Board of Directors

Aaron Bare, Chairman

Aaron is a former Accenture Consultant turned Entrepreneur who has sold 10 companies, and built numerous others as a business strategist and advisor. He is former Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Thunderbird School of Global Management, former Chairman of the Board and CEO of the National Association of Sales Professionals, the World’s Largest Sales Association, and Founder of Buzz Mouth, an international digital and business strategy firm. His clients included Coca-Cola, Dell, Comedy Central and Telemundo. Aaron also worked closely with storied brands including Facebook, Nike, Disney, Google and Microsoft in his past. Aaron is associated with Google Ideas, a Think/Do Tank and works globally with several organizations seeking to disrupt Violent Extremism and Illicit Networks’ movements. His work is highlighted in Wired Magazine’s Danger Room and recently participated in the 2013 McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum, on how to promote freedom and democracy. Aaron speaks often about disruption through a series of speeches sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation and to conferences such as the Global Sales Summit, Tijuana Innovadora, Hyper Island in Australia, the Russian Science Technology and Education Consortium, Startup Conferences and Fortune 500?s such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Aaron’s success and proven performance as a leader in his field garnered him acknowledgement as “35 under 35” Entrepreneurs; “40 under 40” Leaders; also selected as Most Innovative Company of the Year; and, featured in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Wired, Fast Company, and Inc. Magazine.  Aaron was a former management consultant with Accenture and a money manager with the Vanguard Group. He has an MBA from Thunderbird, MA from Indiana University and BS Honors from Indiana Institute of Technology.  

James Afinowich

Jim is a partner and designated broker at IBG Fox & Fin, a mergers and acquisition firm representing business with sales up to $100 million.  He is a Certified Business Intermediary and Merger & Acquisition Master Intermediary, the highest levels of accreditation in the industry.  Jim is a member of the M&A Source and is a Fellow and past president of the International Business Brokers Association. He is also past president of the Business Intermediary Education Foundation, Inc.

Mara Babin

Mara Babin is a founder, investor, senior business executive and advisor with a distinguished career in U.S. and Global private equity investing.  She is a Senior Advisor to Columbia West Capital and serves on the advisory board of several private companies, including Fido Global LLC.  Mara has over 20 years of public company boardroom experience.  She is a Managing Director of Golden Seeds (an early stage investment firm focused on women leaders) and was a co-founder of AbilTo (behavioral mental health via internet chat).  She has been an Angel investor in 7 companies.

Before moving to Phoenix in 2008, Mara was a corporate partner in the London office of global law firm Squire Patton Boggs.  At Squire, her practice focused on public company M&A, private equity and venture capital.  From 2000-2008 she was resident in London, where she led the firm’s European private equity practice and focused on structuring innovative private equity investment structures and special purpose vehicles. She was also managing partner of the London office. 

Mara has worked extensively in Western and Emerging Europe and the Middle East. She was recognized by Chambers Europe’s Leading Lawyers for Business and by UK Legal Experts for her excellence in Private Equity and M&A. She is a dual UK and US citizen.

Mara is the Co-chair of the Arizona Leadership Council of Take the Lead whose mission is to prepare, develop and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. She is the vice president for Leadership Development of the Phoenix chapter of Ellevate (formerly 85 Broads), a global network dedicated to the worldwide professional and economic engagement of women. 

Anthony Bajoras

Anthony is a technology advisor, executive, and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience leading strategy and execution across product development, marketing, sales, and business development. Previous roles and ventures include serving as Chief Strategy Officer of Clearvoice.com; CEO and co-Founder of Elevate.org; co-Founder of iOptimize, Inc.; Interim Chief Marketing Officer of multiple companies; President and Co-Founder of Move Software; and President and co-Founder of the Move Marketing - a digital agency serving 800+ mid-market and Fortune 500 clients through a proprietary marketing analytics, automation, and work-flow management platform. Anthony earned an undergraduate degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship from DePaul University in Chicago and has pursued non-degree graduate studies in business, marketing, design and engineering at Northwestern University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Arizona State University.

