Defy’s Boards

Defy has a Governing Board, a National Advisory Board, and Local Advisory Boards for each of its Chapters. Each volunteer group consists of committed executives, entrepreneurs, business professionals, academics, and philanthropists.


Brad Feld
  • Boulder, CO
    Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for over 20 years. He lives in Boulder, Colorado and Homer, Alaska with his wife and is on a quest to run a marathon in every state in the US. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures. Brad is also a co-founder of Techstars.

    In addition to his investing efforts, Brad has been active with several non-profit organizations. He currently is chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology and on the boards of Path Forward, the Kauffman Fellows, and Defy Ventures.

    Brad is a writer and speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship. He’s written a number of books as part of the Startup Revolution series and writes the blogs Feld Thoughts and Venture Deals.

    Brad holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brad is also an art collector and long-distance runner. He has completed 24 marathons as part of his mission to finish a marathon in each of the 50 states.

Henry Hamilton, III
  • Houston, TX – Chairman
    Hank is the Chairman of TGS, which provides global geoscientific data products and services to the oil and gas industry to assist with licensing rounds and the preparation of regional data programs. Hank began his career as a Geophysicist with Shell Offshore (1981-1987) before he moved to Schlumberger (1987-1995) where he ultimately held the position of VP and General Manager for all seismic product lines in North and South America. Hank joined TGS as its CEO in 1995 and remained in the position following the 1998 merger with NOPEC International that created the initial public listing for TGS. Hank served on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC) from 1993-2011 and serves on the board of the Society of Exploration Geophysics (SEG) Foundation.
Hans Hickler
  • Miami, FL
    Hans is the founder and CEO of Ellipsis Advisors LLC, which provides C-level advisory services and executive-level coaching. He has more than 25 years of experience in the transportation, express and logistics industry, and has served as CEO of three multi-national corporations in the past 12 years. Hans is actively involved in the field of social entrepreneurship through Ashoka, where, as a member of the Ashoka Support Network (ASN), he supports and advises social entrepreneurs worldwide. He is also a member of the Young Presidents’ Association (YPO). Hans studied at Brown University and has lived and worked in Europe, the United States, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. 
Catherine Hoke
  • New York, NY – Founder and CEO
    Catherine has ten years of experience designing and leading two social entrepreneurship organizations dedicated to work readiness, entrepreneurship and character development for people with criminal histories. Her programs have produced industry-leading results, including a recidivism rate of less than 5%. Catherine was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2013. PEP and Defy have received media recognition from The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Chicago Times, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, Inc. Magazine and Forbes. In her six-year career in private equity and venture capital, Catherine sourced $32 million in investments and worked with thousands of entrepreneurs. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration from University of California, Berkeley. A three-time marathon runner, former rugby player, and California State Wrestling Champion, Catherine resides in New York City and still enjoys training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and submission grappling in her spare time.
Brian Korb
  • New York, NY – Secretary
    Brian is currently a Founder of Swellbox, a consumer solution for managing digital health records.  Prior to Swellbox, Brian was a Co-Founder of Glocap, an 80+ person tech-enabled recruiting platform for the alternative asset space, where he was Head of Strategy and Head of the Private Equity practice.  Brian has been an invited expert guest on CNBC and Reuters, as well as an invited speaker at Harvard and Wharton business schools.  Prior to Glocap, Brian worked in investment banking at DMG. Brian has a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Harry Krensky
  • New York, NY
    Harry Krensky is a managing partner of Discovery Americas. Mr. Krensky is a founder and director of ULCC airline Volaris. Mr. Krensky also sits on the board of directors of transportation companies Lipu and FTM, education company AMCO International, and healthcare company H+/Sisi Medica; and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Colby College. He was a founder of emerging market hedge fund managers Discovery Capital Management and Atlas Capital Management; and was a founder of the Deustsche Bank emerging market hedge fund. He has worked in the emerging market group of Bear Stearns; and has served as an adjunct professor of international business at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Mr. Krensky has a BA from Colby College, a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a MBA from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
Atif Rafiq
  • Chicago, IL
    Atif is the Chief Digital and Information Officer for Volvo Cars, one the most dynamic players in the mobility and automotive space. He was most recently the Chief Digital Officer for McDonald’s, the world’s most frequented retailer. He built the company’s digital strategy and organization from scratch and drove global initiatives to modernize the customer experience using technology such as apps, kiosks, CRM and other digital services.

