Advisory Council

The Center for Software Innovation Advisory Council is comprised of a diverse group of representatives from transformative software innovation companies, ventures and funders.  The council provides strategic counsel to the Center for Software Innovation’s Executive Director to help establish and grow the center.



Portrait of Ratmir Timashev

Ratmir Timashev
Inaugural Advisory Board Chair

Ratmir Timashev is a globally recognized entrepreneur, technologist, and philanthropist. He is the founder of Veeam Software — the global leader in cloud data protection and management software founded and headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. A champion of education and technological innovation in the Midwest, Ratmir and the Timashev Family Foundation are leading supporters of The Ohio State University.

Ratmir’s career as a software entrepreneur began during his time as a graduate student at Ohio State in 1995. Together with his close friend and partner Andrei Baronov, they built their first company, Aelita Software — which developed software management tools for Windows NT administrators — out of Ratmir’s campus apartment, and then sold Aelita to Quest Software in 2004. The duo later founded Veeam Software in Columbus, and Ratmir served as CEO before the company sold to Insight Partners in 2020. Today, Ratmir is building a new data hardware company, Object First.

Ratmir maintains strong ties to The Ohio State University, where he has established several major initiatives and scholarship funds for undergraduate students and scientific research. Through the Timashev Family Foundation, Ratmir and Angela’s $110 million gift in February 2023 launched the Center for Software Innovation and is the largest single gift in university history. This donation came after their 2020 gift to the College of Arts and Sciences, which supported construction of the state-of-the-art Timashev Family Music Building as part of Ohio State’s emerging Arts District. In 2016, Ratmir endowed the Dr. Terry A. Miller Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Chemical Physics, in honor of his mentor and friend. A member of The Ohio State University Foundation Board of Directors, Ratmir and Angela were recognized in April 2022 with the Distinguished Service Award from Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Established in 2017, the Timashev Family Foundation supports communities through education, innovation, the arts, and humanitarian efforts across the United States and globe. The Foundation has closely supported organizations operating on-the-ground in Ukraine in response to the Russian invasion in 2022.

Born into a family of engineers, Ratmir followed his passion for science and earned his first master’s degree in physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He received his Master of Science in Chemical Physics from Ohio State in 1996. He currently lives in Connecticut with his wife Angela and children.

Photo portrait of Ben Blanquera.

Ben Blanquera
Vice President - Rackspace Technology

Ben Blanquera currently serves as vice president of Rackspace Technology. He works with enterprises, architecting solutions to enable them to drive business outcomes by thriving in a multi-cloud world. Blanquera also champions IT Sustainability and the responsible adoption of AI.

He is a 35-year veteran in multiple industries including healthcare, manufacturing, and technology consulting. Prior to Rackspace, Blanquera was with Covail, a leading-edge provider of AI/ML and cybersecurity services to Fortune 1000 clients. At Covail, Blanquera was VP of delivery and transitioned to VP of revenue and client success.

A recognized technology leader, Blanquera was named a Premier 100 leader by Computerworld. He is an active organizer in the tech community, curates the Central Ohio CIO forum (150+ CIOs) co-founded Techlife Columbus, and leads the Central Ohio Sustainable IT workgroup. Blanquera also serves on the Pitch Advisory Board for South by Southwest and the Global Editorial Board for Chief Data Officer Magazine. Outside of work, he loves to travel, ride his bike, and spend time with his wife and four daughters.

Picture of Jeff Charney on stage speaking at an industry conference.

Jeff Charney
Founder and CEO of MKHSTRY

From an industry perspective, Jeff Charney's innovative and highly disruptive marketing has led him to become one of the most sought-after chief marketing officers, not only in marketing consulting, but in speaking engagements, business executive guidance and employee culture and motivation.

"Make history ... or be history"  is Charney’s longtime mantra. Emphasizing the importance of staying relevant and reinforcing his constant effort to sit at the head of the pop culture table, this disruptive drumbeat has propelled Charney throughout his career. Arguably today’s most heralded marketer and winner of more than 100 national/international awards for breakthrough creativity and business effectiveness, Charney decided to "drop the microphone" (as CMO of Progressive Insurance) after being honored as the nation’s no. 1 marketer by winning Ad Age's "Brand CMO of the Year" award in 2021. After passing the baton to his successor in early 2022, he set his sights on an even greater goal —transforming the over 150-year, $300 billion advertising and marketing industry that he loves.

