Garret Westlake, Executive Director
Westlake’s career as an academic and entrepreneur is defined by his imaginative use of technology and weaving of disciplines to solve critical social challenges. A lifelong advocate for individuals with disabilities, his early work involved the examination of connectionist networks to model and intervene in the treatment of dyslexia. He is a national leader in the design and delivery of biofeedback training to support individuals on the autism spectrum, and the author of widely adopted models for college transition, career counseling, and employment.
Through extensive work with Ashoka U, the Clinton Global Initiative University, the European Innovation Academy, and the Global Venture Lab, Westlake has contributed to award winning curriculum and programs for entrepreneurship and innovation education around the world. He has advised and mentored students whose projects have provided entrepreneurship education to South Sudan, brought greater awareness and services to the victims of sex trafficking, and improved the treatment of jaundice through new medical device technology. Westlake has supported and mentored student ventures accepted to Y Combinator, SXSW, and those receiving significant financial investment from the Resolution Project, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and private equity.
Prior to joining VCU, Westlake was the associate dean of student entrepreneurship in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Arizona State University, where he also taught in the Technological Entrepreneurship and Management program. He is the former founder and CEO of STEM Force Technology, a social impact technology company that he ran successfully for four years before exiting in 2015. Westlake currently serves on the board of directors for multiple for-profit and not-for-profit organizations such as MindSpark Technologies in Santa Monica, California and as a business mentor and consultant for startups such as the medical device company NeoLight, based in Phoenix, Arizona.
Westlake earned is BA in cognitive science from Carleton College, his MEd from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, and his PhD in curriculum and instruction from Arizona State University. When not engaged with students and entrepreneurs you are most likely to find Westlake enjoying Richmond’s plethora of bike trails, climbing walls, and river sports with his family.
David Holland, Program Director for Venture Creation
While living in London, UK from 2002-2010, he developed and evaluated innovation and entrepreneurship programs internationally while a Senior Consultant with BOP Consulting, Commercial Consultant with Arts & Business, Strategy and Development Consultant with B3 Media, and Innovation Programmes Learning Manager with the innovation think-tank and investor Nesta (formerly the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts). Past clients include American Express, Bank of New York Mellon, Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, UNESCO, the National Department of Arts and Culture of South Africa, and the European Cultural Foundation. He continues to consult independently for international clients including the Inter-American Development Bank and Salzburg Global Seminar. In 2016, he is serving as the inaugural Network Curator for Salzburg’s Young Cultural Innovators Network. His research has been published in the Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning and other writings by a range of national and international organizations. David is a Salzburg Global Fellow, an Evan Carroll Commager Fellow, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce.
David was a member of the founding team of New Deal of the Mind (now the Creative Society), a non-profit employment startup focused on creative fields. He has also advised start-ups in their infancy including Mindapples, a non-profit that promotes public understanding of the mind and helps everyone take better care of their minds, and Peace Helix, a global vision company dedicated to fostering peace and prosperity through commerce and enterprise.
He is also a THRIVE Mentor for the Greater Richmond Small Business Development Center and advisor to student-initiated tech startup, Think of Us. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia and formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Foundation and on the Junior Board of ROSMY. He is a former panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and has served on the Research and Programs Committees of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities.
David holds a BA in Economics and Asian Languages and Civilizations with a Certificate in International Relations from Amherst College, and MA degrees in International Studies and Diplomacy (Economics) and the History of Art from the University of London, SOAS. David is also a graduate of Landmark Worldwide’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program and Communications Curriculum.
Allison Schumacher, Program Director for Product Innovation
In teaching, she emphasizes the importance of questioning, research, experimentation, systemic thinking, process, and clarity in communication. Her academic research centers on cultural and memory studies with considerations for authenticity in the design. Allison is also an entrepreneur and practicing freelance graphic designer with a client base focused in the Southeast U.S.
Ms. Schumacher holds a MFA in Visual Communication from VCU and BFAs in Graphic Design and Printmaking from Appalachian State University.
Somiah Lattimore, Director, VCU Innovate
Somiah is the Founder and Creative Director for Straight Up Creative, a collaborative design house and Co-Founder for Ignatius All-Natural, a skin care line featured in Whole Foods, as well as consultant for several gaming, academic advising, tourism, and commerce driven start-ups. Lattimore is an award-winning designer and creative director that has worked with clients such as NASCAR, Roush Racing, Commemorative Brands/Balfour, H. M. Terry Co. Inc., and Chatham Vineyards.
She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design from Radford University and an M. A. in Instructional Design and Technology from Virginia Tech.
Amy Shankle, Program Coordinator
In her spare time, Amy enjoys helping others to train their dogs and going on adventures with her own two special pups.