Invention-Con 2020 bios

InventionCon 2020 - The USPTO's Inventors Conference - August 20-22 - Online


Speaker biographies

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) leadership


Andrei Iancu
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

In his role as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, Andrei Iancu provides leadership and oversight to one of the largest intellectual property offices in the world, with more than 12,000 employees and an annual budget of over $3 billion. He also serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international intellectual property policy matters.

Prior to joining the USPTO, Mr. Iancu was the Managing Partner at Irell & Manella LLP, where his practice focused on intellectual property litigation. Mr. Iancu appeared in a variety of high-profile matters in front of the USPTO, U.S. district courts, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the U.S. International Trade Commission. He has represented clients across the technical and scientific spectra, including those associated with medical devices, genetic testing, therapeutics, the internet, telephony, TV broadcasting, video game systems, and computer peripherals.

Mr. Iancu has also taught patent law at the UCLA School of Law, and has written and spoken publicly on a variety of intellectual property issues. Prior to his legal career, Mr. Iancu was an engineer at Hughes Aircraft Company.

Throughout his career, many organizations have recognized Mr. Iancu for his work. Among his legal community accolades, the Daily Journal, California Lawyer magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and many others have acknowledged his expertise in commercial litigation and intellectual property law. Mr. Iancu has also been the recipient of the Patent and Trademark Office Society 36th Annual Rossman Award, the Hughes Aircraft Malcolm R. Currie Innovation Award, and the Melville B. Nimmer Copyright Award.

Mr. Iancu holds a Juris Doctor from the UCLA School of Law. He also has a Master of Science in mechanical engineering and a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering, both from UCLA.

Mr. Iancu was born in Bucharest, Romania. He has lived in the United States since the age of 12. He and his wife, Dr. Luiza C. Iancu, have two children, Ariella and Robert.

Drew Hirshfeld
Commissioner for Patents, USPTO

As Commissioner for Patents, Drew Hirshfeld manages and leads the Patents organization as its chief operating officer. He is responsible for managing and directing all aspects of the organization that affect administration of patent operations, examination policy, patent quality management, international patent cooperation, resources and planning, and budget administration.

During his time as Commissioner, Mr. Hirshfeld has led the Patents business unit by emphasizing both transparency and collaboration. He has managed efforts to ensure the consistency and reliability of patent grants. Mr. Hirshfeld has further played a lead role to ensure that the examining corps is provided with updated examination guidance and training.

Prior to serving as Commissioner for Patents, Mr. Hirshfeld held the positions of Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy and Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. Mr. Hirshfeld began his career in 1994 as a patent examiner and became a supervisory patent examiner in 2001. He was promoted to the Senior Executive Service in 2008 as a Group Director in Technology Center 2100.

Mr. Hirshfeld received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Vermont and a J.D. from Western New England College School of Law.

David S. Gooder
Commissioner for Trademarks, USPTO

David S. Gooder is the Commissioner for Trademarks at the USPTO. The Commissioner serves as the primary agency official for trademarks, domestically and internationally, and is responsible for all aspects of the Trademarks organization, including policy, operations, and budget relating to trademark examination, registration, and maintenance.

Mr. Gooder has worked for more than 25 years on intellectual property and brand-protection challenges facing iconic global brands, notably in the distilled spirits and wine industries. Prior to joining the USPTO, he served as the founding Managing Director and Chief Trademark Counsel at Jack Daniel’s Properties. Additionally, he was the Chief Trademark Counsel for Brown-Forman Corporation, which owns over 30 distilled spirits and wine brands. In that position, Mr. Gooder directed the company’s global intellectual property work, including its large trademark portfolio, rights clearance, brand protection (including anti-counterfeiting), licensing, and entertainment deals for the brands. Before that, Mr. Gooder practiced trademark, copyright, and entertainment law at Graham & James in Los Angeles and Luce Forward in San Diego.

Mr. Gooder has been an officer and served two terms on the Board of Directors for the International Trademark Association (INTA). He has also served as Chairman of the INTA Foundation. Prior to his legal career, Mr. Gooder was a drummer and a video and music director. He is also an Eagle Scout.

Mr. Gooder is a member of the State Bar of California. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona College of Law.

Bismarck Myrick
Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity, USPTO

Bismarck Myrick became the Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity (formerly the Office of Civil Rights) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July 2008. From 2003 to 2008, Mr. Myrick was the Deputy Director of that office. Prior to joining the USPTO, Mr. Myrick worked as an appellate review attorney in the Office of Federal Operations at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1999–2003. Prior to working at the EEOC, Mr. Myrick worked as a trial attorney for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. Mr. Myrick received a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from Florida State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Mr. Myrick is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and State of Maryland.

