Speaker Bios

Showcase your expertise in this year’s Poster Walk competition, exploring the theme of  “Transforming the Workforce: Trends and Challenges in the Manufacturing Industry.”

David
Bridges

Vice President, Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Institute of Technology.

David Bridges is the Vice President of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. EI2 is the largest, oldest, and most successful economic development organization at any university in the country. It is home to more than a dozen economic development programs which (1) build and scale startups, (2) grow existing small and medium-sized enterprises, including manufacturing firms, and (3) energize ecosystem builders (communities, governments, universities, and non-profits).

These programs serve the State of Georgia, with programmatic reach across the Southeast region, the United States, and five continents around the world.

Prior to his appointment as vice president, Bridges was director of the Economic Development Lab (EDL) within EI2. EDL works with communities in Georgia on projects such as workforce development, fiscal and economic impact analyses, strategic planning, and downtown redevelopment. This lab also works globally and has conducted innovation policy research and implemented innovation ecosystem building projects in 23 countries around the world.

Since joining the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1994, Bridges has worked in various practice areas serving manufacturing firms, national labs, international governments, and innovation ecosystems. He has been a Principal or Co-Principal Investigator on over $20 million in grants and has authored, co-authored, or significantly contributed to over $40 million in winning proposals. Bridges has won over 100 proposals from U.S. federal agencies, plus universities, governments, and non-profits from around the world. He is a Principal Research Faculty member and a frequent lecturer and keynote speaker in China, South Africa, and across Latin America on nascent, innovation ecosystem building.

Prior to joining EI², he was a general management consultant and a brand manager at three consumer package goods companies. Bridges has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Emory University and a Master of Science in Marketing from Georgia State University.

Donna
Ennis

Director, Diversity Engagement and Program Development Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2)

Donna M. Ennis, provides leadership across all EI2 units to develop collaborative funding opportunities and provide support and services to ensure the integration of diversity and inclusion into EI2’s programs and operations. She co-leads the Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Technology Corridor (Georgia AIM) project funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. 

Georgia AIM leverages a statewide network of partners to fulfill its mission of the equitable development and deployment of talent and innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) for all manufacturing sectors.  Ennis also serves as the director of Community Engagement for Georgia AIM to ensure that the project is inclusive across all communities throughout Georgia. Through innovation, collaboration, education, and participation, Georgia AIM is providing the tools and knowledge to empower all communities to participate fully in a diverse AI manufacturing workforce.

 

Ennis is the current operator representative and former project director for the Georgia Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center and the SE MBDA Business Growth Hub. In this role, she provides strategic direction and operational oversight for the Center and the Business Growth Hub and business assistance to Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). Under Ennis’ leadership, the MBDA programs have assisted companies in generating over $6.4 billion in contracts, financing, and sales and creating or retaining more than 7,000 jobs. 

 

Known for her thought leadership and passion for advocating for and developing MBEs and small businesses, Ennis has been at the forefront of helping MBEs learn and understand the role that technology plays in scaling businesses. She established the NEXTTECH initiative for MBEs to bring technology solutions to federal agencies and corporations, launched the Specialty Trades Aiming at the Right Targets (START) to Build program for construction companies, and started the national MBE Manufacturers Summit in 2016, the only Summit of its kind in the U.S. to focus on bringing opportunities and education to MBE manufacturers across the country. Ennis has mentored hundreds of business owners and frequently presents to audiences on minority business issues, business challenges, and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

 

Ennis received her Master of Public Administration from Georgia State University and a B.S. in communications from Boston University. She received the 2022 Georgia Tech Diversity Champion Faculty Award and the 2022 Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President’s Partnership in the Promise Awards. She is the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Outstanding Voice awardee and one of Georgia Tech’s 2021 Faces of Inclusive Excellence. Ennis is also a graduate of the Leading Women@Tech program and has been named a tenured Atlanta’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence by the Atlanta Business League. She is on the Board of Directors of the Healthcare Supplier Diversity Alliance (HSDA) and the Atlanta Business League, and the Board of Advisors of Enhanced Capital. She is a mentor for Emory University’s Start: ME business accelerator and Georgia Tech’s MentorTech program.

Jennifer
Pasley

Project Director, Georgia MBDA Business Center, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute

Jennifer Pasley serves as the Project Director and manages the day-to-day operations for the Georgia Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center operated by the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce MBDA, the Center is part of a national network of centers and special projects serving Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) throughout the country.

Jennifer engages new and existing Center clients helping them to optimize and execute sustainable growth plans and strategies with an array of services including providing technical assistance, identifying contract opportunities, and sourcing capital. Her expertise includes developing capital stacks for major projects requiring conventional and creative financing to acquire commercial real estate and/or expand business operations. A notable experience in Jennifer’s career includes sourcing over $10MM in capital for small businesses, non-profit organizations, and churches during the pandemic.

