Executive Officer, Charlotte Community Foundation

Ashley Maher joined the Charlotte Community Foundation in March 2017 as the Director of Development and Marketing. Shortly after in 2018, Maher served as the Interim Executive Director was named the new ED in August. The following year, Maher became Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation.  Maher tripled the assets of CCF in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to provide significant year over year growth in assets while working through Hurricane Irma, the 2022 tornadoes, Hurricane Ian and Nicole.

Maher previously served as the Director of Marketing with Unity Medical in Port Charlotte.  Prior to that served in a variety of employed roles for the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, notably in the Volunteer Coordinator and Public Relations positions where she developed an extensive volunteer program for the over 600 unduplicated monthly volunteers and increased awareness and donations for the mission of the organization.

Maher has a history of previously serving on various nonprofit boards such as, The United Way of Charlotte County, Fred Lang Foundation, Senior Friendship Centers and O.C.E.A.N. Currently Maher serves as a trustee for Fawcett Memorial Hospital and as a Board member for, Gulf Coast Partnership- Vice Chair, Peace River Housing Community Partners- Vice Chair, Babcock Neighborhood Schools Advisory Committee, Charlotte Technical College, Community Organizations Active in Disaster, Co-Chair, Charlotte County Long-Term Recovery Steering Committee, Treasurer, City of Punta Gorda Charter Review Committee, Vice-Chair and the Economic Development Partnership of Charlotte County.

Maher is the loving mother of two young boys, Noah and Tanner. She enjoys volunteering and creating new experiences for her family, playing flag football and snowboarding in her spare time.

Rob Manes

Rob Manes

Vice President, Edison Universe Board; Director of Business Development, Edison Awards
Steering Commitee Biography

Rob Manes

Vice President, Edison Universe Board; Director of Business Development, Edison Awards
Kevin McGinnis

Kevin McGinnis

President and Chief Executive Officer, Keystone Community Corporation
Steering Commitee Biography

Kevin McGinnis

President and Chief Executive Officer, Keystone Community Corporation

Kevin McGinnis is leading the Keystone Community Corporation, a nonprofit organization leading the effort to build an innovation district in Kansas City, MO. Built on the tenets of placemaking, community development, urban revitalization and inclusive prosperity, the Keystone Innovation District will serve as a catalyst for economic growth in the Midwest. Home to regional anchor institutions, corporate innovators and entrepreneurs, the district itself will be a “living laboratory” bringing the future of the built environment, mobility solutions and connected communities to life through collaborative scale of the research and innovation community.

Prior to taking on a long-term economic development project like Keystone, Kevin served as the chief executive officer of Pinsight Media, a big data and mobile advertising subsidiary of Sprint. He was also founder and managing executive of the Sprint Accelerator, a corporate accelerator and entrepreneurial center located in Kansas City’s Crossroads District. In his 20-year career at Sprint, Kevin has performed in a multitude of functions at various stages of new and emerging businesses – ranging from long distance in the 90s, to Sprint’s partnerships with cable companies, early product innovation leveraging the Internet to its current venture in wireless. His last role prior to leading the spin out of Pinsight Media was as vice president of product where he oversaw all of Sprint’s product platforms and operations. This range of experience has established Kevin as a thought leader in the communications and digital industry.

Hari Nair

Chief Design Strategist, Design for Winning LLC and Professor, Savannah College of Art and Design
Steering Commitee Biography

Hari Nair

Chief Design Strategist, Design for Winning LLC and Professor, Savannah College of Art and Design

Hari Nair is a design leader with a global footprint and extensive experience in academia and corporate design practice. He provided visionary design leadership for major corporations and has built communities of practice, establishing design studios around the world, recruiting talent in US, Europe and Asia.

Over 15 years at Whirlpool Appliances, he was able to develop unique methodologies for generating innovative concepts for home appliances of the future. He founded the Advanced Design team in Chicago and was instrumental in the development of several product concepts, highly successful in the market and setting up an innovation road map. One of the Washing Machines (ACE) introduced in the Asian market won the Edison Awards (Silver) in 2009. He was the Chief Design Officer for Whirlpool China based in Shanghai, until 2017.

He is currently CEO and thought leader at Design for Winning LLC providing design strategy services for start-ups and large corporations. Design for Winning LLC became a member of the World Design Organization (WDO) in 2019 and Hari Nair was a key note speaker at the World Design Organization Assembly in Hyderabad in October of that year. Hari also Jury member of various design and innovation competitions such as Spark Awards, Asia Pacific Design Competition (APDC) and Edison Awards.

