Team & Board

Accelerating entrepreneurs, building the creative economy


Founded in 2007, Creative Startups is based in the highly creative city of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We drive the creative economy and creative entrepreneurs around the world, including licensing accelerators in the United States, Middle East, and Asia, along with strategic initiatives to develop the broader entrepreneur ecosystem via pre-accelerator programs, workshops, training, and seminars. 


Alice Loy

Lena Ramfelt, PhD

Julia Youngs

Alice Loy, PhD, Co-founder & CEO

Alice Loy is a Co-founder of Creative Startups and widely considered a leading authority on entrepreneurship in the creative economy.  Dr. Loy created the Creative Startups Accelerator with a vision for catalyzing high growth company formation in the under-served creative economy.

A sought-after speaker on topics ranging from developing creative economy ecosystems to investing in the creative economy, Alice frequently travels to Europe, Asia, and Latin America to work with entrepreneurs and economic development leaders.  Alice has lived and worked in Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, and China.  She holds a PhD in Strategic Communication and Entrepreneurship and an MBA.  She speaks Spanish fluently.

Lena Ramfelt, PhD, Lead Faculty

Lena is recognized globally as a leading entrepreneurship educator whose passion for startups is matched by her deep expertise in the subject matter. After completing her post-doctoral work in Entrepreneur Ecosystems at Stanford University, Dr. Ramfelt taught entrepreneurship for 12 years at Stanford’s School of Engineering. 

Today Lena develops curriculum and texts used the world over. Lena is the lead author of three Gear Up texts, the most recent being Gear Up: Test your Business Model Potential and Plan your Path to Success (2014).

As Lead Faculty with Creative Startups, Lena authors and tests all curriculum and frequently participates in LABS and accelerators, as well as Educators Circle. She has taught at loctions such as the Stockholm School of Economics, Babson College, Stanford University, and with Social Entrepreneurship Forum. 

Lena has funded two non-profit organizations named “Make a Kid Smile” and “Global Buddy Schools”, and is one of the two co-founders of a non-profit organization with the aim of increasing entrepreneurship in Swedish high schools and universities.

Julia Youngs, Acceleration Programs Manager

Julia Youngs was born and raised in Albuquerque and holds a BA in English Literature from UNM. She holds an MA in Latin American Studies and an MA in Community + Regional Planning from UNM. Outside of academia, Julia has worked for many years in Albuquerque as a stage manager and community arts organizer. Julia combines her passion for community engagement and urban development to help grow more creative cities and creative industries. Julia speaks Spanish fluently and Portuguese conversationally.

Vatsal Shah

Ginny Sterpka

Ernie Zahn

Vatsal Shah, CFO

Vatsal Shah is the Chief Financial Officer at Creative Startups. He brings five years of experience in the field of finance, accounting, auditing, and business management. In India, he had his own public practice, “Vatsal M. Shah & Associates” and he represented the University of New Mexico and the CFA Society of New Mexico in CFA Institute’s Global Equity Research Challenge. He holds a Master's degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance from the University of New Mexico, and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Accounting, and is also a Chartered Accountant from India. 

Ginny Sterpka, Program Manager, Creative Placemaking Programs

Ginny Sterpka is a designer, organic gardener and entrepreneur. Focusing on fabrics, natural landscapes and graphic communication, she previously ran her own garden/landscape design business and has worked as a point-of-purchase display designer making pop-up fabric displays, costume designer for theaters and as a dressmaker. Becoming interested in cradle to cradle design, socially conscious business and growing local economies took her back to school for Community and Regional Planning at the University of New Mexico where she received a BA in Environmental Planning. She is a C2C Fellow at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy in NYC, a network for future leaders in sustainable business and policy.

Ernie Zahn, Media Manager

Ernie is a professional filmmaker from the NY area where he spent 10 years producing social justice documentaries and campaign videos for non-profits. In 2015 he was accepted into a year-long film education fellowship in the Navajo Nation, operated by Filmmakers Without Borders. He now splits his time acting as an Executive Assistant for Creative Startups and continuing creative assignments born from his fellowship.

Anthony Morgan, Jr.

