About the Team
Will SilvermanDirector, The Launch Pad
Dr. William Silverman (M.B.A. '10), completed his Ph.D. at the UCLA Medical School and migrated into business upon realizing that his career as a biomedical researcher was a long-term exercise in entrepreneurship and start-up financing. He has lectured in graduate level neuroscience courses at the Miller School of Medicine at UM, as well in the School of Education, the School of Communication, and the School of Business at the University of Miami. Will is particularly interested in developing and commercializing financial technologies that increase access to financial services. He joined The Launch Pad at its inception as one of its first Venture Coaches, and rose to become its Director after just 2 years on staff. His business expertise lies in the areas of finance and marketing and he regularly leads workshops on venture feasibility, business strategy, marketing, financial modeling and valuations, along with presenting business opportunities to investors.
Ryan BerkunVenture 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 PracticumLegal Practicum
3L students enrolled in Startup Legal Practicum at the UM School of Law.
Chester MonteferingVenture 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.
Adrian AlvarezProgram 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-ShieldsAdministrative Assistant
A native to Miami, Florida Samantha Palmer-Shields, better known as “Sam” recently joined the Launch Pad team, as Administrative Assistant, in February 2013. Sam previously worked at the University of Miami School of Law Center for Ethics & Public Service, and its Legal Communication and Research Skills Program. Sam currently handles the Launch Pad’s day-to-day administrative operations, and also greets the many students, alumnus, and UM community who are interested in being a part of The Launch Pad. Sam is also working on her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University.
Veda CruzLegal 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.
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The Launch Pad Co-Founders
Dr. William GreenSenior 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 AmatFounder 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.