Steve is the director of advanced projects at Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). He has worked at SpaceX since 2003 and was one of the first 20 employees in a company that has grown to more than 4000. Steve has founded and still owns several retail food businesses, his favorite concept being the Mr. Yogato frozen yogurt store in Dupont Circle (which he recently sold), where customers can earn discounts in goofy ways, such as doing the Thriller dance, getting a stamp on their forehead, or reciting the Braveheart speech. Steve has a B.S. in Finance and a B.A.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in Particle Physics from the University of Durham, an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University.
Betsy is the founder and owner of the eponymous "stylish and funky boutique” for women, Betsy Fisher. “Clothing expresses an artistic quality,” she says. “It lets you show who you are inside on the outside.”
Ashley Bergstrom and David Guard
Ashley Bergstrom has a background in health policy and government affairs and heads the Bergstrom Foundation. David Guard is an entrepreneur and owner of Capital City Care. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he was engaged in advocacy to create better drug policies that reduce risk and harm. David and Ashley live in Virginia with their baby daughter, Logan.
Sarah Hartman cofounded Harper Macaw, the mid-Atlantic region’s leading fine chocolate manufacturing company. Before Harper Macaw, Sarah hosted live Google hangouts for Ecole Chocolat, interned at Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, and served as Corporate Relationship Manager in Valrhona in Brazil. Prior to her time in the chocolate industry, Sarah pursued a brief career in human resources. She managed recruiting, hiring, and onboarding at Next Jump Inc, a high growth technology company in New York City. She also developed the human resources strategy for Stadia, an architecture firm in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sarah is now headed into the education sector and will start her Montessori primary training in September. Her dream is to open an innovative, multidisciplinary project-based school in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota region.
Akash Jain currently serves as president of Palantir USG and CTO of Palantir Technologies. His current areas of focus include information security, USG technical engagement, organizational behavior and Palantir’s technology portfolio. Mr. Jain joined Palantir in 2005 as a software engineer to design and build the Gotham platform and deploy it across the defense and intelligence communities in the United States. His areas of expertise include performance, scalability, security, enterprise architecture, and software design. Mr. Jain graduated from Stanford University in 2003 with a degree in computer science. He now lives in Washington, DC, where he enjoys spending time with his family.
In late 2015, Steve cofounded the ASK Charitable Foundation in his beloved adopted home of Austin, TX. Since that time, he has been actively involved with local organizations such as Nobelity, RBI Austin, JFON, and the Parker Lane United Methodist Church. Prior to devoting his time to the foundation and its local partnerships, Steve was a partner and portfolio manager at Pine River Capital, where he focused on seeking new opportunities for the firm. Prior to joining Pine River in 2008, Steve was a portfolio manager at Goldman Sachs. From 1999 to 2002, Steve was a Japanese convertible bond trader at Citadel Investment Group in Chicago. Prior to that, he was head of mortgage backed securities trading at Cargill. Steve received an AB cum laude in economics from Harvard University in 1991. He is a formidable pickleball competitor, a top notch ping pong player, and a world-rated Hanabi champ.
Errol Lawrence’s restaurant experience began as a busser, at the age of 16, for Hogates Restaurant/Marriott Corporation Washington, DC. Lawrence’s first foray into developing and redesigning restaurant concepts began at the struggling Geoffrey’s Restaurant on the cliffs of Malibu, CA, in 1983. After a complete overhaul under the direction of Lawrence, Geoffrey’s continues to be one of the longest running and most successful dining experiences in LA. In 2006 Lawrence moved to DC and launched OYA, SEI, and SAX restaurants, which have all become DC staples over the last 10+ years. Lawrence was involved with concept, design, and day-to-day operations. His passion for the hospitality industry continues to evolve with itshospitality Inc., a platform that aims to organize the hospitality industry’s information and communication and make it accessible to hospitality professionals and the people they serve. Google search meets slack for hospitality.
Nolan is the founder of Nolan's Novelty Artwork, a business that provides him with the opportunity to share his creative talents with the world. From a very early age, Nolan experimented with different mediums. His passion for the arts, coupled with school programs, led him to develop into the artist he is today. He launched Nolan's Novelty Artwork in 2016 at the Acton Children’s Business Fair, where he received the award for Best Presentation/Creativity the following year. This business is a stepping stone for the now high schooler. Nolan hopes to expand outside the Washington, DC area. Now returning as a judge, Nolan is hoping to continue contributing to the fair as a member of the Acton family.
