USTAR’s dedicated staff is located in various key locations throughout the state of Utah, ensuring their services are easily accessible.
The USTAR headquarters office is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The HQ staff oversees the operation of the USTAR mission and provides marketing and administrative functions.
Barbara Araneo, Ph.D.
Interim Executive Director
Barbara most recently served Novo Nordisk, Inc as a Director of External Innovation Sourcing for the company’s Global Research Unit. Barbara served on the faculty of the University of Utah’s Department of Pathology as Associate Professor. In addition to her academic career, she was Vice President of Development at StemCells Inc., where she was responsible for directing the effort to bring the company’s neural cell-based product candidate from the exploratory and preclinical proof of principle stages into clinical development under the FDA regulatory process. Prior to joining StemCells,Barbara was a scientific co-founder and Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Pharmadigm, a privately held biopharmaceutical company with several products discovered at the company and developed for various stages of clinical development for inflammatory conditions.Barbara obtained her doctorate in Cellular Immunology from the University of Rochester and completed postdoctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine and the Department of Microbiology at UCLA. In addition to a doctorate degree, Araneo holds certification in US Regulatory Affairs.
April Young Bennett
USTAR SBIR Center
SBIR Program Manager
April joined USTAR in 2017. Prior to joining USTAR, she was communications director at Voices for Utah Children, a nonpartisan organization focused on healthcare, taxation, juvenile justice, education and other policy issues that affect children. April worked for the Utah Department of Health for over a decade as an epidemiologist, media liaison and public health professional, addressing health disparities among minorities and other underserved Utahns. She completed internships and fellowships with the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy and the U.S. Senate. Her volunteer service has included serving as a Board member, spokesperson, and writer for a variety of organizations concerned with women’s issues. She received her Master of Public Administration from the University of Arizona and her Bachelor in Community Health Education from Utah State University.
Strategic Partnerships Manager
Justin join the USTAR team in April 2012. He has more than 15 years experience working in communications, marketing and public relations. A large portion of his career has been spent in the theatre industry working in marketing and PR. While working for various theatres, he managed their brands, print and online marketing, social media and all aspects of engagement. He was responsible for creating marketing plans, producing collateral and advertisements and conducting audience surveys. He has also done freelance work for other businesses ranging from public relations to graphic design. Justin began he communications career as a journalist. He is a graduate of Utah State University with a Bachelor of Science in communications (PR and journalism). He is also active in the Salt Lake theatre community as a performer.
Director, Communications and Programs
Linda joined USTAR in 2013, and currently serves as the director of communications and programs. She was previously the associate director of theUSTAR SBIR Center. Linda has worked in communications and marketing, management consulting, and investment banking, as well as co-founding a successful small business. She has government experience that includes working in the U.S. Congress for Representative Dan Marriott and the Federal Reserve Bank. Linda brings expertise in strategic business planning, project management, technical writing, product development, and recruiting and hiring practices with small businesses to USTAR. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in communication, with an emphasis in public relations and organizational communication from Brigham Young University and a Master’s degree in organizational management from University of Phoenix.
USTAR SBIR Center
Mary leads the USTAR SBIR Center, located at and operating in partnership with the Salt Lake Community College Miller Resource Center in Sandy, Utah. The center works with Utah’s technology companies exclusively on SBIR/STTR grants and currently has a better than 25% success rate for grants they assist with. Mary brings three decades of management experience to the center, coming most recently from GE Money, where she led the proposal writer team. While there, GE Money won the GSA travel and procurement award in 2007 as well as many multi-million dollar state and private sector programs. Prior to joining GE, Mary worked in management and communications, with more than 20 years in newspapers and small business in Idaho, California and Utah. Her experience includes project management, training, writing, marketing and sales. She is active in the community, volunteering with organizations improving the lives of women, children and the under-represented.
Lincoln joined USTAR as Finance Director in 2015. Prior to joining USTAR, he held the position of divisional controller for Potash Ridge Corporation. He has extensive experience in fiscal management, financial management systems, internal controls, economic analysis, and financial audits. Lincoln holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Business, minor in Finance, with Distinction from the Virginia Military Institute.
