Founder, President & CEO, The Venture Center
Lee Watson is the founder, president & CEO of The Venture Center. As a Champion of the national Startup America initiative and leader of Startup Arkansas, Lee provides the vision and leadership for The Venture Center. He guides strategy and direction for the development of the organization and programs.
Follow him on Twitter @RLeeWatson
Director of Programs & Operations
With an extensive background in sales, marketing and operations, Jessica is responsible for all Venture Center programming and operations efforts. She oversees program development as well as implementation and execution. Cookies are her spirit animal and she may have just begrudgingly adopted two newborn kittens.
Follow her on Twitter @BexFiles
Ashley Jones is the Community Champion for The Venture Center. Her background in management, logistics, and scheduling allows her to seamlessly oversee all aspects of community engagement, mentorship and member services. Ashley enjoys camping, beekeeping and spending time with her family and dogs.
Follow her at @AshleyJonesTVC
Director of Marketing & Communications
With more than 15 years of marketing, communications and design experience, Jennifer oversees all of the Mar/Com efforts of the Venture Center. Jennifer enjoys cheering for her beloved Red Wolves, game nights at home with friends and seeing live music. She has never met a play on words or an ultra thin sans serif she didn't like.
Follow her @VentureCenter.
Ops Lead, VC FinTech Accelerator
With a background as an operations manager with the U.S. Navy, Brian coordinates the recruiting, screening and selection of the VC FinTech cohort. He also oversees logistics and management of the VC FinTech founders teams. Additionally, The VC Team has voted him "Most Likely to Hotwire a Car."
Follow him at @BrianMBauer
Lou McAlister is the CEO and co-founder of Broadband Development Group, an internet service provider offering lightening-fast HyperLeap wireless access. As a serial entrepreneur, Lou conducts Mentor Training and is heavily involved in the Pre-Accelerator program, guiding early-stage startups to success.
Follow him on Twitter @LouisMcAlister
Chairman of the Board, The Venture Center
Dr. James K. Hendren has been the entrepreneurial champion for the advancement of technology startup companies and knowledge job development since the mid-1980’s. He received his doctorate in physics from the University of Arkansas in 1972, providing a foundation for his successful career in sophisticated software development in both the defense and finance industries.
Senior VP and Group Executive, FIS
Chris Cline is a senior vice president and group executive for the Global Products division at FIS. In this role, Cline oversees profile operations in North America and the auto finance business lines. This includes overseeing P&L for combined organizations exceeding $200 million in annual revenue.
President, Stone Ward
Millie Ward is the co-founder and President of Stone Ward. She is the former Chairman of the Advertising Marketing International Network (AMIN), one of the nation's largest networks of independent agencies. She was named Woman Business Owner of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners. Most recently, Millie was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
CEO, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce
Jay Chesshir serves as President & CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Jay also serves on the United States Chamber of Commerce's Committee of 100.
Jim Womble is a business executive, entrepreneur and investor. He started his career with IBM and in 1973 accepted a position with Acxiom (ACXM: NASDAQ) as a software engineer. Mr. Womble is credited as a founder of Acxiom, building/transitioning a very small company into a billion dollar, a leading marketing services provider in the world.
Managing Partner, xCelerate Capital
Rod Ford is an entrepreneur and investor. Rod is the the founder and managing partner of xCelerate Capital, a seed stage venture fund focusing on technology investments in the mid-south.
Co-Founder & CEO
Dallas Entrepreneur Center
Trey Bowles is a serial entrepreneur, social capitalist, and educator. Trey cofounded the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), a central location for entrepreneurs to learn how to start, build and grow businesses through training, education, mentorship, promotion, and capital investment.
Founding President & CEO, Nashville Entrepreneur Center
Michael Burcham is a CEO Coach, Strategist, Entrepreneur and Innovator. He founded the Nashville Entrepreneur Center - an innovation center helping launch new healthcare and technology businesses that has been recognized Nationally as one of the country's leading startup organizations.
Co-Founder, Gravity Ventures
Kristian is an entrepreneur and investor. He co-founded High Alpha, a New Venture Studio that conceives, operates and scales enterprise cloud companies. He also founded and serves as the CEO of Studio Science, a design + innovation consultancy. Kristian is an active angel investor and co-founder of Gravity Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund that invests in tech-focused startups.
Dean, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Business School
Dr. Wayland is the Stephen Harrow Smith Dean of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Dr. Wayland holds a Bachelor of Science and an MBA from University of Southern Mississippi. She earned her PhD from the University of North Texas.
Cofounder & Co-CEO, 1776
Donna Harris is a four-time entrepreneur, cofounder of 1776 and frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, startup community building, and economic development. She is also an active angel investor as a cofounder of K Street Capital.
Co-Founder, The Foundry Group
Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures. Brad is also a co-founder of Techstars.