The Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship (CCE) at the Chaifetz School of Business is advised by a successful group of alumni and friends committed to the center's mission to advance a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the Saint Louis University community by fostering collaboration and enhancing communication in support of University's future and current students, faculty, staff and alumni.
The Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board members assist and advise on the center's mission by amplifying the work of the CCE to the external community, and advocating for the Chaifetz School of Business and Saint Louis University’s leadership role in entrepreneurship among industry, government and education institutions. Board members are accomplished entrepreneurs with experience across a wide range of industries.
Members of the Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board:
- Act as a convening power that rallies others to support the work of the CCE.
- Provide advice to CCE leadership and staff.
- Serve as a resource for CCE students by providing feedback, encouragement, and guidance.
- Connect CCE to stakeholders across SLU and in the greater Saint Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem.
- Influence culture through example, input and goal setting.
- Advocate for the needs of the CCE.
- Provide insight toward effective strategies and partnerships for entrepreneurship programs and initiatives and identify ways to generate greater impact.
- Assist with aggregating the external resources available to the CCE to strengthen the entrepreneurial network.
- Help define the success metrics for the CCE.
- Engage with SLU students, faculty and staff to build a well-connected and supported CCE.
Meet the Board
As a senior executive who worked his way up through the Enterprise Rent-A-Car ranks, Donald Ross, former vice chairman of Enterprise Holdings Inc., was in the car rental industry for more than 50 years. Ross joined Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 1964, only seven years after the company’s founding. He was instrumental in the company’s growth and played a key role in the development of its Car Sales and Truck Rental business divisions.
Enterprise Holdings operates – through an integrated global network of independent regional subsidiaries and franchises – the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental brands, as well as more than 10,000 fully staffed neighborhood and airport locations in more than 90 countries. Enterprise Holdings is the largest car rental company in the world, as measured by revenue and fleet. In addition, Enterprise Holdings is the most comprehensive service provider and only investment-grade company in the U.S. car rental industry.
The company and its affiliate Enterprise Fleet Management together offer a total transportation solution, operating nearly 1.9 million vehicles throughout the world. Combined, these businesses – accounting for $22.3 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2017 – include the Car Sales, Truck Rental, CarShare, Rideshare vanpooling, Zimride, Exotic Car Collection, Car Club (U.K.) and Flex-E-Rent (U.K.) services, all marketed under the Enterprise brand name. The annual revenues of Enterprise Holdings – one of America’s largest private companies – and Enterprise Fleet Management rank near the top of the global travel industry, exceeding many airlines and most cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, and online travel agencies.
Ross began his career at Enterprise as a management trainee and had many responsibilities, from customer service to controlling inventory. In 1969, he was promoted to branch manager in one of the five St. Louis locations at that time. In 1972, he and his family moved to Kansas City and introduced Enterprise and its brand of service to that metropolitan area. During his eight years in Kansas City, he also played an important role in the company’s nationwide expansion.
In 1980, Ross was promoted to corporate vice president, and he and his family returned to St. Louis. As corporate vice president, he oversaw operations and also headed up the Enterprise Car Sales functions. In 1992, he was named senior executive vice president and chief operating officer. Ross was promoted to president of Enterprise in 2001, and in 2004 he became vice chairman.
A member of Enterprise’s Board of Directors, Ross is also active in business, civic and community organizations throughout St. Louis. He currently is a member of the Drury Development Corporation Board and serves on the Missouri Bar’s Judicial Performance Review Committee. He serves as vice chairman for the Missouri Baptist Hospital Board; is a member of the National Council of the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis; and is a former chair of the board of BJC Health Care. He is chairman of the board of the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri and a former board member for the St. Louis Muny Opera and DeSmet Jesuit High School. Ross is also a recipient of the Order of St. Louis King Award, the highest award given by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, for providing consistent and outstanding service to the work of the church. Ross served as the 2016 Chair of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society for the United Way. Additionally, Ross served on the Appellate Judicial Commission to nominate judges for the Supreme Court and Appeals Court of Missouri for six years.
Alison Talbot is a versatile chief operating officer (retired), certified public accountant, nonprofit board member and volunteer. Her extensive experience in retail and wholesale management, international operations, business development, supply chain, finance and accounting positions her to support and mentor local entrepreneurs. Talbot prides herself on being a strategic thinker, dynamic leader and cross-cultural team builder. When she's not supporting the St. Louis innovation ecosystem, you can find her traveling to destinations around the world.
Talbot is a graduate of Saint Louis University with a B.S.B.A. in accounting and a B.A. in political science. During her time at SLU she also competed as a Billiken scholar-athlete. Talbot currently advises the Chaifetz School of Business as a member of the Chaifetz Executive Board.
