Tech Speakers

physicist and a biotech entrepreneur

Safi Bahcall

Safi is a second-generation physicist (the son of two astrophysicists), a biotech entrepreneur, and former public-company CEO.

He received his BA summa cum laude from Harvard and his PhD in physics from Stanford, where he worked with Lenny Susskind in particle physics (the science of the small) and the Nobel laureate Bob Laughlin in condensed matter physics (the science of the many). He was a Miller Fellow in physics at UC Berkeley (the school of the many). After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, Safi co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led its IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years.

In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research.

Safi regularly speaks with leadership teams about applying the ideas in Loonshots (more here) and has presented at industry conferences, investor events, medical meetings, and leading academic institutions around the world.

Loonshots, Safi’s first book, has been translated into 18 languages; recommended by Bill Gates, Daniel Kahneman, Daniel Pink, Adam Grant, Malcolm Gladwell, and Tim Ferriss; and selected as a best business book of the year by Amazon, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., Medium, Strategy + Business, Tech Crunch, and the Washington Post. It was the most recommended book of the year in Bloomberg’s annual survey of CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Safi lives with his wife, two children in Cambridge, MA.

CEO Spreedly

Justin Benson

Justin joined Spreedly as CEO in 2011. He has driven Spreedly’s dramatic expansion through a successful pivot and evolution of the company’s go-to-market strategy. He led the company’s recent fundraising of $75 million from Spectrum Ventures in November 2019 to accelerate Spreedly’s growth strategy. He combines a technical background with strong sales and customer experience.

Justin began his career in the Bay Area during the height of the dot-com boom in the 90s. He joined an early-stage startup as their first technical support employee. During his tenure, the company grew from 40 to 400 in three years, went public, and was acquired.  He was steadily promoted through business development, direct sales, and then onto the senior management team before a successful exit. He subsequently joined SafeNet as VP of Sales for the Americas prior to moving to NC.

He lives in the Triangle with his wife and two daughters. He enjoys supporting Durham and the Triangle start-up community. He can be frequently seen speeding down roads and trails with his cycling team.

Speaker:Fintech Panel

Summit Leader

Mike Capps

Founder/CEO Diveplane Corporation

Dr. Michael Capps is a well-known technologist and CEO of Diveplane Corporation, which develops transformative technology that keeps the humanity in AI. Before co-founding Diveplane, Mike had a legendary career in the videogame industry as president of Epic Games, makers of blockbusters Fortnite and Gears of War. His tenure included a hundred game-of-the-year awards, dozens of conference keynotes, a lifetime achievement award, and a successful free-speech defense of videogames in the U.S. Supreme Court. He’s survived trending on Twitter, iPhone launch events with Steve Jobs, and raising two toddlers. Michael began his career with post-graduate degrees at UNC, MIT, and the Naval Postgraduate School; for his research in VR, he was one of 50 scientists featured in SIGGRAPH’s historical documentary on computer graphics. He has keynoted dozens of conferences, and remains a regular host of television series on the Discovery and Science Channels.  

Community Evangelist at AvidXchange

Chris Elmore

Chris was a millionaire at age 28… For six weeks. The first tech company he started fell like a lead
balloon. He dusted himself off and would soon be one of the earliest employees of a tech company that went from $0.00 in revenue and three product failures to thousands of employees and business unicorn status. His out of the box approach of putting people first and concentrating on selling value has helped thousands.

Called a “Startup Hero” by North Carolina Business Magazine and a maverick and mold breaker by SouthPark Magazine, Chris has written 9 books, and is a Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UNC – Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte. Chris serves on the board of four startups and advisor three other Charlotte-based companies. Chris travels the country speaking on the topics of startup success, innovation, entrepreneurship, sales, technology, and automation. Chris began working at AvidXchange in 2000 as one of its earliest employees. AvidXchange, a global unicorn, aka a private company valued at +$1 billion, is one of the fastest-growing fintech companies in the country with 1,300 employees across seven offices.

