Our People



The initiatives offered by the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership are delivered by a community of practitioner experts, faculty thought-leaders, and student instigators. We work closely together in an effort to incorporate student priorities, practitioner savvy, and research evidence into all of our offerings. We look forward to meeting you!


  • Aaron McKenny

    Aaron McKenny is an Assistant Professor of Management at the University of Central Florida. His research is primarily focused in entrepreneurship and strategic management with a special emphasis on the involvement of social and other non-economic phenomena in organizational settings (e.g., crowdfunding, social entrepreneurship, family business).

  • Allen Thompson

    Previously the founder of Inside and O.U.T. Fitness, Allen Thompson is the Director of Product Development for RIP-IT Sports. Allen oversees the development of new RIP-IT product ideas and works with various departments to ensure their feasibility. Allen is eager to use his years of experience with startups to coach UCF's student entrepreneurs.

  • Andreas Foukaris

    Andreas is majoring in Finance and is a hard working individual with aspirations to help engage people in creating entrepreneurial endeavors in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

  • Brant Gatus

    Brant is a Finance major with professional experience with Pershing, a BNY Mellon Company and PNC Bank. He is also the Vice President of the Financial Management Association, the Presidential Advisor for the Association of Latino Professionals for America, and a co-founder of Wall Street Knights.

  • Brynleigh Benak

    Brynleigh is an energetic Marketing major and is a current member of UCF's Professional Selling Program. As the Student Coordinator for the CEL, her specialties are event coordination and managing communication channels.

  • Cameron Ford

    Cameron Ford is the Founding Director of UCF’s Center for Entrepreneurial Learning. Since it’s conception in 2004, Cameron has served as the Executive Director of the CEL and is credited with bringing the contagious entrepreneurial culture and spirit to UCF and its student body.

  • Chauncey Chavis

    Chauncey is a Human Communication major whose passions are culture and fine arts. Her goal is to change the worlds perspective on creativity. She is currently working on her first non-profit called "Daughters of the Most High" to assist low-income high school seniors who cannot afford the glitz of prom.

  • Christopher Leo

    Lead Faculty member in the University of Central Florida's College of Business that specializes in Management, Strategy, Business Technology and Leadership.

  • Danielle Adoghe

    Danielle studies Political Science and has been involved with fashion ventures since she was twelve. She is currently working on Rapunzl, a hairstyling website.

  • Danya Shea

    “Shea” serves as the Chief Activator within the CEL’s Blackstone Launchpad. A self-described “womentrepreneur”, Shea co-founded weVENTURE to pursue her calling to empower and prepare women entrepreneurs in the Orlando, Florida Area. Shea has a passion for modern business design and product co-creation and is anxious to use her knowledge to benefit our student ventures.

  • Devin Burnell

    Devin is a graduate student studying Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has a research interest in entrepreneurial learning and education. He hopes to serve entrepreneurs on their journeys to success through evidence-based methods.

  • Diana Latour

    Diana LaTour is the Founder and Managing Partner of LaTour & Associates, a consulting firm of senior level business executives focused on assisting emerging companies to build effective and efficient organizations positioned for rapid growth and early profitability.

  • Dylan Weitzman

    Dylan is both a startup coach with the Blackstone Launchpad and a student entrepreneur. Dylan is a strong proponent of the Lean Startup Methodology and has used his skills and insights to launch Thor O.R.E., a nanofiltration system for rare earth extractions from mining waste streams.

  • Felicia Griffith

    Felicia is a Business Management student who is on the Entrepreneurship track. She is a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success and works as an event planner for the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

  • Frank Tamberelli

    Frank's background is in international banking and has managed global organizations in some of the country’s largest corporations. Hehas also owned several successful small businesses and has been a college business instructor for more than twenty years.

  • James Combs

    Jim is the Della Phillips Martha Schenck Chair of American Private Enterprise at the University of Central Florida. Jim’s research interests are primarily in the areas of franchising, family business, research synthesis, and executive compensation. Jim teaches entrepreneurship and strategic management at the doctoral and undergraduate levels.

