People

People

Tom Schryver

Executive Director

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Tom is the Executive Director of Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) and is a Visiting Lecturer at the Johnson Graduate School of Management. CREA’s programs include Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, the Southern Tier Startup Alliance, and support of Cornell’s regional economic advancement efforts. Tom leads the Upstate NY I-Corps Node, and is the lead instructor for Cornell Engineering’s Commercialization Fellows program. He serves on the teaching team for eLab, Cornell’s student business accelerator, and teaches entrepreneurship and business strategy at Cornell.

He is an experienced entrepreneur having served as a startup founder and senior finance executive of high-growth companies. Previously, he was Director of Finance for the Triad Foundation, where his responsibilities included investing the Foundation’s $250M portfolio to top-quartile returns. His board affiliations include the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park, Tompkins County Area Development, and board vice-chair of the Business Incubator Association of New York State. Tom co-chairs the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council’s Innovation Culture workgroup.

Tom has an AB and MBA from Cornell, where he was a recipient of the MBA program’s Albert J. Fried Fellowship for Leadership and Academic Excellence. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

Sara Baier

Marketing and Communications Specialist

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Sara Baier is a Marketing and Communications Specialist at the Center for Regional Economic Advancement where she is responsible for social media, email marketing, and digital storytelling for CREA’s numerous programs. Prior to joining Cornell University, Sara worked at the College of Engineering at Northeastern University, where she led marketing and communications for the ALERT (Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats) Center of Excellence. She holds a B.A. in Social Studies Secondary Education from Grand Valley State University and a M.Ed. in Learning & Instruction from Northeastern University. Outside of CREA, Sara is an enthusiastic hiker and backpacker who recently completed a solo thru-hike of the John Muir Trail (200+ miles).

Brian Bauer

Competitions Director, Entrepreneur in Residence

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Brian Bauer is the Competition Director for Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement. Brian runs 76West, NYSERDA’s clean energy business competition and the Grow-NY food and agriculture competition. He is also an Entrepreneur in Residence for the Southern Tier Startup Alliance, a member organization of incubators across the Southern Tier, which is a collaboration between Cornell University, Binghamton University, and Corning Enterprises.

Brian is a seasoned international energy industry executive with extensive experience in oil, natural gas, chemicals, and renewables in the United States, Asia, and Europe. Brian ran several international businesses during a 30-year career in the energy industry and has expertise in operations, strategy, business development, mergers and acquisitions, major project management, corporate governance, and organizational change.

Brian has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and an MBA in Operations and Finance from the University of Chicago. In addition to his entrepreneurial work, Brian lectures at Cornell and serves on the Board of the Paleontological Research Institute, which includes the Museum of the Earth and the Cayuga Nature Center, both near Ithaca.

Nate Cook

Entrepreneur in Residence

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Nate Cook is an active attorney in the greater Ithaca community, and he represents businesses and individuals in connection with a wide array of complex commercial business and real estate transactions. He has also served as a visiting lecturer at the Johnson School at Cornell University where he taught a course focused on entrepreneurship and early-stage finance and venture capital transactions. In addition to practicing law and teaching, Nate serves as mentor for the 76West Clean Energy Competition and a judge for Cornell Law School’s Transactional Lawyering Competition.

Nate started his law practice at Ballard Spahr, LLP, a national law firm with more than 650 attorneys in 15 offices across the country. He was also a member of Fox Rothschild, LLP and served as the president of First Excelsior Group from 2012-2016. Prior to joining Rev, Nate was a member of a local law firm in Ithaca. Throughout his career, he has represented a diverse group of clients including publicly-traded corporations, middle market companies, and emerging technology startups. He regularly counsels companies on corporate governance, fund raising, M&A transactions, and protection of intellectual property.

Nate has served on the board of directors of several private companies and non-profits. He is currently a trustee of the Paleontological Research Institution, which operates the Museum of the Earth, the Cayuga Nature Center, and Smith Woods, and a member of the board of directors of Upstate Capital, a trade association for venture capitalists and other capital providers across upstate New York.

