Stay tuned for additional 2019 Judge, Mentor, and Technical Advisor announcements!



Jack Bosworth

Jack Bosworth is the Program Manager for Tarmac TX where he has been since June 2017. Tarmac TX is a social impact accelerator program for Austin based tech startups solving the most pressing social and environmental issues. In this role, Jack manages the operations of Tarmac TX including, managing the schedule and curriculum, organizing various events for startup founders, and coordinating a mentor network established in the program. Tarmac TX has sponsorship through 3M and is part of the INCO Group, #1 Global collection of accelerators dedicated to green and social startups. Previously, Jack has experience working with non-profits and startups focused on social impact in locations throughout the United States, Singapore, and Ethiopia. Jack also graduated from Texas Christian University with a BBA in Entrepreneurial Management.


Jeremy Ransom

Jeremy is Founder & CEO at CTX Capital Group, LLC. A native of Dallas, Jeremy had the opportunity to gain exposure to business and the art of entrepreneurship from an early age. Jeremy found a passion for innovation and was drawn to the problem-solving that was required for a successful business, as well as the relationships that were developed.

He is a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps, where during his time of service worked as a Military Policeman and Military Working Dog Handler. After his military service, Jeremy started his career with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Jeremy later also worked with a boutique wealth management firm in Austin and from there went on to focus his career on alternative investments before starting CTX.

Jeremy earned his Bachelor of Science in Personal Financial Planning from Texas Tech University. He went on to earn his Master of Business Administration from Baylor University and a Master of Science Degree in Technology Commercialization from The University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business. Jeremy is also currently pursuing his Juris Doctorate at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Jeremy resides in Round Rock, with his wife and daughter.


Malini Rajput

Malini Rajput is Austin Market President for Capital One Bank. She leads the Banks overall commercial banking strategy and community engagement in the Austin market.

Malini Rajput is a banking veteran with over 18 years global experience. A native Australian, she is passionate about giving back to the local Austin community she, her husband, and two children now call home.  She serves on the board of United Way and the Seton Fifty.  Malini was nominated as one of Austin's Profiles in Power & Women of Influence by Austin Business Journal.


William Stockton

William Stockton VP of Retail and Decon Operations for Austin Habitat for Humanity. I have over fifteen years of non-profit knowledge and leadership. My background includes nine years with Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, where I held several positions and became knowledgeable in retail, procurement, recycle, donation acquisition, and ecommerce. My experience with other non-profits has provided me with the insight to grow donor counts, create metrics, generate programs that grow revenue and divert items from our landfills. I have currently been Austin Habitat for Humanity for three years, where we have received several awards through our efforts in being stewards of our environment by diversion.


Juan Thurman

Juan is a Director of the Southwest Angel Network, a social impact only angel network. In addition to his work with the angel network, Juan is a mentor at Techstars, Divinc, G51 and other organizations. He is currently a Venture Partner at NextGen Venture Partners, and has held executive sales positions at Retreaver and Twilio. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University and an MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.


Our mentors will be assigned to specific entrepreneurs and work with them through each stage of the competition to refine the business idea and craft the final pitch.

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Samuel Alexander

Samuel Alexander is the founder and CEO of Concept 2 Conception (C2C), an Austin, TX-based business providing its clients with access to a revolutionary B2B2C fashion eco system.  Alexander’s experience spans more than three decades—and brings together expertise in both the fashion and technology industries.  Samuel is an expert in product design/development; global sourcing/production; strategic branding/marketing; and technology integration.  He was instrumental in promoting the growth and development of numerous major labels including Levi Strauss, Votre Nom Paris, Gloria Vanderbilt, Jones of New York, Shelli Segal, David Dart, Laundry, Icon Aura, Lois, Peter Golding, and Sue Wong—among many others.  Alexander specializes in Smart Fashion, including Nano and Bio-Tech integration. Through his newest venture, C2C, Samuel is revolutionizing the fashion industry by bringing his expertise to bear in the creation of two online platforms:  Order Register and C2C Virtual Shop. The Order Register platform (B2B) connects the production and fulfillment processes for the wholesale business into one software program.  C2C Virtual Shop (B2C) utilizes virtual and augmented reality to provide customers a personalized avatar life model allowing shoppers to virtually “try on” an article of clothing. The C2C Virtual Shop platform also integrates with other retail and social platforms thus providing new and interactive features.

