Keynote Presentations


366952-59fa6666-768f-6d1a-b_speakerDr. Abel Adekola

Wilkes University

Dr. Abel Adekola joined Wilkes University as dean of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership in June 2016. Dr. Adekola comes to Wilkes from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wis., where he was dean of the College of Management. Previously he chaired the department of business there from 2007 to 2010 and also was a tenured full professor of business at University of Wisconsin-Stout. Earlier he served as director of the office of international education at the university from 2001 to 2004. Earlier in his career, Dr. Adekola served as assistant dean of the department of business at Fort Lauderdale College, Miami Campus, in Miami, Fla., from 1988 to 1990. He also was an assistant professor in the department of business at Miami Dade College, North Campus, in Miami, Fla., from 1991 to 1995.

Dr. Adekola’s career has focused on international business. He served as a Fulbright Scholar to ISM University of Management and Economics, Vilnius, Lithuania during the 2005-06 academic year. He received a Vietnam Faculty Development in lnternational Business (FDIB) Program Fellowship in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in 2010. The same year he received a senior distinguished fellowship from the Academy of World Business, Marketing and Management Development which was conferred in Oulu, Finland.

Dr. Adekola has authored two books: Global Business Management: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, which he co-authored with Bruno S. Sergi, and Gateway to personal investment: An American dream. He also is the author of book chapters and numerous articles.

Dr. Adekola received his doctor of business administration degree from Wayne Huizenga School of Business at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and his master of business administration from D. Inez Andreas School of Business at Barry University, Miami Shores, Fla. He earned his bachelor of business administration degree at Florida International University in Miami, Fla.

stephen-schiffman_bio2Steve Schiffman


Steve Schiffman has been a leader in motivational and sales training since 1979. He is a Certified Management Consultant, and has trained and consulted to a wide range of corporations including IBM, AT&T, Motorola, Sprint, CIGNA, and a host of other organizations throughout the world. He has trained over 500,000 professionals in over 9,000 companies.

Millions more have read his best selling books internationally. Schiffman’s accomplishments include the development of highly pragmatic sales training and management programs that adapt effectively into a broad range of sales environments and industries. All of his training is based upon actual sales experiences and are proven successful. He has been rated as the number one sales expert in prospecting by Personal Selling Power magazine.

Since his programs have been integrated into the sales culture of major corporations, Steve is frequently asked to be a guest on national radio and television shows. Some of his appearances include CNBC’S Smart Money, Steals and Deals, Money Talk, AP’s Special Assignment, SRN’s Today’s Business Journal, and The Jim Bohannon Show, among others.



366952-b9bc5cbc-5df7-2911-c_speakerKathryn Bondi

Posture Interactive

Kathryn recently moved on from her position as Creative Director at Net Driven to become a Digital Designer at Posture Interactive, a full-service advertising agency that focuses on website development. A Bethlehem, PA native, she graduated summa cum laude from Marywood University with a BFA in Graphic Design in 2010 and has taught in the design department as an adjunct. She has also served on the board of directors for the American Advertising Federation of NEPA since 2011, and has been moved into the Vice President of the board for 2016-2017. Kathryn was also a speaker at TEDxScranton and has continued with the TEDx team as the speech coach in 2016 for TEDxYouth. She also holds a special place in her heart for being involved in community-driven events such as NEPA Blogcon, Arts on the Square, First Friday Scranton, and performances at the Diva Theater.




366952-7d75687c-56d8-332b-1_speakerMandy Pennington

Net Driven

Mandy (Boyle) Pennington is an online marketer with a passion for storytelling and a whole lotta moxie. When she’s not making things search-friendly, she’s an active blogger. Mandy slings posts in a few places, including Search Engine People, a search engine community blog. Guest writing is her thing, so if you’d like for her to write for you, send her a note!

As an adjunct instructor at Marywood University, she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in the Communication Arts program.  Mandy is also a co-founder and co-organizer of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s only blogging and social media conference: NEPA BlogCon. In summer 2015, the gals from NEPA BlogCon launched an annual STEM education camp for girls in grades 4-6: Squirrel Girls Tech Camp.

When she’s not being a tech butterfly, she flexes her creative muscles as a member of The New Vintage Ensemble and performs with several local theater companies. Mandy bakes a mean cupcake, loves high fives, and enjoys watching TED talks. She’s a past storytelling alum from Scranton StorySlam, CASE District II Accolades Award panelist, Northeast PA Business Journal Top 20 Under 40 recipient, and was a co-organizer of Pecha Kucha Night Scranton.


366952-a1430d62-b937-5510-8_speakerJerry Lisman

Lisman Holdings

Jerry Lisman is Chief Executive Officer of Lisman Holdings, an operating company with investments and interests in consulting, e-commerce, product development, contract services, entertainment, fashion and medical & consumer products. Jerry brings over 35 years of medical products experience to The Magnesium Works.

In addition to Lisman Holdings, Jerry works with their portfolio companies on growing the company’s sales and product offering as well as working with startup companies in product and market development.

