The Reactory Summit Presenter Bios

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Eric Dickson, MD, MHCM, FACEP; President & CEO, UMass Memorial Health

Dr. Dickson is President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health, the largest not-for-profit health care system in central Massachusetts with $3.3 billion in annual revenue, 1,700 physicians and more than 15,500 employees. The system includes four owned hospitals on ten campuses with more than 1,000 licensed beds; four affiliated hospitals; 70 office-based community practices; a behavioral health services agency and hospital; six urgent care centers; and an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). UMass Memorial trains 550 residents and fellows annually and performs world-class research in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Dickson also serves as a Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is Practice Area Leader of the Real Estate, Finance and Corporate practices at the law firm Bowditch and Dewey. He represents businesses, individuals and institutions throughout Massachusetts in sophisticated transactions with an emphasis on big real estate projects and challenging commercial law issues. He regularly advises developers, landlords, mortgage lenders, tenants and property owners across various industries in complex development, acquisition, financing, business planning and leasing transactions, including the biggest lease in the history of Boston at the time. In the past year, he has represented dozens of companies on life science and high tech leases, including negotiation of many leases in the Seaport and Cambridge. He often works with early-stage companies to provide them the counsel necessary to protect their interests in obtaining contracts, investors and lending facilities. Paul is a board member with MassEcon and serves on the Government Affairs Committee of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. He is also Chair of the Advisory Board for the Entrepreneurial Innovation Center at Framingham State University, where he advises the Center on its program helping entrepreneurs develop their ideas and small businesses.

Dr. Ben Benton

Ben Benton is currently the Interim Dean of Math and Science and Professor of Biology at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester. Until recently, Ben also served as the Biotechnology Program Coordinator at QCC. As dean and coordinator, Ben works closely with MassBioEd, Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, and other Massachusetts community colleges to improve biotechnology curriculum to match the skill sets needed by local biotechnology companies as well as working with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to develop transfer pathways for biology majors between community colleges and public four-year institutions. Additionally, he serves on the advisory board of Worcester Technical High School and has developed articulation agreements between local high schools and the QCC biotechnology program.

Prior to his appointment at QCC, Ben spent over a decade at several small biotechnology companies in the New York and Boston areas directing programs in target validation and drug discovery in the fields of inflammation, diabetes, and cancer. He received his Ph.D. in Tumor Cell Biology from Northwestern University and did his postdoctoral studies at Osaka University and Rockefeller University on the genetics of cell cycle regulation.

Craig Blais

As President & CEO of the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC), Craig brings years of experience and a wealth of expertise to the position.

Craig oversees the $10 million non-profit whose mission is to promote the common good and generate welfare of the City of Worcester and the region by being the leading force for economic development with a focus on urban development.

Craig works with public and private partners to complete high impact projects, that for any number of reasons, the conventional market will not take on.  The organization’s partners include government and quasi-government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels, funders, lenders, property and landowners, and construction and design companies.

Under Craig’s leadership, the WBDC has grown from a $2M organization to more than $66M.  This incredible growth has resulted in a more robust tax base and many thousands of new jobs.  For additional sources of income, Craig established a fee-for-service department providing project management services for private developers, institutions, and municipalities.  The WBDC’s SBA 504 Loan Program also generates revenue for the organization and is an important piece of the economic development toolbox by providing capital to help small businesses expand.

One of Craig’s proudest accomplishments is the recent development of a 46-acre biomanufacturing park, known as The Reactory.  In addition to the typical permitting and build out challenges, the land acquisition process required a complex series of steps that included passing state legislation, enduring a bidding process, and obtaining financing.

Another complicated project was the redevelopment of the former Telegram & Gazette building in downtown Worcester.  This $42M development required new market tax credits to save the building as part of the Theatre District Master Plan.  After funding was secured, the 132,000 SF building was fully rehabilitated making way for the building’s adaptive reuse as academic and office space, a business incubator, and a black box theater.

Catherine Bouthillier

Catherine Bouthillier is the Senior Manager of Healthcare Corporate Partnerships at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who consults with LifeScience companies on creating customized training and R&D solutions.  Leveraging WPI’s various labs, such as the Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC), Cell Engineering Research Equipment Suite (CERES), PracticePoint and the Intential Design Studio (IDeaS), allows her to create hands-on training and R&D solutions for companies of all sizes.

WPI’s ability to quickly access their network of industry experts & students allow for expediated timelines in the research and development of life-altering healthcare technologies.

“Having a well-equipped environment where industry and academia can foster synergy is resulting in cutting-edge, critical, patient-centric solutions, positively altering the prognosis of illnesses and patient mobility”

For over 20 years, Catherine has worked with international and domestic organizations in identifying, creating and delivering customized workforce solutions ultimately ensuring financial goals and strategic plans are accomplished.

Julia Georgules

Julia Georgules is a Senior Vice President and the Director of Research for JLL’s New England region, based in Boston, Massachusetts. In her role, she is responsible for the development and implementation of best-in-class research programs that serve to advise the real estate strategies of JLL’s investor and occupier clients.

