Mentors

Mentors are a select group of bioscience and healthcare industry leaders committed to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. VelocityTX mentors have decades of experience and a track record of bringing their bioscience and healthcare companies to exit. The mentors play an essential role by providing a safe space for CEOs and founders of VelocityTX’s incubator and accelerator programs to share thoughts and concerns in a confidential setting. The founders gain valuable insight, support, and guidance from the mentors. The goal of the mentorship is to provide training and support to entrepreneurs in various areas to help make critical business decisions.

Juan "Sebastian" Garzon

Programs Manager

Juan “Sebastian” Garzon serves as programs manager for VelocityTX. Sebastian oversees the implementation of programs that support the growth of bioscience companies. Before joining VelocityTX, Sebastian worked in multiple roles at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC), including Director of the Garcia Center and Program Manager for the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center. In addition to his role with VelocityTX, Sebastian serves as executive director of Alamo Angels, San Antonio’s premier network of accredited investors.

Sebastian graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s in finance and earned a master’s in business administration from TAMUCC. Sebastian has received multiple recognitions, including the 2016 achievement honoree from the TAMUCC College of Business, Corpus Christi 40 under 40 and is a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi Class 46. Sebastian is also the co-founder of Passport2Fluency, a company that creates opportunities to increase language fluency through virtual and overseas immersion experiences. 

Lauren Cornell

CEO/Co-Founder, Novothelium, Research Scientist with the Center for Advanced Molecular Detection at the 59th Medical Wing

Lauren Cornell attended Texas A&M University receiving her Bachelor of Science in Genetics in 2009. She joined a research team in the Zoology department at the University of Oxford, where she worked until starting her Master’s in Biomedical Engineering through the joint program at UTHSCSA and UTSA in 2010. During her time as a student she worked at Southwest Research Institute, and later transitioned to a position at the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR), Sensory Trauma Department, where she researched sensory therapeutics for wounded warriors.

In 2015, while working at USAISR, she co-founded her nationally and internationally awarded company NovoThelium, which is focused on improving women’s health care through improving nipple reconstruction post-mastectomy. In 2016, she was accepted into the Translational Science Doctor of Philosophy program, a joint program with UT Austin, UTSA, and UTHSCSA, and further carried on her research in sensory trauma under the principles of translational science, while continuing to develop her startup. She graduated with her doctorate in 2019.

Kaitlyn Bloch

Programs Coordinator

Kaitlyn Bloch serves as programs coordinator for VelocityTX. In this role, Kaitlyn is responsible for the day-to-day management of VelocityTX mentoring and coaching programs and the CEO Roundtable series. Before joining VelocityTX, she worked for The Learning Company and the Meadow’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, where she developed and implemented entrepreneurial support programs, workshops, and events. Kaitlyn holds a bachelor’s in management from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. 

Jose Ignacio Sordo Galarza, MS

Founder & Managing Director, CIOEureka!

Ignacio has ample experience working at the intersection of technology and business functions. He is a recognized highly influential individual within the business transformation and technology space and has received numerous awards.  His is the former Global P&G’s Commercial Digital Transformation Officer.

His background in Fortune 100 firms, digital start-ups, and incubators with significant contributions to develop, direct, and support digital solutions across geographical regions.
The two books he has authored: ’The Uncomfortable CEO’ and ’Leading with Strategic Thinking’, offer expertise as a credible authority on gaining practical insights to cope with digital adoption challenges.

He is a Computer Science Engineer from Tec de Monterrey and has a Masters in AI from Fundación A. Rosenblueth.

McKenna Gallagher

Programs Coordinator

McKenna Gallagher serves as programs coordinator for VelocityTX. In this role, McKenna is responsible for VelocityTX BioGlobal Accelerator Program, Incubator Program, and the CoLabs facility. McKenna’s experience in technical settings, ranging from concept to commercialization, position her to bring a unique perspective in providing support to VelocityTX clients. Before VelocityTX, McKenna worked as a manufacturing engineer for medical devices, performed research and development for class III medical devices, and executed clinical research. McKenna earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Heather Hanson

President, BioMed SA and Founder, Corvax Solutions

Heather Hanson has worked in the medical device industry for over 20 years. An entrepreneur herself, she understands the challenges start-ups face. She leverages her management experience and mechanical engineering background to help companies conduct research and commercialize medical innovations.

Lili Chavez Pena

Community Champion

Lili Chavez Pena serves as Community Champion for VelocityTX. In this role, Lili brings a friendly and professional experience to guests of the VelocityTX Innovation Center. Lili began her career with VelocityTX as programs coordinator, where she led and managed the accelerator program, which comprised a cohort of five international companies. Before joining VelocityTX, Lili spent over 10 years in the banking, wealth management, and insurance industries in Mexico and the U.S. Lili holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in finance from Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. Lili is fluent in Spanish, English, and French.

