Innovation is about pushing the limits of knowledge.

Who better than those with a track record of success
and thought leadership to push those limits?"

Opus Faveo Fellows

As part of its mission to attract new ideas and successful people to the pursuit of commercially successful innovation, the Opus Faveo established its Fellows program, through which a select number of Fellowships are awarded to highly successful individuals.

The Fellowships are structured to give Fellows exposure to the Opus Faveo venture development process, specific startup ventures, and leaders in public and private sector entities engaged in innovation policy. Pursuant to the mission of Opus Faveo, Fellows are also encouraged to learn and think originally about innovation, how to create more commercially successful innovation, and the ways in which policy makers in multinational companies, research institutions and governments can better encourage such innovation.

Opus Faveo believes that the best interactions arise from real, tangible, project work and the development of original research. As such, Fellows generally contribute to specific projects that allow them to work as part of a team, leverage their expertise while learning new skills, and have concrete accomplishments in the field of innovation.

Vishal Ahuja, MBA, PhD
Vishal Ahuja, MBA, PhD Fellow

Vishal Ahuja, MBA, PhD

• Asst. Professor, Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University and Adjunct Asst. Professor of Clinical Sciences/Internal Medicine, UT Southwestern Medical Center
• Academic affiliations with Dept. of Veterans Affairs, University of Chicago Center for Translational & Policy Research of Chronic Diseases, North Texas Health Care System
• Research focused on healthcare policy, energy, process innovation, data analytics
• Published in a wide array of media, and regular speaker at institutions globally, including Yale, Cornell, Wharton, Duke, University of Chicago, George Washington University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, University of Chicago, UT Austin, London Business School, University of Toronto, University of North Carolina, McGill, INSEAD
• Wide array of honors and awards, including a National Science Foundation grant, Fellowships at University of Chicago, University of Toronto, National Institute on Aging
• He has taught at SMU, the University of Chicago, the University of Toronto
• Private sector experience including Procter & Gamble, ERCO Worldwide, Celestica Inc.
• R&D Research Associate, Indian Institute Of Technology & GE Plastics
• Licensed Professional Engineer in the province of Ontario, Canada
• Fluent in English and Hindi
• PhD, Business Administration, MBA, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
• M.A.Sc., Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University Of Toronto,
• B.E. (Honors), Chemical Engineering, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India
Brenda Boehm, ME
Brenda Boehm, ME Fellow

Brenda Boehm

Brenda is a senior executive that can lead the business and technical strategy by leveraging her comprehensive experience across telecommunications and information technology bringing expertise that delivers cutting edge technology solutions that directly impact the corporate bottom line. She has the ability to provide a market vision that recognizes industry disruption, an ability to harness change for innovation, and create the most successful operational best practices. She knows how to build global alliances to create new incremental joint markets and highest growth.
Brenda has an undergraduate in Computer Information Systems, a Masters from SMU’s School of Engineering in Telecommunications. She has also attended Stanford’s prestigious Graduate School of Business Executive Program and recently completed their Advanced Computer Security Certification.


Tammy Cancela
Tammy Cancela Fellow

Tammy Cancela

Tammy is a senior marketing leader with proven ability to achieve results within both F100 and mid-sized companies.

Strong sales orientation. Excels in both B:B and consumer marketing. Dynamic speaker and recognized technology industry representative. Named to Hispanic Business Magazine’s list of Top 50 Hispanic Women in Business 2001. Strong interest in using Marketing to do good in the world while achieving profit objectives and growing companies.

Board Member at Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Tammy is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with an
AB, Political Science, Business,
Teresa Coffey-Gordon, MBA
Teresa Coffey-Gordon, MBA Fellow

Teresa Coffey-Gordon, MBA

• Director, Innovation Funds-Principal & Major Gifts, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: lead Dana-Farber’s unique venture philanthropy initiative in an effort to raise over $200M.
• Judge/Mentor, MassChallenge, the world’s largest start-up accelerator and competition.
• Founder/CEO, Coffey Exchange (Boston, New York): provided business, marketing and venture philanthropy services to non-profits and for-profits, incl. healthcare, biotech.
• Chief Marketing Officer, Millennium Partners Sports Club Management: led marketing for the iconic luxury health clubs Sports Club/LA and Reebok Sports Club/NY. Recruited by PE firm and strategically re-positioned and revitalized the brands, making them more relevant to health enthusiasts. Built a digitally-focused marketing team that drove membership and engagement through online sales tools and socially charged content.
• VP/Chief of Staff, Fidelity Investments: positioned the Fidelity brand in a highly profitable new market (Active Trader), incl. product development, advertising, PR, sales, events, online and in-person educational forums.
• Director of Marketing, Ernst & Young: built a full-service, in-house marketing agency. Centralized and scaled business development, creating blueprint for E &Y’s 19 Market Resource Centers. Enhanced branding of the Entrepreneur of the Year award.
• Market Manager, Product Manager, Market Research Analyst, NEBS
• Management Consultant, Kendall Square Associates, provided business consulting services to business owners and government agencies.
• BSBA, MBA, Suffolk University
Alan D. Gant Ph.D
Alan D. Gant Ph.D Fellow

