Invest Southwest Board of Directors

HAMID SHOJAEE

2023 CHAIR

Hamid Shojaee

Hamid Shojaee is a local veteran entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder of Axosoft, a software development tools company, and Pure Chat, a live chat software company. Both companies were acquired in 2020, at which time Hamid shifted his focus more towards his passion for startups and investing.

As an investor, Hamid has been involved with numerous Arizona tech startups, including being an angel seed investor to companies like CampusLogic, Prenda and Equipifi to name a few. He is also a board member of the StartupAZ Foundation and Venture Madness.

AARON HARMON

BOARD MEMBER

Aaron Harmon, Osborn Maledon - Invest Southwest BOD Member

As a partner at Osborn Maledon, Aaron serves as outside general counsel for start-up, growth-oriented and middle market companies, advising officers, directors, managers and key employees on fiduciary and corporate governance matters.  He also regularly represents clients in angel, VC and private equity financings and in M&A transactions.  In addition, he helps clients draft and negotiate various commercial contracts.

Prior to Osborn Maledon, Aaron was an associate attorney at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP in Delaware where he counseled officers and directors of Delaware corporations on fiduciary and corporate governance matters.  Prior to his law career, Aaron was a senior accountant at Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, and an assurance associate with Deloitte.  Aaron received his B.S. in Accountancy from Arizona State University, his M.S. in Accountancy from Ohio State University, and his Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law.

Molly Iarocci

BOARD MEMBER

Molly Iorocci - Invest Southwest BOD

Molly Iarocci is Director – Private Investments & Advisory at DCA Asset Management, Inc.  Her role includes: 1) sourcing, analyzing, and making investment decisions on private investments across the growth curve, 2) developing and executing on the venture capital strategy, 3) providing strategic financial advisory services, 4) developing and launching fund products, 5) analyzing public investments, 6) network and partnership development, 7) raising capital for DCA’s initiatives, and 8) building the company’s analyst program.  Ms. Iarocci spent five years with Stifel Financial Corp. as an equity research associate analyst covering consumer discretionary brands where her experience included financial modeling and valuation assessment, developing proprietary research, IPO advisory, and communicating with executive teams and institutional clients.

Ms. Iarocci earned a BBA in Management, Entrepreneurship and an MBA with a concentration in Investments / Corporate Finance from the University of Notre Dame, and a MS in Business Analytics from Arizona State University.

Karen Katzorke

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Karen Katzorke, Executive Director, Invest Southwest

Karen Katzorke has served as Executive Director of the Invest Southwest since the spring of 2011. Prior to serving as Executive Director, she worked for the ASU Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development for more than six years as Program Specialist and was responsible for the planning and execution of programs and events. Ms. Katzorke previously worked as Program Manager of Entrepreneurial Services at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, where she coordinated entrepreneurial programs and provided organization and promotion for the Arizona Venture Capital Conference. She is experienced with early to mid-stage life science and technology entrepreneurs, assisting companies with access to capital and other expansion and growth needs. Ms. Katzorke has more than 10 years of economic development experience, which includes the Greater Phoenix Chamber and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

SYDNIE KEDDINGTON

BOARD MEMBER

Sydnie is an associate at Kickstart Seed Fund. Her primary responsibilities include conducting due diligence, sourcing and screening deals, and managing Campus Founders Fund (Kickstart’s student-run VC fund). Prior to joining Kickstart, she worked as a business analyst at Cicero Group, a management consulting firm based in SLC. Originally from Eastern Pennsylvania, Sydnie began her career as a solo guitarist and vocalist while attending Pennsylvania State University. She transferred to Brigham Young University in 2014 where she graduated with a B.S. in Business Strategy and served as President of the Business Strategy program during her senior year.

BRIAN LEWIS

BOARD MEMBER

Brian Lewis - Sun Mountain Capital

Brian Lewis is an Associate at Sun Mountain Capital, where he focuses on direct investments across a range of industries and stages with a focus on New Mexico. He has experience in evaluating investment opportunities, conducting due diligence on private deals as well as private funds, and raising private capital. Brian is currently a Board Member for the United Way of Santa Fe County where he serves as the Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee.  He also serves on the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee for the City of Santa Fe. Brian joined Sun Mountain after graduating from Whitman College with a Bachelor of Arts in both Physics and Economics, and a minor in Mathematics.

Phillip J. Pipkins

BOARD MEMBER

Phillip J. Pipkins - Invest Southwest BOD

Phillip J. Pipkins has worked at Silicon Valley Bank as Vice President of Technology Banking focusing on sourcing some of the hottest seed through growth stage startup companies in the southwest. Prior to this role he was on the technology and product team building several enterprise fintech solutions and leading their agile digital transformation. Phillip sits on the advisory board of ASU’s E&I school and Vencapital. He is a Sun Devil Alum and is based in Phoenix, AZ.

DIANA VOWELS

BOARD MEMBER

Diana Vowels - Galvanize - Invest Southwest BOD, 2021 VMC Chair

Diana Vowels has over 20 years experience as a business leader and entrepreneur in media, healthcare and technology, managing operations for Fortune 200 companies and startups. She serves as the VP/Community for Galvanize, a dynamic learning community for technology, bringing industry and education together in nine urban campuses across the US. 

She came to Arizona as a media executive at Republic Media, following a long career with Gannett where she was named Advertising Executive of the Year twice for the corporation. She went on to acquire and scale and ultimately sell a local healthcare company with her husband, David, before moving into technology, where she led the Arizona team at Groupon to launch a 150-person team. 

Diana was named as Top Tech Leader by the Phoenix Business Journal and one of the 20 People You Need to Know in Startups, Leader of the Year for SIM Arizona and led Galvanize to be named Impact Award Winner 2020 as Arizona Advocate by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. She serves on the board of directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley as well as Phoenix Community Alliance.

SANDRA WATSON

BOARD MEMBER

Sandra Watson

Sandra Watson brings more than 20 years of economic development leadership experience to Arizona. She and her teams have successfully attracted hundreds of companies to Arizona that have invested billions of dollars in capital and created more than 75,000 quality jobs. Ms. Watson worked tirelessly to implement the new vision for the ACA and its aggressive 5-year business plan promoting the state’s pro-business, competitive value proposition. She provided invaluable leadership during the organization’s transition from the Department of Commerce into one of the nation’s first state-based public-private partnerships focused on economic development. Under her direction, the ACA leads statewide efforts assisting companies to locate, expand and grow – bringing high-wage jobs and capital investment to Arizona. Ms. Watson holds an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree and completed the Global Leadership Certification program at the Thunderbird School of Management.

Interested in joining the Invest Southwest Board of Directors?