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Meet the Team

Meet the Team

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation team is paving the way for Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit. Housed on a collaborative campus, we are a group of committed professionals dedicated to promoting and supporting students, faculty, staff, alumni, researchers and local entrepreneurs as they navigate the complex process of creating and growing a startup. To see a full list of Polsky Council members, click here. For general inquiries, questions, and feedback about the Polsky Center, please contact us at polsky@uchicago.edu.

We are hiring! View the job openings.      

Education/Programming

Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17
Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17

Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17

Deputy Head; Executive Director; and Adjunct Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773.834.2838

starr.marcello@chicagobooth.edu

Executive Assistant:
Kyla Hill
773.834.1522
kyla.hill@chicagobooth.edu

 

Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17, oversees the strategic development of the Polsky Center and works with University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff to launch the next generation of high-impact ventures as the Polsky Center’s executive director. She has been with the Center since 2005.

She runs the nationally-ranked Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC), which awards over $1 milion in funding and services to top entrepreneurial companies each year. Since 1996, the NVC has fostered more 330+ startups that are still in operation and growing strong, has created thousands of jobs, and has produced exits of over $7.5 billion, including Grubhub (NYSE: GRUB) and Braintree (acquired by eBay’s PayPal for $800 million). In 2017, Starr testified before the U.S. Congress’ Committee on Small Business on the merits of accelerator programs for job creation and economic development.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Starr launched the Polsky Center I-Corps Program and helped designate the University of Chicago as an official I-Corps site in 2014. Through this interdisciplinary program, Starr teaches elements of the customer development process and human-centered design to researchers and technologists on campus with the goal of helping teams test the commercial viability of their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects.

Starr is a board member for United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USABE).

Starr holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and both an M.A. and MBA from the University of Chicago.

E.J. Reedy
E.J. Reedy

E.J. Reedy

Senior Director, Polsky Exchange

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.0812
M: 512-294-9547

ereedy0@uchicago.edu

E.J. Reedy is the senior director of the Polsky Exchange, the Polsky Center’s 34,000 square foot co-working space on 53rd street in Hyde Park. In addition to his role at the Polsky Exchange, E.J. leads the Polsky Center’s fintech initiatives and the Polsky Accelerator program. He is a global thought leader in entrepreneurship, having spent the last decade working for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the largest philanthropy devoted to promoting entrepreneurship. E.J.’s research and commentary has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and a host of other global outlets.

Melissa Byrn
Melissa Byrn

Melissa Byrn

Director, Innovation Programs

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-702-9108

melissa.byrn@chicagobooth.edu 

Melissa oversees the Polsky Center’s cross-campus entrepreneurship initiatives—including the NSF-funded I-Corps Program and the Collaboratorium—which cater to diverse audiences of graduate students, post-docs, undergraduates, and faculty. Melissa works on aligning Polsky’s current portfolio of educational offerings to scientific and technical audiences and identifying areas for strategic growth.

Melissa spent 10 years working in clinical research operations and regulatory compliance at the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, most recently as a director in the UChicago Biological Sciences Division’s Office of Clinical Research. In these roles, she was responsible for developing and delivering educational content to faculty and staff, collaborating with clinical departments and the medical center to identify and implement solutions to complex problems, and translating regulatory requirements into local policy and procedure.

In addition to her work in clinical research, Melissa is also the founder and CEO of Foresee Analytica, and participated in the Polsky I-Corps, Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, and George Shultz Innovation Fund. FORESEEaBILL, the company’s initial product, is a platform technology that provides life sciences organizations with decision support to identify the appropriate payer for every test, procedure, and service performed during a clinical trial.

Melissa holds a BA from DePauw University, a Master of Biomedical Ethics and Health Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics from the UChicago Graham School. Her hobbies include running, bicycling, discovering good podcasts, and spending time with her family.

