Jeff Staudinger, City of Asheville

City of Asheville
Community Development Director
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Jeff Staudinger currently works for the City of Asheville as the Assistant Director of the Community and Economic Development Department. He also has served as the City’s Community Development Director. He has been working on affordable housing…

Jeffrey Scott, Silicon Hollar

Silicon Hollar, Start-Up High Country
Track E: Cluster Focus

Jeffrey Scott is a social entrepreneur with over 20 years in executive leadership roles with socially driven companies working to solve critical issues.  He has started and led both nonprofit and for profit companies in the renewable energy and…

Jennifer Pickering, LEAF

Founder and Executive Director
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Jennifer Pickering is the founder and Executive Director of LEAF, which is a non-profit organization, building community, connecting cultures and enriching lives through the arts – locally and globally – with festivals, community events, and…

Kelly Foster, Mountain Bizworks

Mountain Bizworks
Small Business Lender
Track A: Start-Up Funding

Kelly joined Mountain BizWorks in October of 2015, bringing with her over 20 years of lending and underwriting experience. As a small business lender, Kelly is responsible for supporting and providing capital resources to small business. While…

Jodi Rhoden, Bird’s Eye Business Planning

Bird's Eye Business Planning & Adventures
Writer, Activist, Teacher
Track A: Start-Up Businesses

Jodi Rhoden is the founder and former owner of Short Street Cakes in West Asheville and the author of Cake Ladies: Celebrating a Southern Tradition. Jodi uses her 10-years of small-scale business experience to offer classes and one-on-one…

Stephen Poland, 1×1 Media & ScaleUp WNC

1x1 Media, A-B Tech Community College
Director, Embedded Entrepreneur
Track C: Investor Ready

Stephen R. Poland co-founded 1×1 Media, a publisher of tools, templates, and how-to guides for startup founders and entrepreneurs. Steve has worked with hundreds of founders and entrepreneurs, mentoring them on startup mechanics, funding plans,…

Nathan Ramsey, Land of Sky Regional Council

Land of Sky Regional Council
Mountain Area Business Development Board Director
Track E: Cluster Focus

Nathan Ramsey is the MAWDB Director on the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board at the Land of Sky Regional Council. Nathan also serves as the regional direct point of contact on NC Commerce Workforce Development projects, such as the…

Dr. Susan Clark Muntean, UNC-Asheville

Entrepreneurship Professor
Track A: Start-Up Businesses

Susan Clark Muntean, Ph.D. teaches courses in Management, Organizational Behavior and Theory, Entrepreneurship, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She holds a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship from the United States Association for…

Bruce Arrington, Carolina Farm Credit

Carolina Farm Credit
Commercial Agriculture Loan Officer
Track E: Cluster Focus

Bruce is a commercial agriculture loan officer in the Asheville Branch Office. Carolina Farm Credit is a business cooperative and part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, with over 1.5 billion dollars in loan assets, and approximately 10,000…

Leslie Anderson, Leslie Anderson Consulting

Leslie Anderson Consutling
Founder and Owner
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

For over 40 years, as a volunteer and public servant, and as a consultant for the past 11 years, Leslie Anderson has sought to improve the future of North Carolina and beyond. Leslie’s experiences in the community are diverse:  active advocate,…

Ryan Moody, SunTrust Bank

SunTrust Bank
First Vice President, Commercial Banking
Track A: Start-Up Funding

Ryan Moody is a Relationship Manager in Asheville, NC in the Commercial Banking Division at SunTrust Bank. She works very closely with her client to understand their business cycles and cash flow while recommending appropriate strategies and…

Katie Crumpler, NC Community Foundation

NC Community Foundation
Western Regional Director
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Katie B. Crumpler is the Western Regional Director for the NC Community Foundation, where she works with nine affiliate foundations in the far west corner of North Carolina. She supports affiliate foundation boards’ community leadership…

