2018 Presenters & Mentors – still being finalized
If you are interested in being considered as a presenter or mentor, please contact: Francis Benjamin firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Bean currently serves as the Executive Director of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport. Bean previously served the State of Montana, Aeronautics Division as Manager of the Yellowstone Airport, located in West Yellowstone, Montana from 2006 to 2011. Prior to his work as an airport manager, he was a Lead Security Officer for the Transportation Security Administration. He also interned at commercial service level airports in Helena, Montana and Jacksonville, North Carolina. He served as an Aviation Ground Support Equipment Technician, a Cryogenics Equipment Technician and Instructor in the United States Marine Corps, leaving the service as sergeant and instructor at Cherry Point, North Carolina. Tony holds a BS in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University and is a Certified Member (C.M.) of the American Association of Airport Executives.
Francis is the Washington State University representative, past co-chair of the Palouse Knowledge Corridor, and current co-chair of the Be The Entrepreneur Bootcamp™. He came to the region in 1979 to attend the University of Idaho and now engages his engineering, psychology, theology, and political science degrees to design psychological research experiments which answer relevant complex questions. His Political Interaction research lab works to discover ways to improve the current political process. Francis previously served 13 years on Pullman’s City Council where he specialized in Economic Development. He is the past president of the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association and past president of the Association of Washington Cities.
Shelley L. Bennett, Broker/Owner of Palouse Commercial Real Estate, with offices in Moscow and Pullman, has been a lifelong resident of the Palouse. Specializing in commercial real estate for 25 of her 38 years in the real estate business. Shelley and her family redeveloped the Moscow Mall, an antiquated shopping mall into the Eastside Marketplace, a vibrant neighborhood center, now owned by Real Life Ministries. Shelley is a member the International Council of Shopping Center, Urban Land Institute, and the Commercial Brokers Association. Currently, Shelley has a staff of two and 3 broker associates that work with her servicing listings in the Quad Cities area. In addition to her real estate business, Shelley is currently the incoming Chairman of the Inland Northwest Community Foundation representing ten counties in eastern Washington and 10 counties in north Idaho.
Robert (Bert) Bogden started Amplicon Express in 1996 to perform molecular biology services, moved to Pullman in 1997 and has been expanding offerings in the field of genomics and personalized medicine. In 2001, he started Amplicon Vaccine to commercialize Repro-Bloc a GnRH immuno sterilization technology for optimized for male and female mammals. The technology has commercial applications in swine, cattle, goats, dogs, cats, elephants and horses. A few scientific publication career highlights would be: as a team member/co-author on the cover of Nature in May 2013 for publication of the Tomato Genome, cover of Science in October 1994 for BRCA-1 breast cancer gene discovery and PNAS in 2003 for inventing a breast cancer mapping technology called End Sequence Profiling.
Jim came to Moscow from Idaho Falls in 1972 to attend the University of Idaho. He graduated in 1978 with a degree in Animal Science and after a brief time away from the Palouse, returned to Moscow and the UI, earning a Master’s of Business Administration in 1983. Jim has owned and operated C&L Lockers in Moscow since 1988 and Hog Heaven Sausage Works since 2010. He has also served as president of the Rendezvous in the Park for eight years, and as a board member for many more. Jim also served on the City of Moscow’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He is a musician, and enjoys practicing and performing with his band “The Intentions.” Boland and is also an avid bicyclist and skier. and has recently completed the Tour Divide, a 2,750 mile bike trek. The Tour begins in Banff, Canada and ends at the Mexican border. He was appointed in January 2015 by Mayor Lambert to fill the remaining term vacated by Tom Lamar. He was then elected to a four-year term in November 2015.
Prior to consulting, Todd’s career was focused B2B marketing in the high technology sector. In addition to developing overseas markets and managing projects for larger firms, he was actively engaged as a principal in a couple of start-ups, wearing multiple hats from product positioning and pricing to customer development. He settled in Moscow, Idaho to raise a family, and now enjoys helping local businesses grow and thrive.
An Idaho native, Carson grew up in Twin Falls, in the South Central region of the Gem state. After graduating high school in Twin Falls, he attended two years of college on a scholarship for intercollegiate speech and debate for the College of Southern Idaho. Following, Carson finished degrees in Public Relations and Political Science at the University of Idaho. The Palouse was always part of his plan as a 4th generation Idaho Vandal.
