2019 Mentors


Michael Henderson

Michael Henderson served as Design, Technology, and Innovation Fellow and Project Manager for the City of Austin Government. He also launched the first entrepreneurial innovation summit in the country of Chad in Africa. Driven to help the world through education, entrepreneurship, and civic-technology Michael Henderson is also a strategist, children's book writer, international connector. Michael is the founder of "InterLocal and A Tribe Called Brunch," where he showcases emerging technology, public policy, community building, and partnerships.


Jennifer Millspaugh

Jennifer Millspaugh completed her Ph.D. in fashion entrepreneurship at the University of the Arts London, London College of Fashion, where she explored the brand development and internationalization strategies of emerging fashion companies based in London and New York. She is the co-founder and CEO of Aesthetic Ventures, a venture production studio for the fashion industry, which accelerates and builds innovative companies in fashion. In this role, she applies her academic research to design innovative brands and business models for a new era of fashion. She is also the founder of the Austin Fashion Initiative, a social impact organization launched to enhance Austin's fashion ecosystem. She serves on the Independent Fashion Advisory Board (IFAB), an international collective of professionals advancing business transformation for fashion, retail and creative technology. Her unique background and work experience have led her to recognize the importance fashion holds for our economy and humanity, and how entrepreneurship and innovation can open up access to this dynamic, complex and creative industry.


Ali Syed

Ali Syed is the International Partnerships Coordinator at Capital Factory. His drive for international started early being an immigrant to the United States from Pakistan. He founded his first international startup in 2016 between the United States and Pakistan focused in the Health Tech industry. Ali joined Capital Factory in 2015 to take Capital Factory’s mission to be the center of gravity of entrepreneurship to the world. Capital Factory since has helped over 15 startups get established within the United States. Capital Factory is currently focused on working with international governments, corporations, and startups on their U.S market entry strategies.



Thomas Bird 

Tom has been an entrepreneur and investor in early-stage impact firms since 1988. Professional highlights include serving as Mentor and entrepreneur in residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab, founder, and CEO of the Silicon Valley information management firm FARM Inc., trustee of the American University in Bulgaria, director of B Lab, managing director of Sonen Capital, and board chair of the Global Giving Foundation. He holds a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College, an MBA from Stanford University, and a Master of Theological Studies degree with an emphasis on ethics from Harvard University.


Michael Lake

Michael Lake is the President and CEO of Leading Cities, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and with operations in 10 countries around the world. As President and CEO, Michael establishes and develops relationships with municipal governments, businesses and universities around the world, creating a global network of partner cities dedicated to implementing Smart City solutions that improve the quality of life in cities. Michael’s career in public service spans from serving three United States Presidents as Special Assistant for White House Operations and Presidential Advance to serving the former Prime Minister of Ireland as a policy research analyst. Michael has helped build entrepreneurship ecosystems in cities around the world. The work he led at Leading Cities informed the development of Boston’s Innovation District, he established the very first Bridge to MassChallenge program connecting MassChallenge and the city of Zapopan, Mexico. Through this effort, Reto Zapopan was launched and became recognized as the most successful entrepreneurship program in Mexico in its first year. Now, Michael has created a new program for Leading Cities—AcceliCITY—which is a Smart City specific accelerator. In its inaugural year, AcceliCITY received more than 550 applications from over 40 countries and provided a 6-week web-based curriculum and a week-long Smart City Boot Camp in Boston to connect urban tech startups globally with investors and customers resulting in revenue generation and long-term success. Michael also serves as a world-renowned keynote speaker at Smart City congresses and events globally.


Chad O'Connor

As the only known faculty to simultaneously hold appointments across 3 different colleges (D'Amore-McKim School of Business; College of Arts, Media and Design; and College of Professional Studies) within Northeastern University, Chad O’Connor teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Advertising and Brand, Organizational Culture, and Crisis Communication. He is also a startup advisor for IDEA, Northeastern’s venture accelerator program, and the university's Venture Mentor Network. In serving on the Advisory Board of Leading Cities, Chad offers guidance for its AcceliCITY civic tech accelerator, sourcing of smart cities solutions, and expansion of its global network to include new tiers of city participation. Chad served as a founding Connector for Boston World Partnerships, a nonprofit initiative launched by the former mayor of Boston to leverage a global network to inform and connect people with economic opportunities in the city. In doing so, he became the former contributing editor of the Global Business Hub blog on The Boston Globe’s Boston.com site. This lead to writing a multi-part series on Boston-Europe startup connections and, to this day, Chad's quarterly trips to Lisbon where he is an advisor to startups Meshapp (a no-code site building SaaS / PaaS for publishers, content marketers, and membership organizations) and ProdTo (a curated local and healthy food e-commerce platform).