Hari Nair is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and Syracuse University, New York with Masters degrees in Industrial Design. He has a pioneering role in design and innovation in the corporate and academic contexts. He initiated computer graphics and digital media integration in the design curriculum at the University of Cincinnati, Rhode Island School of Design and Emerson College, over the years. This integration led to the development of new programs and curricula in Digital Media, Interaction Design and Computer Aided Design, at these institutions cutting across Product Design, Architecture and Media Studies. His design and digital visualization for a Newsstand for the City of New York won the Worldesign88 award instituted by the Mayor of the City, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA)

Hari is a world citizen having spent substantial periods in the US, Asia, Europe and South America. He has a global family with kids living in New York, Amsterdam, Hefei (China) and Santa Caterina (Brazil). He currently shuttles between his homes in Orlando and Savannah and enjoys travel, social work, golf and fishing.

Clinton O. Robinson

Clinton O. Robinson

Associate Vice President, Black & Veatch Corporation
Steering Commitee Biography

Clinton O. Robinson

Associate Vice President, Black & Veatch Corporation

Clint is the father of three publicly educated girls; a recovering school board member; and a registered professional engineer in a global engineering corporation. Individually none of these accomplishments are significant but in concert they are a powerful force towards better connecting education and business.

Clint is the great grandson of one of the first three professors at the University of Kansas teaching Greek and Latin back in 1865. He is also the great grandson of an attorney that made elixir in his basement and founded the Burma Vita Corporation. This company was responsible for one of the most successful advertising campaigns with roadside jingles for the first brushless shaving cream, Burma Shave. It is not surprising then that Mr. Robinson has dedicated himself to finding ways to improve education and how we sell it.

While serving on the Blue Valley School District School Board he helped create and implement the successful Center for Advance Professional Studies (CAPS) which revolutionized how business and education work together for a common goal. Now while providing thought leadership in his industry to the US Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities he is never very far away from the topic of how to create jobs, fill the pipeline, and change the landscape of education forever. His motto is “learn to teach” which means 1) if you can teach it then you know it and 2) there is no value in learning something if you are not willing to teach it to someone else.

Thomas Stutesman

Principal Solution Architect, Pure Storage
Steering Commitee Biography

Thomas Stutesman

Principal Solution Architect, Pure Storage

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.

Chris Vazzana

Chris Vazzana

CEO/Entrepreneur
Steering Commitee Biography

Chris Vazzana

CEO/Entrepreneur

Chris is an entrepreneur who previously held the position of President/CEO of Hydra-Stop where he oversaw all management including Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Engineering, Quality, Marketing and Sales. Prior to joining Hydra-Stop in 2013 as Vice President/General Manager, Chris has held numerous executive positions with Fortune 500 companies in Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Asian Operations, Lean and Strategy. Chris’s most recent position was the Vice President of Lean Operations and Corporate Director of Supply Chain at Klein Tools. Chris has a Mechanical Engineering degree from University of Illinois and graduated from GE’s Corporate Management and Six Sigma training programs. Chris enjoys the process of invention and has several US Patents.

Diana Zhou

Diana Zhou

Venture Partner, Eclipse Ventures
Steering Commitee Biography

Diana Zhou

Venture Partner, Eclipse Ventures

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.

Emeritus Members

Kenneth D. Gray

Kenneth D. Gray

Director Emeritus, Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired; President, Gray Ventures, LLC; Member, Bradley University Mechanical Engineering Alumni Advisory Council
Steering Commitee Biography

Kenneth D. Gray

Director Emeritus, Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired; President, Gray Ventures, LLC; Member, Bradley University Mechanical Engineering Alumni Advisory Council

Award-Winning Innovator, Product & Operations Executive, Entrepreneur, Strategist, Leader, Explorer, Listener, Mentor and Coach, Peoria, Illinois USA

