Women in Bioscience Conference Speakers

BioOhio is proud to present an amazing line up of moderators and panelists for our inaugural Women in Bioscience Conference. Below you will find brief biographies and links to their respective organizations.

(in order of appearance)

Welcome Remarks and Setting the Stage for the Day


John F. Lewis Jr., President & CEO, BioOhio

John F. Lewis, Jr., a 4th generation Ohioan, is the President and CEO of BioOhio, Ohio’s bioscience membership organization. A graduate of Miami University (Ohio) and Capital University Law School, he is a licensed attorney with experience in international business, venture capital investments and economic development. He was a founding partner of the First Fifty Fund and Ohio TechAngel Fund. John has more than 18 years international experience, lived in Jamaica, Korea and China, the latter two with Perkin Elmer, while traveling to more than 42 others.


Caroline Whitacre, Ph.D., Vice President for Research, The Ohio State University

Dr. Caroline Whitacre is a professor of microbial infection and immunity, and has served as the vice president for research at The Ohio State University since 2008. Her expertise on immunological mechanisms and gender differences in multiple sclerosis has made her one of the world’s most acknowledged authorities on autoimmune disease. Dr. Whitacre is responsible for the overall strategic planning and infrastructure support for the university’s $967M annual basic and applied research program. Dr. Whitacre has published extensively, is a member of various professional groups, and has many professional honors. Dr. Whitacre received her BA and PhD degrees from Ohio State and completed her postdoctoral training at Northwestern Medical School in Chicago. She joined the College of Medicine faculty in 1981.

Talent and Mentoring

A panel focused on trends, attracting women to STEM, career track and career options, academia to industry and vice versa, generational perspective, and more.


Moderated by Walter Horton Jr., Ph.D., Vice President for Research, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, NEOMED

Dr. Horton has a distinguished career as a biomedical scientist. He received his undergraduate degree in zoology at Kent State University, a Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology at the University of Cincinnati, and postdoctoral training in molecular biology at the National Institute of Craniofacial and Dental Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Horton worked at Eli Lilly in the osteoarthritis drug discovery program and later spent 10 years in the intramural program at the National Institute on Aging, NIH. As dean and vice president, Dr. Horton has facilitated extensive growth of the research and sponsored program portfolio at the University and has helped to develop the University’s public-private partnership strategy to facilitate commercialization and economic development linked to university innovation. Dr. Horton is the inaugural dean of the College of Graduate Studies at NEOMED, which includes innovative masters, doctoral and graduate certificate programs related to biomedical research, public health and ethics. He also serves as chairperson of the Diversity Council of the University.


Annie Kerr, Marketing Communications Specialist at MentorcliQ, LLC

Like you, Annie Kerr, has sought out mentors to help her succeed in two different career paths. With a mix of non-traditional experiences and skills in both HR and IT, she found a perfect fit in the start-up environment with MentorcliQ. As a Marcomm Specialist in a company focused on delivering results-oriented mentoring solutions for organizations that include Fortune 500s and Universities, she stays on the cutting edge of mentoring trends in both the academic and corporate environment.


Deanne Nowak, Ph.D., Dean of Institutional and Curriculum Research at Gilmour Academy

Deanne Nowak, Ph.D. has taught science at the Gilmour Academy for the past 16 years. In addition to her responsibilities collecting and analyzing data, Dr. Nowak runs two internship programs, and directs the entrepreneurship education program at the Academy. Dr. Nowak began her career as a researcher, earning a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1992. After completing postdoctoral work at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and earning recognition for innovations in teaching as an assistant professor at Albany College of Pharmacy, Nowak moved to Cleveland when her husband was relocated. She earned her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Cleveland State University in 2009. A brief position managing the development of web-based, K-12 curricular materials for start-up Educational Structures gave Nowak her first experience working with an entrepreneur. Within the year, NCS bought Educational Structures and moved the company to California; Nowak began her career at Gilmour Academy. Seven years ago Nowak acquired the first of her five Labrador retrievers and now runs a breeding business called Labs by the Lake.


Marla Phillips, Ph.D., Director, Xavier Health, Xavier University

Marla began working in the pharmaceutical industry for Merck in 1996 as a Senior Project Chemist in the Analytical Methods Development group. She quickly took on positions of increasing responsibility, culminating in the position of Head of Quality Operations at the Merck North Carolina facility in 2000. In 2008, Marla joined Xavier University as the founding Director of Xavier Health, where she leads initiatives for the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Xavier University, and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Taking Control of your Career, Shaping Your Experiences, Success Stories, Part I

This panel will discuss accelerating your career by growing your experiences. Topics will include networking, mentoring, and sponsoring. Discussion will also include goals like board representation, and means to achieve those. Hear stories from women who’ve achieved success, and how they did it.


