2019 Wolverine Venture Battle Judges
Barbara E. (Spotz) Johnson, Esq. ’79
Barbara is a thirty-year-plus practitioner of intellectual property (IP) law, first for NASA Langley Research Center on the Langley Air Force Base (Hampton Roads, Virginia), later at The Webb Law Firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she served as Shareholder and Director, and now as “Barbara E. Johnson, Esq.” (a solo practice) at 555 Grant Street, Suite 323, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Ms. Johnson, now in her 11th year of running her own law firm, understands both of the worlds of the lawyer and of the entrepreneur. Ms. Johnson received a Doctorate of Jurisprudence at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William and Mary in Virginia, after completing a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Grove City College. In 2004, Ms. Johnson was awarded the Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Award by the College, and later became a 2007 Highlighted Nominee for the Excellence in Leadership Award, sponsored by the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership of the University of Pittsburgh. Ms. Johnson’s articles have been published in a number of intellectual property law journals, including “Explaining How Patentable Inventions Can Still Infringe Other Patents—It’s as Easy as Looking at a Wedding Cake,” Intellectual Property Today, May, 2010 pp. 12-13. Ms. Johnson is also active in nonprofit and charitable activities including Zonta Club of Pittsburgh and Rotary District 7300, in which she served as a recent past Assistant Governor after having served as Rotary Club of Pittsburgh President in 2015-2016. She and her family enjoy hobbies together including the electrical engineering aspects of amateur radio and all sorts of music performance and appreciation. Ms. Johnson handles both patent prosecution at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and hearing and litigation matters before Administrative Agencies and District Courts of the United States of America. Ms. Johnson was chosen for the 2015 Upper St. Clair High School Halls of Fame, and has also been listed in several of the prestigious Marquis Who’s Who publications, including but not limited to Who’s Who in America.
Dan Creston ’81
Dan Creston ’81 graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. While on campus as a student, Dan interviewed with Borg-Warner Chemicals and was hired for a position in Sales Management, a job he remained at for six years. In 1987, Dan started at Alpha Packaging, Inc. where he became Chief Operating Officer and Partner. He partnered with the CEO to open nine plastic packaging plants and took sales from $400K in 1987 to $230M in 2015. They sold the company twice to private equity firms and Dan remains a shareholder today. Currently Dan is the Founder and Owner of Creston Consulting, LLC (small business mentoring and angel investing), which he started in 2015. He judges start-ups for grants and investment potential with two nonprofits…Arch Grants (www.archgrants.org) and St. Louis Arch Angels (www.stlouisarchangels.com).
Timothy Habbershon ’81
Timothy Habbershon ’81 is currently Managing Director at Fidelity Investments, one of the largest private family companies in the U.S. where he assists ownership and management in the organizational issues associated with transitions. He also Chairs the Corporate Board of the largest private hair salon chain in the U.S., facilitates the Ownership Board of a large family holding company, serves on the Operating Executive Board of a private equity group focused on family companies, and is Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. Dr. Habbershon has conducted Executive Education programs to family ownership and management teams on entrepreneurial strategy, transitions and relationship issues through universities worldwide. He received a BA in Psychology from GCC, a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and an MBA and a Doctorate degree in adult education from the University of South Dakota.
Ron Amstutz P’12
Ron Amstutz represents Wayne County as a Wayne County Commissioner. Ron has served extensively in elected political offices: Mayor of Orrville 1975-80, Ohio state legislature 1981-2016, and Wayne County Commissioner 2017-present. Ron has been a leader in enacting major tax reforms to lower Ohio’s personal income tax rates across the board and to give manufacturers a competitive tax advantage. He was influential in balancing Ohio’s state budget and guiding a major bipartisan initiative to facilitate reforms in the struggling Cleveland Public Schools. For five years, Ron worked in the Orrville office of The Wooster Daily Record as a writer/photographer, then bureau editor. He is a graduate of Central Christian High School and holds a B.A. in Government Communications from Capital University. Ron and his wife, Joanne, are members of Wooster Grace Church. They have two grown children and two grandchildren.
RJ Fryan ’08
RJ Fryan ’08 is a dynamic sales and marketing professional who has spent the majority of his career working in the manufacturing industry. RJ grew up in Canton, Ohio where he started working in the steel industry while still in college. Throughout his career, RJ has served in various functions within the steel industry including operations, marketing, supply chain, and sales. He also owns a metal processing facility in Washington, PA. RJ earned his MBA from Anderson University and is currently pursuing a DBA from George Fox University. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Laura (Koller ’11) and their two children, Raymond and Emma.
Matt Knouse ’92
Matt Knouse ne of three owners of Performance Roofing Associates and The Performance Realty Group. He is the VP of Operations for PRA which handles commercial roofing sales, design and distribution for PA, NJ, and DE. Matt has been with PRA since its inception in 1996. PRA is proud to announce its new partnership and representation of Johns Manville a Berkshire Hathaway Company along with Georgia Pacific, Metal Era and Englert. PRA has grown to become the largest representative agency of its kind in North America. While at GCC, Matt was President of the Phi Tau Alpha fraternity. He played soccer and coached the very first women’s trial soccer team which later became the official team for GCC. He serves on the Warwick School District School Board and is Chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. Matt comes from a long line of Grovers and he and his wife Kelly (Tsikalas) ’92 reside in Lititz, PA with their two children Abigayle and Benjamin.
John Baun ’68
John Baun ’68 graduated with a B.A. in Economics. After a short stint at Mellon Bank, he served in the U.S. Army for three years. After attending Spy School and learning to speak Vietnamese, he used his skills in a top-secret intel assignment in Vietnam. Back in the States, he worked for Equibank in Pittsburgh for about six years, and started his first business in 1984…Baun Mortgage Company (commercial mortgage banking). He followed with a string of real estate businesses over the years, including Shared Suite North (executive office suites), Tierra Realty Management (commercial property management), ACRES (commercial real estate brokerage firm), Stonewood Partners (commercial offices in Wexford for over 30 years), JGB partners (acquired homes for rental and resale for over 40 years in Pittsburgh and Sarasota, Florida, currently his most active business. He is proud to say that all his companies were bootstrapped with his own money! John is a member of Orchard Hill Church in Wexford and a 20-year past member of the Bradford Woods Council and Planning Committee.
Pete Durfee ’80
Mr. Durfee has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical sciences industry. He was formerly employed at Gilead Sciences, Inc. (“Gilead”), a publicly held, research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need, from 1997 until retiring in 2012. During his tenure, Mr. Durfee served as Senior Director of Corporate Engineering and Facilities Operations (CEFO) which was responsible for the strategic and operational direction of Gilead’s engineering pursuits. While at Gilead, Mr. Durfee was responsible for directing Engineering, Validation, Maintenance/Facilities Operations, Manufacturing/Contract Manufacturing, Environmental Health & Safety, Corporate Real Estate, Site Services and Security. Mr. Durfee received a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Grove City College in 1980 and completed the required coursework for a Masters in Electrical Engineering at Penn State before moving to California in 1988. Peter and his wife Susan (Peshek ‘81) are retired, live, and play in Montreux, Nevada.