Board of Advisors

Jay Ash


Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Secretary Ash is responsible for directing and executing Governor Charlie Baker’s agenda on housing and community development, job creation, business development, consumer affairs, and business regulation. He previously served as the city manager in his native Chelsea, a position he held from 2000 to 2014. In Chelsea, Secretary Ash’s leadership produced both economic expansion and fiscal stability. He grew the city’s housing stock by over ten percent, expanded its commercial base with two dozen major projects, led all Gateway Cities with a 15% increase in new employment, developed 10 new parks, secured five credit rating increases, and won two All-America City designations for Chelsea. Secretary Ash has led statewide initiatives on health insurance, youth violence, transportation infrastructure and expanded gaming in Massachusetts. He previously served as co-founder and vice-chair of the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, as past president of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, as a board member of the public policy think tank MassINC, the staff director to the Massachusetts House Majority Leader, and as an elected trustee of his alma mater, Clark University.


Alicia Barton

Alicia Barton, MassCEC CEO

As Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Alicia Barton is responsible for leading MassCEC’s efforts to accelerate the success of the clean energy technology sector in Massachusetts.

Since her appointment as CEO in August, 2012, Alicia has driven MassCEC’s efforts to provide support for all aspects of the sector from early stage technology innovation, to clean energy project deployment and workforce development. Working in close coordination with the clean energy, environmental and economic development efforts of the Commonwealth, MassCEC’s programs have helped deliver record job growth in the clean energy technology sector, while seeing rapid expansion of clean energy projects throughout Massachusetts. Under Alicia’s leadership, MassCEC has grown its program offerings for businesses, communities and residences, expanded its focus to new areas like water innovation, and made history by breaking ground on the construction of the Massachusetts Marine Commerce Terminal – America’s first offshore wind facility.

Prior to joining MassCEC, Alicia held several appointments with the energy and environmental agencies of the Commonwealth. As Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Planning at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Alicia oversaw policy and regulatory matters for the agency, including clean air and water, climate change, wetlands and coastal issues, and environmental permitting, and she lead several priority efforts at the agency including MassDEP’s Action Plan for Regulatory Reform and the MassDEP Clean Energy Results Program.

Alicia also served as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Review, Director of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office and Deputy General Counsel at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Prior to joining the Patrick Administration in 2007, Alicia spent several years as an attorney with the Boston law firm Foley Hoag LLP in their environmental law practice. She obtained her Bachelors of Science from The Ohio State University and completed her law degree at Boston College Law School.

Passionate about clean energy and climate issues, Alicia works daily at MassCEC to make the case that by working together, we can make progress in tackling global climate change while building a clean energy economy for the long term.
Her passion for climate issues is rivaled only by her passion for the Ohio State Buckeyes and her Cincinnati hometown sports teams.


Jerry Bird

Walter M. (Jerry) Bird, President

Jerry is the president of MassVentures, a firm he joined in 2005. He has over 25 years of experience advising and financing entrepreneurial-driven companies, the past 18 in venture capital. Throughout his professional career, Jerry has operated both as an investor and an active partner to entrepreneurs building their companies. His direct investment experience covers dozens of companies and in many cases as the lead or co-lead investor. Several of these companies were acquired by significant publicly-traded companies. Among the companies Jerry has been on the board of are e-Travel (acquired by Oracle), (Nasdaq: ANDV, purchased by VA Linux), LinkSoft Technologies (purchased by QuadraMed), NexCen Technologies (purchased by UCMS), and Bitpipe Inc. (purchased by TechTarget).


John Brooks

John L. Brooks, III

John L. Brooks is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Joslin Diabetes Center located in Boston, the world’s leading diabetes research, clinical care, and education organization. Joslin’s global mission is to prevent, treat, and cure diabetes and its complications. Our efforts improve the lives of people with diabetes or at risk of diabetes worldwide, and we actively work with collaborators across the world to deliver impactful and transformational solutions.

Mr. Brooks is a well-known life sciences executive. He has co-founded four life sciences companies, including Insulet, a disruptive insulin delivery company. He had been a principal of Healthcare Capital Consulting LLC, which advised early-stage life sciences companies, and he was a founder of Prism Venture Partners, a venture capital firm.

Previously, Mr. Brooks was a general manager at Pfizer/Valleylab, where he was responsible for Pfizer’s Hospital Products Group’s minimally invasive surgery and new medical technologies business. As President/General Manager at Pfizer/Strato, he led the growth of a rapidly evolving vascular access medical device business.

A native of Massachusetts, he holds an M.S. in Business and a B.B.A. cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and he is a Certified Public Accountant.