Wayne Stacy Director of the Silicon Valley USPTO

As the Regional Director of the USPTO’s Silicon Valley Regional Office, Wayne Stacy carries out the strategic direction of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO and is responsible for leading the USPTO's West Coast regional office in Silicon Valley. Focusing on the region and actively engaging with the community, Mr. Stacy ensures the USPTO’s initiatives and programs are tailored to the region's unique ecosystem of industries and stakeholders.

Prior to joining the USPTO, Mr. Stacy was a partner in the Baker Botts Intellectual Property group. With a computer-engineering background, he has over twenty years of experience litigating high-stakes technology cases, including patent, trade secret, software-based copyright, and technology-licensing disputes. He has served as the lead lawyer in numerous jury trials.

For almost two decades, Mr. Stacy has dedicated his spare time to teaching law students about the realities of litigating technology cases. He has been an adjunct professor at four universities, teaching patent law, patent litigation, copyright law, and PTAB practice. Mr. Stacy also devotes significant time to improving the legal community. He has served on Federal Court local-rule committees, drafting patent local rules. He also served as faculty for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, where he has taught a variety of courses from deposition skills to his favorite course, trial skills for public service attorneys.

USPTO and external speakers

Miguel Alemañy
Founder at Innomatrix, LLC Chair of the Board, SHPE

Miguel Alemañy is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), a nonprofit organization that changes the lives of Hispanics by raising money to help students get into STEM, stay in school until graduation, and find jobs in industry, academia, or government afterwards. In the last six years, he has led the board through the biggest transformation in the history of the organization, which included bringing in a professional CEO and staff and growing the society’s membership, budget, and impact. He is focused on honing the organization’s purpose so that SHPE will continue to grow and be recognized as the premier organization for Hispanics in STEM.

Mr. Alemañy has been recognized publicly with many awards for 40 years of work and advocacy on behalf of Hispanics and women in industry and academia across the country. He has served or serves on several industry association and nonprofit boards, and he is a member of the advisory board to the School of Engineering of the University of Puerto Rico.

He is a 40-year executive in the consumer goods industry, having worked in every business and almost every research and development (R&D) function at the Procter & Gamble Company. During his tenure, he progressed from managing Paper R&D in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to Worldwide Technology and Feminine Care, until he retired as Manager of the R&D organization P&G Flavors and Fragrances, the world’s largest perfume house.

Mr. Alemañy remains active in the consumer goods and perfume industries as an advocate of innovation and consumer understanding. He focuses on the 80% of the industry that creates functional perfumery to help people worldwide manage their daily lives. He now owns his own company, Innomatrix, LLC, specializing in the consumer goods and perfumery industries and actively working in both consulting and product development.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico to Catalonian families who immigrated to the United States, Mr. Alemañy is fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian, and he is able to manage in French, Portuguese, and German. He graduated as a chemical engineer from the University of Puerto Rico, took MBA courses at Xavier University, and holds several patents in his name. He is an avid sports car enthusiast and races in his spare time.

Harry Alford, III
Partner and Co-Founder of Humble Ventures

Whether in venture capital, education, or sports, Harry Alford’s career has always centered around inclusion. A four-time founder, Mr. Alford is based in Washington, D.C. and is Co-Founder of Humble Ventures, where he supports diverse entrepreneurs and works to drive innovation opportunities for industry leaders.

Mr. Alford’s previous experience includes managing an accelerator, performing due diligence with a venture capital firm, and exiting an e-commerce startup.

Mr. Alford holds a Master of Arts in sports industry management from Georgetown University and an MBA from Babson College. He played lacrosse the college level for the University of Maryland and as a professional in Major League Lacrosse.

Brandon Andrews
Co-Founder, Gauge

Brandon Andrews is co-founder of Gauge, an artificial intelligence-driven mobile market research platform that connects brands to consumers and influencers to identify opportunities and avoid mistakes. As Senior Consultant at Values Partnerships, he heads the company's efforts on technology and entrepreneurship, which includes leading a nationwide casting tour focused on bringing more diverse ideas and voices to ABC’s “Shark Tank” and building inclusive innovation ecosystems. Named a Global Innovation Fellow by the U.S. Department of State, he has traveled the world speaking and hosting events on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Mr. Andrews is committed to bringing resources to diverse entrepreneurs and started “The Investment” event series to educate entrepreneurs and investors of color. In addition to working with entrepreneurs, he has helped lead a wide variety of nationwide engagement campaigns, including those on behalf of “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018), “Fences” (2016), “Roots” (2016), and “Concussion” (2015).

In 2018, he managed the “#TechtoWealth Tour” with DJ Young Guru to get 10,000 people of color coding. #TechtoWealth brought events to WeWork locations in the final six cities of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “On the Run II” tour and the BET Hip Hop Awards. The initiative featured $1 million in coding scholarships from Opportunity Hub and Flatiron School.