After college in 2011, he took a position at Inland Northwest Broadcasting as a local Promotions Director and in 2013 was made Executive Director of the department for the nine-station broadcast group where he currently works.
When not in the office, at a community event, or on the golf course, he spends his time volunteering for the Pullman Kiwanis Club, where he is a member and raising money and awareness for the Quad Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s. In addition, Carson serves on the Board of Directors for the Moscow Affordable Housing Trust.
Marc Chopin serves the University of Idaho as Dean of the College of Business and Economics and professor of economics. In addition to his university work, Marc has engaged with the business and not-for-profit communities through board memberships, angel investing and by working with and mentoring entrepreneurs and start-up companies. Marc also served as President and CEO of a start-up company focused upon commercialization of a novel electric motor technology. Marc holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a doctoral degree from Texas A&M University. Marc’s published research includes topics in micro- and macroeconomics, finance and marketing.
Doug Cox was born and raised in Lacrosse, WA on a farm. He graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Finance and Economics in 1993. Cox has been lending since 1995 and has been a banker in Pullman since 1999. Cox currently serves as the VP in Commercial Lending at Columbia Bank in Pullman. He was formerly the president of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce and currently acts as the Treasurer. Cox enjoys snow and water skiing, fold, and Cougar sports. He enjoys working with new and existing business owners and helping them work their plan for success.
Dr. Davis received degrees from The Evergreen State College (BA 1976), WSU (BS 198, MS 1988) and the University of Oregon (Ph.D. 1993). He brings a wide variety of experiences to the department including high school teacher, entrepreneur (started 2 companies) and inventor. Current interests include engineering and entrepreneurship pedagogy, technology development and clinical applications of biomedical instrumentation.
Teresa Dillon has been employed at the University of Idaho since 2008. Initially serving as a management assistant in the President’s office, she was recently promoted as assistant to AVP of Economic Development and Director of Research Administration. As a University of Idaho graduate in Education, she taught English, writing, and math for 22 years in southwest Idaho before resigning from teaching and relocating to Moscow. Although she has enjoyed her years as a successful educator, she has always looked forward to the challenges and rewards of new endeavors or opportunities that present themselves.
As the Executive Director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, Marie Dymkoski is responsible for a full range of activities coordination of the program of work; organizational structure and procedures; motivation of volunteering; income and expenditures; maintenance of membership; employment, training and supervision of staff; interpretation of policy; and long and short range planning. Marie enjoys the work of the chamber and believes that the Palouse is the best place to live, work and do business. Marie has served on the PKC board for two years and has lived in the town of Palouse, Washington for 25 years.
Jenny Ford has served as the Moscow Chamber of Commerce Executive Director since March 2017. Jenny most recently served as the Executive Director of SMART Transit in Moscow. Prior to SMART Transit, Jenny worked as a Property Manager for Hill Properties. Jenny is also a University of Idaho Alumni where she received both a Bachelors and Master’s degree. Jenny supports the collaborative efforts with the universities and enjoys promoting our area through collaboration and partnerships within our region.
Mary Gilles is the Business and Economics Librarian at Washington State University. She has a Master of Library Science from the University of Washington and has worked with the faculty and students in the Carson College of Business and the School of Economic Sciences for several years. She provides general and specialized reference service, teaches library research skills to classes, and recommends appropriate resources to individuals and small groups doing research projects. Mary also works with students in other colleges who are investigating the business possibilities of their innovations, inventions, and new product ideas.
Trent Played golf for the University of Idaho from 1991 to 1995. He was elected to the PGA in 1999 and in 2000 became the Head Golf Professional at Quail Ridge Golf Course in Clarkston, WA. Trent began teaching golf full time in 2003 and in 2005 built the Airway Hills Golf Range. Trent has taught two boys’ high school state champions, girls’ state champion and a myriad of other good players. Trent enjoys teaching beginners and loves seeing others enjoy the game.