Chris has been on a journey to perfect a message that resonates and motivates audience since he wa18 years old. “My dad had me read the book, See You At The Top, by Zig Ziglar. I fell in love with the ideas and with making improvements in my life.” “The best testimonial I can give you to hire me to speak is my wife still loves me, loves being around me, and still thinks I am funny, and we have been together since 1992”. Chris lives in Lake Wylie SC, where teaching, business, four kids and a wife keep him very busy.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Live Oak Bancshares

Chip Mahan

Chip Mahan is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Live Oak Bancshares. He serves on the board of directors for Apiture, a joint venture between Live Oak and First Data which focuses on creating next-gen technology for financial institutions. He is also a director of Payrailz, a digital payments company which offers advanced solutions for the financial services industry. Chip is a co-founder of nCino, a cloud-based banking software built on the Salesforce platform.

Prior to Live Oak, Chip was the Chairman and CEO for S1 Corporation and founder of Security First Network Bank, the world’s first Internet bank. Under his leadership, S1 Corporation grew to become a $234 million software and services provider in only six years, averaging more than 200 percent growth year over year. At its peak, S1 had a market capitalization of $7.8 billion. During his term as CEO, Chip was ranked as one of the 10 Most Influential Personalities in Financial Services by FutureBanker magazine.

Prior to founding Security First Network Bank and S1 Corporation, he launched Cardinal Bancshares, where he served as Chairman and CEO. Chip built Cardinal into an institution with $800 million in total assets and took the company public in 1992. Before launching Cardinal, Chip spent several years with Citizens Union National Bank & Trust Co., serving as President, Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman and becoming Chairman and CEO in 1984. In 1986, he formed an investment group that purchased Citizens Union and subsequently sold it to BankOne Corp. of Columbus, OH. Chip began his career in 1973 at Wachovia Bank & Trust Co. in Winston-Salem, NC, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA.

Chief Product Officer, Relias

Mike Mutka

Executive leader with 25+ years experience in medical equipment, products, and software. Drove growth of Silverchair Learning (SLS) from $78K of revenue at the start of 2005 to $15 million in 2011 with 25% EBITDA. Led process of selling SLS to Vista Equity Partners in May 2012, which (along with Essential Learning) became Relias Learning. Helped integrate EL and SLS into Relias Learning, building sales and marketing leadership team before starting our first Strategy and M&A team in late 2013. In September 2014, after just 2 years, Vista sold Relias to Bertelsmann, which became one of the most successful exits in Vista’s history. Have completed 13 highly successful acquisitions since May 2013. Led development of company growth strategy – Relias doubled revenue from 2012 to 2014, and tripled from 2014 to 2017 while growing from 130 employees in 2012 to nearly 700 today. During this time Relias has expanded across the healthcare continuum and globally while increasing our TAM from $600 million to over $4 billion. In 2017, was asked to form a new start-up company called Straightaway Health Careers.

Summit Leader

Steve Nelson

Co-Founder at Carbon, Inc.

Steve served as Carbon’s launch CEO. After raising the original Series A funding from Sequoia Capital, he became the initial Chairman of the company.

Steve is also Co-founder of re—inc, a purpose-driven, global lifestyle and wellness company founded by 2019 World Cup Champions, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, and Meghan Klingenberg. Additionally, he is an advisor to Chopra Global and its not-for-profit partner, The Chopra Institute, with world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine, Dr. Deepak Chopra, MD. Steve is also lead investor in and board member of Diveplane Corporation, a technology company dedicated to keeping the humanity in AI.

Steve has served on the boards of many companies, including Blue Cross of North Carolina since 2002 until today, where he recently concluded a four-year term as Chairman. Steve was also Managing Partner at venture capital firm, Wakefield Group, for 14 years. He joined Wakefield after 19 years of executive and general management experience in technology, software, business services, and cloud computing businesses, including at Quokka Sports and NBC/Quokka Ventures. He was formerly VP of the Americas for Informix Software in Menlo Park, CA. His business career began at IBM, where he served for 14 years in Chicago and White Plains, NY, and then ultimately as VP and General Manager in San Francisco.

Steve received his B.S. degree in Business from Wake Forest University. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees at Wake Forest, the Board of Visitors at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and was Foundation Board Chair at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.


Managing Partner CFV Ventures

Dan Roselli

Dan is co-founder of Charlotte’s entrepreneurship center called Packard Place who’s alumni have raised over 2 Billion dollars in capital and had over 200 million in exits. 

Dan also co-founded the QueenCity Fintech program which is one of the top Fintech Accelerators in the World and has over 90 alumni companies with over $50M in raised capital.

