Management

Brad Burke, Managing Director Brad Burke is the Managing Director of the Rice Alliance. Most recently, he founded and managed the local office of Viant Corporation, a premier internet consulting firm, delivering internet strategy, creative design, and web technology implementation. Viant went public through an IPO in 1999. Prior to Viant, Brad was a Principal with CSC Index, the management consulting division of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). Before consulting, Brad held management positions with Exxon Corporation. He received his M.B.A. from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and his B.S. from Vanderbilt University. 

Mary Lynn Fernau, Director of Marketing
Mary Lynn Fernau is the Marketing Director for the Rice Alliance. Mary Lynn shares the entrepreneurial spirit fostered by the Rice Alliance, having patented, manufactured and launched a financially-successful child safety product. Previously, Mary Lynn served as an independent consultant for companies including Korn/Ferry International, AIG, and Continental Airlines. She earned her Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Thomas Kraft, Director of Technology Ventures Development Dr. Kraft is the Director of Technology Ventures Development for Rice Alliance. His academic background covers mechanical and electrical engineering and Math and business from Stanford and UCLA before his doctoral program at Rice. Dr. Kraft holds 19 US Patents and has found several medical device and medical robotics companies after being part of the NASA Mission Control Center design effort. In addition to teaching at UCLA, Dr. Kraft was previously an adjunct Professor of Math for HCC and a visiting lecturer on creativity. At Rice, Dr. Kraft is focusing on increasing collaboration between Rice MBA students and the science and engineering departments at Rice in developing new commercialization ventures.

Lea Aden Lueck, Director of the Rice Business Plan Competition
Lea Aden is the Director of the Rice Business Plan Competition. Prior to joining the Rice Alliance, Lea Aden served as Associate Director, Kids and Family Ministry, First Presbyterian Church. While there, she led all aspects of the children’s ministry department serving the 4000 member church including program development, budget administration, recruitment, training, management and evaluation of more than 300 volunteers and paid staff. Her corporate roles included recruiting positions for Andersen Consulting, The Boston Consulting Group, Comerica Bank, KPMG and Aquent. Lea Aden is a graduate of Texas A & M University. 

Quynhmai Nguyen, Director of Operations and Event Planning
Quynhmai Nguyen is the Director of Operations and Event Planning for the Rice Alliance. Prior to joining the Rice Alliance, she worked in public affairs at Baylor College of Medicine. Quynhmai graduated with a B.A. in Sociology (cum laude) from Rice University in 2000 and earned her J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Texas 

Kerri Smith, Managing Director, OwlSpark and Director of Programs, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice University
Kerri has broad experience in developing programs and strategies that help maximize the success of technology-based startups.  Her experience includes entrepreneurship, startup acceleration, educational programming, and technology licensing and commercialization.  Her working knowledge and relationships with both angel and venture investors has proven to be a successful factor in the numerous programs she has directed.

Kerri started her career at the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) as the Manager of Intellectual Property and then later helped form their small business incubator.  She now works at Rice University where she first served as the Assistant Director of the Office of Technology Transfer, then later joined the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship where she now serves as the Director of Programs.  There, she develops educational programs, principally in the area of entrepreneurship, and plays a lead role in accelerating technology-based startups in the areas of energy/clean tech, life science and information technology.   She received her B.S. degree from Northern Illinois University and conducted graduate studies at Texas A&M University.  

Erin Wyatt, Program Manager
Erin Wyatt is the Program Manager for the Rice Alliance. Prior to joining the Rice Alliance, Erin worked for the Office of Institutional Advancement within the Texas Tech University System. She served as the Coordinator for the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT Scholars Program. Erin is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a Master’s in Public Administration, as well as an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies.

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