Mr. Andrews worked with NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment to refresh their “Erase the Hate” campaign and built the first accelerator for organizations fighting hate. In 2015, he worked with A+E Networks, iHeartMedia, and the United Way to develop the “Shining A Light Concert for Progress on Race in America,” the Shining a Light Fund, and the “Conversations on Race in America” documentary.

Previously, Mr. Andrews empowered public affairs, technology, and real estate clients at MWWPR. He spent five years as a U.S. Senate staffer handling technology, small business, and defense policy.

He is Chairman of the D.C. Commission on National and Community Service. A former fashion model, he serves on the D.C. Commission on Fashion, Arts, and Events and works with fashion and beauty entrepreneurs. He provides commentary on policy, politics, business, and technology on TV, radio, and online.

A former Division-1 track athlete, Mr. Andrews is a graduate of Oral Roberts University.

Nina Archie
Diversity and Tech Policy Advisor, The Commercializer

Nina Archie focuses on helping small business innovators monetize their inventions. She is an advocate for spreading awareness of the patent and commercialization process and for expanding diversity and inclusion in the tech ecosystem, which encompasses intellectual property, economic development, small business ownership, and access to resources for innovators in underrepresented groups.

Ms. Archie's expertise includes policy analysis and creating initiatives to increase participation in Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs (SBIR/STTR). Her leadership skills have contributed to the Sisters in SBIR initiative to increase access to government resources and government funding for women.

Ms. Archie co-wrote testimony given before the House of Representatives Small Business Committee in the “Patent Diversity for America’s Innovators” legislative hearing, which focused on the obstacles facing underrepresented groups in the patent, commercialization, and small business ownership processes. She is a former USPTO patent examiner and a former technology transfer specialist at the National Institute for Health’s Intellectual Property Office.

Ms. Archie has served in leadership roles with DC-ICORPS and the Association of University Technology Managers Association. She served as a Legislative Fellow in the House of Representatives, focusing on intellectual property and technology policy issues in the offices of Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke.

She holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees and is a candidate in the Master in Public Policy and Master in Intellectual Property and Technology Law programs at the George Mason University Schar School and the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School. Ms. Archie holds a Technology Transfer Certification and Diversity and Inclusion Certification.


Andrew S. Baluch
Co-Founder, Markup, LLC

Andrew S. Baluch is an independent inventor, intellectual property (IP) lawyer, and Co-Founder of the startup company Markup LLC. Markup builds secure governing technology solutions for public policy collaboration. Markup Redline™ is a legislative drafting tool that enables fast and accurate side-by-side comparison to show how pending legislation will impact existing statues and regulations, and it allows policymakers and staff to draft amendments and bills in collaboration with colleagues remotely. Markup Redline™ has been authorized for use and is currently available to all members and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives. Markup ERVS™ (emergency remote voting system) enables authorized elected officials to cast verifiable votes remotely over a secure platform.

Mr. Baluch was previously a partner at a large international law firm after having served in the White House Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. Prior to his White House appointment, he served as an expert legal advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO and as a law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Shelly Bell Founder
Black Girl Ventures

Named as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 Powerful Women in Business, Shelly Bell is a computer scientist, system disruptor, and business strategist who moves ideas to profit while empowering people to build and foster better relationships. She connects entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations in order to diversify their talent pipelines, increase equity, and grow their brands.

Ms. Bell is among the nation's most sought-after transformational speakers in the D.C. Metro area and has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, the Washington Business Journal, NewsOne, Entrepreneur Magazine, People of Color in Tech, and Politico Live. Her organization, Black Girl Ventures (BGV), is a culturally converging ecosystem that promotes economic security, civic engagement, and hyperlocal infrastructure at the intersection of STEM education and entrepreneurship for Black and Brown woman-identifying founders, funders, and veterans. Since 2016, BGV has funded 41 women, increased access to social capital for 168 program participants, and launched participants’ efforts in 10 cities.

As a Google Guru and ecosystem builder, she engages audiences from grassroots to government. Using her Return on Relationship (R.O.R) Method, she teaches “intrapreneurs, entrepreneurs, and wantrepreneurs” how to hold ladders for each other as they move to the next level of success. She has trained over 5,000 entrepreneurs, held over 300 events for empowering leaders, managed multi-million dollar contracts, and helped to scale over 200 businesses.

Leonard Chang
Academy Supervisory Patent Examiner – Trainer, Office of Patent Training, USPTO

Leonard Chang is an Academy Supervisory Patent Examiner Trainer in the USPTO’s Office of Patent Training (OPT). He trains and supervises new patent examiners across the electrical, mechanical, and chemical disciplines.

