our staff


phil weilerstein


Since 1996, Phil has been the chief executive of VentureWell. From the beginning, Phil’s focus for VentureWell has been to help bring socially beneficial applications of STEM inventions to market. He’s accomplished this goal by designing and overseeing programs that encourage curricular innovation and student venture creation, provide resources for faculty and student entrepreneurs, and develop community through conferences and workshops for faculty and students.

Phil attended the University of Massachusetts where he was a co-founder of a biotechnology company developing naturally occurring pest control products. He is a Founder and Past Chair of the ASEE Entrepreneurship Division, and a recipient of the 2008 Price Foundation Innovative Entrepreneurship Educators Award, the 2014 Engineering Entrepreneurship Pioneers Award from ASEE, and the 2016 Deshpande Symposium Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education. pweilerstein@venturewell.org

jennifer holme

sr. vp administration and finance, chief of staff

Jennifer champions a spirit of collaboration and open communications across all VentureWell departments and operations to provide leadership and ensure efficiency for organizational initiatives and priorities. She manages implementation of the strategic plan to ensure systemic alignment of the development, program, and functional units within the organization. She oversees the financial integrity, growth and stability of VentureWell and ensures that talent and technology act in support of administrative goals. Jennifer holds an MBA with a concentration in public and non-profit management from Boston University. jholme@venturewell.org

Allison Bleylerallison bleyler

director, marketing & communications

Allison oversees the marketing and communications activity at VentureWell. She is leading the strategy to build VentureWell brand recognition and to promote and support VentureWell programs. Prior to VentureWell, she worked in marketing at a variety of corporations, including Yankee Candle and SC Johnson, where she developed a track record of employing user-centric approaches to uncover strategic insights and leading teams to drive business growth through innovation. Allison holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Cornell University. ableyler@venturewell.org

dorn carranza


Dorn leads the development and implementation of new strategic programs, systems and partnerships, and ensures the integration of strategic and operational activity across the organization. Dorn’s experience prior to VentureWell spans program management and team leadership with a focus on science and technology commercialization, product innovation, technology transfer, seed-funding and entrepreneurship in the medical, chemical/energy and higher education sectors. His educational background includes a BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences, a PhD in Chemistry, and an Executive MBA with focus on Strategy & Leadership. dcarranza@venturewell.org

Chris Desrosierschris desrosiers

director, finance

Chris manages the financial and accounting functions of the organization. Some of the activity he oversees includes accounting, grants and contracts, financial reporting and budget management. Chris gained his business and accounting experience as an entrepreneur primarily in the mortgage and real estate industries. He earned his MBA from American International College and is also a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a BA in sociology. cdesrosiers@venturewell.org

Heath Naquinheath naquin

vp, strategic development

Heath leads the Strategic Development staff and oversees the identification and development of new opportunities and initiatives to drive VentureWell’s strategic growth. Prior to joining VentureWell, Heath spent nearly 20 years working in the global startup, innovation and entrepreneurship field. Most recently, he was Executive Director for the Southwest I-Corps Node at the University of Texas at Austin. Heath holds a BBA from St. Edwards University, an MS in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas at Austin as well as a PMP designation. hnaquin@venturewell.org

Laura Sampath

laura sampath

vp, program operations

Laura leads the Program Operations staff and oversees the planning, development, and execution of VentureWell programs and initiatives. She partners with the Strategic Development team in operationalizing new initiatives and leading the strategic growth of the organization. Prior to joining VentureWell, Laura ran the MIT International Development Initiative where she worked with students, faculty, and alumni to develop effective models of engagement in emerging markets. Laura has also worked with USAID in Kenya, and was a Fulbright Scholar and Peace Corps Volunteer. lsampath@venturewell.org

david scott

director, evaluation

David leads Research and Evaluation (R&E) activities at VentureWell. He works at the intersection of data, analytics, evaluation, and technology to show the impact of VentureWell and its partners. Prior to VentureWell, David oversaw business intelligence and nonprofit evaluation activities at Timshel, a social impact technology and strategy firm. He began his career in the Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University after receiving his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his BA from Hamilton College. dscott@venturewell.org

eli velasquez

director, venture development

Eli is responsible for identifying viable opportunities and driving new business to VentureWell.  He has deep expertise in commercialization, angel & venture capital, and innovation strategy.  His efforts in Texas led to over $20MM in funding for startups, entrepreneurship programs, and proof of concept funds.  He obtained a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University and a J.D. degree with an Intellectual Property Certificate from Whittier Law School. evelasquez@venturewell.org



Gila Aispurogila aispuro

program officer

Gila manages the coordination and implementation of I-Corps™ training in entrepreneurship and innovation, bringing together academic researchers, student entrepreneurs and business mentors. Gila has over 10 years of experience working in higher education and the non-profit sector. She holds a BA from the University of Arizona and an MSc in Practicing Sustainable Development from Royal Holloway University of London. gaispuro@venturewell.org