    Prior to joining McDonald’s, Rafiq held management roles at several public internet and software companies. He served as a General Manager within the Kindle division at Amazon, where he had global responsibility for product management, program management, marketing, author relations and business metrics. Before Amazon, Rafiq led global product marketing/strategy for Yahoo! News and was General Manager for Yahoo! Local.

    Rafiq has advised, invested in and served on the Boards of more than ten startups and has also been the founder / CEO of a startup. He is Silicon Valley veteran with a strong network in venture capital, emerging companies and large enterprises.

    Rafiq began his career in digital in 1996 as a founding member of the business development and corporate strategy team at AOL, the most successful company during the Internet 1.0 era. Rafiq holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics-Economics from Wesleyan University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. He is an active public speaker, has over 300,000 followers in social media and has been featured in Fortune Magazine, Fast Company, Techcrunch and Mashable.

Joanne Simpson
  • Alexandria, VA
    A board-certified dermatologist, and founder and managing partner of Alexandria Associates in Dermatology, Joanne received her medical degree (M.D.) from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She completed her dermatology training at the University of Pittsburgh and also holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) from Duke University as well as a Master of Public Health (MPH) from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she pursued an interest in clinical research and epidemiology. Joanne enjoys encouraging people to dream big and motivating then to reach their goals. Defy Ventures embodies her passion for entrepreneurship and helping others overcome real and perceived obstacles.
Monica Thurmond
  • New York, NY
    A partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in the Corporate Department and member of the Capital Markets and Securities Group, Monica has represented issuers in capital markets and leveraged finance transactions, including IPOs and high yield debt offerings. Monica has represented both issuers and investment banking firms in a variety of public and private equity and debt securities offerings, including initial public offerings, as well as high yield and convertible debt offerings. She also represents private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies in a variety of other engagements such as leveraged acquisitions, structured exchange offers, debt and equity tender offers, first and second lien senior secured debt financings, high yield bridge financings and consent solicitations. Monica has also counseled companies in disclosure and corporate governance matters. In 2012, Monica was recognized by Legal 500 for her work in capital markets, including debt offerings, equity offerings, and high-yield debt offerings.
Rod Washington
  • New York, NY
    Rod has over 20 years of leadership experience in social reform efforts focused on bettering life for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Rod is Co-founder and Principal of Urban Intelligence, a research, strategy and innovation firm dedicated to revitalizing our nation’s disadvantaged communities of need. He is also a psychologist who specializes in issues facing disadvantaged communities in general and at-risk males in particular. Rod formerly founded and led the Urban Ministers Network, a coalition of more than 200 ministers committed to dramatically increasing civic participation in communities characterized by historically low voter turnout. Prior to that, Rod served on the executive team of New Leaders for New Schools, one of the nation’s premiere education-reform organizations, with CEO Jon Schnur, who chaired the education platform for the Obama Campaign. Rod is former chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Urban Reform Taskforce and founder/CEO of an independent media company that was acquired for over $20 million. A Human Resources/Organizational Development Diversity and Culture specialist, Rod spent much of his career helping companies, nonprofits, communities and institutions both do better and be better. Rod has an interdisciplinary academic background that includes doctoral studies in Ministry, Social Psychology and Education, as well as an M.B.A. from Columbia, and a masters’ degree in Divinity from Golden Gate Theological Seminary.



