Meet The Team

Our Team

Karen Crossley, Interim Executive Director

Karen joined the StartingBlock Madison team serving as interim Executive Director in mid-June 2022. Karen has been involved in supporting the local entrepreneurial ecosystem for over a decade – including with StartingBlock’s Social Impact Cohort, MERLIN Mentors, and Doyenne. Her professional career within the nonprofit and public sectors focused upon conservation, higher education fund raising, arts and culture, and civic engagement. Her community service has targeted sustainability, public education and youth leadership development. One of Karen’s current passion projects is helping to advance the long-awaited Madison Public Market. For fun, Karen enjoys active outdoor pursuits, adventuring, and bicycling whenever and wherever she can.

Contact: Karen@StartingBlockMadison.org (LI)

Leslie Weissburg, Interim Director of Operations

Leslie joined the StartingBlock Madison team as the interim Operations Manager in June 2022. Leslie has been a serial entrepreneur and a resource and champion within the Madison startup community. Professionally, she enjoys creating and improving company culture. Outside of work, you can find her at the Madison Farmers Markets, cooking and all things outdoors, especially in the summer.

Contact: Leslie@StartingBlockMadison.org (LI)

Luke Fuszard, Interim Director of Business Development 

Prior to StartingBlock, Luke spent ten years in the tech startup space as a salesperson, manager, and channel developer. Originally from Green Bay, Luke is a seventh-generation Wisconsinite and a proud Packer season ticket holder.

Contact: Luke@StartingBlockMadison.org (LI)

Julie Maduros, Membership Engagement Intern

Julie joined the StartingBlock Madison team as a Member Engagement Intern in April 2022. She is a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, double majoring in Finance, Investment, and Banking & Management and Entrepreneurship. Julie is also pursuing a certificate in Spanish and has goals to break into the venture capital or start-up world post graduation. Outside of work and school, Julie is a fan of the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks, loves to travel, and play tennis or beach volleyball!

Contact: Julie@StartingBlockMadison.org (LI)

Officers

Mark Richardson

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)

Laura Strong, Co-Chair

Laura is Clinical Development Director at Exact Sciences. She previously founded of Propagate 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

Meg Prestigiacomo, Vice Chair

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 a “fractional CFO” through his company ThinkForward CFO providing services to start-ups and growing entrepreneurial companies in need of a CFO but not on a full time basis. Previously Scott was the CFO for Punchkick Interactive. Scott was also CFO for other entrepreneurial companies including Tiger Toys (creator of Furby) and has sold four of them to Hasbro, Heinz, Mondelez and Wipfli. He works 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

Remzi.Arpaci-Dusseau
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
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)
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)

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)
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)
Nicole Justa
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)
Scott Resnick
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)
Troy.Vosseller
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)
Keith Witek
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)
FORREST WOOLWORTH has been a champion of all things entrepreneurial in Madison and a leader in our startup community for over a decade. He is COO of PerBlue, a mobile games studio started from a college apartment that now entertains millions of players around the world. Forrest is also a member of StartingBlock’s Founding Team, the co-founder of Capital Entrepreneurs, and a board member of the Forward Festival. Forrest is a 2009 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Computer Engineering and Computer Science.  (LI)

Our Partners

gener8tor: the region’s platinum ranked accelerator program.

Doyenne

Doyenne Group: building entrepreneurial ecosystems that invest in the power and potential of women entrepreneurs.

Bunker Labs

Bunker Labs: empowering military entrepreneurs as innovation leaders.

Capital Entrepreneurs

Capital Entrepreneurs: peer-to-peer network bringing 300+ entrepreneur members together to learn, share and collaborate.

Wisconsin Games Alliance

Wisconsin Games Alliance: is a local network of game studios, independent developers, faculty, investors, and regional economic development agencies.

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