Waverly Deutsch
Waverly Deutsch

Waverly Deutsch

Academic Director for University-Wide Entrepreneurship Content

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
773-834-0484

Waverly Deutsch is responsible for cataloguing and coordinating how entrepreneurship is taught across campus. She looks at for-credit classes, workshops, programs, events and online materials to understand how information and tools are delivered to all University constituents across our entire Innovation Path journey. Additionally, Waverly teaches Building the New Venture. The class won her the 2005 Innovative Pedagogy for Entrepreneurship Education award from the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. She also teaches a course on Elements of Entrepreneurship to CPS students over the summer as part of the Collegiate Scholars Program. Deutsch’s advisory board experience includes Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and Chicago Community Ventures.

Megan Fox
Megan Fox

Megan Fox

Assistant Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-702-5926

megan.fox@chicagobooth.edu

Megan manages a suite of programming and events in our private equity and entrepreneurship through acquisition portfolios, including the Private Equity and Venture Capital Lab, the Sterling Partners Investment Thesis Challenge, the Booth Private Equity Case Challenge, and the private equity and entrepreneurship through acquisition conferences.  In addition, Megan supports the management of the New Venture Challenge and various student internship programs.

Kyla Hill
Kyla Hill

Kyla Hill

Office Manager

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773.834.1522

kyla.hill@ChicagoBooth.edu

Kyla Hill is the first point of contact for inquiries about the Polsky Center and its work at is Harper Center location. Kyla works on Polsky Center operations, accounting and budgeting, vendor relationships, and stewardship. Additionally, she provides support to Starr Marcello on scheduling.

Kyla was previously an executive administrative assistant at Village Leadership Academy, where she held a variety of responsibilities, interacting daily with students, parents, teachers, community members, and donors. Previously, while a student at the University of Missouri, she worked in the Department of Residential Life and Career Center. In these roles, she advised students, planned workshops, and presented on career-related topics. Kyla holds a BS in Business Administration from the University of Missouri.

Gorana Kolar
Gorana Kolar

Gorana Kolar

Senior Associate Director

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-702-4073

Gorana Kolar serves as the senior associate director at University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She oversees alumni initiatives – including the Alumni New Venture Challenge, the Alumni Entrepreneurs Growth Forum, Polsky Founders’ Fund Fellowship, and Startup Summer. Gorana also works with students to support and enable their venture creation and growth efforts. Gorana is a mentor to teams in the Polsky Accelerator program, as well as the Polsky Center I-Corps Site program. She has served as a business mentor for one national NSF I-Corps team from the University of Chicago.  

Prior to joining Polsky, Gorana was a manager, business development of licensing, at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation (CTTEC). There she worked with faculty and graduate students on intellectual property protection, license negotiation, and startup creation. 

Gorana holds a BA, MS, and MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. 

In addition to spending time with her family, Gorana enjoys traveling, running, hiking, yoga, and book club. 

Mary Kay Loncar
Mary Kay Loncar

Mary Kay Loncar

Associate Director, Operations

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-834-4526

Mary Kay Loncar serves as the associate director at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Mary Kay manages the day-to-day operations of the Polsky Center from budget reporting, gift, sponsorship and investment processing, contracts, and logistics. She maintains internal relationships with University of Chicago departments and external partners and considers herself a generalist committed to making sure the students the Center serves and her colleagues have the information and resources they need to do their job. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Mary Kay was an assistant director of marketing at UChicago Medicine, where she did similar work. Having spent time on the other side of the University, she was able to transfer her institutional knowledge to her current role and maintains relationships with former colleagues and contacts across campus. Prior to working the University of Chicago, she worked in advertising, marketing, and corporate communications/production. 

Mary Kay earned a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas.  

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, in her spare time Mary Kay is interested in travel and spending time with family and friends. She is also working on becoming a much better cook with the support of her ‘foodie’ colleagues. 

Hannah Mannino
Hannah Mannino

Hannah Mannino

Associate Director

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-702-4047

Hannah Mannino serves as the associate director of entrepreneurship programs at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is responsible for leading and administering the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, one of the top-ranked accelerator programs in the nation. This includes oversight of all five tracks of the program, including coordination of marketing, fundraising, logistics, and strategic planning.  

