University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Acara U.S. Advisory Board

Tim Campbell


Tim Campbell held a wide variety of positions in the aerospace and airline industries, including engineering, finance, and operations.  He has held senior executive positions with Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines. After his last role as President of Compass Airlines, he formed Mountain Vista Consulting, LLC, which provides a variety of consulting services in the aviation and renewable energy sectors.  Tim has a keen interest in promoting the development of social entrepreneurship, particularly those that engage young adults. Tim received his BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan and his MBA from Seattle University.  He served six years on the Board of Directors for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and is currently on the board of Iringa Hope, USA, a non-profit entity that promotes and helps manage micro finance in rural Tanzania.

Paul Helgeson


As GNP Company’s Sustainability Manager, Paul Helgeson helped the company clarify a cross-functional approach for integrating sustainability across the organization. Under his leadership, GNP Company participated in the World Resources Institute GHG Product Road Test to help set a worldwide standard for measuring a products life cycle impact on the environment. He also led an effort in which the company partnered with the Carbon Trust to measure and commit to reducing the carbon impact of the company’s Just BARE® branded retail products. He also initiated the publishing of the company’s “Farm to Fork Report”, which outlines the company’s goals and values related to the 4 P’s of sustainability: People, Planet, Poultry and Progress. In 2008 Helgeson founded Egg Module, with goal of developing a shareable model for establishing and running poultry egg production businesses in villages in the least developed parts of the world. Under his leadership multiple projects were established in Eastern Africa. Helgeson was born and raised in St. Cloud, Minnesota and holds both a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Denver. He also earned his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business Management.

Acara India Advisory Board

Manaswini Rath

Manaswini is a Technology Strategist at Infosys. Manaswini has experience in leading the innovation system and practices in the organization through the role of deriving the Innovation strategy, process and implementation methodologies. She is a proud contributor towards 21 patents and disclosures and more than 50 publications in National and International journals and conferences. An MBA and MS from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

Sanjay Bhasin

Sanjay Bhasin

Sanjay Bhasin is a Professional Manager (CEO) with global experience in America, Europe and Asia in telecom and technology companies. Sanjay has served as a mentor, advisor and investor in seed stage start up companies particularly in the area of telecom and clean-tech. He is a graduate of IIT Roorkee, India and has a MBA from Santa Clara University, USA. Sanjay is currently based in New Delhi, India.

Suryanarayanan A

Suryanarayanan A has over two decades of senior executive experience in healthcare companies. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and exited three businesses Medybiz, MediAssist and Lifeken. Currently, Surya is currently heading the operations of the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) – India’s first independent National Innovation University focused on the challenges and opportunities of its urbanization.


Acara At-Large Advisors


Kaleel Ahmed

Kaleel Ahmed

Kaleel is a consumer brand marketing executive at a large multinational and has resided in the Twin Cities since 1991. He specializes in Innovation Strategy, Brand Management, Consumer Behavior, New Products and New Business Creation. He has been a speaker at a number of conferences related to Innovation, New Business Creation, Power of Brands and Sustainability. On the personal side, Kaleel is passionate about the arts and has been co- producing and hosting two TV shows for over 10 years ( &, which air on local public TV- TPTMN. He is a board member at a number of non profits and is also an active volunteer in the Twin Cities community with special interests in Social Entrepreneurship as well as Political and Human Rights issues. Kaleel has been a mentor, champion and judge with the Acara Institute since its inception.

Simone Ahuja

Dr. Simone Ahuja is the founder of Blood Orange, a marketing and strategy advisory boutique with a focus on innovation and emerging markets. Headquartered in Minneapolis, with partners around the globe, Blood Orange shares and practices business principles learned through extensive work in India, including jugaad  – a frugal, flexible and inclusive approach to innovation inspired by emerging markets.  Simone has conducted extensive background, ethnographic and academic research on innovation occurring at the grassroots level in emerging markets to that of US based multinationals. Coupled with her own experience working with transnational teams, this experience has given her a holistic lens through which to view the mindset and principles of emerging markets-inspired innovation – and its relevance in a global context.  Simone is the co-author of Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth (Jossey-Bass, 2012).  Jugaad Innovation has been published in the US, Brazil and India, where it is now a #1 business bestseller. Ahuja has served as a consultant to the Centre for India & Global Business at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and as an associate Fellow for the Asia Society in New York City.  She provides advisory services, keynotes and interactive frugal innovation labs to entrepreneurs, academic institutions, and corporations including PepsiCo, Best Buy, Procter & Gamble, 3M, ECOLAB, the World Economic Forum, MIT, and Harvard University. She is a regular columnist for