In April of 2022, he founded MKHSTRY, the nation's newest virtual collective of game-changing marketers who share a simple two-word vision: Make History. The virtual collective sets out to achieve this rarified goal by combining industry-transforming ideas (i.e., Uber, Spotify, Venmo, Tesla, Netflix, Apple, etc.) along with the newest technology (Blockchain, Web3, AI, AR, Metaverse, etc.) to complement the more traditional print, radio, television and digital marketing lineup.

Photo portrait of Kathy Gill.

Kathy Gill
CEO of CityScene Media Group                  

Kathy Gill leads CityScene Media Group, specializing in building relationships with community leaders and organizations throughout central Ohio. Her expertise in consumer engagement, editorial and content leadership, and print and digital production have defined her leadership in the print and digital media industry.

Gill graduated from Ohio State with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and began her career working on trade association magazines and transforming the Ohio State game day programs.

Since 1999, Gill grew CMG to include seven publications and their digital components, including CityScene Magazine, Dublin Life, Tri-Village, Westerville, Pickerington, Healthy New Albany and Discover Grove City magazines. Additionally, CMG produces a variety of business and consumer publications for clients, including the annual BIA Parade of Homes Tour Guide and several local chamber of commerce directories.

Gill is former president of the American Advertising Federation of Columbus and serves on the board of the March of Dimes.

Photo portrait of Sebastian Gunningham

Sebastian Gunningham
Chairman of Santander Consumer Finance; Board Member DMG

Sebastian J. Gunningham is an Argentine-American business executive and current chairman of Santander Consumer Finance and vicechairman of Openbank. He was the vice chairman and co-CEO of WeWork until April 2020. A senior vice president at Amazon from 2007 through 2018, he was also a member of the Amazon executive S-Team, where he led the global Marketplace business, Fulfillment by Amazon, Amazon Search, Amazon Payments, Amazon Website and Amazon Machine Learning. Prior to Amazon, Gunningham held executive positions as vice president of enterprise at Apple,  senior vice president at Oracle Product Industries: Latin America, as well as CEO of Peace Software. Gunningham serves on a number of private boards, including and DMG. He holds a degree in mathematical sciences from Stanford University.



Photo portrait of Andy Jenks

Andy Jenks
Partner at Drive Capital

Andy Jenks has been an entrepreneur for most of his life. Prior to joining Drive Capital, Jenks was co-founder of Formation Data Systems, a software-defined storage company based in Silicon Valley. Prior to co-founding Formation Data Systems, Jenks was an entrepreneur in residence at both Khosla Ventures and EMC Ventures where he worked on investing in Next Generation Data Center, Big Data, and Enterprise Software.

Over his career, Jenks has raised over $30 million in venture capital and has participated in over $1 billion in acquisitions as either a founder or member of an executive team.

His executive roles also include serving as Chief Executive Officer of Optimost; a pioneer in marketing automation, general manager and vice president of E-discovery at Interwoven (acquired by Autonomy), co-founder of Discovery Mining (now Interwoven), co-founder of Infinite Research (merged with Compete/WPP), and Software Engineer Team Lead at Amazon.

Jenks was also an active angel investor, investing in 41 early-stage companies with a greater than 10.0x cumulative return.

Jenks graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in science.

Photo portrait of Nancy Kramer

Nancy Kramer   
Chief Evangelist for IBM Consulting

Recognized by Advertising Age as one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising History,” Nancy Kramer has spent a lifetime as an entrepreneur in marketing and technology.

Kramer launched Resource in 1981 with seed funding from her first client, Apple Computer, growing the company into a multi-office, 350-associate digital marketing pioneer. Her team’s work includes many industry firsts, from creating Apple’s first interactive retail experience to launching one of the internet’s first live streaming events for Victoria’s Secret that crashed the internet, memorialized in a time capsule at MIT, to creating and producing two iconic Super Bowl commercials. She has been featured in CNN, CNBC, Fortune, Time, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, USA Today, Advertising Age, Fast Company and others. 

IBM acquired Resource in 2016 as one of the only female-owned businesses to have achieved the milestone. Today, as a Chief Evangelist, Kramer focuses on C-Suite client relationships as well as IBM’s cultural transformation.

Kramer serves on the board of directors of publicly traded Root Insurance and M/I Homes. She is immediate past chairperson of The Columbus Foundation, vice chair of the Columbus Partnership and a trustee at Ohio State’s Wexner Center for the Arts. She is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, having testified to the U.S. Congress in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Kramer is also the founder of the FTT Foundation, which through the Free the Tampons campaign, launched a national discussion about access to feminine care products in public restrooms.