The UI Office of Research and Economic Development appointed Jana Jones as the Executive Director of Economic Development in March 2017. In this role, Jones will report directly to Vice President for Research and Economic Development Janet Nelson and will lead and coordinate the university’s statewide economic development activities through proactive engagement with regional businesses, communities and economic development organizations. Jones has extensive experience in economic development, project management, marketing and sales, and business, and is a UI alumna with a degree in marketing and public relations. She was the Director of Economic Development Services for the Boise Valley Economic Partnership from 2006 -2017, and as such worked directly with companies that were interested in expanding or relocating to the Boise Region. She previously served as the economic development manager for the Idaho Department of Commerce for 4 years and President/CEO of Quality Produce, a wholesale fresh produce processor and distributor for 12 years in Boise. She is also a Board Member and Advisor to her family’s winery, Crossings Winery in Glenns Ferry Idaho.
Jones was named among North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers by Consultant Connect in 2015, was an executive board member and founding member of the Southwest Idaho Manufacturing Association, and is a past president and board member of the Idaho Economic Development Association
Paul Judge is the Managing Director of the Vandal Venture Fund. Mr. Judge’s career includes more than 25 years of venture development experience including leadership roles in two public offerings. Significant career achievements include serving as a co-founder of a national retailer of liquefied natural gas, leading the restructuring of a captive Private Equity firm, and founding a Sprint PCS branded mobile phone operator where as CFO he participated in raising over $600 million. Mr. Judge has served as an active board member with 10+ early stage companies. Mr. Judge received a BS in Business Administration from Pepperdine University and an MBA from George Washington University. Mr. Judge resides in Boise, Idaho.
Josh has an exciting and diverse background that has led him to a natural expertise in the digital media and marketing spaces. Working in the fast-paced radio and television news environment, as a news producer and on-air reporter, Josh built a foundation for the quickly emerging media evolution. Moving into corporate marketing leadership, Josh has both pioneered multi-media branding strategies and led business development initiatives. Josh’s expertise and passion for marketing drove him to start Tinderbox Consulting in early 2013. Tinderbox Consulting focuses on serving God by serving others and is now a two-time AGORA finalist company.
Brian Kraft works to encourage the development and maturation of technology opportunities that emerge from research within the college and the implementation of training systems for students and faculty that specifically focus on the commercial development of university research.
Brian leads the Scholarly Knowledge, Innovation and Leadership Development program (SKILD), which provides technical graduate students experience in technology opportunity assessment, and the Entrepreneurial Faculty Ambassadors (EFA) program, which serves as a faculty networking group to disseminate best practices and connect experienced and aspirational faculty entrepreneurs, and is a co-director of the newly established WSU I-Corps site, which is a training program for technology entrepreneurship funded by the National Science Foundation.
Brian holds undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry, a Ph.D. in chemistry, and has served Washington State University in roles ranging from technology evaluation to programmatic development over the last ten years.
Dean Kinzer is currently serving his first term as a Whitman County Commissioner and has served on the Pullman School Board since 2001. Dean graduated from the University of Idaho with a BS in Agricultural Education. He grew up in the Genesee area and moved to Pullman in 1974 to start leasing the farm that he is still farming today.
Pete Klaiber was born and raised in New Jersey. He holds a BA from Wesleyan University and a JD from the University of Virginia. He worked in international banking and branch bank marketing in California before moving to Idaho. He joined the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council in 1999 and has been the Director of Marketing since 2000. He enjoys watching his wife Jane work in the gardens surrounding their home, and will be happy to show you pictures of their grandchildren if you ask.
Tom Lamar was elected to the Latah County Commission, District 2 in November 2014, and began his term in January 2015. Lamar previously served on the Moscow City Council from June 2007 to January 2015.Since 1990, Lamar has been the executive director of Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute, a broad-based conservation organization and Nature Center based in Moscow. In that role, he has worked with many Latah County landowners on stream restoration projects on their properties. He is a founding member of the Latah Trail Foundation and taught Conservation Leadership for six years at the University of Idaho. Lamar holds a master’s degree from Washington State University and a bachelor’s from the University of Delaware. He has lived in Latah County since 1985. He helped raise three talented daughters, all of whom graduated from Moscow High School and are alumnae of the University of Idaho.
Twenty plus years in charge of CEDA’s small business lending programs. Skills and experience include assisting local small business owners with business planning and analysis as well as identifying and accessing capital related to the start-up, expansion, and retention of small businesses throughout north central Idaho and southeast Washington. Additional duties include managing CEDA real estate leases and assisting with the financial management of the CEDA organization.
