The Honorable Tom Ridge
Following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, Tom Ridge became the first Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and, on January 24, 2003, became the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, serving until February 2005. The creation of the country's 15th Cabinet Department marked the largest reorganization of government since the Truman administration and another call to service for the former soldier, congressman and governor of Pennsylvania. During his DHS tenure, Secretary Ridge worked with more than 180,000-plus employees from a combined 22 agencies to create an agency that facilitated the flow of people and goods, instituted layered security at air, land and seaports, developed a unified national response and recovery plan, protected critical infrastructure, integrated new technology and improved information sharing worldwide. Mr. Ridge previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives for six terms from 1983 to 1995, and was twice elected Governor of Pennsylvania, serving as the state's 43rd governor from 1995 to 2001. Governor Ridge's aggressive technology strategy helped fuel the state's advances in economic development, education, health care and the environment. Secretary Ridge is currently president and CEO of Ridge Global, an international security and risk management advisory firm, headquartered in Washington, DC. An engaging and dynamic speaker, Secretary Ridge regularly addresses audiences on a range of issues, including international business, security and leadership. Additionally, he serves on the boards of the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and other private and public entities. He is currently chairman of the National Organization on Disability and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's National Security Task Force, and along with Gen. Tommy Franks (Ret.), serves as national co-chairman of the Flight 93 National Memorial Fundraising Campaign. Secretary Ridge earned a scholarship to Harvard, graduating with honors in 1967. After his first year at Penn State University's Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After returning to Pennsylvania and to Dickinson, he earned his law degree.
Robert Atkinson is the founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, DC-based technology policy think tank. He is also author of the "State New Economy Index" series and the book, "The Past and Future of America's Economy: Long Waves of Innovation that Power Cycles of Growth". He has an extensive background in technology policy, he has conducted ground-breaking research projects on technology and innovation, is a valued adviser to state and national policy makers, and a popular speaker on innovation policy nationally and internationally. Before coming to ITIF, Dr. Atkinson was vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute and director of PPIís Technology & New Economy Project, where he wrote numerous research reports on technology and innovation policy. Previously Dr. Atkinson served as the first executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, a public-private partnership including as members the governor, legislative leaders, and corporate and labor leaders. Prior to that he was project director at the former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. He received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Rebecca Bagley is President and CEO of NorTech. Previously, Ms. Bagley served as Deputy Secretary for the Technology Investment Office of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). In that capacity she oversaw the operations of an office with $79 million in appropriations and more than $1.7 billion in investments that serves as a catalyst for growth and competitiveness for Pennsylvania companies and universities. She was responsible for the administration of several major state programs, including the Life Sciences Greenhouse initiative, the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the Keystone Innovation Zone program, the Research and Development Tax Credit program, and many other technology-based economic development programs that support research and commercialization activities. She previously served as Director of the Venture Investment for DCED and was responsible for managing several venture capital programs. Before joining DCED, Ms. Bagley worked as an investment banker at WFG Capital Advisors where she advised technology companies on merger and acquisitions and capital raising activities. Additionally, she worked at JPMorgan Chase in New York City both in the high-yield bond and oil and gas mergers and acquisitions groups. She started her investment banking career at Howell International in Boulder, Colorado, after returning from a corporate relations position in Caracas, Venezuela. She is currently a member of the Board of the National Association for Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF) and also has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the State Science Technology Institute (SSTI). Ms. Bagley holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder College of Business and Administration.
Michael Cassidy shapes and guides the strategic direction of the Georgia Research Alliance as the President and CEO. The Alliance is a private, nonprofit organization that brings together the state's academic, industry and government leaders to grow Georgia's economy through scientific discovery. He also serves as liaison to other local, regional, and national organizations with an economic development mission and helps to promote Georgia as a leader in science and technology worldwide. Before joining the Alliance in 1993, Mr. Cassidy managed the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia's technology incubator. Prior to that he worked for the IBM Corporation where he held various staff and management assignments. He represents Georgia on the Southern Technology Council serving as co-chair, consults with several states on technology-based economic development strategies and serves on numerous boards. He is active with the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and participated in the development of their National Innovation Initiative. Mr. Cassidy holds a Master's degree in Technology and Science Policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.B.A. degree in Marketing from Georgia State University.
