Will Allen, Nascent Group Holdings
In hole role as Nascent Group Holdings’ Managing Partner, Will Allen has assisted in developing the company's investment strategy in technology, real estate and energy. He was instrumental in building business frameworks and policies at NGH Energy, Pietas Capital Management, and Luna Energy Partners, and aided in the growth strategy and fortune 500 company partnerships for portfolio companies. He founded the Will Allen Foundation in 2006 with the mission to be instrumental in the development of young people and assist them to possess a more proactive mindset in terms of their future aspirations.
Samantha Black, Support Your Local Artist (SYLA PGH)
Seeking an opportunity to leverage her various passions and talents, Samantha Black began her entrepreneurial career by establishing an initiative called Support Your Local Artist, or SYLA for short. She was quickly recognized for her efforts and won second place at "Startup Weekend". Samantha has since worked with organizations and artists to further their careers, young students to cultivate their talent, and as a connector of businesses and local artists. Samantha has designed business plans and programs for organizations throughout Pittsburgh.
Lenore Blum, Carnegie Mellon University
Lenore Blum (PhD, MIT) is Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) where she is also Faculty Director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, and Founding Director of Project Olympus, a proof-of-concept innovation center she founded in 2007 that works with faculty and students to bridge the gap between cutting-edge university research/innovation and economy-promoting commercialization for the benefit of our communities. Project Olympus is a good example of Lenore’s determination to make a real difference in the academic community and the world beyond.
Kelauni Cook, Black Tech Nation
Kelauni Cook is a software developer from Chicago, Illinois, and the founder of Black Tech Nation. She is currently co-directing and instructing Academy Pittsburgh Beta Builders, Pittsburgh’s first high school coding camp specifically for minorities and girls. Black Tech Pittsburgh is the inaugural chapter of Black Tech Nation. With Pittsburgh’s rapidly growing tech industry and world-class institutions, companies, and nonprofits, Kelauni believes that Pittsburgh presents the perfect ecosystem to foster true diversity in tech.
Ilana Diamond, AlphaLab Gear
Ilana Diamond is the Managing Director of AlphaLab Gear, Innovation Works’ accelerator for physical product companies, where she leads a team that helps startups make rapid progress through the early stages of product and customer development. When she’s not working directly with companies, Ilana is involved in community events or helping launch initiatives to put Pittsburgh on the world startup map. In 2015, Ilana helped launch the AlphaLab Gear International Hardware Cup — a competition for early stage hardware companies, which has since grown from a small U.S. event to a series of international competitions in six U.S. cities and five countries around the world.
Terry Doloughty, Mannsman Foundation
A veteran of small business, Terry Doloughty — currently a Small Business Specialist at the Mansmann Foundation — has developed a wide range of skills and strengths throughout his 28 years in the field. With a strong customer service and sales background, Terry excelled at Equiparts, a Pittsburgh-based hardware maintenance distributor. Terry went on to serve as a community development specialist at the Community Technical Assistance Center (CTAC), formerly a Pittsburgh nonprofit, whose mission was working to strengthen community organizations through training and technical support across a variety of issues facing small business. After leaving CTAC, Terry became manager of the Pittsburgh Public Market. He managed all operations, facilities, staff, merchants, budgets, and sales projections in this capacity. As manager, Terry also recruited potential merchant businesses, scheduled and advised Market Council meetings, maintained relationships with donors, community members and elected officials. He continues to serve the people of Pittsburgh, volunteering as an activist for his community in Polish Hill. There, he is also the captain of the Wiggins Street Community Garden.
Kelsey Halling, Thread International
After studying business and knowing she didn’t want to work in a traditional corporate setting, Kelsey Halling started her career in the nonprofit sector. She loved working with passionate people and for a mission-driven organization, but was bothered by some of the inefficiency in the nonprofit sector. When she learned about the idea behind social enterprise, solving social and environmental problems with for-profit business models, she decided to pursue opportunities in the space. After hearing about the idea for Thread, it just made sense. Today, Kelsey measures, manages, and improves the impact Thread has on people, planet, and profit at every step of Thread’s supply chains, ensuring that the claims of making the most responsible fabric in the world are true.
Alihan Hanoglu, Alihan's Mediterranean Cuisine
It was a very nasty winter day about 14 years ago when Alihan arrived in Pittsburgh from Istanbul, Turkey, where he grew up. Alihan chose this city as his new home. He started as a pizza driver at one store Downtown, worked hard, and after a couple of years, he opened his own pizza store, Giovanni’s, which is prospering today. Giovanni’s became one of Downtown’s icons, well known to locals as well as Pittsburgh’s visitors. In June 2013, Alihan opened a Turkish restaurant : Alihan’s Mediterranean Cuisine, a great addition to Sixth Street’s international cuisines, right in the heart of the Cultural District. Living in Downtown Pittsburgh, starting his own family, and experiencing the vibe of a growing city, Alihan feels the potential and sees what steps could be easily done to make the lives of businesses smoother so that Pittsburgh can grow even faster and in the right direction.
