Speaker Bios

Trish BrastedPatricia (Trish) Brasted

President and CEO, Wichita Technology Corporation

Trish Brasted, entrepreneur, active angel investor and CEO/president of Wichita Technology Corporation, is the managing member of Wichita Technology Ventures, (WTV), an early-stage technology fund, and the managing member of the Midwest Venture Alliance, a Kansas based angel group all of which serve high-growth entrepreneurs in the region.    

Trish has a long history in finance and entrepreneurship and understands the risks entrepreneurs face, the courage it takes to start a new venture and the process of growing a successful organization.  Under her leadership, the WTC team has assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs, invested seed capital dollars in more than 75 technology companies, representing 100 patented technologies in diverse technology areas such as advanced materials, manufacturing technology, biotech, broadband and telecommunications, proprietary engineering services, consumer products, information technology, and software solutions.

Trish is a CPA, earned her bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University, and her master’s from Baker University.  She is a frequent speaker on accessing venture capital and angel investing and serves on the boards of several private technology companies.

Emily-Breedlove-HeadshotEmily Breedlove

Co-Founder and Partner, Innovative Economies, LLC

Having spent the past 13 years working in regional economic and community development, Emily has been fortunate enough to have experienced this space from both the entrepreneurial approach and the resource provider perspective. She currently is the co-founder and partner of Innovative Economies, LLC, managing programs such as the UpScene Asheville, the SBA funded ScaleUp WNC program, the new Certified Entrepreneurial Communities® Program in partnership with Creative Economic Development Consulting, host of the annual Mompreneur Gathering and the multi-day Authentic Communities Summit. 

Prior to Innovative Economies, Emily served as the director of the Certified Entrepreneurial Communities® Program with the AdvantageWest Economic Development Group, worked as an adjunct marketing professor, and was the founder of the Center for New Mountain Business. Emily is passionate about working one-on-one with rural communities and entrepreneurs to develop strategies for collaborative progress and then catalyzing those initiatives with authenticity, innovation and a deep respect for cultural values.


Pat brown dixon

Patricia Brown-Dixon

Region VII Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

Pat was appointed Region VII Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2011 by President Barack Obama.  She administers the delivery of SBA’s small business programs and services throughout Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa and promotes the agency, which focuses on access to capital, contracting and counseling and training services for small businesses.

She began her career at the General Services Administration (GSA), rising to director of business and support services, working with small businesses and policies that help small businesses contract with the federal government at both the area and national levels. Pat was named a Kansas City Woman of Influence in 2011, received a Kansas City Entrepreneurial Legacy Award in 2013 from Thinking Bigger Business Media; the Richard Barrera Community Service Award from the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and was one of 10 Kansas City women to receive the Societas Docta Nefertiti Community Service Award. In 2015, she was named to the distinguished Society of Influentials by the Kansas City Globe. Pat earned a bachelor’s in business and education from Philander Smith College, Little Rock, and an MBA from Rockhurst University, Kansas City.


tammy Edwards

Tammy Edwards

Vice President of Regional, Public and Community Affairs, Federal Reserve Bank – Tenth District

Tammy is vice president of Regional, Public and Community Affairs for the seven states of the Tenth Federal Reserve District which includes Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, northern New Mexico and western Missouri. She leads industry and advisory council initiatives, the development of programs and publications for target audiences and community and economic development initiatives that address challenging issues affecting underserved communities and small businesses. Tammie is a coeditor of the 2015 book Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century.

Tammy joined the Bank in July 2008 after holding various leadership positions at Sprint Corporation for 26 years. She holds a bachelor of business administration in marketing and an MBA in finance from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.  In addition to her professional responsibilities, she is very active in several civic and community organizations. She serves on the boards of the Kansas City Workforce Investment Board, Menorah Medical Center and the Prosperity Opportunity Center at Rockhurst University. She also chairs the Church Council at St. James UMC, is a member of the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s African American Leader’s Council and is the president of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of The Links.

