Educator | Researcher | Advocate | Lead Consultant
National Association of Community College Entrepre
With over 18 years of experience as an entrepreneurial educator, ecosystem builder, researcher, advocate, and entrepreneur, Samantha is well positioned to lead innovation initiatives.
As an Entrepreneurship Professor and Innovation Officer at Virginia Western Community College, she co-created six entrepreneurial initiatives, including three coworking spaces, an incubator, an accelerator, and a FabLab. The largest among these spaces is the Grandin CoLab in Roanoke, Virginia, which was launched in 2014 and today houses over 175 members. However, as most seasoned ecosystem builders know, physical infrastructure is only a small part of the puzzle. Ecosystem success requires building a broad spectrum of stakeholder partnerships, including government, educators, foundations, support services, investor groups, all while keeping entrepreneurs front and center. The local hands-on projects provided an opportunity to cultivate critical relationships required to truly understand that ecosystem building is foremost about people.
In 2018, Samantha’s work transitioned from regional to national projects, thanks initially to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship. In 2019, she formally partnered with the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) to create a new course to accompany the book: Community Colleges as Incubators of Innovation. The course provided an important component for scaling and applying the recommendations throughout the book. During this time, Samantha also worked as NACCE’s Lead Consultant to develop the strategic plan titled, "Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Appalachia: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Prevention, Treatment, Recovery & Workforce Development". The research utilized a mixed methods approach leveraging design-thinking, surveys, and semi-structured interviews with national experts in order to answer the central research question: How can Community Colleges of Appalachia create a novel approach to promote entrepreneurship, build capacity, and develop a funding strategy for opioid prevention, recovery, support, and entrepreneurial workforce development?
Dissertation: Exploring the Role(s) of Community Colleges in Addressing Wicked Problems by Comparing Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Sustainability (SDGs)
Past speaking: University Economic Development Association, National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship, SCHEV, Botetourt Chamber, HIRE Conference, Roanoke Mayor’s Conference, ICSB Annual 2020