About the Authors
Thom Ruhe is Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. In this capacity, he directs the Foundation's programs addressing entrepreneurial education, mentoring, access to capital and fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems. He oversees collaborative projects with innovative groups such as the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, FastTrac, Startup Weekend, the Angel Resource Institute, and Invent Now; parent organization of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Camp Invention and the Collegiate Inventors Competition. Thom also curates the online curriculum, resources and communities for Kauffman's flagship resource for entrepreneurs: www.entrepreneurship.org.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Thom was the founding chief marketing officer for JumpStart, a nonprofit economic development organization and seed stage investment fund created to invest in and accelerate the growth of high-potential, early stage companies. Before JumpStart, Ruhe served as president of Optiem LLC, where he led the growth of a nascent marketing practice to a nationally recognized interactive marketing, communications and public relations agency. Earlier in his career, he held positions in technology integration, marketing, finance, sales, and management. His experience spans founding several entrepreneurial endeavors as well as working with Fortune 500 companies.
Thom is a 1988 U.S. Air Force ROTC graduate of Bowling Green State University with a degree in management information systems, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Plant A Fish Foundation.
Wendy Torrance is a Director in Entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation with a focus on education and curriculum. From 2007–2012, Torrance served as the founding director of the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Scholars Program, which provides a comprehensive experiential education program for both U.S. and foreign aspiring entrepreneurs through a six-month fellowship that provides training from faculty, practitioners, and entrepreneurial ventures. In addition, Torrance established the Foundation’s Global Faculty Visitors Program, which provides faculty from abroad training in teaching entrepreneurship.
Torrance is the author of several scholarly articles on international environmental politics. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors from the University of Washington, with bachelor's degrees in international studies and political science. Torrance has a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University, where she was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.
Cameron Cushman is a Manager in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation where he focuses his efforts on strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Kansas City region. He leads the Foundation's efforts on the Big 5 initiative to make Kansas City America's Most Entrepreneurial City.
Cushman previously directed the Foundation's efforts to educate policymakers about the importance of entrepreneurs as job creators and was involved in several efforts in Washington to improve the policy environment for entrepreneurs including the Startup Act of 2011, the Startup Act 2.0, and the JOBS Act. He is also an occasional contributor to the Policy Forum section of entrepreneurship.org.
Prior to joining Kauffman, Cushman served in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Market Access and Compliance division of the International Trade Administration. At Commerce, Cushman worked to expedite trade along the U.S.-Mexico border, quantify the cost of non-tariff barriers on American exports and led the effort that launched the website www.entrepreneurship.gov. Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Cushman served in the Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Presidential Correspondence at The White House.
Cushman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science with minors in history and journalism from Texas A&M University. He also holds a Certificate of Advanced International Affairs from the George Bush School of Government and Public Service.
Jonathan Robinson is a Manager in Entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he oversees a number of initiatives to connect founders to financial, human, intellectual, and social capital, and expand access to entrepreneurial opportunity. He leads the Foundation’s efforts to deliver entrepreneurship resources through community colleges, programs to support military veteran entrepreneurs, and other projects to improve local and regional entrepreneurial ecosystems. He also manages the Foundation’s work on expeditionary economics, a research initiative focused on enabling economic growth in conflict areas.
Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Robinson was an account supervisor and defense and security specialist in public affairs at Edelman New York, where he provided strategic communications counsel for a variety of nonprofit, corporate, and government clients. Previously, Robinson was a project associate with David Diebold & Associates, a boutique business consultancy headquartered in Hong Kong and Beijing concentrated on foreign investment in Chinese IT and telecom R&D.
Robinson served for eight years active duty and reserve in the U.S. Marine Corps infantry, including as a squad leader in Iraq and Mozambique. Robinson also has worked as a reporter for The New York Times, the Financial Times, and as an editorial assistant at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Emory University in Atlanta with a concentration in law and international relations.
Nate Olson is a specialist in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where his focus is building dynamic and diverse startup communities. The cofounder of 1 Million Cups, a weekly educational program designed to engage, educate, and accelerate startup communities, Olson now leads the effort to grow 1 Million Cups into a national program for the Foundation. When he’s not busy following his passion to change the way communities view and support entrepreneurs, Olson turns his energies to traveling, cycling, and playing guitar.
Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation as an intern and, then, an associate, Olson was a grant-writing intern for the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. While there, he developed a grant proposal for the funding of art therapy for Alzheimer’s patients and also helped to improve the museum’s system for receiving gifts electronically.
Olson earned a bachelor's degree in international business with a minor in English writing from Rockhurst University. In 2010, he attended IQS University in Barcelona, Spain, and UIBE, The Beijing Center in Beijing, China.
No one knows what the future holds, but Olson dreams of starting several companies in additive manufacturing, alternative and kinetic energy, and eventually becoming a teacher in the field of expeditionary learning.
Prentiss Earl III
Prentiss Earl III is an entrepreneur in residence with Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, an initiative of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he supports Kauffman Labs’ initiatives to accelerate the creation and development of new high-growth firms. Earl previously provided business development and community relations for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Urban Entrepreneur Partnership (UEP), creating and executing a sales and marketing process to enhance the program’s effectiveness. He maintains a commercial photography business, PE3 Studios, based in Kansas City, Mo.
Prior to his work with the Kauffman Foundation, Prentiss served as director of marketing for American Performance Technologies in Kansas City, Mo., where he planned and implemented the company’s strategic marketing programs, including developing international outsourcing relationships. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of Kansas and an MBA from MidAmerica Nazarene University.
Diana Kander advises the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. In this capacity, she uses her experience as a founder, investor, and academic to foster the growth of entrepreneurship through educational and applied programs.
A successful entrepreneur with experience in the legal, technology, and service sectors, Kander has founded and sold multiple enterprises. She currently serves in a leadership capacity in two companies that she founded: KR Legal Management and National Lawyer Review.
At the age of eight, Kander came to the United States with her parents as a refugee from the Soviet Union. She obtained her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and later taught in the same department as an adjunct professor. A graduate of Georgetown Law, Kander's legal career included work in the corporate transactions division of a large national law firm and as General Counsel of a real estate development company.
Kander serves on the Goodwill Board of Directors for both the St. Louis and Kansas City regions. She serves as a general board member for the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee in Kansas City. She also mentors startups through the Bloch School's Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Jennifer Kearns is a Program Coordinator in Entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Amanda Schnieders is a Program Assistant in Entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she focuses on the storytelling of the entrepreneurial community through the production and editing of multimedia content, especially video. Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Schnieders was a web editor for KOMU-TV8 in Columbia, Mo., and a multimedia editor for VOX Magazine. She also worked as a graphics designer for the Columbia Missourian, and a multimedia producer for the U.S.-European Media Hub at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. Schnieders earned a Bachelor of Journalism in convergence journalism with a minor in theater from the University of Missouri.
Kaitlin Long is going into her senior year at Kansas State University where she is majoring in Entrepreneurship and minoring in Leadership Studies. She is interning with Kauffman Labs this summer, working mostly with 1 Million Cups and other programs to further the advancement of entrepreneurship in the city. Kaitlin is a native Kansas Citian and enjoys learning about how a culture of entrepreneurship can transform a community. She started her own social venture in the summer of 2012 working to import and sell products created by young women in central Kenya. The profits are then returned directly to the women. Kaitlin first traveled to Kenya in the summer of 2011, and returned this past January to continue building relationships that are crucial to the success of international business.
Taylor Brown is a senior at William Jewell College. Taylor is majoring in Business Administration & Economics. She will be graduating in December of 2013. Taylor has a passion for business ventures and entrepreneurship. Her major interest lie in the field of finance in regards to banking, venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds. Taylor also has a desire to work with start-ups in different communities around the world. She has had previous internships with Wells Fargo Advisors, Burns & McDonnell, The Whittaker Group, Applied Civic Integration & Redevelopment (an ongoing downtown revitalization project in Liberty, MO) and currently is working for the Entrepreneur team at the The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. She has learned about the culture and has acquired knowledge about start-ups, social media, finance, and building communities.