Susan Fleming

Entrepreneur in Residence

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Susan Fleming is an experienced executive, educator, speaker, angel investor, and mom. In the first twelve years of her career, Susan advanced from an Analyst at Morgan Stanley to Partner at an $1.85 billion private equity fund. During this time, she was struck by the lack of women in leadership positions and decided to take action. She pursued a Ph.D. at Cornell in management, focusing on gender bias in the business world and how to reduce it. Today, she speaks across the U.S. on these issues.

Susan has served on the board of directors of numerous publicly traded companies, private companies, and non-profits. She also served as a senior lecturer for both Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration and Johnson Graduate School of Management, teaching entrepreneurship, finance, women in leadership and negotiations courses, as well as running several business competitions and Cornell’s university-wide minor in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Prior to joining the business world, Susan obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. As a resident of Ithaca, NY, she is excited to draw on her deep knowledge of entrepreneurship, finance, leadership and culture to help more local startups build effective and inclusive organizations that will drive long-term growth and value creation for their founders, their investors and the community.

Alex Hagen

Entrepreneur in Residence

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Alex Hagen, a serial entrepreneur, recently joined Rev: Ithaca Startup Works as an Entrepreneur in Residence. Previously the Director of the Southern Tier Clean Energy Incubator, Alex is also currently CEO at ShrubBucket.com, an online order aggregation business that has the goal of disrupting the gardening industry. “The Zappos of Plants” is growing rapidly and will be expanding into several cities in 2020. Previously, he was the CFO at Renovus Solar during a time of rapid growth from 7 employees to over 60. Prior to Renovus, Alex was the founding CEO of Weaver Wind Energy Inc. and raised over $1M in grants and angel capital. During his five years with the company, he managed the design, prototyping, testing, and manufacturing of the world’s most reliable small wind turbine, one of the first in the country to be awarded full certification by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Alex has over fourteen years of operational, financial, and business strategy experience at both startups and large corporations. He served in engineering and project management capacities at Hutchinson Technologies (high-volume, high-precision hard drive component manufacturer) as well as product development and R&D at Merit Medical Systems (intravenous medical devices). Alex holds a degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and an MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell University. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Black Oak Wind Farm and other community organizations. He lives in Ithaca, New York with his wife and four kids.

Andrea Ippolito

Speaker/Mentor

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Andrea Ippolito is the executive director of the Engineering Management Program at Cornell University. She is an instructor for eLab, Cornell’s student accelerator, Engineering’s Commercialization Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps. She recently completed a role as the innovators network director at the Department of Veterans Affairs and she previously served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the VA Center for Innovation based out of the White House Office of Science Technology Policy and General Services Administration. She previously was a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT, cofounder of Smart Scheduling, Innovation Specialist at the Brigham &Women’s Hospital Innovation Hub, and co-leader of MIT’s Hacking Medicine. She also served as a product innovation manager at Athena Health and completed her M.S. in engineering and management at MIT. Prior to MIT, Andrea worked as a research scientist within the Corporate Technology Development group at Boston Scientific. She obtained both a B.S. in biological engineering in 2006 and Master of Engineering in biomedical engineering in 2007 from Cornell University.

Molly Israel

Director of Marketing and Communications

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Molly Israel is the Marketing Strategist at the Center for Regional Economic Advancement. She plans and implements marketing communications plans to promote CREA, its programs, and its various members. Prior to joining Cornell University, Molly worked at Ithaca College for seven years, most recently as the Executive Director of Marketing. Before joining the ranks within higher education, she got a taste for startups as the Director of Marketing and Sales Operations for a fast-growing digital marketing agency in Washington, D.C. Molly holds a degree in communications from Ithaca College and is constantly seeking better ways to balance mom-life with her two small children. She also serves on the board of the Learning Web, a local nonprofit supporting youth from various backgrounds.