Dan 1st career was in Fortune 500 marketing at General Mills, Colgate Palmolive, and M&M/MARS.  Dan also served on the Operating Committee of Bank of America as the Brand & Advertising Executive. 

Dan began his entrepreneurial career in 2003 and was one of the co-founders of Red Ventures and has co-founded three different companies that have made it to the INC 500 list of fastest growing private companies in America. 

Dan has a finance degree from Michigan State University and a MBA in marketing from the University of Minnesota. He is the father of two sets of twins and is a passionate Spartan.  Go Green.

Speaker:Fintech Panel Moderator

Student NCSSM

Jayden Sansom

Jayden Sansom is a junior at the Chatham County School of Science and Engineering.  She is dual enrolled at Chatham County Community College and has taken classes and competed on the cyberstart team through Open Enrollment at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in computer science since her freshman year.  She will be presenting her research project, “Artificial Intelligence as the Artist: Exploring the Capabilities of Artistic Perception Derived from Generative Adversarial Networks.” Jayden created this artificial intelligence program as part of the Research in Computer Science program with Charlotte Dungan, the AI Program Architect at NCSSM.  She has exhibited it at the regional science fair and will head to the state competition later this month.

Jayden has a strong interest in computer science and has recently won a National Honorable Mention in the Aspirations in Computing competition from NCWIT.  This award honors her achievements in cybersecurity, taking her Cyberstart team to the national level for the last two years. She has also been a Cisco Women of Impact presenter on an international stage, where she worked in a team to create an app that identifies recyclable materials.  In her free time she plays with her dogs, enjoys baking, and supports local charities. Jayden plans to major in Computer Science in college and hopes to become a video game designer, creating fun role playing games that appeal to boys and girls alike

melissa smith

Summit Leader

Melissa Smith

Managing Director, Head of Specialized Industries, Middle Market Banking, J.P. Morgan

Melissa Smith is the Head of Specialized Industries for JPMorgan’s Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries (MMBSI) business. She leads a team of national managers responsible for industry verticals including Agribusiness, Apparel, Beverage, Emerging Growth, Life Sciences, Media and Entertainment, Technology, and the Middle Market Financial Sponsors Group. The industry teams provide traditional banking services and investment banking solutions to mid-cap sized companies across the country.Melissa is also responsible for the Government, Healthcare, Higher Ed, and Not-for-Profit businesses within MMBSI and sits on the Management Committee for the Commercial Bank.

Prior to joining MMBSI, Melissa spent 3 years as the Northeast Group Head for Corporate Client Banking & Specialized Industries (CCBSI) where she also served on the Management Committee. Since joining CCBSI she has acted as the Regional Chair for the Northeast Market Leadership Teams and as Senior Sponsor for the CB Columbia recruiting team.

Melissa joined the firm in 1998 in Public Finance and has spent most of her career in the Corporate & Investment Bank (CIB), most recently as the Head of EMEA Investment Grade Finance in London. As part of her role running the DCM business in Europe, Melissa was a co-chair of the Debt Underwriting Commitments Committee (DUCC), a member of the EMEA balance Sheet Committee, a senior sponsor of the ED Connect program in EMEA and a member of the Analyst and Associate Development Council.Prior to her London move, she spent 14 years in the Debt Capital Markets group in New York as the Head of the Consumer, Retail, Healthcare and Chemicals team.

Melissa received a BA in Political Science from American University and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Since 2009, she has served on the Board of Trustees of American Ballet Theatre.

CEO, Relias

Jim Triandiflou

Jim Triandiflou has been the CEO of Relias since 2012.  Under his leadership, Relias has grown from 100 to 800 employees.  This is Jim’s third time as a software company CEO. In 2017 Jim was named the North Carolina Triangle Business Person of the Year.  Jim is also Chairman of the Board of North Carolina Special Olympics and embraces Relias’ mission to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of society.

Co-Founder, President and COO, Well

Dave Werry

David was previously the VP of Transformation at Aetna where he oversaw the member-facing capabilities for the enterprise. These areas included Aetna’s digital assets, concierge services, Apple partnership, high-touch clinical services as well as business units in healthcare payments, benefits enrollment and population health management.

Prior to joining Aetna, David was the Head of Biotech at PPD, a global clinical research organization. David began his career at Morgan Stanley and then Hellman & Friedman, a large private equity firm, where he focused on healthcare investing.

