logo

Innovation Cafe Speakers

Marlon Walker headshot


Marlon Walker

Marlon Walker is a research chemist in the Materials Measurement Science Division, Material Measurement Laboratory. His scientific interests lie in the direction of creation and non-destructive characterization of engineered “soft-surfaces” such as those made employing self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) and thin polymer films. Current efforts center around surface modification strategies using oligo (ethylene oxide)-based self-assembled monolayers for resistance of non-specific protein adsorption.

Past research projects involved using in situ spectroscopic ellipsometry to explore the interactions of certain additives critical to the copper electrodeposition process, research relevant to the microelectronic industry. He is heavily involved in STEM-related outreach efforts to organizations such as NOBCChE.

Haley Stevens headshot


Haley Stevens

On behalf of a $175M national manufacturing lab dedicated to digitizing U.S manufacturing, I lead the creation of innovative workforce solutions and ensure the adoption of these efforts by small and medium sized companies, educational stakeholders, and training providers. UI LABS is a collaboration platform dedicated to delivering network, speed and outcomes for our partners. Workforce solutions are imperative to ensuring the successful delivery and adoption of new technologies, leading a future generation of workers to prosperity through educational opportunity.

Keenan Grenell headshot


Keenan Grenell

Keenan Grenell is a Global Fellow at the Institute of Innovation, Creativity, and Capital (IC²) at the University of Texas at Austin, an internationally recognized think and do tank dedicated to advancing the theory and practice of wealth creation. He currently serves on the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute’s workforce development advisory committee, the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium’s workforce development committee and the advisory board of the Wisconsin Small Business Development Centers Network.

Adonica Randall headshot


Adonica Randall

Adonica has over 35 years of technical and business experience. She has specialized in development of business startups, new services and process improvement and has experience across a variety of industries including healthcare, insurance, manufacturing and distribution.

Adonica has served in technical, sales and management positions at General Motors, GE Medical Systems, IBM and the AO Smith Engineering Division as well as starting multiple Professional Services business for a small Milwaukee based entrepreneurial companies.

Ms. Randall received her Master of Engineering degree Biomed from Marquette University. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Missouri Scholl of Science and Technology. Adonica is also an Associate Professor in the Alverno College Business School specializing in Business Analytics.

Jenny Kopach headshot


Jenny Kopach

As Executive Director and SVP Marketing Communications for Science Olympiad, the nation’s largest K-12 team STEM competition, Jenny oversees operations and manages sponsor program implementation with Fortune 500 businesses, government agencies, scientific associations and higher education. Working closely with a national volunteer network of State Directors, National Event Supervisors and Rules and Advisory Committee Members, she also runs the Science Olympiad Urban Schools Initiative and has expanded the Elementary Science Olympiad.

Jenny is a member of the Science Olympiad Executive Board, the Illinois Governor’s P-20 Council College and Career Readiness Committee, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute Workforce Development Committee, the NBC Chicago Community Action Board and The Executives’ Club of Chicago, and serves as Precinct Committeewoman for York Township and Illinois State Chair for Million Women Mentors. She also facilitates relationships with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Japan Science and Technology Agency.



Idella Yamben

Idella works to support Wisconsin entrepreneurs through programming housed in UW-Extension's Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. In her role as the Business Development Consultant & New Idea Concierge for the Center for Technology Commercialization, Dr. Yamben actively works with UW System entrepreneurs to evaluate the business opportunities in their innovative ideas. This support includes pre- and post-award engagement as entrepreneurs progress through the Ideadvance Stage 1 and 2 commercialization milestones in pursuit of profitable business models.

Additionally, Idella works broadly with Wisconsin technology entrepreneurs to review proposals for competitive funding through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) federal grants and contracts. Before her roles in entrepreneurship, Idella was an academic researcher focusing on developmental pathways for reproduction, aging and ocular lens development. Idella earned a PhD from UW-Madison in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Chicago.

David Burton headshot


David Burton

David J. Burton, AICP, is a native of Columbia, SC. and is the Founder and CEO of the Diverse Manufacturing Supply Chain Alliance (DMSCA) and the DMSCA Supplier Development Foundation. Burton obtained his B.S. from the Morgan State College and a Masters from the University of Pennsylvania in City Planning and Regional Science. Burton is a former Adjunct Professor in Planning at Howard University and a decorated Vietnam Veteran. Burton is active in Small Business Advocacy and Educational Civil Rights and is the lead plaintiff in “The Coalition v. State of Maryland”, an advanced civil rights case to restore parity and equity to Maryland Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and was the 2013 recipient of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Frank E. Parker Client of the Year Award for “Courage and Perseverance” Burton has also written numerous articles on supply chain related supplier and economic development issues.

Prior to DMSCA’s formation Burton was also Vice President of Planning and Development for the Harbison Development Corporation (CDC), a new town developer in Columbia, South Carolina; National Sales Manager for the former Control Data Corporation (CDC), developer of small business incubators throughout the U.S.; a National Project Director for City Venture Corporation, a national initiative that leveraged CDC small business incubator development to spearhead inner city revitalization and job creation. Burton was also President of Burton and Associates, a planning and economic development consulting company. A Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Burton resides in Gaithersburg, MD

Daphne Jones headshot


Dapne Jones

Daphne Jones is president and CEO of Malone’s Fine Sausage, an award-winning manufacturer distributing specialty pork delicacies to grocers across the Midwest and customers throughout the U.S. Jones, a third-generation entrepreneur and second-generation executive for Malone’s, has led the Milwaukee-based company since 2006. Jones’ parents, George & Glorious Malone, began distributing their gourmet recipe in the late 60s from a corner store. Jones advanced the family legacy to expand product line and market reach and to revamp operations and community partnerships. Under her leadership, Malone’s has been recognized with excellence awards from the Governor’s office, Milwaukee Business Journal and the University of Wisconsin. Recognitions include Wisconsin Family Business Award and Glorious Malone’s posthumous induction into the Wisconsin Meat Hall of Fame.