Adam Lincoln serves as the City Supervisor of Pullman, Wash. He was previously the Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Lakewood, Wash. For the past ten years, Adam has worked at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Adam is active in the city management profession. He is a member of ICMA, WCMA, and the Government Performance Consortium. He earned his MPA from the University of Washington Evans School of Governance and Public Policy and his BA from Western Washington University. Adam lives in Pullman with his wife and daughter.
Hector Lopez has been a member of the Pullman community for over 5 years. In his current position as Small Business Banker at Washington Trust Bank, Hector specializes in offering SBA and conventional financing for businesses. Hector has experience working with businesses in many phases including start-up, transition and exit planning.
Aziz joined the SBDC network in 2015 with over 35 years’ experience in various high technology disciplines and companies. Additionally, he has created three successful startups. He recently brought a board game to market. In his latest endeavor, Aziz gained invaluable experience leveraging social media to stimulate business growth. Aziz has an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and an MBA. The Pullman area WSBDC office serves a wide community spanning Whitman, Garfield, and Asotin counties in Washington. In the true spirit of collaboration, Aziz advocates peer-to-peer support. He brings his experience in product development, marketing and sales worldwide, quality assurance and on and offshore production to stimulate new business growth. Aziz has traveled extensively on business to Europe and Asia. Additionally, utilizing the resources of the two universities in the area, Aziz maintains close collaboration with the academia. He regularly sponsors undergraduate projects on campus and teaches classes.
Marie Mayes serves as Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Carson College of Business at Washington State University. She teaches Business Plan classes in the Carson College of Business and collaboratively with Dr. Howard Davis in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. In her current role, Marie oversees the WSU Business Plan Competition and mentors and coaches student entrepreneurs on all phases of business development with the goal of increasing entrepreneurial activities and encouraging student-led start-ups. She assists with the Frank Scholars, Boeing Scholars, E-Connection and accompanies students on industry site visits to Silicon Valley.
Sarah McKnight graduated from WSU in 2004 with a BA in Education, she is currently the Whitman County Managing Director for Southeast Washington Economic Development Association. Sarah is a Whitman County native, loves the Palouse and was raised in Colfax, she is involved with the Economic Development Events & Tourism Commission, Scenic Byways Committee, Colfax Downtown Association, and is on the Colfax City Council. Sarah enjoys riding horses, playing music and spending time with her family
As vice president of Fuentek, Danielle McCulloch assists with the management of the strategic and operational aspects of the company. She also leverages her wide range of technical and business experience to manage client relationships for a variety of R&D organizations, including government research labs and major research universities. In this role, Danielle has helped these organizations increase their efficiency and effectiveness to maximize their impact, resulting in more licenses/agreements and improved stature/reputation. She also helps clients enhance their organizations’ presence and reach, with a focus on developing effective communication strategies to address both internal and external stakeholder needs. Danielle works collaboratively with clients to evaluate and prioritize their IP portfolios, develop and implement marketing/outreach strategies, negotiate win-win licenses and other deals, establish collaborative R&D partnerships, secure sponsored research and other funding, and successfully apply open innovation principles.
Dale T. Miller is Senior Vice President and Corporate Client Group Director for Morgan Stanley and serves as the managing partner of the firm’s Pacific Wealth Management Group. He is a graduate of Moscow High School, and subsequently earned a B.A. in Business Economics and English from Willamette University. He has attended graduate level courses at the Wharton School and recently received the CPM (Certified Portfolio Manager) designation from Columbia University. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 2008, he founded and managed the first and largest private wealth team in the Pacific Northwest for UBS. He began his career more than two decades ago as an institutional bond trader, returning to the Northwest after working in Washington, DC in the early 1990s. Dale has been named among the top 400 US financial advisors by the Financial Times of London (2013 and 2014), top 20 advisors in the Northwest by the Puget Sound Business Journal (2008-2009), and in the top 250 advisors in the United States by Worth Magazine (2008).
Carmel Minogue started her own business over twenty years ago. With a CPA license, a modest savings account, and an earnest vision to help small businesses grow and prosper, Carmel embarked on a life-long dream to start her own business. Today, Carmel Minogue CPA & Associates employs seven talented individuals from the area, delivering exceptional tax and accounting services. As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Carmel is uniquely qualified to assist small business startups with accounting system design, implementation, and training.
