Advisory Committee

Background and Purpose

The UT Dallas Economic Development Advisory Committee (ED Advisory Committee) was created to support the University’s Facilities & Economic Development team in accomplishing UT Dallas’ strategic initiative of serving as an “economic engine” for the Dallas-Fort Worth Region.

As a key partner with industry, government, cultural organizations and schools in North Texas, UT Dallas will expand and deepen its networks outside of campus by developing partnerships, including:

  • Expanding collaborations with North Texas businesses for research and development
  • Connecting with companies to develop their employees’ knowledge and skills through enrolling in UT Dallas courses and degree programs
  • Extending the reach of UT Dallas’ training programs to new business, government and nonprofit markets
  • Designing and constructing spaces on campus that facilitate innovation and partnerships with community and industry leaders, e.g. a Research and Innovation Park

The ED Advisory Committee supports University’s strategic initiative by leveraging its networks and offering feedback and guidance based on its members’ economic development expertise.


2020 Roster
Mark Caracio

Mark Caracio

President and CEO [Chief Executive Officer]

The Harvard Group


Mark Caracio is President and CEO of The Harvard Group [THG], a management and marketing consulting firm providing outside insights and guidance on issues of strategy, marketing, technology and operations from C-level client executives to leading technology firms. They are a leader in the field of external executive advisory, leadership and governance. THG’s corporate client roster includes AT&T, Cisco, IBM, SAP, Lenovo, HP, Lufthansa, Samsung and Symantec. Additionally, Mark is Managing Partner of FutureCities, LLC a technology event and media company based in Dallas.

Mark has spent over twenty-five years in the IT industry including senior positions with AT&T, MCI, Cable & Wireless, 3Com, and Philips Electronics N.V. Mark holds a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Tulsa and a graduate certificate of finance from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.

Growing new business ventures is a passion for Mark. He is a co-founder of FutureCities, LLC that produces nationally recognized Smart Cities IoT programs; Director for Exaeris Water Innovations who owns US patents for atmospheric water generation; and a Corporate Advisor to Analitiqa Corporation that has pioneered a market leading IT Infrastructure Intelligence solution that is enabling enterprises to achieve unprecedented resource utilization and game changing cost reduction.

Mark participates in community support through his service on the Board of Trustees to Good Shepherd Episcopal School of Dallas, the Cybersecurity Advisory Committee at Southern Methodist University, and as a member of Tech Titans, the technology association for North Texas.

Madison Clark

Madison Clark

Project Manager

McKinney Economic Development Corporation


Madison Clark joined the McKinney Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in December 2015 and serves as the Project Manager. Her primary role is to develop relationships and partnerships with companies, site selectors, real estate brokers, workforce partners, government officials and other influential individuals to advance local job creation and tax base expansion in McKinney.

Madison has worked in economic development over seven years. Throughout her tenure in McKinney, the MEDC has had involvement in bringing over 2,000 new jobs and nearly $980 million in capital investment to the city.

Madison holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas and has completed professional economic development training through the University of Oklahoma in order to sit for the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) certification through the International Economic Development Council.

Madison now resides in McKinney with her husband, daughter and son. She enjoys spending time with family, friends (who call her the “Leslie Knope” of McKinney), serving in her local church, and staying active.

Esmeralda de la Cruz

Esmeralda de la Cruz

Economic Development Manager

City of Plano


Esmeralda de la Cruz serves as an Economic Development Manager for the City of Plano. She is responsible for supporting businesses, helping them grow and invest in the Plano community. Esmeralda has a passion for public service with over 13 years of experience. She began her career as an Urban Planner working in areas of transportation, development and redevelopment of communities throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. She has built successful partnerships to support residents, organizations and businesses.

She received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a member of the Texas Economic Development Council, International Economic Development Council, and American Planning Association (APA). She currently serves as the APA — North Texas Chapter Treasurer.

David Ellis

David Ellis, CEcD [Certified Economic Developer]

Assistant Director

Allen Economic Development Corporation


David Ellis is the Assistant Director with the Allen Economic Development Corporation. There, he leads programs to attract corporate investment and jobs to Allen, Texas.

Previously, he was a Vice President at Site Selection Group where he supported its industrial, economic development and incentive practices. He worked for Plano Economic Development and Angelou Economics, an economic development consulting firm in Austin.

David, a native of Oklahoma City, is Certified Economic Developer (CEcD). He has a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He and his wife Lynn have two daughters Kate & Olivia.

Victor Fishman

Victor Fishman, PhD [Doctor of Philosophy]

Executive Director

Texas Research Alliance


Dr. Fishman has served at the organizational interface for industry, government and academia.