Barbara Bauer

Barbara is Director, Women’s Investor Network (WIN), for the Rockies Venture Club, Denver, CO.  Barbara started this new initiative to recruit and support women interested in early-stage investments and prepare them to become active and engaged angel investors. Prior to this position, Barbara was the Executive Director, Myanmar, for Partnership for Change (PfC), a Norwegian social enterprise impact investment and international development organization. Barbara worked closely with community, state, and national Myanmar leaders to design and implement programs and development models to encourage entrepreneurs, especially women.  Barbara founded the Myanmar Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference in 2014 and continued to host it for three years. Barbara is the founder and CEO of two boutique businesses: GlobalSight Partners, an international management consulting organization, and Silk and Stones Travel, a boutique travel company specializing in custom designed sustainable tourism tours to Southeast Asia.  Her consulting services include a Princeton in Asia Senior Fellow project in northern Thailand, a program supporting the Vietnam Women’s Union.  Barbara also developed and led the innovative Center for Women Entrepreneurs at the University of Denver.  During her career as a software development business leader, she held executive positions at Sun Microsystems, StorageTek, US West, Raynet, and Bell Laboratories.  Her academic credentials include a B.S. and M.S. in Physics, and the Stanford Summer Executive Program.


Nina Sharma

Nina Sharma is currently the Managing Director of Project X-ITE where she oversees strategy and programs for the innovation and entrepreneurship initiative at the University of Denver. She is concurrently an Executive MBA student at Daniels College of Business. In 2017, she co-founded Kahani, a software company that enables companies and causes to collect user-generated video content from their constituents. Nina spent 15 years working in nonprofit institutional fundraising and partnership development, at such places as the New York Public Library, Carnegie Hall, Yale University, and the Ad Council. After getting her MPA from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service, she worked for Dr. Jeffrey Sachs’ Millennium Villages Project, a proof-of-concept model to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2012, she moved to Denver where she worked for nonprofits including First Descents and Global Education Fund, launched her own consultancy, and worked for a boutique firm building collaborative partnerships between Fortune 500 companies and large nonprofits. In her role at DU, Nina has grown the innovation program from its inception. She has launched programs to support student-led ventures and instill ignite an innovator's mindset in students and faculty across campus. Nina is on the Alumni Council of the Denver Metro Chamber’s Leadership Foundation, is a co-founder of +Acumen, serves on the Hamilton College Alumni Council as her class and regional president is on the board of directors of Global Dental Relief and is an Acceleration Partner of the United Nations Foundation.


Emily Winslow

Emily Winslow is the Senior Manager of Investments and Impact Opportunities for Social Venture Circle, formerly Investors’ Circle. In this role, she catalyzes and supports national and local deal flow, cultivates relationships with aligned community partners, identifies impact opportunities, and promotes best practices across the SVC network. Emily is also the Co-Founder and CEO of All Wins Ventures and has spent the last 7 years immersed in the Colorado social enterprise and impact investing ecosystem. All Wins Ventures supports early-stage social ventures, experienced and novice impact investors, high net-worth individuals, family offices, and associations of impact investors. Prior to starting All Wins Ventures, Emily achieved a deep understanding of impact investing as COO for PeakChange, an early-stage impact investing family office. During her time with PeakChange, she managed a portfolio of 40 direct investments and 11 impact funds on behalf of one of the pioneering leaders in early-stage impact investing. Beyond portfolio management, she has actively engaged in providing management consulting support for social entrepreneurs and their companies in Africa, Asia, and Central America, as well as across the United States. Furthermore, Emily has facilitated the operations of nonprofit and for-profit boards, helping to implement best practices, establish clear communications, and build organizational capacities. She has also partnered in Colorado with industry leaders to develop strategic initiatives, fundraise, and execute community events. Emily received her Masters in International Development from the Josef Korbel School at The University of Denver and earned her BA in Sociology and Religious Studies from Connecticut College. In Denver, Emily co-founded Do Gooders, an impact investing and social enterprise group of young professionals.



Milkana Brace

Milkana is the Founder and CEO of Jargon. Jargon enables voice applications on services like Alexa to structure, manage, and optimize their content. The company was founded in December 2017 and graduated from the Alexa Accelerator, powered by TechStars, in October 2018. Investors include Ubiquity Capital, Crosslink Capital, and Amazon. Prior to starting Jargon, Milkana served in senior leadership positions at Expedia, Groupon, and American Express. Milkana holds an MBA from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from McGill University. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Seattle Opera Board of Directors. Milkana lives in Seattle and never tires of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.