Dell Gines Photo

Dell Gines

Senior Community Development Advisor – Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Dell has a deep passion for seeing disadvantaged and economically challenged communities grow and thrive through innovative economic development strategies. His primary responsibility is to support the Bank’s small business and economic development initiatives across the seven states within the Bank’s region. Dell is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) who focuses on entrepreneurship based economic development in urban and rural communities. A gifted speaker and presenter, Dell has spoken across the nation on entrepreneurship based economic development, entrepreneurship ecosystems and developing local rural and urban economies through developing entrepreneurship growth strategies.

Through his work at the Federal Reserve Bank Dell has created numerous programs and projects including the creation of the Grow Your Own Guide to Entrepreneurship Based Development, the regional micro-finance alternative lender database and Small Biz Day programs across the region, which connected more than 600 entrepreneurs to local small business resource providers. With his background in business banking, non-profit executive management, community activism and as adjunct professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Creighton University, he brings a unique, community grounded perspective to the field of urban core and rural economic development. In 2011 Dell received the Omaha Jaycees TOYO award, given to the top 10 individuals under 40 making who are making an impact in the Omaha, NE community.


Penny LewandowskiPenny Lewandowski

Vice President, External Relations and Strategic Direction, Edward Lowe Foundation

Recruited to the foundation in 2005, Penny Lewandowski is responsible for developing a strong national presence for the foundation, and for cultivating and managing relationships with the foundation’s external partners in entrepreneurship and economic development.  She also leads the efforts to set and drive the vision for the organization’s future. In addition, she is a frequent speaker and nationally recognized champion of the importance of building a strong entrepreneurial culture.

Previously, Lewandowski led the foundation’s entrepreneurship team in developing and delivering programs that help second-stage entrepreneurs.  Prior to joining the foundation, she was executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology and served as director of entrepreneurship and education for the Morino Institute, a nationally recognized entrepreneurship program in Reston, Va. She also directed George Mason University’s Century Club, a group formed to build alliances between the university and business community. In 2003 the Kauffman Foundation, in conjunction with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, named Penny as the recipient of its prestigious “National Supporter of Entrepreneurship” award.

Christina Long HeadshotChristina Long

Entrepreneur, CML Collective

Christina Long is an entrepreneur and community-builder who is advancing opportunities for inclusive entrepreneurship in Wichita, Kansas. She brings more than 15 years of experience to CML Collective, a graphic design and communication services company she launched in 2013. Her professional experience includes leadership roles within Wichita Public Schools and working as a reporter with the Wichita Eagle.
Dedicated to her community, Long serves on the executive team for Wichita Urban Professionals, is editor of its premier publication, Urban Magnate, is a member of the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and participates with the Entrepreneurship Task Force. Among her roles on the task force, Long is helping to advance African-American entrepreneurship through the Create Campaign, which she is coordinating in partnership with NetWork Kansas. 
Among her recent recognitions, Long was named a member of the 2015 Class of the Wichita Business Journal's 40 Under 40. She is a graduate of Wichita State University, is a member of the university's alumni association, and is married with three children.


Don MackeDon Macke

Co-Founder and Director of Entrepreneurial Communities, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship

Don is co-founder and director of the Entrepreneurial Communities solution area at the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, a national non-profit organization that helps communities leverage assets – primarily their business, social and civic entrepreneurs – for a more prosperous future. The Center’s E Communities work provides community and regional leaders with the framework and tools needed to grow more effective and efficient systems of support for entrepreneurs as a way to strengthen local economies and achieve meaningful and broadly shared development impacts. The E Communities framework has been applied with success in diverse communities and regions.

Don is also active in the Center’s Community Development Philanthropy solution area, and conducted the first statewide Transfer of Wealth™ (TOW) study in Nebraska in 2002. The Center’s TOW team has completed over 40 studies, covering over one-half of the counties and communities across the nation. Don was a co-founder of the Nebraska Community Foundation and served as its first Executive Director.

Don has over 40 years of experience in the field of community economic development, serving on the staff of the Nebraska Legislature, the Cabinet of the Nelson Administration in Nebraska, and working as a consultant in 45 states, Canada and the Caribbean. Don has a master of arts in regional economics and a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. 