Scott Marsh

Financial Associate

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Scott Marsh is the Financial Associate at the Center for Regional Economic Advancement. He handles financial transactions and analysis for the Center. Scott has 25 + years of experience at Cornell University, most recently as the Assistant Director for the Office of Publications and Marketing. Scott received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine and his Bachelor’s in Economics from UCLA. In addition, Scott served as an Assistant Baseball Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Cornell from 1994-2016. Prior to moving to New York, he spent three years playing in the San Diego Padres organization.

Leigh Martino

Marketing and Communications Specialist

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Leigh Martino is a Marketing and Communications Specialist for Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement where she is responsible for graphic design, multimedia efforts, and promotion of CREA’s various programs. Before joining Cornell University, Leigh spent two years working at Binghamton University as a communications assistant in the athletic department. Prior to her time at Binghamton, she served as the Public Information Coordinator at Windsor Central School District. Leigh graduated from Ithaca College in 2015 with a degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications. In addition to working at CREA, she is a part-time assistant coach for the Ithaca College track & field team.

Christine Mehta

Regional Economic Development Specialist

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Christine Mehta is a Regional Economic Development Specialist at CREA. She produces data-driven research on economic development in Upstate New York, and advances CREA’s entrepreneurial programs by connecting entrepreneurs with grant capital and development opportunities.

Prior to joining CREA, Mehta worked as an investigator and writer for Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, and as an expert consultant for Equidem Research and Consulting. A journalist by training, her work has also been published by media outlets like the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Al Jazeera and USA Today. Her most recent published work can be viewed at www.christinemehta.com.

Mehta holds a dual-degree in journalism and international relations from Syracuse University, and teaches classes occasionally on investigative journalism at Syracuse University. She is an MPA degree candidate at Cornell University where she was introduced to the exciting world of startups. In her spare time, she can be found struggling up mountains in the Adirondacks, or dancing salsa in Ithaca.

Elisa Miller-Out

Entrepreneur in Residence

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Currently, Elisa Miller-Out serves as the managing partner at Chloe Capital, a seed stage venture capital investment fund focused on women-led technology companies. She is also the co-founder of PollQ, a chatbot polling tool for higher education, and a board member at Women 2.0, the leading media brand for women in tech.

In 2016, Elisa oversaw a successful acquisition deal with a division of Singlebrook, a custom software services firm that she co-founded and led as CEO for over 10 years. She is the company’s CFO as well as chair of the board. Singlebrook has Fortune 500, higher education, and nonprofit clients from around the world including: Cornell, Yale, Henry Schein, Hitachi, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, and more.

Prior to starting Singlebrook, Elisa founded two other companies and worked in a variety of industries in New York City. She has also launched several networking groups and regularly serves as a mentor and judge for startup accelerators and competitions. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College of Columbia University. Learn more at www.elisamillerout.com.

Liane O’Brien

Program Manager

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Liane O’Brien is the Program Manager for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement. She handles the Finances and is the Research Administrator for the Center. Liane has 15+ year of experience at Cornell University in a number of financial and administrative roles, most recently as the Administrative Manager for the KAUST-CU Research Center. She received her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from American University in Washington, DC as well as her Bachelors in Government and Economics. Outside of Cornell, she is the Chair for both the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Town of Veteran, NY.

Ken Rother

Director of Rev and Program Lead: Hardware Programs

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Ken Rother is the Director of Rev as well as its Hardware Entrepreneurship program. He is the Managing Director of Cornell’s eLab student accelerator program, teaches entrepreneurship at the Johnson School, instructs and coaches in several technology commercialization programs including NSF I-Corps, and is a Venture Partner at Cayuga Venture Fund.

Ken has held multiple senior business and technical positions for organizations such as Discovery Communications, Reuters, Matrox, and the Toronto Stock Exchange. He has direct startup experience having co-founded a software business in Toronto and joining an early stage online media business in New York, both of these startups concluded with successful exits.

Most recently Ken was the Senior Vice President of Digital Media at Discovery.