Harsha Ramesh Angeri

harsha copy

Harsha lives on strategy, M&A and intrapreneurship through various multinationals. Currently leads Strategy, Business Development & New Business Incubation for Bosch businesses in India. Harsha loves grounds up building of emerging market focused businesses. He has experience across sectors like energy, cleantech, water, automotive, security, healthcare, retail, aerospace etc. Harsha incubated an open innovation startup based global platform for a multinational. A technology evangelist & addicted to the power of open source Harsha develops applications leveraging Drupal & Android in is his passion & an initiative. He has strong technology appreciation with 4 patents granted and more filed. He also blogs through Harsha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics & Communication Engineering and an MBA from the Indian Institute Of Management at Bangalore, India (IIMB). He has completed an executive education program from Stanford Graduate School Of Business and the Leadership Development Program at Honeywell.

Erin Binder

Erin Binder is a Manager of Business Development at 3M. Erin brings with her a vast experience in business development, strategic planning and operations in high tech businesses. In the past, Erin has held a wide variety of positions including co-founder and VP of Innuity, systems and sales engineer and patent examiner. Erin is a graduate in electrical engineering from Washington University.

Brad Brown


Brad worked as a business consultant for 25 years before making his commitment to use his skills in service of social missions. Since then he served as a nonprofit executive and foundation program officer. Most recently he was the executive director of Social Venture Partners Minnesota. Brad has also served on several nonprofit boards including Rebuild Resources, PRISM, and the strategy council as well as held elective offices as a city council member and school board member. Brad launched Socentia in 2013 to provide consultation and coaching for social venture leaders, innovators, philanthropists, and investors committed to solving the leading social challenges of our time – economic opportunity, education, environmental sustainability, and healthcare for all. Socentia assists social ventures seeking to grow their impact and scale and, social venture investors who want to increase their social return on investment. Socentia works with clients on strategy and execution in these areas: Earned income, Program scaling and replication, Raising growth capital, Organizational capacity building, Enterprise philanthropy and impact investing. He has his MAPA from Hamline University and is currently enrolled in the Doctorate in Public Administration program there. Brad is particularly interested in the convergence of the business and nonprofit sectors, developing social capital markets to fund social entrepreneurs, and cross-sector social innovation.

Deepti Chatti

deepti chatti

Deepti is a researcher at The Energy and Resources Institute, Bangalore, who is interested in the environment-development-poverty interaction in developing countries.  Her current research areas include agricultural water security, urban water issues, the water footprints of households, and organic farming. She conceptualized and implemented an interdisciplinary class at TERI University called Design for Sustainability, that lets student teams identify a pressing need in a community, and work collaboratively across various disciplines towards developing either a technological or business solution for it. Student teams from this class partner with students from the University of Minnesota and participate in the Acara Challenge. While pursuing her Masters at Stanford University she had the opportunity to be involved in the teaching of several courses, two of which formed the inspiration for this class at TERI University. The first, called Design for a Sustainable World was a platform where engineering students worked for an entire semester on a project in a developing country, while partnered with a non-profit organization. The second, called Brainstorming India: Entrepreneurial Solutions to India’s Social Problems studied the power of social entrepreneurship and provided students with the necessary tools to work at or create social enterprises. Deepti has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Osmania University, and a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. While Deepti’s background is in engineering, she has increasingly expanded the scope of her research and work to include social sciences and public policy along with engineering and science.

Ashok Das

Ashok Das

Dr. Ashok Das is the founder CEO of SunMoksha, a clean technology solutions company. SunMoksha provides technology and business solutions, market research, advisory services and implements solutions in the clean technology sectors. It focuses on solar and bio-energy, smart micro-grids, energy efficiency, waste-to-energy, and rural electrification. Prior to SunMoksha, Ashok worked for 10 years at Applied Materials in the Bay Area, California, USA, and then headed the India Operations of a start-up Aquest Systems in Chennai & Bangalore, India. Ashok is very active in developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem for clean technologies across India. As consultant to the World Bank’s infoDev Climate Technology Program, he has designed a Climate Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center for India to develop innovation capacity at the grassroots and bridge the ‘valley of death’ with a high-risk fund. He also spearheaded a KfW/SIDBI joint project to design and implement debt financing mechanism for innovative SMEs. He founded & chairs the Clean Tech Special Interest Group (SIG) within TiE Bangalore – an organization that works for fostering entrepreneurship. He is also the founding co-chair of IIT Mentors – a Pan IIT Global Mentorship Program. Ashok received his B.Tech. from IIT Kanpur and Ph.D. from University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Arindam Dutta