Donn Lux is chairman of Lux Holdings LLC (LH). Lux Holdings is a family-office investment holding company managing a portfolio of investments including marketable securities, real estate, private placement investment, sports teams and the Lux’s family foundation.
Prior to his position at LH, Donn was chairman and chief executive officer of Luxco, Inc. (Luxco), Limestone Branch Distillery and Lux Row Distillers. Luxco is an international bottler, importer, exporter and marketer of distilled spirits and wine brands with production facilities and distilleries in the USA, Mexico and Ireland. On April 1, 2021, Luxco merged its business into that of MGP Ingredients (NASDAQ: MGPI) in a cash and stock exchange transaction. Donn is a director of MGPI and its single largest shareholder.
Donn graduated magna cum laude from Tulane University earning a bachelor’s degree in management and later earned his MBA at the Kellogg Graduate School at Northwestern University.
Donn serves on the boards of the Social Venture Partners of St. Louis, the University City Children’s Center’s LUME Institute, the St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation, The St. Louis Blues for Kids and the Lux Family Foundation. He is an avid pilot and donates his time piloting his Pilatus PC-12 aircraft in support of the Veterans Airlift Command and Angel Flight Central. The Lux Family has been a long-time supporter of the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He is currently a member of the CEO & WPO business organizations. A lifelong hockey player and fan, Donn is a member of the ownership group of the St. Louis Blues NHL ice hockey team as well as the Sioux City (Iowa) Musketeers USHL junior A Tier 1 ice hockey team.
Donn resides in St. Louis alongside his wife of 32 years, Michele, and a host of their beloved family pets. They have two adult sons, Andrew and Philip. In their free time, they enjoy spending time at their family farm outside of St. Louis – Woody Creek Ranch, and at their family home in Aspen, Colorado, as well as traveling, aviation, hunting, the outdoors, and all types of sporting activities.
Emily Hemingway transforms communities through entrepreneurship and innovation. With over 15 years of experience, she is committed to fostering equitable economic opportunity across America by empowering regions through data-driven strategic planning, public-private partnerships, and leading-edge community advancement practices. Having worked her way from coast to coast, Emily is an economic development powerhouse, award-winning event producer, business accelerator director, public relations specialist, and nationally recognized thought leader in entrepreneurial ecosystem design. Emily serves as the founding executive director of TechSTL, the first Tech Council of Greater St Louis.
Gabriel Gonzalez is a Venezuelan entrepreneur. He is a co-founder and the co-CEO at Casalú. A brand built to pay homage to Latino Culture. Their flagship product is a dark aged rum seltzer.
He served as the program manager at the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic. He graduated from NC State in 2016 with a degree in entrepreneurship and a minor in Accounting.
He is also a coffee snob, occasional DJ and pizza aficionado.
George Brill is the founder and CEO of Talisen Technologies, Inc., formerly AeroTech Services Group, a recognized leader in secure, enterprise IT integration and collaboration. A graduate of Saint Louis University’s aeronautical engineering program, Mr. Brill began his career as a structural engineer with the U.S. Navy at McDonnell Douglas. In 1991, he founded AeroTech Services Group with personal funds.
In addition to the State of Missouri, Talisen has deployed its ESP environment for the State of New York, the City of Kansas City, the Emirate of Dubai and the largest hospital network in the US.
Mr. Brill has grown both the secure supply chain and the enterprise energy components of the business. Talisen is proud to compete successfully against large-scale technology integrators like Accenture, Johnson Controls and IBM. Mr. Brill attributes this to the strength of his loyal team and the company’s ability to remain nimble.
George Leno Holmes Jr. received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. His academic research focused on the intersection of human-robot interaction, mechatronic design, and robotics - including the mathematical derivation, software simulation and hardware implementation of advanced sensing and control algorithms. He began research on Hire Henry while working on his B.S. in mechanical engineering in 2015.
Academically and commercially, he has developed and managed teams of graduate and undergraduate students in building autonomous research robots in software and hardware including the design of individual components, part selection, performance testing, and control algorithm implementation. He has experience in industrial automation, working with a variety of sensors and actuation products on the consumer, pharmaceutical, and precious metal production lines.
As co-founder and CEO of Hire Henry, he leads the development of the company's R&D plan, strategic milestones, intellectual property protection, company formation, fundraising, and network security. Additionally, he is involved in product design, fabrication, and software integration.
