Board of Directors

NVRIC serves as the bridge for movement of research discoveries and intellectual property from the University and industry. The Board of Directors provides guidance and expertise to enable NVRIC to accomplish its mission. Chaired by Sara LaFrance, co-founded and served as president of Century Analysis, Inc., the Board is made up of regional entrepreneurs, University advisors and faculty members.

sara Lafrance - Member of the Board of Directors

Sara Lafrance

Sara Lafrance is currently Chair of the Board of Directors for the Nevada Research & Innovation Corporation. Previously, she co-founded and served as president of Century Analysis, Inc., a software manufacturer that provided integration solutions to large enterprises from 1975 until its sale to New Era of Networks, Inc. (NEON) in 1998.

As an alumna, she he has been actively involved with the University of Nevada, Reno, serving on the Foundation Board of Trustees, the College of Engineering Advisory Board and the College of Liberal Arts Advisory Board. Lafrance was named Alumna of the Year in 2011 and received the University of Nevada President’s Medal in May 2019.

Lafrance has served on and chaired many local boards including KNPB Public Television, the Reno Philharmonic, Classical Tahoe, and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare. In addition, she is a member of Sierra Angels, a Northern Nevada investment group that focuses on promising early-stage companies and has been involved at an advisory level with several early-stage local businesses.
An avid believer in the transforming power of higher education, Lafrance and her husband Leonard established in 2006 Educational Pathways International, a charitable foundation that provides comprehensive university scholarships for gifted students of need in Ghana. The organization also provides scholarships for select National Merit and Presidential Scholars enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno in engineering and computer science disciplines.

Lafrance holds a B.A. in English/Journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno, and an M.A. in Organizational Change from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.

David AuCoin - Member of the Board of Directors

David P. AuCoin

David AuCoin is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR MED). His primary research focus is to develop antibody-based diagnostics and therapeutics for neglected tropical diseases and biothreat pathogens. He is also the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of DxDiscovery (2012), a UNR MED “startup” focused on translating diagnostic research into FDA approved products.

AuCoin received a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst followed by a M.S.  and Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. AuCoin completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

James Behnke - Member of the Board of Directors

James Behnke

James Behnke served as the worldwide chief technical officer of the Pillsbury Company from 1979 to 2000 with overall responsibility for a technical organization that in 2000 had 582 employees and a $90 million budget. This organization included research and development, process engineering, strategic technology development, food safety and regulatory affairs, scientific services (chemistry and microbiology), environmental affairs and consumer response. In addition, he served on the Pillsbury Board of Directors from 1992-2000.

Behnke received a B.S. in Chemistry, an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Robert Goldberg - Member of the Board of Directors

Robert Goldberg

Robert Goldberg is a seasoned entrepreneur, technology leader, and investor with more than 30 years of experience building companies from early-stage startups to established publicly traded enterprises.

He is a managing partner at GTG Capital Partners, a multi-stage venture capital firm, as well as an operating advisor to Palladium Equity, a private equity investor. He has advised and been a board member on several early to late-stage companies including: Tapingo, Udacity, Transforce Group, Kars Nuts, Venture Beat, and Sidecar. He has invested in numerous technology companies including Alibaba, Uber, Spotify, Zoom and Duo Security.

Goldberg is a member of the board of EDAWN (The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada), served on Governor Sisolak’s GOED Director Search committee and is an active participant in GOED’s strategy. Goldberg holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and Applied Science from Columbia University in New York City.

Mitch Hitchcock - Member of the Board of Directors

Mick Hitchcock

Mick Hitchcock is currently Chair of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Foundation and Adjunct Professor of Microbiology at UNR Medical School.

His career in pharmaceutical research & development spanned 40 years, initially with Bristol-Myers Squibb in infectious disease research and project planning roles for 12 years. He then joined Gilead Sciences, Inc. in 1993 and helped it grow from only 100 employees and no products or revenues to more than 11,000 employees and greater than $20B annual revenue. Over 27 years, he held a variety of positions, including Vice President roles with responsibility for project and portfolio management, alliance management, strategic planning, medical affairs and specific areas of research. He was Senior Advisor from 2009-19. During his career, he was involved in the development and commercialization of a number of anti-infective agents, primary antivirals for treatment of HIV, HBV, influenza, CMV and other diseases.

Hitchcock received his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Melbourne, Australia and B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in biochemistry from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, England. He did post-doctoral research at Georgetown University and NIH prior to joining industry.

Jaqueline Snow - Member of the Board of Directors

Scott Minick

Scott Minick served as President and Chief Executive Officer of BIND Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company (NASDAQ: BIND), from 2010 to 2015. From 1998 to 2010, he was Managing Director of ARCH Venture Partners, a leading venture capital firm, and was instrumental in the startup, development and financing of numerous ARCH biotechnology portfolio companies, including BIND, Chiasma (NASDAQ: CHMA) and Xenoport (NASDAQ: XNPT). From 1995 to 1998, Minick was Director, President and Chief Operating Officer of SEQUUS Pharmaceuticals, (NASDAQ:SEQU), a biopharmaceutical company that was acquired by ALZA Corporation and subsequently J&J. He was formerly an executive at Baxter International, Inc. and Eli Lilly & Company. 

Minick has also been active in not-for-profit organizations including serving as a Director of California Pacific Medical Center, including Chairman of the Board, Trustee of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (a Harvard teaching hospital), Director of NatureBridge, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the advisory board of INVO at Northwestern University, the Technology Transfer Advisory Council or UCSD and a Trustee of Ross School.

He received his postgraduate training in neurobiology at the Salk Institute, an M.B.A. from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.

 Bob Wolf - Member of the Board of Directors

Bob Wolf

Bob Wolf started his marketing career at Lever Bros. Intrigued by the creative process and the ability to work more closely with creative people, Bob then joined Wells, Rich, Greene, a New York-based advertising agency. During his ten years at Wells, Rich, Greene, Wolf served as President of the Los Angeles office, and under his leadership, WRG/LA doubled in size and became the fastest-growing agency on the west coast.

As Chairman and CEO of Chiat/Day, North America, Wolf was the driving force behind its evolution from a highly creative regional boutique to a major international powerhouse, realizing billings of over $1.5 billion dollars. Under his leadership, The New York Times, Ad Age and Adweek recognized Chiat/Day as Agency of the Decade. Wolf is the only person ever selected by Adweek as an “Executive All-Star” on both the east coast (as President of Chiat/Day, New York) and west coast (as President of Chiat/Day, Los Angeles).
In 1998, Bob started Robert H. Wolf Consulting. The Reno and Los Angeles based firm provides high-level strategic counsel to Fortune 500 advertisers and their agencies regarding branding, advertising effectiveness and the selection and compensation of communication resources.

Bob has served on the boards of public companies and non-profit organizations including the Los Angeles Zoo, Reno Philharmonic, Animal Ark, and Jenny Craig. He has also advised the President of the University of Nevada, Reno on branding issues and has been a guest lecturer at the University’s Reynolds School of Journalism. Bob also served as an advisor to the Bi-State Transportation Consultation Team.