In addition to her responsibilities in Boston, Julia also oversees JLL’s research programs across the East Coast and Canada, working with markets in this region to deliver industry-leading research and insights.

Julia also co-leads JLL’s Technology Research Group, which authors national research publications focused on the technology industry and both its impact and opportunity within real estate markets in the United States.

A California native, Julia began her career with The Staubach Company in San Francisco in 2006. In 2008 The Staubach Company was acquired by JLL, at which time Julia moved to the research team, covering the San Francisco office market. Over the years her role grew and expanded to include management of the Northern California research program and co-leadership of JLL’s Technology Research Practice for the United States.

In 2014, Julia was promoted to Vice President and took on the role of Director of U.S. Office Research. During that time she was responsible for the national analysis and reporting of office market fundamentals and trends across the 50 U.S. office markets tracked by JLL as well as the study of office market dynamics impacting both investors and corporate occupiers.

In 2016, Julia relocated to Boston and assumed a new role as Director of Research responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of research programs in the Americas, later assuming her current role in Boston and within the East Coast and Canada.

Julia holds an MBA with a concentration in Global Strategic Management from Dominican University of California and a bachelor of arts in International Business from San Diego State University.

Ford Gurall

Ford Gurall has nearly 20 years of real estate development and construction experience, with specialized expertise in life science and laboratory facilities. He is the Founder and Managing Principal of GRE, an advisory and owner’s representative firm that provides a comprehensive range of real estate strategy, development, design and construction planning, and project management services. He has successfully managed development work valued in excess of $750 million, including over 1 million square feet of life science spaces. Ford has been retained by multiple Fortune 500 companies as a third-party executive to assemble build-to-suit developments, mitigate underperforming project teams, and help outsource corporate real estate activities. He is an expert in end-to-end build-outs of wet and dry lab environments, manufacturing, biotech facilities, bulk medical gas, and clean room construction projects. Ford’s past clients include Quest Diagnostics, Spectra Laboratories, Fresenius, Alexion, Dermpath, Eli Lilly, and Agilux with individual projects in excess of $250 million.

Travis McCready

Travis McCready is the National Practice Leader for JLL’s US life sciences real estate markets practice, which includes brokerage, capital markets, advisory and analytics, project development services, and valuation for life sciences tenants, developers and investors.  He has over 25 years of experience leading public, private, and nonprofit ventures with a focus on technology and innovation-based companies.  The former President & CEO of the $1.6 billion life sciences funding agency Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Travis remains active in the life sciences community serving as director and scientific advisor to health care & life sciences start-ups focused on rare disease diagnostics, the microbiome, advanced biomanufacturing, and public health.

Travis is the co-chair of the Academic Institute Advisory Board at Atrius Health, the largest independent physician-led healthcare organization in the Northeast.  He is passionate about supporting tech-based entrepreneurship and serves on the boards of business accelerators MassChallenge and Lever, and wet lab incubator MBI.  He also serves on the boards of public media giant WGBH, and the world-renowned Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.  No stranger to public service, Travis has served on the Economic Development Planning Council under three Massachusetts governors and has been appointed to state and national initiatives ranging from the arts to advanced manufacturing.

A native of New York City, Travis received his B.A. from Yale University, and J.D. from the University of Iowa.

Dr. Knut Niss

Dr. Niss has served as Chief Technology Officer since March 2018. Dr. Niss joined Mustang in March 2017 as Vice President of Operations, where he initiated and oversees the establishment of Mustang’s cell therapy manufacturing facility. Prior to Mustang, Dr. Niss was Cell Therapy Asset Leader at Biogen, where he oversaw CMC-related activities for gene-edited hematopoietic stem cell and lentiviral gene therapy programs for sickle cell disease and hemophilia, respectively. Earlier in his career, Dr. Niss was Senior Technical Project Leader at Novartis’ cell therapy manufacturing facility in Morris Plains, New Jersey, where he directed the transfer and implementation of the CTL019 process from Penn to Novartis. He also served as Senior R&D Program Manager at EMD Millipore, where he established processes for the large-scale expansion of adult and pluripotent stem cells. Dr. Niss began his career in senior research positions in Pfizer’s Regenerative Medicine and Immunology groups. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Humboldt University of Berlin, and an M.S. in microbiology from the University of Göttingen in Germany. Dr. Niss completed his postdoctoral research at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito was sworn in for a second term as the 72nd Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on January 3, 2019, after a first term focused on moving Massachusetts forward through bipartisan, results-driven leadership.

Since taking office with Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito has visited and partnered with leadership in all 351 of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns, developing close relationships with mayors, town administrators, and other municipal officials and building on a fundamental belief and understanding that the Commonwealth’s success is driven by the strength of its diverse expanse of people and places.

