Meet the Team

Meet the Team

We are a 60-person professional staff dedicated to supporting all University of Chicago students, faculty, staff, alumni, and outside small business owners in navigating the complex process of creating and growing a startup or bringing their idea to market. We also serve as an important gateway for industry partners, helping them access new research and technologies from the University of Chicago.

Education and Programs

Education and Programs

Dan Sachs

Dan Sachs

Executive Director, Education and Programs

View Bio

Dan Sachs

Executive Director, Education and Programs

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: dan.sachs@chicagobooth.edu 

Dan Sachs serves as the executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, he oversees the education and programming functions for the Polsky Center, leading a team in developing co-curricular programs and experiential learning opportunities for students, alumni, faculty, and community entrepreneurs. He is also responsible for developing and nurturing relationships with key stakeholders across UChicago and in the business community.

As a seasoned business executive and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, Dan has strong ties to Chicago. He recently served as president of Meerkat Advisory, an A-list hospitality and leadership development advisory group, and was a professor of management and entrepreneurship at DePaul University. Before that, he was the founder and owner of BIN 36 Restaurant Group and grew the company’s wine brand domestically as well as to international acclaim. With 25 years of operating experience in the restaurant and service industry, Dan has become a trusted expert for private equity firms, large hotel corporations, and owners of live entertainment venues. He published the book The Million Dollar Greeting, which provides insights on how to apply hospitality industry best practices to strengthen company profit, customer retention, and employee morale.

Dan earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, a doctorate in business administration specializing in organizational behavior from DePaul University, and a grand diplôme from École de Cuisine La Varenne.

Amber Bradley, Ed.D., PPS

Amber Bradley, Ed.D., PPS

Associate Director, New Venture Challenge

View Bio

Amber Bradley, Ed.D., PPS

Associate Director, New Venture Challenge

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: amber.bradley@chicagobooth.edu

Amber Bradley, Ed.D., PPS, serves as the associate director, New Venture Challenge (NVC) at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She oversees and grows the NVC and its tracks, expanding the nationally recognized program and the resources available to University of Chicago entrepreneurs.

Amber has come to Chicago from Los Angeles, where she spent the past nine years working at the University of Southern California. Most recently, she held two positions: as assistant director of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA) initiatives and as senior academic advisor at USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for the Arts, Technology and Business of Innovation. In this role, she supported the recruitment and admission initiatives of the Academy, including communication, outreach, interviews, and group presentations, and advised on the school’s recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups at the student, faculty, and staff levels.

Amber is a native of Southern California. She holds a doctorate in education with an emphasis in higher education administration, as well as a master of education in educational counseling and a Pupil Personnel Services Credential in school counseling from the USC Rossier School of Education. She also earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) and an associate of arts in liberal arts from Santa Monica College.

Outside of work, Amber loves the beach, dancing, all things Disney, and is a huge foodie. She is looking forward to exploring the food scene in Chicago and welcomes any recommendations!

Melissa Byrn

Melissa Byrn

Director, Innovation Programs

View Bio

Melissa Byrn

Director, Innovation Programs

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.9108
E: 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.

Paul Cavalieri

Paul Cavalieri

Associate Director, Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

View Bio

Paul Cavalieri

Associate Director, Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: paul.cavalieri@chicagobooth.edu

Paul Cavalieri serves as the Associate director, entrepreneurship through acquisition at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Paul manages and builds the educational and experiential offerings in Polsky’s ETA portfolio, expands the network of ETA alumni and practitioners, and supports students as they plan for careers in ETA.

Prior to joining Polsky, Paul gained expertise managing a medium-size enterprise at Race Pace Bicycles, a chain of seven bicycle shops in Maryland. Along with running the day to day operations, Paul focused on developing the company’s human resources system and bringing customer relationship management approaches to the marketing communications strategy. Before Race Pace, Paul worked as a third grade teacher at a public elementary school in Brooklyn, NY.

Paul earned an MBA from the University of Colorado, a master of science in education from Long Island University, and a bachelor of arts in communications and government from American University. In his spare time, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter and riding mountain bikes (slowly), playing drums (loudly), and learning Italian (parla un poco).

