UNH Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

Over 10,000 UNH alumni have founded, co-founded, or run their own business. The Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame celebrates not only the significant success of our UNH alumni in their ventures, but the values of public service and community that set them apart from their peers.




UNH's 2020 Homecoming has been cancelled. Therefore, the induction of the 2020 UNH Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductees will be postponed until Homecoming 2021. UNH and the ECenter will not announce the selection of the 2020 inductees until early 2021. Inductees engage in a roundtable discussion with select entrepreneurial students during the ceremony day, which has consistently been the highest ranked portion of the celebration. We look forward to having that in-person connection in 2021.

Due to the postponement, nomination submissions for the 2020 Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame will remain open until December 1, 2020.




Award Criteria

The Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame selection is based upon the following criteria:

Alumni who have achieved entrepreneurial success with ventures as a founder, co-founder, or owner, while giving back to the community in a meaningful way.


The definition of “ventures” includes economic or social value in for-profit and non-profit entities.

The inductee must be present to accept the award and is also expected to engage with students at the ECenter.

The selection process is managed by Ian Grant, Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Center (ECenter).

Self-nominations are encouraged.


About the Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

In 2018, a generous gift from an anonymous donor was received “to create a UNH Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, within UNH’s Entrepreneurship Center, to celebrate the innovation and entrepreneurship that has been in the DNA of UNH students and alumni since the beginning.”

The UNH Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame selection is based upon alumni who (a) have achieved entrepreneurial success with ventures as a founder, co-founder, or owner, and (b) have given back to the community in a meaningful way. The definition of “ventures” includes economic or social value in for-profit and non-profit entities. The inductee must be present to accept the award and is also expected to engage with students at the ECenter. The selection process is managed by Ian Grant, Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Center (ECenter).

The ECenter currently shows some 600+ of the companies on its alumni wall at the ECenter. With the increased success of student entrepreneurs utilizing the ECenter, the Hall of Fame will help inspire students and others to see what is possible when you have an idea and take the steps to move it forward into a successful venture.  Email any questions to ian.grant@unh.edu


Christine Dodson is the co-founder and COO of Mamava, Inc., the leading expert in lactation space design. From the beginning, Mamava’s approach to innovation has been about not only doing well, but doing the right thing. As Christine explains, “Mamava was created by two moms from a place of experience and empathy.”

Since its inception, it has grown into not only a successful business comprised of lactation pods and a locator app, but an engaged digital community dedicated to transforming the culture of breastfeeding for the 21st century mom-on-the-go. Based in Burlington, VT, Mamava now has over 900 lactation suites in locations as diverse as airports, hospitals, sports stadiums, automobile factories, military bases, and even the Statue of Liberty. Mamava is not only answering an urgent need for nursing mothers, but simultaneously empowering a cultural shift to celebrate breastfeeding and supporting maternal and infant health and wellbeing.

In 2015, Mamava won the InnovateHER VT Challenge, hosted by the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. In 2018, Christine and her co-founder, Sascha Mayer, were named Vermont Small Business Persons of the Year. And in 2019, Christine and Sascha were recognized as finalists for the Ernst & Young New England Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Christine has also been active in the Vermont start-up scene, participating in panel discussions, guest speaking at Pitch, and guest lecturing at Champlain College and the UVM Sustainable Innovation MBA program. She is heavily involved in her community, participating in various committees with the Burlington School District, and is the founder and former president of the VT Chapter of Hands & Voices, a parent-driven organization supporting families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Joe Faro is the Chief Food Taster and founder for Tuscan Brands, LLC, a multifaceted venture encompassing both food and beverage operations as well as large scale real estate development.Based out of Salem, NH, Tuscan Brands includes four Tuscan Kitchen locations; in Salem and Portsmouth, NH, Burlington and Boston, MA and two Tuscan Market locations; also in Salem, and the newly opened Tuscan Market in beautiful Market Square in Portsmouth, NH. Tuscan Brands also boasts the new Tuscan Village, a 3 million square foot mixed use development. With a projected grand opening in 2022, Joe’s vision is to put New Hampshire – and New England – on the map by redesigning the former historic Rockingham Park Horse Race Track into a mixed use culinary, retail and lifestyle mega destination where people can live, work, stay, and play right here at the Gateway to New Hampshire.

