Staff Bios

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Katie Chalker LinkedIn Icon
Events Coordinator

As the Events Coordinator for the Michigan State University Foundation and Spartan Innovations, Katie is responsible for the development, organization, and execution of both organizations’ dynamic events. Passionate about fostering deeper engagement and promoting MSU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, she oversees workshops, speaker series, and networking opportunities attended by Michigan State students, faculty, and staff, as well as members from the Greater Lansing Area’s community.

Prior to Spartan Innovations, Katie worked as part of ESPN’s events staff, planning the organization’s owned-and-operated college football and basketball events. She graduated from Michigan State University, in spring 2016, with a BA in Communication and Public Relations.

Lori Fischer LinkedIn Icon
Events & Student Program Manager, Spartan Innovations

Lori earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from St. Cloud University in St. Cloud, MN. Her background includes the graphic design field as well as experience in office management, accounting, human resources, marketing, management and startup opportunities. Lori assisted in establishing the new Spartan Innovations office in 2012 and now works with the MSU student Hatch program and the Fellows program. Lori also coordinates and manages numerous entrepreneurial events in collaboration with MSU, students, local community initiatives and the State of Michigan.

Paul Jaques LinkedIn Icon
Director of Student & Community Engagement

Paul Jaques is the Director of Student & Community Engagement at Spartan Innovations.  In this role, Paul works with students at MSU to take their ideas from the very beginning stage to market.  He runs MSU’s student incubator, The MSU Hatch, as well as the Conquer Accelerator Program. Paul champions other roles in addition to his work at Spartan Innovations. He is the CEO of a recruiting firm, WeConnectTalent. COO of SPC Innovations, which created Brickshield, a semi-permanent adhesive for plastic brick toys. He is a member of the Altruis investment fund, and recently authored a children’s book, “Best Friend Dad”.

Prior to his role at Spartan Innovations, Paul was the Associate Director of Business and Career Engagement for MSU Career Services. Paul is the co-creator of Greenlight Michigan, The Burgess New Venture Challenge, Art Alley, NeoCenter, YSG, and the Hatching.  Paul earned his Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and PR from Grand Valley State University and his Master’s degree Public Relations at Michigan State University.

Neil Kane LinkedIn Icon
Director, Undergraduate Entrepreneurship

Neil Kane, the quintessential serial entrepreneur, is a leading authority on technology commercialization, entrepreneurship and innovation. He is the former co-Executive Director of the Illinois Technology Enterprise Center at Argonne National Laboratory and was Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University. He has been the CEO of startup companies in areas as diverse as consumer packaged goods, toys, nanotechnology, Internet marketplaces, medical diagnostics and energy storage.

He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from The University of Chicago. He attended graduate school at the Australian Graduate School of Management and studied in Japan on a scholarship from JETRO. Named a 2007 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, he twice attended their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. He has been recognized for Outstanding Entrepreneurship by the National Science Foundation and twice was an invited witness on technology transfer for the U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Research & Science Education. He was also a mentor in the very first cohort of NSF’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program taught by Steve Blank at Stanford University. He has been a contributor to Forbes on topics related to startups and leadership.

Desireé Melfi Bozzo LinkedIn Icon
Communications Manager, Undergraduate Entrepreneurship

Desireé Melfi Bozzo serves as the Communications Manager for Undergraduate Entrepreneurship and Innovation, overseeing the overarching strategy and execution of the program’s communications, including social, digital and print media. An impassioned student advocate, Desireé promotes undergraduate student academic achievements and career development. Her marketing, sales, digital design and photography skills have been honed by her work in higher education as well as the sports and entertainment industries. Desireé earned both her degrees from Michigan State: A Bachelor of Fine Art in Graphic Design and Photography and a Master of Arts in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she spent half a year studying and traveling in Italy, offering her a deep understanding of culture and art abroad. Before joining the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship and Innovation team, she provided student mentorship services, coordinated undergraduate student outreach and engagement and oversaw social media strategy within the MSU Neighborhoods.

In addition to her current role, Desireé is the Staff Advisor to MSU Future Leaders in Sports and Entertainment (FLISE). It is a student organization, founded in 2007, focused on career development and connecting students to professionals in the sports and entertainment industry. She is a mentor in the Faculty/Staff Mentor Program for the MSU Football Program. She also teaches an undergraduate seminar course that introduces students to Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Aaryn Richard LinkedIn Icon
Communications Manager, MSU Foundation

Aaryn serves as the Communications Manager for the Michigan State University Foundation and its subsidiaries. A committed storyteller, he connects community stakeholders with vibrant content, focusing the spotlight on the hard work of MSU’s faculty, researchers, and student entrepreneurs. Although a strict adherent to the Chicago Manual of Style, he’s still permitted to talk to the press and serve as a mentor for the Conquer Accelerator.

A Michigan native, Aaryn earned his Bachelor of Arts in English and Literature from Central Michigan University. Discovering that Mount Pleasant is a misnomer, Aaryn moved to Colorado to hike actual mountains. He earned his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Colorado State University.

Christopher Sell LinkedIn Icon
Director of Alumni and Entrepreneur Engagement

Chris is a business developer, alumni relations officer, project manager, and career educator. At his core, he’s passionate about creating community and connecting people to opportunity. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University (BA, 2007) and completed his Master’s degree (MA) in Higher Education Administration at Michigan State University in 2010. In his current role at MSU, Chris serves as the Director of Alumni and Entrepreneur Engagement, with a dual appointment to the MSU Innovation Center and the MSU Alumni Association. In this position, he leads alumni outreach efforts to build advocacy and support for MSU’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, while connecting alumni and entrepreneurs to campus speaking opportunities, advisory roles, and student startup mentoring opportunities at the University.

Chris is also the Founder and Executive Director of Lansing 5:01, a non-profit organization that aims to retain and attract emerging talent to the Lansing region through marketing initiatives, unique events, and programming that showcase the community’s value proposition as a destination city for college graduates and returning professionals.

Ken Szymusiak LinkedIn Icon
Managing Director, Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Broad College of Business

Ken Szymusiak is Managing Director of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (Burgess IEI) at the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.  The Burgess IEI is charged with developing and supporting entrepreneurship within the business college, as well as throughout the university student body of Michigan State University, through the development of curriculum, events, and entrepreneurial support structures. Additionally, Ken teaches coursework focused on entrepreneurial mindset, small business creation and management, and business model development. Ken also manages the Gaynor Entrepreneurship Lab, an innovative student “idea laboratory” assisting students in moving business concepts from idea to market. He also serves as faculty advisor for the following student organizations: MSU Entrepreneurship Association, Phi Chi Theta business fraternity, and MSU Design for America.

Ken earned his Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University and his MBA from Northwood University. Prior to joining MSU Ken had a career in economic development and real estate, and he and his wife founded and operated a successful retail business for over seven years prior to selling the company.

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