Greg McKee, CEO
Greg McKee brings nearly 30 years of experience in the healthcare, investment management and investment banking industries to CONNECT. He was co–Founder of Global Bio Link, a global Specialty Pharma company focused on the commercialization of novel and niche compounds in markets outside the United States. Prior to Global Bio Link, he was Chairman and CEO of Akela Pharma Inc. and its predecessor company, Nventa Biopharmaceuticals. Previously, Greg held roles as Head Corporate Development, Valentis, Inc., and Senior Management roles with Genzyme Corporation in the US and Asia. Greg lived and worked in Japan and in Singapore for nine years and speaks fluent Japanese.
An active member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO)/World Presidents Organization (WPO), Greg earned a B.A., Economics from the University of Washington, a M.B.A from the Wharton School, and a M.A., International Studies from The Joseph H. Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania.
Duane J. Roth, Former Chief Executive Officer
Duane J. Roth, 63, passed away Saturday, August 3, 2013, from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident on July 21 in preparation for a charity race. Prior to his passing, Duane served as Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of CONNECT.
Duane was a beloved member of the San Diego and innovation community at large whose vision and hard work changed the way we live and work. That vision will live on through all those Duane influenced as we seek to make our community a better place for innovation and, simply, a better place to live.
Melissa Garchie, Executive Assistant to Greg McKee
Melissa supports the CEO and manages the Foundation, Association and Executive Committee board meetings. Prior to CONNECT, she supported the Chief Administrative Officer of a nationwide law firm and assisted in the office administration of their San Diego office. Melissa studied psychology at California State University, San Marcos.
Kevin Carroll, Executive Vice President
Mr. Carroll currently serves a Executive Vice President, CONNECT. In that capacity he oversees the SME CONNECT initiative. This initiative serves SME’s (Small and Medium Size Technology Companies) Kevin works with the SME community to drive product and services this segment of the regional technology community.
Prior to that Mr. Carroll was Regional Vice President, TechAmerica. In that role he oversaw the management of the Southern California operations of TechAmerica, formerly AeA.. Prior to this promotion Mr. Carroll was the Executive Director for the AeA San Diego Council, Mr. Carroll turned the council into one of the most vibrant and successful AeA Councils in the Country. Mr. Carroll worked with a broad diversity of technology companies with a niche in servicing SME, small and midsize technology firms. Before being promoted to Executive Director, Mr. Carroll held several senior positions at AeA.
Mr. Carroll started his career serving technology companies by being recruited in 1996 by AeA as Special Projects Director. One of his first responsibilities was fundraising and managing the creation of the AeA David Packard Conference Center (DPCC). Kevin successfully rose over $1M and oversaw the construction of the DPCC. The Center still serves as a major technology conference center in Washington D.C. Mr. Carroll was than tasked with rejuvenating the AeA Potomac Council. Under his leadership the AeA Potomac Council enjoyed the highest growth rate of any AeA Council. Working with regional technology companies like AOL, Network Solutions, Ciena and others Mr. Carroll created an new infrastructure to support technology needs in Maryland and Virginia.
Prior to joining the AeA, he was Chief of Staff for the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. Before that Mr. Carroll worked at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he pioneered the creation of the International Division Information Center (IDIC). During his tenure at the Chamber he created two publications, NAFTA Impact and the International Business Quick Reference Guide.
Mr. Carroll has served on several boards in San Diego including the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, North County Economic Development Corporation and CONNECT. In 2004 Mr. Carroll was voted the ‘Tech Supporter of the Year’ by the T-Sector magazine. Mr. Carroll’s hobbies include skateboarding and sailing. Mr. Carroll is currently Staff Commodore, Venture Yacht Club.
Education: Mr. Carroll graduated with a B.S. Degree from the University of Nevada Reno in 1990. He is also a 2007 Graduate of the AeA/Stanford Executive Institute for the management of high technology companies.
