Meet the da Vinci Center Team

We are a small and mighty team, each highly passionate and driven to imagine the future of higher education. Our staff are just like our students in that we work collaboratively and across disciplines to serve our students and partners. We work tirelessly to ensure that our students are better prepared to engage in an increasingly global world because they have developed the skills and tools necessary to engage in difficult dialog, to disagree, to reframe failure, and make change.

Garret Westlake, Ph.D.

Associate Vice Provost in Innovation
Professor
Executive Director

Pronouns: he, him, his

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Executive Director, Garret Westlake headshot

Allison Schumacher

Director of Academic Alchemy
Certified Scrum Master

Pronouns: she, her, hers

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Director of Academic Alchemy, Allison Schumacher headshot

Lloyd Young

Director of Innovation and Design,
VCU da Vinci Center and SHIFT Retail Lab

Pronouns: she, her, hers

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Director of Innovation and Design, Lloyd Young headshot

Andrew Ilnicki

Director of Digital Innovation

Pronouns: he, him, his

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Andrew Ilnicki headshot

Mary-Chris Escobar

Associate Director of Student Success

Pronouns: she, her, hers

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Associate Director of Student Success, Mary-Chris Escobar headshot

Kelsey Steenburgh

Community and Corporate Relations Program Manager

Pronouns: she, her, hers

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Coordinator of External Affairs, Kelsey Steenburgh headshot

Erika Boltz

Communications Specialist

Pronouns: they, them, theirs

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Communications Specialist, Erika Boltz headshot

Tyrone Frye

Experiential Learning Coordinator
SHIFT Retail Lab Liaison

Pronouns: he, him, his

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Tyrone Frye, Experiential Learning Coordinator and Shift Retail Lab Liaison

Stephanie Danis

Office Manager
Certified Scrum Master

Pronouns: she, her, hers

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Stephanie Danis headshot

Adria Dunn

Business Manager

Pronouns: she, her, hers

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Adria Dunn headshot

da Vinci in Residencies

In-Residence positions are an integral part of the VCU da Vinci Center curriculum. They are the practitioners who link our students with the community and local entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. Rather than solely being driven by academic achievement or research accolades, our in-residence partners are selected based on the power of their community work and their innovative approaches as practitioners in bridging the divide between design, education and real world operation.

Ideator in Residence

Todd B. Waldo
Founder and Principal Consultant at Hugh Helen LLC

Pronouns: he, him, his

Todd B. Waldo is the Founder and Principal Consultant for Hugh Helen LLC,  a team of passionate problem solvers developing solutions for client success and social good.

As a strategic partner, Hugh Helen comes alongside executives and their teams for the deep, transformational work that moves organizations forward towards their vision and outcomes building consensus along the way.

The result is a strategic system grounded in empathy and affirmed with data. Practice areas include economic development, executive leadership, operations and technology.

Todd Waldo headshot

Founder In Residence 

April Palmer

Pronouns: she, her, hers

During her corporate career, April was a top sales performer for multiple Fortune 100 companies across different industries, driving double-digit growth across six- and seven-figure portfolios year over year. Today, April uses her success across multiple industries to help "want to" preneurs become "entrepreneurs" by building strategies centered at the intersection of Finance, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Experience. Her specialty is helping organizations achieve the growth needed to secure investor funding and establish their footprint in the marketplace.

April will teach Venture 460 and mentor for INNO 651 this Spring.

 

April Palmer headshot

Innovator In Residence 

Gopa Nair

Pronouns: he, him, his

Gopa brings over 25 years of experience in Innovation, Product Management, Change Management, Automation and digital transformation. He is skilled at leveraging technical and operational capabilities to re-engineer, re-invent and optimize processes to yield the highest efficiency and cost benefits. Gopa is a change agent and transformational leader who understands the unmet needs of the customer and employees and utilizes tools of design thinking, agile and lean methodologies to create the desired organizational transformation. He shares his expertise by providing entrepreneurship training to small businesses through a local non- profit organization.

Gopa teaches Innovation, Change Management and Design Thinking at VCU da Vinci center as an adjunct faculty.

 

Gopa Nair, Innovator-in-Residence

Adjunct Faculty

We are fortunate to have a rock star group of adjunct instructors that partner with us to bring their industry expertise to our students.

William Benton
VNTR 300: VENTURE CREATION SKILLS

Mary Chris Escobar
INNO 200: INTRO TO INNO & VENTURE CREATN

Todd B. Waldo
INNO 210: THE INNOVATION INTERSECTION: INDUSTRY AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Tabitha Geary
INNO 223: INTRO TO BUSINESS PRINC

Katie Gilstrap
INNO 460: PRODUCT INNOVATION

Andrew Ilnicki
INNO 460: PRODUCT INNOVATION

Andrew Indelicato, MFA
INNO 221: INTRO TO ARTS & DESIGN PRINC

Corell Moore, Ph.D.
INNO 225: INTRO TO ENGINEER & TECH PRINC

April Palmer
VNTR 460: VENTURE CREATION PROJECT

Joseph Ruiz
HCDN 351: INTRO TO HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN

Lloyd Young
HCDN 353: HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN THROUGH SERVICE LEARNING