Inspired by her time as a member of her hometown Board of Selectmen, Lt. Governor Polito has used the Community Compact Cabinet to sign agreements with every city and town to partner with state government on more than 800 smarter ways to deliver services, with more than 90 joining second compacts.  Under her leadership, the Seaport Economic Council has directed more focus and support to helping coastal communities address their unique challenges and economic opportunities, including a new pilot program to support harbor dredging.

Collaborating with her STEM Advisory Council co-chairs, Lt. Governor Polito has encouraged further opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education to inspire more students to get involved in these important fields and better connect them to good careers. Having seen firsthand the transformational impact of these programs, Lt. Governor

Polito is committed to continuing to increase the number of young women and underrepresented minority students engaging in STEM related fields and careers.

Lt. Governor Polito recognizes the importance affordable housing, mobility, and resiliency have to the overall strength and vitality of our Commonwealth. Lt. Governor Polito has worked closely with local officials to encourage housing production through the Housing Choice Initiative, improve roadways, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, pathways, and intersections through the Complete Streets program, and invest in on-the-ground, proactive projects to address climate change impacts through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program.

As chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, Lt. Governor Polito and a diverse team of professionals have brought innovative approaches to combating domestic violence, including establishing a tool kit that empowers local law enforcement and victims to identify abuse and hold offenders accountable. Lt. Governor Polito is also leading the development of the first statewide public awareness campaign in almost 20 years which is expected to launch this year.

Lt. Governor Polito began her public service in local government, serving as a member of the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen, and in 2001 was elected state representative, representing the residents of the 11th Worcester District (Shrewsbury and Westborough) for five terms. Lt. Governor Polito is a graduate of Worcester’s Holy Name Central Catholic High School, Boston College and the New England School of

Law. She is a lifelong resident of Shrewsbury where she owns and operates a commercial real estate development firm and lives with her husband, Stephan M. Rodolakis, and their two children.

Kenneth L. Turner

Kenneth Turner is President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), an economic development and investment agency dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the life sciences in Massachusetts. He directs and oversees the center’s operations, investment strategy, programs, and partnerships.
Prior to joining the MLSC, Mr. Turner served as Director of Diversity & Inclusion/Compliance with Massport. He oversaw and managed the Authority’s multiple diversity programs, including business and supplier diversity, workforce diversity, and airport concessions, as well as all compliance initiatives associated with Massport’s Disadvantaged/Minority/Women Business Enterprise programs.
Previously, Mr. Turner served as Deputy Secretary for Administration & Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services. He has over 20-years of general management and executive experience in various Fortune 100 media and package goods companies including having served as Senior Vice President of Emerging Markets at AOL Time Warner as well as having held various marketing positions at Hallmark Cards and Hasbro Toys.
A retired U.S. Navy Captain and submarine nuclear weapons system officer with 26-years of service, Mr. Turner holds a B.S. degree in Liberal Arts from Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA.

Jon Weaver

Jon is the President & CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI), a private, non-profit economic development organization that promotes the life and health sciences across Massachusetts as an economic development advocate and early stage business incubator. As an economic development advocate, MBI has supported the development of the Worcester Biomanufacturing Park, Gateway Park, and Redstone Center. MBI operates three life and health science business incubators across the City of Worcester that provide cost-effective laboratory space, shared equipment, environmental health and safety support, and business assistance. Founded in 1985, MBI has graduated over 95 life science companies that employ over 800 in the regional economy.

Jon received his Bachelors and MBA from Assumption College. He previously served as Vice President, Real Estate at MassDevelopment and Senior Project Manager at the Worcester Business Development Corporation. Prior to assuming the role of President & CEO, Jon served as the Chief Operating Officer of MBI for three years. Jon is a current Board Member of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau and Alumni Advisor to the Worcester Student Government Association. He actively supports several other organizations and was a former member of the Planning Board and Economic Development Committee in the Town of Auburn.

While President & CEO, Jon has overseen MBI’s expansion into the former Cogmedix facility at 17 Briden Street, Worcester, MA in Worcester’s Gateway Park development. The 25,000 SF expansion project will double MBI’s capacity to support early stage companies. Jon also oversaw the establishment of several business support and mentoring programs within MBI to help early stage entrepreneurs raise capital and continue their growth.

Nicholas Willnow

As Director of Strategic Operations for the Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering organization at AbbVie Bioresearch Center, Nicholas helps set and drive strategic initiatives for the introduction, manufacture and release of Biologics.  A key focus for Strategic Operations is building and enabling our Talent Pipeline.  It is through building a diverse, confident, and empowered team that AbbVie continues to make possibilities real.  Nicholas is part of a team of individuals that works with peer organizations and education partners to drive talent into Biopharma while also ensuring the best onboarding and career development experience at AbbVie.

Nicholas held roles in Manufacturing, Validation and Process Engineering early in career prior to spending five years in Operations Management.  These roles – coupled with a passion for talent sourcing, development and culture – helped build a foundation that enabled the creation and expansion of the Strategic Operations function at AbbVie Bioresearch Center.

Nicholas received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a MS in Engineering Management from Drexel University.

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