Moderated by Kathleen McCutcheon, Vice President, Managing Director, taylor strategy partners

Kathleen cares about people. It’s not just on her resume, it’s in her DNA. It makes her a great friend and a superior HR professional. Kathleen knows how it’s done in HR and she’s done it successfully at organizations of all sizes for the last 30 years. Beyond knowledge of an organization and its people and challenges, Kathleen believes in the power of creativity to fit the right pieces together in the right way and help you see the big vision for your organization. Prior to joining TSP, Kathleen ran her own consulting group, and built a track record of success in executive human resources leadership at The Ohio State University, AIG, CIGNA, and SmithKline Beecham. Kathleen studied at the University of Dayton, Cleveland State University and Bernard M. Baruch College. She is an award winning practitioner and a member of SHRM, HRPS, and received her coaching training through the Results Coaching Institute.


Dorothy Air, Ph.D., Associate Senior VP, Entrepreneurial Affairs, University of Cincinnati, Director of Grants and University Outreach, CincyTech

Dr. Air’s positions at the University of Cincinnati include speech pathologist, associate director of Speech Pathology Services for the UC Medical Center and assistant dean for student and faculty development in the College of Medicine. She serves as Associate Vice President for Technology Commercialization at UC and is responsible for over-sight of all operations relating to commercialization of University technology. Dr. Air initiated and serves as chair of OVALS, a consortium of 8 universities in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, to create university-industry networking opportunities and increased visibility for regional research and commercialization capabilities. Dr. Air is also a loaned executive from UC to CincyTech, Southwest Ohio’s Entrepreneurial Signature Program. Her awards and recognitions include: 2015 Top 20 People to Know in Technology, Cincinnati Business Courier; 2006 Top 10 Women in Technology in the Cincinnati Region; and 2007 Leading Women of Greater Cincinnati for Entrepreneurship. She received her BS and MS degrees in Speech Pathology from Marquette University and her PhD in Speech Pathology from the University of Cincinnati.


Dorothy Baunach, CEO, OsteoSymbionics LLC

Dorothy Baunach is a community and business leader with broad experience in organization and community development; strategic leadership; entrepreneurship; technology commercialization; business and early-stage capital formation; building collaborative programs among government, academia and industry; industry cluster development; non-profit management, fundraising; talent development, and STEM education. Dorothy has a thirty-year storied track record of successfully creating, transforming and leading organizations that today are part of Greater Cleveland’s and the state of Ohio’s nationally-recognized technology and innovation ecosystem. She has coached many entrepreneurs through the start-up process, created organizations to support them through Ohio’s Thomas Edison Program, and helped shape Ohio’s $2.3 billion Third Frontier initiative from its inception in 2002 through the second successful ballot initiative in 2010. Dorothy fostered the growth of technology-based industry sectors including, biomedical, health care technology, advance materials, alternative energy, flexible electronics, and information and communication technologies.


Joy Kenyon, Director, Business Intelligence and Analytics, Cardinal Health

Joy Kenyon is the Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics for a large modernization program at Cardinal Health. A self-described “information evangelist,” Joy leads a global team to deliver best in class analytics platforms, capabilities and insights transforming the way that the healthcare industry thinks. A passionate advocate for women in STEM, Joy’s volunteer work focuses on fostering a love of science, technology, engineering and math among girls at the primary and secondary education level. Joy serves on the Dublin City Schools K to Career advisory board and is currently working to establish partnerships with additional central Ohio school districts to bolster STEM resources and curriculum through industry based collaboration. Joy also proudly holds several other titles including Soul Mate to husband John as well as Soccer/Gymnastics Mom Extraordinaire to future engineers, Rex and Anne-Marie. This past October Joy gained the title of Marathoner as she ran the 26.2 hard earned miles of the Columbus Marathon.


Gina Skolmowski, Division President, Laboratory Services, NAMSA

Gina began her scientific career as a laboratory assistant conducting therapeutic drug monitoring and forensic toxicology at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, and later served as a surgical attendant at St. Vincent Medical Center. After graduation, she joined NAMSA as a study director. Gina soon took on a leadership role supervising a team of researchers which expanded to multiple departments including surgical operations. Gina moved to NAMSA’s site in California to manage the toxicology operation. From there she took on greater roles in leadership, eventually running the entire site including operations in toxicology, microbiology and chemistry. Gina also assumed responsibility for the company’s Georgia location and worked to streamline operations and resources. Gina returned to Ohio and assumed the role of Vice President of Laboratory Operations, running all domestic laboratory operations. In 2013 Gina was promoted to Division President of NAMSA’s global laboratory business with responsibility for all sites in Ohio, Minnesota, California, France and China. Gina completed her undergraduate degree in biology and pre-medicine at the University of Toledo and earned an executive MBA from California State University.

