HTC Staff

Houston Technology Center Leadership
Walter Ulrich

Walter Ulrich,
President and CEO

Walter Ulrich is active throughout Houston’s technology and entrepreneurship community. In addition to his leadership of the HTC, he serves as Chairman of the Gulf Coast Center for Innovation and Commercialization. He has received many awards, most recently the NASA Silver Achievement Medal presented by Dr. Ellen Ochoa, Director of Johnson Space Center. Appointed by Governor Rick Perry in 2006, Walter Ulrich served two years as one of 17 founding members of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund Committee that was responsible for awarding $200 million to foster the commercialization of innovative emerging technology.

Prior to joining the Houston Technology Center, he was CEO of several technology companies and an executive with two major global management consulting firms. Early in his career, he was responsible for the development of the first successful email service and he founded a major regional IT leader. He has a master and bachelor’s degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and served proudly in the US Marine Corps.


Paul M. Frison,
Executive Vice Chairman

Founder of the Houston Technology Center, Paul Frison served as its President from 1999-2007. He has been President and/or CEO of three public, technology based companies: LifeMark (1975-1984), NYSE; ComputerCraft (1984-1999), NASDAQ; and LifeCell (1986-1999). He has been involved in numerous other start-ups by serving on the Board of Directors. His broad experience includes many mergers and acquisitions. He has raised multiple rounds of venture capital, two IPOs, and more than a dozen follow-on rounds of public financing.

In 2004 he was honored by the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program and by the Kauffman Foundation as a national finalist for his achievements as Supporter of Entrepreneurship. In March 2011 Paul was awarded BusinessMaker of the Year by The BusinessMakers Radio Show.


Maryanne Maldonado,
Chief Operating Officer

Maryanne Maldonado is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Houston Technology Center. In this capacity, Mrs. Maldonado oversees the client services, marketing, offsite campus’, and general event operations of the organization and leads the team to provide strategic, tactical, and operational guidance, as well as investment-related advice, to early-stage companies developing innovative technologies with applications in the Energy, Information Technology, Life Sciences, Nanotechnology and Aerospace.

Prior to joining HTC, Ms. Maldonado presided as Head of Trade and Investment and Head of the International Energy Team for UK Trade and Investment, based in Houston. Prior to working with the United Kingdom, Ms. Maldonado served as Trade Commissioner for the Canadian Consulate-Houston, following several operational and regulatory positions with oil and gas companies. A native of North Carolina, Ms. Maldonado holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelors of Business Management from LeTourneau University in Longview City, Texas.


John W. “Jack” Sim,
Chief Financial Officer

Jack serves as the Vice President, Finance and Administration for Houston Technology Center and has been active with entrepreneurial start-up companies for over twenty-five years. Jack is the HTC's CFO and handles the company’s HR functions and contract management, while serving as the HTC’s Corporate Secretary.

Among Jack’s accomplishments was being named the Houston Business Journal’s 2010 Celebrate!Enterprise "Best CFO of The Year" in the Small Nonprofit category. Prior to joining HTC, he helped found and served as Vice President of several environmental and chemical technology companies. Jack was a principal in NECO Technologies, Inc., which patented a novel CO2 removal technology that resulted in the world’s finest CO2 facility, which removes 350 tons of CO2 per day, from the exhaust gases of a fully qualified 300 MW cogeneration power facility.

Earlier in his career, he served 12 years as Vice President of Operations for a worldwide chemical distributor. In addition, he helped found his wife’s successful retail florist operation. Jack is originally from Chicago, where he received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics from St. Xavier University. He is active in his community and has served on the boards of several community and business associations.

Houston Technology Center Executive Staff

Susanne Burkeholder,
Director, Office of Development

Susanne serves as the Director, Office of Development, and supports HTC’s fund-raising activities to generate key sponsor support to meet HTC’s mission and vision. Susanne Burkeholder has 20 plus years of strategic and organizational planning, project management, economic and business plan development experience in for-profit and non-profit arenas. Susanne was brought in as the Consulting Executive Director responsible for the overall operations, fundraising and strategic planning reporting to Board of Directors. Susanne successfully restored broken funding relationships and directed a debt reduction program to reduce debt from $1 million to $450,000.

Susanne has spent most of her life volunteering in many different capacities including: Steering Committee Chair for a $17 Million capital campaign; Silent Auction director; Information Technology, and many more. She grew up in the oil and cotton fields of West Texas with a commitment to Texas and deep understanding of the synergy among industries that operate in Texas. Susanne has a BBA from the University of Iowa and an MBA specializing in marketing from Texas Tech University with Phi Kappa Phi honors.