Prior to joining Polsky, Hannah was a key contributor in the development of the business model, business plan, advisory board recruitment, and management of a Chicago-based nonprofit startup. 

Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and entrepreneurship from Miami University. While at Miami, she helped develop the business plan for national scale of EDUN LIVE on campus – the sister brand of Bono’s clothing label Edun Apparel – which supports sustainable socioeconomic development in sub Saharan Africa. 

Hannah is driven by the impact the New Venture Challenge program has on every person involved. In her free time, Hannah enjoys exploring new restaurants in Chicago, completing jigsaw puzzles in record time, creating eclectic musical playlists, and spending time with her family. 

Nora Mansfield
Nora Mansfield

Nora Mansfield

Assistant Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-834-9767

nora.mansfield@ChicagoBooth.edu

Nora Mansfield serves as the assistant director of entrepreneurship programs and the George Shultz Innovation Fund at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is responsible for managing the Polsky Center’s portfolio of venture capital and entrepreneurship through acquisition programs, as well as the Innovation Fund Associates (IFA) program. This work spans a range of programs including VCIC, PE/VC Lab, PE/VC Lab: SFI, ETA Alumni Symposiums, recruitment and training of IFAs, and other strategic efforts for the George Shultz Innovation Fund. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Nora was on the marketing team of a buy-one, give-one brand based out of Los Angeles that provided school supplies to classrooms in need in the U.S. 

Nora earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and studio art from Loyola Marymount University (LMU). While at LMU, Nora was actively involved in service and social justice organizations and worked for various social enterprises in the Los Angeles area. 

Nora is driven by fostering connections to help both students and startups succeed. Nora enjoys all things related to food – exploring new restaurants, testing recipes, and striving to find the perfect balance of salt, fat, acid, and heat. When she’s not thinking about food, you can find her practicing yoga or creating art. 

Erika Mercer
Erika Mercer

Erika Mercer

Director, Entrepreneurship Programs and the Svider Private Equity Program

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-834-1521

Erika Mercer serves as the director of entrepreneurship programs and the Svider Private Equity program at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, she oversees several major areas of educational and experiential programming, including private equity, venture capital, and entrepreneurship through acquisition. She has been with the Polsky Center since 2010 and, over that time, has led the development and growth of numerous Polsky Center offerings for both student and alumni audiences. She manages the Polsky Center’s Private Equity Council, a 50-member advisory group to the Svider Private Equity Program. 

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Erika worked in the international programming offices at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and Brown University, where she managed, developed, and promoted study abroad programs worldwide, acted as the primary contact for students, faculty, and staff on site, and provided international training and advising to undergraduates. She served as a member of several international education organizations, including The Forum on Education Abroad and NAFSA: Association of International Educators; was published in Abroad View Magazine and the Bulletin of the American Research Center in Egypt; and presented at national conferences on the topic of cultural and citizen diplomacy. She also interned in the Academic Editorial Department at Oxford University Press, where she assisted editors with the review and preparation of manuscripts for production. 

Erika earned a BA, magna cum laude, from Middlebury College and an EdM from Harvard University. She has studied in Spain, Germany, and Egypt. 

Cerise Miller
Cerise Miller

Cerise Miller

Associate Director, Global Engagement

168 Victoria Road
Mount Davis, Hong Kong
+852.2533.9568

cerise.miller@chicagobooth.edu

Cerise Miller leads the Polsky Center’s global initiatives and international partnership efforts. She is responsible for designing and implementing entrepreneurial programs in Hong Kong and across the globe. She helps drive the international strategy of the Polsky Center, while also serving as a key strategic relationship-builder, particularly in Asia and Europe. Some programs she manages include the CUPP Entrepreneurship Bootcamp – FinTech and BóLè Tech Investor Forum.

Prior to the Polsky Center, Cerise spent two years with the UK Department for International Trade where she was responsible for managing the commercial relationships with financial services and energy firms. She supported British companies entering the US market and worked closely with US firms to develop their international expansion strategy for the UK. She holds dual BA degrees in economics and international studies from American University.

Cerise is based out of the University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.

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