Business Plan Competition
Ian Fisk is the executive director of the William James Foundation. As director, he leads the WJF Mentor Network, which includes more than 2,000 individuals who have built, managed, invested in, or studied social enterprises. In that capacity he has supported hundreds of up-and-running companies who are changing the way the world does business. He has worked to build the field of social entrepreneurship through Net Impact, SVN, The Impact Accelerator Network and many other organizations to encourage those supporting impact entrepreneurs to learn from each other. His previous roles include CEO of ITF Consulting, Inc., Director of Projects for Wall Street Without Walls, co-designer of the AmeriCorps*VISTA Entrepreneur Corps, and the internet coordinator for a U.S. Presidential Campaign. Mr. Fisk also worked with Public Allies, City Year, KaBOOM!, Youth Service America, and the Corporation for National Service. He founded DC’s Community Tool Chest, and was a charter organizer of Hands On DC, an annual volunteer work-a-thon for the D.C. public schools. He has helped to found more than a dozen enterprises, some for-profit, some non-profit, and some non-profit on purpose. Five of those ventures have lasted for at least a decade.
Mr. Fisk has an MBA from the Yale School of Management, where he was selected by his professors as a super-tutor. He teaches improvisation and storytelling for entrepreneurs.
Phillip Thigpen is a Director in PwC's FSR group (Financial Instruments, Structured Products and Real Estate). He has over 25 years of experience in the debt capital markets, where he has acted in advisory, managerial, transactional, and investment roles. Mr. Thigpen specializes in mortgage loan originations, structured finance, credit enhancement, and the mortgage-backed securities market. He has also worked with federal clients as well as commercial clients in the single family REO rental market and has provided both strategic and capital markets advisory services.
Prior to joining PwC, Mr. Thigpen founded 1789 Capital Advisors, a boutique transaction management and strategic advisory firm that provided investment banking services to the financial services industry in the United States and internationally and was based in New York City.
Mr. Thigpen was also previously a Senior Vice President at GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp., where he organized and led their 40 person commercial mortgage backed securities team. Mr. Thigpen was the senior relationship manager with capital markets investors, investment banks and the rating agencies. He headed the company’s FHA-insured, multifamily mortgage loan origination effort, and worked closely with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s multifamily business.
Mr. Thigpen began his career in financial services at Salomon Brothers Inc., where he was a member of the Mortgage Securities Department. Working on the trading desk in New York, his customer base was mostly comprised of institutional investors and mortgage bankers.
Mr. Thigpen is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.
Larry Flood is currently a Senior Policy Advisor at the United States Department of Treasury. Prior to joining Treasury, Mr. Flood provided financial and consulting services on public/private partnership projects involving the securitization of real estate and mortgage assets. He also designed and implemented reporting, surveillance, and credit risk management policies and procedures, and served as the subject matter expert on the governance committee for the Obama administration's Housing Finance Association initiative. Mr. Flood was a Investment banker for over a quarter of a century with major wall street firms.
Lisa D. Williams is a Business Consultant with a record of achievement in advising clients, executing growth strategies and delivering bottom-‐line results in an array of corporate, nonprofit and government settings. Industry Experience: financial services (banking and insurance), real estate, residential and commercial mortgage, economic development, not-for-profit management and consulting.
She the former Director CDCU Mortgage Center for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions where she is responsible for assisting CU’s expand their capacity through growing their mortgage programs by providing training, consultation, portfolio management and market analysis. During her tenure she quadrupled the Federation’s portfolio and assisted numerous troubled credit unions and their Members.
Ms. Williams has also served a Senior Business Manager for Housing and Community Development and an Affordable Lending Consultant in the Community and Multicultural Lending at Fannie Mae. Her responsibilities included consulting to Fannie Mae's top 20 lenders in the country with total delivery volume of approximately $75 billion. She directed developed and implemented business strategies to increase loan deliveries to Fannie Mae and provided consultative assessments, training, and recommendations to Credit Unions and Banks to improve profitability. Ms. Williams also developed initiatives to increase home ownership among low income and underserved communities.
Ms Williams is very active in Youth Financial Literacy, She recently launch the “Youth Financial Empowerment Movement” to promote entrepreneurship among youth and has developed financial literacy curriculum and training program for Youth in Foster Care. She is a former Board Member of the Fannie Mae Federal Credit Union.
