Team & Board

Accelerating entrepreneurs, building the creative economy


Founded in 2007, Creative Startups is based in the highly creative city of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We drive the creative economy and creative entrepreneurs around the world, including licensing accelerators in the United States, Middle East, and Asia, along with strategic initiatives to develop the broader entrepreneur ecosystem via pre-accelerator programs, workshops, training, and seminars. 


Tom Aageson

Alice Loy

Amy Slater

Tom Aageson, Co-founder

Tom is a Co-founder of Creative Startups. He previously served as Executive Director for the Museum of New Mexico Foundation where he successfully led a $25 million capital campaign, and the launch of the first statewide history museum.  Since coming to Santa Fe, Tom has also launched several successful startups including New Mexico Creates, an initiative that links artists and entrepreneurs to the global marketplace and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, now the largest folk art market festival in the world. Before coming to Santa Fe, Tom was director of Aid to Artisans, an international artisan enterprise development NGO.  Previous to that he was at the Mystic Seaport Museum where he created the innovative Mystic Maritime Gallery, which created new markets for maritime artists and spawned for-profit gallery enterprises across the US.  He holds a MBA from Columbia University and BFT from the Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird).

Alice Loy, PhD, Co-founder & CEO

Alice Loy is a Co-founder of Creative Startups and widely considered a leading authority on entrepreneurship in the creative economy.  Dr. Loy created the Creative Startups Accelerator with a vision for catalyzing high growth company formation in the under-served creative economy.

A sought-after speaker on topics ranging from developing creative economy ecosystems to investing in the creative economy, Alice frequently travels to Europe, Asia, and Latin America to work with entrepreneurs and economic development leaders.  Alice has lived and worked in Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, and China.  She holds a PhD in Strategic Communication and Entrepreneurship and an MBA.  She speaks Spanish fluently.

Amy Slater, Director of Operations

Amy Slater comes to us from Tennessee with a BFA in technical theater. Her first career was a builder of sets, props and costumes for major opera companies. Eventually, she landed in New Mexico, began managing art galleries in Santa Fe and then went on to complete an MBA at Anderson School of Management, UNM. Amy wants to combine her backstage artistic side with business skills to help grow the creative industries that have supported her throughout her life.

Julia Youngs

Ginny Sterpka

Lena Ramfelt

Julia Youngs, Program Manager

Julia Youngs was born and raised in Albuquerque and holds a BA in English Literature from UNM. She holds an MA in Latin American Studies and an MA in Community + Regional Planning from UNM. Outside of academia, Julia has worked for many years in Albuquerque as a stage manager and community arts organizer. Julia combines her passion for community engagement and urban development to help grow more creative cities and creative industries. Julia speaks Spanish fluently and Portuguese conversationally.

Ginny Sterpka, Director of Outreach

Ginny Sterpka is a designer, organic gardener and entrepreneur. Focusing on fabrics, natural landscapes and graphic communication, she previously ran her own garden/landscape design business and has worked as a point-of-purchase display designer making pop-up fabric displays, costume designer for theaters and as a dressmaker. Becoming interested in cradle to cradle design, socially conscious business and growing local economies took her back to school for Community and Regional Planning at the University of New Mexico where she received a BA in Environmental Planning. She is a C2C Fellow at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy in NYC, a network for future leaders in sustainable business and policy.

Lena Ramfelt, PhD, Lead Faculty

Lena is recognized globally as a leading entrepreneurship educator whose passion for startups is matched by her deep expertise in the subject matter. After completing her post-doctoral work in Entrepreneur Ecosystems at Stanford University, Dr. Ramfelt taught entrepreneurship for 12 years at Stanford’s School of Engineering. 

Today Lena develops curriculum and texts used the world over. Lena is the lead author of three Gear Up texts, the most recent being Gear Up: Test your Business Model Potential and Plan your Path to Success (2014).

Currently Lena serves as adjunct faculty with Stockholm School of Economics and Babson College. She is Lead Faculty for Social Entrepreneurship Forum, a foundation based in Stockholm.

As Lead Faculty with Creative Startups, Lena authors and tests all curriculum and frequently participates in LABS and accelerators, as well as Educators Circle.