Lunch, Networking and Keynote Presentation


Sally Fingerett, Award-Winning Songwriter and Performer, Artist’s Website

Sally Fingerett is a contemporary, award-winning songwriter and performer, and a founding member of the musical comedy group, The Four Bitchin’ Babes. She has released 14 CDs, written music for the theatre, television and film, and contributed to numerous compilations. She has taken her talents to more than 800 stages around the country. As a founding member of the musical theatre company, The Four Bitchin’ Babes, Sally appears on their nine cast recordings, full length concert DVD, and tours the US with four different musical revues. In 1994, Sally’s career took a temporary detour when she suffered viral induced paralyzed vocal cords. For the year that followed, she discovered new ways to create words and music for new mediums. She began composing for original stage works, and writing short stories and essays for print publications. Twelve harrowing months later, her voice returned. After completing vocal rehab at the famed Vanderbilt Voice Clinic, Sally jumped right back into the creative fray.


Topics to include various communication areas such as presentation preparation and style, building resilience, and social media strategy.


Moderated by Jennifer Goldsberry, Manager, Member Services & Events, BioOhio

Jennifer manages BioOhio membership activities and benefits, including recruitment, cost-savings programs, and member-to-member connections. She also plans, coordinates and executes BioOhio events. Born and raised in Ohio, Jen attended Bowling Green State University and completed her interpersonal communications degree with an internship at Walt Disney World. She spent some time in Tallahassee, Florida working as a blood drive coordinator for the local blood center and then as a stewardship program and events director at Florida State University Foundation before returning to Ohio.


Patricia Gibson, Chief Communications Officer, Drug Information Association

Patricia Gibson is an experienced entrepreneur and strategic communications consultant who has founded and operated two companies over the past 20 years. She has years of experience in strategic communications, working with Fortune 500 companies and the federal government to develop complex interactions that drive behavior change, such as patient and healthcare professional engagement. Patricia is recognized for her ability to pull together diverse teams with complementary skills and lead them to complete short and long-term projects. She has the proven ability to work collaboratively with vendor partners or be the sole owner of projects and deliverables. Patricia has worked with internationally known subject matter experts in a variety of governmental and industrial roles to translate their expertise into actionable plans and projects designed to reach targeted audiences. She consults on communications strategy and outreach, patient engagement strategies and content, and is experienced working in highly regulated environments such as healthcare and finance.


Marci Piasecki, President, GSW Advertising (an inVentiv Health company)

As President of GSW North America, Marci oversees agencies across New York, Columbus, the Greater Philadelphia Area, and Canada. Marci ensures the company has market dominant strategic, creative and production capabilities that are aligned with customer needs and delivered seamlessly across disciplines. Prior to joining GSW/inVentiv, Marci grew up in the health care advertising world, becoming a true team builder who has produced at the highest levels. Previously, Marci was with McCann Torre Health where she managed five health care communications companies over the course of 10 years. Marci’s direct, insightful approach to her interaction with clients and colleagues is the perfect combination of honesty and respect. To put it simply, she is a no-nonsense, intelligent woman with a history of building brands and leading agencies, all while remaining focused on the bottom line.


Suguna Rachakonda, Senior Director, Product Development, Cleveland Clinic

Suguna Rachakonda is a Senior Director of Product Development in the NIH Center for Accelerated Innovations at Cleveland Clinic, involved in catalyzing the translation of therapeutics research projects into the clinic. Her career has spanned over 15 years in the practice and management of innovation to bring new technologies from the lab to the market. Suguna started as a bench scientist at United Therapeutics and moved to Pharmasset (Gilead Sciences) where she contributed significantly to the discovery & development of Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi®. Fostering collaborations, forging strategic partnerships, technology commercialization and entrepreneurial coaching are some areas of her expertise. Previously, Suguna was the Director of Technology Commercialization at Kent State University. Suguna is a strong advocate for women in STEM, and volunteers as a Career Consultant for the American Chemical Society. Suguna holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of Hyderabad, India, and completed post-doctoral work in chemical engineering at Tulane University. She earned an MBA in Finance from New York University.


Abigail Spung, VP & Creative Director, Offenberger & White, Inc.

