James Madison University announced Thursday that Suzanne Bergmeister has been named the next executive director of its Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship. She comes from the University of Louisville’s Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship in Kentucky, where she has been the full-time entrepreneur in residence for the past 15 years and assistant director for four.
Bergmeister, who served 25 years in the U.S. Air Force and founded a venture capital and small business consulting firm, Sunflower Business Ventures Inc., holds degrees in finance, electrical engineering and business from Cornell University, Rutgers University and California State University-Fresno. At Louisville, she taught graduate and undergraduate classes and mentored MBA teams that won more than $1 million in competition prizes. Bergmeister also won Louisville’s graduate teaching award twice and the Enterprise Corp. Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.
“We are thrilled that Suzanne was tapped to lead the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship at JMU,” said College of Business Dean Mike Busing. “Her prior experience with University of Louisville’s Forcht Center, especially with securing grant funding and mentoring students, veterans and lower income entrepreneurs, will serve JMU and support economic growth in the region. Her deep understanding of both the entrepreneur and venture capitalist is critical as the center evolves and achieves national recognition for excellence.”
The Gilliam Center’s previous executive director was Bobby Smith, who was hired last May and left in February.