My professional activities are varied. A first generation entrepreneur I started my entrepreneurial initiatives end 1972 with Rs. 200 ($20 xchange rates in 1972). During this journey there were times when I thought that the business would fold up. I think an entrepreneur must dream and believe in himself. Never say, Die!! From 1998, I have been an Advisor and Board member at Science Parks and Incubators located in leading Indian academic Institutions– IIT Kharagpur, Bref Biotech, Kharagpur, CMERI (R&D ,CSIR), Durgapore, Innovation Park, MMRDA, Mumbai and others. In 2010 I realized that there is a major disconnect. An entrepreneurial mindset and those of faculty members at these institutions are quite in variance (Indian foray into structure knowledge entrepreneurship is hardly a decade old. This does not take away the fact that there are millions of entrepreneurs in India engaged in all sort of business. Youth from the middle class with college degree is recent ). I also found that my colleagues at these institutions focused on their careers and related issues. It did create a chasm. My greatest compliments have been from my startups, many of whom have graduated from the institutes where I was involved. They keep in touch. I got the opportunities in speaking to varied faculty members and students at leading academic institutions in the world and including India. I was invited as a Judge for the Intel Berkeley Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge at UC B in 2007. Seven top level VC fund managers were the other members of the panel. Spending a day with people who have funded some of the most successful ventures in the world has been a lifetime experience. For the past 2 years I am also on the Mentors’ panel for ‘Power of Ideas’ a Business Plan competition conducted by the Economic Times group of Newspapers. I am now again backing my business. My interest areas are alive through my mentoring initiatives as a consultant. In 201I one of my team won the EMTEC social entrepreneur of the year challenge and the other won the Texas A&M-Lockheed Martin Challenge. For more on my activities please visit My first book on my entrepreneurship journey will hopefully be available from end April 2013.

Ken Hoyme

Ken Hoyme is a Senior Fellow in Systems Engineering at Boston Scientific.  Ken has nearly 30 years of experience in new product and new business development.  After spending 18 years at Honeywell working on technology for commercial aircraft, he has spent the last decade in the medical device field, with a focus on patient management systems.  Ken holds the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota.  Ken was awarded the H.W. Sweatt Award – Honeywell’s highest technical achievement, and currently holds 16 patents.

Karthik Kumar

Karthik Kumar

Karthik is a Landscape and Urban Designer at MPA Design, San Francisco. His work involves designing sustainable urban landscapes, communities, campuses and public spaces addressing diverse social and ecological needs and requirements. He has collaborated on academic and professional projects and studios in India, Southern Europe and the United States, including the A.I.A award winning Urban Options Studio at the University of Minnesota, and being on the winning team of the 1st Acara Challenge in 2009. Karthik received his undergraduate degree in Architecture from S.S.A.A, Delhi and his Masters in Landscape Architecture from the College of Design, University of Minnesota.

Sri Latha Ganti

Sri Latha Ganti

Sri is a partner and CTO with MyRain India and an engineer with Seagate Technologies in Minneapolis. She has been involved in the operations of the various programs at Acara. Sri’s interest in developing and promoting sustainable business solutions for societal change brought her to Acara. She has an MS degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Sri is co-founder of MyRain. Email:

Mark Lundgren

Mark Lundgren is a water and wastewater engineer with an emphasis on the implementation of emerging water and reuse technologies. Mark has worked throughout the world on water use and management projects including direct work experiences in Namibia, Botswana, and India through the Acara Challenge. Mark was a member of the first team to win the Acara Challenge: ReachOut Water Solutions. Mark works as a consulting engineer and a water and wastewater technology consultant. He is also the current Director of Environmental Programs at Environmental Initiative, a Minneapolis area non-profit organization that works to find collaborative solutions to environmental problems. Mark earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Grinnell College and a M.S. in environmental engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Dave Neville

Dave Neville is a founder of NewTown Solutions and Coonan Inc.   As President of NewTown Solutions, an Engineering and IT staffing firm, he identifies potential clients and matches technical talent to the client’s need.  NewTown also provides in-house product development design. As Vice President of Coonan Inc., a manufacturing and design company, he provides sales and market insight into the commercial weapons market.  He is involved with the ACE Leadership program at the MHTA and a member of TiE Minnesota in addition to his interest in ACARA.  Dave is a graduate of Normandale Community College.

