Launch NY Board of Directors
George Chamoun, Chairperson
Jordan Levy, Vice Chairperson
Jennifer A. Beckage, Esq. CIPP/US, CIPP/E, Director
Maggie M. Dorn, Director
Mel Passarelli, Esq., Director
Zachary Shulman, Director
Launch NY Officers
Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D., Secretary
Michael A. de Freitas, Assistant Secretary
George Chamoun, Treasurer
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Board of Directors' Biographies
Board of Directors’ Biographies
George Chamoun, Chairperson/Treasurer
George Chamoun became CEO of ACV Auctions, a live mobile auction platform for new and used car dealers, in September 2016. Prior to joining ACV Actions, Mr. Chamoun co-founded Synacor in 1998, helping transform the company from a privately-held start-up to a publicly-traded technology, services and revenue partner of leading cable, satellite, telecom, and consumer electronics companies, in his role as Synacor’s President, Sales & Marketing. As a Syracuse, NY native and University at Buffalo alumnus, Mr. Chamoun became an Upstate entrepreneurial hero due to his early success as founder and CEO right out of college for what has become a top e-communication infrastructure provider in the world.
Mr. Chamoun has been recognized for his accomplishments throughout the cable and telecommunications industry, most notably in 2009 when Multichannel News named him one of the publication's "40-under-40" most influential innovators in the industry, as well as when he was recognized for his entrepreneurial spirit and leadership by Ernst & Young as "Entrepreneur of the Year.” Mr. Chamoun has presented on entrepreneurship, business and technology at conferences, expos and seminars across the country, and participates on advisory boards for tech incubator Z80 Labs and the 43North International Business Plan Competition.
Jordan Levy, Vice Chairperson
As a recognized leader in the entrepreneur and investor community, Jordan Levy serves as in multiple roles: Managing Partner at both SoftBank NY and Seed Capital Partners, Co-Managing Partner of Z80 Labs, an Accelerator Fund, Chairman of 43North, the single largest business plan competition ever held in the United States. Prior to co-founding Seed Capital Partners, Mr. Levy was co-founder of ClientLogic and President, co-CEO and co-Chair of its predecessor companies SOFTBANK Services Group and Upgrade Corporation of America (now SITEL Worldwide). Previously, Mr. Levy was Senior Vice President of Software Etc (now GameStop GME:NASDAQ). He was also Executive Vice President and co-founder of Software Distribution Services, (now known as Ingram Micro IM:NASDAQ). Mr. Levy currently serves on the Board of Directors or as on Observer of several technology companies including Buzzfeed, Rebelmouse, Spanfeller Media, FieldLens, Shareablee, and Lover.ly. Levy holds a B.A. in Political Science, University at Buffalo.
Jennifer Beckage, Esq. CIPP/US, CIPP/E, Director
Jennifer Beckage, Esq. CIPP/US, CIPP/E is the Managing Director of Beckage PLLC where she leads a team of seasoned attorneys and privacy professionals focused on technology, data security and privacy law and litigation. In 2018 and again in 2019 she was recognized by Cybersecurity Docket as one of the Top 30 data breach attorneys in the United States, making her one of a handful of people to earn the recognition twice and the only Upstate New York attorney to ever receive the honor. Cybersecurity Docket has recognized her one of "the 30 best and brightest data breach response lawyers" and one of the “key players - both in the public eye and behind-the-scenes-in the most significant data breach responses worldwide.”
Ms. Beckage assists clients with regulatory compliance, including with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). She helps clients prepare policies, conduct in-house training, and review contracts where data and technology are involved. She has personally responded to numerous headline-making, national and international data breaches and cyber incidents, providing strategy and risk mitigation advice and interface with regulators. She also represents clients in data security and privacy litigation and class actions.
Ms. Beckage is a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) and Certified Information Privacy Professional/Europe (CIPP/E) by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).
Before becoming an attorney, Ms. Beckage was an owner and executive of a fast growing Dot Com technology business, helping to lead its successful sale to a publicly-traded company, which retained her as vice president of operations for technical services and product lines across 11 states servicing Fortune 500 clients. Today she leverages her prior business background in providing legal advice to her clients.