Joe has over 36 years of experience in the information technology industry. As president
of World Wide Technology, he directs and manages all sales, marketing, business operations
and professional services. He is responsible for managing relationships with key business
partners and customers while setting the overall strategy of the business. Prior to
WWT, Joe held various sales, marketing and project management positions with Computer
Sciences Corporation. Koenig holds a bachelor's degree in finance from Saint Louis
University. Also, Joe currently serves as a board member and chair of Boys Hope Girls
Hope and board chair of The CEOs Against Cancer – St. Louis.
Joe also supports a number of other charities such as the Siteman Cancer Center, United Way, ALS, Ronald McDonald House, and others.
A Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship alum and current Greenville, South Carolina, resident, Lachlan Werner was one of the youngest contestants to appear on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank and to partner with multiple “Sharks." Lachlan currently serves as a sales engineer for the industry-leading association management software, FRONTSTEPS, having guided the development of their flagship product as the agile product owner on both web and mobile platforms. Prior to her time at FRONTSTEPS, Lachlan served as an analyst with Wells Fargo’s Technology, Media, and Telecom team. With over a decade of entrepreneurship experience, Lachlan is passionate about teaching entrepreneurial skills to students of all ages, having witnessed firsthand how an entrepreneurial mindset is beneficial in all areas of corporate America.
Mark J. Brooks is the executive vice president and chief information officer for Centene Corporation, a multi-national leader in government-sponsored health care programs serving under-insured and uninsured individuals. Since 2016, Mr. Brooks has led Centene Technologies, the company’s information technology (IT) organization, supported by 4,000+ employees across the country, in Spain and the United Kingdom.
Prior to joining Centene, Mr. Brooks’ 12-year tenure at Health Net, Inc. included a number of diverse technology roles including director of web development, vice president of applications development, and chief technology officer. In 2013, he was promoted to chief information officer for Health Net, aligning all technology, project delivery, security and production functions/capabilities across the enterprise. These leadership roles included managing large-scale systems integrations, application development and the company’s digital strategy.
Mr. Brooks’ career began at Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting), where he gained noteworthy experience in each different phase of the systems development lifecycle. Concurrently, he became knowledgeable in foundational technologies such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and web services. Additionally, Mr. Brooks served in a number of different roles for Veritas (Symantec Software), gaining responsibility for the company’s online strategy, sales and marketing automation solutions.
In addition to leading Centene Technologies, Mr. Brooks serves as an adjunct instructor at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. In this role, he is focused on preparing master’s level students from around the world to be the next generation of technology leaders. Mr. Brooks also serves on the board of directors for LaunchCode, a St. Louis nonprofit offering free tech education and job placement opportunities.
Mr. Brooks received his master’s degree in business administration and bachelor’s degree in economics both from the University of California at Davis. He and his wife are the proud parents of a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.
Meghan Gaffney is responsible for making the veda experience exceptional for our team members, customers and partners. She provides resources and strategic leadership to our employees and serves as a liaison to customers and partners. With over 15 years of experience working with federal and state elected officials and consulting on technology opportunities, she has experience helping people — from elected leaders to impact organizations — achieve their goals. She is a passionate advocate for artificial intelligence and machine learning, and believes it will create unprecedented economic opportunity for the United States and the world. Meghan has a growing list of accolades, including being named the 2017 Vinetta Project Venture Challenge winner, winner of the MedStar Health and 1776 #Patient2Consumer startup challenge, and has been named Startups to Watch in 2018 by DCInno and DCA Live: Red Hot Entrepreneurs in DC tech and business community. She is a contributing author for Entrepreneur Leadership Network.
R. Adam Smith is one of the leading experts in private company financing, having served as an investor, advisor, or financier to more than 50 venture and private equity-backed companies since the mid-1990s.
Adam is a managing director at Salomon Brothers (a wholly owned division of Salomon Encore), a re-emergent force in global investment banking based in New York City. Adam is head of global mergers and acquisitions for the firm and manages the firm’s corporate brand and accomplished global advisory board.
Through private equity partnerships he has directly led and/or sponsored since 2002, Adam has invested in over a dozen privately-held companies (including seven acquisitions) with a combined $600 million in sales and over $250 million of contributed equity invested capital, while also forming and serving on the board of directors, or advisory boards, of each company.
Adam has been an external advisor to Bain & Company, the world’s most respected global consultancy firm, founded in 1973. In 2002, Adam founded Circle Peak Capital LLC, a private investment merchant banking partnership, which has served tens of limited partners with over $50 million in direct equity investments over time. The partnership is based in New York City, controlled by a private holding company, RAS Capital Partners LLC.
Earlier in his career, Adam served as a principal at two leading NYC private equity firms, each holding over $2 billion in aggregate managed equity capital at their peak. At Caxton-Iseman Capital, an affiliate of Caxton Associates, one of the world’s legendary alternative investment organizations (founded 1993), Adam led several leveraged buyouts worth over $1.5 billion including a going-private transaction, at the time, the largest transaction for the firm since its founding.