Ruprecht von Buttlar, Vice President, Business Creation and Development
Ruprecht von Buttlar is the Vice President, Business Creation & Development. He directs the execution and development of: the Springboard program and the Nearsourcing Roundtable program. Ruprecht serves on the executive boards of CCAT (Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technologies), San Diego Advanced Defense Technology cluster and the Biomimicry BRIDGE. Springboard, CONNECT’s flagship program, assists innovators and entrepreneurs with the definition of a compelling commercialization strategy through mentoring by seasoned, C-level executives – CONNECT’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs). Under Ruprecht’s leadership, Springboard has become an internationally renowned business creation program. Since 2005, more than 200 companies have completed the Springboard process and over 50% of these companies are still in operation. These companies have raised over $ 310Million in seed-, venture- and debt financing and have created 1000 jobs in San Diego.
Prior to CONNECT, Ruprecht held global chief executive, general management and business development positions in the Internet and communications industries with companies including Motorola, DSC Communications (Alcatel), Nortel Networks, Scientific Atlanta and Aegis Broadband.
Ruprecht has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Hamburg and a MBA from Loyola College in Maryland.
Gary Klein, Vice President, Public Policy
Karen Winston, Vice President, Program Development
Karen Winston joined CONNECT in 2007. As a senior member of the CONNECT team, Karen serves as an advisor and resource across the platform to create target specific and engaging programming. Key program focus includes the CONNECT Global Innovation Summit and Frontiers in Science & Technology. Also, with a focus on ensuring that CONNECT’s stakeholders have a local supply of highly skilled talent available for hire, Karen’s role includes programs and initiatives that influence students to pursue studies and develop careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as develop opportunities that engage industry involvement in education. One such program is CONNECT’s Entrepreneurs for Young Innovators which introduces local entrepreneurs with exciting technology to middle and high school students through dynamic classroom presentations.
Prior to her role in workforce development, Karen led the production and implementation of many of CONNECT’s programs, including the MIT Enterprise Forum San Diego for which she served as executive director for six years, which included responsibility for the operations and administration of the chapter, including program management, budget, sponsorship, marketing, and strategic partnerships. Additional programs under Karen’s past program leadership were Global CONNECT Summit, Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, FrameWorks Workshops, Most Innovative New Product Awards, Frontiers in Science & Technology, and the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance during its early development years.
Karen has more than 25 years of experience in marketing and public relations, including 12 years as a marketing consultant. Her clients and past employers were lawyers, accountants, insurance agents, professional speakers/authors and other professional services in San Diego, New York, Massachusetts and Florida. Karen is presently a member of the San Diego Leadership Council for Women in Technology International (WITI), and serves on various advisory committees, including the STEM Collaboratory, ARCS Scholars Foundation, and GirlTECH. She earned a bachelor’s of science degree in communications and sociology, and a minor in French literature from UC San Diego.
Jennifer Adams, Director, Marketing and Communications
Jennifer Adams is the Director of Marketing and Communications for CONNECT. Jennifer is responsible for the organization’s brand, positioning and messaging, and social media. Prior to joining CONNECT, Jennifer lead the marketing efforts for CarePayment, a company focused on improving patient satisfaction in hospitals and health systems by providing flexible payment options for out-of-pocket expenses. Previously, Jennifer worked for Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse in Private Wealth Management. Jennifer holds a MBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Portland.
» Contact Jennifer Adams
Theresa Andrews, Director, Public Policy
Theresa Andrews is the Director of Public Policy for CONNECT. Theresa is responsible for managing CONNECT’s Public Policy Committee and Innovation Institute along with all corresponding functions. In addition, Theresa manages state and local public policy and assists in identifying business growth opportunities. Prior to CONNECT, Theresa was Senior External Relations Officer for University of the Pacific, Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy where she was responsible for renewing and enriching alumni connections and forging Corporate and Foundation sponsors. Previously, Theresa was Director of Membership and Manager of Government Affairs for the California Pharmacists Association. Theresa hold a Bachelor’s of Science degree from San Diego State University.