Mr. Chang began his career at the USPTO in 2007 as a patent examiner and became a primary examiner in 2013. He examined applications in semiconductor devices and fabrication before becoming an OPT trainer. He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Dana Robert Colarulli
Executive Director, Licensing Executive Society International (LESI)

Dana Colarulli serves as the Executive Director of the Licensing Executive Society International (LESI). He also consults on intellectual property (IP) policy issues of interest to IP right holders and in front of the U.S. Congress and the Administration through the American Continental Group (ACG), a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. He is a highly-regarded and accomplished IP professional with a great depth of experience in advancing the business of IP, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Most recently, he served as the Director of the USPTO’s Office of Governmental Affairs and as a member of the agency’s Executive Committee, which are positions he held for nearly 10 years. Prior to his government service, Mr. Colarulli led government relations efforts and facilitated policy discussions at the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO).

Lindsey Cox
Program Manager, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Economic Development Administration

Lindsey Cox serves as the Program Manager for the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Build to Scale Program, where she oversees more than 225 grants that build regional economies through scalable startups throughout the U.S. Ms. Cox specializes in tech-based economic development, having spent eight years at Launch Tennessee in Nashville, where she oversaw the launch of the state’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Matching Grant Program and led the 36|86 technology and entrepreneurship conference.

David Fedewa
Founder, Invent Tribe

David Fedewa is a negotiations coach, licensing specialist, and Founder of Invent Tribe. He has coached over 160 inventors to successfully license their own products. His strengths lie at the intersection of business and psychology. While coaching students through multi-million dollar negotiations, he not only looks at the deals at hand but also teaches strategies that can be used to conclude win-win agreements throughout life.

He has been featured in Inc. and Entrepreneur’s online publications on licensing and negotiation strategy. He has licensed five of his own products, one of which was featured in Time, CHIVE, Business Insider, and CNET’s Father’s Day Product of The Year list.

Dennis Forbes
Innovation Development Program Manager, Office of Innovation Outreach, USPTO

Dennis Forbes is an Innovation Development Program Manager in the USPTO’s Office of Innovation Outreach, where he actively develops and launches outreach engagement programs that foster meaningful patent education awareness for independent inventors, small businesses, entrepreneurs, makers, universities, and K-12 students. In addition, he conducts interactive informational presentations about design intellectual property products for USPTO visitors.

Forbes holds a Master of Public Administration degree from American University in Washington, D.C. and Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina.

LaKisha Greenwade
Brand Strategist, Wearable Tech Ventures Founder

LaKisha Greenwade—better known as Coach L—is a brand strategist and Founder of Wearable Tech Ventures, which promotes and develops wearable innovations.

After the Baltimore uprising, she created a platform in fashion technology to rebrand the city’s contributions and drive innovation among local youth. After self-funding her venture, gaining international acclaim, and receiving many accolades, she expanded the platform to include all wearables. Her goal is to create a space in technology that is diversified through innovative solutions and products developed by traditionally underrepresented populations.

Ms. Greenwade’s business and leadership tips have been featured in the U.S., China, UAE, U.K., and Brazil. Her honors include Baltimore City Innovator of the Year, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship Startup Mentor Coach of the Year nominee, two-time 40 under 40 Honoree, and selection as a three-time SXSW presenter. She has been featured in and is a Boss Babe contributor, Black Enterprise Tech Connext Fellow, Founder Gym Tech Founder Graduate, and best-selling author of “40 Days to Unshakable Self-Confidence.”

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Ohio State University, an MBA from the University of Maryland, and she attended Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Maryland.

Bob Held, Held Intellectual Property, LLC Immediate Past President and Chair Licensing Executives Society (LES)

Robert Held has been in the business of intellectual property (IP) since 1998 and has orchestrated hundreds of IP transactions around the world in multiple industries. He has also been active in the Licensing Executives Society (LES USA and Canada) since 1998, having served in multiple roles such as sector leadership, meetings planning, co-chair, and co-author of the High Tech Sector Royalty Rate and Deal Terms Surveys for 2011, 2014, and 2017, and on the Board of Directors since 2012. He currently holds the position of Immediate Past President and Chair of the LES Board of Directors, having served as the President and Chair from 2018–2019. He is frequently asked to speak at conferences and other events around the world.

Mr. Held is the President of Held Intellectual Property, LLC, a full-service IP business consulting firm. He recently worked for TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (TCS) in Annapolis, Maryland, as the Vice President, Intellectual Asset Management, responsible for the strategic management and monetization of TCS’s IP portfolio. All assets of TCS were acquired in February 2016.

Immediately prior to joining TCS, he worked for Northrop Grumman Corporation, Electronic Systems Sector from 2003–2011 as the Director of the Intellectual Property & Strategic Technology Agreements business unit, and from 1998–2003 he worked at the IP firm British Technology Group (BTG) International.