Keynote: Josh Jacobson, Next Stage Consulting

Next Stage Consulting
Managing Director

Josh Jacobson brings diverse experiences in organizational development to his leadership of Next Stage Consulting, a strategy and implementation firm based in Charlotte, NC and serving nonprofit organizations and social cause start-ups…

Andrew Crosson, Rural Support Partners

Rural Support Partners
Director of Regional Initiatives
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Andrew has been at Rural Support Partners since June of 2012. A native of Appalachia, his path to sustainable economic development work began in a small farming community in the mountains of rural Western North Carolina. He completed…

Michael Palermo, Palermo Law

Palermo Law
Owner, Attorney
Track B: Business Expansions

Michael Palermo was born and raised in Chicago.  After 47 years in the city and almost 25 years as a business lawyer, he felt needed a change.  He took a year off in 2014 to recharge, living in the remote mountains of Idaho.  In 2015 him and his…

Christopher Murrey, Mountain Bizworks

Mountain Bizworks
Chief Credit Officer
Track B: Business Expansions

Christopher Murrey is the Chief Credit Officer at Mountain BizWorks in Asheville.  He leads a lending team with a mission to finance and support small business throughout Western North Carolina.  His previous work with Carolina Financial Group…

Pat Latta, ACT Advisors

ACT Advisors
Associate Wealth Advisor
Track A: Start-Up Funding

With over 16 years in the financial services industry, Pat’s experience and knowledge make him a valuable resource for his clients. In 2015, Pat became an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) with ACT Advisors. He specializes in wealth…

Jane Hatley, Self Help Credit Union

Self Help Credit Unions
WNC Regional Director
Track A: Start-Up Funding

Jane Hatley is the Western North Carolina Regional Director for Self-Help Credit Union. Self-Help is a community development lender, credit union, and real estate developer that works with individuals, organizations and communities traditionally…

Mark Sorrells, GoldenLEAF

GoldenLEAF Foundation
Senior Vice President
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Mark Sorrells is the Senior Vice President for the Golden LEAF Foundation. He joined the Foundation in May of 2001 as Vice President of Programs. In his current position, Mark serves as the Chief Operating Officer assisting the President with…

Charlie Jackson, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project
Executive Director
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Charlie Jackson is the Executive Director and founder of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), one of the nation’s oldest local food advocacy nonprofits in the country. He has a MA in history from the University of Maine and nearly…

Oby Morgan, Capital at Play

Capital at Play magazine
Track A: Start-Up Funding

Oby Morgan has not only been responsible for scores of profiles of entrepreneurs, he is an entrepreneur of note himself. Having launched Capital at Play in September 2011—at a time when the U.S. was still trying to recover from a crippling…

Todd Alston, SBTDC

Business Counselor
Track B: Business Expansions

Before working at the SBTDC, Todd worked as a regional account manager with Sprint Communications. Todd spent fourteen years within the telecommunication industry fulfilling various roles, including lead sales consultant, sales manager, and…

Josh Dorfman, Venture Asheville & Asheville Angels

Venture Asheville & Asheville Angels
Director of Entrepreneurship
Investor Ready

Josh leads Venture Asheville and is a green economy entrepreneur, author, and strategic adviser focused on building mainstream audiences for mission-driven brands. He is also Managing Director of Asheville Angels, the EDC’s member-based angel…

Jill Sparks, A-B Tech Small Business Center

A-B Tech Community College
Executive Director of Small Business Center & Incubator
Track A: Start-Up Funding

Jill Sparks is the Executive Director of Small Business Center and Business Incubator at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and serves as the Regional Director of the Small Business Center Network. She helps to provide business…

Ryan Coffield, Van Winkle Law Firm

Van Winkle Law Firm
Track A: Start-Up Funding

Ryan Coffield is a member of The Van Winkle Law Firm’s Business Practice, where he works with small and mid-size businesses on all phases of corporate life, including entity choice, formation, ongoing operations, reorganizations and owner…

