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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.

Education/Programming

Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17Starr 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 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-834-2838

marcello@uchicago.edu  |  starr.marcello@chicagobooth.edu

Executive Assistant:
Kyla Hill
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 than 800 startups, with 230+ that are still in operation and growing strong, has created thousands of jobs, and has produced exits of over $13 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.

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 DeutschWaverly Deutsch
Waverly Deutsch

Waverly Deutsch

Academic Director for University-Wide Entrepreneurship Content

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
1-773-834-0484

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.

Will Gossin
Will Gossin

Will Gossin

Senior Associate Director, Cross-Campus Entrepreneurial Education and Training

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773.834.0034

will.gossin@chicagobooth.edu 

Will Gossin works with Waverly Deutsch to evaluate the coursework and educational programming serving the Polsky Center’s various constituents (scientists, researchers, students, community members, etc.) and ensure that it serves the diverse needs of all schools and divisions across the University of Chicago. In addition to his role at the Polsky Center, he supports several initiatives at the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation.

Will is also a Lecturer at the Harris School of Public Policy where he teaches graduate courses on social entrepreneurship, human-centered design, and innovation.

Will holds a Master’s degree in social science research from the University of Chicago, a Master’s degree in mental health counseling from the University of Cincinnati, and a BA in economics from Wake Forest University.

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 KolarGorana Kolar
Gorana Kolar

Gorana Kolar

Senior Associate Director

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

Gorana Kolar leads the Polsky Center’s alumni and global programming efforts, including the Alumni Growth Forums, Startup Summer, the Entrepreneurial Internship Program, and the Global New Venture Challenge. She enjoys working with students across campus as well as University of Chicago alumni who are aspiring entrepreneurs and growth-stage entrepreneurs.

Prior to the Polsky Center, Gorana Kolar spent four years working at Carnegie Mellon University’s technology transfer office. She worked with faculty and students to help commercialize their research and technology out of the University. She holds a BA, MS, and MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Mary Kay LoncarMary 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 organizes and supervises the administrative duties of the Polsky Center, working closely with leadership and staff across the university.

Hannah ManninoHannah Mannino
Hannah Mannino

Hannah Mannino

Associate Director

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

Hannah is responsible for leading and administering the New Venture Challenge, the Polsky Center’s capstone program. This includes oversight of all tracks of the program, including coordination of marketing, fundraising, logistics, and strategic planning.

Nora MansfieldNora Mansfield
Nora Mansfield

Nora Mansfield

Assistant Director

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

773-834-9767

nora.mansfield@ChicagoBooth.edu

Nora splits her time supporting the activities of the George Shultz Innovation Fund and Harper Center initiatives, including student awards and fellowships, Booth student-facing conferences, and programs in private equity and venture capital. Additionally, she works closely with Starr Marcello to support the Polsky Center’s key priorities.

Erika MercerErika 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 oversees private equity and venture capital programming at Chicago Booth, including the Private Equity and Venture Capital Lab, the Sterling Partners Investment Thesis Challenge, and the Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge. In addition to advising students on career-related questions, she helps organize the annual student-run private equity and entrepreneurship/venture capital conferences.

Cerise MillerCerise Miller
Cerise Miller

Cerise Miller

Associate Director, Global Engagement

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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