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Lever's 2021 Innovation Summit

Innovating How We Innovate


  • Innovating Workforce Development
  • Innovating from Within: the Intrapreneur
  • Innovating for Inclusion

To participate: The entire program will be hybrid format: folks may participate in person, via Zoom, or both.

This is Lever’s second, biennial Innovation Summit. Our first summit, held in Williamstown, Massachusetts in 2019, featured the conclusion of Lever’s 2019 Berkshire Intrapreneur Challenge, presentations from regional innovators, a panel discussion featuring regional innovation centers, and keynote talks by Carlo Zaffanella from General Dynamics, and by Steve Case, founder of America Online. More than 250 people participated in the two-day program.


1-9p Thursday, September 23

9a-3p Friday, September 24


Berkshire Innovation Center

45 Woodlawn Ave
Pittsfield, Massachusetts



Feigenbaum Foundation


Greylock Federal Credit Union

Berkshire Bank

Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook LLP

Smith Watson

MA Business Roundtable


LTI Smart Glass



Berkshire Innovation Center

Cascade School Supplies


Thursday, September 23

Session 1 – 1:00p

Berkshire Intrapreneur Challenge
Emcee: Gregory Thomas, UMass Amherst

Finalists: Kripalu, Wellness Concepts, JM Spartan, and The Chamberlain Group

Leading Berkshire companies compete for a $25,000 Innovation Grant from Lever. 10-minute intraprenuer pitches will be followed by a question-and-answer session with a panel of expert judges.

Keynote: Steve Nielsen, CEO of Dycom Industries – 4:00p

Reception hosted by MountainOne – 5:00p

Session 2 – 7:00p

Blackshires Welcome – John Lewis, R3SET

Keynote: Kenn Turner, CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center – 7:30p
Introduction by MountainOne

Friday, September 24

Session 3 – 9a

Angela Dixon, Chief Diversity Officer, Berkshire Bank
Deborah Gallant, Executive Director, E for All Berkshires
Mary Imevbore, CEO, Waeve
Brandale Randolph, CEO, 1856 Cycling Company
Evaguel Rhysing, CEO, United Aircraft Technology

Session 4 – 12:30p

Keynote: Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director, Mass Tech Collaborative

Session 5 – 1:30p

Panel Discussion: Inclusive Strategies for Workforce Development

Keynote presentations

Carolyn A. Kirk is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), a state economic development agency whose mission is to strengthen the tech & innovation economy across a variety of industries including advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, digital health and other emerging tech areas such as artificial intelligence, fintech, and robotics. Ms. Kirk organized the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT) to address widespread shortages in PPE.

Ms. Kirk will present an overview of the “miraculous MERT” at Lever’s 2021 Innovation Summit at noon on Friday, September 24.

Steve Nielsen is Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer of Dycom Industries, Inc. Headquartered in Palm Beach, Florida, this Fortune 1000 company provides specialty contracting services to the telecommunications and infrastructure industry throughout the US, employing 15,000. Dycom operates through 39 subsidiary companies and has served customers for decades.

At his 4p September 23 keynote talk, Mr. Nielsen will discuss how Dycom “innovates from within, capping off Lever’s 2021 Berkshire Intrapreneur Challenge.

Kenneth Turner is president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, an economic development and investment agency dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the life sciences in Massachusetts. The MLSC was the lead funder of the Berkshire Innovation Center and has previously partnered with Lever on several entrepreneur challenges to grow the startup ecosystem in Western Mass.

Prior to joining the MLSC, Mr. Turner served as Director of Diversity and Inclusion/Compliance with Massport, where he oversaw and managed the Authority’s multiple diversity programs, as well as all compliance initiatives associated with Massport’s Disadvantaged/Minority/Women Business Enterprise programs.

At his 7:30p September 23 keynote presentation at Lever’s 2021 Innovation Summit, President Turner will discuss diversity and inclusion in the health technology sector.

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