Deb markleyDeborah Markley, PhD

Co-Founder and Managing Director, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship

Deb is co-founder and managing director of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, a national non-profit organization that helps communities leverage assets – primarily their business, social and civic entrepreneurs – for a more prosperous future.

Deb’s role within the Center is helping communities – and the Center – measure the impact of their work and tell the story of their success. She leads the Center’s empowering research efforts including practice-driven assessment of best models for entrepreneurship development. Her research includes case studies of entrepreneurial support organizations and assessment of rural ecosystems, including capital markets. She has extensive experience conducting field-based survey research including focus groups and interviews with rural bankers, entrepreneurs, service providers, investors, small manufacturers, and others. In addition to her research efforts, Deb works as part of the Center’s Community Development Philanthropy and New Generation Partnerships solution area teams.

Deb brings more than 30 years of experience in community economic development to her position. Before founding the Center, she held academic positions and operated her own consulting practice. Deb has a B.A. and M.S. in Agricultural Economies from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Virginia Tech.


Maria MeyersMaria Meyers

Director, University of Missouri – Kansas City Innovation Center and Founder, SourceLink and KCSourceLink

Maria Meyers is passionate about getting entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time. She’s worked with economic development organizations across the United States turning fragmented small business resources into a cohesive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that attracts startups, accelerates businesses and creates jobs. An entrepreneur in her own right, Maria has established successful companies in the high technology, biotechnology, manufacturing and museum industries. 

Maria is the director of the Innovation Center at University of Missouri-Kansas City, a founding member and director of KCSourceLink and SourceLink. In 2013, KCSourceLink received a $1 million grant from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to accelerate high growth entrepreneurship, economic growth and job creation in the Kansas City region. Maria is involved in the benchmarking and recommendation steps of this project.


Jill NicholsJill Nichols

Rice County Economic Development

Since 2011, Jill has been working part-time as market vice president for First Bank in Lyons while continuing to serve the county in the economic development capacity. Jill served as executive director of the Rice County Community Foundation from 2002 – 2008 and has been active in Rice County Sterling College National Advisory, Lyons Housing Authority, Sterling-Alden E-Community, Rice County E-Community and other community organizations.  

Jill is a fourth generation Rice Countian, growing up in a farm family.  After receiving a bachelor of fine arts with a major in broadcasting from Southern Methodist University, she spent 22 years moving around the country working in commercial television.  In 1989, she and her husband Wayne moved back to Rice County to farm.  


ines poloniusInes Polonius

Chief Executive Officer, Communities Unlimited

Ines is CEO of Communities Unlimited, Inc., a CDFI and not-for-profit organization driving community economic development through infrastructure improvements coupled with the growth of small businesses in rural communities in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. In 1998, Ines founded alt.Consulting, which merged with Community Resource Group to form Communities Unlimited, Inc.

Ines has personally worked with more than 200 small businesses, conducting organizational and financial audits, facilitating planning sessions and customizing management systems. Previously, she served as a Business Development Consultant at the North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development.  She earned an MBA and an MA in economics from Boston University. Before pursuing her graduate work, she worked for three years with rural micro-enterprise development projects in Chile and the Dominican Republic. She received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

Ines serves on the board of directors of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship.

Erik (1)

Erik Pedersen

Vice President of Entrepreneurship, NetWork Kansas

As the vice president of entrepreneurship for NetWork Kansas, Erik is responsible for all aspects of the Entrepreneurship (E-) Community Partnership.  An E-Community uses a local leadership team to direct activities that will cultivate an entrepreneurial environment by doing three primary things: a) overseeing a locally controlled loan fund to assist entrepreneurs with capital, b) identifying and engaging with resources to help local entrepreneurs start or grow businesses, and c) implementing programs and initiatives to cultivate startups, facilitate transitions and assist or accelerate existing businesses.  To date, the 48 E-Communities have provided over $6.9M in matching loans and grants to over 260 businesses, creating or retaining over 630 full time jobs and 750 part time jobs. 

Erik began his career in marketing and business development for a Wichita-based technology startup company, Brite Voice Systems. He left Brite Voice to start a manufactured housing dealership with Steve Radley, president of NetWork Kansas. The business was later sold to the largest manufacturer in the country, Champion Enterprises. A lifelong resident of Wichita, Erik graduated from Friends University in 1988 with a bachelor’s in business administration. 