Mark Goldstein, Communication Mark

Communication Mark
President and CEO
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Mark Goldstein, CFRE, President and CEO, is most sought after as an expert proposal writer and project strategist. He is the creator of the Open Communication Fundraising Model, a system that enables all nonprofit agency stakeholders to…

Jennifer King, Atlantic Capital Bank


Jennifer King is an SBA Business Development Officer at Atlantic Capital Bank. Atlantic Capital Bank serves middle market and emerging growth companies, private banking clients and top-tier real estate developers. By strategically combining the…

Douglas English, ACT Advisors

ACT Advisors
Certified Financial Planner
Track C: Investor Ready

Doug has been in the financial industry for more than 20 years with 18 years as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Doug has an MBA in finance and is the founder of ACT Advisors a Registered Investment Advisory firm headquartered in Asheville NC. …

Patrick Doran, Carolina Small Business Development Fund

Carolina Small Business Development Fund
Vice President of Business Development
Track E: Cluster Focus

Patrick Doran serves as Vice President of Business Development for Carolina Small Business Development Fund. In his role, he manages all business development activity by establishing new partnerships and referral sources to increase the delivery…

Roy Morejon, Enventys Partners

Enventys Partners
Track A: Start-Up Businesses

Roy Morejon brings over 20 years experience in delivering integrated marketing services for B2B and B2C clients, helping transform companies by increasing online visibility and brand awareness through targeted digital marketing, corporate…

Bruce Roberts, Carolina Financial Group

CFG Investment Bank
Founder and CEO
Track C: Investor Ready

Bruce has been an investment banker and entrepreneur for over 30 years. His professional activity centers around private finance and the broader support of entrepreneurs and private business owners.  This has included the creation of Carolina…

Joseph Hackett, Green Opportunities

Green Opportunities
Executive Director
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Joseph “J” Hackett has served as Executive Director of Green Opportunities (GO)-an Asheville, NC-based non-profit organization-since February 2017. As Executive Director, Mr. Hackett leads GO’s work to build a resilient, inclusive workforce in…

Dr. David Jones, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Lenoir Rhyne University
Chair of Charles M. Snipes School of Business and Economics
Track B: Business Expansions

Dr. David Jones is an Associate Professor of Business, teaching marketing, management, and leadership at the Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville and is the Chair of Charles M. Snipes School of Business and Economics….

Annie Price, Bird’s Eye Business Planning

Bird's Eye Business Planning & Adventures
Track A: Start-Up Businesses

Founder of Birds Eye Business Planning and Adventures, Annie is an entrepreneurial learning facilitator, trainer, coach, and consultant. Bird’s Eye’s mission is to generate success and support along the journeys of entrepreneurs and…

Ron Elmore, SBTDC

Business Counselor
Track C: Investor Ready

Ron represents 30 successful years in the software industry moving from an individual contributor into executive management in his last 20 years, with offices in Silicon Valley,NYC and CLT, funded by Sequoia Capital, and helped the 4…

Thom Ruhe, NC IDEA


LUNCH KEYNOTE Acceleration: Maximizing High-Growth Entrepreneurial Endeavors through NC Seed Grants & Programming NC IDEA is a private foundation with a mission to maximize the economic potential of the people of North Carolina by supporting…

Tonya Snider, Carolina Small Business Development Fund

Carolina Small Business Development Fund
Business Development Officer
Track B: Business Expansions

Tonya Snider serves as Business Development Officer for Carolina Small Business Development Fund. She works in the Western region of the state, with duties that include loan generation, loan underwriting, marketing and relationship management,…

Tom Ryan, Supportedly & Start100 Fund and Start100 Fund
CEO and General Partner
Track B: Business Expansions

Tom’s professional mission is to help entrepreneurs everywhere succeed both in business and in life.  Drawing on over two decades of experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor, entrepreneur-in-residence, and coach and mentor; Tom has a knack…