Jerry is also an Executive Business Mentor at the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Wilkes University, mentoring students, faculty and staff to develop and own companies from inception to commercialization. He also works with fee for service clients of the center on specific projects.  Giving back to the community is important to Jerry and he serves as Vice Chairman and Board Member of Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania and is a Director Emeritus of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bridge.



366952-fe4d8365-e40d-36e9-4_speakerLaura Novakowski

720 Thinking

Laura is an entrepreneurial business person who thrives on helping individuals and companies, un-lock, un-limit and un-leash business and personal potential to achieve dynamic results.  My experiences include serving as an innovative and inspirational change agent in the overall organization and team development, executive level and midlevel leadership development and coaching, in the public (federal, state and non profit) sector and private sector.

As a healthcare professional, senior level executive and entrepreneur, I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with and serving extraordinary businesses and individuals that are making major economic, health and social contributions to the communities they serve.

The clients serve nationally include major national healthcare systems, start-ups for new businesses, services and projects. merging diverse cultures, successful turn-a-rounds in both the public and private sector, leadership and team development.





366952-2f59ad47-83b7-7156-5_speakerMarty Wolff

Executive/Business Coach, Business Builders Show Podcast.

Marty Wolff is a serial entrepreneur, business coach and business journalist. In addition to his coaching and consulting practice, Marty hosts a regional radio show, Business Leaders Radio and a nationally recognized podcast, the Business Builders Show. Marty’s skill in securing well known guests for his shows are a direct result of his skills as master networker. Marty is on the board of the Northeast PA Networkers.

366952-4d5a8104-dd50-d76c-9_speakerBob Courtright

Courtright & Associates, Inc.

Robert J. Courtright is President of Courtright & Associates, Inc., a retained executive search consulting, business development & outplacement firm, located in Scranton, PA. Mr. Courtright founded the firm in 1989. He also offers business, Networking & Linkedin consulting services. He is Chairman of the Northeast PA Networkers.



Learning Sessions

structure_your_startupLyz Klein, CPA366952-aad0c8a9-119a-1a9f-5_speaker

Head Numberjack, Numberyard, Co-Founder, Tunefly

Lyz Klein is a CPA specializing in accounting, money management, and strategic planning for startups and tech ventures. She graduated with honors in accounting and entrepreneurship and spent the first years of her career managing finances for dozens of closely held companies in metro Atlanta. Since then she has moved to Northeast Pennsylvania, founded and built a successful accounting firm and entered the tech startup arena as the co-founder of an app development company.

Her independent mindset, love for helping people, and fascination with number puzzles turned out to be the perfect compliments to her education and experience, and she’s thrilled to be able to use them to improve the lives of startup founders across the country.



patents101wendy_kobaWendy Koba, Esq.
Wendy Koba has over thirty years of experience as a patent attorney, the last fourteen in private practice. Prior to that Wendy worked as a patent attorney with AT&T Bell Labs for nineteen years. Wendy focuses her practice on the preparation of patent applications, and the development of patent portfolios for a variety of clients, including start-up companies, individuals and corporate clients. Wendy works with Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Center and Keystone Industrial Zone organizations, assisting their various new venture clients in obtaining patent protection.







red_block366952-ccd36285-84d0-9b5c-d_speakerDiana Scott Shields

Fresh Mind Coaching

As a Digital Sales & Marketing Executive with over 20 years experience, Diana Scott Shields has worked with major brands, including Disney, DIRECTV, NBCUniversal; digital startups including and a digital design studio who was an early App Developer.

Diana has recruited, trained, managed and led teams in strategic partnerships, advertising sales, online marketing and social media. Diana currently acts as a coach and consultant to executives, entrepreneurs and organizations helping them to leverage their strengths and boost their sales and marketing effectiveness.

Diana is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley and also holds a certificate in Positive Psychology and is an ICF certified Coach. While Diana has spent most of her career living and working in San Francisco, LA and NYC, she now calls Clarks Summit home.









Chris Nash                                                                  

Maxx Bench

Christopher Nash is an Internet marketer, e-commerce veteran, and entrepreneur with over 15 years of digital, web, and sales experience. He co-founded the second largest retail, catalog, and e-commerce discount dance wear company in the United States ( in 1999, acquired one of his major competitors in 2008, and sold the business in 2010 to the world’s largest online discount dance wear retailer.



Dave Vorozilchak

Maxx Bench

Dave is a mechanical engineer, business owner, product developer, designer, and entrepreneur. Well versed with product designand manufacturing, he developed the first ever portable ice hockey puck passing machine (similar to a pitching machine for hockeypucks) and turned it into an internationally recognized business,





ben-franklin_final366952-f5d54dfd-5af4-8763-c_speakerKenneth Okrepkie

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NEPA

I’ve been afforded numerous opportunities working in higher education, managing non-profit organizations and enjoying the world of the entrepreneur.

Now, I’m putting to use all of my experiences facilitating technology based economic development in Northeastern Pennsylvania among the region’s fourteen colleges and universities. I previously established and managed the Keystone Innovation Zones for Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties returning more than $10M to early stage companies. Additionally, I serve on the board of directors for the region’s five business incubators.

As resource for local entrepreneurs, I work with our state and federal legislators to bring opportunities to the region. I currently hold a position with Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NEPA where we provide funding and support to start up companies and established manufacturers.