Jennifer serves as the Vice President of Economic Development for the Greater South Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Advisory Committee Member, West End Merchants Alliance; and volunteer for the National Black Golf Hall of Fame. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Drury University and training certificates in economic development from Georgia Tech, Georgia Economic Developers Association, and the University of Oklahoma.

Aaron P.
Stebner, Ph.D

Co-Director, Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Corridor (Georgia AIM) Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering

Dr. Aaron Stebner works at the intersection of manufacturing, machine learning, materials, and mechanics. He co-directs the Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing (Georgia AIM) economic development corridor and is leading the design and implementation of the Georgia Tech AI Manufacturing Pilot Facility. Stebner joined the Georgia Tech faculty as an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering in 2020.

Aaron P. Stebner, Ph.D.

(he/him/his)

Co-Director, Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Corridor (Georgia AIM) Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering

Dr. Aaron Stebner works at the intersection of manufacturing, machine learning, materials, and mechanics. He co-directs the Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing (Georgia AIM) economic development corridor and is leading the design and implementation of the Georgia Tech AI Manufacturing Pilot Facility. Stebner joined the Georgia Tech faculty as an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering in 2020. He also served as the Deputy Editor for the journal, Additive Manufacturing. Previously, he was the Rowlinson Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the Colorado School of Mines (2013 – 2020), a postdoctoral scholar at the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology (2012 – 2013), a Lecturer in the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University (2009 – 2012), a Research Scientist at Telezygology Inc. establishing manufacturing and “internet of things” technologies for shape memory alloy-secured latching devices (2008-2009), a Research Fellow at the NASA Glenn Research Center developing smart materials technologies for morphing aircraft structures (2006 – 2008), and a Mechanical Engineer at the Electric Device Corporation in Canfield, OH developing manufacturing and automation technologies for the circuit breaker industry (1995 – 2000).

 

Stebner has won numerous awards, including a National Science Foundation (USA) CAREER award (2014), the Colorado School of Mines Researcher of the Year Award (2017), a Long-term Invitational Fellowship for Research from the Japan Society for the Preservation of Science (JSPS, 2019), and the Associate Professor Research Award from the G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech (2023).

 

Stebner serves as a board member of the ASM International Organization on Shape Memory and Superelastic Technologies (SMST) and an international advisory committee member of the International Conference on Martensitic Transformations (ICOMAT).

ERIC
TOLER

Executive Director
Georgia Cyber Innovation & Training Center


Colonel (Retired) Eric Toler joined Augusta University in 2018 as Executive Director of the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center (aka Georgia Cyber Center). Toler previously served in the U.S. Army as a Military Intelligence Officer, retiring with over 27 years of leadership and national security experience.

Eric Toler

(he/him/his)

Executive Director – Georgia Cyber Innovation & Training Center

Colonel (Retired) Eric Toler joined Augusta University in 2018 as Executive Director of the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center (aka Georgia Cyber Center). Toler previously served in the U.S. Army as a Military Intelligence Officer, retiring with over 27 years of leadership and national security experience.  During his military career, he was a pioneer in leading and developing cyberspace operations capabilities for the Army and Department of Defense, serving in key positions within Army Cyber Command, U.S. Cyber Command, and the National Security Agency.

In his role as Executive Director of the Georgia Cyber Center, Toler is responsible for fulfilling the mission of the Georgia Cyber Center to create an ecosystem of collaboration among government, academia, and private sector partners that helps solve the nation’s most challenging cybersecurity problems through innovative education, training, research and development, and practical applications.

In addition to numerous military schools and training, Toler holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Henderson State University, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas, and a Master of Science in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University. He has numerous military awards and decorations, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and two Bronze Star Medals.

John
McLain

Project Lead
Georgia AIM Cyber Innovation and Training Center


Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John McLain joined Augusta University, Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center (aka Georgia Cyber Center) in May of 2023 as the Project 4 Lead for Georgia AIM. McLain served in the U.S. Army as a Cyber Officer, retiring with over 28 years of leadership and cybersecurity experience. He is a seasoned Chief Information Security Officer, Network Operations Chief, and Senior Manager in various military and government technology and services environments.

John McLain

(he/him/his)

Project Lead – Georgia AIM Cyber Innovation and Training Center

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John McLain joined Augusta University, Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center (aka Georgia Cyber Center) in May of 2023 as the Project 4 Lead for Georgia AIM. McLain served in the U.S. Army as a Cyber Officer, retiring with over 28 years of leadership and cybersecurity experience. He is a seasoned Chief Information Security Officer, Network Operations Chief, and Senior Manager in various military and government technology and services environments. McLain specializes in managing cybersecurity change in large organizations that are both technology and business unit oriented. He has vast practical knowledge and a proven track record in a myriad of cybersecurity compliance methodologies, including but not limited to: the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), System Security Authorization Agreement (SSAA), DoD Information Technology Security Certification and Accreditation Process (DITSCAP), DoD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP), Risk Management Framework (RMF), Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

 

As the Project Lead for Georgia AIM, McLain is responsible for providing cost-effective cybersecurity site assistance visits to underserved manufacturing businesses to better protect them from global cyber threats. He is a thought leader and consensus builder with a track record of integrating people and processes to drive and implement cohesive cybersecurity strategies for global, complex, and diverse enterprise networks.