Tom Aageson, Co-Founder (emeritus)


 Anthony Morgan, Jr., Faculty

Anthony is extremely knowledgeable about the startup journey, the challenges entrepreneurial teams face, and practical strategies for socially-conscious companies to build organizational cultures that propel teams to success. He is the Owner and CEO of HIBRED Workforce Solutions and is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Create U NETWORK. He has engaged thousands through executive coaching for entrepreneurs, youth-focused entrepreneurship, and career development training for military veterans, returning citizens, and individuals from low-wealth communities. Anthony envisions a business world where people appreciate people and encourages organizational leaders to be open to the belief that the next great business idea may come from someone that you least expect. His business is headquartered in Baltimore, MD.  

Tom Aageson, Co-Founder (emeritus)

Tom Aageson is co-founder of Creative Startups. He is also the co-founder of the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, the largest folk art market in the world. Tom was VP of Marketing and Merchandising at Mystic Seaport, where he created the Mystic Maritime Art Gallery along with other startups. Tom led artisan entrepreneurs from 20 countries into international markets as Director of Aid to Artisans. He holds a MBA from Columbia University, a BFT from the Graduate School of International Management and a BA in Economics from Marquette University.  









Francine Sommer, Chair

Venture Capitalist, Founder of Oculus Media Inc., Partner of Village Ventures



Francine is CEO of Oculus Media, Inc. and Partner of Village Ventures. She is a co-founder of Descartes Labs. Formerly, Francine was co-Founder & General Partner of Gabelli Multimedia Partners, a new media venture capital fund; Senior Vice President of the Angel™ Funds Group, Wit Capital; Managing Director, First Security Management, a value oriented hedge fund; President of 655 Associates, a Gabelli & Co. venture portfolio turnaround and Vice President, Research & Science Investors, a venture capital firm.

Francine is the Chairperson of Creative Startups and on the board of CVF. She is a founder of the predecessor to and is a past President of the Venture Investors Association of NY and the 2005 Chairperson of New Mexico Angels. She was on the Board and Executive Committee of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Lang College, The New School University, and the Lensic Performing Art Center


Debbie Fleischaker, PhD, Vice Chair

Fleischaker Women's Legacy Fund



BS Emerson College MS Boston University PhD University of Oklahoma

MPA Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Often referred to as a visionary and a pioneer, Dr. Debbie Fleischaker’s most passionate pursuit is social and economic justice through socially conscious entrepreneurship. Her diverse education and experience constitute a depth of knowledge and breadth of experience in the nonprofit, for profit and government sectors.

In 1977, Dr. Fleischaker was awarded a Bilingual Multicultural Fellowship at the University of Oklahoma. At the same time, she became involved in politics and worked as the national lead advance person for Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign. In subsequent years, she served as adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico in marketing, strategic planning, and general management.

Her competence in merging diverse sectors was apparent at the Harvard Kennedy School. Under her leadership and direction, a national conference comprised of scholars, funders and nonprofit leaders, resulted in securing 11 million dollars which funded the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

After returning to New Mexico in 2002, Dr. Fleischaker was also appointed Assistant Secretary of Economic Development for New Mexico during Gov. Bill Richardson’s terms. In this position, she managed the divisions of Trade, Community Development, Film, Space, Job Training and Marketing.

A champion of social issues, Dr. Fleischaker has worked with a variety of diverse populations including: immigrants, refugees, youth at risk, handicapped, elderly, victims of rape and domestic abuse. Examples include cocreating the Women’s Counseling Center for the Oklahoma City Rape Crisis Center, creating a successful social emotional learning program (SEL), securing funding for the Mexican American Cultural Center and Toolbox by Dovetail Learning. The latter is a learning program for children that builds personal awareness, self-mastery and empathy for others.

As a donor activist and President of the Fleischaker Women’s Legacy Fund (FWLF), Debbie prefers to fund and advise newly created and highly innovative initiatives. She has served on many national and local boards. She currently serves on The Lensic Performing Art Center and The Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship Boards. Both are located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


David Kantor, Treasurer

Partner and CIO, Santa Fe Advisors



David has nearly 30 years of experience in the investment management industry as a consultant, investment banker, and practitioner. At Santa Fe Advisors, he is responsible for investment policy and strategy, the evaluation and monitoring of Santa Fe Advisors’ portfolio investments, overall business strategy, and a number of Santa Fe Advisors’ key client relationships.

