The BALSA Foundation Team

The BALSA Foundation is an organization of volunteers.  As the philanthropic arm of The BALSA Group, many of our members are its alumni.  We are entrepreneurs, scientists, community leaders, and young professionals working to make St. Louis a better place.  Learn more about our members:



Matt is the Executive Director of The BALSA Foundation and a staff scientist at the Washington University School of Medicine, where he specializes in cancer genomics and data visualization.  Born in communist Poland, Matt immigrated as a child to the US with his family and grew up in Pennsylvania.  Matt attended Penn State University and the University of California at Berkeley before receiving his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University. Having chosen to stay in St. Louis for its quality of life and exciting opportunities, Matt is passionate about helping make this a City where everyone has an opportunity to thrive. Matt consulted on a number of The BALSA Group projects and is the founder of SafeTGA, advocating for cyclists and pedestrians in St. Louis. 

Email the Executive Director.


Brittany Riehlman, Outreach Director


Brittany has a background in entrepreneurship from spending most of her career as a freelance graphic designer. Once moving to St. Louis from New York, she was able to utilize those skills at a start-up boutique agency. Currently she works in the graphics department at Major Brands Premium Beverage Distributors. Brittany has been involved with The BALSA Foundation since January 2016, assisting with the development of digital and printed assets for events, idea support, and the Foundation's branding.

Email the Outreach Director.


Theresa O. Owuor, Program Director

Theresa is a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University School of Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her research interests are on the effects of obesity on uterine cancer risk. She received her BA in Biological Sciences from Prairie View A&M University in 2007 and her Ph.D in Molecular and Cell Biology from Washington University in St Louis in 2013.  As a postdoctoral researcher, she is also part of the Trans-disciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC) program, which brings together individuals from different disciplines to work towards a common research goal. She has been a consultant with The BALSA Group since 2015 and has consulted on projects such as technology transfer for the Office of Technology Management at Washington University. She is a current member of Board of Directors for The BALSA Foundation and an Idea Support reviewer. She is also the co-founder of Rehema Education Fund, which provides scholarships to Kenyan students from single-parent homes.

Email the Program Director.



Wyatt is Washington University graduate student currently pursuing an MBA/JD joint degree. He has been involved in The BALSA Foundation for about four months and is thrilled to serve as the Foundation's Finance Director.  His chief goal is to keep financial details under control so that other roles are free to focus on their own efforts without worrying about the budgetary details in depth.  Outside of the Foundation, he is proud to work at the East St. Louis Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurship across the river.

Email the Finance Director.



Reyka is a 4th year graduate student at Washington University (WashU) pursing a PhD in Molecular Genetics and Genomics. For the last three years, she has held several leadership roles in the Young Scientist Program (YSP), a volunteer organization at WashU aimed at attracting students to scientific careers. This past year as Director of YSP, she learned how to work with administrators, members of the community and volunteers to develop new programming, maintain and identify new funding from granting sources, and learned how to effectively run a completely volunteer based organization with over 100 active volunteers. In her years volunteering with YSP, she learned the importance of mentorship in supporting and educating young minds. She now wants to direct her involvement to help The BALSA Foundation provide resources and mentorship to first time entrepreneurs in St. Louis. As the Technology Director, she will strive to more effectively streamline the application process for the BALSA grant and maintain a strong connection with the community by further developing the website.

Email the Technology Director.

Board of Directors

The BALSA Foundation is managed by the Officers and the Board of Directors.

  • Tom Cohen
  • Sriram Devanathan
  • Chris Fiore
  • Lydia-Ann Harris
  • Brett Maricque
  • Santhi Pondugula
  • Daniel Povinelli
  • Constantino Schilllebeeckx
  • Maxim Schillebeeckx
  • George Schweitzer
  • Shiv Shah
  • Ben Filas
  • Reyka Jayasinghe
  • Matt Wyczalkowski
  • Santhi Pondugula
  • Sriram Devanathan
  • Theresa O. Owuor
  • Wyatt Gutierrez
  • Mark Katerberg
  • Gabriella Ramirez-Arellano
  • Aziz Traore

Advisory Committee

The role of the advisory committee is to serve as champions for The BALSA Foundation, connect the Foundation with leaders in the community, and provide their perspective and support in making strategic decisions.

  • Betsy Cohen, Executive Director, St. Louis Mosaic Project
  • Aimee Dunne, Senior VP National Programs, Prosper Institute
  • Jason Hall, General Counsel, St. Louis Regional Chamber
  • Marlon Lee, Account Executive, Mediplex Healthcare Professionals
  • Matthew Lodes, Olneya Restoration Group
  • Lisa McLaughlin, Managing Member, Muhm & Reilly
  • Neelu Panth, Development Director, Better Family Life
  • Cara Spencer, St. Louis City Alderman, 20th Ward
  • Sara Stock, Founding Member, Khazaeli Wyrsch Stock
  • Cheryl Watkins-Moore, Director, Bioscience & Entrepreneurial Inclusion, BioSTL
  • Jeffrey Whitford, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Merck - MilliporeSigma

Idea Supporters

Idea Supporters are individuals with significant business or entrepreneurial experience who read and give feedback on business ideas.  Their time and expertise are the backbone of our Idea Support program.

  • Katie Adastra
  • Matt Althage
  • Tami Bowman
  • John Brenner
  • Thomas Campbell
  • Anil Cashikar
  • Jeff Chang
  • Cynthia Cipolla
  • Tom Cohen
  • Scott Crick
  • Kyle Davis
  • Sriram Devanathan
  • Megan Epperson
  • Emel Esen
  • Jiaxi Fang
  • Ben Filas
  • Chris Fiore
  • Kimberly Franklin
  • Anton Gimmel
  • Nick Goldner
  • Lydia Harris
  • Pamela Hesker
  • Allison Hoynes-O'Connor
  • Cole Johnson
  • JR Johnson
  • Arie Krumholz
  • Jamie Kwasnieski
  • Natalie LaFranzo
  • Corey Lewis
  • Justin Lipner
  • Yinzi Liu
  • Matt Lodes
  • Corey Lohnes
  • Erica Majumder
  • Kinjal Majumder
  • Mena Morales
  • Luis Muniz
  • Andrew Mutka
  • Rei Nakamura
  • Kaitlyn Norman
  • Alina Oltean
  • Theresa Okeyo-Owuor
  • Twinkal Pansuriya
  • Shankar Parajuli
  • Tara Pham
  • Santhi Pondugula
  • Brad Postier
  • Danny Povinelli
  • Jayan Rammohan
  • Sindhuja Rao
  • David Razafsky
  • Brittany Riehlman
  • Koby Sarpong
  • Maxim Schillebeeckx
  • Wade Self
  • Shiv Shah
  • Mohit Sharma
  • Renatus Sinkeldam
  • Lester Smith
  • Tom Spudich
  • James Sorrell
  • Daniel Willingham
  • Kate Wilson
  • Matt Wyczakowski
  • Hao Xu
  • Jie Zhang
  • Mike Zhao