Mr. Held has been a Certified Licensing Professional (CLP) since 2008 and was named to the IAM Strategy 300—The World’s Leading IP Strategists from 2015 through 2020. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Villanova University and his MBA from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.

Joann J. Hill Chief
Office of Business Development, Minority Business Development Agency

Joann J. Hill, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, is the Chief of the Office of Business Development for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). Ms. Hill has served at MBDA for more than a decade. In her current role, she oversees the Office of Business Development. She also serves as the lead federal program officer for the nationwide network of more than 40 MBDA Business Centers that generates $6 billion in performance goals annually.

She is responsible for the creation and implementation of strategies for business development in the areas of access to capital, access to contracts, access to emerging domestic and international markets, and global supply chains. She engages in international business initiatives, both domestically and abroad, which promote business-to business linkages.

Additionally, Ms. Hill has served as Senior Policy Advisor on Federal and State Export Promotion at the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration. Prior to joining MBDA, she worked in the areas of operations management, banking, and finance.

Ms. Hill holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Benedict College and an MBA from Emory University, Goizueta Business School. She is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Senior Executive Fellows Program.

Corinne Hodges
CEO, Association of Women’s Business Council

Corinne Hodges joined the Association of Women's Business Centers (AWBC) as CEO in January 2019 and is charged with bringing about enhanced sustainability and increased capacity to the association and its members. Since she assumed her leadership role at AWBC, the organization has bolstered operations internally, onboarding an association management system. Ms. Hodges has built on AWBC's strong foundation of advocacy for Women's Business Centers and continues to work toward reauthorization of the Women's Business Center program. Women's Business Centers were appropriated record levels in 2020, and the CARES Act provided a record $420,000 grant per Women's Business Center through the Small Business Administration to meet the demands of small businesses, the majority of them women-owned, impacted by COVID-19.

She resides in Brunswick, Maryland with her husband of 14 years, her 13-year-old son, and 8-year-old daughter. She was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and attended high school there. She studied abroad in Spain, where she received a dual Spanish-U.S. high school diploma. Having graduated with honors, Ms. Hodges earned her Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of Evansville in Indiana. She attended graduate school in Washington, D.C. at The George Washington University.

In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, running, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, and SCUBA diving.

Scott Hynd
Co-Founder, Performance

Scott Hynd is a Partner in Brand Innovations (BI), a Philadelphia-based marketing firm that specializes in live television shopping and product promotion. He appears regularly as a product expert both on QVC and in infomercials. Over the past 17 years, he has presented over 500 different products on national and international television, totaling thousands of appearances and over $1 billion dollars in sales. In October of 2014, he set the all-time QVC record for single units sold in one day by selling over 570,000 of the FrostGuard Today’s Special Value. In February 2016, he was nominated for the Q Star Award for Guest Excellence, the highest honor an on-air personality can receive.

Additionally, he has served as a spokesperson for numerous products and events in all forms of media, both nationally and internationally, and has been a speaker, panelist, and judge at national tradeshows, inventor workshops, and university conferences across the country. Mr. Hynd also serves on the Board of Directors of the United Inventors Association of America in Washington, D.C., a non-profit industry watchdog.

Prior to joining BI, he held executive positions with a venture capital firm that specialized in emerging product technology and with a consumer electronics company, and was formerly an Assistant District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia.

Mr. Hynd is a graduate of Clemson University and the Villanova University School of Law and lives in Suburban Philadelphia with his wife and daughter.

Jody Keenan
Managing Director, Mason Enterprise Center State Director, Virginia SBDC Network

Jody Keenan is Managing Director of the Mason Enterprise Center and State Director of the Virginia Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Network hosted by George Mason University. The Mason Enterprise Center is an organization of regional incubators and statewide business assistance programs assisting entrepreneurs and small business owners with business and strategic planning, government contracting, access to capital, marketing, commercialization and innovation, international trade, and incubation.

The Virginia SBDC network, a program of the Mason Enterprise Center, is the most extensive business development program in the Commonwealth, providing business advising, mentoring, training, and connections to other useful resources to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. The SBDC network is a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration, George Mason University—Mason Enterprise Center, and 15 other organizations, including institutions of higher education, chambers of commerce, and economic development organizations across Virginia.

George Koklanaris
Associate Administrator, Small Business Development Centers, Office of Entrepreneurial Development, Small Business Administration

George Koklanaris joined the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as Associate Administrator of the Office of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in April 2019. In this role, Mr. Koklanaris oversees 62 SBDC lead centers and more than 900 service centers across the U.S. and its territories. SBDCs provide America’s small businesses with the support and resources necessary to help them succeed.

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Koklanaris was a strategy and management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he specialized in national security, Army, joint operations, intelligence, and logistics.