Jerry Boyle, Nashville, TN
  • Jerry is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Correct Care Solutions LLC, the third largest correctional healthcare management company in the country. Boyle launched the company in 2003 after 30 years in the correctional service industry. Mr. Boyle’s experience includes development, operation, management and marketing of both private and public partnerships committed to correctional excellence. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services from Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts.
Katie Brown, Los Angeles, CA
  • Katie is President of The Brown Companies, Inc., a commercial real estate company with holdings in NYC, Los Angeles, South Florida, Nova Scotia and Argentina. She graduated with B.A. from Princeton and serves on the boards of Housing Plus Solutions and The Harry Joe Brown, Jr. Foundation.
Gary Carini, Waco, TX
  • Gary is a Professor of Management and the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. He received his Ph.D. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with emphasis in international strategic management and organizational behavior. Gary’s research has focused on competitive positioning, strategic change, and the role of contradiction and paradox in managing global organizations.
    Gary has published articles in Academy of Management Proceedings, Academy of Management Review, Advances in Strategic Management, Competitiveness Review, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Organization Behavior, Long Range Planning, Strategic Management Journal, among others. In addition, he has gained extensive experience through executive education and consulting with many firms in the telecommunications, healthcare, airline, retail, and semiconductor industries.
Benjamin Jealous, Baltimore, MD
  • Benjamin Todd Jealous is a Partner at Kapor Capital and the former president and CEO of the NAACP. He stepped down from his post at the end of 2013. Ben has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and free multiple wrongfully incarcerated people. Under his leadership, the NAACP grew to be the largest civil rights organization online and on mobile, experienced its first multi-year membership growth in 20 years, and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country. Prior to leading the NAACP, he spent 15 years serving as a journalist and community organizer. A Rhodes Scholar, he has been named to the 40 under 40 lists of both Forbes and Time magazines. He is #1 on’s 2013 list of black leaders under 45.
Jeff Krug, Houston, TX
  • Jeff is the Founder and President of Neopal, Inc., a leading packaging and container company. He previously served as Vice President of Operations at Primis Corporation, and prior served Compaq in engineering and worldwide logistics. He graduated from Purdue University.
Ted Ladd, Wilson, WY
  • After 15 years in high-tech, high-growth, venture-backed start-ups in Silicon Valley, Ted Ladd now focuses on teaching and researching social entrepreneurship, where impact-inspired people are creating mission-driven ventures to reach under-served consumers. He leads the Social Entrepreneurship program for students at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, which offers an MBA in Sustainable Systems to mid-career professionals around Seattle. He is an advisor and board director for several for-profit and non-profit organizations in the areas of energy and economic development. Ted holds an MBA in entrepreneurship from Wharton, an MA in international economics from Johns Hopkins, a BA in biology, government, and sociology from Cornell University, and is currently working on a PhD in entrepreneurship from Case Western Reserve. Ted and his wife, Laura, live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Woodside, California.
Joe Moglia, South Carolina
  • Joe Moglia is the Head Football Coach & Chair of Athletics at Coastal Carolina University, and Chairman of the Board at TD Ameritrade.

    In his last 8 seasons of coaching college football, Joe has been part of 7 championship teams. In his first three seasons at Coastal, he led his team to three conference championships, three National Playoffs, was twice named Conference Coach of the Year, three times named a finalist for National Coach of the Year, and both National Runner up and AFCA Regional Coach of the Year in 2014.

    This season will be Joe’s 23rd as a Football Coach, but it’s not a traditional 23 years.  He began his career as a coach for 16 years, moved to the business world for over 20, and back to coaching in 2009.

    In his 1st stint as a coach he won 2 Ivy League Championships as the Defensive Coordinator at Dartmouth, led units that set defense and kicking records at Lafayette, and turned 2 high school programs around.   Before going to Coastal, he was Executive Advisor for Football at Nebraska where he was part of 2 Holiday bowls and 2 Big 12 North Championships. In 2011 he was Head Coach of the Omaha Nighthawks in the United Football League.

    In the business world, he was at Merrill Lynch for 17 years before becoming the CEO at TD Ameritrade in 2001.  By 2008 in the midst of a global financial crisis, the firm grew its market cap from $700 million to $10 billion, and shareholders enjoyed a 500% financial return.

    In 2008, after the firm had its 6th record year in a row, he stepped down as CEO, and became Chairman of the Board and returned to football.

    Moglia has received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Sharp Trophy for Leadership. He has been honored by the National Italian American Foundation, the Columbus Citizens Foundation and the American Institute for Stuttering. He has been inducted into three Halls of Fame, is the recipient of three Honorary Doctorates and is also the only author to have written books published on both investing and football.