David was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

CEO, Passport

Bob Youakim

Bob Youakim co-founded Passport in 2010 to help public and private agencies drive efficiencies and transform the way they manage their mobility operations. His 15+ years of experience in business development, finance and operations have helped him guide Passport through a decade of continued growth to its current position as the industry’s leading mobility platform, which has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 lists. Prior to founding Passport, Bob served as a vice president in investment banking along and held various audit and consulting roles. Bob received his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his Bachelors of Science from the University of Illinois. Outside of Passport, he loves spending time with his wife and four children and enjoys flying planes as a pilot.

Speaker:Fintech Panel


Life Science Speakers

physicist and a biotech entrepreneur

Safi Bahcall

Safi is a second-generation physicist (the son of two astrophysicists), a biotech entrepreneur, and former public-company CEO.

He received his BA summa cum laude from Harvard and his PhD in physics from Stanford, where he worked with Lenny Susskind in particle physics (the science of the small) and the Nobel laureate Bob Laughlin in condensed matter physics (the science of the many). He was a Miller Fellow in physics at UC Berkeley (the school of the many). After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, Safi co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led its IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years.

In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research.

Safi regularly speaks with leadership teams about applying the ideas in Loonshots (more here) and has presented at industry conferences, investor events, medical meetings, and leading academic institutions around the world.

Loonshots, Safi’s first book, has been translated into 18 languages; recommended by Bill Gates, Daniel Kahneman, Daniel Pink, Adam Grant, Malcolm Gladwell, and Tim Ferriss; and selected as a best business book of the year by Amazon, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., Medium, Strategy + Business, Tech Crunch, and the Washington Post. It was the most recommended book of the year in Bloomberg’s annual survey of CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Safi lives with his wife, two children in Cambridge, MA.

Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer Amicus Therapeutics, Inc

John Crowley

John Francis Crowley is the Chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, a global biotechnology company focusing on developing treatments for rare genetic diseases. John has been Amicus CEO since 2005 and has overseen the company’s growth from a four person start-up to one with operations in more than 30 countries, with 550+ employees and a market value of nearly $3 Billion. John’s involvement with biotechnology stems from the 1998 diagnosis of two of his children with Pompe disease—a severe and often fatal neuromuscular disorder. In his drive to find a cure for them, he left his position at Bristol-Myers Squibb and became an entrepreneur as the Co-founder, President and CEO of Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, a biotech start-up conducting research on a new experimental treatment for Pompe disease (which he credits as ultimately saving his children’s lives). In 2001, Novazyme was acquired by Genzyme Corporation and John continued to play a lead role in the development of a drug for Pompe disease as Senior Vice President, Genzyme Therapeutics. 

John and his family have been profiled on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and are the subjects of a book by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Geeta Anand, “The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million-And Bucked the Medical Establishment-In a Quest to Save His Children.” The major motion picture, Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford, is inspired by the Crowley family journey. John is the author of a personal memoir: Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy. 

John served as a commissioned intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 2005-2016, assigned to the United States Special Operations Command and is a veteran of the global war on terrorism, with service in Afghanistan. He graduated with a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and earned a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School and an M.B.A. from Harvard. The Crowley family was the recipient of the 2011 Family Exemplar Award from the University of Notre Dame. He is also a member of the University Council on Science & Technology at Notre Dame. John served as the National Chairman of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America (2014-2016) and is a founding Board member of the Global Genes Project. John is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Student NCSSM

Isaiah Hamilton

Isaiah Hamilton is currently a senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. He will be presenting his research project, “The Comparison of Oleuropein and Hydroxytyrosol and Their Effects on Parkinson’s Disease Modeled in C. elegans.” Isaiah prepared for his project through the Research in Biology program under the mentorship of Dr. Kim Monahan, Chair of Biology at NCSSM and conducted his research during the summer and fall trimester of his senior year. 

At NCSSM his interests are centered around science, ethics and government. Currently, he serves as Senate President of student government, HOPE officer, and member of the Code of Conduct Review Board. He attends the University of North Carolina System Association of Student Government monthly in which he works with other UNC system schools as a delegate to evaluate proposed association legislation and grants. This past fall, he led the Modern Science and Ethics seminar which focused on new discoveries in a variety of scientific fields.  His favorite course at NCSSM (other than Research in Biology) is Anatomy and Physiology because he was able to learn gross anatomy of the body through cat dissection. Isaiah looks forward to attending Duke University in the fall.

bill hawkins

Summit Leader

Bill Hawkins

Former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic

Mr. Hawkins is retired Chairman and CEO of Medtronic and currently a corporate director serving on public and private boards as well as non for profit boards. He was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering and is an AIMBE Fellow.

