Innovation Challenge judging occurred in two phases. During the first phase, proposals were reviewed by First Round Judges. First Round Judges are active members of our communities; many are external to the university, and are all heavily involved in building strong communities and/or entrepreneurship.

During the second phase, finalists advanced to an elevator pitch competition and pitched their ideas before a panel of Final Round Judges. Meet our 2010-2011 Final Round Judges. Judges were selected based on their experitse in the areas of innovation, creativity, social impact and entrepreneurship.


Cindy Au is Community Director at Kickstarter, the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has worked extensively in both education and online media. At Kickstarter, she works closely with the user community, helping individuals bring to life projects from the worlds of art, theater, music, technology, publishing, and other creative fields.

Gemma Bulos is a multi-award winning social entrepreneur and musician. She is the Director of the Global Women’s Water Initiative (GWWI), which provides the skills, tools and appropriate technologies for women to implement sustainable water solutions in Africa. Prior to GWWI, Gemma was the Founding Director of A Single Drop for Safe Water in the Philippines, where they developed an innovative program creating community-driven water service enterprises. For this innovation, she has received social entrepreneur awards from Echoing Green and Ernst Young in partnership with Schwab Foundation. The program also won Tech Museum Tech Equality Award and Warriors of the UN Millennium Goals for Kodak Philippines.

James D. Culver, Jr., was Senior Vice President, Operational Finance for Allied Waste Industries, Inc. until its merger with Republic Services in December 2009.  He earned his Bachelors of Administration in Accounting from Southern Methodist University in 1984 and his Masters in Business Administration from the Executive MBA program at Arizona State University in 2000.  He joined Allied Waste in 1989 during a period of rapid growth and took on various positions within both the accounting and mergers and acquisitions areas.  He currently sits on the Board of Trustees of All Saints Episcopal Day School, and the Finance Committee of Paradise Valley United Methodist Church.

John Dorsey is Chief Sales Officer for Conservice where he leads all sales operations. With 13 years experience in the industry, he has developed a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of utility management and billing. John has been instrumental in the unprecedented growth of Consevice from a start up to a national company providing utility management services to over 800,000 apartments. After completing his undergraduate degree at Arizona State University, John received a MS in International Business from Grand Canyon University.

Gayle Shanks has been a bookseller since 1974 when she and a friend opened a tiny, 500-square-foot used book store, Changing Hands, in Tempe, Arizona.  The store moved twice and grew to 12,000 square feet and carries new and used books and gifts.  Gayle has a degree in English Literature from ASU.  She spends her days ordering books, recommending books, creating a community gathering place where authors come nearly every day of the year to read from their work.  Gayle has been involved in many civic activities over the years, serving on social service agency boards, city-planning committees, and has served on the board of the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association and was president for two years. She has been a community organizer and activist and loves to work in her garden.

Lee A. Vickers, PhD (University of Wyoming) is President-Emeritus (1999-2008) of Dickinson State University.  Dr. Vickers also served as President of Francis Marion University (1994-1999) and President of Lewis-Clark State College (1978-1994). As president he implemented innovative initiatives at his various institutions in the areas of access, diversity, internationalization, undergraduate research, entrepreneurship, excellence in teaching and service, assessment and community outreach. Dr. Vickers has spearheaded a number of education missions to foreign countries including Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland, China, Russia and Ukraine.  He is currently serving as a consultant on international education, as well as entrepreneurial - based economic development and higher education outreach in rural communities.  He serves on the Board of Directors for the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship.  

Sharon Vosmek has been CEO of Astia - a global nonprofit organization - since June 2007 after having served as COO since 2004, and an advisor to Astia’s portfolio companies the two years prior. Astia is a community of experts and resources committed to building women leaders and accelerating the funding and growth of high-growth, women-led start-ups. Astia provides extensive resources and customized services to help startups achieve sustainable high-growth and a successful exit.  The community provides high quality, high touch, high impact customized interactions with experts; direct access to investors, industry leaders and technical visionaries; fundraising advice; and coaching. The role of the organization is to facilitate access to the proven pathways to success. It is the preeminent organization devoted to this objective.