David was a founder of Santa Fe Advisors in April 2014 along with partners Kristina Alley and David Marion, with whom he previously worked at First Santa Fe Advisors. David joined First Santa Fe Advisors in September 2010, where he served as a Managing Director.

Before joining FSFA, David spent 15 years as a partner of Prudent Management Associates, a Philadelphia- based registered investment advisor, where he was principally responsible for manager due diligence and managed the firm’s Washington DC office. Previously, David was a founding partner of Cambridge International Partners, a New York-based investment banking boutique specializing in merger, acquisition, and advisory work within the investment management industry. From 1986 to 1988, he was a consultant with Greenwich Associates in the firm’s institutional investment management practice.

David was an enthusiastic sailor during his years on the East Coast. He is a certified keelboat instructor and was for a number of years the lead instructor and Fleet Captain of the US Naval Academy’s offshore sail training program. While in Santa Fe, David and his family are active hikers and backpackers and on weekends can generally be found in the mountains surrounding the city. He also travels extensively.

David received a BA in Economics from Harvard College and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Brian Rashap, PhD, Secretary

Intel Corporation (Retired)

Manufacturing and Supply Chain


Dr. Rashap is retired from Intel Corporation where he was most recently the General Manager of Corporate Services for the Americas Region. In this role, he was responsible for Intel physical infrastructure and facilities in the United States and Canada, including three large manufacturing sites. His team managed facilities operations, building services, construction, environmental health and safety, and on-site employee conveniences. In addition, he had managed Intel’s aviation program and drove an internal drone operations program to improve safety, cost, and productive. Brian’s past roles include running the manufacturing operations for Intel’s highest volume wafer fabrication facility, as well as leading the engineering to ramp Intel’s High-K / Metal Gate technology into high volume manufacturing. Prior to Intel, Brian received his B.S.E., M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. He worked at the NASA Langley Research Center on control of large unmanned space structures, as well as autonomous space-based robotics. Brian’s expertise includes Structured Problem Solving, Lean Manufacturing, Organizational Development, Business Process Design, and creating Diverse and Inclusive work environments. He is a member of the Board of Directors of a technology start-up firm, Ring-IR, Inc., where he is focused on helping stand up their first manufacturing line. Finally, Brian is actively engaged in the local community. He is currently a Trustee and Treasurer of Bosque School, a member of advisory council for the Arrowhead Innovation Network at New Mexico State University.


Sydney Alfonso

CEO, Etkie



Sydney Alfonso, CEO of Etkie, has built this leading design firm from the ground up.  Determined to frame an ethical business model around the kaleidoscope of languages, landscapes, and traditions of the Southwest. Sydney found a niche in the market for upscale, contemporary jewelry and accessories that reflect the art and heritage of New Mexico’s people. Etkie employs Native American women who collaborate with the Etkie design team to develop and craft timeless designs using delicate "seed beads" and fine materials. Sydney graduated from Middlebury College before heading to Turkey to work with artisans. It was this experience (Etkie means "impact" in Turkish) that compelled Sydney to launch her company.


Bob H. Borden

CEO, Ideas And People

Brand Development and Design


Bob is Founder and CEO of Ideas And People. Borden’s incessant ingenuity and passion for entrepreneurship have fueled his nearly three decades of significant accomplishment as a design and marketing executive. 


During his 15-year tenure as Vice-President of Design and Brand Development for Nambé, Borden established the brand as an international leader in product design, integrated marketing, and award-winning retail store design and merchandising. Under his creative direction, Nambé products were accepted into the permanent collections of over 25 museums around the world.


Borden brings a meticulous eye for quality design and immense versatility to his work with international clients such as MoMA, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nambé, Luigi Bormioli, Royal Selangor, and Elite Model Management. He is widely recognized for his cross-sector competence and his ability to analyze—and redefine—markets, businesses, and brands. 


