2020 speaker profiles
Fireside Chat Keynote speaker: Tom Erickson
Tom is the founding director of the School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Assembled in 2019, the School includes Computer Science and Statistics departments together with the Information School. With an aggregate growth rate of almost 800% in undergraduates in the past 10 years, the School was created in recognition that the future of high tech involves both cutting edge research and education in the core sciences and the enrichment of this work with an understanding of the societal impact posed by the pervasiveness of computing and big data. The School has key objectives to extend digital thinking across campus while engaging with industry, sometimes reimagining traditional businesses in a digital context and other times partnering to commercialize advanced research in digitally savvy organizations.
Tom serves on the boards of several emerging tech companies in North America and Europe, in the areas of data science, analytics, and payments processing.
Prior to returning to his alma mater, Tom had been a founding director and CEO of Acquia, a Boston-based software company that he grew from founding to $175M in revenue and 800 employees. A majority share of Acquia was acquired in 2019 by Vista Equity Partners for more than $1B. In 2012, Deloitte named Acquia the fastest growing private software company in the USA.
Tom has also served in several executive roles in software companies in his 40 year career, including Teleatlas (TomTom), Systinet (Mercury Interactive/HP), webMethods, Baan, and MRO Software (IBM).
Tom is passionate about opportunity, equality and education. He loves the outdoors, cold or hot, and prefers to be around bodies of water. He is at home anywhere on the planet and has been known to try to speak with the residents of every country he’s visited in their own language, with mixed degrees of success. It’s common to find him in the garden, on the ski slopes or with a camera in his hand. Food and wine are his weaknesses, and he prefers cooking over dining out. Tom is the proud father of two young men.
Fireside Chat Moderator
Kathleen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and published book author with expertise in business and science communications and extensive connections in technology-related industries. During more than 20 years as a business reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Kathleen won a number of prestigious awards, but none more notable than the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. She was awarded journalism’s top honor for co-authoring a series of articles about how doctors at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for the first time in history sequenced all the genes of a patient for diagnosis. At the Journal Sentinel, Kathleen also wrote a weekly Investment Trends column, did extensive investigative reporting into large, multi-state businesses, traveled to places like the Gulf of Mexico with one of the country’s best energy industry analysts, uncovered important information needed for scientific and technical stories, and delved into cutting-edge science at, for example, a startup that sold stem cell-derived heart cells to large pharmaceutical companies.
Prior to joining the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Kathleen was a Communications Coordinator at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and a Writing Instructor at the American Institute of Banking. Kathleen has an MA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BA in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Allen Dines is an Executive Advisor at WISC Partners, a strategic operating capital fund founded by a group of Silicon Valley-based UW-Madison alumni. Allen has more than 30 years of experience at the executive level working at the interface of science and technology. His passion is creation and growth of new ventures. He is also active as a mentor and advisor with MERLIN mentors, 100State, gener8tor, Madworks Accelerator and MadVentures. Most recently Allen was Assistant Director, New Ventures at the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations. During his tenure at UW-Madison he founded or provided original inspiration for many of the programs and events that today are mainstays in Madison’s startup scene. In 2003 he founded the Midwest Research University Network (MRUN), an alliance of Midwest university commercialization managers and others focused on fostering startup ventures. Prior to joining UW- Madison, Allen was involved in three startup ventures, all in the biotechnology sector two of which he co-founded and all of which sold to leaders in their respective industries. Prior to these ventures, Allen was an Associate with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc. in Bethesda, MD working with the Pharmaceuticals, Agrichemicals and Food practice. Allen holds degrees from the University of Michigan including a B.S, a Masters in Natural Resources and an MBA.
Matt is a successful serial entrepreneur. He owns and manages several software companies, including Move Counselors, LLC and Pythonic Corporation. Move Counselors develops a platform that connects relocating employees to trusted partners in order to get moved faster, easier, and on budget. Pythonic develops machine learning technologies that automate insurance underwriting and claims workflows.
Prior to Move Counselors and Pythonic, Matt co-founded murfie.com, a music streaming platform and marketplace. He’s the inventor of the TurboTap, a device that pours draft beer faster and with less waste that’s used in pubs and stadiums worldwide. Prior to TurboTap, he helped pioneer streaming audio and video on the web at Vosaic, and he developed technology that grew the first food in space onboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.
Matt has received product-of-the-year honors from Popular Science and TIME Magazine. He has degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin and is a recipient of the University’s Entrepreneurial Achievement Award.
Dennis Barnum, MERLIN Mentors, Pitch & rePlay Wrangler, Patient Care Partners
Dennis Barnum has over thirty years’ experience in the high-technology and services industries, primarily in computer software and services. He holds a master’s in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and participated in the MBA program at the University of Minnesota. He began his career at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. He subsequently spent several years with Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis in a variety of management positions in the domestic and international software and services divisions. Since 1986, Barnum has been involved in either high-tech startups or recovery of high-tech companies. He has founded several technology companies, and has led turnarounds of several others. He is active in the Merlin Mentors program and is currently helping his wife Debby grow her rapidly expanding company, Patient Care Partners, as an “unpaid intern”.
Susie Younkle, Program Director, MERLIN Mentors