Meet The Disruptive Factory Team
The Disruptive Factory team is diverse, experienced and committed to disruptive excellence.
Our backgrounds touch on a wide range of industries and creative endeavors with execution depth and innovation. At our core, we focus on empowering our team and clients to create a more sustainable world with the avenues and tools for citizens, organizations, entrepreneurs, and companies to thrive, engage and contribute.
Cynthia A. Phillips, Ph.D. | Founder & CEO, Chief Creative Officer | The Disruptive Factory
Cynthia A. Phillips, Ph.D. is the Founder & CEO of The Disruptive Factory. Phillips is an economist/agricultural economist as well as a business consultant to for-profit and social enterprises with over 20 years of experience in the areas of strategic planning, marketing, branding, analytics, big data, business development and global expansion.
Former Director of International Marketing & Risk Management at American Express and currently consults with technology companies and start-ups such as Cisco Systems, Full Cycle Bioplastics, BioSerie, and Riverbed. She currently serves as the interim Chief Marketing and Sustainability Officer for Ascalon, LLC, a disruptive consumer and commercial bio-based products company. Phillips sits on several non-profit boards and advisory boards of start-ups including Akilah Institute, OROECO, and accelerators such as Think Beyond Plastic. Phillips served as the Founder of GlobalShiftTV, G Media Partners, and Disruptive Spirits. Phillips is serving as the CEO of Good Causes Corp and is the architect of Passport2Good, an engagement app to serve citizens and social enterprises.
References and endorsements for Phillips work can be found on LinkedIn.
Natalia Olson-Urtecho | Co-Founder, Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer | The Disruptive Factory
Natalia Olson-Urtecho is an entrepreneur and recognized expert in government, commercialization of clean technologies, transportation, energy, environmental planning, public engagement and infrastructure development. Prior to her current position as founder of InfraTechh21 and Co-Founder of The Disruptive Factory, she was appointed by President Obama as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator responsible for small business programs, financial assistance, and business development initiatives throughout the mid-Atlantic region managing 34 billion dollars in government contracts. She has held senior management positions in both the public and the private sector in the U.S., Central Europe, Asia and Latin America. Natalia was appointed to Philadelphia’s Planning Commission and served as the Vice Chair of the Zoning Code Commission, she was appointed to the U.S. Innovation Advisory Board to advise Congress and the White House on competitiveness. She has been honored with numerous prestigious awards, including recognition as a “Latina Powerhouse” by the Maryland Hispanic Business Conference, Most Influential Latino in Delaware Valley in 2014, Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2010 Minority Business Leader Award, and Woman of Distinction for her work in sustainable infrastructure & the green economy. She has an MS in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and has climbed Kilimanjaro, Everest, Fitz Roy, Machu Picchu, and also enjoys diving with sharks.
Deborah Churchill Luster | Co-Founder, Chief Branding & Marketing Strategist | The Disruptive Factory
Deborah Churchill Luster has established several companies including two nationwide food companies–CAN DO KID, Inc. which created all natural snacks and empowering products for kids and a pasta food company – Annie’s Homegrown Inc., where she helped the company’s sales to surpass $15 million.
Late 2005 Ms. Luster and her sister Chris Elders launched Can Do Kid, Inc. with a children’s book called I Can Do Anything! and a line of products to inspire children to know that they CAN DO ANYTHING including a line of CAN DO KID nutrition/energy bars. Can Do Kid grew up to Can Do Creations in 2015 and moved from snacks to include many other propositions around positive programs and products.In addition, Ms. Luster also helped create a packaging technologies company called Simple Packaging Solutions during 1993-1997, where she served as the director of operations.
Ms. Luster has helped start several non-profit organizations and has helped establish funding for organizations including Boston Can, The Luster Fund, An Income of Her Own and the Can Do Kid Fund. Over the past twenty years, Ms. Luster has served on the board of over a dozen companies in the food, publishing, and computer technology fields as well as three non-profits, colleges and dozens of Executive boards in her community. She has been featured over the years in numerous articles including Working Women, Inc., Forbes, Business Ethics Magazine, NewsWeek, and Success magazine and has been on NBC, CBS and ABC News spots.
Ms. Luster has owned several publishing companies including Really Great Books (1998-2002) and currently owns S.W.A.K. publishing company in partnership with her husband, Robert. Together they have written The Little Black Book For Guys. Ms. Luster has three teenage children and volunteers with teachers and non-profits to promote programs that support healthy children.
Bridgett Luther | Co-Founder – Disruptor | The Disruptive Factory
Ms. Luther is the CEO of Win.Win.Give.org bringing new, innovative, engagement to nonprofits. She’s a co-founder of The Disruptive Factory as a champion for disruptive technologies and the Founder of Good Causes Corp. and it’s signature initiative, Passport2Good.
