Edgar Blunt is a social entrepreneur, avid learner and professional advisor who is committed to making a positive difference in people’s lives.
In 2012, after 15 years as an executive with a recruiting and staffing corporation, he co-founded a career engagement company, Career Pillar. As the current CEO, he and his team, together with their organizational partners, are helping career seekers all over the country achieve their goals of selecting and securing meaningful, sustainable employment.
Often referred to as “Student Activities Director”, Edgar has a great passion for people. He is energized by laughter, transformative social change, radical collaboration, and getting down on the dance floor (with or without a karaoke mic).
Jamin is the CMO of FocusVision and continues to function as Decipher’s CEO which he co-founded in 2000. Under his leadership, FocusVision has become a premier marketing research technology and services firm providing a single source for qualitative and quantitative data for many of the world’s top brands including eBay, Twitter, LinkedIn, AT&T and Eli Lilly. Jamin’s areas of focus include data, analytics, mobile and infrastructure, and SaaS software in North America and Europe.
Prior to founding Decipher, a product of FocusVision, Jamin started two other firms, Anchor Graphic Design and WebConstruction.com. Jamin holds a B.A. from Fresno Pacific University and an MBA from Fresno State.
The Claude Laval Corporation was founded in 1972 by Claude Laval III to manufacture and market the centrifugal-action separators and water well inspection cameras invented by his father, Claude Laval Jr. Originally designed for groundwater and agricultural uses, the separator has become a key filtration option for many industrial processes. During its first four years, the company sold its separators and water filtration equipment only in the U.S., but in 1976 began selling equipment abroad. By 1984, sales abroad accounted for 40 percent of total revenues. The company operates from a 100,000 square foot manufacturing, sales, marketing and engineering headquarters in Fresno. Claude has led his corporation into a wide range of industrial, commercial, and agricultural markets.
With international sales as a big part of his business strategy, Claude was recognized in 1984 as the U.S Commerce Department’s Export Executive of the Year, one of the many awards he has received in his business career. In 1997, the Claude received the Central California Excellence in Business Hall of Fame Award and in 1998, the Leon S. Peters Award. In 2002, he was presented the “Gold Star Alumnus Award” by the Fresno Public Education Foundation, and in 2004, the Fresno State Service Award.
Claude served as chairman of the board of the Central Valley Business Incubator from its inception in 1996 to 2010. CVBI’s Water and Energy Technology incubator program is named in his honor. He is also chairman of CSU Fresno’s International Center for Water Technology. Claude served as president of the Irrigation Association in 1984 and from 1995-2000, he was a director of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation. He currently serves on the Board of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He was a founder of the Fresno Business Council, and has been vice-president since 1993. He has been a member of the Fresno State Foundation Board of Governs since 1997.
Kurt Madden is the Chief Technology Officer for Fresno Unified School District, the fourth largest district in California. He leads the Information Technology department, which is responsible for the strategy, development and implementation of educational technology for 73,000 students, 9,000 staff, 100 schools, and 3,500 classrooms. Prior to his current position, Kurt held several leadership positions including Corporate VP for a Fortune 1000 technology firm, President and Founder of two local technology companies, and CEO of a large community-based organization. He is also the author of “The Synergetic Follower,” published in 2010. Kurt has been an adjunct professor for Information Systems at the Craig School of Business at Fresno State University for the past 20 years. He has also taught classes on Urban Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship at the Lyles Center for Entrepreneurship at Fresno State. He is the Chair of the ValleyPBS Board and a member of several regional nonprofit boards including the Fresno Business Council, the Fresno County Workforce Investment Board, and the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation. Kurt is also the co-chair of the Microsoft K12 Advisory Council. He attended Fresno Unified schools and graduated from Fresno State University.
Benjamin (Ben) J. Maddox is the Senior Vice President and Market Manager for Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Central Valley Middle Market Banking Group. In his position, Ben is responsible for the Bank’s commercial and agribusiness activities in the South Central Valley (Madera County through Kern County). The South Central Valley market includes agribusiness/food processing, manufacturing, beverage distribution and oil/gas industries.
Ben began his Commercial Banking career in June 2000 with a regional based bank as an Intern in the Fresno Commercial Banking Office. He joined Bank of America as the Market Manager in November 2014. Prior to his current role, Ben held the position of Loan Team Manager (Credit/Risk Officer) for a National Bank in San Diego County. Over the past 15 years, Ben has held roles of Credit Analyst, Relationship Manager and Loan Team Manager.
Ben holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with an Option in Finance and a Minor in Economics from California State University, Fresno. He is active in the local community, having served on numerous boards over the years and coaching youth sports for the past 7 years. Ben currently serves as a Mentor with the Mentorship program through the Lyles Center for Entrepreneurship at CSU, Fresno and is coaching baseball, softball and soccer in Clovis, CA.
Ben and his wife, Alison reside in Clovis, California with their four young children; Emily, Brenton, Brooklyn and Carson.
Jake Soberal is the Chief Executive Officer of Bitwise Industries (“Bitwise”). Bitwise was founded in 2013 to move the technology industry in the Fresno Region forward. Bitwise is comprised of four divisions: Geekwise Academy, a training program that teaches computer programming at a super-fast pace; Hashtag, a collaborative workspace; Shift3 Technologies, a software development and online marketing firm; and a building division. At Geekwise Academy, Jake is responsible for building relationships with partner employers who desire to recruit technologists right out of the Geekwise Academy classroom. Additionally, Jake helps partner employers and Geekwise Academy personnel in defining talent needs and learning objectives. Prior to co-founding Bitwise, Jake was an intellectual property attorney at Walter & Wilhelm Law Group. Jake is a graduate of Clovis High School, holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a J.D. from Western State College of Law. Jake is actively involved in a variety of community initiatives, most of which are focused on economic development in the Fresno Region.
Timothy M. Stearns is the holder of the Coleman Foundation Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies and Founder of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at California State University, Fresno. Professor Stearns received his MBA degree in management and a doctorate in management/sociology from Indiana University. He previously was a member of the Management faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Marquette University. He has served on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal, the Journal of Business Research, and the Journal of Small Business Management. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Oxford University Press Business and Management. Professor Stearns has co-authored a textbook on management and is the author of more than 100 research articles and presentations. He served as Chair of the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management in 2006 and 2008. In addition, he is the President of the Water, Energy & Technology Center. Professor Stearns is also co-founder of Kids Invent! a company that sells creative hands on learning around the world. He was a co-founder of the National Network for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. He is also host and organizer of the National Elevator Pitch Competition. He recently launched Idea2Venture®, a two week program designed for international entrepreneurs to go from idea to market. In 2007, Professor Stearns won the prestigious Wang Family Excellence Award and in January 2009, Professor Stearns was elected a Fellow of the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He also received the university’s 2009 President’s Award of Excellence which annually recognizes a faculty member at California State University, Fresno.
Born and raised in Fresno, Roy has strong connections to business, community and educational organizations. He has worked with many businesses, organizations, and community leaders in order to create and develop more economic and sustainable opportunities for the Central Valley area.
Roy earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the School of Business at Fresno Pacific University, and an MBA from the Sid Craig School of Business at California State University, Fresno. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in business administration from the Henley School of Business at the University of Reading. He is currently the Dean of Business at Fresno City College. He also teaches part-time at Columbia College and Fresno State. He has consulted for over 20 years in the fields of strategy, management, operations, logistics/supply-chains and marketing. Roy has also traveled throughout the world conducting research for professional, academic and personal insights.