Deborah Besemer brings 30 years of software industry experience and was most recently the CEO of Gemvara from May 2009 through Feb 2010. Previously she was the President and CEO of BrassRing, a leading provider of talent management solutions. Under her leadership, revenues grew consistently, from $1 million in revenue to $40 million until she oversaw the sale of the company to Kenexa Corp. for $115 million. Prior to joining BrassRing, Deborah was president of Systemsoft Corporation and spent more than a decade at Lotus Development, where she managed worldwide field operations with revenues in excess of $1.3 billion and more than 4,000 employees in 46 countries.
Deborah is a former Chairperson of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (formerly Mass Software Council) and served on the Board of Trustees for 9 years. She served on the University of Massachusetts High Tech Executive Council, and The New England Small Business Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She is also currently serving on the board of directors at Gemvara. Formerly, she served as board director at Double-Take Software, Bullhorn, My Perfect Gig, Kubisoft, Inc. and Eprise Corporation
Kristin Frank’s career spanned 23 years at Viacom. From 2015 to 2017, she served as Chief Operating Officer of MTV, combining her background as both a creative and business driver to lead MTV’s revenue growth, operations and long-term strategic planning initiatives. From 2013 to 2015, she served as Executive Vice President of Viacom Music and Entertainment’s Connected Content Division, with general management responsibilities for MTV, VH1 and LOGO TV. From 2009 to 2012, Kristin served as General Manager for MTV and VH1 Digital where she was instrumental to MTV’s growth to 210 million fans on Facebook. From 2005 to 2009 she served as Chief Operating Officer at LOGO TV.
Kristin currently serves on the Board of Gaia, Inc., a global digital video streaming subscription service and community. She received her BBA in Finance from the University of Iowa.
Gary Haroian brings significant senior executive and board director experience from more than three decades of service with a number of leading software and technology companies. Haroian has held numerous senior executive positions throughout his career, including serving as the chief financial officer of Bowstreet and Concord Communications and in various roles at Stratus Computer, including chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. In addition, he currently serves on the board of directors of Aspen Technology, and has previously served on the boards of directors of several technology companies, including PhaseForward and Unica.
Diane HessanChairperson of the Board
Diane Hessan is a successful entrepreneur, marketer and author. She is currently CEO of Salient Ventures, an investment and advisory company with a portfolio of angel investments focused on Boston technology companies. She is also engaged in an ongoing research project focused on understanding and tracking voters from the last Presidential Election. Her Op-Ed on these voters, published in the Boston Globe, has been lauded as having saved countless families from screaming and yelling at each other last Thanksgiving. Prior to Salient, she was CEO of Startup Institute, which is dedicated to helping people transform their careers to succeed in the exciting innovation economy.
She is also Chairman of C Space, where she was CEO for 13 years. C Space (formerly Communispace) is a next-generation market research company, which builds online communities to help marketers generate consumer insights, with “a Blue Chip client list that would make a Madison Avenue giant jealous," according to Advertising Age. Diane led the company to 13 years of exponential growth, and it now has over 500 employees, and offices in over a dozen countries. The company was sold to Omnicom in 2011.
Diane has spent her career as a business executive, and as co-author of the book Customer-Centered Growth: Five Strategies for Building Competitive Advantage. The book, a Business Week best-seller, was published in 11 languages.
Diane has received many honors, including the Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Most Admired CEO award and Boston Power 50 award from the Boston Business Journal, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year (National Finalist), the Northstar Award from Springboard, the Great Boston Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, and a range of Best Boss citations. In 2014, she was inducted into the Babson Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs and she received the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship from Brandeis.
Diane serves on the boards of Tufts University, Mass Challenge, Panera, Eastern Bank, CoachUp, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and is Special Advisor to Datapoint Capital, a leading early-stage venture firm. She received her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and her B.A. in Economics from Tufts University. She has 2 grown daughters, and is also founder of The Sound Bytes, an a cappella group that sings about business.
Scott Kurnit is an investor and advisor focused on the digital ecosystem.
Kurnit founded and served as chairman and CEO of About, Inc. as it grew to a public market value of $1.7 billion and was the fifth largest of all Web properties. About invented or popularized important Internet staples such as blogging, content SEO and contextual pay-per-click advertising. He sold About US to Primedia for $724 million. About was then owned by the New York Times Company and IAC.
Kurnit has founded four companies, holds four patents, led the team that embedded the first Web browser into an online service, started the first Pay Per View cable network, and co-led the team that implemented the first use of national caller ID. He was also the youngest program director in the PBS system and served as program director for Qube, the world’s first fully interactive cable system.
He was president of Showtime Event Television when it generated the largest one night gross in the entertainment business and aired the first rock concert (broadcast in 70 countries) from the former Soviet Union.
He has been a filmmaker, TV director, station program manager, marketer, and CEO. He has worked at the highest levels of Warner, Viacom, News Corp., PBS, IBM, and MCI companies.
Ritcha Ranjan is the Director of Product Management for Google Finance. While at Google, she has also worked on GSuite, Google Wallet, Adwords Editor, and Mobile search products. In particular, she was the director of the product management team that took Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites and Keep from consumer and education-focused products to one used by enterprises all over the world, helping them with their digital transformation. Ritcha is a co-founder of an educational not for profit company, Five Pumpkins, and has previously worked at Microsoft in the Speech Group, leading the Speech SDK product management team and Yahoo! as a Product Marketing Manager. She holds several patents and has won a Google Founder’s Award for her product work. Ritcha currently serves on the Product Management Hiring Committee and Promotion Committee at Google. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Waterloo in Canada.
Dr. Tsedal Neeley
Dr. Tsedal Neeley has been a professor at the Harvard Business School since 2007 and has been the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School since 2018. Dr. Neeley heads the required Leadership and Organizational Behavior course in the MBA program and co-chairs the executive offering, Leading Global Businesses. Dr. Neeley has also chaired faculty recruitment. She serves on the Board of Directors of Harvard Business Publishing, the Partnership Inc., and is a member of Rakuten Inc.’s Advisory Board. Dr. Neeley is the author of several books, articles, and cases focused on the virtualization of work, globalization, and digital transformation. She received her B.A. in Communication from Boston College, an Ed.M. in Human Development Psychology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in Management Science and Engineering, specializing in Work, Technology, and Organizations.
Tom Wheeler has extensive experience in both the public and private telecommunications sector. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and is a Shorenstein Fellow for Media and Democracy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Tom served as the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) from 2013 to 2017, and immediately prior to this appointment served on President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
Prior to his government service, Tom was Managing Director at Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage IP-based companies. Also in the private sector, he is CEO of the Shiloh Group, a strategy development and private investment company specializing in telecommunications services. As a testament to the breadth and scope of his contributions, Tom is the only person to be selected to both the Cable Television Hall of Fame and the Wireless Hall of Fame.Tom received his BA from The Ohio State University, where he was a recipient of its Alumni Medal.
- News & Events