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2020 Tibbetts Award Winner for Excellence in the SBIR/STTR Programs

Join our team! 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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 SBIR Accelerator in the nation. Most recently, she began leading the OK Catalyst Endeavor program, our newest initiative to help Phase I awardees obtain Phase II awards that typically amount to $750K and can exceed $1 million. 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.

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Jenae Goodin, Program Manager

Jenae is a passionate entrepreneur dedicated to helping Oklahoma startups succeed. As program manager for Roadmap, Jenae guides researchers through the process of finding the path to technology commercialization. Additionally, Jenae manages our Endeavor program that offers business and project management mentorship to Phase I SBIR awardees. As a certified PMP and lean six sigma green belt, Jenae brings over 10 years experience of project management to the OK Catalyst team. Prior to joining the team, Jenae worked in the OU IT office of the CIO as a project coordinator. Jenae attended the University of Tulsa and is a current student at University of Oklahoma pursuing a degree in Organizational Leadership. Jenae is what many would call a serial entrepreneur and is a 2022 Participant in the Builders + Backers Spring accelerator.

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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.

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Paige Holzer, Design & Creative Content Manager

Paige is a senior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Visual Communication. Paige is responsible for the design and publication of social media posts and various print and digital design materials. She has a strong history in studio art, and was also the treasurer of the OU Graphic Design Association. Upon graduation in 2022, Paige plans to pursue a career in graphic design.

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Khady Ndoye, Business Analyst

Khady is a junior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Management Information Systems. She is also doing an accelerated MS MIT with a focus on data analytics. She is responsible for researching potential markets and creating written reports for OK Catalyst clients. Upon graduation in 2022, Khady wants to pursue a career in data science.

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. 

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