Previously she founded the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and was the former director of California’s Department of Conservation under Governor Schwarzenegger. She was appointed to her second term on the USEPA’s National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology. She graduated from Vanderbilt University.
She lives in San Francisco and has two grown children.
Denise Pines | Partner | The Disruptive Factory
Denise Pines is the co-visionary and head taskmaster for Tea Botanics. An award-winning marketer and serial entrepreneur, Denise has participated in 10 startups, including two multimedia companies and a foundation with Tavis Smiley. She has 20+ years of management, sales, and marketing experience in “personality” brand management and traditional media. Denise has a BS in marketing and an MBA in international trade, and she serves as vice president of the Medical Board of California.
She served as President for The Smiley Group from 1998 to 2010. She launched Pines One Publications in 1993. Prior to starting her business over 15 years ago, Ms. Pines held management positions at AT&T, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and The Gap.
Ms. Pines has a bachelor of science degree in marketing from San Francisco State University, a master’s degree in international business from John F. Kennedy University and a master’s degree in finance from Stanford University.
Margaret Mackenzie | Advisor, Business & Investment Architect | The Disruptive Factory
A seasoned entrepreneur, entrepreneurial advisor, and partnership builder, Margaret has co-founded two online transaction businesses, including Boku, Inc. (LON:BOKU), and has served as CEO and/or COO and/or CFO in six venture-backed technology companies. Her entrepreneurial experience includes developing and implementing rapid-growth market entry strategies for multi-country, online and mobile businesses, building Fortune 1000 revenue partnerships, managing design, development and service delivery teams, and leading multi-national finance and capital formation strategies. Margaret began her career as a corporate finance banker with Bank of America and Silicon Valley Bank, where she was a founding principal of SVB Securities. More recently, she served on the executive team of Astia (www.astia.org), a leading early-stage investor in companies led by women, and remains on Astia’s Global Advisory Board. Margaret’s current work is focused on providing strategic, financial and leadership advice to companies that are part of creating a sustainable, accessible, inclusive economy. She is advising several stealth startups as well as advising the leadership teams of Full Cycle Bioplastics and Good Causes Corporation.
- CFO of Good Causes Corporation & Win-Win-Give
- Strategic Advisor to The Disruptive Factory
- Board Member and Mentor, FourthWave.io
- Global Advisory Board Member, Astia.org
- CFO, Astia.org
- Co-Founder, CFO, and EVP International Business – JustInvesting Ltd.
- CEO Plastic Jungle
- Co-founder, CFO and COO Boku, Inc. (formerly Paymo, Inc.)
- CFO and Corporate Development lead, mBlox, Inc.
- CEO 4charity, Inc.
- Founding Principal, SVB Securities (Silicon Valley Bank)
- President, Resonex Capital Corporation
- VP Private Placements, BancAmerica Capital Markets
- Bachelor’s Degree, International Relations, the University of California at Davis
- MBA Finance, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
Ashley Conway Roberts | VP of Strategic Communications | The Disruptive Factory
Ashley Conway Roberts is a communications consultant and strategist with expertise in multi-platform digital marketing, demand generation and thought leadership development across industries (healthcare IT, international social enterprise competitions, oil and gas, food system innovation, and tourism). She has held senior leadership positions in the healthcare technology space and is passionate about building and scaling communications and marketing programs for startups and social enterprises across industries. Ashley grew up in Africa and Europe and is currently based in Austin, TX, where she is very involved in the local network of mission-driven businesses, startups, and nonprofit organizations. Her expertise in building marketing and communications infrastructure for startups, developing robust online communities, running comprehensive content campaigns and producing events comes from consulting and working with high-growth technology companies such as NarrativeDx, Verb and previous Verb clients (Dell, IBM, TOMS, LIVESTRONG, The Everglades Foundation), Afoundria, and many more. These experiences have instilled a deep, lifelong belief in the transformative power of businesses doing good. Ashley has a master’s in strategic communications from The University of Texas at Austin, TX.
Kelley Hullihen | Chief Operating Officer | The Disruptive Factory
Accomplished PMP-Certified Program/Project Manager and MBA with exceptional leadership skills demonstrated through the creative management of team dynamics on high dollar, high-risk contracts, process improvement to optimize the bottom line. Extensive experience managing teams wide geographic locations to completion under-budget and ahead of schedule. Talented “go-to” professional skilled in crisis management, risk reduction and troubled project remediation for multi-million dollar technical projects within top private sector companies and government agencies. Extensive management and operations experience for project/product launch life cycle.
In 2007, Ms. Hullihen also founded the visionary Non-Profit “Hoofbeats with Heart” which is a program designed to provide services to the underserved community of those with disabilities in 2007.