Fiona is the owner of Fox Springs Handmade, a handcrafted jewelry business. Although she has been making jewelry and selling it at a local holiday show for several years, Fiona recently expanded online and hopes to build her business from there. A former participant in the Acton Children’s Business Fair, she won the award for Most Original Business Idea in 2018. Writing is another of Fiona’s passions, and she recently published her first book, The Sea of Realms, through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. She is currently a dual-enrollment student at a local community college and plans to pursue a career in STEM. Fiona is thrilled to return as a judge this year and can’t wait to see all the brilliant ideas the participants have come up with.
Dan is a venture capitalist at NextGen Venture Partners. Before founding NextGen, Dan was a vice president at the NewVantage Group, an early-stage investing firm in Washington, DC. Dan has been included twice on Washingtonian's list of 100 DC Tech Titans. He holds a BA from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Dr. Smita K. Trivedi
Dr. Smita K. Trivedi is an assistant professor of business and society/sustainable business at San Francisco State University. Smita’s research is focused on women entrepreneur networks, and her teaching is focused on business ethics and business/government relations. She received her undergraduate degree from Duke University in public policy; master’s degree in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University; and her Ph.D. in strategic management and public policy from the George Washington School of Business (GWSB).
Margot Machol Bisnow
Margot is a writer, wife, and mom from Washington, DC who speaks on raising fearless, creative, entrepreneurial kids who are filled with joy and purpose. She is the author of Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers & Change Makers. Margot has a BA in English and an MBA, both from Northwestern, and spent 20 years in government, including as an FTC Commissioner and staff director of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Both her kids are now grown: Austin started a popular band, Magic Giant; Elliott founded Summit, a noted international conference series for Millennial entrepreneurs and creatives, and led the purchase and development of Powder Mountain ski resort in Utah as a permanent home for the Summit community. Her husband Mark was a late-blooming entrepreneur, and wishes his parents had read Margot's book when he was growing up, so he might have started his company before he was 50.
Adam started a printing company out of his garage in high school and developed his first taste for entrepreneurship, similar to the young entrepreneurs at the Acton Children's Business Fair. Since then, he has worked at several international startups leading the overall growth strategy targeting the IT industry. Currently, he works in product marketing at Sisense, a hyper growth company within the data analytics industry.
Katie is a product manager for Lincoln Deployed, where she consults with civic and political organizations on technical solutions and strategy in San Francisco, CA. Prior to joining Lincoln, Katie worked as a software developer at Namely, a Sequoia backed company in New York City. Before entering the world of software, Katie worked in opinion research with a focus on public policy, and several liberty institutions in Washington, DC, including The Heritage Foundation. She is originally from Palm Springs, CA, where her grandfather inspired her to always have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Sam is the founder and head of technology at CarDash, a YC company that seeks to make automotive repair and maintenance as convenient and transparent as possible. His previous venture, Sightline Maps, provides an intuitive platform for 3D printing and visualizing topographical maps. Sam is based in San Francisco.
Tracy Foster is the founder of ONA (pronounced ō’na), a New York City based company that designs and sells fine bags and accessories. Prior to founding ONA, Tracy worked in education at a charter school in Washington, DC. She looks forward to merging her passions for entrepreneurship and youth development at the Acton Children’s Business Fair of Washington, DC.
Phil is the founder and CEO of Cloud Current Corporation.
Brian cofounded Broad Run Investment Management, LLC in 2012. Prior to that he served as a portfolio manager at FBR Asset Management, which he joined in 2009. Prior to joining FBR, Brian served as an analyst at Akre Capital Management, which he joined in May 2003. Prior to joining ACM, he held research analyst positions with Credit Suisse First Boston and Wheat First Union. Brian holds a BS in Commerce from the University of Virginia.
Danielle is CEO of Save the Moms. She is a Chopped Junior champion and was also a competitor on Chopped Junior Champions and NBC’s Food Fighters. She won the California Strawberry Commision Kids Cook-Off as well. She creates fresh and healthy food for her family that is quick and delicious. Danielle created her business, Save the Moms, to teach teens how to cook through step-by-step recipe cards so moms could be saved from the stress they often feel during meal time! Danielle participated in the Acton Children’s Business Fair last year, where she received the award for Business with the Highest Growth Potential. She is excited to be participating as a judge this year, and can’t wait to see lots of creative ideas!
Joanna is the creator and owner of Lunar Massage, a chain of no-frills massage studios in DC specializing in bodywork massage. She worked in fundraising prior to starting her business and wishes she had been exposed to entrepreneurship earlier in life through an event like the Acton Children’s Business Fair.
Thierry is an entrepreneur, an engineer, and a lifelong learner. He is currently the product director at SchoolHack Solutions, a personalized competency-based learning tech company in Vermont. Before SchoolHack, he co-founded ClassTracks, Inc., a vocabulary tool for English language learners. He is also active in the progressive school movement as a consultant and advisor.