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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.      

Polsky Center Staff Members

Jay Schrankler
Jay Schrankler

Jay Schrankler

Associate Vice President and Head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773.702.0404

jay3@uchicago.edu

Executive Assistant:
Camille Andres
773-702-0926
candres@uchicago.edu

Jay Schrankler is the associate vice president and head of the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, he leads all operations of the Polsky Center and works closely with both University leadership and external partners to advance the University’s innovation and partnership strategy related to entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.

Prior to joining Polsky, Jay was the associate vice president for the Office for Technology Commercialization at the University of Minnesota, where he transformed the organization into a top-rated university technology transfer office. Under his leadership, the office generated more than $560 million in revenue over 10 years, drove steady increases in licensing activity and industry-sponsored research, and supported the creation of 140 research-based spinouts resulting in 9 exits. He also served as the special assistant to the vice president for research where he worked on a variety of projects that drew upon his expertise in moving ideas and technologies to the market.

Before that, Jay served in various senior executive and global leadership positions at Honeywell International Inc., spanning the company’s space systems, aerospace, and environmental controls divisions. During his tenure at the Fortune 100 company, he was named a Honeywell Top 33 Executive, and served as a key member on the corporate strategy team.

Jay earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Wisconsin. He has also attended the Harvard Executive Development Program.

With his deep expertise in technology development, electrical engineering, computer science, aerospace, and semiconductors, Jay has been a featured speaker at a variety of industry conferences and events held across the globe. He has also delivered commercialization training to the US Air Force Research Laboratory, the US State Department, the government in Poland, the government of Saudi Arabia, and several universities in Japan, Spain, US, and Norway.

Jay is an active angel investor and serves as a board member and advisor to several startups in the US. He is an aviation enthusiast, has built his own aircraft, and enjoys flying in his spare time.

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.

James Licklider
James Licklider

James Licklider

Director of Operations and Chief of Staff

5113 S Harper Avenue, Suite 2C
Chicago, IL 60615
773.834.5641

jlicklider@uchicago.edu

James Licklider serves as the Director of Operations and Chief of Staff for the Polsky Center. In this role, he oversees finance, human resources, IT, facilities and space needs, and strategic planning.

Prior to Polsky, James spent over seven years at UChicago’s Institute for Mind and Biology as its Administrative Director. He managed the post-award operation for the Florida State University College of Medicine and guided its faculty practice plan as Chief Financial Officer. James also held roles in central post-award administration at FSU, pre-award and department administration at DePaul University, and executive management in several Chicago nonprofits.

James earned an MS in accountancy, MS in public services management, and a BA in political science at DePaul University. He is a Certified Research Administrator and a former participant in the Executive Program for Emerging Leaders at Chicago Booth.

Eric Ginsburg, PhD
Eric Ginsburg, PhD

Eric Ginsburg, PhD

Interim Director, Technology Commercialization

5113 S Harper Avenue, Suite 2C
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-0746

ginsburg@uchicago.edu

Eric Ginsburg, PhD, serves as the interim director, technology commercialization, at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. As interim director, Eric provides guidance to the technology commercialization team and manages the recruitment and retention of talent within the technology commercialization team. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Eric worked in research and development at Eastman Kodak and Abbott Laboratories, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the IBM Almaden Research Center. 

Eric earned a SB degree from MIT and a PhD from Caltech, both in Chemistry. His graduate work focused on the synthesis and characterization of soluble electrically conducting polymers. Eric is a registered patent agent and a certified licensing professional. 

In his spare time, Eric enjoys being somewhere like this or this as often as possible. 

Micheline Pergande
Micheline Pergande

Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-702-7732

micheline@uchicago.edu

As director of marketing and communications, Micheline Pergande leads the marketing team and oversees the marketing strategy for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She focuses on defining the brand identity and delivering a consistent experience across all marketing touchpoints.

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Micheline worked in brand management at Unilever Food Solutions supporting category performance in North America for Hellmann’s, Best Foods, Country Crock, Promise, Becel, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Before that, Micheline was the senior manager of e-commerce strategy and digital marketing for Chicago-based Argo Tea where she initiated the company’s first-ever gift box packaging concept, facilitated industry-wide recognition as Nation’s Restaurant News Top 50 “2013 Breakout Brands”, managed the company’s social media engagement strategy across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Yelp, and completely overhauled the company’s e-commerce website in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season. Before her rewarding stint at Argo Tea, Micheline was named director of product marketing for Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center, the R&D hub responsible for developing next generation advertising solutions during the time when the advertising world embarked upon its digital transformation as social media, programmatic media buying, and audience targeting solutions emerged as new core competencies for agencies. Before becoming a seasoned marketer, Micheline gained technical skills as a web developer in the Bay Area, where she was born and raised. She developed database-driven web applications in PHP and MySQL for her alma mater, Saint Mary’s College of California, before moving out to Chicago in 2006 to attend graduate school.

Micheline earned a B.A. with honors in Communication from Saint Mary’s College of California, an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications with a specialization in Direct, Database and E-Commerce marketing from Northwestern University’s Medill School, and an MBA with concentrations in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and International Business from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She was awarded the Walter Dill Scott Award from Medill faculty. She also earned a Professional Certificate in Web Design from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001.

As a proud daughter of an entrepreneurial family, Micheline is passionate about the Polsky Center’s role in supporting students, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs with their entrepreneurial ambitions.  Micheline and her husband, Shaun, a Chicago Booth ’13 graduate, reside in Chicago with their daughter.

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. 

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