Rebecca Harris, Chatham University
Rebecca Harris is the Executive Director of Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, which creates economic opportunities for women through entrepreneurial education and training, mentoring, and networking. In her role, Rebecca fosters collaboration between experienced leaders and women entrepreneurs through innovative mentoring programs and workshops for each stage of business development from start-up to established. She works to secure funding by attaining foundation grants, partnering with corporate sponsors and local businesses, and establishing community relationships. She has increased Center visibility and recognition throughout the greater Pittsburgh region. Under her leadership, the Center was awarded the prestigious status as a Small Business Administration (SBA) Women’s Business Center in 2016, and the Center successfully launched 3000 square foot. “Entrepreneurship Hub” housing programs in prototyping and design, financial and digital literacy, and peer-to-peer mentoring through cohort meetups.
Zach Malone, Draper Triangle Ventures, Advisory Board Vice Chair
Zach Malone is a Principal at Draper Triangle Ventures. He has over 10 years of experience in venture capital and private equity, and is very active in the early-stage tech community in Pittsburgh. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of two Draper Triangle Portfolio companies, Thread International and ContainerShip.io . He is involved with several Pittsburgh-based nonprofits serving as either a Board Member or regular volunteer at The Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association, The Pittsburgh Film Office, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh, The United Way, The Mattress Factory, and the Holy Family Institute. Prior to joining Draper Triangle, Zach worked as an Analyst at UPMC Enterprises and Gateway Financial.
Dianne Shenk, Dylamato's Market
Upon moving to Pittsburgh, Dianne Shenk enrolled in the Masters in Food Studies course at Chatham University, where she learned how the global food system works, with a focus on markets and marketing and a particular interest in underserved urban communities. She wrote her thesis on “Food in Hazelwood: Making the Case for Fresh Produce in a Low-Income, Urban Community.” As part of her research, she got involved with the Fishes and Loaves Buying Club in Hazelwood, an ongoing effort to bring healthy, fresh food into the community, and dreamed of expanding this mission by opening a fruit and vegetable business. Since then, she has opened Dylamato’s Market, the mission of which is to partner with other locally-owned micro-businesses to create viable livelihoods and access to fresh, healthy foods in the Hazelwood community. The marketplace created by this partnership will be a positive social space in Hazelwood, and generate financial capital for community residents by capturing the local food economy.
Anthony Stewart, DECO Resources
In 2013, Anthony Stewart founded DECO Resources, LLC, (Design – Engineering – Construction – Operations) to provide environmental consulting and green design. At DECO, Anthony has been working with water, energy, and technology in green infrastructure. By utilizing elements of green design, his goal is to create products that provide both practical and aesthetic benefits to the community. Sustainable solutions developed by DECO, its team, and partners include: more than fifty stormwater capture and treatment systems using upcycled materials throughout Allegheny County, local educational programming around sustainability, and renewable energy solutions that provide free wireless internet access. In addition to leading the DECO team, Anthony also served to support several community service organizations, including InvolveMINT, the Solar Unified Network of Western PA, and New Sun Rising.
Diamonte Walker, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Advisory Board Chair
Diamonte Walker is the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program Manager. She develops and implements the URA’s MWBE Program in a manner that sets an innovative precedent for how public agencies leverage public dollars to grow diverse businesses which play an instrumental role in the economic development of the City and its neighborhoods. As the Program Manager, she’s charged with revising and recommending policies and best practices to the URA and its Board to create a dynamic and compliant MWBE program using goals, metrics and good faith efforts to increase the viability of MWBE firms.
James Williams, University of Pittsburgh
James Williams is the Director of Local Governmental Relations for the University of Pittsburgh, where he develops, maintains, and improve the relationship of the University, as a state-related institution, with the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Also, he represents the University in professional organizations and with community organizations. James assists in the development, planning, and execution in coordination with the Chancellor, Provost, and other senior University officials of strategies to enhance the University’s position as it relates to the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County programs, projects, and initiatives.
Bobby Zappala, Ascender
Bobby Zappala is currently the CEO and President of Ascender, a startup incubator that provides annual free office space, mentorship, programming, and investor relationships to a group of companies across all industries that are selected through a competitive business plan competition. Bobby co-founded the organization in November of 2012, at which time he left his position as a corporate attorney at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a national law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh to assume the role of CEO and President of the new nonprofit entity. He is a member of the PowerUp Pittsburgh Innovation Council, an Associate Delegate of the World Economic Forum, and on the East Liberty Chamber of Commerce.