Working with OffWhite as a graphic designer and creative director since 1998, Abby has emerged as a leader, managing and overseeing the visual integrity of the firm’s creative work. Abby oversees creative strategy and production management on large campaigns and other prominent client projects. Her areas of focus include quality control, collaboration with account managers to establish project objectives and directives, task and time management of multiple jobs within the traffic system; and assistance with areas of new business development and self-branding efforts for the firm. Project types include print and digital designs of all sizes for local and world-wide markets. Her involvement includes but is not limited to, logo design, collateral design, catalog and brochure and booklet design, web design and advertisement design. Abby works with Marietta College as an adjunct faculty member for their Graphic Design Department, where she instructs and mentors students on the subjects of typography, graphic design, print production and business practices.

Women in Finance & Venture Capital

Hear from women investors about the funding climate, and learn how minority businesses can obtain funding.


Moderated by Isabelle Billet, Principal, IBHC Advisors LLC

As Owner and Principal of IBHC Advisors, Isabelle provides executive advisory services for medical technology companies to support their growth and value creation, at any time of their lifecycle. Isabelle has 30 years of achievement in strategy, merger and acquisitions, and general management in emerging, growing and mature healthcare businesses in several countries, including 10 years as a management board member of large divisions of publicly traded companies. She led the identification, assessment and strategy execution in a number of clinical specialties and product categories that resulted in transactions and product launches bringing an aggregate cumulated sales growth of over $0.5B. Isabelle has a doctorate degree in pharmacy from Montpellier University, France and an MBA from EMLYON, France and the Cranfield School of Management, England. She spent seven years on the provider side before joining Johnson & Johnson, C.R. Bard Medical, and later Cardinal Health as Senior Vice President Marketing and Innovation for the Medical Segment.


Carol Clark, Founding Member, X Squared Angels

Carol has more than 35 years of management experience as well as an extensive background in computer programming, software development and education. Carol is co-founder of MindLeaders, serving as CEO/Chair of the Board from its formation in 1981 until it was acquired in 2007 by Skillsoft. She currently serves on the Boards of Directors of EdMap, Sealund and Associates, and Ecolibrium Solar; on the Investment Committee for the Patient Capital Collaborative ’13 Fund; on the TechGROWTH OHIO Fund III Investment Committee; and on the Executive Committee of the Ohio TechAngels Funds III and IV. An active angel investor in Golden Seeds, the Ohio TechAngels and Investors’ Circle, Carol is a founding member of the Columbus-based X Squared Angels Group. In addition, Carol provides business consulting for growing businesses and is a member and past President of WELD (Women for Economic and Leadership Development), a non-profit organization that works to increase the number of women in leadership positions. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in Mathematics, Carol also earned an MBA from West Virginia University.


Karen Morgan, Principal, WBTS Consultants

Karen is a financial consultant with a specialty in private equity, and is a 20-year veteran venture capitalist at two life sciences funds. She founded and manages her own consulting company, WBTS Consultants. Uniquely, she has been both an investor and company management seeking private equity investment. Karen has been a CFO for 10 high technology startup companies and has closed over 50 private placement transactions. Clients include Akebia Therapeutics, Airway Therapeutics, and most recently Sirrus. Early in her career, Karen held various financial, business development and strategic planning positions in the telecommunications industry as well as being a financial analyst with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Karen holds a BA in Economics and Business from Catholic University, with honors, and an MBA in Finance from American University.


Danielle Silva, Founding Team, VP of Business Development, Life Science Nation

Danielle is a founding partner of Life Science Nation, where she helps companies developing therapeutics and medical devices develop their outbound marketing campaign and identify fundraising partners. Previously, Danielle was a marketer for a multi-family office with over $4 billion in assets under management. Danielle first started her career as a research analyst at Brighton House Associates, assisting fund managers in the hedge fund, private equity, and venture capital space raise money via institutional alternative investors. Danielle has been quoted in a variety of publications in the alternative investment space including the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and Jim Cramer’s “The Street.” Danielle received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Policy Studies from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.


Karen Spilizewski, Vice President, Business Development, BioEnterprise, Vice President, RiverVest Venture Partners

Karen Spilizewski is a leader of BioEnterprise’s medical device team and is also a Vice President with RiverVest Ventures. She brings nearly 20 years of experience in new product development and business development in medical and non-medical technologies. Spilizewski worked as a business development manager at Avery Dennison and in product development roles ranging from research manager to associate. She was responsible for conducting marketing, financial, technical, and competitive analyses of new opportunities for microelectronic, biomedical, optical display, and MEMs applications. In product development roles, she has developed and commercialized products for various medical devices, including wound care, diagnostics, surgical, and electromedical applications. Spilizewski received her MBA, MS in Macromolecular Science, and a BS in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

Taking Control of your Career, Shaping Your Experiences, Success Stories, Part II

This panel will discuss accelerating your career by growing your experiences. Topics will include networking, mentoring, and sponsoring. Discussion will also include goals like board representation, and means to achieve those. Hear stories from women who’ve achieved success, and how they did it.


