There’s something about the seconds right before you receive news that you don’t know if it’s good or bad that is truly terrifying, at least it is for me. An innate need to know the future is something that I believe truly drives a great number of people and is the reason why we look to “what’s already been tried” so often, because we hope it’ll tell us what to expect. So the other week, when our ED (and cofounder of Launch League) came to me and said with a grim look “hey, we should probably talk…” my level of uncertainty shot through the roof. He explained that he had been offered another position and that he would be accepting it. My guess is that he was pretty uncertain how I would take the news so we were likely both a bit on edge. After making sure that this is what he wanted, my mind instantly went to “who could replace you?” In true Rick fashion, he already had a name. One that was potentially perfect but came with a big question: “yeah that’d be amazing but is she even available? Isn’t she doing about 1,000 things?” Turns out she was more than happy to make the time.
Today we are excited to announce a change at Launch League that will allow our organization to focus even more on the Akron founder. As of Tuesday August 16th Richard Stockburger has moved from his position as Executive Director back to a position on our board of directors and Courtney Gras has moved from her position on our board of directors to Interim Executive Director.
Courtney has over 6 years of experience leading her startup Design Flux Technologies which was created while she and her team were students at the University of Akron. She is described as an engineer by training and entrepreneur by nature. Her expertise lies in team building, advocacy, and operations, and she is a recognized female voice in male-dominated industries with a diverse career in engineering, project management, and sales for the cleantech, aerospace, and consulting service industries. She is an accomplished speaker on topics related to leadership development, educating for entrepreneurship, women in tech and career transitions.
Her notable achievements include:
- Named Forbes 30 Under 30 in Cleantech (2016) and Midwest Energy Top 40 Under 40 in Cleantech (2015). Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of cleantech startup Design Flux Technologies. Raised over $225k in funding and supports a team of 8.
- Awardee of the “College Women Leadership Award”, ComEd “Female Founder Award”, Smart Business “Rising Star Award”, and “Outstanding Team Leader Award”.
- Research presented at over 10 conferences (2 international), co-author of 5 peer-reviewed publications, featured Case-Study Author in “Engineering Skills for Career Success”.
- Presenter on leadership, entrepreneurship, student start-ups and career transitions at academic and professional venues.
- Community Advisory Council member for the new EXL Center at the University of Akron.
She brings a strong organizational focus to the position and a deep understanding of local founder’s needs. This lets our founder-driven board be even more effective in completing our goal of making Akron the place to found a scalable startup. Courtney will be taking on the task of executing on the rest of our 2016 plan (including the expansion of our microcommunities program, the completion of our “Hack N Akron” civic hackathon, and two unannounced large scale startup events) and our 2017 plan. We are incredibly excited to have her leading the charge for founders in Akron and we can’t wait to see what we can accomplish.
But don’t take my word for it, hear it directly from her as she takes over the Director’s Notes category here on the LL blog.