Sandra Dennison, SBTDC

Regional Director
Track A: Start-Up Funding

Sandra S. Dennison is a general business counselor with the SBTDC. Prior to working at the SBTDC Sandra was a Community Outreach Manager with the American Cancer Society. She was awarded in 2014 and 2015 for exceeding community fundraising…

Lacy Cross, Entegra Bank

Entegra Bank
Commercial Banker
Track A: Start-Up Funding

Lacy is a Commercial Banker for Entegra Bank, a 1.5 Billion dollar Community Bank that has offices in NC, SC, & GA.  He has been in banking since graduating from University of North Carolina Asheville with a major in Monetary Finance and…

Pam Hysong, UDSA

Area Director

Pam Hysong is area director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development in 19 counties in Western North Carolina. Hysong’s office is in Asheville, with processing offices in Franklin and Spruce Pine. After graduation from…

Tyler Garrison, Regeneration Station

Regeneration Station
Track B: Business Expansions

Tyler is a Father, entrepreneur, and environmental activist. He began his first company at 19 in the legal industry and quickly began setting records still unbroken. By 23 years old he had achieved what many may consider the American Dream…

Ryan Jaskot, Mountain BizWorks

Mountain BizWorks
Small Business Lender
Track A: Start-Up Businesses

Ryan Jaskot has a lifetime of experience in financial analysis and customer service strategies. Ryan has been evaluating the financial health of organizations since middle school, when his first stock market investment yielded a 200% return. As…

Dr. Arthur Salido, WCU

Western Carolina University
Executive Director
Track E: Cluster Focus

Dr. Arthur Salido is the Executive Director for Community and Economic Engagement and Innovation, where he works to create partnerships that link university, nonprofit, government, and industry resources to address community and economic…

Megan Robinson, The Collider

The Collider
Executive Director
Track E: Cluster Focus

Megan Robinson is the Executive Director of The Collider. She is responsible for the strategic development and execution of programming, membership, cowork, and events. Prior to joining The Collider team, Megan was a Strategy and Management…

Dr. Lisa Fournier, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Lenoir-Rhyne University
Director, Social Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit Management
Track A: Start-Up Businesses

Dr. Fournier’s business journey began as an entrepreneur when she was a college undergraduate at Western Carolina University. After selling her first business in imprinted sportswear in the late 1990s, she pursued a path of working for several…

Jack Studer, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund

Chattanooga Renaissance Fund
Track C: Investor Ready

Jack is certainly no stranger to Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial community. After graduating from Baylor High School, he attended Princeton University and eventually worked on Wall Street in corporate finance, mergers, and acquisitions for Credit…

Jeanne Milliken Bonds, Federal Reserve Bank

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
Regional Community Development and Community Engagement Team Leader
Track B: Business Expansions

Jeanne Milliken Bonds is the Regional Community Development and Community Engagement Team Leader for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s District which includes Maryland, D.C., Virginia, most of West Virginia, North Carolina and South…

Janelle Wienke, Asheville Area Arts Council

Asheville Area Arts Council
Grants Manager
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Janelle Wienke has a life time ingrained in the arts. Her education in anthropology, sustainable development and community and regional planning has propelled her into the field of creative placemaking. Previously the Entrepreneurship, and Small…

Emily Edmonds, NCSU

NCSU Center for Environmental Farming Systems
NC Growing Together Project Extension & Outreach Program Manager
Track E: Cluster Focus

Emily Edmonds, MPA, currently serves as the Extension & Outreach Program Manager for the NC Growing Together Project, an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. She has over a decade of experience in local and regional…

Celeste Collins, OnTrack WNC

OnTrack WNC
Executive Director
Track A: Start-Up Businesses

CELESTE COLLINS is the Executive Director of OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling, formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western North Carolina. OnTrack WNC is a nonprofit, which serves the western 18 counties of NC helping…