Alan D. Gant Ph.D

Dr. Gant is an experienced product engineering executive with demonstrated success in leading software and hardware development teams. Exceptionally skilled in team development and motivation, connecting technology to customers and markets, and delivering business goals on schedule and budget. Experience in Fortune 100, midsize, and entrepreneurial startup companies; industries include embedded electronics systems, computing systems, wireless devices, consumer products, HD video, enterprise software and medical electronics. Previous employers include Hewlett Packard and Convex Computers

Dr. Gant sees the “big picture” and uses that perspective to collaborate with others in the engineering team to solve the most complex problems. He is a student of project management and best practices, and is constantly infusing the organization with new ideas to improve its effectiveness.

Dr. Gant’s Ph.D is from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in computer Architecture, EE. Dr. Gant’s M.S. is in EE from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His B.S. is in EE from the University of Texas at Austin.
Rick Jones
Rick Jones Fellow

Rick Jones

Rick Jones has extensive experience in retail, holding leadership positions in operations, merchandising, enterprise marketing, organizational planning, start-ups, strategy, on-line retailing and omni-channel development. It is his broad combination of skills that bring Rick to the Idea Institute.
Rick is founder and CEO of Soulful Creations, President and Chairman of Stronger than Espresso Inc., Board Member of Barnabas DFW, and Director of Restoration Ministries for Genesis Church in McKinney Texas.
Prior to coming to the Idea Institute, Rick was VP in multiple areas with JCPenney Company, Inc where he led the Digital Ventures, Omni-channel and held leadership positions in Merchandise, Marketing, Store Operations, .com, the PMO office and leadership positions in Stores, District and Regional Offices around the country.
Rick won multiple awards at JCPenney including the first ever Innovation Award, and Chairman’s awards for several years.
Rick studied at the Ohio State University graduating from Ohio Northern. He extended studies at the executive program at Booth School of Business , University of Chicago. He graduated from The Masters Program in Dallas in 2011.

Surajit Kar, MBA, PhD
Surajit Kar, MBA, PhD Fellow

Surajit Kar, MBA, PhD

• Founder / entrepreneur, XWealthStrategies: an innovative wealth strategy firm that brings investment strategies of the ultra-wealthy to the “mass affluent”
• Partner & Advisory Market Leader, North Texas, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC): consulting leader for the $180M North Texas regional practice with 600 consultants
• Partner & Innovation Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC): the face of PwC on innovation, spoke extensively at conferences, published articles, blogs, and social media
• Partner, PRTM, an R&D and innovation consulting firm: led engagements to improve innovation effectiveness for a broad range of companies across all industry sectors
• 17 years in strategy/innovation consulting with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies (FedEx, Cisco, Nortel, Motorola) to Global 500 conglomerates (SAP, Dell, Pizza Hut) and venture-funded startups (SignalSoft, Campus Pipeline)
• Prior to consulting, spent 3 years at Landmark Graphics Corporation, the software division of Halliburton in the Corporate R&D team
• 5 years at the Center for Space Research in Austin pursuing academic research
• PhD, Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, celestial mechanics
• MBA, Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management
• Creative interests: written a murder-mystery novel
Bart Kohnhorst, MBA
Bart Kohnhorst, MBA Fellow

Bart Kohnhorst

Bart is President of LGS - Crestcom, a Texas based global Leadership Development and Management Development Company, providing services in more than 20 languages across 60 countries.

His hands-on experience in guiding tomorrow’s leaders through lifelong learning is enabled through a high value and structured methodology designed to help current and future leaders become more productive, quickly and with positivity for them and their teams.