Adam was the first employee and instrumental in the success, of a global emerging markets (half a billion dollar) hedge fund formed in 1996, Columbus Advisors LLC. Columbus was formed by the former heads of Merrill Lynch emerging markets.
Adam’s earlier career was built on Wall Street, starting in 1993, holding positions at top firms including Salomon Brothers Inc., J.P. Morgan, and Lehman Brothers Inc.
After his career began in investment banking at Salomon Brothers, Adam earned an MBA in 1998 with high honors (Beta Gamma Sigma) from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University (CBSGSB), and a B.A. cum laude in international relations and economics from Boston University.
Adam is an active alumnus of CBSGSB, a founding board member of the CBSGSB Private Equity Advisory Board, and a founder in 1996 of the school’s now legendary Investment Management Conference.
Adam is the sole founder of Wisdom Board Inc, founded in 2020, a pioneering strategic advisory firm providing multi-faceted and thoughtful advice to boards and their company directors, members, CEOs and investors. Wisdom Board empowers private company boards of directors to optimize, inform, fortify and modernize their governance to ensure best practices, optimize shareholder value, and mitigate conflict and related liability. Wisdom Board has received accolades from the media, produced over 20 proprietary podcasts, and received sponsorships from a dozen leading global organizations.
Adam is an expert in investment banking, alternative investing, governance, and the branded space with a focus on all matters related to the consumer (including luxury, accessories, retail, apparel, beauty, art and design, digital & media, food & beverages, wellness, real estate and wealth management). Adam is a founding special advisor, from 2010, to hedge fund platform, Stride Capital LLC.
Adam is married and a proud father of three children, is active in foreign affairs, the arts and design, and is an avid collector. Adam has been a host, patron and/or sponsor of numerous arts-related events including the International Fine Art and Antique Show, Weill Carnegie Recital Hall, and The Avenue Show. Adam is a special advisor to C1760, one of the world’s most respected private art galleries with origins back to 1760. Adam has been an amateur classical pianist since the age of 5.
Frequent speaker, podcast guest, host and/or sponsor at conferences, including Columbia Business School, Buyouts Insider, Harvard, ACG, YJP, iGlobal Forum, Marcus Evans, the Scott Becker podcast.
Adam is an active patron, innovator, and philanthropist, including his roles as founder of Caring Capitalism, co-founder of Leukemia Fighters at Weill Cornell College (one of the leading oncology nonprofits affiliated with a top U.S. hospital), board member of the Musicians Treatment Foundation (the leading national injury-treatment nonprofit for musicians); previously, a board trustee of VentureCapital.org, a founding board member of National Sawdust (aka, Original Music Workshop) in Brooklyn, advisor to the leading museum of innovation in craft, art and design (founded 1956), the Museum of Arts and Design, a special advisor to the Tanenbaum Center, and founding member of the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies of Boston University.
Ross Chaifetz serves as principal at Chaifetz Group, where he is responsible for the oversight of the firm’s investments and portfolio construction, including the sourcing, diligence, deal execution and portfolio management of investment strategies spanning venture capital, growth equity, real estate and more. He has served on the board of directors for Chaifetz Group holdings including BacklotCars (Acquired by KAR Global; $425mm), Factor75 (Acquired by HelloFresh; $280mm), 15Five, SaveWave Energy (Acquired; undisclosed), Pixel Press, Cargo Systems, and more.
Ross also serves as Director of Strategy at ComPsych Corporation, the pioneer and world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, mental health, and wellness solutions. He is responsible for the advancement and innovation of the company’s products and services, which are delivered to more than 55,000+ organizations and 150 million+ individuals in over 160 countries.
Ryan Smith is an undergraduate student at Saint Louis University's Chaifetz School of Business focusing on entrepreneurship and marketing. Growing up in Jamaica taught him several lessons about hard work and how to carry himself. Smith is an active member of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity and enjoys volunteering in the community.
Tom Reeves is the former Executive Vice President and St. Louis Market Chairman of Busey Bank, a $12.5 billion community bank based in Champaign, Ill., following over four decades in banking and community development. Reeves also served as Executive Director and co-founder of Downtown Now!, a 501(c) non-profit organization created to finalize and implement the Downtown Development Action Plan for St. Louis. Reeves has served on the Missouri Employers Mutual Board of Directors since 2012.
Reeves is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a BSBA in Finance and holds an MBA from Rockhurst. He has had a successful career in the banking and lending industry. Outside of work, Reeves has dedicated his time to several civic and community organizations throughout the St. Louis Region.