John Montgomery, Houston, TX
  • John is a founder of Bridgeway Capital Management, Inc. and manages 12 Bridgeway Funds. He worked with computer modeling and quantitative methods as a research engineer at MIT in the late 1970s. Later, as a student at Harvard, he investigated methods to apply modeling to portfolio management. John began applying these methods to his own investments in 1985. John left his full-time position in the transportation industry at the end of 1991 to perform full-time research on his investment models and found Bridgeway. John holds a B.A. in Engineering and Philosophy from Swarthmore College and graduate degrees from MIT and Harvard Business School.
Duncan Niederauer, New York, NY
  • Duncan is the former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. During his tenure as CEO, NYSE Euronext, Mr. Niederauer oversaw the transformation of the company into an innovative, globally integrated organization with a high-tech, high-touch focus. Prior to being CEO, Mr. Niederauer was President and co-Chief Operating Officer of NYSE Euronext with responsibility for U.S. cash equities. Before joining NYSE Euronext in April 2007, Mr. Niederauer was Managing Director and co-Head of the Equities Division Execution Services franchise at Goldman, Sachs & Co. His career at Goldman Sachs spanned 22 years. Mr. Niederauer has served on the board of Archipelago Holdings, LLC and Colgate University, and now serves on the board of Operation Hope, The American Ireland Fund, and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. His current affiliations include G100, Chief Executive 50, British-American Business Council International Advisory Committee, Partnership for New York City, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, Shanghai International Financial Advisory Committee, Museum of American Finance, Pace University President’s Council and Fundação Dom Cabral in Brazil.
Len Schlesinger, Wellesley, MA
  • Len is the 12th President of Babson College. Before becoming President, he served in executive positions at Limited Brands and Au Bon Pain. Len’s academic career includes twenty years at Harvard Business School where, as the George Fisher Baker Jr. Professor of Business Administration, he led Harvard’s MBA and executive education programs. He has authored or co-authored eleven widely-published books on organization management.
Jeffrey R. Shafer, Orlando, FL
  • Jeff Shafer is president of CNL Securities Corp., member FINRA/SIPC. CNL Securities Corp. is a national leader in raising capital from the broker-dealer community and, since its inception in 1986, has raised more than $10 billion in private and public offerings. Mr. Shafer sets the strategic direction for the capital-raising efforts associated with CNL’s growing multi product, multi-manager platform. He also serves on CNL’s new product team, a committee which is focused on bringing a broad spectrum of alternative investment opportunities to the broker-dealer marketplace. Mr. Shafer previously served as senior vice president and regional sales manager for CNL Securities Corp., overseeing the sales and day-to-day marketing efforts of the Southeast Region sales team. Prior to this role, Mr. Shafer was vice president of sales in Southern California and the Pacific Northwest, where he was instrumental in developing these markets for the company. Prior to joining CNL in 1997, Mr. Shafer worked for Van Kampen American Capital, a division of Morgan Stanley Group. He provided sales and marketing assistance to registered representatives, focusing on unit investment trusts, mutual funds and retirement planning. Mr. Shafer graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and biblical studies, and received his Master of Business Administration from Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. In addition to his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Mr. Shafer holds Certified Financial Planner™ and Chartered Financial Consultant® designations. He is a member of the board of directors of the Heart of Florida United Way and Ignite International. Mr. Shafer currently holds FINRA Series 7 and 24 licenses.
Tarek Sherif, New York, NY
  • Tarek is a founder of Medidata Solutions, where he has served as CEO since 2001 and Chairman since 2009. He has more than 30 years of leadership experience in health-tech and finance. Including Medidata’s successful public offering in 2009, Tarek has led Medidata from startup to becoming the leading provider of cloud-based solutions to the life science industry, supporting clinical development globally while defining the vertical cloud company business model. Tarek received his BA from Yale University and MBA from Columbia Business School. He serves as the co-chair of the Partnership Fund for NYC and is a board member of Blue Legacy International, a not-for-profit organization focused on preserving our water resources.
Pascal Vinarnic, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Pascal is Director and owner of Ceres Finance. Pascal has been involved in private equity for most his career as Ceres has been advising investors or managing investments on their behalf since 1992. Previously, he had established Bain Finance Services, a practice of Bain & Co specializing in support services to financial investors and being the interface for Bain Capital in Europe. Pascal started Ceres Finance as a turnaround specialist, acting as principal on behalf of financiers for corporate and financial turnarounds of public and private companies. He is a graduate from Hautes Ecoles Commerciales and is a French, Spanish and Portuguese speaker. Pascal is also the founder of Demeter Foundation, a venture philanthropy organization active with microfinance programs in developing countries.
Andy Weissman, New York
  • Andy is a partner at Union Square Ventures. Andy began his career in the Internet in the mid-90s. Prior to joining USV, in 2007 he co-founded betaworks, which both created and invested in social, real-time applications and services. Andy was born in New York City and has a BA from Wesleyan University and a JD from Georgetown.
Keith Zafren, Lexington, KY
  • Keith is founder and CEO of The Great Dads Project, which seeks to transform millions of fathers worldwide into highly effective and deeply satisfied dads who enjoy remarkably great relationships with their kids. Keith was formerly Founder and President of My Three Sons Properties, and founder of The River Church Community in San José, CA where he served as lead pastor for 8 years. He was a founding board member and for six years the Spiritual/Character Formation Coach for the Prison Entrepreneurship Program located in Houston, Texas. He holds a B.A. in Rhetoric from University of California, Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary.
    holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, an
    MBA from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in American Civilization from Brown University.