David Huff

President & Director of Operations, MedPlast, LLC

David Huff worked in the medical and biotech industries for the last 4 decades, which resulted in the development of an electrophoresis device in conjunction wiht The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. David lead the development of the technology for Surgimedics in various capacities ending as VP of Operations. The company then merged with a division of CR Bard and Minnetech Inc. to form LifeStream International where he was VP of Manufacturing and continued that role with the sale to Jostra. In 2003 he left to join Coastal Life Technologies in San Antonio to head the manufacturing development. in 2017, MedPlast LLC aquired Coasta in a stock purchase agreement where David stayed on as President & Director of Operations of the San Antonio plant until his retirement in 2019.

Kurt Klitzke

Biologic Licensing, Development & Consulting

Kurt Klitzke is currently a biologic material developer and consultant. He was previously the founder/CSO/CTO at Airmed Biologics, Inc and co-founder CSO at Triad Life Sciences. He has 29 years of experience in instrumentation design, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, cellular therapies, biologic facility design, allograft/xenograft biologic product development. He has also assigned patents to BioDLogics/Integra, Triad Life Sciences and Sparta Bio Pharma. In 2011 Kurt was recognized by MN Business Magazine, Leaders in Healthcare Awards for “Outstanding Achievement/Innovation in Biopharmaceuticals”.

Corey Levenson, Ph.D.

San Antonio Military Medical Innovation Director, San Antonio Economic Development Corporation

Corey Levenson has extensive scientific and business management experience in the life sciences working for start-ups as well as international pharmaceutical companies. Since moving to San Antonio in 1996, Corey has held leadership positions at ILEX Oncology, OncoVista, ViroXis, Santalis Pharmaceuticals, GenCure and the San Antonio Economic Development Corporation.

As San Antonio Military Medical Innovation Director, he’s responsible for fostering collaborations between military medical units and local entrepreneurs, research institutions, universities, and private industry with the goal of commercializing products that serve the needs of military medicine.

Gabriele G. Niederauer, Ph.d.

CEO & President, Bluegrass Vascular Technologies

Gabriele (“Gabi”) joined Bluegrass Vascular Technologies, Inc. (BVT) in September 2014 as CEO & President to work with the BVT team and commercialize the innovative Surfacer® System. The Surfacer® Inside-Out® Access System uses an “inside-out” approach to gain central venous access and allows physicians to maintain access in an occluded vein and eliminate the need to compromise an additional vein. The Surfacer System has been on the market in Europe since 2016 with excellent performance and US approval via a de novo classification was gained in 2020. In 2016, additional funding was secured via a Series B financing and a world-wide distributor contracted.

Jose M. Padilla

Attorney-at-Law, Padilla Law

With 20 years of experience as a corporate lawyer, José M. Padilla represents investors, startups and healthcare businesses on formation, equity financings, acquisitions, commercial contracts, and healthcare regulatory advice.

He previously served as General Counsel for a physician-owned healthcare system and at a national healthcare company focusing on post-acute care. He also currently teaches health law at NYU.

He graduated with honors from Harvard College, and University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Keith Peeples

Business Unit Leader, Extremities for DePuy Synthese, a J&J Company, and Chief Executive Officers, BioMedical Enterprises, Inc.

Mr. Peeples has 40 years’ experience in sales, marketing, and leadership in the healthcare industry. Mr. Peeples has been the Business Unit Leader, Extremities for DePuy Synthes, a J&J Company and Chief Executive Officer at BioMedical Enterprises, Inc. since May 2009. Prior to joining BioMedical Enterprises, he was Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Advanced Bio-Surfaces, Inc., an orthopedic company which manufactures an interpositional knee implant system. From 1999 to 2006, Mr. Peeples was Vice President of Sales at The ASC Network, which offers a supply solution to physician-owned or procedure-based centers. From 1995-1998, Mr. Peeples was the Director of Sales for North and South America at Medtronic/InStent, a provider of self-expanding nitinol stents for gastroenterology, urology, radiology and peripheral vascular procedures. Mr. Peeples also worked as the Western Regional Sales Manager and as an independent sales representative with Pentax Precision Instrument Corp., a provider of flexible endoscopes, from 1981 to 1995.

Bianca Rhodes

President/CEO, Knight Aerospace

Bianca Rhodes’ career started in banking which led to CFO positions with Intelogic Trace, (NYSE:IT) and Kinetic Concepts Inc. (NASDQ: KNCI). Since 2017, Rhodes has served as the President and CEO of Knight Aerospace which specializes in medical and VIP modules and various palletized systems sold worldwide.

BioGlobal Accelerator Program

The BioGlobal Accelerator Program is a highly competitive, 16-week collaborative accelerator program specialized for bioscience companies focusing on medical device, biotech and healthcare IT.

Incubator Program

The Incubator Program is designed to scale early-stage bioscience companies by providing long-term support and includes office and meeting space, access to industry experts, mentors, and more.

CEO Roundtable

The CEO Roundtable is an exclusive membership program that brings together executives from non-competing bioscience and healthcare companies to foster innovation, collaboration, and connections.