Bart also serves on Thunderbird School of Global Management’s senior advisory Board (one of 16 colleges at Arizona State University – the largest public research university in the US) where he chaired committees, advise the CEO & Executive Director and his management team along with 50 other senior executives from all continents, raises scholarship funds, liaises and supports regional chapters and helps applicants and the college in recruiting. Bart also feels privileged to formally mentor current Masters in Global Management students and help in various aspects of strategic challenges for the institution.

As a lifelong learner, and in addition to his international high-tech sales, marketing and product management leadership experience with Fortune 500 companies and startups, Bart is a recognized Leadership Development expert, has qualifications in “Gamification In Business” (through The Wharton School) and “Global Strategy” (Thunderbird). Bart is a graduate of Keele University (UK – Law & Psychology) and Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Additional experience spans across a variety of Sales Leadership methodologies and other business competencies from having worked and represented major companies in a variety of senior roles and across Europe, The Americas and Japan / Asia supporting initiatives in healthcare, call centers, consumer packaged goods and more. Bart is fluent in English, French and Dutch and has facility in 2 other languages.
Ron Montgomery
Ron Montgomery Fellow

Ron Montgomery

Ron is an experienced leader in the publishing, printing, software and telecom industries. Ron has worked for Amdocs, GTE and Verizon.

He is a strategic, problem-solving, general management executive with acute sales and operations expertise. He has a track record of leading companies in both start-up and turn-around situations on a path to profitable growth. His management style is characterized as “results-oriented, team player, responsive, energetic, adaptable and engaging with strong work ethics”.

Ron’s BA is from the University of San Francisco in Organizational Behavior.
Vinit Nijhawan
Vinit Nijhawan Fellow

Vinit Nijhawan

Vinit Nijhawan was previously Managing Director at UnitedLex. Prior to that Vinit was Managing Director, Office of Technology Development at Boston University where he launched 8 venture-backed spinoffs and successfully executed a patent monetization program. Vinit teaches MBA courses on Entrepreneurship at the Boston University Questrom School of Business, where over 450 students have taken his courses. Vinit has over 30 years experience building five startups: he was CEO of three, and five were acquired. Vinit was Venture Partner at Key Venture Partners where one of his investments was acquired for $430M. Vinit is an advisor and board member to several technology startups and was a Mass High Tech All-Star in 2005. Vinit has participated in over 240 panel discussions and paper presentations, and was a Board Member of Mass Ventures, an early stage, quasi-public Massachusetts venture capital firm, a co-founder of EdTech Accelerator/Incubator LearnLaunch, ex-President of Massachusetts Association of Technology Transfer Offices and co-founder of Waterloo Alumni Angels. Vinit is also serving or has served on the non-profit boards of VentureCafe Foundation, National Academy of Inventors, and TiE Global. Vinit earned a B.A.Sc in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
James Savage, M.Sc
James Savage, M.Sc Fellow

James Savage

James Savage is the SVP General Manager of Pierpont Communications in Dallas, Texas, where he leads a growing team dedicated to the communications needs of local, regional and global clients. He joined Pierpont after successfully leading the corporate practice of Edelman, where he contributed to the brand and reputation success of national and global clients such as Symantec, British Telecom, BNY Mellon, Forest Park Medical Center, Entrust, International Association of Events and Exhibitions and the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Throughout his career, James has filled various senior leadership roles at Western Financial Group Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and Philips Electronics. James founded RainCoast Group, a Dallas-based global tech sector communications and marketing consultancy, and led groups with GTE Corporation (now Verizon), the Pacific Telecommunications Council, and the Canadian Federal Department of Communications (Industry Canada).

James has an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics (LSE) and a BA from the University of British Columbia, Canada. A leader in the communications community, he serves as a Commissioner with the Institute for Public Relations and has been a member of the Board of the Canadian PR Society (Toronto) and the Convergence Council of the S. I. Newhouse School of Communications (Syracuse University).
Bronson Stocker
Bronson Stocker Fellow

Bronson Stocker

Bronson Stocker has used his accounting and analytic training in providing financing solutions and risk management for a variety of global companies. He worked for Bank of America in their London office and with US based energy companies developing their offshore oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. When he returned to Dallas he worked with the bank’s expansion in Mexico and headed the Southwest Trade Banking Group helping importers and exporters manage their commercial and international risk exposures. At Bell Helicopter Textron, he arranged export financing for the sale of aircraft in Europe, Asia, and South America often in coordination with the Export Development Corporation (EDC) of Canada. Bronson was a financial and operating partner of chain of cinemas in Mexico. Most recently Bronson worked with Standard & Poor’s providing large and midcap companies credit ratings and related products.
Bronson was born in Dallas and has been involved in a number of volunteer efforts in the DFW Metroplex.
Kerry Tassopoulos, JD
Kerry Tassopoulos, JD Fellow