Prior to the Texas Research Alliance, he served as Associate Vice President for Applied Research at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Fishman built the full range of high performance computing, additive and subtractive manufacturing and mechanical design and prototyping capabilities that supported both industry and faculty. At Penn State University, he held the industrial and government agency portfolios for the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), a DoD level University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). His work covered both classified and unclassified programs with government and industry partners. Prior to his retirement and for the last six years of his tenure, Dr. Fishman served as Head of the Washington Office with responsibilities across ARL’s government and industry sponsor base. Dr. Fishman has held significant industry leadership positions in pharmaceuticals, environmental monitoring, technology transfer, and new technology development and commercialization. Dr. Fishman serves on the board of the National Defense Industrial Association. He served in the U.S. Army, separating after six years at the rank of Captain. Dr. Fishman holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, an M.S. degree from Clemson University and an undergraduate B.S. degree from the University of Miami, Florida.

Seth H. Giertz

Seth H. Giertz, PhD [Doctor of Philosophy]

Associate Professor of Economics

The University of Texas at Dallas


Seth H. Giertz is an associate professor of economics at the University of Texas at Dallas. Previously, he has held positions at University of Nebraska - Lincoln (2008-2015) and the Congressional Budget Office’s tax division (2001-2008). In 2005, while on leave from CBO, Seth served as a staff economist for the President’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. His research focus is in public finance and regional economics. Much of his work examines the effects of taxation on various parts of the economy. This includes the overall efficiency costs from taxation, as well as the effects of tax policy on charitable giving, education finance and interstate migration. He also conducts research focusing on local housing markets and house-price bubbles. Here, his research is used to evaluate policies designed to improve the stability of the housing-finance industry. Seth received his PhD in economics from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 2001 and his BA in economics from the University of Illinois in 1994.

Geoff Green

Geoff Green

Managing Director

GWG Capital


Geoff is the managing partner of GWG a private investment firm that targets proven small and medium size companies with sustainable EDITA growth. Our investments include growth capital investments, partial buyouts and acquisitions.

Mr. Green was previously CEO and co-founder of Netvious Networks, a leading-edge mobility solutions provider specializing in providing secure, high-performance wireless solutions across educational institutions, large public venues and enterprise accounts. In 2016, Netvious was recognized by Inc. Magazine as the 138th fastest-growing company in the United States, and the 7th fastest-growing company in Texas.

His corporate career highlights include financial services marketing and strategy roles with Fortune100 firms such as American Express, GE Capital, and Citigroup, as well as operating roles at AIG, including leading a global joint venture which promoted insurance and financial service products in 27 countries worldwide. Geoff has successfully worked across a broad range of geographies and cultures including China, Asia, Europe, Russia, and Latin America.

Geoff received the Dallas Business Journal 2017 Minority Business Leadership Award. He has been featured in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Business Journal and Inc. Magazine.

Mr. Green’s board experience includes Visit Dallas, Hack the Hood, Dallas Contemporary, and Rainbow Days, a non-profit organization serving at-risk children. Geoff was also Board Chair of the Urban League of Southwestern Connecticut. Geoff holds a BA in Economics, as well as a BA in Chinese History from the University of California, and an MBA from the University of Michigan where he was an Exxon Fellow.

Rose Hasham

Rose Hasham

Managing Member

Rosegold Hotels


Currently at Rosegold Hotels, Rose is responsible for formalizing the company’s strategic-planning processes, forging new working relationships and synergies across the organization. Her current focus is to diversify the company’s commercial real-estate portfolio in the greater Dallas area while creating more jobs.

Rose has a Master’s Degree from Harvard University in Business Mgmt and Org. Behavior, and Design Thinking Certification from Stanford. After Grad school, Rose joined Forbes/Fortune top 100 companies such a Raytheon and CapitalOne in leadership roles to direct people strategy. In 2015 she left corporate to start her entrepreneurial journey.

UTD connection: Rose attended UTD for an Executive Coaching certification, due to her focus in Tech, her company- Rosegold Hotels has also created AI (Tech) Internships for UTD students in the past.

In her spare time Rose enjoys serving on the HBSCD (Harvard Business School Club of Dallas) and their Real-estate SIG, Travelling and all things spiritual!

Ray Hemmig

Ray Hemmig


Retail and Restaurant Growth Capital


Ray Hemmig has more than 40 years of executive and board experience in the retail and restaurant industries. Including: J. C. Penney; Hickory Farms of Ohio; Grandy’s; Ace Cash Express; Buffet Partners, LP (Furr’s Fresh Buffet); in the capacities as COO; EVP; CEO; and as an independent director, as well as an Executive Chairman and Non-Executive Chairman of the Board (COB). He also founded and manages Retail and Restaurant Growth Capital, (RRGC) and Hemmig Investments, LTD (HIL) based in Dallas, TX.