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Jason Allen

Jason earned his MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas to complement his BS in Mechanical Engineering. Jason has over 10 years of R&D experience at Baker Hughes, a GE Company. He led and managed a 15M project, comprising a cross-functional team of 15 engineers, to deliver a one of a kind completion system which received the 2015 ASME Woelfel Best Mechanical Engineering Innovation Award and 2015 World Oil Award for Best Deep-Water Technology. He also has 10 granted patents along with 12 other pending applications.

His passions revolve around bringing ideas to life which is what led him to get his MBA; in his own words, “I am want to transform the world and make it a better place—one idea at a time.


Mara Ash

Serial entrepreneur and mentor to small and growing businesses. Helping people succeed is my passion! I help organizations increase compliance, transparency and funding by implementing business practices and financial/internal controls that reduce costs and streamline processes creating best-practice organizations.

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Celia Bell

Celia comes from the SCORE Austin mentor network and has deep experience in the areas of small business formation, marketing, strategic planning, non-profits, and real estate. Celia has served as the COO in both the banking and commercial real estate sector and as an Executive Director for a non-profit. Celia has a BS from the University of Texas at Austin and has completed graduate studies at the University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, and the University of Texas.

Christy Cardenas

Christy is a Partner at Ecliptic Capital, an Austin venture fund focused on early stage innovation. She believes we have both a responsibility and vested interest to preserve life here on earth. Christy’s background is primarily in business strategy and financial execution, with over 8 years and $12 bn in transaction experience. She started her career at Citi at the dawn of the 2008 credit crisis, focused largely on oil and gas. She later moved into large scale private equity, focused on renewable energy infrastructure and clean tech. She witnessed the alternative energy revolution first hand, and continues to work toward a sustainable future.

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Trent Davis

G. Trenton Davis is a Director with Alvarez & Marsal in Austin, Texas. He specializes in R&D tax credits for software and technology companies as well as developing and implementing funding solution for unfunded post-retirement benefits. With more than 20 years of experience, Mr. Davis’s background experience includes developing and implementing technology for life insurance companies, product development and reinsurance and developing solutions for unfunded post retirement liabilities.

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Shayna Dunitz

Shayna is a New York native who escaped to Austin after a few too many winters. She currently works at 3 Day Startup, an international nonprofit organization that delivers experiential weekend programs all over the world to teach people how to start companies. As a (failed) founder herself, and through her work with 3 Day Startup, Shayna has extensive experience in the early-stage startup process and is passionate about empowering others to make their dreams a reality. When she's not thinking about how entrepreneurship can change the world, she can be found listening to podcasts while cooking or lifting heavy barbells at her gym downtown. 

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Justin Felder

Justin is an advocate for injecting more innovative design thinking into our daily lives. He's been working in Trademark Law for over a decade and has spent most of his energy since attaining his Master of Science in Technology Commercialization helping entrepreneurs, startups and people with big ideas turn those ideas into big realities. He manages SXSW's trademark portfolio and contract management systems, but has also founded and runs the New Initiatives Program, an internal incubator for developing concepts into actionable initiatives. 

Outside of SXSW, Justin works closely with local Austin entrepreneurs as a growth strategy and intellectual property advisor, and volunteers his time serving as a mentor for numerous local accelerator programs and other organizations.

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Tony Ferguson

Tony Ferguson is currently Vice President of Business Development at Austin Rubber Company with focus on product development and technical sales of devulcanized rubber recovered from scrap tires.  Mr. Ferguson has extensive background in stage-gated development cycles and a unique ability to bridge the gap between technology, business and operations.  Mr. Ferguson also serves as Vice President of Technology Development at Green Source Holdings LLC, the parent company of Austin Rubber.  Prior to these appointments, Mr. Ferguson was Senior Engineer at an energy-based technology development company, Senior Product Engineer at a software development and consulting firm, Business Analyst at a real estate investment company and Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) Engineer at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.  Mr. Ferguson received a Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland in College Park.