Photo portrait of Bill Largent

Bill Largent
Former CEO of Veeam Software

Bill Largent is a senior executive with over 40 years of experience in operations and leadership positions within growth companies. His strengths include leadership and management roles within public and private companies, including international business operations, sales management, operations planning, mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, venture capital financing and change management.

In his ten years with Veeam Software, Largent, along with Veeam's two founders, grew the business from no revenue in 2007 to over $1 billion in revenues in 2021. Largent served as Veeam's CEO from 2020 to 2021 and is a member of its board of directors. In 2020, Veeam was sold to Insight Partners in a transaction valued at $5 billion. He left the role of CEO in early 2022.

As the former COO of Aelita Software, Largent, along with the majority owners, raised $10 million in venture capital funding and executed the sale to Quest Software for $130 million in 2004. As the former CEO of Applied Innovation (formerly NASDAQ: AINN), he executed the sale of the business to a private equity firm for $53 million in 2007. In 1999, while at Plug Power (NASDAQ: PLUG) as the CFO, he raised over $130 million through an IPO with Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter. 

Photo portrait of Wendy Lea.

Wendy Lea       
CEO of Energize Colorado

Wendy Lea is a leading expert in digital innovation strategy and ecosystem development. As a leader-practitioner serving in CEO, board advisor and strategist roles, she advises national and state governments, public-private partnerships and global enterprises on economic growth through small-business resilience and innovation. Recognized for work across industries and regions, Lea is a maximalist who creates vibrant startup innovation ecosystems that grow city, regional and state economies. As CEO of Energize Colorado, Lea mobilizes resources and relief for small businesses, nonprofits and individuals recovering from the economic impact of COVID-19. Lea is a graduate of the University of Mississippi in business administration and has lived and worked around the world. She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Photo portrait of Cindy Leavitt

Cindy Leavitt
Vice President and CIO at The Ohio State University                 

At Ohio State, Cindy Leavitt is responsible for the vision, budgeting, design, implementation and operation of information systems in support of the university's strategies and objectives. She also has oversight of the learning technology at the university.

Leavitt has a unique and broad perspective from her work in high tech companies in addition to academic institutions and is a leader of both central campus and school IT groups. 

Prior to Ohio State, she served as vice president and CIO at Temple University and in deputy chief information officer roles at the University of Michigan.

Leavitt is passionate about creating empowered and innovative teams. She is fully committed to being an authentic and positive leader who practices what she preaches and leads by example. She cherishes the deep relationships that she has been able to build with her teams and colleagues.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in statistics/business and an MBA at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.


Photo portrait of Patrick McKenna.

Patrick McKenna
General Partner at Comeback Capital

Patrick McKenna is an experienced entrepreneur, investor and business leader focused on emerging tech-hub cities. He has co-founded four companies, launched two investment funds and invested in over 50 tech startups with exits valued over one billion dollars. Currently, he is a general partner at Comeback Capital, an early stage investment fund backing entrepreneurs based outside Silicon Valley, and co-founder/executive chairman of Facet Wealth, a venture-backed Fintech company disrupting the wealth management industry. Previously, he co-founded Catalyst Opportunity Funds, a $150 million impact fund focused on accessible housing and economic development in middle American cities. Also, as a philanthropist, Patrick founded One America Works, a nonprofit addressing the geographic economic divide by bringing people together through work and investment. Patrick started his career working in mergers and acquisitions at JP Morgan and served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He earned his MBA from Georgetown University and bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California.




Photo portrait of Kenny McDonald

Kenny McDonald
President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership

Kenny McDonald serves as president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, a civic organization of Columbus’ top business leaders. The Partnership was founded in 2002 to strengthen the economic and cultural base of Central Ohio. McDonald is leading the effort to boost diversity and equity, growth and development, and business and civic innovation – all with the goal of making the Columbus region the most prosperous metropolitan area in the United States. 

He brings more than 25 years of experience working with several metropolitan economies. He also spent seven years as a global site location advisor for Fluor Corporation. 

McDonald has been named one of the Top 50 economic developers by Economix and is a frequent speaker and national thought leader on regional economic development. He was also named Small Nonprofit CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO magazine. 

McDonald was instrumental in creating and leading the Columbus region’s growth strategy when he was selected to lead Columbus 2020, a regional economic development group that was launched in 2010. McDonald has also served as chairman of the International Economic Development Council and is an active board member of several organizations across Ohio. 

