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Rebecca Styn

VP of Ventures

Rebecca Styn currently serves Vice-President of Ventures for the Erie Innovation District. In her previous role as Executive Director of the Idea Fund, she spearheaded programs that supported early stage entrepreneurs through funding and education.


Throughout her career, Styn has continually dedicated her energy to advancing community-oriented organizations. Previously, she has served in professional roles in the arts, healthcare, and social services. She has run for political office twice, served as campaign chair for other local and statewide candidates and previously served as contributing editor for the Erie Reader, penning bi-monthly columns focusing on the issues that affect the city. Still writing for the Reader, she currently pens a column focusing on local entrepreneurs – their challenges and opportunities. She is also completing her dissertation for her Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Leadership at Gannon University focusing on entrepreneurial leadership.


Previously, Styn has given a TEDx talk on the “Dark Side of Charisma,” and has presented at a variety of regional events. From a volunteer perspective, she currently serves on the board of the Public Relations Society of NWPA. Styn has held previous appointments with regional authorities, and has served in executive board roles for several non-profit organizations. Styn holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Gannon University, and bachelor of music in piano performance from Mercyhurst University. For her work, Rebecca has been the recipient of key awards throughout her community.


Styn is also the Proprietor of Room 33, a speakeasy style bar and restaurant located in downtown Erie.

Jordan Fuller

Director, Secure Erie Accelerator

A graduate from Gannon University, Jordan studied Supply Chain Management, Marketing, and  Economics. In his role as the Director of the Secure Erie Accelerator, he has overseen the planning and execution of the first two cohorts and the subsequent managing of the Alumni Network/portfolio of 16 companies

"Working at the Erie Innovation District is an exciting opportunity not only from a professional development perspective but because I am taking an active role in helping to develop the city that I live in."

Afzal Upal 

Chief Scientist 

Dr. Upal is a computer scientist with expertise in data science, artificial intelligence, and cyber analytics. Since fall 2017, he has served as the founding chair of the Computing & Information Science Department at Mercyhurst University.  He has over twenty years of experience in software industry, academia, and government.  This includes positions at Oxford University (UK), Canada’s Department of National Defense, University of Toledo’s Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department, Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Computer Science, and Occidental College in Los Angeles. He was chair of the Great Lakes Data Science Symposium, International Workshop on Cognition and Culture, the 14th Annual Conference of the North American Association for Computational, Social, and Organizational Sciences, the AAAI Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Agent-based Social Simulation, and the Canadian Workshop on Soft Computing. He has published over a hundred peer reviewed articles in various international journals and conferences.

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