Mr. Hawkins currently serves as Lead Director and previously served as President and CEO of Immucor (a private equity backed company) from October 2011 to July 2015.  Prior to Immucor, Mr. Hawkins served as Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, one of the worlds’ largest and most innovative medical technology companies. Mr. Hawkins assumed the role of CEO in 2007 and became Chairman of the Board in 2008. He joined Medtronic in 2002 as SVP and President of Medtronic Vascular. He served in that role until June 2004. From 2004 until August 2007 he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Medtronic.

Prior to Medtronic, Mr. Hawkins served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Novoste Corp. Nasdaq (NOVT) and held senior leadership positions at American Home Products, Johnson & Johnson, Guidant Corp., and Eli Lilly & Co. He began his medical technology career with Carolina Medical Electronics in 1977. 

Mr. Hawkins received his bachelor’s degree in electrical and biomedical engineering from Duke in 1976, where he also conducted medical research in pathology. He then went on to earn an M.B.A. from the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, in 1982.

He is a Senior Advisor to EW Healthcare Partners, a leading private equity firm investing in life sciences. Mr. Hawkins serves as a Director of Avanos Health NYSE: AVNS. He is Chairman of the Board of Bioventus, and 4Tech; a cardiology startup in Ireland, and on the Board of Virtue Labs, Baebies, Cereius, AskBio, Cirtec Medical, Biogen (BIIB: NASDAQ) and Tissue Tech.  Mr. Hawkins is the past Chairman and Co-Founder of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (“MDIC”) and past-president of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (“AMIBE”).  Mr. Hawkins was elected to the Duke University Board of Trustees in 2011 and currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board. He is on the Executive Committee and the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee.  Mr. Hawkins is Chair of the Board of the Duke University Health System.  He is a member of the NC Biotech board and serves on the Board of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation Society.

Mr. Hawkins also serves as a Member of the Advisory Boards at Arboretum Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners, HealthQuest Ventures, and past member of A*STAR SERC Cluster Advisory Board in Singapore, and the Biomedical Research Council of Singapore.”

Summit Leader

Sheila Mikhail

CEO, President, Co-Founder AskBio

Sheila Mikhail co-founded and was the initial CEO of AskBio from 2002 through 2007. Ms. Mikhail left the company to become CEO of NanoCor Therapeutics, Inc. Most recently, Ms. Mikhail co-founded and was CEO of Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc., which in 20 months raised $50 million, advanced a therapeutic for GAN into the clinic, completed Pre-IND studies for the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy therapeutic, and built a GMP manufacturing facility. Bamboo was acquired by Pfizer in August 2016.

Trained as a lawyer, Ms. Mikhail practiced law for over 15 years, including a law firm that she founded, Life Sciences Law, which serviced clients such as Bayer, Gilead, GSK, Sanofi, and Aventis. Ms. Mikhail also practiced with Ropes and Gray in Boston. Ms. Mikhail earned a JD, with honors, from Northwestern University; a finance MBA, with honors, from the University of Chicago; and a BS, with highest honors, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Biogen, Inc., Exelixis, Inc., and Regulus Therapeutics, Inc.

Dr. Stelios Papadopoulos

Dr. Stelios Papadopoulos is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Biogen, Inc., Exelixis, Inc., and Regulus Therapeutics, Inc.  He is a co-founder of Exelixis, Inc. as well as co-founder and former Chairman of Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (acquired by Hoffman – La Roche in 2011) and Cellzome, Inc. (acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2012).  In the not-for-profit sector, Dr. Papadopoulos is co-founder and Chairman of Fondation Santé (www.fondationsante.org), a member of the Board of Visitors of Duke Health, and a member of the Global Advisory Board of the Duke Institute for Health Innovation. 