Jane Lea Hicks

Jane Lea Hicks,
Director, Client Acceleration

Jane Lea works with at HTC South where she directs client acceleration; client recruitment and screening processes. She provides guidance to local incubation and client companies, helping them with strategic planning to accelerate corporate growth and development. Her expertise is in the transitioning of developing groundbreaking technologies into a viable commercial products and successfully introducing new products to the marketplace.

As a business development consultant since 1999, Jane Lea has provided strategic guidance to multiple local start-up companies including Chrysalis BioTechnology, and NovoSci. She served as president of Medgraft Microtech, a dermal filler company from 2002 to 2004 and more recently served as President of Digital Media Marketing Group, an internet marketing company and Vice President Business Development for MTM Innovative Solutions a Kentucky-based medical device company. From 1986 to 1999, Jane Lea was Vice President Business Development and Strategic Planning with LifeCell Corporation, one of the early technology spin-outs from the University Of Texas Health Sciences Center. Jane Lea received her BA from University of North Carolina, Greensboro and completed advanced post-graduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Deborah Mansfield

Deborah Mansfield,
Director, Life Sciences Acceleration

Deborah Mansfield serves as the Director of Acceleration for the life sciences sector, providing strategic and tactical management, as well as investment-related advice to Houston-area early stage companies developing innovative technologies applied in the life sciences industry. She has an extensive background in business development, management, non-equity funding, entrepreneurship, compliance, and research in the life sciences sector. She has provided operations support to the Governor’s Council on Science and Biotechnology Development and currently acts as associate director for the Gulf Coast Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization, Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

Prior to joining HTC, Ms. Mansfield served in a number of management and research roles at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. She is an active advisory board member for ACCION Texas, Lone Star College-Montgomery Biotechnology Institute, University of Houston Biotechnology Industrial Advisory Committee, Nurtured by Design, Laser Tissue Welding, Inc., Fairway Medical Technologies, Inc. and Rice Alliance for Technology & Entrepreneurship, as well as, in leadership roles for the Bio/Medical Technology Club of Houston and Gulf Coast Medical Device Manufactures.

Ms. Mansfield holds a Masters of Business Administration from Our Lady of the Lake University, MS from Pennsylvania State University, and BS from California State University of Pennsylvania.

Rachelle Aspan

Rachelle Aspan
Director, IT Acceleration

Rachelle serves at the Director of Client Acceleration for the Information Technology Sector. She provides tactical business expertise to Houston based startup companies within the HTC Client program. Rachelle is a proficient financial professional with extensive experience in managerial and executive level finance and technology related positions. She has worked with both private and public companies including working with 3rd party proprietary technologies. She has managed teams responsible for the implementation and maintenance of proprietary software as well as assisted companies with various transitions or expansions into the commercial space.

Nick Tillmann

Nick Tillmann,
Director, Energy Acceleration

Nick Tillmann serves as the Director of Client Acceleration for the Energy Sector. Mr. Tillmann is a seasoned energy executive whose experience includes more than 25 years with ConocoPhillips. . He managed the company's $500 MM global petroleum coke business, led strategy management for European businesses and started from scratch the company's operations in Poland. Other roles included international crude oil supply operations, lubricants and the commercialization of technology-based products such as flow improvers, advanced separation systems and carbon products.

Nick has lived and worked in Austria, Ireland, Poland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom and has led business development projects in the US, Europe, South America and the Middle East. He speaks German and Polish, and has a working knowledge of Czech and Spanish. Nick has served as Chairman of the Biofuels Taskforce for the Great Houston Partnership, and is a Director with Silver Fox Advisors. He has been an Energy & IT Advisor for the Houston Technology Center since 2009.

Ruben Derderian

Ruben Derderian,
Director, Acceleration

Ruben Derderian is an accomplished corporate leader and entrepreneur with more than 35 years of executive-level business experience. His expertise in strategic planning, competitor analysis, and product development and launch give him a rich skill set with which to assist companies in all phases ranging from concept development, business plan development, funding, and sustainable profitable growth.

At the Houston Technology Center he serves as Acceleration Director working with companies who wish to establish their technologies in the US Gulf Coast market.

Charles Wohl

Charles Wohl,
Managing Director, HTC North Campus

Mr. Wohl will be responsible for business development and acceleration efforts for all new client companies in the northern region of Houston. One-half of his efforts will focus on issues related to air quality, clean energy, and water quality and supply. These efforts are in collaboration with the HARC building a sustainable future that helps people thrive and nature flourish.