Holly Flesh

 Holly Flesh, COO, Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC)

Holly Flesh is Chief of Operations at CIC (f/k/a Cambridge Innovation Center), the largest cluster of startups in the world. Prior to this, she was Principal with Cleantech Catalyst Advisors, a consulting firm, and President of Innoventé USA, a biomass-to-energy company. She co-founded GreenFuel Technologies, the first algae-to-biofuels company, and led the company’s business operations from inception to exit. Holly’s interest in cleantech was kindled by her wish to help the US achieve energy independence. Holly’s BA and MPH degrees are from UCLA.


Marty Jones

Marty Jones, President and CEO

After spending decades in the real-estate industry, Marty Jones became MassDevelopment’s first female president and CEO in May 2011. She has set new priorities for the Agency, the Commonwealth’s quasi-public economic-development authority, to leverage its investments in focusing on promoting affordable housing, protecting the state’s six military installations, and creating new opportunities in advanced manufacturing. At the same time, Jones serves as an inspiration for women in the finance and real estate industries.
During her tenure, Jones has spearheaded development of several new loan products at the Agency, including financing to support hiring at manufacturing and emerging technology companies; played a key role in the Patrick Administration’s Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force; and overseen more than $5 billion in investment in the Massachusetts economy. Jones has also overseen a new signature real estate project at the Agency: an expansion of the Myles Standish Industrial Park in Taunton with a focus on the Commonwealth’s vital life sciences industry. Finally, under her leadership, MassDevelopment has organized a series of first-in-the-state regional academies for local officials and leaders to discuss best practices in economic development.
Prior to MassDevelopment, Jones was president of Boston building, development, and property management company Corcoran Jennison where she managed staff and project teams for new development projects that transformed communities, directed asset management for multifamily portfolios, chaired a joint venture between Corcoran Jennison and Beacon Communities, and directed all aspects of the Westminster Company, a 175-employee operation with 66 properties and 5,000 apartment units in North and South Carolina.
Jones got her start at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in both the Washington and Boston offices. A member of the Board of Directors of MassEcon and the New England Council, and a national trustee of the Urban Land Institute, Jones graduated from Brown University and resides in Winchester.


Larkin 2-15

Patrick J. Larkin

Patrick Larkin is Founder and Director of the Innovation Institute, the economic development division of the MassTech Collaborative (MassTech), one of the nation’s first state agencies to focus on innovation-based economic development. The Innovation Institute at MassTech collaborates across sectors and regions to support the Commonwealth’s Innovation Economy, by creating conditions for the ecocnomic growth which drives jobs, startups, and business expansion.

A nationally recognized economic development organization, the Innovation Institute’s efforts include playing a leading role in facilitating innovation-driven economic growth in Gateway Cities through nimble public sector investments and customized, on-the-ground intervention to seed the conditions for sustainable economic growth. The Innovation Institute has been chartered since 2012 by Governor Deval Patrick with leading the Massachusetts’ Big Data Initiative which focuses on expanding the Commonwealth’s Big Data ecosystem, exploiting the local research and university resources through novel collaboration, and developing the big data workforce of the future.

As innovation Institute Director, Pat also oversees many technology and research cluster development projects on behalf of MassTech, including the Collaborative Research Matching Grant Program, a $50 million matching grants fund that supports key opportunities to strengthen and expand the state’s innovation economy, with a focus on industry clusters and improving competitive positions.


Lita Nelsen

Lita L. Nelsen, MIT

Lita Nelsen is the director of the Technology Licensing Office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she has been since 1986. The office manages over 400 new inventions a year from M.I.T., the Whitehead Institute, and Lincoln Laboratory. Typically, they negotiate more than 100 licenses and start over 20 new companies annually.

Prior to joining the M.I.T. Technology Licensing Office, Ms. Nelsen spent 20 years in industry, primarily in the fields of membrane separations, medical devices, and biotechnology at such companies as Amicon, Millipore, Arthur D. Little, Inc., and Applied Biotechnology.

Ms. Nelsen was the 1992 president of the Association of University Technology Managers. She serves on the board the Mount Auburn Hospital and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Foundation. She is the intellectual property advisor to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and is a founding and current board member of the Center for Management of Intellectual Property in Health Research.

She is widely published in the field of technology transfer and university/ industry collaborations. She was a CMI Fellow at the University of Cambridge with the Cambridge MIT Institute, studying university/ industry/ government partnerships in technology transfer and local economic development. She is a co-founder of Praxis, the UK University Technology Transfer Training Programme.

Ms. Nelsen earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from M.I.T. and an M.S. in Management from M.I.T. as a Sloan Fellow.