Kerry Tassopoulos, JD

• Experienced attorney and government relations professional, providing advice and counsel to executives at privately held and publicly traded corporations
• Of Counsel, Sunwest Communications
• Previously VP Public Affairs and Compliance, Mary Kay Global, where he was responsible for strategic direction, management and supervision of Regulatory and IP attorneys, and the Corporate Communications/CSR, Risk Management functions
• Public affairs/government relations work included the US (local, state and federal) as well as Canada, India, and the EU. Developed and enhanced the public affairs function for the EU Region, working on the ground in Washington, DC and Brussels with EU and national officials including the EU Commission, EU Parliament, EU Council of Ministers
• Led creation of a global Issues Management Program, which became a powerful tool for Mary Kay Global Public Affairs team in US, Brazil, Canada, China, Poland and Russia
• Represented Mary Kay in trade associations, serving in leadership roles with the Direct Selling Association, the Direct Selling Education Foundation, the Personal Care Products Council, ICMAD, the Public Affairs Council, the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations
• Director, Govt. Affairs, Excel Communications, where he created Government Relations /Public Affairs function. Actively lobbied before US Congress, Texas, California, Georgia
• Licensed attorney, with J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law
• Undergraduate degree in Political Science from Emory University
Hank Torbert, MBA
Hank Torbert, MBA Fellow

Hank Torbert

Hank Torbert is President at Alta Max, LLC and Founder of The Frontier Conference. He has extensive experience in private equity, advisory, and investment banking as well as in financing, developing, and operating small and middle market businesses in the media and telecommunications, technology, and transportation sectors.
Previously he was Managing Partner and Founder of Avondale Ventures, LLC, a private equity firm he founded in 2006. From 2004 to 2006, Hank served as an Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Broadcast Capital. He was responsible for the company’s investment strategy, portfolio management, and operations. From 1999 to 2004, he was an Investment Banker at JPMorgan Chase, serving as a Vice President of the Financial Sponsor Group in middle market banking, and also covering media and telecommunications clients in the Equity Capital Markets Group. Hank also held positions at AIG Capital Partners, where he focused on analyzing global private equity investments and on raising capital for its Global Emerging Markets Fund and New Africa Advisers.
As a founding investor and Board Member, Hank played an integral role in the launch, development, and IPO of Mood Media. In addition, he has played a vital role in the formation and growth of several other middle market-sized companies including HorrorNet and MixcastTV. Hank also served as a Strategic Advisor at Seven Echo.
Hank has served as a Director at Midas Medici Group Holdings, Inc., dLs Group, Consonus Technologies, Inc., Celeritas Management, Inc, Strive DC and Medstar Research Institute. He is a Trustee, Director, and Alumnus of The Taft School. He speaks regularly at media industry seminars on venture capital and other investment-related topics and is a recipient of the Network Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 Award. Hank holds a Masters degree in International Finance, an M.B.A., and a B.A., all from Columbia University.
Gordon Walker, PhD
Gordon Walker, PhD Fellow

Gordon Walker, PhD

Gordon Walker is David B. Miller Professor of Business and Chair of the Strategy and Entrepreneurship Group at the Cox School of Business at SMU. He received his BA from Yale University and an MBA and PhD from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He has previously taught at the Sloan School, MIT; the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; and Yale University. Dr. Walker’s publications have appeared in numerous academic journals. The fourth edition of his book, Modern Competitive Strategy, co-authored with Tammy Madsen will be published in January 2015. He has been on a number of editorial boards, including Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science and and Strategic Organization. He served in the Marine Corps as an infantry lieutenant from 1967 to 1970 and earned the Bronze Star with Combat V. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Alico, Inc. (NASDAQ) from 2005 to 2013, where he chaired the Nominating and Governance Committee.
Dr. Walker has consulted and performed contract research for many organizations including Southwest Airlines, Chaparral Steel, Sprint, Xerox, General Motors, Johnson and Johnson, Carlson Restaurants, EDS, Texas Instruments, The Associates, Novartis and United HealthCare. His executive training programs include senior management seminars at SMU, the Wharton School, Yale University and INSEAD. He was named among the best Business Policy teachers in the U.S. in 1994 and 1998 by Business Week magazine and received the President’s University Teaching Award in 1999 at SMU.

Opus Faveo.  Thinking.  Doing.  Leading.