Borden is an insightful leader and careful listener, skilled at bringing ideas and people in conversation.


Christine Castro

Principal, Atalaya Media Consulting

Marketing and Communications


Christine has 25 years of experience leading corporate communications, investor relations and marketing/brand functions for some of the world's most prominent brand-name companies in the entertainment, technology and health sciences industries. Previously she was Vice President, Corporate Communications for The Walt Disney Company; Chief Communications Officer, Yahoo! Inc.; Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, Genentech, Inc.; and Senior Vice President, Communications for CBS Corp. 


Roman Ponos

CEO, GriffinWorx



Roman S. Ponos is an international development professional with over 20 years of progressive management and operations experience spanning several functional disciplines (business development, human resources, project management, operations) with corporations as well as donor-funded and multi-national organizations in the United States, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He is a dynamic, creative leader and hands-on manager with sound diplomatic and problem-solving skills gained through extensive international exposure working in highly complex, politically and economically challenging environments with demanding senior private and public sector clients and leaders.

Currently as CEO for GriffinWorx, an inclusive economic and gender empowerment organization that powers StartUp Cup, WECREATE, StartUp Academy, and Build-A-Business Workshops. Previously Roman served as Vice President for International Development with IMPAQ International, a social research, evaluation and technical assistance provider, Mr. Ponos oversees the firm's entire international portfolio and manages partnerships with donors worldwide.

He earned an MBA in International Management from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management, and a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University. He is fluent in Ukrainian, proficient in both Russian and German, has a great sense of humor and excellent taste in music.


Steve Prickett

Founder, Prickett and Associates



A founder of Prickett and Associates, a Merrill Lynch team headquartered in Albuquerque that provides financial advice and guidance to clients throughout the United States. In 2010, Barron’s named Steve one of the Top 1000 Financial Advisors in America. Steve also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo and is a member of the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) and the US SIF, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing.


Kerry Schrader

Co-Founder and COO, Mixtroz

HR and Entrepreneurship


Kerry Schrader, Cofounder/CEO of Mixtroz, holds a BBA, MBA from Kent State University and has held both the SPHR and SHRM-SCP certifications. Kerry has more than 25 years of experience positively impacting the human assets of large companies including Ford, Alcoa, and Sears Holdings Corporation. Mrs. Schrader has vast experience developing programs that engage workforces with results that increase productivity and bottom-line profitability. Kerry is the Corporate Treasurer for a Nashville-based investment group, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Black in Tech Nashville, and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. One of her passions includes volunteering for programs that support the education and development of girls and underrepresented children.


Sandy Zane

Owner, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art Gallery

Fine Arts and Gallery Management


Sandy Zane is the owner of the Zane Bennett Contemporary Art Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. Ms. Zane is also an accomplished artist and has exhibited her prints and paintings in many solo shows as well as in more than 25 juried, group and invitational exhibitions primarily in New York and New Mexico. She serves on the Board of the New Mexico State University Foundation as well as on the boards of non-profit arts organizations in Santa Fe. Ms. Zane Ms. Zane earned a BA in Arts Administration from Bard College, New York. She and her husband live in Santa Fe. 

 Lee Francis IVCEO & Founder, Native Realities and Indigenous Pop ExpoPublishing

Lee Francis IV (Laguna Pueblo) is an educator, activist, poet, and comic creator with over fifteen years of experience teaching and conducting workshops with minority populations, especially in and around Indigenous and Native American communities in North America. His career has ranged through all aspects of education, from PreK to Higher Ed, from teaching to administration. His primary focus has always been on positive youth development and student success, with an eye towards the arts and exploring creativity in all aspects of education. He began his career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC and spent a number of years in New Mexico working with the Pueblo of Laguna Department of Education. He has served as the National Director of a Native American community-youth development organization, Wordcraft Circle, Inc., that focuses on promoting stories as a means of local development and cultural sustainability. He is an award winning poet and performer, being published in numerous journals and appearing on stages around the U.S. He holds a PhD from Texas State University, and is CEO & Publisher at Native Realities Press.