Caitlin Schickel

Program Coordinator

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Caitlin Schickel is a Regional Economic Development Specialist for Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement. Responsible for collecting data on startup activity in the Southern Tier and coordinating Cornell’s response to START-UP NY, Caitlin also helps out at Rev when she can. Caitlin, an Ithaca native, left to study urban development at Bryn Mawr College, but found herself back home after four years in Philadelphia. While new to the world of startups, she is excited to be a part of one of the organizations working to help revitalize Upstate New York.

Rena Scroggins

76West Competition Manager

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Rena Scroggins is the Competition Manager for the 76West Clean Energy Competition. Rena is part of the Southern Tier Startup Alliance (STSA), a member organization of business incubators who provide support to people starting and growing companies in the region. STSA is operating the competition under contract with the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). Previous to this role, Rena was the owner and CEO of the Montrose Theatre, an independent movie and special events space, for eight years. She lives in Ithaca and enjoys the chaos of working out of Rev: Ithaca Startup Works.

Jenn Smith

Grow-NY Program Director

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Jenn Smith’s role with Grow-NY draws on her background in craft beverage market development, most recently as the Executive Director of the New York Cider Association and the Admin Director of the New York State Distillers Guild. In addition to working with NYCA and NYSDG, over the past 5 years Jenn was an NYC-based consultant to entrepreneurs creating value-added products and hospitality ventures. Before that, she was the marketing director of New York’s largest wine and spirits retailer, and earlier in her career was a director of early online community- and customer engagement for Citigroup, Bertelsmann, and Time Inc. She studied literary theory and philosophy at Sarah Lawrence College, was certified in systems analysis at Columbia University, and attended culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education.

Justin Smithline

Entrepreneur in Residence

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Justin Smithline is a technology entrepreneur who has spent more than 15 years growing successful enterprise technology companies, with a professional focus on sales, product development, and marketing. Although primarily an operator, Justin is also an active investor who has backed startups with a combined enterprise exit value exceeding $1.2 billion. He is currently a Partner at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, a seed VC fund and accelerator based in NYC.

Prior to his current role, Justin was CEO and co-founder of FunnelFire, a company focused on leveraging data to help salespeople and account managers improve the way they help their customers. Before FunnelFire, Justin co-founded Instinctiv, a mobile media company acquired by SoundCloud. He also co-founded Linguaflex, a medical device for the treatment of sleep apnea currently in late stage clinical trials. Justin also helped lead the successful private equity backed carve out and turnaround of Backstage, a leading B2B media portal for the performing arts community, where he led all sales, product development, and technology.

Justin holds an MBA from Cornell University.

Hope Spithaler

Events Coordinator

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As the Events Coordinator for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement, Hope is responsible for pulling off an ambitious calendar of entrepreneurship and economic development events for all CREA programs, including the Grow-NY Food & Agriculture Competition. Prior to joining Cornell University, Hope conducted program and event management at Effie Worldwide, where she still offers her services as a consultant. Hope holds a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from The New School and a Bachelor of Science in International Relations & Diplomacy from Seton Hall University. When she is not supporting programming at CREA, Hope volunteers as an Energy Navigator at the Cornell Cooperative Extension and sits on the Board of Directors at the GreenStar Food Coop in Ithaca, NY.

Shannon Sullivan

Regional Director of UNY I-Corps

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Shannon Sullivan is the Regional Director of the Upstate New York (UNY) I-Corps Node. She focuses on identifying and supporting innovative researchers who wish to explore the commercialization potential of technologies they’ve developed, and on growing the NSF I-Corps network in the Northeast through strong partnerships with universities, incubators and nonprofit venture development organizations. Shannon has 10+ years of entrepreneurial experience and was a founding executive at Globaloria, an education technology start up that was sold to Carnegie Learning in 2017. Her career in digital media and technology spans 20 years and includes leadership roles at MTV and Knowledge Adventure. She holds a BA in Public Relations from the University of Southern California and a MEd in Instructional Technology from the University of Virginia.

