Martin Babinec is both a noted Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a native/current resident of Upstate New York. He launched Upstate Venture Connect as an outgrowth of his vision and commitment to accelerate transformational change across the Upstate region. Babinec has provided UVC\’s initial capitalization and he serves full time without compensation.

In 1988 Babinec founded TriNet HR Corporation, a provider of payroll, benefits and human resources outsourcing solutions that has grown to serve more than 8,000 small businesses customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. He served as CEO from the company\’s inception until 2008, and Chairman through January 2010. He remains active in the company as a Director and industry advocate.

He is an active Angel investor, a member of the international Entrepreneurs\’ Organization (EO) network, and a recipient of the Silicon Valley Entrepreneur of the Year award. He served for five years on a Kauffman Foundation Advisory Board and also been a guest lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.



Omar Baddar is a political scientist, human rights activist, and New Media professional based in Washington, DC. He earned his M.A. in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Memphis, where he wrote his Master\’s thesis on US policy towards the Middle East. He also holds an undegraduate degree in Graphic Design (multimedia concentration). He is the former Executive Director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Massachusetts, and the former Director of the Palestine Cultural Center for Peace in Boston, MA. Omar travels to the Middle East on a biennial basis, and has participated in dozens of panels, lectures, and debates on college and university campuses throughout the US on conflicts in the Middle East and on US policy towards the region. He writes for the Huffington Post, and has made several media appearances, including BBC, Al-Jazeera, Sky News, Russia Today, and several other tv and radio programs. He is also a free lance translator (English-to-Arabic and Arabic-to-English).



Martin Butts is a local food advocate, entrepreneur, writer, and the owner of Small Potatoes, a boutique marketing,and consulting firm that specializes in working with food businesses of all kinds. He previously served as the Director of Syracuse University\’s Community Test Kitchen, working with aspiring foodpreneurs to help them turn their product ideas into businesses, and as the Community Education and Outreach Coordinator for Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.

He has worked with food producers, farmers, restaurants, retailers, distributors, non-profits, colleges, and consumers, as well as on advisory councils for fair trade standards, retail food co-ops, and currently as an advisor for Syracuse First. In 2010, he was chosen as one of Central New York\’s 40 Under Forty, recognizing individuals who have excelled in both the workplace and in the community, and Small Potatoes was awarded a 2013 Snail of Approval Award by Slow Food CNY.



Kelli O’Brien Corasanti is the owner of Studio 8 Fitness, Inc. – a personal training and life transformation studio located in Clinton, New York. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Education and certifications in Personal Training and Youth Fitness. She is the author of Kelli’s Quips: Happy Thoughts for Busy People and Finding My Way Back to Me: A Journey of Self-Discovery and coaches fitness professionals around the world for the Todd Durkin Mastermind Group. Kelli is the recipient of the Accent on Excellence Award for her work throughout the community.



Renee Heitmann is a singer, performer and voice teacher in New York City.  She was most recently seen in the Center for Contemporary Opera\’s Night of The Living Dead atelier and enjoys performing music theater and new music.  Other credits include Yum Yum (Mikado), Audrey (Little Shop of Horrors), Julie (Carousel), Mabel (Pirates of Penzance).  When she is not performing, she can be found in the kitchen baking for Single Girl Cookies or around her neighborhood of Astoria, delivering her baked goods.

Renee holds a Bachelors of Music from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Masters of Music in Voice Performance from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.  She believes in the power of one person and aims to be that person to affect positive change in her world.



Cindy Buckley Koren, is a designer and educator with over 25 years experience. She serves as associate professor of communications design at PrattMWP and is the founder of the {meetinghouse} creative collaborative. After establishing a career in traditional editorial and advertising design Cindy switched focus to pursue her passion for cultivating young creative talent and inspiring positive social change.

The {meetinghouse} serves as an arts-based social enterprise designed to inspire economic opportunities in Central NY by fostering innovative collaborations between creative, cultural and educational institutions. Its initial purpose is to create positive social change by connecting social entrepreneurs with creative resources.



Susan Osborn has had the pleasure of serving the students and families of the LaFayette Central School District for nearly twenty years.  From her first student teaching experience at the LaFayette Junior-Senior High School, to teaching 8th and 9th grade, to serving as the Assistant Principal, and now the LaFayette Big Picture School Principal, Susan has dedicated her professional life to the LaFayette community.
As the founding principal of the LaFayette Big Picture school, Susan was awarded the Ted Sizer award by the Big Picture Learning Network and the school has been recognized for its outstanding practices in internships.  In addition to the children she serves at school, Susan is proud to have Jordan and Hannah call her Mom.



Alex Sheen is the founder of because I said I would, an international social movement dedicated to bettering humanity through the importance of a promise. Before pursuing a life of philanthropy, Alex was an Innovation Manager and Corporate Strategy Lead at Hyland Software. Today, he helps others remember their promises and commitments through a concept called the “promise card.” Alex is a proud graduate of Ohio University and currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio.



One of America\’s most prized thought leaders, John Zogby delivers incredible insight into the most important trends that will change our companies, our government, and our own lives. He has been heralded as the nation\’s most accurate trend analyst today.

As the author of the New York Times bestseller The Way We\’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream, Zogby continues to put his finger on the pulse of America, creating a portrait of the trends that drive our society today and will in the future. His new e-book,The First Globals: Understanding, Managing, and Unleashing Our Millennial Generation, provides a detailed analysis of why Americans born between 1979 and 1994 are truly more globally aware and sensitive and want to make their workplace and planet a better place, and how to understand them and help them play out their destiny.

He currently pens a weekly column for, a weekly report card on President Obama\’s performance for The Washington Times, and a monthly column forPolitics magazine. A well-known political and social pundit, his work has been featured in op-ed pages worldwide, valued in corporate boardrooms, and considered “must-read” material at every level of America\’s political landscape. He has been interviewed by every major US news and cable network and has served as an election analyst for the BBC, CBC, and Al Jazeera, among others.