2020 Tibbetts Award Winner for Excellence in the SBIR/STTR Programs
Tom Wavering, Executive Director
Tom joined the University of Oklahoma in September 2016 as the founding Executive Director of the Tom Love Innovation Hub with the mission to increase innovation and entrepreneurship across Oklahoma through a mix of resources, programs, services, and collaborations. As a national expert in the federal SBIR program, Tom founded and leads the I-Hub’s OK Catalyst program which provides statewide SBIR-related networking, training, and mentoring efforts. In 2019, Tom joined the faculty of the Price College of Business, creating and teaching the course “Entrepreneurship for Science and Technology.” Prior to OU, Tom had 18 years of experience in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies through various technical and executive leadership roles with Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI) in Rockville, MD, and Luna Innovations in Blacksburg, VA, and Charlottesville, VA.
Sarah Hamby, Director
Prior to joining OK Catalyst in 2019, Sarah served over ten years with the U.S. Air Force. As a Command and Control Battle Manager, Sarah deployed in support of various contingency operations including IRAQI FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, and ENDURING FREEDOM. Sarah’s active duty career culminated at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma where she served as Flight Chief of Operations Training for the 552d Air Control Group. As Director, Sarah works closely with entrepreneurial support and economic development organizations across the state to promote SBIR/STTR funding as a viable resource for early-stage startups. Sarah earned an MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises from The Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, New York.
Obum Ukabam, Associate Director
Obum brings over sixteen years of Project Management, Executive Leadership, Marketing, and Strategic Partnerships experience to the OK Catalyst team. Obum is a 2021 New Leader’s Council fellow and serves on the Oklahoma chapter’s Executive Board. Additionally, he sits on the boards of Leadership Tulsa, AHHA Tulsa, Birthright Living Legacy, and more. He also serves as the Executive Director of The Phoenix Rising Alternative School Foundation. He is passionate about dismantling the barriers to Tech for underrepresented communities. In 2020, he worked with a team that won a national Booz Allen Foundation grant for “The Art of Us,” a new program to support Tulsa youth with hands-on virtual learning through an art-based, social-emotional competency-infused curriculum. He is involved in many organizations, including Tulsa Changemakers, Urban Coders Guild, CAP Tulsa, Black Tech Street, and the Child Abuse Network to name a few.
Maya Nkouka, Program Manager
Maya leads SBIR training and outreach efforts in Tulsa and the surrounding areas. In 2020, she directed the development and execution of the first all-virtual DoD Accelerator in the nation. Most recently, she began leading the NASA Accelerator. Prior to joining the OK Catalyst team, Maya supported the US Department of Veterans Affairs by assisting veteran entrepreneurs to become qualified for the Vets First Verification Program, leading them to a unique opportunity to bid on VA set-aside contracts. Maya graduated from Indiana University with a BS in Management from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and obtained a JD from the University of Maryland School of Law.
Casey Farmer, Marketing and Communications Manager
Casey leads all storytelling, creative content development and communications for OK Catalyst. Casey also serves as the VP of Communication for IABC Central Oklahoma, a non-profit, professional development organization. Previously, she managed the Business Services Department at Better Business Bureau® Serving Central Oklahoma and curated relationships with community partnerships, managed outreach efforts and collaborated on the communication of events and programs. Casey earned her bachelor's in Fine Arts from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Jerrod Burns, Graphic Designer
Jerrod is a senior computer science student at the University of Oklahoma with a specialization in software engineering, hardware applications, and digital artform applications. The current president of the OU Game Developer's Association, graphic designer for Hacklahoma 2021, executive director for Hacklahoma 2022, and executive advisor for Hacklahoma 2023, Jerrod joined the marketing and communications team in 2022 at OK Catalyst. After graduation, Jerrod plans to pursue a career in the game industry as a developer and/or studio founder.
Pravah Malunjkar, Business Analyst
Pravah is working on a bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems with a minor in Economics. Pravah supports all data management and metrics tracking for OK Catalyst. He also serves as a junior technician at the Price College of Business IT where he assists teachers, staff, and students with all hardware and software issues that arise in the college domain.
Our Funding Partners
OK Catalyst is a 100% grant-funded organization. Primary sponsors include the US Small Business Administration, the Economic Development Agency, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, and the Oklahoma Business Roundtable.