Anand Ganesan

Anand is an experienced professional in the hi-tech semiconductor industry. Over the years, he has contributed to building hardware and software product lines that have been key to business development. Outside of work, he is also a local business owner, consults for market research and volunteers with non-profits in Austin. Anand has engineering masters from Oregon State University and business masters from UT Austin.

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Christian Garces

Christian has a wealth of experience (15 years+) as the founder and CEO Tableaux Custom Grilles, which designs and builds custom decorative grilles for residential and commercial customers. Prior to founding Tableaux, Christian served as the Director of Business Development for the Capital Network in Austin where he helped entrepreneurs hone their pitch and business models prior to meeting with investors. Christian has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a BA from St. Edward’s University.

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Courtney Glotzbach

Courtney Glotzbach is a Region Sales Manager for General Mills based in Austin, Texas. Over the past 8 years with the company she has held a variety of roles and worked on multiple social impact projects. Courtney moved to Austin nearly six years ago and is originally from Indiana. She earned her BA in Hospitality & Tourism Management at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Texas at Austin. In her free time she enjoys yoga and exploring the ATX food scene.

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Arjun Gupta

Arjun started four ventures in India. He came to Austin in 2014 for his MBA at McCombs and now works at Dell in product and device innovation strategy team. He is a mindfulness meditation practitioner, distance runner and voracious non-fiction reader. Arjun is happily married for 9 years and has two elementary school age daughters


Ian Jennings

Ian Jennings prototypes and engineers products for creators. Currently working at PubNub, he previously co-founded hackathon organization platform Hacker League (acquired by Intel). Ian has also founded and operates DevPort, a portfolio platform for developers. He has authored multiple software products including PubNub ChatEngine, a framework for building chat applications, and Project EON, a library for creating real-time maps and charts. Previously Ian has worked with Facebook, Wordpress, ESPN, Bitly, and Hype Machine. He has shipped products on platforms like Google Glass, Spotify, Chrome Web Store, Desktop (Electron), iPhone, and Android. Ian has a membership at ATX Hackerspace and volunteers at the Thinkery children's STEM museum.


Gina Lee

Gina Lee is the Founder of Circular CoLab, an organization dedicated to empowering the adoption of the Circular Economy. She is the author of The State of the Circular Economy in America, the first United States focused Circular Economy landscape study which analyzes over 200 Circular Economy initaitives. Gina has over 15 years of experience working in Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Impact in the United States, China, and Germany. Her past roles include overseeing partnerships with Fortune 500 corporations and top-tier business schools for the Aspen Institute, working with the Schwarz Group in materials management, and leading programming and corporate relations for Mercy Corps Beijing. She is skilled in engaging with organizations from across the policy, government and private sector and has managed workshops and pilot programs with organizations including TATA, the American Sustainable Business Council, TEDxLA, and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. Gina has a BA in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Columbia Business School. She believes that social entrepreneurs will change the world and is a judge for the Echoing Green Fellowship Program and a Mentor for the Mentor Capital Network.

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Dennis Lyftogt

Dennis Lyftogt is an experienced Go-To-Market technology commercialization professional. His diverse business experience includes-sales, marketing, business development, partnerships (alliances and channels), and consulting.  He has successfully worked with diverse executive management and stakeholder roles to deliver business value to customers, clients, and partners. He has over 25 years of experience in Silicon Valley technology community from start-up to Global 2000 companies.

His most recent professional experience was as a Go-to-Market consultant with Cisco Systems, Inc’s Data & Analytics Software Incubation & Strategy Team. This team had Global responsibility for pioneering data and analytics research, integrated solutions, machine learning and cognitive analytics incubation. Team’s responsibility included- R&D, Partnerships, Corporate investment, and P&L new software solutions. The Team successfully accelerated an OEM partnership bringing two automated machine learning software products to market within six months and led the launch of a joint Cisco and IBM offering targeted at edge analytics and cognitive IoT markets.