Ray has served in an investor, board member and management roles in multiple, successful M&A transactions: Grandy’s to Saga Corp. in ‘83; On the Border’s to Brinker in ‘96; the sale of Ace Cash Express in ‘06; the sale of Restoration Hardware in ‘08; and multiple private company transactions at RRGC. Current/recent ventures are: Snappy Salads; and MITRA QSR — based in Dallas, TX; and The PGA Tour Super Stores based in Atlanta, GA.

Ray has extensive (40+) corporate Board experiences. He has served on multiple public company boards: Communications World (COMW); Party City (PCTY); On the Border (OTBC); Ace Cash Express (AACE); Restoration Hardware (RSTO/RH); Full House Resorts (FLL); MobileSmith (MOST); as well as numerous other privately held company boards in the US and abroad. Ray is also an active member and board member of the North Texas Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), where he holds the highest “Leadership Fellow” Director status; he was a Director of The University of Texas at Dallas’s, Institute for Excellence in Corporate Governance (IECG), the Chair of the Jindal School of Management Advisory Board at UTD, and is also currently on the Executive Board for the University. He is also a frequent speaker on the topic of corporate governance, as well as the retail/restaurant trade industries.

Ray has also served on various Industry & Nonprofit affiliations such as: Dallas Restaurant Association (Past President); Texas and National Restaurant Associations (Director); International Franchise Association; International Shopping Center Association; FiSCA (formerly NaCCA); Board Member and Past President (2x) North Texas Food Bank among many other educational, community service and charitable entities.

Clyde Jackson

Clyde Jackson


Wynne/Jackson, Inc.


Clyde Jackson is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wynne/Jackson, Inc. His company has been involved in multiple mixed-use developments for over 30 years. The company developed over 5 million square feet of office/hotel and retail in downtown Dallas, including the Plaza of the Americas and the Westin Hotel. In addition the company has been active in the development of over 10,000 acres of master-planned communities in Texas and Georgia. The company also has been active in acquiring income producing properties on a portfolio basis.

Mr. Jackson has been a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), an international real estate association, since 1974, a Trustee since 1987 and has served as a Vice President. Among other activities for the ULI, he has served as chairman of the Urban Development Mixed-use Council for over six years. In addition, he has had the opportunity to participate in analysis and studies of many of the major mixed-use developments in North America, Canada, and selected European capitals. In association with the ULI, Mr. Jackson also participated in the land use planning assignment for one of the largest remaining development tracts on the island of Oahu, Hawaii that was approximately 41,000 acres. In addition, Mr. Jackson participated in the creation of a new town plan for Zoetemeer, Holland. Mr. Jackson is a ULI Governor and serves as Vice Chair ULIF Governor’s Committee. Clyde is currently the chair of the ULI Student Housing Council.

Mr. Jackson is a member of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, where he has been a Deacon, Elder and Sunday school teacher. He has been or is now serving on the board of the following organizations: Dallas Community Development, Inc., The Hillier School, Probe Ministries, Inc., Sky Ranches, Inc., Cornerstone Bank, the Urban Land Institute, Dallas Committee of Young Life, SMU Sustentation Committee, The 500 Inc., Central Business District Association, Dallas Ballet and the Dallas Real Estate Council.


Juris Doctorate, Southern Methodist University School of Business and Law School


Texas Real Estate Broker

Beth Kolman

Beth Kolman


Richardson Economic Development Partnership


Beth Kolman has been the director of economic development for the Richardson Economic Development Partnership for two years, after leading community relations and employee engagement programs at Nortel and Cisco Systems for many years. In her current role she leads the REDP’s marketing programs and assists with international business development and retention programs. Beth has lived and worked in Richardson for more than 20 years and is a proud graduate of Leadership Richardson.

Taylor Lough

Taylor Lough

Economic Development Manager

Anna Economic Development Corporation


Taylor Lough (“Law”) became the Economic Development Manager for the City of Anna, Texas in July 2019. Prior to Anna, she served in Richardson, Texas as Assistant to the City Manager and Management Analyst since 2013.

Taylor earned a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of North Texas. While at UNT she was inducted into the Pi Alpha Alpha national honor society for public affairs and administration.

Taylor was the 2019 President of the Urban Management Assistants of North Texas (UMANT), is a member of the North Texas City Management Association and serves on the Professional Development Committee of the Texas City Management Association (TCMA). She serves on the International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) Advisory Board for Deputy and Assistant Managers and is a member of the Emerging Leaders Development Program, and the Welcome Committee. She is a graduate of Leadership Richardson Class XXXI and Leadership North Texas University Class 3.

Vishwanath Madhugiri

Vishwanath Madhugiri

Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer

Saaz Technologies


Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer, SAAZ MICRO INC.

