Nora Roughen-Schmidt, Executive Director
Nora began her professional career with a tech startup in Madison in 2001 and has worked to eliminate barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses ever since. Nora is a creative leader who loves to problem solve, an entrepreneur and consultant, public speaker, educator and member of the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment. She was recognized as a 2017, “40 under 40” award recipient, and her grassroots economic development and small business initiatives have won state and national awards. She lives by the mantra that nothing is impossible. (LI)
Marc Yarmoff, Community Manager
Marc joined the StartingBlock Madison team as Community Manager in June 2019. Before working at StartingBlock, Marc built entrepreneurial culture for Inria in Paris, France and was the Startup Community Manager for MassChallenge Boston. Marc graduated from Tufts university. He is an avid photographer, videographer and rock-climber, just not all at the same time. (LI)
Caleb Walters, Member Manager
Caleb joined the StartingBlock team as Member Manager in August 2020. Caleb comes to us from the Viroqua Chamber Main street and brings several years of customer service and facilities management to the Membership team! From access requests to inquiries about space, please contact Caleb!
Mary Cait McManamon, Assistant to the Director
Mary Cait joined the StartingBlock Madison team as an Assistant in February 2021. She also owns MCMktg, LLC – a social media marketing agency for entrepreneurs. Mary Cait enjoys volunteering and serves on the board for Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota as their Social Media Director. She also leads virtual entrepreneurship trainings at Hawassa University in Ethiopia through Farmer to Farmer, a USAID-funded program.
Mark Richardson, Co-Chair
Mark is CEO and founder of GigBlender, a software tool that allows employers to incorporate their diversity values when finding and attracting talent. Mark is also President of Unfinished Business, which helps professionals prepare for, navigate, and accelerate career transition. Before stepping into entrepreneurship, Mark served as Vice President of Workforce Development at the Urban League, Division Administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce’s Housing and Community Development program, and Deputy Secretary for Wisconsin Department of Tourism. (LI)
Forrest Woolworth, Co-Chair
Forrest has been a champion of all things entrepreneurial in Madison and a leader in our startup community. He is COO of PerBlue, a mobile gaming startup company started from a college apartment that now employs 40 people and entertains millions around the world. Forrest is also the Co-Founder of Capital Entrepreneurs, is on the organizing committee for the Forward Festival, and is a founding member of the Wisconsin Games Alliance. Forrest is a 2009 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. Forrest is a member of StartingBlock’s Founding Team. (LI)
Laura Strong, Vice Chair
Laura is Clinical Development Director at Exact Sciences. She previously founded of Propogate Health, a problem-oriented innovation network built around a core of advisors & entrepreneurs from healthcare, life sciences, & technology and started and led a cancer drug development company that advanced a drug into a Phase I clinical trial in patients. Laura is also an Adjunct Professor at the UW-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health. She has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (LI)
Meg Prestigiacomo, Secretary
Meg is a Vice President at Baird, where she leads her team’s wealth management practice focusing on the needs of high net worth clients. She helps clients build and maintain their wealth and plan for life’s next transition. Prior to joining Baird in 2009, she worked as a Financial Advisor and Second Vice President at Citi Smith Barney. Meg helped launch the Madison Chapter of Ellevate, a professional networking organization for women who wish to create, inspire and lead. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison, with a degree in Marketing & Management. Meg joined the StartingBlock Board in August 2019. (LI)
Scott Forester, Treasurer
Scott is the Founder of ThinkForward CFO – a “fractional CFO” company providing services to start-ups and established entrepreneurial companies in need of the assistance of a CFO but not on a full time basis. Prior to that he was the CFO for the tech company Punchkick Interactive. Scott handled the entire “back office function” for Punchkick before selling Punchkick to Wipfli. Scott has been CFO for many entrepreneurial companies including for Tiger Toys creator of Furby. He works remotely at StartingBlock and has enjoyed getting to know the Madison entrepreneurial tech start-up community. Scott is a CPA and has a MS and BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois. Scott joined the StartingBlock Board in August 2019. (LI)
Our Current Board Of Directors
PAM CHRISTENSON is the Economic Development Director at Madison Gas and Electric (MGE). Prior to joining MGE, she was the Director of the Bureau of Entrepreneurship and Technology at the Department of Commerce, and the Director of Public Affairs for the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Pam is also a co-owner of a family-owned restaurant on Madison’s Lake Waubesa. Pam is is a member of StartingBlock’s Founding Team. (LI)
