Chandra Miller Fienen, Executive Director
StartingBlock Founding Team Member. Entrepreneur. Reformed Attorney.
Chandra was part of the founding team of Boston-based biotechnology startup Bioarray Therapeutics; Senior Advisor to the Governor; in executive leadership at the Wisconsin Department of Commerce; and an associate at a San Francisco litigation firm (now Arnold & Porter). She serves on several boards, including DMI; is a 2019 Brava Woman to Watch, holds a J.D. from UC-Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and a B.A. from Macalester College. Chandra is a member of StartingBlock’s Founding Team. (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)
Nhi Le, Entrepreneur-In-Residence
Nhi joined StartingBlock as our EIR in September 2019. Nhi works with the WARF Accelerator Program (WARF.org) to help advance commercially promising academic research. Prior to WARF, Nhi was the director of gBETA Madison and managing director of gener8tor Minnesota. Nhi received her PhD in Materials Science from UW-Madison and BS degrees in Materials Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech. (LI)
Forrest Woolworth, 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)
Pam Christenson, Vice Chair
Pam 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)
Anne Smith, Secretary
Anne 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)
Terry Sivesind, Treasurer
Terry 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.
Our Current Board Of Directors
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)
JACKIE DiMONTE is a Senior Associate 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. 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)
SCOTT FORESTER is the CFO for Punchkick Interactive – an entrepreneurial tech company headquartered in Chicago. Punchkickj develops apps and mobile web for clients such Kwik Trip, Marriott, Harley Davidson and others. Scott handles the entire “back office” function for Punhckick. Scott has been the CFO for many entrepreneurial companies including two in toys, two in food and two in tech. He was CFO for Tiger Toys creator of Furby. He has been in involved in M&A sales of 3 of them to Hasbro, Heinz and Mondalez. Scott moved to Madison in July 2019 from Chicago. 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)
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)
MEG PRESTIGIACOMO 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)
MARK RICHARDSON 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)
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)
LAURA STRONG 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)
JASMINE TIMMONS is the Madison Director for the Doyenne Group. She began her entrepreneurial journey as a Brand Strategy Consultant & Crucial Conversations Facilitator, working with some of Madison’s core players within the entrepreneurial ecosystem; including 100 State, Synergy Co-working and the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce. Jasmine is the CEO of Co Co Cre, a budding startup focusing on connecting, collaborating, and creating culturally resonating experiences. Solving the need for talent retention, equity enhancement, and wellness enrichment for people of color in the Madison area. Jasmine currently enjoys wearing both hats as an entrepreneur with her personal venture and an intrapreneur within her organization. She is looking forward to joining the StartingBlock Board in August 2019. (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)
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.