Mr. Koklanaris previously served at the SBA from 2002–2007 as a special assistant and the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Field Operations and Director of the Office of Strategic Alliances. From 2007–2009, he served as the Chief of Staff at the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Prior to his federal service, Mr. Koklanaris was a legislative and press aide for members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

A colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Mr. Koklanaris has served in the Army and Army Reserve for over 28 years. He was deployed twice in support of the Global War on Terror and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior assignments include tours with Theater Sustainment Commands, the Defense Logistics Agency, and the Joint Staff. His current reserve assignment is in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs under the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the National Defense University’s National Security Course, and the Joint Forces Staff College.

Mr. Koklanaris has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, a Master of Public Administration degree from Georgia State University, and a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College. He also has a graduate certificate in Change Management from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Lyndsey Maddox
Director of Business Development, Digital Third Coast Internet Marketing

Lyndsey Maddox is the Director of Business Development at Digital Third Coast, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO and paid media marketing. Over the last eight years, she has developed marketing strategies for businesses across a wide range of industries, focused on identifying where, when, and how to drive measurable growth. With experience across platforms including Google, Bing, Facebook/Instagram, and LinkedIn, Ms. Maddox will share her insights on how to define and acquire your target audience to produce a positive return on investment and grow your business.

Heather Metcalf, Ph.D.
Chief Research Officer, Association for Women in Science, Project Director, STEM to Market (S2M)

Heather Metcalf, Ph.D., is the Chief Research Officer for the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), where she is project lead for the STEM to Market and ADVANCE Resource and Coordination (ARC) Network initiatives. She has undergraduate degrees in applied mathematics and computer science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, master’s degrees in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and gender studies from the University of Arizona, and a doctorate in higher education, science, and technology policy from the University of Arizona.

Ms. Metcalf uses her unique interdisciplinary background to engage in research, policy, and programmatic efforts related to inclusive organizational cultures, individual and organizational change, and career pathways and experiences in STEM fields across all sectors. She holds a patent on anti-bias training materials for effective search and hiring processes and is the lead investigator on projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Kapor Center, and the University of Illinois.

She has appeared on a variety of media channels, including Public Radio International, The Atlantic, The Guardian, National Public Radio, Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Scientific American, Nature, Forbes, and more.


Patrick Nolan
Training and Development Program Manager, Office of Patent Training, USPTO

Patrick Nolan is the Training and Development Program Manager in the USPTO’s Office of Patent Training (OPT). His primary role is to develop training and curricula for new patent examiners and managers. Prior to serving in his current position, he was a trainer in OPT for examiners in business methods, biotechnology, and chemical engineering.

Mr. Nolan began his career at the USPTO in 1996 as a patent examiner and became a primary examiner in 2000. He examined applications in allergy and autoimmunity diagnostics before accepting his trainer position in OPT. He received his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in biology from The George Washington University.

Ramona Ortega
CEO & Founder, My Money My Future

Ramona Ortega is the CEO and Founder of My Money My Future (MMMF) and former Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Azlo, a small business banking platform. MMMF is an all-in-one personal finance platform that helps millennials make better financial decisions by combining education and unique content with personalized product recommendations and financial advice in a seamless experience. MMMF is the first fintech platform to focus specifically on solving the unique financial challenges of communities of color and those who have been overlooked and underserved by traditional financial institutions. The MMMF dashboard provides personalized financial action plans to guide users through a range of decisions, including investing, budgeting, saving, and credit. MMMF is one of the few venture capital-backed Latinx fintech companies.

Previously, Ms. Ortega was an attorney in New York, where she worked on complex securities litigation and corporate matters at the SEC and U.S. Bankruptcy Court. In her early career, she led the Human Rights Project, where she worked globally on strengthening policies related to economic security. She is a contributor to TechCrunch and the Huffington Post and is a sought-after speaker and thought leader. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and her Juris Doctor from Fordham School of Law.

Sudhanshu Pathak
Supervisory Patent Examiner, USPTO

Sudhanshu Pathak joined the USPTO in 2003. Over the years, he has held numerous positions at the agency, including patent examiner, patent reexamination specialist, supervisory reexamination specialist, supervisory patent examiner, supervisory patent quality assurance specialist, and, currently, Pro Se Assistance Program Coordinator. He has worked at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria and the Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver.

Prior to joining the USPTO, Mr. Pathak was an electrical engineer for a variety of companies, primarily in the wireless and mobile communications industry, including Motorola Inc., Arraycomm Inc., and Custom Manufacturing and Engineering.

He earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering, with a specialization in RF/Microwave communications, from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Robin Rasor
Executive Director, OLV, Duke University

As Executive Director of OLV at Duke University, Robin Rasor oversees all functions of the university’s tech transfer process. Previously, Ms. Rasor was Managing Director of Licensing at the University of Michigan, where she oversaw the licensing process, ranging from management and marketing of disclosures, to developing and negotiating appropriate licensing terms for license agreements, and, finally, to maintaining and monitoring existing agreements. Ms. Rasor is also a former Director of Licensing at The Ohio State University and former employee of Battelle Columbus Laboratories, a leading U.S. contract research firm.