My name is Brandon Mitchell. Growing up on a farm in a small town in Utah, my grandfather taught me at a young age to work hard. He took me to the fields at 8 years old to clear thistles out of the pastures. I graduated from Clearfield High School in 1988 and went to Weber State University for a few years then I married my high school sweetheart and we have been together 28 years. We have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.
While in college, I was working as a lower bay tech at a Minit Lube location in Ogden, UT. I started to climb the ladder and eventually became a manager of a Jiffy Lube Location when I moved to Portland, OR. I continued to work hard and found myself running 10 stores as a District Manager in the Tri-Cities, Washington area. After working there for several years, I was offered an opportunity to purchase my own franchise in Moscow, ID and Pullman, WA. I took this opportunity and found myself here today – where I reside to this day.
Monika Murugesan is originally from India and has lived in the USA since 2000. She joined Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) in 2004 as Software Engineer in R&D and since then has held the positions of lead engineer, engineering manager, and business manager in different divisions. Currently, she is international business operations manager at SEL. In her role, she is actively involved in developing SEL business in international markets, which includes strategy, operational excellence, profitable growth for the continued success of SEL’s International Operations. She has extensive experience in analyzing business organizations for strengths and areas of improvement. She received her MS in Computer Science from Arizona State University in 2002 and Executive MBA from Washington State University in 2015.
Alex Navarro is the Vice President and Financial Center Manager for Zions Bank in Moscow ID and is Co-Chair of the Be The Entrepreneur Bootcamp. Alex Navarro’s has been a Banker since 1990, an Entrepreneur and served as the Executive Director for the University of Alaska Anchorage Small Business Development Center. Alex’s primary focus and expertise is on Small Business Lending through the US Small Business Administration 7(a) lending programs. Alex has managed SBA departments for bank’s in North Idaho for 8 years and thoroughly understands the nuances and complexities of the SBA 7(a) programs. As an entrepreneur, he is the co-founder of New Sun Adventures, a tourism business in Coeur d’Alene, ID. Alex spends his time between Coeur d’Alene and Moscow operating his business and helping other businesses with banking and lending services throughout North Idaho. Alex received his BSBA in Finance from the University of Denver.
Dr. Shane Needham received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Washington State University and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Needham is Co-Founder and Laboratory Director of Alturas Analytics, Inc. Dr. Needham manages all scientific aspects of the HPLC/MS/MS bioanalytical contract laboratory at Alturas Analytics, Inc. Currently, Dr. Needham’s work is focused on the development and validation of assays for the determination of therapeutic agents and biomarkers from biological matrices. His laboratory has been a leader in the area of dried blood spot (DBS) analysis and microflow HPLC-MS/MS to support DMPK research.
Tony Poston is an entrepreneur, business owner, and sales director. His company, The College Hill Group, which he founded in 2011, has grossed over ten million dollars since its inception. His visionary leadership led the company to Inc. 5000’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America (2016). Tony’s multi-tasking, entrepreneurial spirit was cultivated early: after moving from his hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho to Pullman, Washington to attend Washington State University, he quickly immersed himself in his school and community. During his undergraduate years, Tony took on leadership roles in the student advocacy group, Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU), as well as the InterFraternity Council and the Student Entertainment Board. Just as he runs a small business with a national reach, Tony takes a similar approach in his personal life – maintaining a big city mentality while staying true to his small town roots – he and his wife, Emily, settled down in Pullman and remain active community leaders. In their spare time, they travel to the WSU Cougars away games and explore the Northwest’s endless outdoor opportunities.
Marshall Piatt holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Human Resources from the University of Idaho. While attending the University of Idaho, Marshall was an executive board member for the student government (ASUI), a leader in the Entrepreneurship program at UI (VIEW), and a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Marshall is the co-founder and Vice President of Operations of BioCement Technologies Inc., a soil engineering company founded at the University of Idaho. Marshall’s areas of interest and education include employee management, supply chain management, and operations management. Marshall seeks to further the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Palouse and Northwest.
An Idaho native, Elizabeth has been working at Appearances Marketing and living on the Palouse since 2011. She has a degree in Business Management and is a University of Idaho Executive MBA candidate. Elizabeth also serves as the President of the United Way of Moscow/Latah County and serves on several boards and committees including the Prichard Art Gallery and Buy Local Moscow.
