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Staff & Leadership

  • Jennifer Simon

  • Executive Director for Regional Innovation

  • Ms. Simon became the Executive Director of Regional Innovation in October 2016 after serving as the Director of the Ohio University Innovation Center (IC) since March 2009. During that time, the incubator client base increased from 3 to 25.  She raised over $4 million in grants expanding services and facility improvements. Ms. Simon led efforts to provide nearly $1 million in shared Biotechnology Research & Development equipment.  She facilitates client access to capital through angels, venture capital, and traditional lending institutions.


    Prior to the IC, Ms. Simon was the President of the Athens County Economic Development Council and held the position of Athens Area Chamber of Commerce CEO. Prior to these positions, as the Assistant Director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia, she managed over $60 million in grants. 
She holds a BA in Political Science, an MA in Public Administration and an MBA from Ohio University.


    Ms. Simon resides in Athens, Ohio with her husband, David.


  • Stacy Strauss

  • Director

  • Stacy Strauss joined the Innovation Center as the Associate Director in August 2014 and was promoted to Director in October 2016. At the Innovation Center, Strauss oversees the staff, makes connections for clients, and oversees facilities management, fundraising efforts, budget analysis, grant writing, and other Innovation Center operations.


    She joined the Innovation Center from Hocking College, where she has served in a dual role as a Student Affairs Coordinator and Career Services Director since April 2013.  Prior to that position, she was Ohio University’s Head Soccer Coach for 13 years. During her tenure, the Bobcats won two Mid-American Championships, maintained a 3.4 cumulative GPA, and boasted a 97 percent graduation rate.  In addition, Ms. Strauss was the founder and director of a small business - the Bobcat Soccer Club - in Athens from 2010 to 2013. Before her coaching years at Ohio University, Strauss worked as an assistant soccer coach at Dartmouth College and at the University of Rhode Island.


    Ms. Strauss holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Kenyon College and a master’s degree in education from Ohio State University. Ms. Strauss resides in Athens, Ohio with her husband, John.


  • Tanya Conrath

  • Associate Director

  • Tanya Conrath joined the Innovation Center in November 2016 as the Associate Director.  At the Innovation Center, Conrath oversees the staff, makes connections for clients, and manages facilities management, fundraising efforts, budget analysis, grant writing, and other Innovation Center operations. 


    In her previous role with TechGROWTH OHIO, she facilitated regional outreach and educational/training opportunities for entrepreneurs. Her career has focused on supporting regional economic development in Southeast Ohio and creating professional development opportunities for its leaders and businesses. Tanya is an attorney, trained mediator, and holds a Business Incubator Management certification from the International Business Innovation Association.  She has a B.S. in Communication from Ohio University, and a J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.



  • Joe Jollick

  • Lab Director

  • Joe Jollick joined the Innovation Center in August of 2011 as the Director of the Biotechnology Research and Development Facility. Joe is very passionate about helping small bio-tech businesses succeed in Southeast Ohio. He has lived in Athens since 1975, received his BA in Biology and MBA from Ohio University, and worked at the Edison Biotech Institute for three years.


    Prior to the OUIC, he worked for Diagnostic Hybrids for fifteen years, where he was involved in the development and commercialization of multiple IVD products. Joe has extensive experience in the transfer of cell-based biological protocols and products from the research and development stage, through Manufacturing and Quality Control, to product launch.


  • Erin Rennich

  • Client Liaison

  • Erin Rennich joined the Innovation Center in February 2016 as the Client Liaison.  As the Client Liaison, Rennich acts as a concierge to coordinate all activities for clients with the goals of increasing client revenues, follow-on investment, employment and, ultimately, graduation from the incubation program through the Innovation Center.  Acting with other staff, Rennich monitors progress, follows up on solutions identified, understands the clients' wants/needs and provides research for critical business pathways.


    Before joining the Innovation Center, Rennich served as the Technology Coordinator at the Ohio University Technology Transfer Office for nearly four years.  Rennich has extensive experience providing business support to technology-based companies in various stages of maturity. In 2004, Rennich earned her Bachelor of Arts at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.  In 2013, she completed her Professional MBA at Ohio University. 