366952-4268acde-be1b-d587-9_speakerSam O’Connell

Tunefly, Co-Founder

Sam O’Connell is the Co-Creator and CEO of a new startup Tunefly. The company created the mobile app that allows users to record and post original music, write reviews of the music they want to share and keep followers updated through journal entries. Sam was a critical asset to the inception, design, marketing and the overall
user experience within Tunefly.

His education took him to Point Park University where he studied Film/Cinema/Video Studies. In addition Sam has an
extensive background in graphic design and web design. Sam attributes his creative talents to his father, who was a
Samuel resides in Dallas, PA with his wife Rachael, their two dogs Walnut and Willow, and their pig Mabel.

366952-234ccf22-1567-c45d-f_speakerMaggie Calpin

Nibbles & Bits, Owner

Maggie is the owner of Nibbles & Bits, a gourmet gift & confections shop in Scranton, PA. Over her seven years of leadership, Nibbles & Bits has refined the concept of gift giving through customized retail therapy of gourmet baskets and gifts.

Her background includes education in business from Keystone College, a degree in Cosmetology and more recently she is Chocolatier Certified, now offering her hand made chocolates within her shop.

Maggie has received many awards over the years including: Northeast Business Journal 2015 Top 25 Women in Business; The Times Tribune Reader’s Choice 2014, 2013, & 2012 Best Gourmet Popcorn & Snacks; 2013 Keystone College Young Alumni Award; 2012 Soloprenuer of the Year SAGE Award; 2012 Eastern Pennsylvania Young Entrepreneur of the Year through the Small Business Administration; 2010 Young Entrepreneur of the Year SAGE Award; 2010 Small Business Spotlight Award Scranton Chamber; 2010 Northeast Woman in Scranton Times and 2010 Finalist for the Metro Action Young Entrepreneur Award.

Panel Discussion

Bob Thomson
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NEPA

Bob Thomson, for the past 30 years, has been with Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), involved in technology commercialization and new venture development.  BFTP/NEP has helped the technology companies in its 21-county region prosper by providing them access to capital, business expertise, and university resources.  Ben Franklin’s strategy encompasses three main areas: developing early-stage, technology-oriented companies; helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices; and promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth firms.

Related to his tenure at BFTP/NEP, Bob served two three-year terms (1991-97) on the Board of Directors for the International Business Incubation Association, his last year being Board Chairman.  He currently is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Sustainable Energy Fund based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and he is a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Council.  Bob holds an MBA from Lehigh University, an MS from Pennsylvania State University, and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.


Mike Gildea
Pocono Mountain Angel Group

Mike has a diverse and outcome based background that includes the angel investing field, project management, consulting entrepreneurs, non-profit management, higher education & government. Currently he is the Director at ESU Business Accelerator Research & Economic Development at East Stroudsburg University and Director of the Pocono Mountains Angel Network.  In addition, he is the President of Brain Gain, LLC where Mike consults entrepreneurs about best practices in generating angel investment, feedback on business plans, key decision points for angel investors, updates on angel trends, and adding value to entrepreneurs’ efforts for growing their companies through technology commercialization.  He was the prior Executive Director of the PA Angel Network, a trade association of 15 plus angel groups across the Commonwealth and he serves as one of the judges for Angel Venture Fair in Philadelphia.



Kristine Augustine
Kristine joined the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce as Business Development Specialist in 1998.  In this role, she was responsible for the administration of small business lending and training programs through the Chamber’s affiliate, MetroAction.

In 2003, Ms. Augustine was promoted to Vice President of Business and Community Development.  In addition to the management of small business initiatives, her promotion provided for the development of the Chamber’s small business incubator program at the Scranton Enterprise Center.  As administrator of the Chamber’s incubator program, Ms. Augustine worked to recruit tenants and provide ongoing business support services to start-up and expanding small businesses.

In 2011, Ms. Augustine’s role was enhanced to include the management of the Chamber Operations division, which includes membership recruitment and retention, leadership development programs and communications functions for the Chamber.

Carl Witkowski
Group Capital

Carl brings over 10 years direct sales and management experience specializing in commercial banking and investment management. Carl was a top sales producer with Wachovia, Wells Fargo and PNC Banks. Carl also served as CFO for a Multi-Million dollar utility contractor serving the tri-state area where he had direct experience facing the cash flow struggles of a rapidly growing company and the limited resources available to them. Over that time Carl successfully managed production from less than 1mm to 8mm in sales over 3 years while developing several strategic partnerships with Banks and investors. Carl’s network of diverse professionals allows him to draw on our area’s greatest resource – it’s people.

Carl is passionate about the community and has served as past Board President of the Wyoming Valley Montessori School and served on the Greater Pittston YMCA Executive committee board. Carl is a Leadership Wilkes-Barre graduate and currently serves as a Board member of the NEPA Philharmonic and was a 2016 judge for the NEPA TechBridge Business plan competition.


BPC Winner Rocket Pitch Participants

Aya Fair Trade
M&S Biotics
Kraken Boardsports
AR Enterprise Holdings