Maggie Dorn, Director
As Chief Network Officer, Maggie Dorn manages and grows The Motley Fool’s unique network of influencers, thought leaders, and businesses. Within their network, she uncovers collaborative opportunities that adds diversity of thought and drives commercial value. She plays an essential role in building brand awareness around The Motley Fool’s leadership, business expertise, and award-winning culture. She is also a Venture Partner in Motley Fool Ventures, an early stage, technology-focused venture capital fund, powered by The Motley Fool’s brand, investing approach, and communities. An advocate of workplace equality, she co-authored “The State of Motley,” The Motley Fool’s first internal diversity and inclusion report, which subsequently led to changes in hiring and cultural practices. Ms. Dorn serves as Committee Chair for The Vinetta Project, a leading global ecosystem that supports high-growth female entrepreneurs as they take their tech businesses to scale. Additionally, she sits on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo.
Prior to joining The Fool, Ms. Dorn worked at The Washington Post in their business innovations department. She graduated with honors from Ithaca College (B.S.) and John Hopkins University (M.A.). A native Buffalonian, you’ll find her these days fishing in streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the northeast with her husband Matt.
Mel Passarelli, Esq., Director
Mel was very recently announced as President & CEO of Aspera after twelve years as EVP and GM leading the successful turnaround and growth of Attunity from an early-stage software asset management company to a NASDAQ listed corporation that is being acquired for $560 million by Qlik, a leader in data analytics. Mel’s illustrious career spans over thirty years of leading corporate strategy and growth in several private and public software companies. He spent over thirteen years helping to build Intergraph Corporation into a Fortune 500 company. As a Buffalo expat, Mel's entrepreneurial spirit has led him to give back to budding entrepreneurs through efforts such as judging the annual Henry A. Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition at UB, his alma mater. While resident in the New England area, Mel is a frequent visitor to Western New York for family, professional, and volunteer activities. He serves as a board member for several for profit and nonprofit organizations, including the American Heart Association, providing advice and counsel for successful growth. Mel holds a BA and MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University in Boston.
Zachary Shulman, Director
Zachary Shulman is a Managing Partner at the Cayuga Venture Fund, a leading venture capital firm that has raised four funds dedicated to growing promising, innovation-based start-up businesses in the region. Mr. Shulman also teaches at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, where he leads the Entrepreneurship@Cornell program. He currently serves as a Director of Primet Precision Materials, Advion BioSciences, e2e Materials, Instinctiv, and CherryPharm. Prior to joining CVF, Mr. Shulman was General Counsel at a technology startup that raised considerable venture capital, and previously practiced corporate law at Ropes & Gray in Boston and Harris Beach in Ithaca. Mr. Shulman serves on a number of advisory boards affiliated with Cornell programs. He earned both his BS in Industrial and Labor Relations and his JD degrees at Cornell University.
Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D., Secretary, President and CEO
Dr. Marnie LaVigne has spent more than 25 years in both the private and public sectors creating new products and start-up businesses, driving innovation and economic growth in high-tech industries, such as life sciences, informatics, and advanced manufacturing. Her passion for working with start-ups took root from her experience launching health informatics businesses with colleagues in the 1990’s as she finished her doctoral work at the University of Rochester, which resulted in growing two different firms with more than 100 employees and two initial public offerings (IPOs).
In July, 2014, she became the President and CEO of Launch NY, a 27-county venture development organization that she co-founded with other Buffalo boosters and whose mission is to identify, support and invest in high-growth, high-impact companies and catalyze the entrepreneurial culture of Upstate New York. Previously, she led economic development efforts involving work with hundreds of firms at UB as Associate Vice President for Economic Development from 2012 to 2014 and Director of Business Development from 2005 until 2012 at the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences and the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology. In addition to her for profit start-up experience prior to UB, Dr. LaVigne also spearheaded product development initiatives for larger corporations in managed care (e.g., Aetna), pharmaceuticals (Bristol-Myers Squibb), medical devices (Welch Allyn), and medical informatics (Medscape/MedicaLogic, now GE and WebMD).
Dr. LaVigne has a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and a doctorate in clinical psychology, both from the University of Rochester. She is an editorial board member for Disease Management, and a member of the Board of Directors for Buffalo Angels, Insyte Consulting, New York State Economic Development Council, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, and Western New York Venture Association.
Michael A de Freitas, Assistant Secretary
Michael de Freitas is a corporate lawyer with William C. Moran & Associates, P.C. Mr. de Freitas has an extensive background and experience in corporate and non-profit law. Previously practicing with Hodgson Russ LLP and independently, he has worked with both small and large businesses across industries in both the public and private sector for over 20 years. Mr. de Freitas earned his BA in English from College of the Holy Cross and his JD from Cornell University.