Ms. Williams holds a B.A. in Communications and a B.S. in Finance from Central Washington University and MBA from University of Washington.
Laurence E. Bensignor is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Eagle Bancorp, Inc. and EagleBank, a $3.7 billion community bank headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, with 18 branches in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Mr. Bensignor serves as the company’s chief legal officer and is also responsible for Eagle Insurance Services, EagleBank Investment Advisory Services and Eagle Commercial Ventures.
Before joining Eagle in 2010, Mr. Bensignor was a principal of CastleGate Partners, LLC, a real estate investment firm, and formerly served for ten years as the fulltime Trustee of the Van Metre Family Trusts, the principal owner of a multifaceted real estate development, homebuilding and investment organization in Northern Virginia. From 1993-1998, Mr. Bensignor was a partner in Arter & Hadden, LLP, resident in its Washington, D.C. office, where he chaired the Real Estate Practice Group. Previously he was a partner (and formerly an associate) at Melrod, Redman & Gartlan, P.C., Washington, D.C., where he concentrated his practice in real estate and corporate transactions. Mr. Bensignor received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Rhode Island magna cum laude and his Juris Doctor degree from The George Washington University National Law Center magna cum laude. He is a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.
Ross Girardi is the Managing Director of Conscious Management Consulting (CMC), a firm that is dedicated to improving the world by upgrading the organizational cultures and leadership of businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations.
Ross believes that everyone has meaning, purpose and something unique to contribute to the world. Drawing upon his background in Tribal Leadership and his philosophy based upon Conscious Capitalism, he is committed to assisting clients with unleashing the great gifts of all employees.
Ross has over 20 years of leadership and senior management experience with Fortune 500 companies and U.S. Federal Government agencies. His clients included the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, the Air National Guard Readiness Center, DC National Guard, Virginia Army National Guard, the National Guard Bureau, the Departments of the Army, Air Force and Navy and the Defense Information Systems Agency.
Since 2010, Ross has served on the Board of Directors of the Boothby Institute a non-profit 501(c)3 organization created to provide people the opportunity to experience ownership and responsibility in a climate of empathy and loving-kindness. To this end they offer the core program “What One Person Can Do” plus other consulting and training activities.
Ross is a former Army Officer who served in a number of positions including Pentagon Action Officer, Training & Operations Officer, OCS TAC Officer, Aide de Camp to the Commanding General, and Division G1 staff officer.
Ross is an artist and his paintings are featured at Fine Art America.
E. André Carter has 24 years of entrepreneurial and development experience, beginning with his serial participation in seven IP-focused technology startups that required his expertise with the classic development model. He is currently the President of Irimi Inc., a consulting company with technology, intellectual property and real estate practices. In the real estate practice develops strategy for a real estate projects focused on urban markets and Washington, DC in particular. Their efforts center on the revitalization of existing structures in changing neighborhoods as part of a commercial, retail, residential and/or mixed-use plan. Mr. Carter has success in the selection of development sites, acquisitions, negotiations, construction, budgeting and planning, and guidance of project design in the determination of highest and best use while tracking to market trends. . Since 2002, , Mr. Carter has identified and helped acquire roughly $9M in real estate assets and managed $4.5M in development and construction funding to yield over $20M in value.
Irimi Inc. is also a strategic consulting firm dedicated to helping small companies leverage their intellectual and intangible assets, human capital and organizational culture to develop and achieve strategic and financial goals, as well as lending his name to a number of trade associations, projects and education focused non-profit for children . Prior to this Mr. Carter’s direct management experience in high tech, which resulted in participation in three IPO’s and four sale transactions, included technology startups such as Concept Kitchen (Asset/Bulk Sale)(Chief Operating Officer) an accessories manufacturer and software publisher in the handheld space; Puma Technology Inc. (NASD)(Director of Channels) a software developer and publisher for both personal computers and handhelds; and Xircom, Inc. (NASD) (Director of Channels for the Americas) an adapter and card manufacturer in the mobile computing space. Mr. Carter received his B.S. in Finance from Georgetown University and an MBA in International Business from American University.
Steven Jumper is currently the Director of Corporate Public Policy for Washington Gas Light Holdings, Inc. In this capacity, he is responsible for leading the company’s government relations, community investment, issues management and corporate philanthropy programs.
