Entrepreneurship Task Force Members

The Lieutenant Governor’s Entrepreneurship Task Force is a statewide task force charged with addressing the needs of the entrepreneurial, small business, and startup community. The Task Force will focus efforts on developing a master plan for entrepreneurial development in Nevada, increase collaboration among entrepreneurial communities, and develop an Entrepreneurial Summit to outline best practices. The Task Force will also identify and consider future legislative priorities to sustain, strengthen, and grow a diverse environment where small businesses and startup companies can develop and thrive.

Northern Nevada

Douglas Erwin
Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development at Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN)
Doug is an entrepreneur with extensive experience creating and running business ventures. He has successfully launched 6 startups; his most notable was Pria Diagnostics. As CEO of Pria, Doug raised over $8M in angel and corporate financing, established a partnership with a $2B consumer products company and setup international partnerships in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. Doug was highlighted in the Kauffman Thought book for the fundraising strategy at Pria, and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the State of Nevada in 2005. Doug is an Insignia Member of the Entrepreneurs Organization, a Rainforest Architect & Trustee for the Global Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley, and sits on the board of the Reno/ Tahoe EO Chapter, The Discovery Museum and Project Solution. Doug is also an organizer of TEDx Reno, which attracts more than 400+ attendees annually.
Mridul Gautam, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research and Innovation and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Nevada, Reno
Mridul has over 25 years of experience in initiating and managing large interdisciplinary and multi-institutional programs. His areas of specialization are the characterization and control of combustion generated emissions, heavy-duty engines, and experimental multiphase flows with a particular emphasis on ultrafine and nanoparticles. He has served as the principal investigatoron over $24 million in funding, and as a P.I. and/or co-principal investigator on over $80 million in funded research. Mridul has published more than 400 technical articles including refereed journal articles, symposia-published proceedings and published abstracts of papers presented at professional meetings. In addition to a licensing agreement to his credit, he has been a recipient of the Outstanding Aerosol Paper Award through the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award through the Society of Automotive Engineers, and several Outstanding Researcher of the Year awards at WVU. He serves on several national and state advisory committees and on several boards of directors. He received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1989 and his master’s in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1984.
Rob Hooper
Executive Director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority
The agency Rob Hooper leads has been entrusted by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development with the economic future of the five counties comprising the Sierra Region of Nevada. Rob has developed and implemented a broad and impactful program that has brought over 1.7 billion dollars of economic impact to the region he serves. The scope of his work has received accolades from research foundations and “think tanks” including the Brooking’s Institute which labeled the NNDA initiative as the model of “best practices” in regional economic development programs. Around the state of Nevada, Rob is known as a business leader, entrepreneur, and a seasoned executive. He brings over three decades of business experience in completing successful projects with winning results. Through his studies in science, education and business, along with an eclectic industry background, Rob provides deep insight into complex relationships within a global marketplace.
Chris Howard, MBA, CMA, CMC
Director of Entrepreneurship Initiatives for the University of Nevada, Reno
Chris Howard is the Director of the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship and is also a faculty member, overseeing Entrepreneurship academic curriculum in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. Over the past 37 years as a corporate principal or venture capital partner, Chris has bought, sold, and/or invested in 28 companies. He is the current CEO and Principal of NorthStar Investors, specializing in the provision of operational guidance and devising technical, financial and economic strategies. In addition to his focus on funding and growing start-up companies, Chris was formerly a CFO/COO of two publicly reporting companies, and a consultant with two national CPA firms. He holds a BA in Economics from Stanford University and a Master of Business Administration from Santa Clara University. He is a CMA (Certified in Management Accounting) and a CMC (Certified Management Consultant).
Ashley Jennings
Founder and Chief Executive Officers of Parlor Shows
Ashley Jennings is a serial entrepreneur and Nevada transplant. She has spent the past 8 years building startups and acting as a pillar of the Reno startup community. She is formerly one of the organizers of the Reno Maker Faire, Startup Weekend Reno, and Girlmade--the first female-led accelerator program. Her current startup, Parlor Shows, is in the entertainment space and is setting out to disrupt the music industry by changing the way that musicians get paid. Ashley is passionate about the blockchain, branding, community building, sustainability, and women in entrepreneurship. She is a proud alumna of Columbia University.
Kevin Lyons
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Governance Sciences Group
Kevin Lyons is a serial entrepreneur and a longtime “good governance geek” who enjoys helping startups and governments get better. He has founded three startups and one hedge fund since getting his first startup experience as employee number 20 of Symyx Technologies in 1996 (IPO in 1999). He is currently Co-Founder and CEO of Governance Sciences Group, the creator of FlashVote, which gets busy citizens to provide rapid feedback so that governments can make citizens happier while saving money. He is also a founding member of Founders Fight Club, a support network for scalable startup founders in the Reno-Tahoe-Truckee area. He has an MSBA (Business and Public Policy, UC Berkeley), an MSChemE (Chemical Physics, UCSB), and BSChemE (CornellU) and has lived in Incline Village since 2004.
Scott Levy
Founder & Chief Development Officer, Watershed Growth Ventures, LLC
Scott was an investor in the Incline Village, Nevada based Elevate Blue Startup Studio where he served as cofounder & chief business officer before partnering with Dan Eckert to found Watershed Growth Ventures. With over 30 years experience as a successful entrepreneur, Scott has been engaged in turnarounds, M&A, startups, branding, successful exits and building global technology strategic alliances. He also has a passion for mentoring other young entrepreneurs.

Kathie Priebe
Chair of Reno Angels, and Member of Sierra Angels and Golden Seed
As an Angel Investor, Kathie is involved in fostering economic development in the entrepreneurial community. Through leadership and management, Kathie has helped build national and international early stage companies through investment and mentorship. She also has years of experience leading and successfully negotiating complex business agreements and relationships, in an ambiguous and unstructured environment. Currently, Kathie serves as Chair of Reno Angeles and is an active member of Sierra Angeles and Golden Seed. In 2016, Kathie was recognized as EDAWN's Angel Investor Activist of the Year and Sierra Angels' Member of the Year for outstanding engagement.