Meet the Judges
The UMaine Business Challenge is working to propel the careers of aspiring student entrepreneurs. We have employed many different methods to make this reality, however one crucial one is the selection of our panel judges. The panel judges are tasked with both selecting the winner and using their backgrounds to provide value insight/contributions to our students’ business ideas.
The panel of judges for our first annual competition has been formed from various educational and professional backgrounds. Each has had very successful careers, providing exceptional contributions to their field and beyond. We are truly honored to have them on board and know with them on the team the competition will be prepared to reach its pinnacle.
Marc R. Brunelle
Marc Brunelle is a lifelong resident of Maine, raised in Lewiston and currently residing in Kennebunk. He graduated from the University of Maine with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration (1980), and received his MBA from Southern New Hampshire University (1983). After an initial banking career, Marc joined a retail business and grew the chain from six stores to twenty one locations in northern New England subsequently exiting in 2008.
Marc was also involved for five years in the formation of the publicly de novo commercial bank during which the bank grew to one hundred million dollars in assets and three offices. As Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, he also served on the audit and credit committees until the eventual sale of the bank in 2008.
At the current time Marc remains involved in two retail businesses while devoting more time to volunteer boards, commercial real estate activities, and business consultation opportunities. Volunteer boards include the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Maine Business School at the University of Maine, as well as the York County Community College’s foundation board. He is also Chairman of the town of Kennebunk’s Economic Development Committee and a search and rescue pilot in the Civil Air Patrol/USAF Auxiliary.
John F Burns, CFA
John has 28 years of institutional investing experience; the last twelve as SEGF Fund Manager, where his responsibilities include the full range of venture capital investment activities. He has been directly involved with bringing risk capital to more than 30 Maine companies, and has led the Fund through a number of successful exits.
John serves the entrepreneurial neighborhood in Maine in many ways, through Board service (Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board, Top Gun Advisory Board, CEI Community Ventures & others), as an Observer to company Boards, and serves as a frequent speaker and panelist on venture capital, and public/private venture capital, issues.
John holds the CFA designation and an MBA with High Distinction from Babson College, a MS in Resource Economics from Penn State, and is Adjunct Faculty at the University of Maine. John and his wonderful wife Nancy White share their home with their children, family, friends, pets and chickens.
Jason Harkins is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Maine Business School, University of Maine. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, his M.B.A. from the University of Missouri, and his B.S. in Business from Truman State University.
His research is focused on understanding drivers of entrepreneurial success and the role that strategy plays in the success of small businesses, including team dynamics, signals, and agency concerns.
Brent is the Vice President of North American Sales for Integreon, a global outsourcing company with 17 delivery centers on 4 continents. He was recruited to align the client-facing operations in a business that has acquired four companies over the past 36 months. He is responsible for continuing the revenue growth which has increased by 500% since 2009.
Prior to joining Integreon, Brent ran an independent consulting firm where he advised startup technology companies on business strategy and operational performance. During this time, he also founded a network of clean energy incubators in New England and helped to secure a grant from the Department of Energy that was used to commercialize university research in a model program called U-Launch.
In addition to founding CaseSight, a venture-backed consulting company, Brent has held leadership positions at two other software startups. He started his career in sales after earning a BS in Mathematics from the University of Maine where he played rugby and was active in many campus activities. Brent and his wife live in Marblehead, Massachusetts, but he still has family in his hometown of Millinocket, Maine.
Jesse Moriarity is the Coordinator of the Foster Center for Student Innovation at the University of Maine. The majority of her time is spent providing business and project counseling services to students, as well as facilitating Innovation Engineering Leadership Institutes all over the country.
Previously, Jesse worked at Bangor HydroElectric Company as a web and graphic designer. She also worked for Chef Michael Gagne for a number of years at the Osprey and Robinhood Free-Meetinghouse in Georgetown, Maine. She is a University of Maine graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a minor in New Media.
James was born and raised in Caribou, ME. He earned his B.A. in History from University of Maine Fort Kent, M.Phil. from the Department of Logic and Metaphysics at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and Ph.D. in Philosophical Foundations of Mathematics from MIT. He has taught in Dartmouth College and University of Kansas in the past.
He returned to Maine in 1997 and took a position at James W. Sewall Company, an international consulting firm specializing in energy, infrastructure, and natural resources. He was appointed CEO of the firm in 2001. He has also served as a member of University of Maine Board of Visitors, founding director of the Gulf of Maine Oceanographic Observing System, member and chair of the Maine Geographic Library, and member of the Board of Directors of the Campden National Corporation.
He was named Chancellor of the University of Maine System in March 2012.
Meredith Strang Burgess
Meredith Strang Burgess is the President/CEO of Burgess Advertising & Marketing, headquartered in Portland, Maine. Meredith has been a leader in Portland’s business community since 1979. Her strong focus on teamwork has earned the company many accolades over the past 25 years including being named Maine’s Best Places to Work in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Meredith is a breast cancer survivor and is an outspoken advocate of early detection and cancer awareness by personalizing the face of cancer. She is active in a number of different initiatives and events including the Annual Cure Breast Cancer for ME Luncheon and was the creator of the successful Maine breast cancer specialty license plate program.
Politics has been a part of Meredith’s activities ever since she volunteered on her first campaign in 1972. She just finished her third term in the Maine State House of Representatives representing the towns of Cumberland, Chebeague Island, Long Island and part of North Yarmouth. She is also the House Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services and serves on other related committees and legislative leadership roles.
Meredith is active within her profession and in the community serving on the American Association Advertising Agencies (AAAA) National Government Affairs Committee; a founding member of both Ronald McDonald Houses in Maine; The Maine Cancer Foundation; trustee of Hebron Academy; and past chair of the University of Maine Board of Visitors.
She has completed seven triathlons, skis and is active in genealogy, having served on the Board of the Maine Historical Society. A native of Camden, Meredith has three sons and lives in Cumberland with her fiancé, Doug Stewart.
Gregory S. Cavanaugh
Greg is the Program Manager for External Programs at the University of Southern Maine, and orchestrator of all experiential education USM’s College of Science Technology & Health. Greg is also the driving force behind the Campus Ventures program. Greg is a seasoned industry leader, with 18+ years of professional experience in the architectural design and strategic planning/consulting for corporate and institutional clients.
Since launching the Campus Ventures program 2 1/2 years ago, Greg has become a key player in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southern Maine. He works as a mentor in the 2013 Top Gun class and mentors Campus Ventures clients, many of whom are startup companies themselves.