Karen Halle, Director, Business Development
Karen Halle has worked with technology and life sciences companies through non-profit and professional services firms throughout her career. As the Director of Business Development her focus is on serving the membership of CONNECT by growing the CONNECT community and securing sponsors for the many programs that support the San Diego innovation economy. Prior to joining CONNECT, Karen lead the marketing efforts for the Technology and Life Sciences practice group at Moss Adams LLP, the largest regional accounting firm headquartered on the west coast. While there, she supporting the technology and life sciences ecosystems through involvement in associations and programs in ten major markets throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico.
Before Moss Adams, Karen led development and marketing efforts at two similar non-profit associations—the Washington Technology Industry Alliance, supporting the innovation economy in Seattle and the Puget Sound region, and Silicon Valley Forum in the early 2000s, fostering the ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in the heart of technology innovation. Karen has held leadership positions on the MIT Enterprise Forum Advisory Board and both the San Diego and Puget Sound Chapters of the American Marketing Association. She earned her Master’s in Education from UCLA and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from University of Rochester.
Steve Hoey, Director, Business Creation and Development
Steve’s responsibilities include managing the Springboard Program and Nearsourcing Roundtable program as well as project leader of the CONNECT Innovation Report, The San Diego Innovation Assets Report and the Southern California Nexus of Innovation White Paper. Steve is a frequent speaker and writer on San Diego’s innovation economy.
Steve previously worked as a research assistant at the Harvard Business School, examining technological innovation in the semiconductor industry and models of effective senior management decision-making and action planning. Prior to joining CONNECT he served as a senior engagement manager for Oliver Wyman in New York and Europe. While at Oliver Wyman, he specialized in the financial services industry practice. Steve holds a Ph.D. from UC San Diego and an M.B.A. from Oxford University where he conducted research on emerging business model strategies in the biotech industry.
Richard Duncan, Operations Manager
Richard provides office and front desk support as well as managing the conference room bookings and overseeing daily operations. He recently moved to San Diego from New York City, where he was working in subscription marketing for various magazine titles. Originally from North Carolina, he is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.S. in Management and a concentration in Marketing.
Dina Flees, Program Manager
Dina is responsible for managing all SME CONNECT events, and CEO Strategy Forums. Prior to joining CONNECT, she worked at California Association of Community Managers (CACM) in Orange County as the Marketing Administrator. While working there she managed events across the state of California ranging from forums to Expos and Conferences. In addition to this she coordinated affiliate memberships managing their sponsorships, advertising, and participation. Previously, Dina worked at the Poway Chamber of Commerce as the membership services coordinator. While working at the Chamber she organized their weekly newsletter, membership retention program and all events. Dina holds a MA in Strategic Communication from National University and a BA in Design Management from Arizona State University.
Petra Stegmann, Assistant Director, Business Creation and Development
Petra manages all aspects of the Nearsourcing Initiative, the WBT (World’s Best Technologies) Innovation Marketplace as well as Demo Day. In addition, she also provides marketing support for the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa. Prior to joining the CONNECT team Petra worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Corporate Membership where she cultivated partnerships with local businesses, created and wrote marketing and development collateral and worked on a number of networking and special events, including the annual Monte Carlo gala. Prior to that she was an intrapreneur and held positions of Principle Investigator and Research Scientist at several higher education institutions and federal research facilities. In that capacity she initiated, lead and managed the complete life cycle of multiple research programs and built collaborations across industries, disciplines and departments. During her tenure she successfully secured funding through the competitive grant writing process from the National Science Foundation, NASA, Department of Commerce, among others. She is a published author, public speaker and has served as subject matter expert and program evaluator for several national and international agencies and was regularly called upon as a peer-reviewer for numerous professional journals. Petra holds Master and Doctor of Science degrees (with honors) from the University of Kiel and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Irvine.