Cara Barnescara barnes

program officer

Cara works with the Global Program to support innovators developing healthcare technology for emerging markets. Combining education and experience in chemistry and public health, she helps innovators overcome the challenges of developing and implementing technology solutions in complex global health systems. Prior to joining VentureWell, Cara was a scientist at Diagnostics For All, where she developed point-of-care medical diagnostics for low-resource settings and led field trials in rural Zambia. Cara has an MS in chemistry from the University of Utah and an MPH from Johns Hopkins University. cbarnes@venturewell.org

brenna breeding

programs associate

Brenna supports the early stage innovator support program and faculty initiatives, including training program administration and project coordination, implementation of curriculum support, and operational and logistics planning. She has worked for a variety of nonprofits and her experience includes communications and marketing, event management, and fundraising. Brenna holds a BS in Sport Management from the University of Delaware. bbreeding@venturewell.org

tonya dixon

program administrator

Tonya provides administrative support to the Programs area. She brings to this position a background in database administration and information management at non-profit institutions in Boston and Northampton. She received her BA from William and Mary. tdixon@venturewell.org

janine elliott

program officer

Janine is the curriculum designer and primary instructor for Stage 1, Stage 2, and ASPIRE E-Team workshops. She helps student entrepreneurs vet their markets, build business models and get prepared to raise first equity investments. To inform on-going curriculum development, she can often be spotted networking in the Boston cleantech & healthcare communities. Previously she was a co-founder of a cleantech materials startup based in the San Francisco Bay Areajelliott@venturewell.org

Tara Loomistara loomis

senior program officer

Tara manages the I-Corps™ national courses, faculty development and curriculum improvements. In addition she leads the development of new I-Corps™ initiatives such as I-Corps™ at NIH. Tara also manages the Lean LaunchPad for Educators workshop, which takes place twice a year. She holds a BA in Sociology from Loyola University New Orleans, an MA in Higher Education Administration from the Ohio State University, and an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technologytloomis@venturewell.org

Victoria Matthewvictoria matthew

senior program officer

Victoria leads faculty development initiatives and the Pathways institutional change program at VentureWell. She designs online and in-person programming that fosters the integration and institutionalization of innovation and entrepreneurship, and leverages the power of faculty networks. Prior to VentureWell, Victoria worked for over a decade in higher education. She designed, developed and managed degree programs, and has experience teaching online, and recruiting and training online faculty. Victoria holds a BS from the University of Hull and an MS from Marlboro College. vmatthew@venturewell.org

marie silver

program officer

Marie manages the National I-Corps™ Course and coordinates activities for the National I-Corps Sites and Nodes. She comes to VentureWell by way of the STEM Ed Institute at University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was the Program Manager for 15 years. At STEM Ed, she managed several NSF and NASA grants that guided STEM outreach at the university and worked with faculty throughout the Five College area on STEM programming. Marie has over 30 years of experience working with faculty and students to increase societal impacts of their STEM researchmsilver@venturewell.org

mandy sutton

program officer

Mandy organizes and implements GIST (Global Innovation through Science and Technology) Startup Boot Camps for young innovators around the world, while also overseeing GIST’s online presence at GIST Network. She bring to this role nearly a decade of higher education student services experience, having worked in the fields of study abroad and international entrepreneurship at UCLA and University of Texas-Austin. Mandy holds a BA in English from UCLA and an MS in Information Studies from University of Texas-Austin. msutton@venturewell.org

Christina Tamerchristina tamer

program officer

Christina works directly with VentureWell’s early stage innovators as they move from initial prototype and proposal to high-growth startup seeking its first round of investment capital. Previously, she worked with a seed-stage impact investment fund. The experiences there now allow her to support VentureWell’s startups with real-world examples of what to do and what not to do on the path to commercialization. She holds a BS in Marketing and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Boston. ctamer@venturewell.org


rachel agoglia

information systems manager

Rachel manages VentureWell’s Salesforce deployment and other projects related to the expansion and improvement of the organization’s information systems. She has served many roles at VentureWell over the years in the areas of program delivery and grants management and therefore brings a deep understanding of the organization’s IT system needs and processes to her current position. Prior to VentureWell, Rachel worked at a variety of other nonprofits committed to addressing issues of hunger and homelessness, education reform, and strengthening nonprofit organizational capacityragoglia@venturewell.org

alisa ainbinder

senior research and evaluation analyst

Alisa Ainbinder is the lead evaluator for the I-Corps™ Longitudinal Outcomes survey and the formative evaluation for the I-Corps™ course. Prior to joining VentureWell, she worked at Mathematica Policy Research in their Washington, D.C. location where she was a survey researcher on numerous federal program data collection and evaluation efforts. Alisa holds a PhD in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, an MA in Social Work and an MA in Social Science also from the University of Chicago. aainbinder@venturewell.org