Scott Mackey

Scott Mackey is the Vice President of Sustainability at Smarter Sorting, an Austin startup that uses a machine learning enabled, data driven software solution to turn Household Hazardous Waste into reusable products. The result is that cities increase reuse and save money off their expensive disposal/incineration contracts. Since launching in June, Smarter Sorting has grown from 4 to 25 municipal customers while also signing Canada's largest retailer, Canadian Tire. In this role, Scott handles policy, communications, outreach and retail sales. Past experience includes being a failed startup founder, founding and running DC based political non-profits, working both Obama campaigns, and travelling widely for work, spending time in locations ranging from Afghanistan to Croatia. 


Lucas Martin

Lucas Martin is an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader for the Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC) and the US Economic Development Administration (EDA). He is currently a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student at the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, with a concentration in Technology Management. In 2014, Lucas moved to Austin, Texas as an AmeriCorps VISTA through the University of Texas at Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, where he worked to promote financial capability & affordable loan programs in Central and North Texas. Lucas is passionate about assisting teams through digital marketing and sustainability consulting. 


Billy Moyer

Billy Moyer is an author, podcast host, speaker, consultant and growth strategist. He went through his first goal setting program at just four-years-old and spoke to his first group at seven. He started his company, SOS Leadership at 21 and wrote the first of four books at 22. Billy is a founder of SOS Leadership, a leadership development resource center and consulting firm that has worked with thousands of leaders in organizations helping them get the most out of themselves and those they lead in order to improve performance and results. SOS Leadership has 30+ coaches around the US and in three other countries as part of the SOS Coaching Network. Billy is also a founder of SOS Publishing, a hybrid publisher that specializes in helping first time authors.

Through his work at SOS Leadership, Billy has trained and/or coached thousands of leaders. He has personally served as the interim CEO or COO for seven companies in transition and created SOS Leadership’s Chief People Officer program that has become the core offering of the company. Billy has spoken over 1250 times in his 25-year speaking career about personal development topics like leadership, goal setting, time management and personal responsibility. He is passionate about teaching leaders how to Be the Boss of their Life through personal responsibility and by having clearly defined goals. You may have a boss, but you should always be the BOSS of your own life.

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Bhavnesh Patel

Bhavnesh Patel is the CEO/Founder of Volt480 and brings 14 years of manufacturing expertise to the company. Prior to launching Volt480, he held a variety of global sales and business management roles with Rockwell Automation, a leading industrial automation company. In his most recent role with Rockwell, he led Global Product Management for a portfolio of Customer Support & Maintenance Services.

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Meghan Rauker

Originally from a family of small business owners and entrepreneurs, Meghan Rauker has a unique understanding of the challenges entrepreneurs face today. In her role of Bloom Lab Manager & Advancement Specialist for PeopleFund, Meghan oversees the Austin based co-working space, provides business advising, coordinates statewide digital marketing campaigns, and develops fundraising strategies. Meghan earned her Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Modern History from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. While pursuing her degree, she volunteered with several non-profit organizations and discovered her passion for helping people achieve their dreams


Steve Roosa

Sales and Marketing professional with over 25 years of experience in all aspects of Consumer Packaged Goods. Managed marketing and sales campaigns for American and European fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Givenchy. Numerous new product launches of consumer products in the US and international markets. Active startup founder, advisor, and board member.


Abe Rothbaum

Abe Rothbaum works in commercial real estate, focusing on acquisitions and redevelopment in Central and East Austin. Prior to working for his own account he worked for Prudential Texas Realty, Marcus & Millichap, and traded treasury bond futures on the Chicago Board of Trade. Abe has been a Social Venture Partner with Mission Capital and enjoys travelling and spending time outdoors with his family.


Mark Sanders

Dr. Sanders mentors cleantech companies across the portfolio and serves as the Director for both the Water and Transportation Incubators. In this role, he mentors and advises portfolio companies, facilitates academic entrepreneurship programs, organizes the regional coalition of clean energy incubators, and works globally to cultivate relationships and foster a network of clean energy and water technology advocates.  Dr. Sanders has worked for several clean energy nonprofit organizations over the past seven years.  Prior to joining ATI, Mark was the executive director at the Rosenfeld Society for Sustainable Energy, South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER), and the Texas Renewable Energy Industry Alliance (TREIA).  He came to the nonprofit sector from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he worked to commercialize new innovations developed at U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories.  Before his time with Berkeley Laboratory, Mark was the founder of a company that employed novel environmental technologies and methods; the company was subsequently acquired by a national firm.  He earned a PhD in Building Energy and Environment from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA in innovation and entrepreneurship from Babson College. 