A global executive with a record of achievement in technology driven industries has allowed Charles to leverage his experience in American, European, and Asian markets to identify, negotiate and lead successful business development initiatives. He is skilled in product development, licensing, P and L management, sales/marketing, operations management, market entry, startups, turnarounds, client relations and business transformation. Mr. Wohl is a Graduate of California State University-Long Beach with a BA, Journalism and Marketing, University of Southern California, BS, Industrial and Systems Engineering, and University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business, MS Management. He is also a member of IEEE, ION and an Eagle Scout.

Michelle Gonzales

Michelle Gonzales,
NASA Executive on Loan to HTC

Ms. Gonzales joins the Houston Technology Center as a loaned executive from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the Johnson Space Center. She will provide strategic and tactical guidance to increase private/public collaboration, advancing technology transfer, and assist in the acceleration of early stage companies. Ms. Gonzales has more than 29 years of experience in the federal sector, spanning technical management, mission integration, business management, program planning/control and contract administration in support of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs.

Most recently, she has supported strategic planning and business development, establishing collaborations and partnerships with industry, academia, and other entities for the purpose of advancing technology development required for the future of human space exploration as well as benefit to life on earth. Ms. Gonzales earned a BS, Industrial Engineering from Texas A and M University, specializing in systems integration and operations research.

Houston Technology Center International Program Chairs
Carlos Lara

Carlos Lara,
HTC Americas Chairman

Mr. Lara is the President of Lara & Associates LLC, a financial and business development advisory firm that provides corporate strategies, advocacy and project facilitation, and outsourcing solutions related to Human Resources and Technology/ Software development matters. In addition he is a principal in several independent business ventures, ranging from the electricity to healthcare issues.

Mr. Lara has successfully created and managed public and private projects at national and bilateral levels for grass roots and investment promotion related campaigns, internet initiatives and web portals, sports franchises, mass Hispanic retail and electricity markets, corporate and public finance activities and international funds transfer business; along with nonprofit initiatives such as the Mexican Council for Hispanic Business, the NAFTA Internship Program of the Washington Center and the HTC Americas.

Mr. Lara was born in Mexico City, where he obtained a Bachelor's and Master’s degree in Business Administration and International Management (MBA-MIM) from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), while having the opportunity to teach international marketing and finance.

Sid Vinyard

Sid Vinyard,
Founder & Chairman HTC Asia

Mr. Vinyard has a 25+ year business career that began with work on a US Indian Reservation after college, and was followed by a brief period in rural banking. He was then appointed by President Nixon to the National Selective Service Advisory Commission, which rewrote then-existing Selective Service Regulations that changed US military service from mandatory to all-volunteer. He next became the youngest Executive Director of a major US Trade Association, which represented 150+ manufacturing companies, with both international and domestic interests.

He formed his first company in the 1980’s, and his career has included startups, mergers, acquisitions, and entrepreneurial investment. He was partner/owner of a Houston-based company with 200 employees that was sold in 1989. In 1990 he founded a software company, whose product was designed for companies with annual transportation volume of $100+ million dollars, and in 1994 a US Fortune 500 Company bought a worldwide license. He is CEO of SPI Inc. which he founded in 1995, to focus on private investment opportunities He also serves as Chairman of HTC-Asia and Middle East, a Singapore venture he founded in 2012, to identify emerging technology startup opportunities for Asian, Middle Eastern and US corporate sponsors. His travel to more than 100 countries has produced international business contacts, which he continues to maintain.

Houston Technology Center Staff
Amanda Branch

Amanda Branch,
Receptionist/Administrative Assistant

Chuck Flournoy

Chuck Flournoy,
IT Manager

Sukaina Gillani

Sukaina Gillani,
Development Coordinator

Sara Gutierrez

Sara Gutierrez,
Accounting Coordinator

Trevonna Hayle

Trevonna Hayle,
Client Coordinator

Kaitlin O'Brien

Kaitlin O'Brien,
Marketing Coordinator 

Cheri Rocha

Cheri Rocha,
Administrative Services Manager
Executive Assistant to Walter Ulrich
Event Coordinator

Steve Smith

Steve Smith,
Facilities Manager

Josephine Tran

Josephine Tran,
Community Development Manager

Kendra Trueba

Kendra Trueba,
Property Manager and Leasing Agent

Charlene Wied

Charlene Wied,
Administrative Assistant

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