McDonald is a graduate of Dickinson State University, Georgia Southern University, the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard’s Young American Leaders program. He has been a Certified Economic Developer (CecD) for over 20 years. He is married with three children.

Picture portrait of Devi Dheekshita Nelakurti

Devi Dheekshita Nelakurti
Co-president of SmileChild

Devi Dheekshita Nelakurti is a fourth-year majoring in Biomedical Science and minoring in Computer Informational Science and Film Studies. She is the co-president of SmileChild, a non-profit increasing caregivers’ access to education, resources, and healthcare through initiatives like an incentivized and gamified maternal and infant health mobile app. SmileChild was awarded $50,000 in funding as part of Ohio State’s President’s Buckeye Accelerator and runner-up at OSU Best of Student Startups (BOSS).  

Devi is also a cancer genetics researcher who integrates bench science and AI. Her work has been awarded the Barry Goldwater scholarship, and she is a James Cancer Center Pelotonia undergraduate research fellow. Along with research, she has global clinical exposure and dedicates her time to service by volunteering as a phlebotomist at various free clinics in Columbus to help provide free health services. As a fellow immigrant and woman of color, she is passionate about serving immigrants and refugees. 

As she ventures into her endeavors of becoming a physician who harnesses software and a multidisciplinary approach to provide equitable care for underrepresented populations, she looks forward to representing and supporting students who are future leaders driving software innovation. 

Photo portrait of Aadithya Ramaswami

Adithya Ramaswami
Founder and CEO of ParaWave

As an undergraduate student in 2022 at The Ohio State University, Adithya Ramaswami founded ParaWave, a startup with a mission to engineer drones to save lives. ParaWave aims to equip the emergency and first response industries with the ability to perform time-sensitive analysis from the air and help triage critical resources. ParaWave was selected to be a part of Ohio State’s inaugural President’s Buckeye Accelerator cohort and was awarded $50,000 in funding. 

In 2020, Ramaswami founded Buckeye Vertical - Ohio State’s first student organization and competition team focused on Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as drones, and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). He led an all-student team to design and build an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft that can fly both manually and autonomously. In the summer of 2022, the Buckeye Vertical team proudly placed first in the Vertical Flight Society’s national competition. Ramaswami is also a former intern with the Research, Engineering and Analysis Division within the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Office. He contributed to the development of UAS and AAM research planning to support the safe integration of this rapidly growing technology into our National Airspace System. 

A student entrepreneur and now a recent alumnus from Ohio State, with a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering, Ramaswami is excited to take his passion for drone technology and redefine first response with ParaWave, all while supporting future student entrepreneurs and innovators. 

Photo portrait of Sandra Rodriguez-Toledo

Sandra Rodriguez-Toledo
Vice President and Ohio Site Lead at Amgen

Sandra Rodriguez-Toledo is currently the vice president Site Operations of Amgen’s new greenfield Advanced Assembly and Finished Product Operation to supply the U.S. market. She is responsible for ensuring  the new innovative facility is commercially ready by the first quarter of 2024 enabling Amgen to reliably supply medicines to patients.

Toledo has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She previously held the role of executive director/plant manager for the Amgen Manufacturing Limited (AML) Inspection, Packaging and Solid Dosage organization. Sandra joined Amgen in 2013 as director in Drug Product Process Development and played a key role in the approval of Amgen’s PR New Formulation and Filling facility. Over the past several years, Toledo has contributed to Amgen’s international expansion and has led new product introductions in the United States and Canada..

Before joining Amgen, Toledo served as plant manager for the Blu Caribe Inc. site in Dorado, Puerto Rico, from 2010 to 2012. Additionally, Toledo was director in quality assurance, quality control and plant manager for Biovail Laboratories International at Dorado and Carolina sites. She held various positions in quality control, quality assurance and research and development of solid dosage at Galephar Pharmaceutical, in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Toledo holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico.

Photo portrait of Jeff Schumann

Jeff Schumann 
Co-Founder and CEO of Aware

Jeff Schuman began his career in cyber intelligence collaborating with the Central Intelligence Agency to intercept dark web terrorist communications. His technical knowledge propelled him to lead enterprise collaboration for a Fortune 50 company.

Jeff's most notable achievement is co-founding Aware, a high-growth cybersecurity and people analytics firm, backed by Goldman Sachs. The company, under Jeff's guidance, has become a trusted partner to global giants such as Starbucks, T-Mobile, Walmart, National Geographic and Delta Airlines. Jeff's unique trajectory, blending deep technical expertise with strategic leadership, establishes him as a formidable ally in safeguarding some of the world's most reputable brands.