Steve Supron

Assistant Director of Hardware Programs

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Steve Supron has more than 30 years of experience in the mechanical design, development, and global manufacturing of complex, electro-mechanical products. He has experience leading engineering teams and working with cross-functional teams including management, manufacturers, and customers. He maintains a deep knowledge of intellectual property and is named as investor or co-investor on 36 U.S. Patents. Most recently, Steve was the Manufacturing Lead for Maidbot.

Greg Thomson

Entrepreneur in Residence

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Greg Thomson is an attorney and strategic advisor based in Ithaca and New York City, with over 20 years of experience in digital media, entertainment and technology. He also serves as Strategic Advisor to Cornell’s Center for Technology Licensing.

Greg has headed business development for venture-financed startup companies including the S.R. Guggenheim Foundation’s digital media company and Sports Museums of America, and also held a senior business development position at NBCi in San Francisco. He began his post-MBA career as a communications /media/technology strategy consultant with PwC’s Strategy& in New York.

As a media industry lawyer and executive, Greg headed business affairs for LA-based Quincy Jones Productions, served as VP of Partnerships for Discovery Communications, and has represented clients including Dr. Dre, Youssou N’Dour, and the Estate of Gil Scott-Heron. He has also served as an entertainment economics expert witness in major entertainment industry litigation, including on behalf of the City of Los Angeles in the federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by heirs of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G.

Greg’s ongoing private law practice work includes intellectual property and software licensing, venture financing, private placements, film financing transactions, media mergers and acquisitions, corporate sponsorships and endorsements, literary rights acquisitions, distribution agreements, and a wide variety of digital media, technology, and music, television and film industry transactions.

Greg received an MBA from Columbia Business School, a JD from Yale Law School, and a BA from Yale College.

Brad Treat 

Entrepreneur in Residence

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Brad is a career entrepreneur with an emphasis on technology-driven companies. Brad was most recently the Founding CEO of Mezmeriz, a high-tech company making interactive projectors and reality capture cameras to embed into mobile phones. Mezmeriz is based on patented MEMS technology developed by company co-founder Shahyaan Desai at Cornell. Previously, he was the Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Cornell University.

Brad was also the co-founder and CEO of SightSpeed, an innovative video and voice communications company. Together with co-founders Aron Rosenberg and Cornell Professor Toby Berger, Brad grew SightSpeed from a university research project into the world’s premier video calling software. SightSpeed was profitably acquired by Logitech for $30M.

Earlier in his career, Brad worked for eight years in the automotive industry in both the US and Spain at Bowles Fluidics and GKN Automotive. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State, and an MBA from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell.

Brad lives in Ithaca, New York. He is faculty at Johnson at Cornell, Cornell Engineering, and Ithaca College teaching practical entrepreneurship, empathetic leadership, and project management. With the loving support of his wife Kristin and sideways looks from his children, he competes in long-distance triathlons in the “Clydesdale” division, has done a few Ironman triathlons, and has finished a handful of marathons without walking.

Brandon Wright

Entrepreneur in Residence

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Brandon is a serial entrepreneur, serving most recently as the co-founder and CEO at Zibby. Zibby is a mission-driven finance company helping retailers sell life’s necessities to 100 million nonprime consumers seamlessly through every channel, from online to in-store. Zibby customers that demonstrate creditworthy behaviors graduate to more attractive financing terms over time.

He landed his first job with a top-10 asset management team at Smith Barney, but quickly transitioned from analyzing companies to building them. He co-founded and successfully exited companies in residential mortgage, multi-family real estate, and retail coffee, all in the Pacific Northwest.

Brandon has co-founded business associations and served on mayoral advisory committees for economic development. He graduated from Whitman College with an undergraduate degree in Economics and received his MBA from Cornell University in 2012.

Interested in working with regional startups and economic development?

We hire paid student assistants every semester – and over the summer! Contact Caitlin Schickel at cts76@cornell.edu to submit your resume and cover letter.