Since joining Washington Gas in 1997, Steven has led several major public policy and external relations initiatives throughout the organization’s multi-state operation.
Prior to joining Washington Gas, Steven served in cabinet-level state government positions, including deputy chief of staff to former DC Mayor Sharon Pratt. Steven has also held senior positions in the utility regulatory sector.
Steven holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Augustine’s College and a master’s degree from George Washington University. He is also a graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s Leadership Development Institute. He resides in Washington, DC with his wife. They have two adult children.
Vice President - Corporate Relations, Washington Gas
Elected Vice President for Corporate Relations at Washington Gas effective on Oct. 1, 2009, Mr. Grant is responsible for the company’s Government and Community Affairs for the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia; Media Relations; Customer and Employee Communications; Corporate Reports; and Corporate Philanthropy.
As director of corporate communications at Washington Gas, he was responsible for internal communications (employee-related); external communications (consumer-related); and media relations for the company. He was also responsible for the management of the Washington Area Fuel Fund, established and managed by Washington Gas.
He is the former director of communications, public relations and corporate philanthropy at The Washington Post newspaper. He also was the primary spokesperson for the newspaper. Prior to the Post, he served as director of worldwide marketing and city grants at Special Olympics Inc. where he structured domestic and international cause-marketing sponsorship programs with major companies and also was responsible for managing the multi-million dollar major city grants fund.
Mr. Grant spent ten years in government affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, the primary trade association for the major oil companies. He managed environmental and marketing issues for thirty-six states and the District of Columbia. He served as the industry liaison to the D.C. government and city council and was appointed to the Gas Station Advisory Board and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Commission. He appeared on local radio and television representing the industry regarding D.C. market issues. He began his career in the early 1980s as a legislative analyst in the Mayor's Office in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Grant is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Landeggar International Business Executive Program at Georgetown University.
A native Washingtonian who now resides in Silver Spring, Md., Mr. Grant is married and has two children.
Ms. Viera is Senior Advisor in the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, where she has worked on civil rights compliance and coordination issues since June 2011. She initially joined the US Department of Justice, Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO) as Deputy Director in 2005 where she lead grant-making efforts to over 300 public safety/neighborhood revitalization sites across the country, and headed CCDO’s policy development, technical assistance and administrative functions. During 2006 she served as CCDO’s Acting Director. She has over 25 years of housing and community economic development work experience. She has held positions as a housing authority Executive Director, Community Builder Fellow with HUD, as the founding Executive Director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, served as the Director of Housing and Community Economic Development for the City of Hartford, Conn., as Executive Director of the Hartford Neighborhood Housing Coalition, as a private consultant and as a community organizer in Connecticut and Michigan. Ms. Viera has provided training and technical assistance to hundreds of organizations across the country. She was also worked to develop local, state and national policy in the areas of community economic development, housing finance, fair housing, provision of housing and other support resources for victims of domestic violence and previously incarcerated people, and increased access to financial resources and financing tools for underserved communities. In her role at DOJ she is using these skills to promote increased public safety in America’s most distressed communities.
Ms. Viera was on the Board of Overseers for Southern New Hampshire University's School of Community Economic Development, where she has also been an adjunct faculty member. She has served on numerous boards and committees including as a gubernatorial appointee to Connecticut's Central Housing Committee and as a legislative appointee to Connecticut's Blue Ribbon Commission on Affordable Housing, Vice-Chairperson of the Connecticut Housing Coalition, and is a past Vice-Chairperson of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Ms. Viera earned her BA from the University of Michigan in political science and communications, an MS in community economic development from the New Hampshire College Graduate School of Business, a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and holds graduate certifications from the Pratt Institute and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
King is the President of the DC Chapter of Conscious Capitalism and author of a new book titled" Connecting With Intent - Why Social Capital is more Valuable than Financial Capital". He is the founder and CEO of King Connections, a Benefits Corporation that is a business-leveraging consulting firm that specializes in developing innovative-customized business systems. King Connections helps clients “Connect with Intent” to build, manage, and leverage social capital to create high value connected-engaged communities. King is the Co-Founder of the Conscious Success Academy an online academy for empowering individuals to become mentally and financial free. King is community activist and leader and is a board member of the Montgomery County Housing Partnerships. King is a writer, speaker, problem solver and self claimed leveraging connector who believes that happiness in life is when you love unconditional, serve dutifully, and Live With Intent.