Sridhar Pabbisetty


Sridhar Pabbisetty is the Chief Operating Officer, Centre for Public Policy, IIM Bangalore. His focus is on building and maintaining relationship with all members in the public policy ecosystem – government, regulatory bodies, industry, opinion leaders, researchers, partner institutions and foundations that are focused on policy research. He is a regular speaker at various national and international fora on the issues of open governance, administrative reforms and inclusive growth. He specializes in nurturing inclusive enterprises and helps them to develop long term corporate strategy and build business models with focus on scalability and sustainability. Earlier he has worked with fast growing hi-tech companies such as Zyme Solutions and Aditi Technologies. He is a keen observer of Indian Politics and has been the Coordinator of Karnataka Election Watch (KEW) for the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 as well as member of the KEW in Karnataka Assembly Elections in 2008. He is on the Board of NammaCycle and Reap Benefit and on the panel of various startup competitions including the Acara Challenge and the William James Foundation’s Entreprenuership challenge that focuses on a sustainable and equitable tomorrow. Sridhar has an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and a BE in Computer Science with distinction from Bangalore University.

Arun Patre


Arun manages the identification of entrepreneurs, partnerships for the SELCO Incubation Centre & working with the incubatees. Arun’s interest in sustainability and community issues, which developed while traveling across stretches of India, led him to join Arghyam in 2008. He was part of the advocacy efforts through ASHWAS – Karnataka Water and Sanitation survey, and later anchored the overall operations of the India Water Portal. Arun also setup the India presence for University of Minnesota’s initiative to establish an experiential learning program between India & US universities through the Acara Institute. Prior to that Arun spent four & a half years in the corporate finance world. Arun is a commerce graduate and has a specialization in financial risk management from IIM Bangalore.

Sam Reid

Business Shot

Sam is an experienced strategy, leadership development, and change management consultant with Tact, L3C, an innovative firm focused on helping people who want to change the world combine strategy and technology to do more of what matters. Prior to joining Tact, Sam helped his clients develop growth strategies, manage complex change, develop the next generation of leaders, re-design their organizations, and improve the functionality, productivity, and cohesiveness of their teams through his work within McKinsey’s Organization Practice, Deloitte’s Human Capital Practice, and FMI’s Leadership and Organizational Development Practice. In addition to consulting, Sam has also worked more operational roles through his work managing $50M in biotech construction projects for DPR Construction and through sourcing, investing in, and managing a wide variety of agricultural, mobile banking, and solar lighting technology companies in India, Kenya, Zambia, and Indonesia as a Portfolio Manager for the Grassroots Business Fund. Sam is deeply passionate about character development, entrepreneurship, and educational innovation, and has lived out those passions by founding the Marshall Honor Committee at USC, serving as a Board Member for Youth Frontiers, volunteering with Hands On Disaster Response, and serving as an adviser to Ashoka Twin Cities. He’s married to his dream girl, has been blessed with a miracle of a daughter, and is continually searching for new ways to make the world a better place for both of them.

Vivek Saxena

Vivek is an operations executive with Pratt & Whitney, a world leader in the design and manufacture of aircraft engines. Vivek helped recruit US and Indian Universities during early days of Acara Challenge. He did his PhD from the University of Cambridge, MS from the University of Minnesota and BS from IIT Roorkee. After a brief stint as Cornell University faculty he joined Pratt in 1998. In his 15 years at Pratt, Vivek has helped lead the transformation of engineering, manufacturing operations and supply chain organization. He is Lean certified by the University of Michigan, his engineering standard work project has been published as a Harvard Case Study and is involved in the integration of supply chain organizations across various aerospace divisions at United Technologies Corporation. He is currently a General Manager at Pratt leading a $1/2B manufacturing business.