  • Shelly Lowery-Rowan

  • Accountant/Grant Accountant

  • Shelly Lowery-Rowan joined the Innovation Center in May 2016 as the Accountant/Grant Accountant.  Shelly administers all accounting responsibilities and researches grant opportunities for the Innovation Center and the Technology Transfer Office. 


    Prior to joining the Innovation Center, Shelly was the Director of Mail Services at Ohio University.  She also spent four years in the U.S. Navy, worked for three corp0rate entities, and was a supervisor in the U.S. Postal Service.  In 2006, Shelly earned her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Ohio University.  She also holds an Associate of Accounting and an Associate of Business Technology from Savannah Technical College.



  • Susan Bauman

  • Administrative Specialist

  • Susan Bauman joined the Innovation Center and the Technology Transfer Office in September of 2008.Her duties are split between the two areas. While wearing her Innovation Center hat, Susan maintains close contact with the member companies, often working with potential new tenants.


    In conjunction with the Technology Transfer Office, her duties focus on database management and helping coordinate the patent and invention disclosure processes. Susan has been with Ohio University for 15 years, having worked for the Telecommunications Center (now the WOUB Center for Public Media) and the College of Business. She has a BSED from Ohio University, and holds the CAP designation through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).


  • Tina Echemann

  • Office Assistant

  • Tina Echemann graduated from Sidney High School in 2013. She took post secondary classes at Edison Community College. She is currently in the College of Business majoring in Accounting and Business Pre-Law. She is a member of the Ohio University Hover Craft Club and the Vice President of the Ohio University Club Gymnastics team. Tina joined the Innovation Center as an Office Assistant in August 2016.  She helps with various tasks and performs daily duties to keep the center in tip-top shape.  She also manages the conference room calendars, metrics, and contact lists.


  • Laura Gilmore

  • Office Assistant

  • Laura Gilmore graduated from Athens High School in 1994. She holds an Associate of Applied Business in Accounting and Financial Services from Hocking College and is currently a sophomore in the OHIO College of Business, majoring in Accounting. Laura started working at the Innovation Center in November 2015 and, among other tasks, manages office inventory, accounts payable, and student employee scheduling.


  • Michelle House

  • Office Assistant

  • Michelle House graduated from Dover High School in 2013. She minored in Mechanical Engineering Technology at Kent State University, where she served as vice president for the Student Activates Council (Student Government), vice president for the Animation Imagineers, and vice president of Vision. She is currently in the Scripps College of Communication majoring in Games and Animation. She is a member of the Ohio University Women’s Ensemble and the Newman Club. Michelle joined the Innovation Center as an Office Assistant in August 2016; she helps with various tasks and performs daily duties to keep the center in tip-top shape. 


  • Alexis Milesky

  • PR Specialist & Office Assistant

  • Alexis Milesky graduated from Jonathan Alder High School in 2013 where she served as treasurer of the National Honor Society.  She is currently a junior studying Adolescent Young Adult Education at Ohio University and is a member of Ohio University's NCAA Division I Soccer Team.  Alexis began working at the Innovation Center in May 2015.  She promotes the Innovation Center by creating the monthly newsletter, managing social media, applying for awards and updating the website. 


  • Krista Reiff

  • Office Assistant

  • Krista Reiff graduated from McAuley High School in spring of 2015, where she was involved in French Honor Society, Key Club and stood as a Student Ambassador. She is currently in the Patton College of Education pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education. She is also a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority and holds the position of Assistant Membership Vice President. Krista began working at the Innovation Center in February of 2017 as an Office Assistant. Her many daily tasks consist of answering phone calls, greeting visitors, scheduling conference rooms, and organizing and updating files.


  • Haley Sponaugle

  • Office Assistant

  • Haley Sponaugle graduated from Seton High School in 2015 where she was in the National Honor Society, the StrongHer Club, and a Student Ambassador.  She is currently in the College of Business pursuing a degree in finance with a minor in Spanish. She is a member of Gamma Phi Beta and the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.  Haley began work at the Innovation Center in August, 2016.  Her many tasks include maintaining and updating various documents and assisting with events and workshops for the Innovation Center.


Innovation Center