Board of Directors
Bill Savitz, CEO
Bill, a long-time resident of Spokane, has over thirty-five years of successful business experience and community leadership. Bill became the CEO, after rising quickly through the ranks of Garco Building Systems. After many years of work with Garco, Bill transitioned to an active leadership role at Ignite Northwest. Among other community involvement, he has served as a Board Member and various Board Chairs for Greater Spokane Incorporated.
Jeff Severs, BBA Msc., Board Chair
Jeff brings Ignite Northwest expert knowledge in helping small businesses start up and expand. He began his career in the Air Force, where he exited after managing a $1 billion dollar program. He held a position as CEO of SprayCool, a venture-backed, high growth technology & manufacturing company where he grew its success exponentially. Jeff has previously held a position in the U.S. Senate and has an extensive educational background. He currently serves on eight boards and works as the Field Director for North Idaho Northwestern Mutual.
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Lisa Brown, PhD, Vice Chair
As chancellor of Washington State University Spokane, Lisa Brown leads the development of WSU’s rapidly growing, world-class center for health sciences education and research. Prior to joining WSU in January 2013, Brown served the Washington Legislature for 20 years, first in the House and later in the Senate. In 2005, she became the first Democratic woman in the state to hold the position of Senate majority leader. During her legislative career, Brown has been a passionate advocate for health sciences education and research at WSU Spokane. A native of Robinson, Illinois, Brown studied economics at the University of Illinois, in Champaign- Urbana, and at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, where she earned a PhD.
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Elaine Couture, Secretary
Elaine is the regional chief executive for Providence Health Care and oversees two nationally recognized hospitals. She also serves as chief executive for Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), Engage – a health technology company, MedStar –an air and ground medical transport company, and St. Lukes Rehabilitation hospital. Elaine serves on a wide variety of health-related community and professional advisory boards. She has a BS in Nursing from Montana State University and an MBA from Liberty University.
Lewis is the co-founder of Lee & Hayes, a firm specializing in IP counseling, IP portfolio development and commercialization of IP. Lee & Hayes recently received its fourth consecutive annual ranking by Intellectual Asset Management Magazine (IAM) as the #1 overall law firm for securing the highest quality patents. Lewis was also ranked as one of the top 1000 patent practitioners worldwide and one of the top 300 IP strategists worldwide by IAM. Lewis speaks on IP topics both domestically and abroad and is also the co-founder and CEO of IP Street, Inc., a subscription-based online service to help manage patents and portfolios.
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Brandon Tanner is a successful entrepreneur with a technology background that spans software, hardware and service solutions for financial institutions and other regulated industries. He is the senior manager for Rentsys in the US and its sister Managed Services provider IT Specialists (ITS) in the UK, he is the key, driving force behind the company’s business continuity and disaster recovery products and services, including the next generation of cloud and recovery products, BlackCloud and BlackVault. The combination of Brandon’s technology and regulatory expertise has led to several innovative cloud strategies that have helped customers maintain compliance more cost-effectively. Brando also serves as the Board Chairman for Associated Industries an employers association specializing in human resources, employment law, training, health insurance, and workplace safety issues.
Accelerator Services Team
Elaine has a range of experience in the investment and entrepreneurial fields. Through the Washington Technology Center, she spearheaded the Washington Bridge Fund, Regional Angel Network Program and Statewide Business Consulting Program. Previously, Elaine led deal sourcing and investment analysis at two venture capital firms: Buerk Dale Victor in Seattle and Artemis Ventures in the Bay Area. For fun, she started a wine business in Canada and had a great exit after five years. She holds an MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business.
John’s passion has always been to help the Greater Spokane region develop its technology based companies to create job opportunities and economic growth in the area. John has valuable expertise from creating successful back to back INC 500 companies and Directing Client Services at Sirti. John also founded or co-founded three companies, all of which were among the fastest growing companies in America under his leadership and were successfully sold. John received a BSEE degree from the University of Idaho.
Jayson has over a decade of experience in the process of commercialization of innovative ideas. He has a technical background in mechanical engineering that centers on the development of advanced energy and clean technologies. Prior to Ignite Northwest, Jayson worked for high-growth startups in engineering, program management and business development roles. Jayson holds a BSME from the University of Washington and an MBA from the Foster School of Business with emphasis in entrepreneurship and technology management.
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As an Executive Entrepreneur, Michael brings over 35 years of technology, management and startup experience to the team. Educated as a physicist, he has served in multi-disciplinary advising and project management roles for a wide range of firms including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, among others. He has also been an advisor for a plethora of venture capital organizations, small companies and startups. As an entrepreneur, he was a principal in four startup companies and assisted with business development and oversight of more than 15 other companies.
Connect with Michael on LinkedIn
Ignite Northwest Team
Geralyn assists Innovate Washington Foundation/Ignite Northwest’s leadership team and staff with regular and efficient communication with clients, and presents Innovate Washington Foundation/Ignite Northwest’s success and value to business stakeholders and the public. She coordinates organization functions, provides support to the Foundation Board of Directors and staff members, ensures the smooth day-to-day running of the office, and helps coordinate the leadership team’s involvement with the entrepreneurial community. Prior to joining the Innovate Washington Foundation/Ignite Northwest, Geralyn served in a similar capacity at Spokane Transit Authority and has extensive experience in the banking industry.
Ryan, a native of Spokane, has over 15 years of operations and marketing experience. Working most recently with AIRCAT® Pneumatic Tools as COO, he developed and implemented a successful marketing/branding strategy while expanding sales into various distribution channels, prior to the successful sale of the company. His expertise extends to strategic planning, brand awareness, international trade and manufacturing efficiency. Ryan enjoys the outdoors and waterskiing on lakes of the Northwest while finding time to volunteer coach youth soccer and run marathons. He holds an International Business degree from the University of Washington, with a minor in Chinese, and a Commercial Real Estate Broker license in Washington State.
Jeff has over 30 years of experience in finance and business management. Beginning his career in public accounting, Jeff transitioned to the private sector, serving as either the CFO or CEO at various manufacturing companies. A native of Eastern Washington, Jeff is a certified public accountant and earned his BS in Business from the University of Idaho.