Michael Finney is the President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the State of Michigan's lead economic development agency, and is responsible for executing Governor Rick Snyder's economic development strategy. Prior to taking the helm at MEDC, Mr. Finney served as President and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK (SPARK), a public-private partnership whose mission is to advance innovation-based economic development in the greater Ann Arbor, Michigan, region. He previously served as President and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise, Rochester, New York, and as Vice President Emerging Business Sectors, and Senior Vice President and General Manager, Thompson Saginaw and Assistant City Manager, Saginaw, Michigan. Mr. Finney currently serves on the boards of trustees for the State Science & Technology Institute, the Washtenaw Community College Foundation and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation; and the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, Office of Technology Transfer and College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship, National Advisory Councils. He also served on Governor Rick Snyder's transition team. He has received numerous awards and recognitions including the 2008 Saginaw Valley State University Outstanding Alumnus for the College of Business and Management; named by Crain's Detroit Business as one of the 2007 Newsmakers of the Year; and 2005 Minett Distinguished Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Mr. Finney holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Saginaw Valley State University.
William "Brit" E. Kirwan became the third chancellor of the University System of Maryland in August 2002. Previously, he served as president of Ohio State University (1998-2002) and as president of the University of Maryland, College Park (1988-1998). Prior to his presidency, he was a member of the University of Maryland mathematics faculty for 34 years. Dr. Kirwan is a nationally recognized authority on critical issues shaping the higher education, including accountability, cost containment, economic competitiveness, and diversity and equity. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation; chairs the College Board's Commission on Access, Admissions, and Success in Higher Education; and is the current Chair of NASULGC's Committee on Student Learning and Accountability.
Bruce Mehlman is a technology industry leader in Washington DC, helping high tech players understand, anticipate and navigate the public policy environment and trends likely to impact the global marketplace through his firm, Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. His largest client is the Technology CEO Council, where as Executive Director he works with the CEOs of Applied Materials, Dell, EMC, IBM, Intel, HP, Motorola, NCR and Unisys to promote innovation leadership and tech-led economic growth. Mr. Mehlman previously served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy. At Commerce, Mr. Mehlman worked closely with leaders from industry, federal labs, universities and governments on issues impacting technology creators and users including innovation policy, broadband, biotechnology, tech-led economic growth, technology transfer, nanotechnology, and workforce policy. Mehlman worked as telecommunications policy counsel for Cisco Systems, policy director at the House Republican Conference, general counsel of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and as a commercial litigation attorney in a major Washington law firm. He serves on the Board of One Economy Corporation, and the Advisory Boards of the NanoBusiness Alliance and the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab.
Luis M. Proenza is chief executive officer of The University of Akron. He has led its transformation into a powerful engine for regional economic development, a catalyst for collaborative initiatives, and the preeminent public university in Northeast Ohio. In 12 years of his leadership, UA's revenue and research portfolio more than doubled, and private donations established all-time records. His initiatives have distinguished the university nationally and internationally and made it a national model for innovation. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Proenza to serve on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the nation's highest-level policy advisory group for science and technology. Dr. Proenza also is a member of the executive committee for the Council on Competitiveness and its Manufacturing Competitiveness Steering Committee, the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academies, the Technology Innovation Program Advisory Board for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds a bachelor's degree from Emory University (1965), a master's from The Ohio State University (1966) and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota (1971).
Sandra Watson is a cornerstone leader of Arizona's economic development activity. During her 15-year tenure at the Arizona Department of Commerce she has served in progressively more responsible roles with high levels of results and change implementation. Most recently, Ms. Watson has worked as Executive Vice President and COO to implement the exciting new vision for the Arizona Commerce Authority. She has provided invaluable energy and stability as the former Arizona Department of Commerce has been transitioned into the new Arizona Commerce Authority, all while managing the operations of an organization that continued to attract and retain business in Arizona. During her first six years with the Arizona Department of Commerce, she managed and directed business development, business attraction and marketing efforts. By 2002, she and her teams had successfully attracted hundreds of companies that invested billions of dollars in capital, which resulted in the creation of well over 50,000 quality jobs for Arizona citizens, and influenced additional hundreds of business locates and billions of dollars of capital investment. In addition, Ms. Watson has managed and influenced Arizona's workforce policies. She also served as Director of Innovation and Technology and has been a leading participant in these important Arizona growth sectors through her participation on many technology councils, boards and innovation centers throughout the state. She was also a founding editor of the Tech Connect Magazine. In 2003, she received the Arizona Technology Council Chairman's Award for her commitment and dedication in support of Arizona's technology community. In 2004, she was a recipient of the Arizona Business Journal's "Forty Under 40" as an up and coming Arizona leader. Ms. Watson earned an Honors Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and she has completed the Global Leadership Certification Program at the Thunderbird School of Management. She currently is working toward her Masters of Business Administration.