Hoofbeats with Heart, a 501(c)(3) charity, is run solely by dedicated volunteers whose mission and passion is improving the lives of the physically and mentally challenged, anchoring at-risk youth and giving personal grief a voice through the fellowship between humans and horses.
Sandra Niehaus | Co-Founder, Customer and User Experience Magician | The Disruptive Factory
With over 20 years as a user experience design leader, developer, and marketing expert, with strategic insight and tactical expertise. Sandra has led and executed projects for a wide range of companies and industries. Prior clients include Facebook, PayPal, Walmart, Netflix, Crate & Barrel, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, StubHub, Brocade, Quicken Loans, and Allstate, and many others.
She is a founding member of IxDA Sacramento, author of the book “Web Design for ROI” from New Riders Press, and a writer and international speaker on the topics of user experience, design, and conversion rate optimization.
Sandra’s mission: To transform lives for the better and improve human interactions with all types of technology. The opportunities to do so are deep and fascinating, which is why I’ve spent 20+ years in the tech industry, focusing on human-technology interactions for the past 11 years.
Giving back is part of her life, with a particular focus on social issues such as women’s self-defense and economic empowerment. Currently, she volunteers on the advisory boards of the Encyclopedia of Life and UC Davis Extension.
In her spare time, she hangs out in Northern California, where she practices improv comedy and mixed martial arts (usually not at the same time), writes, and try to learn more about this crazy universe we call home.
Narek Sahakyan | Director, Data & Analytics, Capabilities & Research | The Disruptive Factory
Narek Sahakyan is a graduate student in International Public Policy and Management program at the University of Southern California. Originally from Armenia, he has a background in economics and more than 8 years of working experience as a business consultant and project coordinator.
Back in Armenia, Narek Sahakyan has been involved in more than 30 research projects commissioned by famous international organizations such as World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), World Vision, etc. His main areas of expertise include business and investment planning, strategic planning, market research, analytics, as well as program implementation and evaluation.
Mirza Baig | Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer | The Disruptive Factory
Mirza Baig is an accomplished IT leader with over 15 years of management experience in Silicon Valley leading large, high performing teams. He’s built comprehensive global IT support service models while working across varied industries, organizations, and geographies. He’s setup enterprise project and operational work groups throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
During the technology boom after the dot-com rush, Mirza spent almost a decade at KLA-Tencor Corporation, the world leader in process control and yield management solutions for the semiconductor and microelectronics industries. He went on to lead solutions at Riverbed Technology, the global leader in WAN optimization. From there, he landed at Autodesk, the global leader in 3D Design, Engineering, Manufacturing, and Entertainment software with a Market cap of over 25 billion.
Mirza’ s proven success in standardizing processes, breaking down silos and optimizing service delivery with a concentrated focus on delivering end-to-end technology services has resulted in business value benefitting some large global corporations. He’s managed multi-million dollar relationships with Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Lenovo and Dell to name a few. Mirza has been a strong advocate for applying a practical, results-oriented approach to strategy, tactical analysis, budgeting, team development and business alignment. He’s known for his ability to effectively translate technical concepts across all levels of an organization.
Mirza is a member of the Customer Advisory Board for Microsoft at their headquarters reviewing O365 products and services.
Sherry Cameron MBA | Co-Founder | The Disruptive Factory
Sherry Cameron was born into a multigenerational restaurant family. She spent her youth learning all aspects of the food industry, from sitting at the counter learning from the pastry chef to picking up her first knife in meat room. After getting her MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management she went off into the world and became a global executive leading successful ventures in the United States, Australia, Singapore, and Mexico—with additional consulting work in the U.A.E.
Her 25-plus years of work on four continents in myriad cultures and settings— from Asian entrepreneurs to Middle Eastern royalty—have given her an invaluable set of multicultural business skills. She has paired this with diverse not-for-profit experience in the area of personal service, alumni and constituent relations, business development, organizational assessment, and fundraising.
Ms. Cameron imported and exported various food and beverage products between Latin America and the U.S. at SJB Trading. She also served as a consultant for Mexican and U.S. companies on cross-border issues.
While being the regional manager for Let’s Eat, LLC of Singapore – the first restaurant guide in the country-, Ms. Cameron also served as a Director for CitiProp Management Pte Ltd, which developed the property holdings of multinational corporations in Asia. In Australia, she was a co-owner and managing director for Axiome Fine Foods Pty Ltd., a farm-to-table distributor of high-end specialty foods, managing and directing all aspects of the business. Cameron also holds a master’s in counseling from the University of New England, in New South Wales, Australia. She consults with organizations seeking to build strategic, innovative and outcomes-driven philanthropic and constituent-relations programs.