Jones has been twice selected to travel with a trade delegation to South Africa and as well to explore export opportunities with Canada and Mexico. Jones is an alumni of the Milwaukee Scale-Up initiative, Small Business Association’s Emerging Leaders, African American Leadership Program and is an alumni fellow of the prestigious leadership institute at Boston’s Bascom College. She serves on the boards of The Business Council and Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce.

Jones’ alma maters include Wisconsin Lutheran High School, UW-Whitewater and Springfield College. She resides in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood with her four dogs and enjoys spending time with her two adult children, two teen granddaughters and a close circle of extended family and friends.

Kurt Summers headshot


Kurt Summers

Kurt Summers is a son of Chicago and a pragmatic problem solver who is passionate about serving the people of the city. As Chicago’s newest City Treasurer, Summers is the steward of the city’s $7 billion dollar investment portfolio and is responsible for maintaining records and accounts of the city’s finances while ensuring transparency and accountability for all transactions. Treasurer Summers also serves as an advocate to empower young people, workers and small business owners, as well as programs that promote economic growth and financial education. The Treasurer sits on five local pension boards with nearly $25 billion under management.

Since taking the oath of office on Dec. 1, 2014, Treasurer Summers has hit the ground running. The Treasurer’s first act in office was the proposal of an ambitious and audacious 90-day-plan called “Invest in Our Chicago.” The plan was intended to act as a roadmap, focused on leveraging Chicago’s economic power to increase investment in its residents, workers, businesses and neighborhoods.

Summers began his career at McKinsey & Company, a preeminent global strategy-consulting firm. Most recently, Summers served as a Senior Vice President at Grosvenor Capital Management and a member of the Office of the Chairman. In that role, Summers was a leader of the Emerging and Diverse Manager business, which invested over $2 billion with minority- and women-owned firms. With nearly 15 years of experience in the financial services community, a background rooted in service to others has guided Treasurer Summers throughout his professional career.

Prior to his time at Grosvenor, Summers was called to serve as Chief of Staff to the Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and as the appointed Trustee for the $9 billion Cook County Pension Fund. In that capacity, Summers led county-wide reforms to provide performance management in every department. In his role as Chief of Staff for President Preckwinkle, Summers also steered the closure of a $487 million budget deficit while keeping the administration’s promise to rollback the county sales tax, saving taxpayers more than $400 million a year. Additionally, Summers aided in reforming the county’s procurement rules and helped pave the way for a more sustainable health and hospital system.

In 2008, Summers answered the call to serve as Chief of Staff for Chicago 2016, the city’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The historic plan called for development in struggling neighborhoods and sealed Kurt’s passion to help Chicago showcase all it has to offer. Treasurer Kurt Summers is a lifelong Chicago resident and a graduate of Whitney Young High School. He received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Management Distinction High Honors in Finance and International Business, with a minor in East Asian Studies, from Washington University in St. Louis. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Ted Dean headshot


Ted Dean
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration

Mr. Dean directs the Department of Commerce’s efforts to enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. services industries, which account for approximately 80% of the private sector economy of the United States. In that capacity he leads his division’s efforts to develop trade policies, initiatives and programs aimed at ensuring the long term competitiveness of the U.S. services industry. He also directs the analysis of trends affecting U.S. businesses across the full services spectrum ranging from digital to finance, logistics supply chain and professional services. Additionally, Mr. Dean works to ensure that U.S. businesses have competitive access to export finance through the Department of Commerce’s representation on the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the World Bank.

Mr. Dean has extensive international business experience, having run a consulting firm based in China for over a decade and done business across the Asia Pacific region. Prior to joining the Commerce Department in November 2013, Mr. Dean was the President and Managing Director of BDA, a consulting firm based in Beijing, China, where he advised companies and investors on their businesses in Asia. Mr. Dean was also a founder of Americans Promoting Study Abroad, a former Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, and a former board member of the 100,000 Strong Foundation.

Mr. Dean received his BA from Yale College and his MBA from the University of Chicago. Born and raised in Washington, DC, he currently resides in Chevy Chase, MD with his wife and two daughters.

Andre Gudger headshot


Andre Gudger
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
Department of Defense
Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy (acting)

André J. Gudger currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy (MIBP). In this role Mr. Gudger is responsible for ensuring a robust, secure, resilient, and innovative industrial base to meet the needs of the Department of Defense. Mr. Gudger supports the Office of the Secretary of Defense by providing detailed analyses and in-depth understanding of the increasingly global, commercial, and financially complex industrial supply chain essential to our national defense, and recommending or taking appropriate actions to maintain the health, integrity and technical superiority of that supply chain.

Prior to this role, Mr. Gudger served as the Director of the Office of Small Business Programs. In this role, Mr. Gudger served as the principle advisor to the Secretary of Defense on all small business matters, overseeing more than $120 billion of annual awards to small business. During Mr. Gudger’s tenure the Department of Defense met its small business prime contracting goal and its Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business goal for the first time in history.

Previously, Mr. Gudger worked on key technical and financial initiatives with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Union Bank of Switzerland, and AT&T. From 2003‐2009, Mr. Gudger served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Solvern Innovations, a corporate entity which provided acquisition support and cyber solutions through training, research, and innovation. Mr. Gudger currently serves on several boards throughout the region, including the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the Maryland BRAC Small & Minority Business Advisory Board, and the Cyber Advisory Council. Mr. Gudger received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and his Master in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.