Ms. Rasor earned her Master of Science degree in genetics from The Ohio State University and her Bachelor of Science degree in bacteriology and zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University. She is a Past President and Chair of the Board of Governors of Certified Licensing Professionals, Inc., a Past President of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) Board of Trustees, and she served on the Board of Directors, most recently as Treasurer, of the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce.

In 2005, she was awarded the President’s Award for service to AUTM. In 2007, Ms. Rasor was part of the team headed by Michigan’s Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan honored by The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in its first annual AACR Team Science Award.

David Sardi
Founder, DineroHispano

David Sardi is an expert in building and growing digital businesses. Most recently, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he founded the social impact organization DineroHispano in order to support the Hispanic entrepreneurial community. DineroHispano provides free Spanish-language resources to help both new entrepreneurs and established businesses start, stabilize, and grow their business during a crisis.

As a former senior engagement manager at McKinsey & Company, Mr. Sardi led strategic expansion efforts across the technology and finance industries including M&A, new product launches, and market entry strategy. His work includes leading the launch of a now $100 million in revenue tech product, building strategic partnerships valued at over $1 billion, and the acquisition of a Fortune 500 company.

Mr. Sardi holds an MBA from the Wharton School and a Master of Arts in international studies from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his undergraduate degree from Tulane University. He was born in Cali, Colombia and immigrated to the U.S. in 2006. He currently lives outside of Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children.

Matt Schwab
Staff Attorney, Electronic Filing and Public Web Services, USPTO

Matt Schwab is a Staff Attorney in Electronic Filing and Public Web Services (EFPWS) in the USPTO’s Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Administration. EFPWS manages the legal requirements for the USPTO trademark filing system (TEAS) and other trademark internet and intranet resources.

Mr. Schwab provides expert policy guidance and support to employees on legal and procedural matters related to the filing and prosecution of trademark applications. He joined the USPTO as a trademark examining attorney in 2015 and spent a year on a mentoring work project helping to train new examiners. Prior to working at the USPTO, he worked at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and for the City of Chicago.

Mr. Schwab received his undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond and his Juris Doctor and Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Michigan.

Brittany Sickler
Senior Innovation Policy Advisor at the U.S. Small Business Administration

Brittany Sickler serves as Senior Innovation Policy Advisor for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Investment and Innovation. She supports the advancement of the Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs, which enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and profit from commercialization. She oversees initiatives to increase understanding of SBIR/STTR opportunities with SBA offices and partner networks across the country, and she manages the agency’s Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. Ms. Sickler spent almost four years in SBA’s North Dakota District Office as an Economic Development Specialist, building and strengthening connections throughout the state, particularly with regional startup networks and rural communities. She also served as Special Advisor in SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development, advancing strategic initiatives and coordinating SBA’s first Virtual Conference.

Prior to working at SBA, Ms. Sickler served in Guatemala as a Peace Corps Volunteer and Volunteer Leader in the Sustainable Community Tourism program, a combination of economic development and environmental conservation. Her career in economic development started in Southern Florida with microlender ACCION USA, providing small business loans to individuals who could not access traditional credit.

She was a Masters International Fellow and earned her master’s degree in international community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. She also holds degrees in business administration and Spanish from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Janice Tippett
Management and Program Analyst, Office of Patent Application Processing, USPTO

Janice Tippett is a program analyst in the USPTO’s Office of Patent Application Processing, where she translates existing rules and new legislation into understandable procedures for the processing of incoming patent applications. She has been working with incoming patent application processing for 27 out of her 31 years at the USPTO. In that time, she has established and maintained written procedures for the consistent processing of patent applications, including updates needed when new legislation has been passed. She is very knowledgeable in the oath/declaration and micro entity provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act as well as the changes to filing date requirements and reference filing provisions of the Patent Law Treaty.

David Toledo
Director of Product Development, Thrasio

An engineer by training, David Toledo dropped out of a Ph.D. program to start a business around his first invention, the PowerPot. Shortly after a successful launch on, he raised local venture capital and angel funding and appeared on ABC's “Shark Tank,” where he closed a deal with Mark Cuban. He and the team successfully built a brand and sold it through national outdoor retailers, including REI, EMS, and others. However, the PowerPot saw lackluster success in brick and mortar retail, so the decision was made to pivot the company to selling LED products directly to consumers online and on Amazon. Earlier this year, Mr. Toledo sold his business and now heads the Product Development team at Thrasio, where he continues to innovate. He has several utility and design patents as well as word, design, domestic, and international trademarks.