Bruce SeiferBruce Seifer

Adjunct Faculty, Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA at University of Vermont

Bruce was the longest serving economic development public official in the state of Vermont. He began working for the City of Burlington's Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) at the office’s inception in 1983 when it was created by Mayor Bernie Sanders. He led the City of Burlington's Economic Development efforts since 1985.

Bruce has provided direct technical assistance to more than 4,000 businesses, ranging from home-based businesses to companies with 500 employees; managed a revolving loan fund; assisted in the start- up of more than 20 nonprofit organizations in Vermont; and has served on dozens of boards and commissions at the national, regional, state and local levels including banks, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, colleges, and business trade groups. Bruce is also the co-author of Sustainable Communities – Creating a Durable Local Economy.


Steve ShepelwichSteven Shepelwich, CUDE

Senior Community Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Steven leads the Federal Reserve Bank's Oklahoma Branch efforts to promote economic development and fair and impartial access to financial services in Oklahoma’s low- to moderate-income communities and manages the District’s workforce development program areas. In this role, Steven has led a research and outreach initiative on the District’s unbanked market, organized national conferences on innovations in consumer financial services, asset-based approaches in rural development and workforce development strategies.

Steven began his career by working internationally with microfinance, rural development, and refugee programs in Kenya, Burundi, and India for over six years. Steven holds a bachelor's degree in marketing from Texas A&M University and a master's degree in resource development from Michigan State University.  He is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Credit Union Development Educator. 


Bill Sproull

William C. Sproull, F.M., H.L.M

President and CEO, Richardson (Texas) Chamber of Commerce

Billl is president and CEO of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce (RCC), its affiliate Tech Titans, and the Richardson Economic Development Partnership (REDP).  This unique and complex set of organizations he runs has two separate Board of Directors and a City to whom he reports.

For each organization he leads, Bill has achieved transformative success.  He led the revitalization of Richardson’s Telecom Corridor area economy through a focus on industry and technology diversification.  He built Tech Titans into the technology industry association for North Texas technology companies.  He led the Chamber’s effort to achieve 5 Star accreditation from the rigorous U.S. Chamber Accreditation Program.  Bill has been a leader in state, national and international economic and technology development.  He served on the board of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, a half-billion investment fund, which he chaired during 2010-2011.  He was elected chairman of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the world’s largest association for professional economic developers, in 2014, and served on its board for 10 years. Bill is a graduate of Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree, double majoring in economics and political science.

dane_stanglerDane Stangler

Vice President of Research & Policy, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Dane Stangler leads the Research & Policy Department at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and serves on the senior leadership team. He also provides research and writing on a variety of subjects. Dane is a frequent representative of the Foundation by speaking at meetings and conferences around the country. Stangler earned a bachelor's degree in English from Truman State University, and a JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

An avid writer, Stangler has written dozens of op-eds, guest columns, and blog posts for national news outlets, including The Wall Street JournalInc., The Hill, Real Clear Politics, and Huffington Post, and is a regular blogger on He also is frequently quoted in news stories in these outlets as well as on broadcast news outlets, including CNN, Fox News, CNBC, and Bloomberg. Stangler earned a bachelor's degree in English from Truman State University, and a JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

tammieheadshotTammie Sweet
Director, GrowFL, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute

Tammie leads program development for GrowFL throughout Florida, helping local communities build entrepreneurial efforts centered on the Economic Gardening philosophy and techniques. GrowFL was established in 2009 as a statewide economic development organization to serve second-stage growth companies. The program focuses its efforts on initiatives that strengthen the service offerings of entrepreneurial support organizations throughout Florida and delivering critical research and strategy support to help second-stage growth entrepreneurs prosper. GrowFL has assisted more than 800 companies through its Strategic Research, Peer-to-Peer Learning and Leadership Development programs and is certified by the National Center for Economic Gardening.