REMZI ARPACI-DUSSEAU is the Grace Wahba professor and Chair of the Computer Sciences Department at UW-Madison. He co-leads a research group with Professor Andrea Arpaci-Dusseau. Together, they have graduated 25 Ph.D. students and won numerous best-paper awards; many of their innovations are used by commercial systems. For their work, Andrea and Remzi received the 2018 ACM-SIGOPS Weiser award for “outstanding leadership, innovation, and impact in storage and computer systems research.” Remzi has won the SACM Professor-of-the-Year award six times, the Rosner “Excellent Educator” award, and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Andrea and Remzi’s operating systems book (www.ostep.org) is downloaded millions of times yearly and used at numerous institutions worldwide. He has also served as a technical advisor or consultant for numerous companies, including Samsung, Datos, Microsoft, and NetApp. Remzi joined the StartingBlock Board in August 2019. (LI)
BECCA COOKE is an entrepreneur and small business owner from Eau Claire, WI. She is the founder and executive director of Red Letter Grant, a non-profit organization that provides technical support, networking opportunities, and start-up capital to women-owned businesses throughout ten counties in western Wisconsin. Becca is a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Board Member where she serves as Board Secretary and co-chair to the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Committee. Cooke also serves on the Steering Committee for WiSys Venture Home. She is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business.
ANNE SMITH is a co-founder and Director of the Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School. She previously served as the General Counsel for Winterthur U.S. Holdings Inc. and Promega Corporation. She also runs a small family business and serves on a variety of nonprofit boards of directors. Anne is a member of StartingBlock’s Founding Team. (LI)
JACKIE DiMONTE is a Principal at Hyde Park Venture Partners in 2016. She began her career as a consultant at Accenture in the Business & Technology practice, focused on ERP (enterprise resource planning) software and SaaS enablement projects. After Accenture, she joined Silver Spring Networks, an IoT company for critical infrastructure, driving development and pilot projects for emerging smart city technology. Jackie serves as a board observerfor HPVB portfolio companies RoadSync, Fixer, and Podchaser and is on the board of organizations for Chicago Blend and StartingBlock Madison. She holds a B.S. in General Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. (LI)
CANDY EMBRAY, VP of S&SO (Sales and Service Operations) at American Family Insurance. Candy joined American Family in 2001 and has held positions in Underwriting and HR prior to her current role in the Sales division. In 2016, Candy was appointed VP of S&SO and is accountable for a 400-person care center that provides billing, sales and servicing support to insureds and the company’s independent agency sales force. Candy is not only passionate about driving ease and convenience for the customer, but also utilizing Lean innovation and process improvement principles to transform the way work is done within the organization. Candy is passionate about Diversity and Inclusion. She is a member of the American Family Executive Diversity and Inclusion Council, and participates in the D&I sponsored mentoring program. Candy also serves a a volunteer participant in the American Family Sisterhood partnership with a local Madison high school. She serves on American Family’s Executive (Innovation) Council and the Executive Customer Council.Candy joined the StartingBlock Board in August 2019. (LI)
KATHLEEN GALLAGHER is Executive Director of the Milwaukee Institute, a not-for-profit that helps forward-thinking Midwesterners learn, connect, and unlock the potential of advanced technologies and high-growth businesses to help our region thrive. She is also a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who covered technology, entrepreneurship and investments for over two decades for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (LI)
NICOLE JUSTA is the co-founder of N29 Capital Partners, an angel group headquartered in northern WI that invests mostly in early-stage WI startups. Before starting N29, Nicole worked as a financial advisor for 20-years and served a five-year term on the board of the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation. She is currently on the board of the Wisconsin Venture Capital Association and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Nicole joined the StartingBlock Board in August 2019. (LI)
TERRY SIVESIND is an established entrepreneurial leader, whose background includes early stage involvement at Promega, PanVera, Mirus, Takara Bio USA, Metabiologics, Renovar, Poseidon Probes, and Cellectar. In addition to being a StartingBlock Founding Member, Terry also co-founded Wisconsin’s first angel network, Wisconsin Investment Partners along with MERLIN Mentors and MadWorks seed business accelerator. Terry is a member of StartingBlock’s Founding Team.
