Keith Gelles

Mr. Gelles is an entrepreneur and technology innovator with over 25 years of experience in building software and technology businesses in various C-level positions. His experience includes Founder of ThistleBrook Advisors to provide technology-growth advisory services across an number of industries, Co-Founder & CEO of a PaaS voice-platform personalization company, Co-Founder & CTO of several SaaS-based technology companies spanning adtech, mobile, ConnectedTV, big data scalability, and machine learning solutions. He has been developing data science, machine learning & AI solutions since the late 90’s in various forms with focus on generating revenue from data-driven products. Mr. Gelles graduated Summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in Computer Science, Mathematics and Philosophy.

Jeff Billings

Executive Director of Research
Mr. Billings has several decades of experience in inventing and deploying advanced technologies. It is that diverse background that allowed him to lead research teams engaged in applied artificial intelligence in numerous applications including credit scoring, adaptive radio systems, ecommerce and game development. His other areas of expertise include distributed computing in proprietary gestalt database design, oilfield exploration well-service tools for nuclear analysis of strata, including chemistry, permeability and porosity of productive petrochemical zones, and advanced design to direct manufacturing in consumer markets. Mr. Billings served in the US Navy in missile fire control systems and was certified as a Oil Well Service Engineer.

James Lawrence

Mr. Lawrence is a hands-on leader capable of designing, developing, and leading the efforts of modern software engineering. He is an expert at building and driving consensus around innovative concepts, developing strategies and roadmaps, influencing key decision makers, and creating added value for stakeholders. With a career spanning over 30 years, he has focused on driving the advancement of software design and development across various engineering fields. Mr. Lawrence has advised Fortune 100 & 500 companies on the technology that will best address their business’s needs. Throughout his career he has designed and delivered complex software solutions and systems for the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the commercial industry. Mr. Lawrence holds a master’s in computer science, cyber-security, and an MBA. He is a life-long learner and is currently completing a PhD. In Education.

Anthony DiGangi

Mr. DiGangi is a senior operations executive with multiple years of leading start-up operations. He is a hands-on operational leader directing all aspects of ongoing operations for a fast casual QSR, full-service restaurant, & non-profit organizations. Mr. DiGangi served as Vice President and Director of Client Administration at Fred Alger Management where he was responsible for the operational infrastructure and administration of their Institutional, Separately Managed Account, and Unified Managed Account Programs. Prior to Alger, he spent 7 years as a Senior Consultant with The McNamara Group working and servicing Fortune 500 firms specifically supporting institutional, broker/dealer, and separately managed account communities. Mr. DiGangi graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University with a BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.

Rick Kohr

Mr. Rick Kohr is the founder and CEO of Evergreen Advisors, LLC. Mr. Kohr is a 30-year veteran in advising early-stage growth and middle market companies on growth financing and executing exit strategies. His rich and varied experience in financing alternatives and exit strategies include capital raise, recapitalization, merger, sale and ESOPs. Mr. Kohr is also a managing member of the Chesapeake Emerging Opportunities Club, an early-stage venture capital fund and a member of the New Vantage Network. Mr. Kohr graduated from Loyola University in Maryland with an MBA from the Sellinger School of Business with a concentration in Finance & Marketing and a BA in Accounting. Mr. Kohr holds the 63 Uniform Securities Agent License, Series 7 and 79 General Securities Representative License, and Series 24 General Securities Principal License. He also holds the Series 65 License.

Blake Van Leer

EVP & GM Commerce
Mr. Van Leer is an experienced executive and entrepreneur with a proven ability to drive company growth with North Star metrics. Van Leer has held numerous executive roles across multiple software verticals, including retail, fintech, proptech, and insurtech. Van Leer has led growth teams for publicly traded companies, family offices, and startups. His experience includes Special Advisor to Kathy Ireland ($2.6B annual sales); CGO at Porter Capital, EVP and Head of Growth at cbdMD (NYSE American: YCBD); Advisor to AmFam ($12.6B annual sales); Padlist co-founder; Advisor to non-profits Best Buddies and Dream Fearlessly. Mr. Van Leer graduated from University of Maryland with a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. Mr. Van Leer also has a certification from University of Maryland in Developing Innovative Ideas for Companies.