Neil Cohen is the Founder and Chairman of Emerald Development Managers, LP, a venture capital firm focused on developing early stage companies across enterprise software, healthtech and industrial tech. Deals are sourced from decades-long relationships with academic research institutions, operating managers, incubators, and like-minded VCs. Emerald’s expertise was developed over more than 25 years by founding, building, and running an industrial company with a current market value over $1 billion while simultaneously funding venture capital investments and commercializing university research. Cohen sits on the Board of Directors of Proscia, TBT Pharma and Sustained Nano Systems, and is a Board Observer for LifeSprout and WATT Fuel Cell.
At The Johns Hopkins University, Cohen is a member of the advisory boards of the Whiting School of Engineering, the Institute of NanoBio Technology, and the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Advisors of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and a member of the Advisory Board of Columbia’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. Cohen is actively involved with university researchers, technology transfer offices, incubators, and key opinion leaders to support VC/University collaborations, especially within the deep tech and biotech sectors.
Cohen is also a Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and a Member of the Executive Committee of American Rock Salt Company LLC, the largest salt mine in America. He is an entrepreneur at heart and is passionate about sharing his operating experience with others.
AJ Donelson is a Johns Hopkins alumnus who has been mentoring JHU start-ups and researchers since 2015. Donelson also serves on the review committee for the Cohen Translational Engineering Fund. As a Mentor-in-Residence, Donelson helps faculty and staff think about commercialization not only from a traditional customer discovery and marketplace focus but also developing awareness and support for a product from a broader range of stakeholders, including government policy makers and nontraditional funding sources. Currently, he is mentoring faculty from both the Whiting School of Engineering and Krieger School of Arts and Sciences on cutting-edge technologies in material sciences, engineering, renewable energy, chemistry and bioengineering.
Donelson’s unique approach as a Mentor-in-Residence is shaped by his background as an attorney, public affairs professional and entrepreneur. His career spans 35-plus years advising private sector clients on opportunities and challenges at the intersection of business and government. Along the way, he helped build and sell two public affairs companies to publicly traded global marketing communications firms. He headed 3M’s Washington office, advising the Fortune 500 company’s CEO and senior management on public policy issues before Congress and the federal government.
As an independent consultant, he brings to clients a business development approach that incorporates strategies focused on building relationships and communicating effectively with customers, regulators, elected officials, third party stakeholders, and marketplace influencers.
Claire Broido Johnson
Claire Broido Johnson is a senior operations executive with a proven 20-year track record in creating, managing, and executing successful businesses and products. Currently, Johnson is COO of Fermata Energy. She recently left the Managing Director of the Momentum Fund, and also continues her consulting practice – CBJ Energy, a financing, operations, and business development energy consulting firm headquartered in Baltimore, where she works with financers, contractors, developers, integrators, and building and land owners to create solutions to our climate change problems. Her clients have included: Baltimore City Public Schools, Katerra, Power52 Energy Solutions, Next Step Living and more.
In 2003 she co-founded SunEdison, North America’s largest solar energy services provider which, at its peak, had a market capitalization of $10 B and more than 7,000 employees. She sold their first Power Purchase Agreements to Staples and Whole Foods, raised our first $60 MM in project financing, hired the team, managed their SREC portfolio and managed operations. After founding SunEdison, she served as acting program manager for the Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs (OWIP) and as energy-efficiency advisor to the Secretary at the Department of Energy (DOE). She was responsible for deploying $11B in economic stimulus funds for clean energy while championing policies to expand the impact of public investment through public-private partnerships.
After DOE, Johnson served as vice president of Serious Energy, managing its nascent commercial financing program. She managed business development and launched Next Step Living service lines and markets. Johnson opened NSL’s CT and NY offices, and created a community solar product. She also consulted to Katerra including project managing solar installations and providing market research and intelligence.
Bill McNamara is President of EcoEnergy LLC, a renewable energy consulting and project development company in Old Lyme, Ct. EcoEnergy serves utility and commercial clients, and develops privately financed solar and energy storage projects in the North East US. Bill was a international executive with GE Power in China, and managed other GE international operations during his career with the company. Bill is a 1976 Johns Hopkins grad (BA Political Science), and has an MBA from RPI. Bill serves on the advisory board of the Cohen Translational Fund, and is acting as a Mentor in Residence for multiple projects.