 

Waverly Deutsch

Waverly Deutsch

Director, UChicago Global Entrepreneurs Network

View Bio

Waverly Deutsch

Director, UChicago Global Entrepreneurs Network

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.0484
E: wdeutsch@chicagobooth.edu

Waverly Deutsch teaches the Global New Venture Challenge class for Chicago Booth’s Executive MBA program. She has been a full-time coach for the annual New Venture Challenge since 2002. Waverly Deutsch created Building the New Venture, a unique course on entrepreneurial execution, and taught it for 15 years. In 2004, she was awarded the USASBE Innovative Teaching Pedagogy for the YourCo simulation that parallels the class and allows students to develop and run a mock startup through all phases of early operation. In 2012, she became one of the faculty coaches for the companies in the Polsky Center Summer Accelerator Program. From 2006 to 2009, in conjunction with the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars Program, Waverly pioneered and taught an intensive summer seminar entitled Elements of Entrepreneurship in which promising high school students from the Chicago Public School Systems turned an idea into a business plan in two weeks. In 2015, Waverly was honored with the Phoenix Faculty award for her contributions to the Booth student community beyond the classroom.

In her role as Director of the University of Chicago Global Entrepreneurs Network (GEN), Waverly works to foster a global community that provides resources and connects alumni and student entrepreneurs with the investor community.

Waverly’s research focuses on the execution issues entrepreneurs face as they grow their businesses, especially marketing, sales, operations and team building and is featured quarterly in the Chicago Booth Review.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox

Assistant Director

View Bio

Megan Fox

Assistant Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.5926
E: 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

Office Manager

View Bio

Kyla Hill

Office Manager

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.1522
E: 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

Senior Associate Director

View Bio

Gorana Kolar

Senior Associate Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.4073
E: gkolar@uchicago.edu

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

Associate Director, Operations

View Bio

Mary Kay Loncar

Associate Director, Operations

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.4526
E: mloncar@uchicago.edu

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. 

Nora Mansfield

Nora Mansfield

Assistant Director

View Bio

Nora Mansfield

Assistant Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.9767
E: 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

Director, Entrepreneurship Programs and the Svider Private Equity Program

View Bio

Erika Mercer

Director, Entrepreneurship Programs and the Svider Private Equity Program

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.1521
E: emercer@uchicago.edu

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

Associate Director, Global Engagement

View Bio

Cerise Miller

Associate Director, Global Engagement

168 Victoria Road
Mount Davis, Hong Kong
O: +852.2533.9568
E: 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.

Lucas Peralta

Lucas Peralta

Associate Director

View Bio

Lucas Peralta

Associate Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.8310
E: lucas.peralta@chicagobooth.edu
Virtual Office Hours

Lucas Peralta serves as associate director for college and cross-campus programs at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Lucas manages the College New Venture Challenge, the undergraduate track of the Edward L. Kaplan ’71 New Venture Challenge, a nationally-ranked accelerator program. He also manages the operations of the Polsky Center’s NSF-funded I-Corps site program. In addition, he runs the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program, Polsky Center Quick Pitches, and various speaker and pitch events. 

Prior to joining Polsky, while earning his master’s degree, Lucas worked as a program assistant for Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research Strategic Data Project, an initiative that helps connect schools and education agencies to emerging leaders in data science, to improve student outcomes. 

Lucas earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of New Mexico. 

Lucas is interested in the intersection of economic opportunity and education. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, eating (obviously), and running. 

Ellen Zatkowski

Ellen Zatkowski

Senior Program Manager

View Bio

Ellen Zatkowski

Senior Program Manager

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: Ellen.Zatkowski@chicagobooth.edu

Ellen Zatkowski serves as the Senior Program Manager at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She manages the operations for the NSF-funded I-Corps program and the Collaboratorium. Ellen also focuses on developing other programs to support the scientific community.

Prior to joining Polsky, Ellen managed the college success program for a Chicago non-profit serving low-income students. In this capacity, she supervised a team of AmeriCorps members and full-time staff who advised students as they navigated colleges and universities. Ellen got her start in higher education at Babson College where she worked in the undergraduate admissions office.

Ellen earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston College.

Ellen is energized to share the power of entrepreneurial thinking with audiences who have not traditionally had access to entrepreneurship and innovation programs. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, exercising, and exploring Chicago’s neighborhood bookstores and restaurants.

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyze your use of products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts.

Accept