Gary received a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Idaho in 1981 and Juris Doctor in 1984. He practiced law as a prosecutor for Bannock and Kootenai Counties. He was in private practice until 1992, when he became Moscow City Attorney. He was appointed City Supervisor in 1995. Gary is a founding member and former president of the Idaho City Management Association; a member and Credentialed Manager of the International City/County Management Association; a founding member and current president of the Redevelopment Association of Idaho; former President and current board member of SMART Transit; a Board member of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce; a member of both the Idaho and Washington State Bar Associations and the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association. During his tenure at the City of Moscow, Gary has also served as Executive Director of the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency (MURA) and is former president of the Community Transportation Association of Idaho.
Ed’s experience with ankle sprains as a Physical Therapist, teacher, athlete, and coach led him to the discovery of a truly revolutionary approach to protecting ankles from the single most common injury in sports, resulting in over 600,000 Emergency Department visits each year. Using that insight Ed founded Badger Braces. Ed Robertson began working at Pullman Regional Hospital in 1996. He was the Director of Summit Therapy for 12 years before stepping down to pursue his Master’s in Organizational Leadership at Gonzaga University as well as devote time and resources toward his ankle brace project. Ed continues to work full-time as a clinician and serves as Assistant Director of Summit Therapy and Health Services.
Nick has founded and sold 3 tech companies. Now as the founder of Innovation Collective and Mountain Man Ventures (VC fund) he is focused on redefining how people and cities participate in the future of work. He is a Milken Institute Young Leader and a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council. Nick has been interviewed for or contributed to Bloomberg, Forbes, USA Today, Fast Company, Mashable, Virgin, LinkedIn, Inc. Magazine and Huffington Post.
Austin Storm has, along with his wife Laura, started the Storm Cellar and Hansel & Gretel in downtown Moscow. In 2015 they completed the renovation of a historic building on the north side of downtown which now serves as the home of Lodgepole and Humble Burger. They also founded a software company, Consign Cloud, which offers inventory and point-of-sale systems to consignment, resale, and thrift stores. They love the Palouse area and are currently working their first home, an 1883 fixer-upper farmhouse.
Jeremy Tamsen is the University of Idaho representative for the Palouse Knowledge Corridor. He is a licensed attorney, and serves as the Director of the Office of Technology Transfer and the Technology Transfer Officer for the University of Idaho statewide system. As a proud alumnus of the University of Idaho College of Law, and the University of Colorado, he brings to the Palouse his passion for new technology and his expertise in handling intellectual property. With more than a decade of experience working in both small and large businesses, Jeremy is driven to grow the Palouse as an intellectual and commercial center, and he is eager to facilitate meaningful partnerships between the University of Idaho and local businesses and entrepreneurs.
George Tanner is the Director of Idaho Entrepreneurs and a member of the entrepreneurship faculty in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. The vision of Idaho Entrepreneurs is a strong and supportive culture of innovation for entrepreneurs, students, and faculty at the University. George has been has been executing that vision in colleges and universities across the country for a number of years. His expertise, research, and service activities revolve around innovation and business startups, entrepreneurial readiness, community development, social enterprise, and youth entrepreneurship. Mr. Tanner has initiated and developed many entrepreneurial and outreach programs across the U.S. and abroad. George Tanner has BSBA and MBA degrees from West Virginia University and doctoral studies at the University of Missouri.
Gina came to Moscow in May of 1994, three days after graduating from the University of Oklahoma. After completing her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Idaho, Gina spends her time in Moscow working with and for business. From directing the University of Idaho Business Technology Incubator through the year 2000, then working with SEL, BioTracking and Moscow Chamber of Commerce, Gina has worked with and for locally owned businesses throughout her career. Gina serves on the SMART Transit board, the Vandal Scholarship Fund National Board, and the Moscow City Council. She and her husband, Todd, are avid gardeners and look forward to converting their yard to xeriscape this summer.