Melissa Beyer, Assistant Director, Programs and MIT Enterprise Forum Executive Director
Melissa Beyer joined the CONNECT team in 2012. She is the Assistant Director, Programs for CONNECT and manages the Most Innovative New Product Awards. During her time at CONNECT she has also worked on other programs including FrameWorks Workshops, Rock Stars of Innovation Summit, Capital Competition and Deal Network. Melissa is also the Executive Director of the San Diego chapter of the MIT Enterprise Forum, one of CONNECT’s affiliate programs. In her role with MITEF she is responsible for the operations and administration of the chapter, including managing a large volunteer database, sponsorship, membership and budget. Before joining the CONNECT team, Melissa held the position of social sales and catering manager at a hotel in LA and has also spent time consulting with local non-profits including Autism Tree Project Foundation. Melissa earned a bachelor of science in hospitality and tourism management with an emphasis in meeting and event operations from San Diego State University.
Brittney Sabbah, Program Manager
Brittney coordinates the Capital Competitions, Deal Networks and Connect with CONNECT programs. Prior to CONNECT, Brittney organized special events at La Jolla Playhouse. She also worked as an assistant to the former Marketing Director of Roche while attending Alliance Française in Paris. Brittney graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and a minor in Spanish.
San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI) Team
Lisa Freedman, Executive Director – San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI)
With almost 20 years experience, Lisa brings to SDSI strong credentials in business development, management, marketing, operations and event production. While her career has mostly kept her working with the traditional sports such as football and baseball, she is very proud to have been part of the Sport and Venue team running the inaugural Olympic Mountain Bike Events at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
Over the course of her career, Lisa has worked on some of the world’s most prestigious events with some of the foremost sports architects including the Event Group at the international sports architecture firm, Populous. Over the years and while working for her well respected mentors, she had amazing experiences working on NFL Super Bowls, MLB all Star Games, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2012 London Olympics, as well as special projects for the International Olympic Committee. As a result, she has a vast network across many aspects of the Sports and Events Industries. Most people, when asked to describe her, say that she knows everyone as she has a wonderful memory for names, faces and fun facts about the people she has met.
Lisa’s responsibilities at SDSI include growing membership, maintaining relationships and ensuring member and sponsor fulfillment, creating and implementing new marketing strategies, business operations and budget management and creating meaningful events. Lisa is very excited to have joined such a unique organization with such a dynamic staff, board and membership base. She is looking forward to a very successful and productive future where SDSI has a significant positive social and economic impact on Southern California’s Sports Community.
Renne Catalano, Program Director – San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI)
Renne manages all aspects of program development including membership, marketing, programs and events. Renne manages SDSI’s Springboard business mentoring program which has established Southern California as the center for sport innovation by driving the growth of the next generation of sports businesses. Renne is Editor-in-Chief of the SDSI newsletter, manages marketing initiatives and works with Lisa and Garrett to produce SDSI’s annual, quarterly and special events.
Renne has been with SDSI since its infancy in February 2010. She was brought on as the second full time staff shortly after Bill Walton was announced as the Executive Chairman of the Advisory Board. Together with Garrett Hale the two worked to establish a membership program and organizational structure that now services more than 80 members and an active community of more than 2000 individuals and provides collaboration, networking, education and capital opportunities.
Renne relocated from New York in February of 2010 where she received an associate’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology and worked in public relations for a women’s fashion house based out of NYC. Renne has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Conflict Resolution from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.
Nick Roth, Program Manager – San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI)
Nick is the newest member to the SDSI team and will assist Executive Chairman, Bill Walton, as well as handling digital media, supporting the SDSI team for events, assisting with membership, and helping as needed for the day to day business the organization.
Nick came to SDSI from South Florida after a 9 year hiatus from Southern California. After college, Nick worked for Fenway Sports Management in Boston before taking a position with the Miami Dolphins Youth Programs Department doing a number of community events impacting over 140,000 kids in the area. Nick has also coached various lacrosse teams ranging from 7-8 year old travel teams to High School teams.