Warren Tuttle
President, United Inventors Association

Warren Tuttle has served as President of the Board of Directors for the United Inventors Association (UIA) since 2010 and is a prolific speaker at inventor clubs and industry tradeshows, where he shares his extensive knowledge and expertise to help educate aspiring inventors, patent holders, and product developers.

In addition to his own commercial successes, including Smart Spin and Misto – the Gourmet Olive Oil Sprayer, Warren has also helped numerous inventors obtain licensing agreements with major U.S. manufacturers, and he has counseled many inventors who went on to start their own small businesses. Warren currently serves as the Open Innovation Director for Lifetime Brands (the world’s largest manufacturer of kitchen utensils and a major supplier of food prep and table top products to America’s major retailers), TTI Group (power tools and accessories under the Rigid, Ryobi, Milwaukee, and AEG brands), and Access Innovation Solutions for direct response (As Seen on TV) products.

Mike Watts
CEO, LoveHandle

Mike Watts is an experienced entrepreneur who has six startup companies under his belt. He has founded three consecutive multi-million dollar companies in the last 10 years, and his successful exits include one for over $6 million; he even struck a deal with Daymond John from “Shark Tank.”

Mr. Watts currently serves as CEO of LoveHandle, a fast-growing American manufacturer of patented custom smartphone grips and accessories, where he leads a team of 30 full-time employees. He is a regular keynote speaker for entrepreneur and inventor groups and a guest professor at Texas A&M University’s entrepreneur program in College Station. He is a two-time winner of the Aggie 100 Award for fastest growing companies and has been listed on the Fortune 5000.

He is currently launching his own business podcast—The Mike Watts Show—focused on sharing the detailed stories of failures and successes throughout his start-up journeys culminating in actionable and practical advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. He has his own professional production studio on site for interviews and remote podcasts.

Sean Wilkerson
Innovation Development Program Manager, Office of Innovation Outreach, USPTO

Sean Wilkerson works in the Office of Innovation Outreach at the USPTO, creating intellectual property (IP) awareness programs and managing outreach services to independent inventors, small businesses, entrepreneurs, makers, and universities. Mr. Wilkerson previously worked as an outreach coordinator for the programs leading up to the opening of the USPTO’s Silicon Valley and Texas Regional Offices. He also spent a year as part of the New York engagement team that developed the 2015 Future of Urban Innovation Startups Summit in coordination with Columbia University and the USPTO.

From 2011–2013, he served as the program manager of the inaugural Select USA Summit, developing the program, structure, and outreach efforts of a U.S. government-wide program housed in the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. As an education program analyst in the Global Intellectual Property Academy from 2008–2011, he managed international programs focused on providing IP training related to enforcement of patents, trademarks, and copyrights and the U.S. patent and trademark system. Prior to working for the federal government, he served as the Director of Events for the National Association of Homebuilders in Washington, D.C. and as the Ideas Exchange Manager for Accenture in Reston, Virginia.

Ira Carl Wolpert
Attorney, SCORE

With over 50 years of experience as a practicing attorney, Ira Carl Wolpert helps clients with a wide range of issues related to all forms of business, including entity formation, partnership agreements, commercial leases, day-to-day operations, intellectual property, patents, and trademarks.

As a partner in several medium and large law firms, including his own, he has practiced law in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia representing individuals, companies and franchises, including wholesale and retail businesses, joint ventures, real estate developments, sole proprietors, and partnerships.

Additionally, he has extensive experience advising failing businesses or individuals undergoing financial difficulties or partnership disputes. He has represented debtors, creditors, and bankruptcy trustees. He has served as a bankruptcy trustee, is a certified bankruptcy mediator, and has qualified as a bankruptcy expert in court proceedings.

Sam Zaid
CEO and Founder of Getaround

An engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur, Sam Zaid is driving change with Getaround, a carsharing platform powered by Getaround Connect® technology, which provides drivers access to book and unlock great cars shared by people nearby. With 5 million users in over 300 cities in the U.S. and Europe, Getaround’s vision is to create a world in which all cars are shared in order to enable more livable communities that are less congested and polluted.

Prior to Getaround, Mr. Zaid was the Founder and COO/CTO of Apption, a boutique firm specializing in modernizing enterprise infrastructure using artificial intelligence and big data. He was also Founder and CEO at 360pi, the market leader in retail price intelligence, which was acquired by Market Track and Vista Equity.

Passionate about fostering entrepreneurship and mentoring young founders, Mr. Zaid cofounded Fresh Founders in 2006, a club for young technology entrepreneurs, now the most prolific network in Canada. He enjoys sharing the experience and lessons he’s learned (and continues to learn) founding and growing technology companies.

Mr. Zaid holds numerous patents and is an E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year. He is a graduate of Queen’s University, where he studied Engineering Physics, and an alumnus of Singularity University.


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