Moderated by Shauna R. Brummet, Ph.D., President & CEO, BioHio Research Park

Dr. Brummet has broad experience in life science research and product development, startup and global companies, innovation and technology commercialization, technology-based economic development, and open innovation. Shauna is highly collaborative and connected in the innovation ecosystem. Development and commercialization of new technology, creation of teams and organizations, public-private partnerships, entrepreneurial coaching, innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education and open innovation are key areas of her expertise. Shauna is a graduate of Purdue University (BS in Microbiology), University of Akron (MS, PhD in Analytical and Biochemistry), and post-doctoral work in molecular biology at The Ohio State University Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center. Previous employers include United States Biochemical, Amersham Life Sciences, Edison Biotechnology Center/BioOhio, NineSigma, and Fluence Therapeutics (founder).


Stephanie Harrington, MS, CEO, Matrix Medical Devices

Matrix Medical Device founder and visionary, Stephanie Harrington has over 20 years of management experience in the medical device industry, including regulatory affairs, quality system compliance, clinical studies, product development, and commercialization. Guiding startups and established companies alike through new product development and regulatory affairs management is her current mission. Previously, Stephanie served as Chief Operating Officer of Frantz Medical Development, responsible for new product development, manufacturing, and corporate regulatory and quality affairs. Stephanie also served as Vice President and Chief Regulatory Officer at Imalux, establishing the company’s quality system, 510(k) clearances and clinical studies. Prior to Imalux, she was Director, Research and Development at STERIS, responsible for product development of medical device reprocessing systems. Stephanie earned a Masters in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland.


Judy Huang, President & CEO, 889 Global Solutions

Judy Huang has more than 18 years of international business experience, specializing in sourcing from China, with extensive relationships in consulting, government, manufacturing and operations. In her current capacity with 889 Global Solutions, Judy sources both consumer and industrial products for companies in multiple industries, including the medical field. In 1993 Ms. Huang founded, and was President of, BSH Estates, Beijing’s second licensed real-estate firm. With strong marketing and interpersonal skills, Ms. Huang took BSH Estates profitable within 90 days of startup. Judy has been quoted in Time, Newsweek, Beijing Scene and Business First. Recently she has been highlighted in the Columbus Rotary brochure and WELD calendar. Ms. Huang is also an active member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Xenos Christian Fellowship, and Central Ohio Families with Children from China, and recently set up a fund at The Columbus Foundation. Judy earned a BA in Business from Boston College and attended the MBA program of CEIBS in Beijing. She is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.


Robin Rasor, Managing Director of Licensing, University of Michigan

Ms. Rasor oversees staff handling all functions of the licensing process at the University, ranging from management and marketing of disclosures to developing and negotiating appropriate licensing terms, and maintaining and monitoring existing agreements. Previously, Ms. Rasor was Director of Licensing at The Ohio State University where she focused on technologies arising from life sciences research from the Colleges of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and Veterinary Sciences. In her previous ten years’ experience with Battelle Columbus Laboratories, Ms. Rasor traveled extensively to Japan and Europe for marketing and research programs. Ms. Rasor has a MS in Genetics from The Ohio State University and a BS in Bacteriology and Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University. She has earned the CLP (Certified Licensing Professional) credential and is the President and Chair of the Board of Governors of Certified Licensing Professionals. Ms. Rasor is a Past President of the Association of University Technology Managers Board of Trustees.


Jessica Rannow, Project Manager, AmerisourceBergen, Director of Professional Excellence, Society of Women Engineers

Jessica Rannow is a project manager at AmerisourceBergen, a global pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution company, where she develops and implements multi-million dollar supply chain projects. She is currently working on initiatives to track pharmaceutical products through the supply chain to support the Drug Supply Chain Security Act. Throughout her career she has had the opportunity to work at other influential companies including JCPenney, Cardinal Health, Limited Brands, and Cummins. Her success has been recognized by receiving two awards from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Distinguished New Engineer Award in 2009, and the Emerging Leader in Logistics and Procurement Award in 2011. Since her first year as an industrial engineering student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rannow has been an involved and active member of SWE, including serving in numerous leadership roles. She is currently serving the Society as President-Elect on the Board of Directors and will be Society President starting in July 2016.