Ken is an internationally recognized innovator and product & operations executive who launched Caterpillar’s first hybrid construction machine, regarded as one of the ten most innovative products in the iconic brand’s 90-year history. In addition to receiving a Caterpillar Chairman’s Award for Innovation, Ken is an Edison Award winner and has earned a Platts Global Energy Award and an International Construction Economic Forum Equipment Innovation Award—all Caterpillar firsts. Ken’s contributions to sustainability have been recognized with CALSTART’s coveted “Blue Sky Award,” as the “Top Product of the Year” by Environmental Leader, and by an Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award. Ken’s product management leadership was honored with a Caterpillar Chairman’s Award for Continuous Improvement, as a five time finalist for the Caterpillar Chairman’s Quality Award, numerous times on the annual Construction Equipment Top 100 New Products list, by Diesel Progress with their “Excellence in Design Award,” and by Better Roads with a “Top 10 Roll-Outs” Award recognizing the best product marketing launches in the construction equipment industry. He and his team were honored to receive a 2015 Chicago Innovation Award and were featured in Forbes, Inc., Crain’s Business, and Fast Company.

In April, 2017, Ken was appointed Chairman of the Board of FIT America Inc., a subsidiary of the FIT Additive Manufacturing Group, to extend FIT’s European success to North America. With over 20 years of experience, FIT is the world’s premiere resource for additive design and manufacturing (ADM) and is arguably the worlds largest 3D printer of metals. FIT begins with a low cost partnership or alliance to quickly assess and immediately leverage a client’s ADM opportunities. Then the relationship deepens, perhaps through a joint venture, to fully integrate ADM into a client’s operations. Finally, FIT divests when the client is ready to take flight. FIT’s proven business model reduces a client’s ADM learning curve by years, perhaps even decades, and leaves them fully capable of reaping ADM’s extraordinary potential.

The majority of Ken’s career focused on serving Caterpillar customers, dealers, employees, and shareholders around the world with assignments in North America, Asia, and Europe. He held positions with diverse areas of responsibility including engineering, marketing, product management, dealer development, and leadership.

Ken was Caterpillar’s first corporate Director of Innovation and an Analytics & Innovation Division Director. He developed and executed Caterpillar’s transformational innovation strategy to create value for customers and for dealers while increasing bottom line results for Caterpillar shareholders. He guided his team to bolster the best capabilities from Caterpillar’s innovative history and to broaden the scale of innovation by introducing a new innovation vocabulary and integrating new tools, leaner processes, and external perspectives. Ken built an innovation incubator to drive a global culture of trust, collaboration, and experimentation while generating revenue through new products and services.

Ken was Global Product Manager for Cat® Large Hydraulic Excavators and an Excavation Division Director. The Product Manager is one of Caterpillar’s eight critical job roles that owns the P&L, ensures customer satisfaction, and develops and executes the product line strategy. Ken led all aspects of this $2.5B+ topline global business from product design and competitive positioning to geographic sales strategies and pricing, from production capacity and order-to-delivery performance to product support and parts. As CEO of the business, Ken guided his team to the best worldwide quality in the product’s 40 year history and restored the product line to profitability and global market share leadership

Ken holds a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and completed executive development programs at Stanford University in Stanford, California, The Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Bradley University.

Walter Herbst

Walter Herbst

Director-Master of Product Design and Development Program, Professor, McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University
Steering Commitee Biography

Walter Herbst

Director-Master of Product Design and Development Program, Professor, McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University

Walter Herbst, in 1962, founded what became Herbst LaZar Bell Inc. The firm grew under his leadership to be one of the three largest independently owned product design and development firms in the country. He left that firm after transferring it into an employee owned firm (ESOP) and is a partner in Herbst Produkt, headquartered in Silicon Valley. Professor Herbst holds a courtesy appointment in the Kellogg School of Management where he brings his expertise for product development into the classroom with a course he designed dealing with the Management of Product Development. For the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, he created the Master of Product Design and Development Program. The program is the only program in the country that deals with the totality of issues related to product development and includes all the standard MBA courses as well as advanced concepts in PD&D. Professor Herbst is a Fellow in Industrial Design; IDEA, the Institute of Design Engineering and Applications program; as well as the Segal Design Institute and is a NCEER Scholar (Northwestern Center for Education Research) for Northwestern University. Professor Herbst also serves on the Advisory Board for the Department of Material Sciences at Arizona State University and on the Advisory Board for Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. Walter holds over 80 patents in hardware, houseware and medical products. He is listed in “Who’s Who of American Inventors”, as well as other “Who’s Who” publications, and is a frequent contributor of articles in various trade journals. An expert in his field, he is frequently invited to speak at national and international industry trade shows and events. In addition, he was a recipient of the “Design of the Decade” award from the Industrial Design Society of America for his work with Gillette in the spring of 2001.

