The Team

About the Team

Ryan Berkun

Venture Consultant

Ryan is a Junior at the University of Miami studying Biology, Psychology, Chemistry, Art History and Finance. Ryan is driven by the technological side of entrepreneurship. As a Freshman in college, Ryan designed, developed and launched his app "Request - Your App, Everyone's Music". The app connects partygoers to the DJ at the party, allowing guests to request their favorite songs. Since then, Ryan has developed numerous mobile applications and is looking to pursue emerging technologies.

UM Startup Legal Practicum

Legal Practicum

3L students enrolled in Startup Legal Practicum at the UM School of Law.

Chester Montefering

Venture Consultant

Chester is a Senior at University of Miami studying Industrial Engineering and Economics. He has an incredible passion for innovative technology startups, and is a current entrepreneur after founding a computer hardware company Therion PC. In the past, Chester has consulted for various startup companies across multiple industries, worked at an early-stage tech VC in Tel Aviv, and implemented automation engines at a major credit card company.

Christopher Daniels

Venture Consultant

Working on It.

Adrian Alvarez

Program Manager

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Adrian Alvarez is a three-time alumnus of the University of Miami, graduating in 2007 with a B.B.A in International Finance and Marketing, and earning both a JD and MBA in 2011 and 2012 respectively. In 2007, between his two stints at the university, Adrian took a year off to start a test prep service company. He continued to grow the company while in school and also joined The Launch Pad in the Spring of 2010 as a venture consultant. Since graduating, he passed the Florida Bar and opened his own law firm and has co-founded two other companies. Adrian rejoined The Launch Pad in June of 2013 as the Program Manager.

Samantha Palmer-Shields

Program Coordinator

Sam Palmer-Shields is currently the Program Manager at The Launch Pad. She joined the team in 2013 and manages the venture consultants who assist in TLP's day to day functions. Sam has been with the University of Miami since 2010, working in areas such as the School of Law and the Provost. She is an entrepreneur and interested in idea evolution. Sam holds a BA in communications from the Southern New Hampshire University and is currently working on her Masters in Management and Leadership at Western Governors University.

Veda Cruz

Legal Fellow

Veda, a Miami native, received her B.A. in English and Political Science at the University of Miami. She is currently pursuing a J.D./M.B.A. at the University of Miami School of Law. Coming from a creative background of acting and creative writing, Veda is fascinated with the marriage of the legal, tech, and entertainment industries. Veda is currently serving as a social media expert and consultant for a virtual reality start-up company. In her free time, Veda enjoys weight-lifting, playing video games, and going to car meets around Miami.

Adriana Tomeu

Bio Coming Soon...

Maria Derchi Russo

Bio Coming Soon...

Bio Coming Soon...

Bio Coming Soon...

Kyle Sonlin

Bio Coming Soon...

Erick Gavin

Bio Coming Soon...

Sea Amundsen

Bio Coming Soon...

Brian Breslin

Bio Coming Soon...


The Launch Pad Co-Founders

Dr. William Green

Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education

William Scott Green joined the University of Miami as senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education in July 2006. In the newly created position, he has overall responsibility for enhancing the quality of the undergraduate experience and strengthening the integration of university-wide undergraduate curricular and co-curricular initiatives. He also holds an appointment as professor of religious studies and senior fellow in the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies. Green previously served as dean of the College at the University of Rochester and Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Judaic Studies. He led the development of Rochester’s innovative undergraduate liberal arts curriculum and founded its Department of Religion and Classics. Green earned an A.B. in religion at Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in religion from Brown University. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Andrew Mellon Foundation.

Dr. Susan Amat

Founder of The Venture Hive & Co-founder of The Launch Pad

Dr. Susan Amat co-founded and was the Executive Director of The Launch Pad from June, 2008 through June, 2013. She is also the founder of Venture Hive, the accelerator for economic development. A serial entrepreneur, she built businesses in the entertainment industry for over a decade, including the first CD-Rom magazine and a national television show on the E! Network. After completing her MBA, Dr. Amat developed pediatric health monitoring products and earned a Ph.D. in Strategic Entrepreneurship (coursework in industrial engineering, business, and education). While teaching at the University of Miami, she co-founded The Launch Pad, defining the program, content, and platform functionality. She loved working with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and regional partners to create the first national network of collegiate entrepreneurs with the Blackstone LaunchPad programs. In 2012, Dr. Amat was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change. She currently works internationally with both municipal and federal governments in building innovation and entrepreneurship education programs for economic development.