Kerwin Brown

Kerwin is President and CEO of The Black Chamber of Arizona (formerly The Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce) and has been appointed as Treasurer and Western Regional Director for the United States Black Chambers, Inc. Kerwin Brown brings considerable experience with over twenty years in marketing and business development. He has held numerous sales, management and business development positions in the insurance, banking and investment industries. He managed the development of the in-branch retail brokerage program for Wells Fargo Bank and managed sales and marketing for a national, community bank program for Transamerica Life Insurance Company. Notable is his involvement as a board member with Take Charge America, board member for Tanner Properties, Inc. and board member for The City of Phoenix Residential Investment Development Effort, as well as a board member for the Phoenix Police Foundation. He has received numerous awards including the Community Partnership Champion's Award from Magellan Health Services, he was awarded Community Leadership Recognition from Pet Smart and The Phoenix Suns, he received the Leadership Award from Power of the Word Ministries and he was a 2013 Father of the Year Honoree for The American Diabetes Association. Kerwin attended California State University Los Angeles and the ASU W.P. Carey Small Business Leadership Academy. He lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife Laurie Mae and he is the proud father of three children.

Brian J. Burt

Brian is a Partner with Snell & Wilmer L.L.P., and serves as Chair of the firm’s Emerging Business Group.    Founded in 1938, Snell & Wilmer is a full-service business law firm, with over 400 attorneys practicing in nine offices throughout the western United States and Mexico.  Brian is a business lawyer advising entrepreneurs and emerging growth companies in all stages of development, from formation to liquidity. He also represents banks, financial services companies, private investors, and venture capital funds.   He was recently named to the 2015 Best Lawyers In America® list, the 2014 Arizona's Finest Lawyers list and to the 2013 Southwest Rising Stars list by Southwest Super Lawyers®. Having previously founded, raised capital for, and run his own company, Brian brings a “real world” perspective to his practice.  Brian received his B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy, summa cum laude, from Allegheny College, where he was class valedictorian and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he served as Managing Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.  Brian is very active in Phoenix’s entrepreneurial and investment ecosystems.  Brian is the creator and host of the popular Emerging Business Seminar Series held monthly in Phoenix for the past five years.  He has served on the Executive Committee for Invest Southwest since 2009 and as its Selection Committee Chair (2013-2014) and Mentor Teams Chair (2009-2013).  He participates in Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) Arizona, Accelerator Arizona, and Club E, and as a mentor and speaker for the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, ASU’s Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator, and the Thunderbird Global Entrepreneurship Incubator.  He is a founding member of the Westside Institute for Startup and Emerging Companies, and also helped form the Thunderbird Angel Network.

Don Henninger

Don has been a top media executive and business leader for 30 years, serving as CEO of the Business Journal and managing editor of the Republic. His experience and connections were the basis for over 850 columns at the Journal, must-reads for anyone in business. He now works as a leadership, business development and communications consultant with a focus on efforts to help the region maximize its exporting capacity and enhance its global profile, developing stronger ties between the education and business community and helping business leaders expand their networks and partnerships. Clients include Maricopa Community Colleges, Valley Leadership and Accelerent, among others. He is on the boards of more than a dozen business, non-profit and social service organizations.

Dan Nienhauser

Dan Nienhauser is a capacity builder and über connector who thrives in diverse environments, embraces personal relationships and relishes problem solving.  Dan has worked with numerous companies in leadership, strategic partnerships, new business development, finance, and technology roles.  In addition to providing acceleration services to small businesses, Dan currently serves as Executive Director for educational services agency Teachers On Call Arizona. He was recently the ED for the best charter school system in the US, BASIS Schools. Dan is one of the founding architects of the non-profit Arizona Collaboratory, and holds a BA in Economic/English form Columbia University, an MBA in Finance from New York University and a Master of Healthcare Innovation from Arizona State University.

Carl Yamashiro, Ph.D.

Carl is the sole proprietor of Carl Yamashiro Consulting LLC, Faculty Associate within the International School of Biomedical Diagnostics at Arizona State University (ASU) and Senior Director of Product Development at iNanoBio, a startup nanotechnology company based in Tempe, AZ. Previously he was an Associate Research Professor and the Acting Director for the Center for Healthcare Innovation & Clinical Trials within Health Solutions at Arizona State University (ASU). Carl brings more than 20 years of research and development experience in the biotechnology and in vitro diagnostics arenas working in both industry and academia. Yamashiro has been involved with seven startup companies and has served in various capacities, including Chief Scientific Officer and VP of Research. Before starting at ASU in 2004, he has had a number of R&D management positions in medical device and diagnostics companies, including Applied Biosystems (now part of Life Technologies), Roche and Amersham Biosciences (now part of GE Healthcare) focusing mainly on developing systems and applications for molecular diagnostics. He has primarily focused on cutting edge technologies which included real-time PCR, microarrays and nanotechnology. Yamashiro has a BS in Biochemistry from University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Oregon and was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow and Program in Cancer Biology Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University.