Dr. Stelios Papadopoulos retired as Vice Chairman of Cowen & Co., LLC in 2006 after six years with the firm whereas an investment banker he focused on the biotech and pharma sectors. Prior to joining Cowen, he spent 13 years as an investment banker at PaineWebber, Incorporated where he was most recently Chairman of PaineWebber Development Corp., a PaineWebber subsidiary focusing on biotechnology. He joined PaineWebber in 1987 from Drexel Burnham Lambert where he was an analyst in the Equity Research Department covering the biotechnology industry. Prior to Drexel, he was the biotechnology analyst of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. For his work as an equity analyst he was elected in the Institutional Investor 1987 All America Research Team.  He has also received multiple honors and awards for his work in the biopharma industry as a company founder, advisor and financier. 

Before coming to Wall Street, Dr. Papadopoulos was on the faculty of the Department of Cell Biology at New York University School of Medicine.  Dr. Papadopoulos holds an M.S. in physics, a Ph.D. in biophysics and an M.B.A. in finance, all from New York University. 

Chief Executive Officer Stridebio

Sapan Shah, Ph.D.

Sapan Shah, Ph.D. joined StrideBio as Chief Executive Officer in January 2019. He has spent the past 20 years as an advisor, entrepreneur, founder and CEO working with innovative companies advancing novel therapeutics for areas of unmet medical need. Prior roles have included CEO of ARMGO Pharma, CEO of Shionogi, Inc., Co-founder and Chairman of Ezose Sciences, Founder and CEO of Novatherx, EIR at Yale University and Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company. Dr. Shah holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University and B.A. degrees in Mathematics, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology from the Integrated Science Program at Northwestern University.

Speaker:CEO Panel

CEO Ribometrix

Michael Solomon

Mike has more than twenty years of experience in the biotechnology industry, with the last fourteen
focused on creating and operating early-stage therapeutic-focused companies.

Most recently, Mike was Chief Operating Officer at Decibel Therapeutics, a biotechnology company
focused on broadly treating hearing disorders. Mike’s involvement at Decibel was part of his work as
an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Third Rock Ventures; he led a team that created Decibel’s
business plan resulting in a $52 M Series A round.

Prior to Decibel, Mike was Chief Operating Officer at Ember Therapeutics, a Third Rock Ventures
company focused on obesity and diabetes, and Chief Business Officer at Link Medicine, a neurodegeneration focused biotechnology company that was sold to Astra Zeneca. Mike was also a founder and VP of Discovery at Epizyme Therapeutics, a company focused on epigenetic modulators that is now a publicly-traded company, and VP of Discovery at Hypnion, Inc a sleep disorder company that was sold to Lilly in 2007 for $325 million. Mike also spent two years as a biotechnology analyst at Bank of America Securities. He started his career at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where he was project leader for multiple programs.

Mike received his BS in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, and completed postdoctoral work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry at Scripps.

Speaker:CEO Panel

melissa smith

Summit Leader

Melissa Smith

Managing Director, Head of Specialized Industries, Middle Market Banking, J.P. Morgan

Melissa Smith is the Head of Specialized Industries for JPMorgan’s Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries (MMBSI) business. She leads a team of national managers responsible for industry verticals including Agribusiness, Apparel, Beverage, Emerging Growth, Life Sciences, Media and Entertainment, Technology, and the Middle Market Financial Sponsors Group. The industry teams provide traditional banking services and investment banking solutions to mid-cap sized companies across the country.Melissa is also responsible for the Government, Healthcare, Higher Ed, and Not-for-Profit businesses within MMBSI and sits on the Management Committee for the Commercial Bank.

Prior to joining MMBSI, Melissa spent 3 years as the Northeast Group Head for Corporate Client Banking & Specialized Industries (CCBSI) where she also served on the Management Committee. Since joining CCBSI she has acted as the Regional Chair for the Northeast Market Leadership Teams and as Senior Sponsor for the CB Columbia recruiting team.

Melissa joined the firm in 1998 in Public Finance and has spent most of her career in the Corporate & Investment Bank (CIB), most recently as the Head of EMEA Investment Grade Finance in London. As part of her role running the DCM business in Europe, Melissa was a co-chair of the Debt Underwriting Commitments Committee (DUCC), a member of the EMEA balance Sheet Committee, a senior sponsor of the ED Connect program in EMEA and a member of the Analyst and Associate Development Council.Prior to her London move, she spent 14 years in the Debt Capital Markets group in New York as the Head of the Consumer, Retail, Healthcare and Chemicals team.