Kevin O’Sullivan

Kevin is the President and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, a private economic development organization that promotes the growth and expansion of the Biotechnology, Medical Device and Bioinformatics industry. MBI operates four life science business incubator facilities in Worcester home to over twenty companies with approximately 100 employees, providing cost effective laboratory space and high quality business development and commercialization services. He previously served as Vice President and Director of Marketing in a combined public/private partnership position with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the City of Worcester where he instituted a comprehensive business and industry development and recruitment plan and was also charged with the opening of the new Convention Center at the DCU Center.

From 1986 to 1994 he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. While serving in the Legislature, he chaired the Committee on Redistricting, was Vice Chair of Ethics, and sat on the Ways and Means Committee. In the Legislature, he championed the Biomedical industry and was a co- sponsor in enacting the Emerging Technology Fund, Investment Tax Credit, and Tax Increment Financing legislation. He was also the Co-Founder and Chair of the Central Mass Legislative Caucus.

He served on the Worcester Business Development Corporation and was part of the development team which created the highly successful one million square foot Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park. Kevin is the former Chair of the City of Worcester’s License Commission and is a member of the Reliant Medical Group Board of Trustees. Kevin, who lives in Worcester, is also active in many civic and community activities, serving as the volunteer Chair of the 2012/2013 Central Mass United Way Fundraising Campaign.



Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D.
President & CEO

Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister is the first President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), a quasi-public organization charged with administering the 10-year $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative enacted by the Massachusetts Legislature in June 2008. The MLSC is the hub for all sectors of the Commonwealth’s life sciences community – biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical diagnostics and bioinformatics.

Before assuming her role at the MLSC, Dr. Windham-Bannister co-founded Abt Bio-Pharma Solutions (ABS), a boutique consulting firm serving life sciences companies. Within ABS, Dr. Windham-Bannister managed the Commercial Strategy Group.

Dr. Windham-Bannister has co-authored two books:  Competitive Strategy for Health Care Organizations, and Medicaid and Other Experiments in State Health Policy. She also has written numerous articles on competition in today’s health care marketplace.

Dr. Windham-Bannister received a B.A. from Wellesley College, a doctorate in health policy and management from the Florence Heller School at Brandeis University, and a Doctor of Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2012 (honoris causa). She completed her doctoral work under a fellowship from the Ford Foundation and was also a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School.



Abigail A. Barrow

Dr. Abigail Barrow is the Founding Director of the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC). She is responsible for the overall management of the MTTC and the development of its programs.

Prior to joining the MTTC, Dr. Barrow served as managing director of  William J. von Liebig Center at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). The von Liebig Center was created in 2001 to support the commercialization of research being performed in the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering. She has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Center for the Commercialization of Advanced Technologies Consortium (CCAT), which assisted in the identification and commercialization of technologies in the area of crisis and consequence management and received more than $25 million in federal funding from the Office of Naval Research.

Dr. Barrow worked in a variety of roles at  UCSD CONNECT from 1990 to 2001. At CONNECT, she developed and expanded many of its programs to support early-stage company formation and technology commercialization. The CONNECT program is now internationally recognized and has been successfully replicated in other regions of North America and in Europe.

Dr. Barrow is on the board and is Chair of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment (MOITI) and is on the board of the National Collegiate Inventors and innovators Alliance (NCIIA).  In addition, she is a Fellow of the Beyster Institute at the Rady School of Management at UCSD.

Dr. Barrow received her Ph.D. from the Science Studies Unit and a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh.


Tom Chmura

Tom Chmura is vice president for economic development for the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, serving on the staff of President Jack Wilson.

In this position, Mr. Chmura is responsible for promoting and coordinating the university’s role as a resource for economic development and building strategic alliances with industry and state agencies engaged in economic and workforce development. He oversees the work of the university’s Office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (including the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center ) and the UMass Donahue Institute (the president’s outreach and public service arm).

During his tenure at the university, Mr. Chmura has played a leadership role in developing a variety of system-wide initiatives, particularly in the areas of research, development and innovation; technology commercialization and entrepreneurship; strategic workforce development; and economic planning, research and analysis.

Mr. Chmura has more than 25 years of experience in economic development. Prior to coming to the university, he served as vice president for economic development of the Greater Baltimore Committee, a regional business leadership group. In Baltimore, he led efforts to create the Greater Baltimore High Tech Forum, forge closer ties between academia and industry, and establish a regional economic development strategy focused on the life sciences.

In addition, he worked for almost a decade as a senior consultant at SRI International (Stanford Research Institute) in Menlo Park, CA. While at SRI, he led a national study on the role of higher education in economic development and was the principal author of the book The Higher Education-Economic Development Connection, published by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Mr. Chmura holds a B.S. in management engineering and an M.S. in urban and environmental studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.