Tammie has been in economic development for more than 20 years, serving with the Economic Development Council of Collier County from 1994 through 2011, leading the organization as president and CEO from 2002 to 2011. She is a former chairman of the Florida Economic Development Council and currently serves on its executive committee.  Tammie is a certified program administrator by the National Center for Economic Gardening. She is a graduate of Leadership Collier and Leadership Florida Class XXV. 


dwest-headshotDennis West

President, Northern Initiatives

Dennis has spent more than 30 years in the Community Economic Development Movement, having worked on a broad range of community-based civic and professional activities. Since 1997, Dennis has served as president of Northern Initiatives, a private not for profit community development financial institution based in Marquette, Michigan.  Founded by Northern Michigan University, Northern Initiatives serves 46 counties of rural Michigan and five Wisconsin counties, providing financial and knowledge building services to start up and growing businesses in underserved rural markets.  Northern Initiatives has made more than 860 loans totalling more than $50,000,000 with forty percent of its loans to women owned businesses, and around one third to startups. In 2015, it launched a loan customer portal to offer blended learning opportunities to its customers in working with their NI coach.

Dennis serves on the boards of the Michigan Magnet Fund,  Community Economic Development Alliance of Michigan, UP Business Capital,  the Prima Civitas Foundation, the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance and the Great Lakes Regional Training Initiative; and the Advisory Boards of North Star Capital and the Region One Small Business Technology Development Center, and the Finance Committee of the Community Foundations of the Upper Peninsula. He is a coach mentor for the Kellogg Foundation, Fellowship Program and the recipient of the 2011 LandUse Excellence Leadership Award given by Michigan State University and the Michigan Land Use Funders. Dennis’ undergraduate degree is from Hanover College.


Linda WestonLinda Weston

President and Executive Director, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network

Linda has been president and executive director of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network since 1999.  Since then OEN has increased the number of programs to support entrepreneurs, helped to expand the capital network, and has extended its programs statewide. Prior to that, she spent 18 years in the tourism industry in Eugene, 15 of those with Travel Lane County, the last 8 years as CEO.

In 1996, Linda was recruited by the American Basketball League, to serve as the startup General Manager of the Portland Power women’s professional basketball team.  Although the ABL was undercapitalized, and ultimately failed, the Portland Power was successful. She was selected by the Portland Business Journal as one of 25 outstanding Women in Business in 2002 and 2005. Linda was a national finalists for “Supporter of Entrepreneurship” award in conjunction in with Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. She was recognized by the Northwest Women’s Journal  as one of  “100 Most Powerful Women” in the Northwest and was named Advocate of the Year in 2015 by the Portland Business Journal Innovation Awards.


Chuck WolfeChuck Wolfe

President, Claggett Wolfe Associates

Chuck has more than 30 years of experience as both a serial entrepreneur and economic development consultant.  His consulting work has taken him to urban and rural settings around the world to support entrepreneurship and early-stage venture development in sectors ranging from value-added food production and tourism to advanced manufacturing and high technology. 

Chuck has completed projects across the U.S. and in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Canada, Mexico, China, Taiwan and Japan.  Consulting services include entrepreneurial development platform (i.e., incubators, accelerator, maker and coworking spaces, etc.) and SME assistance program market opportunity analysis and feasibility assessment, to name a few. He serves as an instructor in entrepreneurial ecosystem development, loan program design, loan underwriting and loan program management.  He has also been a featured speaker at domestic and international conferences on fostering SME development and growth. Recently Chuck testified before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business on “The State of SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs and Their Role in Promoting Economic Recovery.”  Chuck is a board member for the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA).


Bruce SeiferBruce Seifer

Adjunct Faculty, Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA at University of Vermont

Bruce was the longest serving economic development public official in the state of Vermont. He began working for the City of Burlington's Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) at the office’s inception in 1983 when it was created by Mayor Bernie Sanders. He led the City of Burlington's Economic Development efforts since 1985.

Bruce SeiferBruce Seifer

Adjunct Faculty, Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA at University of Vermont

Bruce was the longest serving economic development public official in the state of Vermont. He began working for the City of Burlington's Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) at the office’s inception in 1983 when it was created by Mayor Bernie Sanders. He led the City of Burlington's Economic Development efforts since 1985.