Melissa received a BA in Political Science from American University and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Since 2009, she has served on the Board of Trustees of American Ballet Theatre.


Educational Speakers

Board Member, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals

Wendy DiCicco

Wendy DiCicco is an experienced C-suite executive and a corporate director with an array of corporate leadership accomplishments for both public and private companies. She currently serves on the boards of EyePoint Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: EYPT), where she serves as the Audit Committee Chair, and Carmell Therapeutics.  She has previously served on three additional public and private corporate boards, including boards in the medical device, semiconductor and biotechnology sectors, where she has experience chairing the audit, compensation and governance committees.  Ms. DiCicco is also a Financial, Executive and Board Advisory Consultant for several emerging growth companies.  At the C-level, she brings broad, practical leadership experience including financial and operational acumen as a CFO, COO and President. Most recently, Ms. DiCicco was the Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer of Centinel Spine and previously the President and Chief Operating Officer at Camber Spine Technologies. Prior to these two privately held spinal technology companies, Ms. DiCicco served as the Chief Financial Officer for several private and public medical device and biotechnology companies, including Kensey Nash Corporation (NASDAQ:KNSY), where she served as CFO for 12 years. Ms. DiCicco started her career with Deloitte & Touche in audit assurance.  Ms. DiCicco also serves in the community, where she is currently on the board of the Chester County Library System and the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). She is a Corporate Governance Fellow as well as a Board Leadership Fellow of the NACD. Ms. DiCicco graduated from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science with a B.S. degree in Accounting and is a CPA in the state of Pennsylvania.  

Founder SmartfulWorks

Jennifer Giordano

Jenn has over a decade of coaching and facilitation experience. She worked internally at Fortune 500 companies, and then launched her own coaching and training practice in 2009. Jenn works with leaders at all level and industries helping them realize their full potential and assisting them to put a plan in place to reach their objectives. Her professional background, coupled with her double Masters in counseling and organizational psychology from Columbia University, and her undergraduate degree in Human & Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University, has given her deep skills in the area of executive and team development. 

Past Experiences Jenn has been an executive coach, trainer, and facilitator for leading companies such as PwC, Genentech, Suntrust, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase, and HCA Healthcare. At PwC, Jenn worked in their Advisory line of service, within their Human Capital group, assisting clients in the pharmaceutical, technology, energy and finance industries. Jenn specializes in coaching leaders during career and organizational transitions. She uses various assessment tools to help individuals and teams understand and value differences. Jenn loves working with individuals and groups at any stage in their career helping them to become clear on their own values, skills, and goals, while aligning these with the needs of the people they lead. 

Chief Engagement Officer, Simple Change

Becky Jacobs

I am passionate about creating workplace cultures that allow people to feel successful both personally and professionally. As a leader, I’ve spent more than twenty years in operations leadership roles at various multinational companies, leading teams to greater efficiency and overall impact.

I have been researching productivity, leadership and workplace culture throughout my career, but finally realized the true impact on my personal wellbeing when I decided to juggle a demanding career while raising a young family and completing my MBA. I combined my passion and experience by creating Simple Change, an organization dedicated to transforming the performance and engagement of teams by leveraging wellbeing as a leadership strategy.

We focus on simple concepts that deliver transformational change, and develop comprehensive solutions to address the root causes of burnout and stress. Our keynote presentations and workshops focus on the intersection of energy, productivity and focus to create sustainable business results.

Account Director, BAERING

Elizabeth Kadick

As BAERING’s account director, Elizabeth leads our account team in the development and execution of strategic communications and pushes our team to think outside the box, ensuring delivery excellence from start to finish. She is focused on managing our agency’s work for clients, mentoring team members and leading all public relations activities. She has an active role in account strategy, shaping and driving success for our clients. Elizabeth joined BAERING after having spent time on Capitol Hill and in the New York State Legislature where she worked to uncover needs and map out thoughtful, actionable strategies for corporations, government agencies, trade associations and non-profits across industries on reputation and brand management campaigns.

Managing Editor of GrepBeat

Pete McEntegart

Pete McEntegart is the Managing Editor of GrepBeat, which covers tech—especially tech startups—in the Triangle via a twice-weekly email newsletter and a news site at GrepBeat.com. Before GrepBeat he was, in chronological order: i) a Goldman Sachs investment banker; ii) a sportswriter, primarily at Sports Illustrated; iii) a comedy writer for TV/film; iv) a tech startup Co-Founder and COO. You know, that old drill.