Theo Shayo

Theo Shayo, is the awards winning and multi-published designer who created the international clothing line Shavanthe. Through Shavanthe’s celebration of different cultural designs, zero waste, recycled fabrics, this unique clothing line brings people together from across the globe. 
Born in Tanzania, Theo first encountered fashion design by working part-time for her father in his shop. Watching him make belts, wallets, shoes, and more, Theo developed a love for creativity and multiculturalism. Her parents would also buy her second-hand clothes from the market, and Theo would take the clothes to her neighbor, who happened to be a seamstress. Together, they would recreate Theo’s wardrobe. Theo would also take the leftover fabrics and sew fashionable outfits for her dolls. This passion for fashion would remain in Theo even though she would later become a banker and a practicing attorney in Tanzania. By creating clothing using traditional tribal patterns and colors, the clothing purchased at Shavanthe remains both timeless and fashionable. In fact, the line’s focus on ethical manufacturing is one of the main reasons Shavanthe stands out in the world of fashion.


Cory Skuldt

Cory is a sustainable business consultant with FWD Impact and supports nonprofit strategy services with Red Queen Group; both firms are based in New York but serve clients nationally. She’ll complete her MBA this May at Bard College Graduate Programs in Sustainability, where she also works as a teaching assistant for graduate level courses in Finance and Accounting.  Her MBA capstone research focuses on the role of impact investing finance in enabling the scaling of circular business models, especially apparel and other textile industries.

Previously, Cory served as Co-Director at Treasure City and Interim Executive Director at Ecology Action. She’s competed twice in the [Re]Verse pitch (winning the Audience Choice award last year) and enjoys working with early stage companies and developing creative revenue and impact models.


Katherine Sobel

As manager of curriculums and mentorship, Katherine oversees creation and implementation of educational curriculums statewide and also leads PeopleFund’s mentor program, bringing together highly-skilled professionals and business owners in need. Katherine focuses on raising the expertise of entrepreneurs through comprehensive learning opportunities, including classroom-style instruction, integrated bootcamps, an online education portal, and tailored business advising. Katherine also administers PeopleFund’s business education contract with the City of Austin. Katherine joined the PeopleFund family in June of 2016 as the Education Specialist, focusing on expanding the organization’s mentor program and diversifying learning opportunities. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from Texas State, and is now working on her Ph.D. through Texas Tech. Katherine is passionate about the sustainability of PeopleFund clients and Texas business owners through education, training, and outreach.

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Rham Sriram

Rham Sriram is a senior leader with 25+ years’ experience in architecting, developing, integrating and deploying complex large enterprise software solutions for Fortune 500 companies and SMB’s. These multi-million dollar solutions were deployed in Financial Services, Insurance, Technology, Health Care, Automotive and Oil & Gas industries. He has delivered numerous state of the art solutions using different technology stacks and cross functional teams with 40+ resources located across different time zones. He has managed contractors and vendors during these engagements. He is also familiar and knowledgeable about hardware and infrastructure in data centers to enhance performance, scalability and reliability. He has hired, coached and guided team members.

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Thomas Starr

Tom Starr is Founder & Principal at Chesapeake Visions, LLC, a consulting firm that performs market validation, customer discovery, and business development for new technologies and services. Tom is an active mentor, judge, advisor, workshop instructor, and business coach for startups and new entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. He can help with market research, customer development, strategic partnerships, and go-to-market strategy.

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Stephen Stearman

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Stephen moved to Austin in March of 2014 to pursue an MBA with a focus in Entrepreneurship from Acton School of Business with the end goal of running sales organizations for multiple companies and later to pursue a management and consulting firm. Stephen began his sales career in college selling books door to door, ran sales for a small start-up called CoachTube, helped set up an office for a solar company, and served as a sales consultant. Stephen is a volunteer mentor with Sunshine Camps and is heavily involved with the Austin Young Men's Business League. Stephen values family, community, nature, eating, learning, fitness, helping other and of course the University of Kentucky basketball program.