Hollie Crisler Alvarezhollie crisler alvarez

program officer

Hollie manages the logistics and operations for VentureWell conferences and events across North America and worldwide. She works closely with VentureWell staff and external vendors to execute flawless settings for faculty and early stage innovators to network and learn. She is a seasoned event planning professional with strengths in organization, attention to detail, and budget and relationship management. Hollie earned dual BBAs in Marketing and in Management and an MBA from Valdosta State University. halvarez@venturewell.org

sandeep bethi

data integrity specialist

Sandeep is responsible for monitoring and reviewing data for integrity across various systems at VentureWell. His expertise in writing R and Python scripts combined with the use of BI tools effectively supports our migration of legacy data into new information systems such as Salesforce. Prior to joining VentureWell, he worked as a Data Science intern at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and a Data Modeling Analyst at Jiva Info Tech Incorporation. Sandeep completed his BE in Computer Science at Amrita University in India and his MS in Information Systems at Northeastern University, Boston.  sbethi@venturewell.org

Patricia Boyntonpatricia boynton

grants manager

Patricia oversees the efficient intake, review, processing and finalization of all submitted student and faculty grant proposals and competition entries. She manages pre- and post-award processes and works with student and faculty grantees and institution sponsored research staff to ensure procedural compliance on funded awards. During her time at VentureWell Patricia has worked on many student and faculty programs. Patricia has a BA in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherstpboynton@venturewell.org

Allyson Greeneallyson chabot

senior accountant

Allyson assists the Director of Finance in executing the financial reporting and accounting functions of the organization including grants accounting, tax matters, budget management and compliance. She also manages the payroll, accounts payable, and accounts receivable functions of the organization. She holds a BA in economics degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst as well as a MS in Accounting degree from Western New England University. achabot@venturewell.org

Tessa Goodhindtessa doubleday

events manager

Tessa coordinates the operations and logistics for many VentureWell events, focusing especially on the E-Team program for which she is lead events manager. She began her career working on the vendor side of the hospitality industry, and held positions at University of Massachusetts Amherst, Homewood Suites Holyoke and Chandler’s Restaurant at Yankee Candle. Tessa earned a degree in hospitality from the Isenberg School of Management at University of Massachusetts Amhersttdoubleday@venturewell.org

sarah eisenberg


Sarah assists with financial reporting and analysis at VentureWell, and is responsible for accounts receivable, accounts payable, and account reconciliations. She is a CPA and most recently worked as an auditor at a public accounting firm in Connecticut. Sarah received her BBA with a concentration in Accounting from the Isenberg School of Management at University of Massachusetts Amherst. seisenberg@venturewell.org

cara lampe

marketing and communications associate

Cara is responsible for marketing and promoting VentureWell programs and initiatives, including project coordination, producing marketing collateral and promotional calendars, and developing social media content. She has worked for a variety of consumer corporations, including Wilton Brands and Yankee Candle and her experience includes product development, project management, marketing and communications, and social media strategy. Cara holds a BS in Marketing and Management from Iowa State University. clampe@venturewell.org

leann leake

research and evaluation associate

Leann supports VentureWell Programs through her Research & Evaluation work, including survey administration and analysis, database management, data visualization and reporting. Prior to joining the Research and Evaluation Team, Leann worked with VentureWell’s grants administration and finance teams. She brings a variety of skills to VentureWell including project management and writing from her prior experience in insurance underwriting, publishing and independent feature film production. Leann holds a BA in English and a BFA in visual art from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. lleake@venturewell.org

elisa mai

senior development officer

Elisa manages a variety of strategic development efforts at VentureWell, helping to identify new opportunities, write proposals and concept notes, collaborate internally and externally, and improve processes. Elisa’s experience spans program management, development, and communications for a wide array of academic, professional, and public audiences. Prior to joining VentureWell, Elisa implemented diverse projects focused on increasing health equity at the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality. She holds a BA from Amherst College. emai@venturewell.org

colleen matte

accounting associate

Colleen provides accounting support in regards to purchasing, accounts payable, vendor
relations, and account reconciliations. She began her career working in hospitality guest
services, focusing on hotel transaction analysis. She most recently comes from a staff
accounting team at a publicly owned company working with capital projects and assets.
Colleen earned a BS in Business Administration from Robert Morris
University, located just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. cmatte@venturewell.org

Thema Monroe-Whitethema monroe-white

senior research and evaluation analyst

Thema is responsible for the development and implementation of research and evaluation (R&E) activities at VentureWell. She oversees R&E activities in support of programs, grant proposals and thought leadership initiatives. Prior to VentureWell, Thema served as external evaluator for federally-funded initiatives focused on broadening participation, and promoting creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in STEM. She holds a PhD in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology, an MS in Developmental Neuropsychology and a BS in Psychology from Howard University. tmwhite@venturewell.org