  • Jason Polstein

    Jason Polstein is the Co-Founder and CEO of RIP-IT Sports and Co-Founder of LateShipment.com. Previously a freelancer with ESPN, Jason departed ESPN to focus his energies on RIP-IT. RIP-IT empowers girls to believe in themselves through thoughtfully designed products that instill confidence and courage. RIP-IT designs products for softball players with dreams.

  • Jesse Wolfe

    UCF alumni and entrepreneur Jesse Wolfe is the founder and CEO of O'Dang Hummus. Jesse started at the Blackstone Launchpad making hummus in his dorm and would later go on to sell at local farmer's markets. After appearing on Shark Tank, Jesse's line of delicious hummus dressing skyrocketed to fame in grocery stores and the Orlando community.

  • Joe Sleppy

    Joe is a UCF Student and startup coach with the Blackstone Launchpad. During his coaching sessions, Joe draws on his experience as the founder of his two companies: SleppSolutions and Capacitech Energy. Joe’s latest venture even secured the win in UCF’s latest Joust competition.

  • Jonathan Ungar

    Jonathan is a graphic design major. When not developing logos and other digital designs, he enjoys drawing and illustrating as a means of realizing his creative visions.

  • Kody McDow

    Kody is a student at UCF and has been involved with the implementation of emerging technology such as the VR headsets and 3D printer in the StarterSpace. He participates in research on campus and plans to begin his Master’s degree at UCF in the Fall.

  • Kourtney Dinkins

    Kourtney serves as the Operations Manager for the Blackstone LaunchPad UCF. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree from the Florida State University. Kourtney has experience in program development, event management, and human resource coordination.

  • Mariya Klymenko

    Mariya is a Hospitality Management Major with a burning passion to help others. She is a researcher for the Center of Entrepreneurial Leadership and is thankful for this position. She is truly proud of all the entrepreneurs and their works geared to better the world!

  • Matthew Polstein

    Equipped with a Business Law degree from the University of Florida, Matthew Polstein began serving as President of RIP-IT Sports in 2003. Matthew specializes in Intellectual Property Law and Grass-Roots marketing and is eager to use his experience to coach young UCF entrepreneurs.

  • Michael Pape

    A seasoned entrepreneur, Mike Pape is the Director of the CEL’s Upstart Student Venture Accelerator. In addition to seeing many of UCF’s student ventures through to fruition, Mike Pape has co-founded several life science companies, including Esperion Therapeutics and Nymirum. Pape’s success led to his inclusion in the book How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America.

  • Nicole Grinsell

    Nicole is a UCF student and startup coach with the Blackstone Launchpad. Nicole likes to design website templates and work on Android app ideas in her spare time. Additionally, Nicole founded the “Ladies Talk Startup Group” to offer women a safe environment to discuss entrepreneurship, ideas, and struggles that accompany the business world.

  • Oscar Rodriguez

    Oscar is a seasoned business executive, technologist and innovator, having held positions as president & CEO in both NASDAQ-listed and private U.S. technology firms. He is experienced in setting market vision and strategy, with a focus on execution and growth in both new ventures and public high-technology companies

  • Richard Quinn

    Richard joined the Management Department in 1999. While at Eastman Kodak, he was responsible for managing Office Imaging’s Document Imaging Systems business unit within the U.S. and Canada, including execution of U.S. and Canadian markets annual operating plan and development of pricing, promotion, and channel strategies.

  • Ryan Bealey

    Ryan is a passionate web developer and life-long learner, eager to set new businesses up with everything they need for a modern and engaging online presence.

  • Scarletta Thomas-Johnson

    Scarletta studies communication and political science as a senior at UCF and has a passion for non-profit work. When she is not working with community relations within the LaunchPad, she is using her mentorship skills at the Startup Sandbox Entrepreneurial dorm on campus.

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