Angie Chandler, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area

Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Executive Director
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Angie Chandler has served as executive director of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership for seven years. She began her career as a newspaper and radio journalist and then spent more than 10 years in the Chamber of Commerce field…

Chris Reedy, NC BioNetwork

NC BioNetwork
Director, Industry Training for Food, Beverages and Natural Products
Track E: Cluster Focus

Director, Industry Training for Food, Beverages and Natural Products, has a Master’s degree, Business Administration from Xavier University. He has eight years of experience educating businesses entrepreneurs, and the public on food safety…

Emily Breedlove, Innovative Economies

Innovative Economies
Track E: Cluster Focus

Emily is a Branding Specialist and Growth Strategist equipping individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and communities to do BIG things. Having spent the past 15+ years working in small business support and community development, Emily has been…

Smithson Mills, Blue Ridge Food Ventures

Blue Ridge Food Ventures
Executive Director
Track E: Cluster Focus

Smithson Mills is an economic development consultant living in Asheville N.C. Smithson has led numerous feasibility studies and grant-funded projects to increase economic opportunities for farmers, small food businesses and rural communities. He…

Tom Mock, Asheville SCORE

Asheville SCORE
Track A: Start-Up Businesses

Tom Mock is a retired marketing and communications executive from the telecommunications industry.  HIs most recent assignment was running corporate marketing and PR for a $2.5B communications equipment manufacturer in the Washington, DC area….

Dr. Jonathan Snover, NC Biotech Center

NC Biotechnology Center
Executive Director of Western NC
Track E: Cluster Focus

Jonathan Snover assumed responsibilities for the Western Office of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in January of 2016. He works with regional stakeholders to expand opportunities for biotechnology-based business growth. Snover serves as…

Russ Seagle, Sequoyah Fund

Sequoyah Fund
Executive Director
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Russ Seagle is the Executive Director of the Sequoyah Fund, the CDFI for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Russ began his work with Sequoyah Fund in 2009 as a loan officer and client consultant. Prior to that he served as Director of the…

Tommy Dennison, PNC Bank

PNC Bank
Business Development Officer
Track B: Business Expansions

As Business Development Officer, Tommy is responsible for building relationships and sourcing loans for the PNC Bank portfolio. He also provides technical assistance to applicants by helping them analyze their current and projected financial…

Timothy Montgomery, Redwood Valuation Partners

Redwood Valuation Partners
Director, CFA
Track C: Investor Ready

Tim Montgomery has worked in finance and business valuation since 1996. Since 2008, he has focused on a select clientele of prominent venture capital and private equity firms as well as venture and angel backed companies. Tim performs business…

Stephanie Swepson-Twitty, Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation

Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation
Executive Director
Track D: Non-Profit Organizations

Stephanie Swepson-Twitty, President and CEO for Eagle Markets Streets Development Corporation, a native of North Carolina, residing in Old Fort, McDowell County, married with one son and three grandchildren. Stephanie is a Community Economic…

Hunter Goossmann, ERC Broadband

ERC Broadband
Executive Director and CEO
Track E: Cluster Focus

Hunter Goosmann is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Education & Research Consortium of the Western Carolinas, Inc (ERC, dba ERC Broadband). With twenty plus years in IT/Telecom leadership roles and twelve years…

Danny Yelton, Carter CPA

Carter CPA
Vice President & Accounting Director
Track C: Investor Ready

Danny Yelton is the Accounting Director for Carter P.C. He is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in North Carolina, and has over 20 years of accounting, tax and audit experience. As the Accounting Director, Danny supervises CFO assistance…

Rebecca Crandall, McGuire, Bissette and Wood

McGuire, Wood and Bissette
Track C: Investor Ready

Rebecca Crandall is passionate about assisting entrepreneurs in protecting some of their most valuable assets, their intellectual property. As the only North Carolina Board Certified Trademark Specialist in Western North Carolina and a…