Stacey Mushenskistacey mushenski

office manager

Stacey is responsible for many aspects of our business, supporting staff in Finance, Program, and Human Resources teams, managing vendors, and providing top-notch customer service. Her incredible organization skills and friendly voice & face keep our team running smoothly and effectively. She takes great pleasure in making sure our staff and visitors are taken care of. Stacey has a passion for community development and a strong devotion to the nonprofit sector and appreciates how VentureWell helps improve the quality of life for many people around the world. smushenski@venturewell.org

Kim Noblekim noble

events manager

Kim leads event management for VentureWell’s programs. In her role, she supervises a team of four events staff and coordinates with program leaders to ensure all events deliver the high-quality experience that participants have come to associate with VentureWell. Kim brings to her role more than 15 years of experience directing educational training. Her past work focused on creating scalable training programs, applying evaluation data to curriculum development, and developing and maintaining training materials. She received BS and MS degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madisonknoble@venturewell.org

Michael Nortonmichael norton

Systems Administrator

Michael provides administration, training, and support for both hardware and software solutions. He enjoys exploring new systems to improve workflow as well as helping bridge the gap between technology and users. Michael has a BA in International Studies from American University. mnorton@venturewell.org

Megan O'Gradymegan o'grady


Megan assists with budgeting and financial reporting at VentureWell, and is responsible for accounts receivable, membership payments, and account reconciliations. Megan received a BS in business administration with a concentration in accounting from the University of Hartford. She is currently pursuing her MBA at the University of Hartford. mogrady@venturewell.org

Lisa Poncelisa ponce

event planning administrator

Lisa Ponce provides comprehensive office support to the VentureWell event managers, and also serves as an office liaison between the events team and all other VentureWell departments. She brings to this role a background in hotel management, having worked in a variety of capacities for hotels in Massachusetts and Alaska. Lisa has a BFA from Catawba College and an MA from University of Massachusetts Amherst. lponce@venturewell.org

gabriel reif

research and evaluation analyst

Gabe is responsible for the evaluation of an array of VentureWell initiatives. Gabe’s work focuses on devising and implementing evaluation plans of programs such as E-Teams and the annual Open conference in order to assess their impact and effectiveness, as well as the satisfaction of participants. Gabe is currently pursuing his doctorate in Education Policy, Research, and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and holds an MEd from the University of Vermont, and a BS from Brandeis University. greif@venturewell.org

tim shores

platform analyst

Tim develops, implements, and manages software within a cohesive platform architecture to deliver scalable data-driven solutions on demand by VentureWell initiatives and partners. He brings over a decade of expertise with business process and IT management, data analysis, database design, and software development. Previously he was a founding member of a global startup that provides campaign and technology resources for environmentalists working in high-risk locations. Tim holds a BGS in Linguistics and Philosophy from the University of Michigan. tshores@venturewell.org

Michael Sjostedtmichael sjostedt

marketing & communications officer

Michael manages content marketing efforts for VentureWell’s partner websites. He crafts engaging web and social media content to showcase an organization’s programs and resources that support entrepreneurial ventures. During Michael’s 20 years of publishing and marketing experience, he cultivated and managed the online presence for many organizations and personalities including bestselling author Daniel Goleman. Michael holds a BA in Communications from Central Connecticut State University and a Certificate in Technical Writing/Web Content from California State University of Sacramento. msjostedt@venturewell.org

Cindy Teixeiracindy teixeira

data sciences officer

Cindy oversees data management efforts at VentureWell. She brings over ten years of experience in the data archives field, where she focused on the areas of data quality, metadata development, and enhanced usability. Prior to joining VentureWell, Cindy managed the day-to-day operations within a public opinion data archive, and led efforts in the development and adoption of standards for digital curation. cteixeira@venturewell.org

Leslie Tillotsonleslie tillotson

human resources consultant

Leslie provides HR outsourcing through her company (HR Consulting) for her clients in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. At VentureWell, she guides the talent acquisition, compensation and benefits, and employee relations initiatives, and provides individual guidance to staff and management on a variety of issues related to Human Capital. Prior to consulting, Leslie held senior HR management roles at (mostly tech) companies, from start-ups to large corporations in the greater Boston area. Leslie holds a BA degree from Colgate University. ltillotson@venturewell.org

Kate Tobinkate tobin

development associate

Kate supports VentureWell’s Strategic Development activities, including proposal development and award reporting, as well as managing consultant contracts and facilitating communication with the Board of Directors. Prior to her current position, Kate worked with VentureWell’s Finance and Administration teams where she honed her organizational and project management skills. She holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  ktobin@venturewell.org