AJ Schwidder

Arthur Schwidder

A.J. founded Upstream Technologies in 2011 to commercialize the SAFL Baffle, a University of Minnesota patented technology that keeps sediment pollution in stormwater runoff from reaching lakes and rivers.  He oversaw the development of supply chain, manufacturing, and distribution.  In addition, he developed and implemented the overall business strategy that resulted in 300% increase in sales from 2011 to 2012 and positive cash flow beginning in 2012.  He is currently negotiating a license agreement on another U of M patented technology, with the launch of this second product expected in summer 2013. Prior to Upstream Technologies, A.J. worked as a civil engineer for 15 years.  During this time, he was a manager on several Minnesota Department of Transportation projects, including the $140,000,000 reconstruction of Interstate 494 through Eden Prairie and Minnetonka. In the spring of 2010 A.J. was a participant in the Acara Challenge, on the MyRain team.  He also served as a mentor for the Pure Pots team in 2013. He is currently on the board of directors of Fareway Stores, a chain of 104 retail grocery stores headquartered in Boone, Iowa, and Samaritan Way, a non-profit corporation in Elk River, Minnesota.  A.J. holds BS and MS degrees in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Meena Vaidyanathan

Meena Vaidyanathan

Meena has had a long and accomplished career across business development, marketing, and public affairs since 1994. A double Masters degree in biotechnology and business management, she has conceptualized and executed a number of innovative brand management and global marketing strategies for some of the world’s best known corporations and social ventures. She has also collaborated with some leading thought leaders in Harvard Business School, Indian Institute of Management and INSEAD on case studies and teaching programmes. She founded niiti consulting ( in 2010, with the aim of supporting and enabling programmes and organisations that create large scale social impact. Since then, Meena has led many projects with educational and healthcare institutions, NGOs, corporates and social enterprises alike with her band of very passionate professionals who are committed to being the change. Through the initiatives at Niiti consulting, she has helped build public outreach strategies, conducted feasibility studies, assessed social impact and provided research and documentation support to start-ups as well as well established organizations. She is an advisor with Dialogue Social Enterprise (, and is a visiting faculty on marketing and social entrepreneurship in many business schools in India and abroad. She has been a frequently invited speaker and panellist at internationally recognised events for many years. She played a crucial role in publishing the book, “Employees First Customers Second”, and been a sounding board for several well-known authors on subjects around marketing and social entrepreneurship. She shares her thoughts on her blog and also writes for

Brian VanVoorst

Brian VanVoorst is a research scientist and technical director at BBN Technologies.   Since 1993 Brian has been doing research in a variety of areas including sensor fusion, computer vision, robotics, high performance computing, and wireless networking.  He has more than 20 publications, two patents awarded, and four more pending.  Before coming to BBN, Brian worked at Honeywell Labs and NASA Ames Research Center.  He holds a BS and MS in Computer Science from Michigan Technological University.

Jacob Voit


Jake is currently the Co-founder and principal of Community Earth, a sustainability and process consulting firm specializing in using living systems thinking to create game changing strategies that heal the relationships between people, communities, business, quality of life, and the earth.  The vision of Community Earth is to create a world that engages the wisdom of the natural world to design solutions that emulate healthy ecosystems.  His most recent work is as a contributing author of change processes to Designing Urban Agriculture: A Complete Guide to the Planning, Design, Construction, Maintenance and Management of Edible Landscapes. At the Archibald Bush Foundation he led the InCommons initiative, a culture shift movement.  InCommons is a new philanthropic approach whose mission is to inspire, support and connect community-powered problem-solvers to create the vision: A resilient region powered by community who in the face of tough problems, people see each other as the solution.  This movement is being achieved through capacity building in community conversations, on-line asset mapping competitions, connecting networks to share knowledge, and inspiring courage through storytelling. The work is done deep in communities and across three states. As the Sustainability Manager for Cagwin & Dorward, a top 25 Landscape Contracting firm in the United States, he led the transformation of this 400 employee, 55 year old, $30 million conventional company into an Environmentally Responsible pioneer in the land management industry.  The World Café was an essential process to empowering staff to co-create, collaborate on new initiatives, and to create a learning organization.  Jake’s efforts were rewarded when Cagwin & Dorward received the 2009 national PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) Award for Sustainable Business. At a young age, Jake developed his abilities in regenerative practices at all levels of systems. He enjoyed the unique opportunity of growing up on a sustainable farm which included a self‐built solar home, a full root cellar each winter, creating a local economic system, and community collaboration to meet the needs of many families.

Acara is the impact entrepreneurship program of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment in partnership with the College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management.