John Susskind

A marketing professional with deep experience in B2B communications (including demand generation), direct response and consumer packaged goods disciplines. Specializing currently in integrated marketing solutions for social causes. Hyundai Hope on Wheels and Genesis Arts Education Programs. I combine my digital, strategic and direct response experience into creating highly-responsive and effective programs that meet large marketing challenges. 

I have expertise in new product development, brand launches, thought leadership programs and highly successful demand generation. My deep experience in both the interactive world and in direct marketing gives me a unique perspective on how best to combine new media and traditional marketing. I have delivered breakthrough results for organizations like Citi, American Express, Sony, Netscape, Fujifilm, Pillsbury, General Foods, Bausch & Lomb, Dow Jones & Company, Sunoco, Teradata, Merck, Humana and the U.S. Army.

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Hamad Yazdanpanah

Prior to recently taking the VP Marketing role for the SCORE Austin chapter, Hamid Yazdanpanah built his current dessert company, Stumpy's, from the ground up and $0. His products are currently found at restaurants, special events, convenience stores and so on from South Austin to Cedar Park. Prior to that? He started a small business development company where he held the role of head marketer and videographer. This was derived from his the early days of Youtube around 06'-09' uploading local scene content, and quickly built a buzz around the city which got him onto radio commercials and hosting a local TV show.

Fast forwarding back to 2019, Hamid has been brought on board to mentor social entrepreneurs for our [RE]verse Pitch competition. His 10+ years of digital marketing, branding, strategy and videography knowledge will be of value as this competition rolls thru the Spring of 2019.


Eugene Yi

Eugene Yi has an extensive background in managing programs and products. Currently, he is a Program Manager for Google Cloud where he is responsible for a number of customers in the South Central region. He is passionate about raising awareness about technology and how it can be leveraged to grow startups into enterprises. Eugene is an active adviser, investor, and learner. Previous to Google, Eugene worked in a variety of technology organizations like Darktrace and Amazon and holds a degree in Economics from Yale University.

Ian Zurzolo

Ian Zurzolo is passionate about aligning business goals with social impact and environmental sustainability within the private sector. He is a results-driven strategist with experience across multiple industries. Ian has facilitated cross-sector partnerships with corporate social responsibility departments at for-profit enterprises among industry associations, foundations, and governmental organizations to improve food systems and healthcare nationwide. Ian received his M.S. Social Entrepreneurship and Certificate in Sustainability & Business from University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.

Technical Advisors

Our technical advisors will be available to provide guidance and specific expertise to entrepreneur-mentor teams throughout the competition process.

Environmental Impact/Sustainability Advisors

Shaun Auckland

Shaun is privileged to serve on the Board of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Central Texas Balcones Chapter.  She holds a degree in Environmental Resources and Sustainability Masters from Texas State University.  She credits her diverse career experiences for the adaptability and courage that has shaped her as a coordinator.

 In her current position, she oversees the budget, communication, marketing, and an interdepartmental team responsible for several programs and technical projects aligned with the Travis County’s goal of 90 percent diversion by the year 2020 for County facilities with a baseline of 2012. As of FY 2017, 34% diversion rate achieved demonstrated through data analysis presented in annual reports.

She loves gardening, spending time with her family and any outdoor recreation sport as well seeing live music performance


Amanda Rohlich

Amanda Rohlich is a Business Process Consultant Sr. with the City of Austin Office of Sustainability, where she develops and implements strategies to drive intentional, thoughtful and creative policies and programs that make Austin “the most livable city in the country”. 

Previously, Amanda worked with Austin Resource Recovery implementing Zero Waste policies and programs such as the Universal Recycling Ordinance.  Prior to returning to her hometown of Austin, Amanda spent nearly a decade in the San Francisco Bay Area working with a number of organizations to help create empowered, healthy and sustainable communities including the Center for Race Poverty and the Environment in California’s Central Valley and City Slicker Farms in West Oakland.  Whether piloting an energy efficiency behavior change initiative for the City of Berkeley or developing neighborhood food system planning, Amanda looks for ways to leverage resources and spark positive change.