Lena has funded two non-profit organizations named “Make a Kid Smile” and “Global Buddy Schools”, and is one of the two co-founders of a non-profit organization with the aim of increasing entrepreneurship in Swedish high schools and universities.

Ernie Zahn

Vatsal Shah


Ernie Zahn, Media Manager

Ernie is a professional filmmaker from the NY area where he spent 10 years producing social justice documentaries and campaign videos for non-profits. In 2015 he was accepted into a year long film education fellowship in the Navajo Nation, operated by Filmmakers Without Borders. He now splits his time acting as an Executive Assistant for Creative Startups and continuing creative assignments born from his fellowship.  

Vatsal Shah, Chief Financial Officer

Vatsal Shah is the Business Manager at Creative Startups. He brings five years of experience in the field of finance, accounting, auditing, and business management. In India, he had his own public practice, “Vatsal M. Shah & Associates” and he represented the University of New Mexico and the CFA Society of New Mexico in CFA Institute’s Global Equity Research Challenge. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Chartered Accountancy and is currently an International student at the University of New Mexico pursuing an M.B.A. with a major in Finance.









Bill Saubert

Owner, Saubert Enterprises, LLC



Bill Sauber has a long career as a marketing exceutive with global brands including MasterCard, Acxion Corporation, McKinsey and Co.  Currently Bill owns and manages UPS franchises across northern New Mexico.


Bob H. Borden

CEO, Ideas And People

Brand Development and Design


Bob is Founder and CEO of Ideas And People. Borden’s incessant ingenuity and passion for entrepreneurship have fueled his nearly three decades of significant accomplishment as a design and marketing executive. 
During his 15-year tenure as Vice-President of Design and Brand Development for Nambé, Borden established the brand as an international leader in product design, integrated marketing, and award-winning retail store design and merchandising. Under his creative direction, Nambé products were accepted into the permanent collections of over 25 museums around the world.
Borden brings a meticulous eye for quality design and immense versatility to his work with international clients such as MoMA, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nambé, Luigi Bormioli, Royal Selangor, and Elite Model Management. He is widely recognized for his cross-sector competence and his ability to analyze—and redefine—markets, businesses, and brands. 
Borden is an insightful leader and careful listener, skilled at bringing ideas and people in conversation.


Christine Castro

Chief of Staff, Elysium Health Inc.

Marketing and Communications


Christine has 25 years of experience leading corporate communications, investor relations and marketing/brand functions for some of the world's most prominent brand-name companies in the entertainment, technology and health sciences industries. Previously she was Vice President, Corporate Communications for The Walt Disney Company; Chief Communications Officer, Yahoo! Inc.; Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, Genentech, Inc.; and Senior Vice President, Communications for CBS Corp. Currently, she is Chief of Staff for Elysium Health, Inc., a health sciences startup based in New York City.


David Kantor

Partner and CIO, Santa Fe Advisors



David has nearly 30 years of experience in the investment management industry as a consultant, investment banker, and practitioner. At Santa Fe Advisors, he is responsible for investment policy and strategy, the evaluation and monitoring of Santa Fe Advisors’ portfolio investments, overall business strategy, and a number of Santa Fe Advisors’ key client relationships.

David was a founder of Santa Fe Advisors in April 2014 along with partners Kristina Alley and David Marion, with whom he previously worked at First Santa Fe Advisors. David joined First Santa Fe Advisors in September 2010, where he served as a Managing Director.

Before joining FSFA, David spent 15 years as a partner of Prudent Management Associates, a Philadelphia- based registered investment advisor, where he was principally responsible for manager due diligence and managed the firm’s Washington DC office. Previously, David was a founding partner of Cambridge International Partners, a New York-based investment banking boutique specializing in merger, acquisition, and advisory work within the investment management industry. From 1986 to 1988, he was a consultant with Greenwich Associates in the firm’s institutional investment management practice.

David was an enthusiastic sailor during his years on the East Coast. He is a certified keelboat instructor and was for a number of years the lead instructor and Fleet Captain of the US Naval Academy’s offshore sail training program. While in Santa Fe, David and his family are active hikers and backpackers and on weekends can generally be found in the mountains surrounding the city. He also travels extensively.