Dr. Umiker earned degrees in Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Idaho. She earned her doctorate in Food Science from Washington State University. Her work at WSU focused on enology and viticulture and required collaborations with wineries across Washington and wine research laboratories across the United States and Chile. Coco and her husband Karl have owned and operated Clearwater Canyon Cellars and their estate Umiker Vineyard since 2003 in Lewiston. Their wines have won many prestigious awards over the years. Clearwater Canyon Cellars was named the 2015 Idaho Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest. Through her work at Clearwater Canyon Cellars, Dr. Umiker has been leading the effort in re-establishing the Lewis-Clark Valley wine region by serving as a consultant to new growers and promoting wines grown in this area. She was a key player in establishing the Lewis-Clark Valley American Viticultural Area and is currently president of the Lewis-Clark Valley Wine Alliance.
Nathan Weller is the Pullman City Council representative on the PKC board. He is interested in the unique possibilities of cooperation between businesses, government, and various organizations in a region with cross-border universities, a regional airport, and supportive cities and counties. Born in Pullman, Washington, Nathan has had the opportunity to travel and work in a variety of industries including technology, construction, agriculture and research in locations ranging from Europe, Australia, and Mexico, and now brings that experience and knowledge back to his community and region. Nathan attended Washington State University and earned a B.S. in Psychology and will be graduating from the University of Idaho in May 2012 with a Masters degree in Bioregional Planning and Community Design. He built a small business at 25 years old in 2007 and was elected to serve Pullman City Council the following year. Through his travels, work and school activities he has gained a wide base of knowledge and friends in many areas and is focused on helping the region that has raised him.
Mary Jo (Benjamin) Willis (formerly Hornberger) joined Hewlett-Packard in 1979 as an Electrical Engineering graduate from the U of I. After 38+ years, her career with HP has taken her from R&D to Technical Marketing, Manufacturing, and Supply Chain Operations in various Engineering, Management, and Project Management roles, with the fun of working on calculators, palmtops, laptop computers, digital projectors, rear-projection TVs, video conference rooms, and printers. She loves seeing how pieces from different areas can fit together to create something that no one group can create alone. She earned her Master of Science in Management of Technology from NTU in 1997 and became an HP-certified Lean Sigma Black Belt in 2014. She holds one patent for HP.
Mary Jo has 3 daughters and lives with her husband Gregg in Corvallis, Oregon. She enjoys puzzles, hiking, travel, and filling in as a substitute organist at her church.
Christopher is currently the managing director of Ten X Strategies, LLC a private equity and consulting services firm. Christopher over 30 years’ experience in working in agriculture, forestry, food processing, automotive, aerospace, high-tech, ag & construction equipment manufacturing, electronics, renewable energy, and oil & gas industries. Over the last ten years, he has worked with private equity and start-up companies. He is a partner in a large eastern Washington wheat, cattle & forestry company and has served on several boards. With his background in engineering and manufacturing, he has provided consulting services to executives in a wide range of industries for the past 15 years based on the Toyota Production System model. Past clients include Alcoa, Boeing, BF Goodrich, Biosense-Webster (medical device mfg.), Washington Trust Bank, Purcell Systems, Ecolite, Mackay Manufacturing, Cyrus O’Leary Pies and Iomega.
Travis is the director of Washington State University’s I-Corps Site and is the director of industry extension for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture at WSU. He has spent most of his professional career helping academic researchers and students navigate the worlds of academic politics, industry engagement, market assessment, and startup creation. He first came to the Palouse region to earn degrees in chemical engineering and law at the University of Idaho. After realizing that land-grant universities must reinvent their external engagement processes to fulfill their mission of bringing new innovations to the public, he moved into the Voiland College with the goals of bridging research innovation to market needs earlier in the research process and growing faculty and student programs that encourage entrepreneurial mindset. As the director of WSU’s I-Corps Site, Travis and the Site teaching team support over 30 entrepreneurial teams annually through ideation, business model development, and follow-up support for startup company opportunities.
Appearances Marketing and Promotions
City of Moscow
City of Pullman
Clearwater Economic Development Association
Idaho Executive MBA Program
JUB Engineers, Inc.
Landeck & Forseth
Moscow Chamber of Commerce
Palouse Commercial LLC
Palouse Knowledge Corridor
Partnership for Economic Prosperity
Pullman Chamber of Commerce
Pullman Regional Hospital
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
Team Idaho Real Estate
University of Idaho
UI Office of Technology Transfer
Washington State University
Washington Trust Bank
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