Photo portrait of Michael Triplett

Michael Triplett
Managing Director at Insight

Michael Triplett joined Insight in 1998 and now serves as managing director. Triplett focuses on investments in infrastructure and application software companies and has been instrumental in investments in more than 20 companies, many of which have achieved fast growth and realized significant value for shareholders and employees. Prior to joining Insight, Triplett was an investment professional at Summit Partners, where he focused on investments in infrastructure and enterprise application software companies. Previously in his career, Triplett worked as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co. and  Midland Data Systems. He graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.

Photo portrait of Tom Walker.

Tom Walker
CEO and President of Rev1 Ventures

Tom Walker is the founding CEO and president of Rev1 Ventures, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. With a nearly 30-year career in innovation and venture capital, Walker has broad expertise in supporting early-stage entrepreneurs in the successful start and scaleup of new companies. He is a leader in driving innovation within large corporations, research institutions and communities, especially where it aims to better lives through entrepreneurship.

Walker formed and managed multiple venture capital funds that have achieved or maintained top-quartile performance and has participated in more than 300 investments. Portfolio companies have generated more than $7B in successful exits, including grub, inc. (M&A- LookSmart); Novazyme (M&A-Genzyme); Weather Decision Technology (M&A DTN); Selexys (Board member) (M&A-Novartis); Myonexus (M&A-Sarepta); Celenex (M&A-Amicus); Updox (M&A EverCommerce); Alkami (Board Member) (NASDAQ ALKT); and Matterport (NASDAQ MTTR).

Walker earned a BS in Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s degree in Business Administration. He is a frequent industry speaker and has received numerous awards, including a finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. iAuthor of The Entrepreneur’s PathA Handbook for High-Growth Companies and contributing author to Biotechnology Entrepreneurship, first and second editions, he is also a regular contributor to and a Forbes Council member and contributor. A founder and board member of the national Angel Capital Association, he has advised several regions in the United States and England on building entrepreneurial infrastructure and ecosystems. He has testified multiple times before the United States Congress on entrepreneurship, venture capital and the expansion of life sciences, applied research and commercialization

Photo portrait of Elizabeth Wu.

Elizabeth Yu      
Student at The Ohio State University    

Elizabeth Yu is currently a sophomore at The Ohio State University majoring in electrical and computer engineering and minoring in business. Yu is also a part of the Integrated Business and Engineering program at Ohio State, where students learn about the interdisciplinary skills of both business and engineering. On campus, she’s involved with organizations such as the Buckeye Undergraduate Consulting Club, where she serves as a business analyst and Delta Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., where she serves as the fundraising chair.

Photo portrait of Peter Mohler

Peter Mohler
Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation and Knowledge at The Ohio State University
Ex-Officio Advisory Board Member

Dr. Peter Mohler is executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge, playing a leading role in expanding the university’s cutting-edge research, creative expression and scholarship, stimulating entrepreneurship, and building strategic partnerships.  

In addition, he serves as vice president for research where he leads strategy and efforts to grow Ohio State’s research and creative expression enterprise, and oversee research operations, sponsored programs and research compliance while providing strategic direction and oversight for large-scale, interdisciplinary research centers and institutes. He also serves as chief scientific officer for the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State.

Mohler has been at Ohio State since 2011 when he was recruited to Columbus as the director of Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute and subsequently served as Chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology in the College of Medicine. Mohler also previously served as vice dean of research in the College of Medicine.

Mohler has more than 250 publications including manuscripts in Nature, Cell, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Circulation, Circulation Research, Nature Medicine, Journal of Cell Biology, and PNAS. His research focuses on uncovering the mechanisms underlying abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure in children and young adults with the goal of designing new diagnostics and therapies in individuals and populations.

Mohler has received multiple awards, including being named a Pew Scholar an Outstanding Investigator of the American Heart Association. In 2015 he received the inaugural College of Medicine Distinguished Mentor Award. He recently served on the Program Project Grant (P01) Parent committee for the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Dr. Mohler was named an inaugural NIH National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Outstanding Investigator (R35 Award) and leads large program grants funded by the American Heart Association and the LeDucq Foundation.

Mohler received a bachelor’s in biology from Wake Forest University, his doctorate in cell and molecular physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and performed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center.