USTAR Innovation Center
Prototype Lab Manager
Ken has a diverse range of experience in aerospace and manufacturing including: CNC programmer, machine tool sales engineer, instructor, prototype machinist, and tool, die and mold maker. A published author of two CNC programming books and one geometric dimensioning and tolerancing text, Ken continues to write operation guides for use in the USTAR Innovation Center. A veteran of 20 years dedicated service to the Davis Applied Technology College as a machine tool technology instructor, Ken was recognized for building a world-class partnership between business, industry and the school. For six years in the 80’s he taught evening machining courses at a technical center in Colorado, while working full-time days as a CNC machinist and quality control inspector for a local aerospace job shop. Ken’s career originated at Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas where he completed their in-house “OJT” machinist training in 1976.
He loves the outdoors. He also enjoys gardening, hiking, mountain biking and golf.
Southern Utah Satellite Office
Corporate & Community Outreach Manager
Jared has been part of the USTAR team since 2013. HIs broad experience in entrepreneurship, industry and academics blend perfectly to support his role as associate director of USTAR’s South outreach team. A lifetime resident of southern Utah, Jared has scaled and successfully exited two local startups and earned his Bachelors of Science in finance from Dixie State University. He continues to participate as a technology project mentor for DSU’s Experiential Learning and Leadership Institute. An outdoor enthusiast, you’ll find him in the off hour taking full advantage of Utah’s unrivaled backcountry.
Financial Operations Coordinator
Brittany joined the USTAR Finance team in May of 2017. She initially entered the public sector with the Department of Technology Services (DTS) on the procurement team. Her background consists of over 10 years in customer service management including employment at Myriad Genetics. She also has extensive experience in purchasing and vendor communication. Brittany holds an Associates of Science degree. Currently, she continues her education at Weber State University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. She also enjoys being a part of the community by coaching within a local baseball league.
USTAR Innovation Center
Jillian serves as the Administrative Assistant for the USTAR Innovation Center. Jillian has extensive experience in administration, human resources, and communication. She came to USTAR from Intermountain Healthcare, where she worked for five years as she advanced in many administration roles. She holds an associate of science and plans to continue furthering her education in business administration. She enjoys spending time with her family, doing outdoor activities, painting and dancing.
Senior Systems Strategist
Kristen joined the USTAR team in July 2017 with more than 20 years experience delivering innovative and pragmatic solutions for State and Federal government. Successful projects range from automation of key internal operations to an online cemeteries and burials database. She has worked in many different sectors including digital libraries, environmental compliance, museum collections, and archaeology. She brings expertise in IT strategy, IT project management, business analysis, GIS, database management, product management, grants management, process improvement, and customer relationship management. Kristen earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from Utah State University and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management for IS/IT from Villanova University. Kristen is a certified Project Management Professional and Advanced Salesforce Administrator.
Strategic Communications Manager
Kelsey joined USTAR in February 2018. Prior to USTAR, Kelsey most recently served as the marketing director for World Trade Center Utah, where she oversaw the nonprofit’s programming, marketing collateral, content and branding. Previously, Kelsey held various marketing, communications and public relations positions in both Utah and California, working with various professional sports teams and leagues including Sacramento Republic FC, USA Rugby, and various Premier League and Liga MX clubs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Middle East Studies-Arabic and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Utah.
Kerry joined USTAR as their Senior Designer in June of 2017. Kerry came to USTAR from the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts (DHA) where she led the design for its six divisions. Prior to living in Utah, Kerry worked at Widgets & Stone, a design studio in Tennessee, where she gained much of the expertise she now brings to USTAR. Kerry holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.
Andrew Sweeney, Ph.D.
Emerging Technology Development Lead
Andrew is is an Emerging Technology Development Lead for USTAR, which focuses on the commercialization of of new technologies and projects. Andrew is also the director of the Utah Energy Research Triangle (ERT), a competitive grant program aimed at fostering coordination among Utah’s top research universities in order to advance energy innovation and development in Utah. He holds a B.S. in chemistry from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Utah.
USTAR SBIR Center
SBIR Program Specialist
Danny joined the USTAR team in February 2018. Prior to USTAR, Danny was at the University of Utah where he served as a Research Administrator and advanced in many administrative roles within the research enterprise. He has extensive experience in research, professional training development, grants and contracts, and administration. Danny holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Utah where he is also a board member on the Young Alumni Board.