Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
WEN Announces Regional Directors
Ayla Annac is the Southwest Regional Director for the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Network (WEN). Before joining WEN, she was the director of the UW Small Business Development Center at Platteville. Annac has helped create business plans and worked with companies in different stages of their development.
Annac is experienced at converting challenging technical and medical concepts into practical commercial opportunities, helping companies with business development and tech transfer, commercialization, and licensing. She has spent 13 years developing and executing strategic business and marketing plans and has worked with market feasibility and branding efforts in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia with consumer and industrial products companies including Procter and Gamble, Nestle, Ralston Purina, and Fort James. She has extensive knowledge of retail industry trends, worldwide top retail distributors, and buyer scorecards.
Annac holds a Master's degree in business administration from St. Louis University and a certificate from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
David Linz is the Southeast Regional Director for the Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Network. Before accepting this position, Linz was the vice president of marketing and business development for a small chemical engineering software company, OLI Systems.
An accomplished professional and leader in the fields of technical project management, business development, and product management, Linz has extensive experience in oil and gas, chemical, nuclear, combustion, and environmental engineering. Linz is especially skillful at evaluating market opportunities and assessing technical and commercial viability of new technologies and products.
Linz has a B.S in Chemical Engineering and a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering, both from the University of Arizona. He is also the author of two books.
Pat Dillon joined the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Network as the director of the Northwest Region/University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. Bringing more than 15 years of public/private sector knowledge and experience to the WEN, Dillon's expertise is in the highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Previously, she was the executive director of
Minnesota Project Innovation, Inc. where she consulted with numerous companies in these programs, and helped win more than $20 million in research awards for seed, early stage, and emerging high technology companies.
Highly recognized for her skills, Dillon was awarded the prestigious Small Business Administration Tibbetts Award for her excellence in the Programs (1991), and was recognized by City Business (The Business Journal) as one of the 25 Most Innovative Women in Minneapolis (2001). She has served on many panels as a reviewer and is a member of the National Contract Management Association; the Society of Research Administrators; the Association for the Advancement of Science; the National Defense Industrial Association; and the Naval Reserve Association. Dillon is also a senior officer in the United States Navy Reserve with more than 28 years of service, spanning both operational and staff positions.
Dillon graduated from Winona State University with a MBA and BS in Business Administration.
Kurt Waldhuetter is a regional director for the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Network. He has more than a decade of consulting, product development, marketing, business development, technical sales, and technology transfer experience.
As an associate director in technology transfer at Indiana University, Waldhuetter previously evaluated, protected, commercialized, and managed a broad portfolio of technologies including software, devices, and copyrighted content from various disciplines including life sciences, informatics, computer science, and engineering. He has lectured on intellectual property and technology commercialization, helped develop an entrepreneurial network, and served as a member of a dean's industrial advisory committee.
Earlier, Waldhuetter worked five years in project management and consulting at an engineering firm in Milwaukee on complex environmental investigations and remediation projects for various industries. He also developed extensive knowledge of brand marketing by working his way through undergraduate studies at a large brewery in Milwaukee.
Waldhuetter holds a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in Geosciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Ashwini Rao is the statewide coordinator for WEN. Before joining WEN, Rao was a communications specialist for the UW Center for Cooperatives where she planned and implemented many of the center's outreach and education programs.
Rao has communications and marketing experience in industries ranging from technology and consumer goods to entertainment. She has experience in strategic planning and managing public relations activities for corporate clients like Hallmark Entertainment.
In addition to managing PR campaigns across multiple media, working with the news media, and coordinating large-scale events, Rao has trained co-op boards of directors on governance and communication issues.
She has a Master's degree in public relations from Syracuse University.
Patricia Simms, a consultant to the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Network, has been a prize-winning journalist for more than 30 years, covering health, politics and public affairs for The Wisconsin State Journal. She is the author of one book, "Covering Quality in Health Care," and has worked as a consultant for Forward Wisconsin, Inc., Madison Gas & Electric, and Wisconsin Power & Light, among other business clients. Simms has been a lecturer for the UW-Madison School of Journalism and UW-Extension and worked as an on-air personality for WMTV (Ch. 15) in Madison and WJJO-FM. She is on the board of the Association of Health Care Journalists and chaired the group's national conference for the last three years in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Chapel Hill, N.C.
Simms holds a bachelors degree in English and a masters degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.
Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.