 

In addition to numerous military schools and training, McLain holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Lander University, a Master of Science in Government Information Leadership from the National Defense University, College of Information and Cyberspace, and is currently a Doctoral Candidate working towards his Doctor of Information Technology (concentrating in Cybersecurity) from Capella University.

 

Thomas L.
Davenport II

Managing Partner
Davenport Capital Management


A distinguished finance and investment professional with an illustrious career spanning over 20 years. His expertise encompasses a wide array of financial services, including investment banking, commercial lending, venture capital, and private equity. Known for his strategic insight and effective leadership, Thomas has built a reputation for successfully executing M&A transactions and spearheading operational growth initiatives across various sectors.

Thomas L. Davenport II

(he/him/his)

Managing Partner – Davenport Capital Management

Thomas L. Davenport II is a distinguished finance and investment professional with an illustrious career spanning over 20 years. His expertise encompasses a wide array of financial services, including investment banking, commercial lending, venture capital, and private equity. Known for his strategic insight and effective leadership, Thomas has built a reputation for successfully executing M&A transactions and spearheading operational growth initiatives across various sectors.

Currently serving as the Managing Partner of Davenport Capital Management, based in Atlanta, GA, Thomas is at the forefront of originating, negotiating, structuring, and funding numerous portfolio company investments. Actively involved as a board member or observer for several portfolio companies, he leads discussions on value creation plans and strategic initiatives. Thomas’s adeptness in capital raising is evident through his successful procurement of millions of dollars from limited partners for multiple investments, spanning impact venture capital, growth equity, control acquisition, SBIC, and Opportunity Zone ventures. Notably, he also holds the position of Chairman for DSG Holdings (Direct Tower, Direct Power & Direct Solar), where he directs strategic planning for its subsidiaries in the energy and telecommunications industry.

With a robust background in investment banking, Thomas held significant roles at William Blair & Company and Citigroup Global Markets and Banking.

Thomas’ academic achievements are equally notable, holding an MBA in Finance and Accounting from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a Master of Public Administration in Management and Leadership from CUNY, Bernard M. Baruch College, and a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Morehouse College. His dedication to continuous learning underscores his commitment to excellence in his field.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Thomas is deeply engaged in community service and philanthropy. He serves as a Board Director for the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta and on the board of advisors for the Kennesaw State University Family Enterprise Center, where he supports business families through tailored education and consulting.

Thomas L. Davenport II’s professional accomplishments have earned him numerous accolades, including the 40 Under Forty Achievement Award by The Network Journal and the Emerging Leaders Award by The M&A Advisor. He remains a driving force in the finance and investment industry, leveraging his expertise to create value and drive growth for clients and portfolio companies alike.

Christina
Jones, Ph.D.

Partnerships and Outreach Strategist
Manufacturing USA


Christina Jones is a Partnerships and Outreach Strategist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO). Christina received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.Sc. from Louisiana State University in Chemistry.

Christina Jones

(her/she/hers)

Partnerships and Outreach Strategist – Manufacturing USA

Christina Jones is a Partnerships and Outreach Strategist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO). Christina received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.Sc. from Louisiana State University in Chemistry.

Prior to joining AMNPO, Christina was a Research Chemist in the Material Measurement Laboratory at NIST. In this role, she led programmatic initiatives to improve quality assurance and quality control in metabolomics, particularly for improving clinical translation of human health research. Christina previously interned at Merck, where she applied new process chemistry methodologies to scale-up synthesis of challenging pharmaceutical-related compounds.

Christina’s work has been published numerous times in scientific journals and featured on the cover of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She is the recipient of several awards and honors, including The Analytical Scientist’s Top 100 Power List, American Chemical Society 40 Under 40 Rising Star in Proteomics and Metabolomics, and the Winifred Burke-Houck Professional Leadership Award. Christina has a passion for broadening participation in STEM and actively participates in developing curricula and teaching interactive, hands-on science activities that supplement K–12 education in addition to soft skills for academic success and leadership.

At AMNPO, Christina works to strengthen and expand support for the Manufacturing USA network through effective communication of the network’s results, initiatives, and opportunities to stakeholders and engagement and outreach to develop strategic relationships with federal, state, local, and industry partners. She also supports the management of Manufacturing USA funding opportunities and is responsible for education and workforce development coordination with NIIMBL, a NIST-sponsored Manufacturing USA institute whose mission is to accelerate biopharmaceutical manufacturing innovation in the United States.