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LaunchPad Team

Mitch Jacobson, Executive Director

He/Him/His | | LinkedIn 

Mitch Jacobson

Mitch is the executive director of The LaunchPad at The University of Texas at Austin. He also serves as the director of the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI)—the university’s business and technology incubator and the ED of the SW I-Corps Node at UT. As the past director of the Clean Energy Incubator at ATI, Mitch helped build the $2.5B cleantech ecosystem in Central Texas over the past eight years. He has over 20 years in the tech world in executive sales positions at Dell and Tech Data. He is the founder of the Eyes of Texas Partners Angel Group. In 2016, he was named “Mentor of the Year” in Austin by the Young Men’s Business League and the Young Women’s Alliance as part of Austin Under 40. He and his wife Janna have three children and two grandchildren.

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Mitch here.

Nina Ho, Director

She/Her/Hers | | LinkedIn

In addition to being the director of The LaunchPad at The University of Texas at Austin, Nina Ho is also an entrepreneur, creative director, and educator. She is the founder of collective blue—a lifestyle brand that celebrates diverse creators through digital storytelling and event production as well as missfits productions—an annual festival and event series for self-identifying Asian American women in entrepreneurship and the arts. Nina has been recognized in publications such as Business Insider, Austin Monthly, and Austin Woman for her work. Nina has a B.S. in advertising, B.A. in French, Portuguese minor, and a Bridging Disciplines certificate in “Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship” from The University of Texas at Austin.

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Nina here.

Shannon Lundquist, Program Coordinator

She/Her/Hers | | LinkedIn

Shannon Lundquist

Nicknamed “Mom” of The LaunchPad, Shannon works as the Program Coordinator where she manages operations, supervises students, assists with events and special projects. She joined the entrepreneur community through the Austin Technology Incubator, the university’s business and technology incubator, where she was the office manager for twelve years managing grants, equity contracts and operations. Shannon was awarded the University of Texas Outstanding Staff Award in 2011, and is a proud veteran of the United States Navy where she was a hospital corpsman specializing in physical therapy. During her military service she continued her education on a B.S. in Healthcare Management degree, was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal twice for meritorious service, and was a Color Guard for the Naval Medical Center San Diego before she was honorably discharged. Shannon and her husband currently live in Northwest Austin with their two sons.

Bart Bohn, Director of SEAL & Special Projects

He/Him/His | LinkedIn

Bart Bohn

Bart is a serial entrepreneur in building entrepreneurship programs (and his own occasional startups). In that journey, Bart founded 3 Day Startup to provide learning-by-doing entrepreneurship education programs to college students; ATI Water to reduce embedded water in agriculture, energy production, and manufacturing; WaterRIOT to get internet-of-things technologists to focus on our water infrastructure; SEAL (Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch) to transition the most promising university-sourced startups to the mainstream startup ecosystem; and Build Sec Foundry to help veterans launch cybersecurity startups. His own startups were members of Techstars, Capital Factory, and Austin Technology Incubator. In all, startups he supported have gone onto raise over $1B in capital and already realized $800m in exits.

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Bart here

Barrett Ann Ward, Marketing Manager

She/Her/Hers | | LinkedIn

Barrett Ward - Bio

Barrett is The LaunchPad’s Marketing Manager and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. She has six years of experience in content creation, art direction, and project management, as well as ten years of experience in leadership development within higher education. Barrett owns Trajectory, a leadership + career development consulting firm for young professionals. She also runs social media for The Austinot, a hyperlocal Austin lifestyle blog. Barrett has been asked to speak at multiple national conferences on topics such as career growth, effective management, and next-gen marketing. Barrett believes in an experience-first approach to career development. When she was sixteen, she completed a 400-hour internship with Obama For America for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. She lives in Austin with her fiance and her dog, Rory. 

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Barrett here.

Innovation Fellows

Starting in fall 2019, we launched our Student Innovation Fellows program in which we hired undergraduate students from all backgrounds to treat the LaunchPad as a startup and help us tackle our business challenges. While our staff set the priorities for our daily operations, students lead the initiatives. From proposing a content marketing strategy to expand our reach to more students, producing events from the ground up, to developing a data system to track student founders along their journey, our Innovation Fellows are empowered to build an entrepreneurial experience that aligns with their personal interests and goals. 

If you’re interested in becoming a LaunchPad Innovation Fellow, please email our Director, Nina Ho, for more information. 

Aktham Dabbas (He/Him/His)

Aktham Dabbas

Major: Civil Engineering and Philosophy
Graduation Year: Senior, 2022
Aktham is a fifth-year double major in civil engineering and philosophy. Outside of class, he is part of the Texas 4000 cycling team and the McCombs Real Estate Center. Aktham is originally from Jordan and grew up in the United Arab Emirates before moving to the US for college. He would describe himself as an optimist with a child-like fascination with the built environment, and a tendency to talk too much about construction.

Corey Li (He/Him/His)

Corey Li

Major: Management Information Systems 
Graduation Year: Junior, 2022
Corey is a junior studying management information systems with certificates in design strategies, computer science, and possibly journalism. In his free time, Corey loves going on walks while listening to podcasts, running with his friends, and catching up on the latest Disney+ original. Corey also enjoys have deep conversations based on any number of topics such as politics, social impact/entrepreneurship, product management, design, and almost literally anything at all.

Josie Salinas  (She/Her/Hers)

Josie Salinas

Major: Radio-Television-Film
Graduation Year: 2024

Josie is a second-year Radio-Television-Film major and plans to add public relations as her second major. She has been the publicity officer for the Mexican American Culture Committee for two semesters and volunteers in several organizations including Texas Student Television and the San Antonio Humane Society. Josie is originally from the city of Monterrey in Mexico but moved to the US during middle school. She has a passion for filmmaking, especially cinematography, and using different types of media to tell stories. Josie is very excited to join the LaunchPad team and expand her skills while creating a variety of graphics for social media.

Montse Santibanez  (She/Her/Hers)

Montse Santibanez

Major: Theater arts, international relations and global studies, and a BDP in Human Rights and Social Justice 
Graduation Year: 2023
Montse is a third-year double major in international relations and global studies and theatre & dance. She has a BDP in Human Rights & Social Justice and is part of the Portuguese Flagship Program. Montse is originally from Mexico and moved to the US for college. She would describe herself as an artist with a passion for change.

Nathan Hughes (He/Him/His)

Nathan Hughes

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Graduation Year: Junior, spring 2022
Nate is a mechanical engineering major at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also minoring in entrepreneurship. Nate works as an avionics engineer in the Texas Rocket Engineering Laboratory. His interests include coding, electronics, space travel, and memes.

Sirah Diallo (She/Her/Hers)

Sarah Diallo

Major: Plan II and Public Relations 
Graduation Year: Sophomore2023
Sirah is a second-year student majoring in Plan II Honors and public relations while also minoring in French. Having spent the majority of her childhood growing up overseas, she has always been extremely passionate about being a part of and creating spaces in which diverse individuals can thrive. Additionally, as a small small business owner herself, she has always been fascinated with entrepreneurship and the role that communication plays in fostering strong and lasting relationships with the people around her.