Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute

Mtech's venture programs team possesses a unique combination of experience in private equity, venture capital, operations, start-ups and entrepreneurship education, enabling them to provide clients with valuable services, resources, perspectives and connections:

Dr. James V. Green
Director, Entrepreneurship Education and Hinman CEOs Program
Senior Lecturer and Associate Director, Mtech
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Dr. James V. Green leads the education activities of Mtech as the Director of Entrepreneurship Education with responsibilities for the Hinman CEOs Program, the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. As a Senior Lecturer and Associate Director with Mtech, Dr. Green designs and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. He is Co-Director of the Certificate in Innovation Management Program for executives. Dr. Green leads Mtech's international entrepreneurship education initiatives to include establishing and managing partnerships with the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
 
Dr. Green's research interests include entrepreneurship education and the psychology of entrepreneurship. He is a national presenter on entrepreneurship education with refereed papers and presentations at conferences for the Academy of Management (AOM), the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). Dr. Green serves as the Editor for the ASEE Entrepreneurship Division and as an evaluator for annual conference submissions.
 
Prior to Mtech, Dr. Green provided business development and product management to WaveCrest Laboratories (acquired by Magna International, NYSE: MGA), an innovative start-up in next-generation electric and hybrid-electric propulsion and drive systems. At Cyveillance (acquired by QinetiQ, LSE: QQ.L), Dr. Green served in operations, client service, and product development roles for this software start-up and world leader in cyber intelligence and intelligence-led security. He provided brand intelligence, fraud protection, corporate security, and partner compliance solutions for multiple Fortune 500 companies in the consumer packaged goods, energy, financial services, hospitality and technology industries. While at Booz Allen Hamilton, Dr. Green provided technical and programmatic direction to the DARPA Special Projects Office (SPO), Army Research Lab (ARL), Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), Information Assurance Technology Analysis Center (IATAC), and other DoD clients for advanced prototype systems research.  He performed analysis tasks and provided strategic vision for his clients in the areas of survivability analysis, roadmap studies, threat analysis, and technology simulation and modeling.
 
Dr. Green earned a Doctor of Management and an MS in Technology Management from the University of Maryland University College, an MBA from the University of Michigan, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Gül Branco
Director, Hillman Entrepreneurs Program
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Gül Branco is the Program Director of the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, an initiative of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) at the University of Maryland. Prior to joining Mtech, Ms. Branco led the launch of the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program at Montgomery College in 2012, building all aspects of the program until January 2014.

While at Montgomery College, she established many collaborations between the local business community and the students she mentored in the Hillman Program.

Before joining the program, Ms. Branco was a faculty member at Delgado Community College and co-coordinator for the college's Entrepreneurship Program.

She was also selected as a mod-faculty member for the Goldman Sachs/Babson College 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative in New Orleans. 
Ms. Branco has an extensive business experience with Fortune 500 companies in developing strategic organizational programs, implementing learning initiatives at all levels of the organization, transforming underperforming teams to highly effective teams, identifying opportunities for growth and new business ventures, creating business markets and teaching adults. 

Ms. Branco is a proactive, result-oriented business leader with broad experience and a proven track record of success in hands-on leadership, entrepreneurship, organizational management, business and market development, strategic planning, relationship management, and leading students in a positive direction for better learning.

Ms. Branco earned her degrees from the Notre Dame de Namur University in California (MBA) and the Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey (BA).  

Jay Smith
Director, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program
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Jay Smith is the inaugural Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. He leads the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, managing both its operational aspects as well as teaching and mentoring the living-learning student community members. As a Lecturer with Mtech, Mr. Smith designs and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in entrepreneurship and innovation, with a special focus on creativity and international business.
 
Mr. Smith joined the University of Maryland in 2010 after serving for five years as Associate Professor of the Inamori Academy of Kagoshima (National) University in southern Japan. At Kagoshima University, he developed and taught courses in venture business, entrepreneurship, business communications, and American business & culture in a program endowed by university alumnus and leading Japanese entrepreneur Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera Corporation, telecommunications firm DDI (now KDDI), and the Inamori Foundation, grantors of the Kyoto Prizes. Utilizing business presentations developed in his courses, his students have won both local and regional business plan competitions and have been top finalists in national student and open competitions.
 
