Pittsburgh Technical Council

CEO of the Year

CEO of the Year



Alison Alvarez, Blastpoint, Inc. - blastpoint.co

Alison Alvarez spent over a decade building big data tools for large companies in the media, automotive and banking spaces. She became convinced that more affordable and accessible solutions should exist and applied those insights to build BlastPoint. She has emerged as an expert consultant regarding large geospatial data systems, lecturing around the country to teach people how to use data tools for themselves. Alison is an NSF Research Fellow, a Jack Kent Cooke Fellow, and a Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellow. She holds two Master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon: a 2007 MS from the Language Technologies Institute at the School of Computer Science and a 2016 MBA from the Tepper School of Business. She is a former advisor to Y-Combinator’s Valor Water.


Avishai Geller, Maven Machines – mavenmachines.com

As the founder and CEO, Avishai has led the growth of the company to its leadership position in the market, winning the trust of major transportation companies who rely on Maven Machines’ fleet management, telematics, and dispatch systems to run their mission-critical operations. Prior to founding the company, Avishai held international positions with SAP and served as the VP of Product and Sales at Correlor Technologies. He graduated from MIT with a BSc in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and earned his MBA from Kellogg. Avishai holds 3 patents for his inventions at Maven Machines and SAP.


Jim Gillespie, GrayMatter – graymattersystems.com

GrayMatter co-founder and CEO Jim Gillespie has been leading industrial digital transformations for more than 30 years. GrayMatter co-innovates with companies in manufacturing, water/wastewater, power, food and beverage and the oil and gas markets to deliver customized operational technology programs and solutions including process control, MES and predictive analytics. Jim is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (Engineering) and Duquesne University (MBA). He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Science Center.


David Kane, Ethical Intruderethicalintruder.com

David Kane founded of Ethical Intruder in 2009 and has been its leader for the past 10 years. David started the company at a time when cyber security had very limited understanding or mindshare. Under his leadership, he continues to position the company on the leading edge of cyber security services. Recent focus around start up organization came at the realization that there was limited these small teams to navigate this complicated space and it was a major barrier for business success. As the organization grows, David still maintains a relationship with every client to assure that client expectations are met and exceeded.


Matt Kesinger, Forest Devicesforestdevices.com

Matt Kesinger, a former EMT and University of Pittsburgh MD candidate, is the CEO of Forest Devices. Through his years of experience as an EMT and his extensive catalogue of research into TBI, Matt developed a passion for stroke treatment, and eventually took a leave of absence from medical school to pursue a better way to treat stroke. With no technical background or prior business experience he formed a company which assembled a team of technicians, developed a device capable of detecting stroke, and to date has raised 2.4 million dollars.


Michele McGough, solutions4networks – s4nets.com

Ms. McGough worked for various Fortune 500 companies and start-ups before starting her company in 2000. As Founder and CEO, Michele leads her IT professional services and integration company in providing clients with decades of experience in designing and implementing enterprise, hybrid, and cloud networks.
Solutions4networks won numerous awards over 19 years including the PBT 2018 “Overall Best Place to Work in Western PA”. Michele is an active member of the Women President’s Organization, Regional Board Member of Strong Women, Strong Girls, member of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western PA, and Outdoor Odyssey volunteer for returning veterans.


John Thornton, Astrobotic Technology, Inc. - astrobotic.com

John Thorton has grown Astrobotic’s business of delivering affordable space robotics technology and planetary missions by attracting technology contracts, equity investment, and payload customers. Thorton is coordinating the team and alliance for Peregrine’s development and the first mission. Carnegie Mellon, Thorton led the build of Scarab, a NASA concept robot for lunar drilling, and the robot to carry a prototype of NASA’s RESOLVE payloud. He founded Carnegie Mellon’s Advanced Composites Lab, a research, training, design, and manufacturing lab specializing in high performance lightweight composites for robotics.


Barbara VanKirk, IQ Inc.iq-inc.com

Barbara VanKirk is a visionary leader in the technology consulting industry. She founded IQ Inc. in her Murrysville home and for almost 25 years has provided creative software engineering solutions and consulting services to a myriad of clients. Her fearless attitude and determination has directly lead to the success of her company, which has now grown to nearly 75 employees, however her compassion is what keeps those around her feeling valued and respected. For the past year Barbara has enhanced company culture and continues to ne-tune her “people first” mentality.

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