HEATHER WENTLER is the Executive Director & Co-Founder of Doyenne, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to building entrepreneurial ecosystems where women of all backgrounds thrive. Heather has also founded other companies, advises numerous startup ventures and serves on advisory boards &boards of directors for entrepreneurs support organizations across Wisconsin. Through her professional training as an educator and advocate for those seen as “other”, heather is able to relate with entrepreneurs on a personal and professional level to meet them where they’re at to create a holistic and manageable outlook for a venture, as well as connect entrepreneurs with other professionals in order to best support a venture’s growth and success. (LI)
SCOTT RESNICK is the Chief Operating Officer of Hardin Design & Development, a nationally recognized web application and product development firm. For the last 10 years, Scott has provided technical services to companies like Mercedes Benz, Coleman Campers, and Sony Interactive. Scott was a two-term member of the Madison City Council, and served on the Plan Commission and Economic Development Committee. Scott is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Scott is a member of StartingBlock’s Founding Team. (LI)
ED JAVIER is currently the Director of Entrepreneurship Programs for WEDC. Before this role, he had been working in the startup space for more than 15 years. He is an experienced executive that helped build and scale start-up companies such as Cars.com and HomeFinder.com; led technology SaaS product launches into new industries; and in 2015, as the General Manager pivoted and sold the leading real
estate website in the Philippines to Rocket Internet. Since moving to the Milwaukee area, Ed has been consulting local companies in Marketing and Sales Strategies, mentored startups and co-organized Milwaukee’s first Startup Week. Ed received a master’s degree in International Marketing from Depaul University-Kellstadt in Chicago and his BA in Economics from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. (LI)
TROY VOSSELLER is the co-Founder of gener8tor (www.gener8tor.com) – a nationally ranked, concierge startup accelerator. Prior to launching gener8tor, Troy served as a Clinical Assistant Professor/Supervising Attorney at the UW Law School’s Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic and founded the T-shirt company Sconnie Naton (www.sconnie.com). Troy earned a BA, MBA, and JD, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Troy is a member of StartingBlock’s Founding Team. (LI)
MAX FERGUS is the CEO and Co-Founder of LÜM. LÜM was founded from a UW think tank that focused on rapidly expanding industries with antiquated business models. In January 2020, LÜM became the first-ever platform to allow for direct-to-artist virtual gifting on a western music streaming platform with the Company’s digital in-app currency – the Note.
Prior to starting LÜM, Fergus was one of the few students admitted to the UW-Madison school of business as an incoming freshman. Through college, Max worked in Shanghai, China as a financial analyst for a healthcare and life science venture capital firm and for Leerink Partners in San Francisco as an analyst in their investment banking division. With an undeniable passion for entrepreneurship, Fergus decided to forgo his offer starting at the healthcare investment banking division for Rothschild & Co in New York after graduation to pursue his dreams in business with LÜM. (LI)
JASON WEAVER Jason founded and successfully exited from two technology companies including Shoutlet, a leading Social Media Management platform. A prominent author, and a thought leader in product innovation, usability and entrepreneurship, Jason is an authority in social media and mobile marketing. Jason is the author of “Manager’s Guide to Online Marketing”, and has written for world renowned publications, such as Mashable and Forbes. Jason joined the StartingBlock Board in August 2019. (LI)
KEITH WITEK is SVP Corporate Development, Strategy, and General Counsel at SiFive. Keith worked at Telsa (Associate General Counsel and Director of Business Development); Advanced Micro Devices; the Technology Transactions Group of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati; Motorola; and Gould Electronics. Keith is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a double major in Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He also has a law degree from the University of Texas. (LI)
Doyenne Group: building entrepreneurial ecosystems that invest in the power and potential of women entrepreneurs.
Capital Entrepreneurs: peer-to-peer network bringing 300+ entrepreneur members together to learn, share and collaborate.
The Commons, a Milwaukee organization expanding to Madison this summer that brings student entrepreneurs together to work on real-world innovation problems.