Patty Schmucker | Partner | The Disruptive Factory
Patty is beauty industry veteran who has enjoyed a successful track record growing iconic brands in the beauty and health space. As President of American Made Beauty, she hosts a weekly radio program and has become a sought-after speaker and writer. Patty began her career as a licensed cosmetologist and advanced to become the second largest Aveda distributor in the US.
Through her consulting practice, she refreshed the Chopra Center for Well Being brands and authored and delivers The Beauty Industry Market Assess program, a comprehensive training program to help US beauty brands achieve domestic and international growth.
During the last decade, Patty has been involved with a variety of success stories in the cosmetic industry as an outsourced CEO, with expertise in strategic planning, product development, marketing, sales and education development, operational infrastructure, international expansion and financial management. Patty wrote and currently facilitates a program for the Center for International Trade Development which has helped over 85 companies develop their international expansion plans resulting in over $22 Million in new export sales.
Patty earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business. She has over 15 years of trade and community board work and teaching at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and as a certified trainer with Franklin Covey and The Chopra Center for Well Being.
Peter Geib | Associate, Partnerships and Engagement, Brazil | The Disruptive Factory
Multilingual Global Citizen with nearly two decades’ experience in international business; innovative and efficient green tech promotion, coalition building; 17 UN SDGs Advocacy, project finance facilitation, diplomacy and public affairs.
- Former International Business Director at CSM International & CEO of CSM do BRASIL.
- EVP at LivelyUp, the World Sports Alliance IGO’s communications agency.
- Founder & CEO of Pierre & Marie Group. Executive Consultant to Innovative Green Tech German Companies TESVOLT, Energy Storage Experts, and Sunfire, a developer and manufacturer of clean and efficient Fuel Cell technology solutions for the fields of off-grid power and heat generation, energy storage, and green fuels production, for the Brazil and USA Markets.
- He also serves as CEO of P&M Music Publishing, a P&M Group company, promoting Musical Talent and Licensing original content in The Americas and European Markets in cooperation with the New York-based Holding Group, StadiumRed.
Pariya B. Tehrani M.A., M.P.P. | Manager, Nonprofit Partnerships | The Disruptive Factory
Pariya B. Tehrani, Director of Operations and Assistant to the CEO, helps coordinate the Non-Proft relationships of the Disruptive Factory. Prior to joining the Disruptive Factory, she served as the Development Associate at a Los Angeles based non-profit, promoting art and culture through community building. While serving as the Development Associate, she was in charge of public relations, marketing, several fundraising campaigns event planning and overall organizational operations. She also has experience in accounting and teaching. She has been a consultant for graduate students at the University of Southern California, in policy analysis and policy proposal development.
Having won multiple titles, she is a national champion of speech and debate and continues to coach students in developing fundamental public speaking skills. Pariya earned her Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) with a concentration in nonprofit management and a BA from UCLA in Linguistics.
Blair O’Neil | Graphic Design & Concept Communications | The Disruptive Factory
“Hey, Y’all” is what his friends call him (because they’re not from around here). They keep him around ‘cuz they never know what he will come up with next…
Part Crazy Disruptor, part player by the rules, he’s loved by anyone that enjoys a fresh and often fun approach. Mix analytical thinker with artist sensibilities, stir in loner both with and without a cause and, whamo… you get a general idea.
Usually very easy to get along with. But ‘dis’ the workflow and you’ll be sacrificing the creative for the mundane. Think of Blair as a “creative” professional with a splash of the practical strategist. Then add a trained eye for detail with a thirst for a job well done.
What can you expect? A mix of eclectic and traditional…
- Polite, cordial, attentive with attention to detail
- Disruptive ideas with joyful doses of metaphor
- Ironclad logic and rule adherence
- Tangential non-sequiturs and informed rule breaking
- Experimental thought processes and approaches
- A generally kind demeanor with a healthy aptitude for pushing beyond “normal”
- Goals & targets kept in perspective
Mix in 30+ years working alongside both big-name international corporations and start-ups. Then the experience stacks up like:
- Corporate communications support & branding
- Project teams and international workflows
- Product branding, packaging, and rollouts
- Advertising brand placement
- Problem-solving & efficient budget use
- Small shoestring start-up support and guidance
- Plus some time in the studio for fine art too!
History of Industries Served:
- Traditional & Alternative Health, Wellness & Nutrition
- Science & Research Organizations
- Medicine & Law
- Engineering & Architectural Firms
- Life Sciences and Digital Technology
- Private Sector & Government Agency Environmental Programs
- Upscale Food & Eateries
- Wine & Spirits (wineries, distilleries, etc)
- Product Packaging & Service Branding
- Experience with both B2B & B2C deliverables
Deliverables include any size print, digital or online media as needed… always flexing to suit the needs at hand.
PS – My current bio photo by Savs as found on, and courtesy of the amazing website “Unsplash“, a unique photo resource website. Savs