Friday, December 6, 2019

Sponsored By

Organizing Team

Dr. Pauline Assenza

Western CT State University

Danbury, CT

Patrice Gans

Random Hacks of Kindness Junior

Woodbury, CT

Curtis Goodwin

New London Talent Show

New London, CT

Billy Grant IV

Harbor Tides Capital

Hartford, CT

Ryan Keating

Bill Kenney


Ivoryton, CT

Tim Laubacher

SoundWeb Solutions

Haddam, CT

RK Mamillapalli


Ellington, CT

Paige Rasid

State of Connecticut, Department of Economic and Community Development

Hartford, CT

Laura Stetler

Women's Business Development Council

New London, CT

Rob Zielonka

Partners on Prospect, Inc.

East Windsor, CT

Dr. Pauline Assenza

As it says, I am a Professor at the Ancell School of Business, Western Connecticut State University, with responsibility for the entrepreneurship/small business management option in the Management Major. I also have several graduate degrees, therefore am academically qualified. I am a published author, attend academic conferences and engage in other professional development activities. I am therefore in compliance with the expectations of my chosen career, but that’s not all…


I am also a contributor to my local and regional ecosystems, volunteering for boards and committees, and, for many years, have helped both manufacturing and service industry businesses deal with management and organizational development issues. Just like all human systems, organizations have dysfunctionalities that may need a facilitated intervention. Either I can help, or I know someone else who can…


Foundational to all of the above, I believe in art and craftsmanship, and making a difference. I believe in adding value to every interaction, in being authentic, and in remembering to find moments of joy, in some way, in every day. And in staying wonderful, which, as a dear friend once explained to me, means being full of wonder, a state of being I hope to never lose…


And I believe in passion, networking, and being willing to fail, for that’s how you learn. My advice? Always be open to opportunities. NEVER stop looking for things you can make better! I tell my students to always remember everyone is different and everything changes, so, again, be open to opportunities, yet know who you are, for self-awareness is key to sustaining a life.


And it really helps to stay positive. Winston Churchill said “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” Be an optimist – the glass is always half full! So go forth, keep learning, and become the best “you” you can be. And let me know how it goes…We're all in this together...

Curtis Goodwin

Proven track record of product placement and bringing initiatives to major companies and universities globally. Current track record includes managing and increasing the yearly business growth of Diversity and Inclusion associations. In this role, I average above quota in sales year to date. Responsible for a portfolio that averages over 3M in sales yearly.


Over 5 years of consulting and career center management for associations that include; The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and the College Diversity Network/HBCU Business Deans. Lead account executive for a team managing D&I associations, with an emphasis on pitching and delivering products that disrupt the market.


Over 10 years of experience in event production & brand management. Transformed a talent showcase into an incubator for emerging artists and an economic driver reaching over 65 cities. For more information please click here.

William Grant

I help my clients plan well for today and the future through our exclusive Confident Retirement® approach. It starts with a personalized conversation about covering essentials, ensuring lifestyle, preparing for the unexpected and leaving a legacy. By breaking your financial goals down into doable steps, I can help take the uncertainty out of planning for your financial future. In fact, 90% of Ameriprise clients who have had the Confident Retirement conversation feel more confident about retirement1. I’m here to help you feel more confident, too. When you have the right financial advisor, life can be brilliant.

Ryan Keating

Ryan Keating, Vice President at Keating Agency, is building & growing the modern insurance agency by adopting technology trends and finding opportunities to make the commercial and personal insurance experience more efficient for all. Ryan spent the better part of a decade in Florida, California, and Texas gaining experience working with various startups, major league sports franchises, and his own entrepreneurial endeavors before returning to CT.


Ryan is an entrepreneur at heart and has used this drive to help the Greater Hartford community. He was the founding president of FLOW – Future Leaders of West Hartford, host of Linkedin Local Hartford and recently co-founded a non-profit Finest Hours Hartford to support and promote nonprofits in Greater Hartford by bringing people together for events and volunteer opportunities.


Actively involved in the community, Ryan is an advisor with InsurTech Hartford, Playhouse Theatre, Board of Governors for the Hartford Club and co-host of the Experience We-Ha Podcast.

Bill Kenney

Bill Kenney has founded 6 companies and currently leads to growing ventures. MEET, which specializes in helping growth companies effectively exhibit at trade shows. Test My Pitch is an online platform that helps students, entrepreneurs and professionals develop their communication skills quickly in a safe and collegial environment.


Bill entertains audiences frequently and speaks on a variety of topics, including entrepreneurship, networking, revenue generation and community building.


He also co-leads several community building efforts in his home state, Connecticut, USA. Bill is an active participant in the Startup Champions Network (formerly Startup America). He is an avid sailor, cyclist, and paddleboarder.

Tim Laubacher

Tim Laubacher is a Connecticut entrepreneur and software engineer. Tim's company, Sound Web specializes in helping people with ideas for new tech business get started. Sound Web is celebrating 10 years in business in Connecticut this year.


Tim is involved in Connecticut's entrepreneurial ecosystem in several ways. This is Tim's third year supporting the CT Entrepreneur Awards. Tim in an EIR (entrepreneur in residence) at The MEWS in Middletown where he mentors startups on technology related matters.


In 2014, Tim started developing Launch EZ to help serve startups in Connecticut, which he launched in January of 2015. Launch EZ is currently being used in Innovation Destination Hartford, reSET, CTNext and The MEWS websites. In 2018, Launch EZ served over 45,000 search results to entrepreneurs in Connecticut and around the country.

RK Mamillapalli

A DevOps maven with over 20 years of professional experience providing enterprise class and industry leading best practices in the areas of DevOps, Cloud Transformation and Agile.


Proficient at building standards and streamlining process at enterprise level with a collaborative mindset while aligning deliverables with organization goals.


Confident, effective, and persuasive communicator with strong interpersonal and organizational skills. Recognized as a motivator, mentor and experienced in large scale and high impact projects.

Paige Rasid

Specialties: Strategic planning, organizational management, marketing, communications, graphic design, project management, event design and production, social media management, federal and state policy, industry awareness.