Pradyumna Misra

Prady is a former executive of Microsoft Corporation where he spent 15 years in roles ranging from engineering to executive management. He was deeply involved with various versions of Windows in areas of networking, distributed systems, security, and public key cryptography. He led the development and launch of several new and profitable businesses including Windows Terminal Server, Windows One Care, and Windows Genuine Advantage. He won several awards at Microsoft and holds 15 patents related to his work there. Prady co-founded and ran Mentico, a personalization software company, from 2000 to 2003 and was its CEO. He also co-founded Infibio Inc., a clinical trial automation software startup, in 2006 and was its managing partner. He invested in and served on the board of Everyone Counts Inc. that provides electronic voting solutions. As a board member, he mentored the CEO who came from a non-technical background. Prady is passionate about entrepreneurship and start-ups and spends a considerable amount of time working with entrepreneurs and start-ups to help them refine various aspects of their business and sometimes mentoring them. He also participates in various angel networks and due diligence activities to identify potential investment opportunities.


Lowell Ricklefs

Lowell Ricklefs is managing partner of Traction Advising M&A and former founder, president, and chief executive officer focused on helping fellow founders/chief executive officers scale and sell their businesses. He understands both sides after acquiring companies at $10 million and $40 million and exits of $110 million, $260 million, and under $5 million. From these best practices he documented a five-step process for maximizing the value of business on an exit. Prior to exit he built teams that grew revenue from $1 million to $55 million and from $10 million to $120 million, both in less than five years. He is passionate about supporting the startup ecosystem in the Pacific northwest and in emerging countries. He is focused on helping companies valued at $5–$50 million find a buyer and successfully execute the process.


Washington, DC

Jade Floyd

Jade Floyd is vice president of communications, Case Foundation and Revolution. She's cultivated media coverage on behalf of executives and founders in hundreds of publications covering venture capital, business, philanthropy, and finance - from CNN, MSNBC and CNBC to the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Entrepreneur and more. Floyd has more than a decade of strategic communications experience at several leading D.C. based public affairs firms. Her clients have included the American Dental Association, Center for Wine Origins, Champagne Bureau, Fields Family Foundation, the National Black MBA Association, DuPont, U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and many more where she has supported government relations and public affairs initiatives. She is a recipient of the Washington Business Journal's 40 Under 40 and Huffington Post IGNITEGood Millennial Impact Challenge. She served on the board of directors for the D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative and Project Create, and she is currently on the board of Communications Network, Black Girl Ventures, and the Leadership Council of Sitar Arts Center. She is involved in a number of philanthropic projects related to arts and animal welfare. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and received her Masters in Applied Politics from the University of Akron.


Carrie Hutchison

Carrie is an independent marketing and communications consultant with nearly 20 years of experience, mainly in the nonprofit and media sectors. She works with clients such as impact investment firm Quantified Ventures, local NPR affiliate 88.5 WAMU, affordable housing loan fund NeighborWorks Capital, National Geographic magazine, and global health nonprofit Arogya World, which implements data-driven diabetes prevention programs in India. She brings a journalistic lens to content marketing, serving as an advocate for the audience and translating often complex financial topics into informative, useful, and entertaining articles. Before consulting, she was the Director of Corporate Communications for the National Geographic Society, where she worked with executives and explorers to tell their stories through conference appearances, media, social media, donor engagement and thought leadership. She created and executed an executive visibility strategy for the President and CEO and executive team members, including more than 65 speaking engagements, dozens of blogs and op-eds, and social media. Prior to National Geographic, Carrie managed marketing strategy and brand development for Calvert Impact Capital, which allows investors to help empower disadvantaged communities through affordable housing, job creation, access to basic financial services, and microfinance. The PR, online and offline campaigns, collateral, and social media programs she implemented there supported sales of $218 million in investments. She has also held positions in the financial services, publishing, and technology fields. Carrie currently teaches a course on marketing and personal branding at The George Washington University’s business school. She holds undergraduate degrees in journalism and political science from Syracuse University and a Master’s of Science degree in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University.


Art Stevens

Art Stevens is a Senior Partner at 1863, focusing on mentoring and accelerating New Majority entrepreneurs. He has been an Innovator in Residence at American University and previously worked with PayPal as the Director for Social Innovation Projects, focusing on efforts to create economic opportunity for underserved populations. Prior to this Art was responsible for MicroPlace, an online marketplace for investments in Microfinance. His career has included significant work with the Calvert Foundation, where he led the “Gateway to Impact” research project partnered with Rockefeller Foundation, Deutsche Bank, and Envestnet. His traditional investment experience includes over a decade of work for larger firms Morgan Stanley, Franklin Templeton, and TCW Investment Management. He began specializing in the non-profit community in 2002, helping to launch a social enterprise in the elder care sector and working with a social enterprise focused on health care in southern India. Art received his BA from the George Washington University.