Community Relations Executive, VACO

Donna Rhode

Donna is currently Community Relations Executive at Vaco Raleigh, LLC, a boutique provider of executive search, consultant, permanent placement, and strategic staffing services. She also provides coaching, leadership facilitation, and business consulting services.

Donna spent over 25 years in the high-tech industry in various capacities. She was Vice President in Global Sales Operations for Cisco Systems where she led multiple teams to drive, design, and implement innovative global programs and processes. She held other leadership roles in Strategy, Sales Enablement, Product Marketing, Government Affairs, Systems Engineering, and Field Marketing. Before Cisco, Donna was with IBM in Systems Engineering, Sales, and Brand Management roles.

Donna served as Program Director at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Executive Development Program, where she designed, developed, and executed custom leadership programs for corporate clients.

One of her consulting engagements was with MetLife Technical University, where she led the management readiness track for a new early-in-career development program. She has provided coaching for a number of companies, including Cisco’s director community.

Certifications include EQ-I (emotional intelligence self-assessment & 360); Leadership Versatility Index (360); Insights Discovery Tool; Covey Leading at the Speed of Trust.

Director, Strategic Content – NCDA

Kimberly Simpson

Kimberly Simpson is director of strategic content for the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), leading NACD’s credentialing programs (NACD Directorship Certification™ and NACD Fellowship®), co-leading the organization’s Fortune 500 advisory councils, and routinely contributing to NACD member education through blogs and articles. Formerly, Simpson was NACD’s first regional director. Prior to joining NACD, Simpson was executive vice president at Sanford Health and was the inaugural president of the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. She was chief operating officer and general counsel for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and served as secretary to the board of directors. Simpson also was a director of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocacy Alliance, Komen’s Washington, DC-based policy organization. Earlier, Simpson was vice president and general counsel at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. She was a US Marshall Memorial Fellow to Europe in 2005

President, BAERING

Erin Smith

An accomplished public relations professional, Erin has more than 13 years of experience in developing and executing strategic public relations plans to increase brand awareness and support business growth. As a hands-on president who spends the majority of her time working directly with clients, Erin offers the combination of industry knowledge, business acumen and communications expertise that companies need in order to adapt to change, outpace competition, and improve their relationships with stakeholders.

former Board Chairman and member of the Central Texas Angel Network

Rick Timmins

Rick is a resident of Austin, Texas and is heavily involved in the Austin start-up community. He is the former Board Chairman (six years) and member of the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), the most active angel network in the country. He has personally invested in 44 start-up companies since 2009 and has assisted many entrepreneurs with insight and recommendations through mentoring and formal participation on Boards, accelerators and incubators. Rick, is also one of the two partners in Mid-City Development, a development and construction business in Austin which specializes in the development of mixed use apartment/condo/townhome communities in Austin neighborhoods. Mid-City currently has nine projects in various stages of development.

He brings with him 35 years of experience in financial management and strategic guidance from two Fortune 50 technology companies, Rick served as Vice President, Corporate Controller and Assistant CFO of finance at networking technology leader Cisco Systems from 1995 to 2007.  There he was instrumental in developing and implementing an e-culture of financial reporting across all of Cisco’s worldwide operations. When he arrived in 1995 it took Cisco 21 days to close its monthly reporting books. Under his leadership that task was reduced to less than 1 day worldwide.

Prior to Cisco, Rick served as Vice President of finance for Motorola for 23 years. He had worldwide financial responsibility for the MOS Semiconductor Group for several years.  He also was also the CFO for Motorola Japan living in Tokyo for 6 years and assisted in helping to develop Motorola’s cellular and semiconductor operations in Japan, which experienced high growth from $200 million to over $2.5 billion. 

In addition to his operational experience, Rick has also worked with numerous top tier venture firms from across the country, including as Venture Partner at G51 in Austin.

Rick is currently a Board member in five companies/organizations: one public and one private and three noon-profits..  Rick previously served on four other public company Boards and six private company Boards. Rick holds a B.S. degree in accounting and finance from the University of Arizona, an M.B.A. degree from St. Edward’s University, and was previously a Certified Public Accountant.

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