David received a BA in Economics from Harvard College and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Debbie Fleischaker, PhD

Fleischaker Women's Legacy Fund



BS Emerson College MS Boston University PhD University of Oklahoma
MPA Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Often referred to as a visionary and a pioneer, Dr. Debbie Fleischaker’s most passionate pursuit is social and economic justice through socially conscious entrepreneurship. Her diverse education and experience constitute a depth of knowledge and breadth of experience in the nonprofit, for profit and government sectors.

In 1977, Dr. Fleischaker was awarded a Bilingual Multicultural Fellowship at the University of Oklahoma. At the same time, she became involved in politics and worked as the national lead advance person for Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign. In subsequent years, she served as adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico in marketing, strategic planning, and general management.

Her competence in merging diverse sectors was apparent at the Harvard Kennedy School. Under her leadership and direction, a national conference comprised of scholars, funders and nonprofit leaders, resulted in securing 11 million dollars which funded the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

After returning to New Mexico in 2002, Dr. Fleischaker was also appointed Assistant Secretary of Economic Development for New Mexico during Gov. Bill Richardson’s terms. In this position, she managed the divisions of Trade, Community Development, Film, Space, Job Training and Marketing.

A champion of social issues, Dr. Fleischaker has worked with a variety of diverse populations including: immigrants, refugees, youth at risk, handicapped, elderly, victims of rape and domestic abuse. Examples include cocreating the Women’s Counseling Center for the Oklahoma City Rape Crisis Center, creating a successful social emotional learning program (SEL), securing funding for the Mexican American Cultural Center and Toolbox by Dovetail Learning. The latter is a learning program for children that builds personal awareness, self-mastery and empathy for others.

As a donor activist and President of the Fleischaker Women’s Legacy Fund (FWLF), Debbie prefers to fund and advise newly created and highly innovative initiatives. She has served on many national and local boards. She currently serves on The Lensic Performing Art Center and The Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship Boards. Both are located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Ed Angel, PhD

Professor, University of New Mexico

Computer Science


Edward Angel is Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at the University of New Mexico and Founding Director of the Art, Research, Technology and Science Laboratory ( ARTS Lab). Until July, 2007, he was Professor of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Media Arts at UNM and Director of both the ARTS Lab and the Arts Technology Center in the College of Fine Arts. Professor Angel is the first UNM Presidential Teaching Fellow. He received B.S. from the California Institute of Technology in 1964 and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1968. He has held academic positions at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California, and the University of Rochester. Professor Angel came to UNM in 1978. He was Associate Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (1982-85) and Chair of the Computer Science Department (1985-88). He has held visiting positions at the Lund Institute of Technology (Sweden), the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore India (Senior Fulbright Lecturer), University College London and Imperial College (London). He has also held a variety of joint appointments ranging from Biomathematics (USC) to Obstetrics and Gynecology (Rochester) to Electrical and Computer Engineering and Media Arts (UNM). His present research interests are in computer graphics and scientific visualization. He has supported graduate students working in volume visualization, virtual reality, and massively parallel computing. His main teaching interests have been in Computer Graphics.

Professor Angel has taught at the Universidad de los Andes in Merida, Venezuela and at the Universidad Tecnologica Equinoccial in Quito, Ecuador. He has visited universities in Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. Ed enjoys trekking and has traveled to Nepal, Tibet, Ladakh, Kazakstan as well as much of Asia, Africa and South America.

Professor Angel was the Principal Investigator of the NSF funded Digital Pueblo Project which combined Arts and Technology to promote economic development among the communities in New Mexico through collaborative graphics and animation projects. Recently, Professor Angel led a group of UNM faculty who were awarded $3M from the State of New Mexico to build the Art, Research, Technology, and Science Laboratory (ARTS Lab) at UNM. The ARTS Lab is a unique interdiscplinary center with educational, research, and economic development activities that span the range of digital media. Presently, he is coPI on the NSF CE21 Project New Mexico Computer Science for All which is working with teachers across the state to bring Computer Science and Computational Thinking into the high schools. He was coPI on the NSF Partnerships for Innovation Project "A Consortium for Fulldome Development" with the ARTS Lab, the Santa Fe Complex and the Institute for American Indian Arts. He also served on the Governor's Council on Film and Media Industries. He served as Vice President Board of Directors of the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge and is the former chair of the Board of Directors of the Santa Fe Complex.