Prior to entering academia, Mr. Smith worked for 14 years as a management consultant, investment banker and venture entrepreneur in New York, San Francisco and Tokyo. As a consultant, he successfully completed market development, operations, acquisition and strategy assignments in the U.S., Japan, Russia and Europe for major technology and industrial companies. As an investment banker with Jefferies & Company, he helped raise over $400 million for technology and media businesses, and evaluated numerous venture investment opportunities for the firm. In Tokyo during the 1990s, he co-founded a multi-million dollar technology, creative services, and media business, with a diverse multinational staff and clients including the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Compaq, IBM, and Motorola, and Japanese partners including an NTT subsidiary and Japan Telecom.
 
Mr. Smith holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he focused on entrepreneurship and the management of technology. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, with High Honors and a dual major in Economics and Physics, from Rutgers University.

Alyssa E. Cohen Sherman
Manager, Entrepreneurship Education
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Alyssa Cohen Sherman is the manager for entrepreneurship education at Mtech. In this role, Alyssa manages a wide range of Mtech educational initiatives, including the Minor in Technology Entrepreneurship and the Hinman CEOs Program. Alyssa brings to Mtech experience in program coordination, most recently directing the national accreditation program for an international nonprofit in Washington, D.C. Alyssa has advised established and developing nonprofits on strategic and organizational development issues, managed the process for more than $5 million in grant funding, and trained executives to prepare successful funding proposals. Alyssa earned a master of social work degree at the University of Michigan and holds a B.A. from Suffolk University. When she is not traveling, Alyssa lives in Alexandria with her husband and daughter.

Dr. Thomas J. Mierzwa
Lecturer, Technology Entrepreneurship

Dr. Mierzwa has more than 20 years of teaching experience at University of Maryland and other universities, where he has taught courses in strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. This includes teaching with Mtech’s Hinman CEOs Program, Minor in Technology Entrepreneurship, and Master of Technology Entrepreneurship, and the Gemstone Program in the Honors College.

His teaching philosophy centers on building student competency through course design and teaching exercises, and his research interests include innovation processes, opportunity recognition, design thinking and conceptual tools for learning objects. Dr. Mierzwa founded The Fountainhead Group, a team of specialists who conduct innovation audits, and is the founder of Creative Agreements, a professional services firm that uses a mediation approach to form working agreements among business owners during venture start-ups. He serves on advisory boards of several Maryland businesses. At the Academy of Management, he chairs a committee on non-traditional academics and is active on the Teaching Theme Committee. He is also a board member of the Executive DBA Council, an institution of member schools fostering development of practitioner-scholar doctoral programs worldwide.

Dr. Mierzwa earned a Doctor of Public Administration in strategic management from the University of Southern California and a masters in urban design from Harvard University.

Michael J. Pratt
Lecturer, Technology Entrepreneurship

Michael Pratt teaches and mentors students in Mtech’s Hinman CEOs Program, Minor in Technology Entrepreneurship, and the General Education Program of the University.

Michael’s career spans 35 years in management and finance, in both domestic and international organizations, and almost two decades in startups and venture capital, having raised over $100 million for eleven different startup ventures. Michael is the co-founder and Managing Partner in Select Venture Partners LLC, an early stage, post-seed/pre-Series A investment management firm. Prior to co-founding Select, Michael was co-founder and CEO of SpydrSafe Mobile Security, Inc., a mobile application security management platform that safeguarded enterprise data by controlling apps on smartphones and tablets (iOS and Android). SpydrSafe was acquired in February 2014. Prior to SpydrSafe, Michael was COO of CardStar, Inc., a mobile loyalty company sold to Constant Contact (NASDAQ: CTCT). From 2006 to 2010, Michael was the CFO/COO of Trust Digital, Inc., a venture-backed Mobile Device Management company sold to McAfee (NYSE: MFE). Prior to Trust, Michael was CFO of Galt Associates, Inc., a venture-backed software company sold to Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ: CERN) in July 2006. Michael's earlier professional experience includes CEO of CrossMedia Networks Corp.; CEO of Point of Care Technologies (sold to Siemens Healthcare in 1999); various senior finance and operating roles with Mobil Corporation, including President and General Manager of three Mobil subsidiaries. Michael began his professional career with Arthur Andersen & Co.

Michael holds a BS in Finance from East Carolina University, an MBA from Massey University in New Zealand, and an MS in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University.

Cindy Gilbert
Program Management Specialist, Hinman CEOs Program
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