Head of strategy, innovation and business at SAAZ, a digital imaging innovations company.

Ex-Chief Innovation Officer at Lycamobile, world’s largest Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO).

3 decades of experience in the Automotive, IT and Telco sectors beginning with the TATA Group; in international commercial/research collaborations, and incubating start-ups in the UK, USA, India, Europe and Australia.

Believe that most future innovations will occur at the intersection of technologies/disciplines; for example, at the intersection of AI, genetics, big data, autonomous systems, blockchain, healthcare, VR, and deep learning. Passionate about interdisciplinary innovation.

As GM-Research Collaborations at Infosys Technologies, created non-linear strategic partnerships with world-leading universities/companies, including University of Cambridge, USC, Fraunhofer Institutes, Vanderbilt, Indian Institute of Science, BT, BP and ETH-Zurich.

At CERCIA, University of Birmingham UK, was Business Head/Member, Management Board. Cercia is a Center of Excellence for evolving robust solutions to complex business problems by applying biologically-inspired self-learning algorithms. Commercialized IP with BT, Honda, BAE Systems, Telent (earlier Marconi) and Infosys.

Invited Member-International Business Forum at UK Trade & Investment and the CII-UK India Business Forum. A thought leader, with talks at leading institutions and international conferences.

Honored to be invited by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Buckingham Palace in 2014, in recognition of my decade-plus work with and contribution to the UK Trade and Investment and other Government and Regional Development agencies, for utilizing my international experience in the IT industry to promote better trade and understanding between the UK and India, and for public service.

Invited Member, India Council on Competitiveness, set up in collaboration with the US Council on Competitiveness.

Invited Member, Dean’s Advisory Council, Jindal School of Management, UT Dallas.

Board Member, Mentor at Technology Start-ups

Ronnie Spellman

Ronnie Spellman

President of the Southern U.S. Region



Ronnie Spellman is a trusted executive leader with several decades of building efficient operations, successful outcomes, strong relationships, and long-lasting business partnerships. Ronnie’s traditional business values and code of ethics focus on providing Quality Products, Value to the Customer, and Exceptional Service.

With experience across multiple industries and firms including technology, SaaS and software development, healthcare, manufacturing, data analytics, and construction development companies along with having managed multiple business disciplines such as Purchasing, Contracts, Budgeting and Strategy Development, HR, IT, Marketing, Government Relations, and Project Management, Ronnie understands the diverse business needs of executive leaders.

As the President of Southern U.S. for PlanetMagpie, Ronnie’s goal is to bring the same level of expertise and success in developing efficient and secure infrastructure operations to other businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.

PlanetMagpie is an award-winning U.S. based Information Technology Company. Founded in 1998 by Robert Douglas in Los Gatos, California, PlanetMagpie initially began as a Cloud Services company and quickly became a pioneer of cloud hosting, by building one of Silicon Valley’s first cloud data centers. PlanetMagpie grew to include Web Design & Development, IT Consulting, and IT Support services. Today as a leading comprehensive IT & cloud services company, PlanetMagpie serves the IT needs of small and mid-market companies across the United States. PlanetMagpie excels in network cybersecurity and its domestically based datacenters employ levels of security not typically found in commercial data centers.

Rodney J Thomas

Rodney J Thomas

Business Unit Executive

IBM (Retired)


Mr. Thomas is an experienced business development manager, investor and civic leader. He is currently on the Executive Board of the University of Texas at Dallas, where he also serves as the President of the advisory board for the university’s globally recognized chess team. Most recently he was an Encore Fellow at the Center for Finance Strategy & Innovation, part of the UTD’s Jindal School of Management. Prior to that, he was a business unit executive at IBM Corporation, managing a global technical sales team. As a sales leader he has been responsible for driving hundreds of millions of revenue dollars. Mr. Thomas invests in startups and coaches entrepreneurs. He has extensive experience in helping businesses understand how to leverage emerging digital technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Mr. Thomas studied applied mathematics at Harvard College and resides in Dallas with his wife Tracey.

James Weichel

James Weichel

Vice President

Texas Retail Division Manager

WaFd Bank


James Weichel is a Commercial Banker with WaFd Bank and has been in the banking industry for 28 years. James works with commercial clients in the Dallas-Ft Worth area to address their banking needs.

James is very involved in the community and currently serves on the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce (Addison, Carrollton and Farmers Branch) as a board member and previously as Chairman of Board. He also serves on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Education Foundation as a board member. James is a member of the Park Cities Rotary Club and has participated in volunteer projects with the North Texas Food Bank, Dallas Meals on Wheels and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

James lives in Rockwall, TX and has been married for 26 years. He and his wife Kristen have two children: Anna-Kate (age 21) who attends the University of Oklahoma and Griff (age 14) who attends Cain Middle School.