Amanda holds a degree in Sociology and History from the University of Texas at Austin and earned an MPA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco.

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Celine Steer

Celine Steer is an experienced professional in corporate sustainability strategy and communication. She strongly believes in the role of businesses as a contributor to a more efficient, equitable and innovative society and has worked in this area in Europe and Latin America. She holds two Masters in Sustainable Development and International Relations and a Bachelor in Communications.

She came back to Austin recently to help companies better understand their specific impacts and contributions from a social, environmental and economic perspective so that they're able to make informed decisions.

Technical Material & Production Advisors


Israel Camarena

Isreal has an extensive background in furniture design, industrial fabrication, and prototype development. He currently works in the furniture manufacturing industry in Austin, Texas. Reducing the environmental impact of material waste created by the manufacturing process is a personal passion and lifestyle of Israel. 

Born in Leon Mexico, Israel earned a Degree in Industrial Design from Universidad De La Salle Bajio in 2009 and completed Certification in Advanced Design and Quality Process 2010.

Design Software Experience: CAD/CAM DesignInventor, Corel Draw, AutoCAD, CNC Processing | Material Expertise: Metal, Wood, Textiles, Fiber Glass, Clay, Resin, Plastic and Resin Molding


Jonathan Chen

Dr. Jonathan Y. Chen has been working in the disciplinary area of textile science and engineering for over 30 years. He has expertise in structure, process, and applications of renewable and polymeric fiber materials; production and evaluation of biobased fiber composites; nonwoven and knitting technologies; and objective evaluation of apparel fabrics. His current research focuses are on development of bio-functional micron/nano cellulose fiber for medical/energy textiles and apparels; production and evaluation of biobased nonwoven composites for automotive interior manufacture; fabrication and characterization of activated carbon fiber materials for end uses in protective garments, water/air filtration, bio- and chemical-contaminant cleanup, and noise absorption and insulation. He has published numerous research papers in peer-reviewed journals, books, and technical conference proceedings relevant to textile materials, polymers, composites, bioresource technologies, and material testing. Dr. Chen’s teaching interests cover textile science, textile/apparel manufacturing, specialty fiber/textile materials, textile numerical modeling, and advanced textile research methods. Dr. Chen obtained Ph.D. in Textile Engineering in 1995 from The University of Leeds, England. Currently he is a full professor in the School of Human Ecology and Affiliated Professor in the Texas Materials Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Chen is Fellow of The Textile Institute (CText FTI), Senior Member of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC), and Member of Bio-Environmental Polymer Society. He is serving on the editorial boards for Journal of Industrial Textiles and Journal of Biobased Materials and Bioenergy.

Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie is the founder and CEO of Joe's Organics, an urban farm that has recycled over a million lbs of Austin's food waste into tons of fresh, local, seasonal produce for chefs and farmer's markets.  He has served on the board of the Rhizome Collective and Ecology Action of Texas as well as receiving a Young Farmer's Grant from the TX Dept of Agriculture in 2015.

His passion for simple solutions to complex problems, focused around food waste and agriculture, has grown from a lifetime working in all aspects of the food chain, from cultivation and harvest to distribution and waste.  Prior to starting his organics recycling business, Joe was a Co-Director at Ecology Action, where he administered one of the City of Austin's first commercial compost hauling pilot programs.  He founded Joe's Organics in 2012 to innovate the emerging food waste hauling market and help Austin reach it's zero waste goal by 2040.  Joe has a BA in Psychology and Political Science from Hendrix College in Arkansas. 


Ashley Gill

Ashley Gill is Senior Manager of Industry Integrity at Textile Exchange, on a team that works to address industry gaps in preferred material verification. Her expertise lies in verification, supply chain management, recycling, certification, labeling, and preferred fiber and materials. She leads the multi-stakeholder groups behind the Responsible Down Standard, Recycled Claim Standard, and Global Recycled Standard. Ashley speaks frequently at industry events on topics related to traceability and textile sustainability issues.