Elizabeth Sipes

Attorney, Bryan Cave



A practicing attorney with the global firm, Bryan Cave, Elizabeth focuses her practice on private funds, investment management and corporate matters. She counsels sponsors of onshore and offshore private investment funds, including hedge funds, private equity and venture capital funds, in all stages of their business, including fund and upper-tier management structuring, adviser registrations and exemptions, investment company issues, side letter negotiations and ongoing operations.   

Recent fund launches have included venture capital, fund of funds, direct debt, hospitality, oil and gas, private equity, global long-short equity, risk parity and emerging market funds.

Elizabeth also has substantial experience on advising strategic and financial buyers, sellers and investors in a wide variety of transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, minority investments and strategic partnerships in the U.S. and overseas.  She works closely with clients in all aspects of their transactions and has experience in a variety of industries including financial services, technology, manufacturing and outsourcing.

Elizabeth also spent a significant portion of her career as in-house counsel at an asset manager in Denver.


Mindy Magyar

Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology



Mindy Magyar is Assistant Professor of Industrial Design with the Rochester Institute of Technology. Before joining RIT, Mindy managed large-scale capital projects for Smithsonian Enterprises, partnering with the Smithsonian's nineteen museums to develop the commercial activities of the Institution. She was also a founding faculty member of the MBA/MA Design Leadership Program, a dual degree program at Maryland Institute College of Art and Johns Hopkins University focused on building the management and innovation capacity of designers, engineers, and business people aiming to be transformative leaders.

She began her career as a financial analyst at JP Morgan, where she guided and managed the investment portfolios of corporate clients. Mindy has an MBA from the Wharton school, an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BS in Chemical Engineering and American Indian Studies. In her spare time, Ms. Magyar designs contemporary furniture and objects that incorporate elements of her Mi’kmaq heritage.


Roman Ponos

Vice President, IMPAQ International



Roman S. Ponos is an international development professional with over 20 years of progressive management and operations experience spanning several functional disciplines (business development, human resources, project management, operations) with corporations as well as donor-funded and multi-national organizations in the United States, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He is a dynamic, creative leader and hands-on manager with sound diplomatic and problem-solving skills gained through extensive international exposure working in highly complex, politically and economically challenging environments with demanding senior private and public sector clients and leaders. Currently, as Vice President for International Development with IMPAQ International, a social research, evaluation and technical assistance provider, Mr. Ponos oversees the firm's entire international portfolio and manages partnerships with donors worldwide. He earned an MBA in International Management from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management, and a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University. He is fluent in Ukrainian, proficient in both Russian and German, has a great sense of humor and excellent taste in music.


Sandy Zane, Chair

Owner, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art Gallery

Fine Arts and Gallery Management


Sandy Zane is the owner of the Zane Bennett Contemporary Art Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. Ms. Zane is also an accomplished artist and has exhibited her prints and paintings in many solo shows as well as in more than 25 juried, group and invitational exhibitions primarily in New York and New Mexico. She serves on the Board of the New Mexico State University Foundation as well as on the boards of non-profit arts organizations in Santa Fe. Ms. Zane Ms. Zane earned a BA in Arts Administration from Bard College, New York. She and her husband live in Santa Fe.


Sydney Alfonso

CEO, Etkie



Sydney Alfonso, CEO of Etkie, has built this leading design firm from the ground up.  Determined to frame an ethical business model around the kaleidoscope of languages, landscapes, and traditions of the Southwest. Sydney found a niche in the market for upscale, contemporary jewelry and accessories that reflect the art and heritage of New Mexico’s people. Etkie employs Native American women who collaborate with the Etkie design team to develop and craft timeless designs using delicate "seed beads" and fine materials. Sydney graduated from Middlebury College before heading to Turkey to work with artisans. It was this experience (Etkie means "impact" in Turkish) that compelled Sydney to launch her company.