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SSTI has grown! Meet our new staff

January 12, 2023

SSTI is excited to announce staffing changes that are helping us build on our mission to strengthen initiatives to create a better future through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. Over the past few months, SSTI has added five new staff members — Casey Nemecek, Jerry Coughter, Jonathan Dillon, Lisa Clayton and Sobia Saied — strengthened our student interns/assistants program, and promoted Mark Skinner to executive vice president and Jason Rittenberg to vice president.

Recent SSTI staff additions:

  • Casey Nemecek, program director
    Casey Nemecek is a Program Director for SSTI’s Technology-based Economic Development (TBED) Community of Practice, which is supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). Ms. Nemecek’s previous work focused on program design and building partnerships to bring education and industry into alignment. Most recently, she supported workforce development efforts in Indiana through the promotion and implementation of registered youth apprenticeship programs. Casey holds a B.A. from Vassar College and a M.P.A. from Indiana University O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs.
  • Jerry Coughter, program director
    Jerry Coughter is a Program Director for SSTI’s project with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to build a Community of Practice focused on EDA’s important technology-based economic development (TBED) investment priority area. Mr. Coughter began his TBED career at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology where he served as Industry Director for Biotechnology and Executive Director of Governor Mark Warner’s Biotechnology Initiative. He later served as Assistant Vice President for Regional Economic Development at George Mason University and as the founding Executive Director of the Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte. He holds both a B.S. (Clemson University) an MS (Virginia Commonwealth University) in microbiology & immunology and an MBA from Shenandoah University. As an avid Rotarian, Mr. Coughter volunteers with numerous nonprofits with a particular focus on access to health care and clean water.
  • Jonathan Dillon, policy analyst
    Jonathan Dillon works to support several initiatives at SSTI as a policy analyst, including monitoring technology and innovation policy across the country, especially for our manufacturing partners, and contributing to the SSTI Weekly Digest. Mr. Dillon is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland and has a bachelor’s in public policy.
  • Lisa Clayton, events coordinator
    As SSTI’s events coordinator, Lisa Clayton supports all aspects of in-person and virtual meetings, including SSTI’s Annual Conference, Senior Leadership Forum and webinars. Ms. Clayton has an extensive background in the events industry and graduated with a B.A. in English from La Salle University.
  • Sobia Saied
    Sobia Saied will be joining our team as a contributor to SSTI’s Funding Supplement newsletter that provides SSTI member organizations with information about hundreds of federal and foundation tech-based economic development and R&D funding opportunities each year. Ms. Saied has a B.S. in political science from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a master’s in public administration from Pennsylvania State University.


Staff promotions:

  • Mark Skinner, executive vice president
    Working with SSTI since 1998, Mark Skinner is second-in-command at SSTI focused on both the overall strategic direction of SSTI and its core operations. He has served as the editor of the SSTI Weekly Digest and was the principal author or a co-author on a number of publications, including A Resource Guide for Technology-based Economic Development and State and Federal Perspectives on the SBIR Program. Mr. Skinner also founded the Regional Innovation Acceleration Network (RIAN), a federally-funded project striving to make public-private investments in innovation-based growth more efficient while achieving greater impact and to establish a national network of existing and emerging nonprofit Venture Development Organizations. Mr. Skinner received his B.A. in urban and regional planning from Miami University (Oxford, OH).
  • Jason Rittenberg, vice president
    Jason Rittenberg’s work includes managing SSTI’s EDA-funded Tech-based Economic Development (TBED) Community of Practice, coordinating policy education and outreach activities, cultivating partnership and project opportunities, speaking at regional and national innovation policy events, and contributing to the SSTI Weekly Digest and research projects. Mr. Rittenberg previously led and supported research projects for the Council of Development Finance Agencies, the State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and the Cline Center for Democracy. He is a co-author of News on the Internet: Information and Citizenship in the 21st Century and holds a B.S. from Ohio University and an M.A. from the University of Illinois.


SSTI student intern and assistant program:

SSTI now consistently employs undergraduate students as interns and graduate students as assistants each semester. Participating students support SSTI’s mission while gaining exposure to tech-based economic development policy and practical experience working for a nonprofit organization.

Current students working with SSTI are:

  • Conor Gowder, policy assistant and Master of Public Policy candidate at University of California, Irvine
  • Emily Schabes, policy assistant and Master of Public Policy candidate at University of Chicago
  • Suada Abdurahim, technology intern from Ohio Dominican University