Textile Exchange ( is a global non-profit that works closely with our members to drive industry transformation in preferred fibers, integrity and standards and responsible supply networks. We identify and share best practices regarding farming, materials, processing, traceability and product end-of-life in order to reduce the textile industry’s impact on the world’s water, soil and air, and the human population. 

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Katherine Polston

Dr. Polston has a diverse background in fashion design and product development education, with a focus on innovative technologies and their applications in education and industry.  This includes digital printing and computer-aided design, as well as a strong science-based approach to textiles and product development.  She has extensive experience teaching many areas of the textiles and apparel curriculum and has in-depth knowledge of creativity instruction and assessment in design studios.  Dr. Polston’s research explores the intersections of creativity and technology in the textile and apparel design disciplines, building upon her technical design and product development background. Current interdisciplinary projects with other University of Texas at Austin faculty include investigating textile recycling on campus, and creating culturally appropriate feminine hygiene products in partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross.

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Shahram Shafie

Shahram is a seasoned chemical engineer with more than 14 years of dedicated experience in Sustainability-Oriented Innovation (SOI), Circular Economy and related corporate strategy. He is CTO of Green Source Holdings and Circular Economy Club, Austin, Co-Organizers. He has special interest in alternative materials, circular process design and technology scale up. Most of his design works have been focused on circular applications of used/waste rubber, plastics and food in new sustainable products for different sectors including industrial, fashion, auto and consumer products. Shahram is the inventor of several SOI technologies with 19 US, 6 Canadian, 4 European patents and 20 academic journals publications with more than 800 citations.

Communications Advisor

Stacy Armijo

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Stacy Armijo is Chief Experience Officer for Amplify Credit Union, a $1B credit union in the Austin area. She is responsible for marketing and communications; retail delivery, including branches and contact center; the payment and operations department; and social impact in the community. She joined Amplify in July 2018 and previously spent 17 years with Pierpont Communications, one of Texas’ largest independent public relations and marketing firms, lastly as Executive Vice President. In that role, she supported entities across multiple sectors with marketing, public relations and strategic planning counsel, including those in real estate, healthcare, energy, advocacy and financial services, among others.

Stacy is also active in her profession with a long tenure of service to the American Marketing Association (AMA). Currently she is Chair-Elect of the national Board of Directors and previously she served on the organization’s Audit & Finance Committee, as President of its Professional Chapters Council and as President of the Austin chapter, among other roles over 15 years of involvement. In addition, Stacy is a lecturer teaching Public Relations Strategies at the University of Texas at Austin and won the Austin Under 40 Award for Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations.


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Christie McNeill

Christie is the Director of Operations and HR for FreightPros, where she has worked since 2011.    FreightPros is an Austin-based freight broker specializing in Less Than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload shipping.  FreightPros' expertise is helping small and medium-sized businesses navigate the freight shipping world, and save money along the way.

Throughout her employment, Christie has worn many hats, and spends most of her days consulting with various departments to help them run more efficiently.  Christie was born and raised in Austin, TX and graduated with a BA from Austin College in Sherman, TX and a Master's degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.


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Dana Rygwelski

Dana Rygwelski is Director of Communications for MassChallegne Texas. In this role she leads all communications and community efforts related to the Texas brand, startups, experts, and partners. Dana’s experience extends more than a decade of building strategic programs and communities for entrepreneurs across the world. Dana’s career started at the University of Southern California where she was part of the team that founded the TEDx conference series. At Hulu, she was their first internal communications lead and designed programs to increase familiarity and transparency company-wide. In 2012, Dana moved into the Director of Programs role at DreamIt Ventures where she designed an “accelerator in a box” solution to scale the organization’s core product – a startup accelerator - to five locations ensuring each entrepreneur, no matter where they were in the world, had the same DreamIt experience. She has worked with countless startups and has a unique perspective of how they can leverage ecosystems, resources, and programs to succeed. Dana’s career is driven by a passion to be a trend setter. She has the desire to help companies [and people!] identify new, creative opportunities through community and technology to solve big problems. When she’s not working; Dana is often found hiking with her dogs, Squat and Dale, or in the gym. In fact, she is one of less than ten women in history to squat more than 700lbs.

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