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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.

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
jay3@uchicago.edu
O: 773.702.0404

Executive Assistant:
Beatriz Gonzalez
gonzalezb@uchicago.edu
O: 773.834.3209

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 ’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 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.2838
E: starr.marcello@chicagobooth.edu

Executive Assistant:
Kyla Hill
O: 773.834.1522
E: 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 LickliderJames Licklider
James Licklider

James Licklider

Director of Operations and Chief of Staff

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

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.

Timothy HonakerTimothy Honaker
Timothy Honaker

Timothy Honaker

Director, Educational Technologies Commercialization

5113 S Harper Avenue, Suite 2C
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-3203

As Director of Educational Technologies Commercialization, Tim is responsible for guiding educational technology commercialization for the University.

Tim Honaker joined the UChicagoTech as Chief Operating Officer in September 2003. His responsibilities include managing all aspects of the office’s financial and administrative support infrastructure. In addition he provides support and guidance to the office’s efforts in education technology commercialization.

Tim has spent most of his career as an entrepreneur focused on the use of information technology to streamline business processes. He was the Vice-President and General Manager of a Menasha Corporation start-up division that revolutionized the use of logistics technologies to improve supply chain productivity. The business operates today as National Consolidated Services and is a major supply chain partner to Walgreens Corporation. Earlier he was Senior Vice-President of Operations for a management team that purchased and took private a U.S.-based financial publishing and training subsidiary of Pearson. The business was later sold to the Washington Post for a 30-fold return to the original investors and operates today as Kaplan Professional Schools.

Tim received his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and MBA in Finance from Indiana University and is a Registered Certified Public Accountant in the State of Illinois. He has been an active member of the Association of University Technology Managers, Counsel of Logistics Management, American Association of Publishers, Direct Marketing Association, and Illinois CPA Society.

Micheline PergandeMicheline Pergande
Micheline Pergande

Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

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

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.

Jason ParisoJason Pariso
Jason Pariso

Jason Pariso

Director, George Shultz Innovation Fund

1452 East 53rd Street, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-8112

Jason Pariso is the Director of the George Shultz Innovation Fund, an early stage fund dedicated to the commercialization of research and technology generated at the University. He also develops strategic initiatives and programming for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He previously served as the Vice President of product management for Pinpoint MD, a healthcare startup building the first patient-physician engagement platform. Jason built a diverse set of skills while working as a Media & Telecommunications Investment Banker, founding an educational nonprofit, restructuring a textile manufacturer, developing corporate strategy for Dell Financial Services, and launching a SaaS call center telephony startup. Jason earned an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, holds a BA in Economics from Princeton University and is a Kauffman Fellow.

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.

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.

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