Calvin Hodock

Calvin Hodock

Edison Awards Founder and Former Chairman of the Board, American Marketing Association
Steering Commitee Biography

Calvin Hodock

Edison Awards Founder and Former Chairman of the Board, American Marketing Association

Calvin L. Hodock was former Chairman of the Board of the American Marketing Association, the world’s largest professional marketing society. As a nationally recognized authority on marketing and product innovation, his marketing credentials were earned at the Gillette Company, Bayer, and Johnson & Johnson in senior management positions. He was also partner at Comart/KLP, one of the country’s largest marketing service agencies at the time. Hodock was on the Board of Directors of NuVim, Inc, a startup company marketing a line of healthy beverages to Wal-Mart and major supermarket accounts on the East Coast.

Hodock was a full time faculty member at Berkeley College teaching marketing courses at their Middlesex and Garrett Mountain campuses. He also teached an advertising course at New York University and had been a guest lecturer at several colleges, including the Wharton School. During his stewardship of the American Marketing Association, Hodock created the prestigious AMA EDISON AWARD presented annually to American corporations for product innovation excellence. During a twelve-year period, he reviewed Edison submissions for literally thousands of new products and services from America’s elite corporations. Some of this material, not available in the public domain, was used in his book Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things. He became a heralded new product guru widely quoted in the press as a result of the Edison experience.

Hodock’s involvement with the EDISON AWARDS and his book on product innovation resulted in appearances on Fox Business News CBS, CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg, numerous radio stations in local markets, and print media, including publications like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, San Jose Mercury, Brandweek, Advertising Age, Promo Magazine, and Marketing News. Numerous universities and professional organizations throughout the country, such as 3M and American Gas Association Financial Forum, heard his thought-provoking lectures on marketing and innovation strategies.

Hari Nair

Group Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Sime Darby Berhad
Steering Commitee Biography

Hari Nair

Group Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Sime Darby Berhad

Hari Nair is currently serving as Group Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Sime Darby Berhad. Previously, he worked as the Global Managing Director for Kimberly-Clark’s Innovation Center, based in Seoul, South Korea. Hari is a thought-leader and expert in applying disruptive innovation and new business models in emerging markets, having advised several Fortune 500 companies as well as several Asian firms.

Hari has spent nearly half of his 20+ year professional career living and working in emerging markets, launching new business and products in China and India. Prior to joining KC, he spent 14 years with Procter & Gamble Co in R&D leadership roles, including 4 years in Beijing setting and developing innovations for Asia. From 2006 to 2012, he worked with Clayton Christensen’s firm Innosight, and led the engagement that helped conceive and develop ChotuKool, an innovative refrigerator launched by Godrej Industries and also was part of the team which developed Medtronic’s Healthy Heart for All innovation (both Edison Gold winners).

Hari received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; he is also an inventor/co-inventor on eight patents.

Former Members

Sandra Bates
The Innovation Partners

Dave Brenner
Intuit

David H. Brenner
Innovation Park at Notre Dame

Sarah Miller Caldicott
Great Grand Niece of Thomas Edison

Michael Docherty
NextBig Inc.

Harry Epstein
Quadrant Management Consulting

Tim Fiala
Text100

Gary Fischman
Future Strategy Solutions

Simon Fung
3M Corporation

Andy Gilicinski
S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

Joyce Gioia
Herman Group

Matthew Heim
inno360

Shannon Hodock
Acosta Marketing Group

Dirk Hondmann
Mead Johnson Nutrition

Jennie C. Hunter-Cevera
Hunter-Cevera and Associates; SacroNatura

Gail Buerger Kerr
Gail Buerger Kerr and Associates

Jason Kovac
Linn-Benton Community College

Philip T. Krein
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Robert S. Langer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Bret Lewis
Xenergy Holdings

Kevin Lynch
Northwestern University

Deana McDonagh
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology

Kevin McGinnis
Keystone Community Corporation

Moises Norena
Allstate Insurance

David Parma
Ipsos Marketing U.S.

John L. Petersen
The Arlington Institute; The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation

Col. John P. Powell
PAMCO Investments Corp.

Susanne Seitinger
Philips Lighting

Sheree Speakman
CIE Learning

Tom Stat
IDEO

Clifford J. Thomas
Cisco New York Enterprise Operation

Arpana Verma
NanoMech Industries

Rebecca Von Der Heide
Nielsen Company