Prior to Tuscan Brands, Joe launched his entrepreneurial career with Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta and Sauces in Haverhill, MA, via a business plan which he wrote and entered into the Holloway Competition as a senior at UNH in 1991. Joe grew Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta and Sauces into the largest specialty pasta and sauce producer in the nation. In 2006, he sold his company to Nestlé and reinvested the proceeds into thanking his employees and also into his next venture. Taking care of the 675 employees that comprise his team is paramount to Joe’s business model.

The success Joe enjoys today hardly belies his rocky beginnings. After not being voted “most likely to succeed” by his high school classmates, and nearly failing out of UNH with a 1.7 GPA, Joe found himself the architect of his own future. After fighting for a second chance at UNH, taking summer classes and working two jobs to support himself, he now returns to campus as a lauded success story. Speaking at the UNH CEO Forum, he shared the three P’s with students: passion, patience, and perseverance. He has been actively engaged in supporting the UNH Seacoast and Boston Alumni Networks, and for many years, has served as a championship round judge at the Holloway Prize Competition, hosted by the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics.

Joe tried his hand at retirement once. It was, perhaps, his only failed venture. It didn’t take him long to realize that the golf course is no match for the passion, drive, and creativity that rocketed him to his current position. Instead, he spends his time outside of work reinvesting in his community. Whether it be supporting the relief effort of the recent Columbia Gas Crisis, or partnering with organizations like Lazarus House Homeless Shelter and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Salem, Lawrence, and Boston, for Joe, being able to lift up underprivileged families, often immigrants like his own family, is the best part of his success so far.

Thomas is the founder, CTO, and Chief Scientist at CHAOSSEARCH, a big data analytics company founded on the innovative and mathematical insights Thomas has gleaned through his career in the technology sector. Over the past 25 years, Thomas has held a number of leadership positions, starting at Cabletron while he was attending UNH as an undergraduate, and including roles at Integral Access, Equipe, Oracle, Virtual Iron, and Deep Information Sciences.

Thomas’ passion for innovation is not strictly limited to his professional roles, and he has steered many successful projects to acquisition over the years. These include Yakkle, acquired by CloudTree, txObject and Stratusware, both acquired by Deep Information Sciences, and MyOODB, acquired by Oracle.

His entrepreneurial drive is complimented by his community-minded desire to give back. He is currently a member of the Forbes Technology Council and sits on the board of Deep Software Foundation. He is the founder of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and a member of the Mortar Board National Honor Society, as well as a member of the Emanuel/Andover Board of Governors. Thomas is a past member of the Board of Advisors for Spatter, Inc., and an active mentor and champion of UNH students and alumni. He is currently a mentor and member of the Board of Advisors for ecoText, Inc., a digital textbook subscription company founded by UNH alumnus Joel Nkounkou ’18.

Not surprisingly, Thomas has been the recipient of several awards over the years, in addition to holding a number of patents in data and technology. His accolades include Top Innovator – Database Technology (Data Week, 2013), Best New Product of the Year (Best in Biz, 2015), MITX Best New Technology (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, 2016), TiE Top Startups (TiE Silicon Valley, 2016), and InfoWorld’s 2017 Technology of the Year.

Les Hiscoe is the CEO of Shawmut Design and Construction, a company to which he has dedicated the past 20 years. His resume charts a meteoric rise through the ranks of construction management, from project manager, to vice president, to president and COO, finally arriving at CEO. During this time, revenue grew from $100M to $1.5B, elevating Shawmut from a Boston firm to a leading national player with nine offices nationwide, currently ranking 52 on Engineering News Record’s Top 400 Construction Firms.

Shawmut’s growth is impressive, and so too is the innovative course Les chartered to achieve it. Since taking office as CEO, he embarked on a complete enterprise transformation. Shawmut became 100% employee-owned in 2005, and currently has 1,400 employees managing a robust client portfolio.

As part of this cultural transformation, Les invested in creating a diverse environment where great ideas flourish. In an industry where women represent only 9% of the workforce, Les recognized the importance of partnering with experts to develop an effective and equitable structure, and as a result, women represent 35% of Shawmut’s workforce demographic, more than triple the industry standard. Les also drove exponential growth across the company and increase revenue by 168%.

As a result of his leadership and vision, Shawmut has been named one of Mogul’s “175 Top Companies for Female Leaders,” “Diversity Champion” by Providence Business News, “Diversity and Inclusion Citizen of the Year,” by Procore, and “Top Employer to Work for All,” by Great Places to Work. He is a frequent business expert contributor to a number of media outlets, and a guest lecturer at MIT.

Les is an avid cycler and leverages his passion – and his team – to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Shawmut’s Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) team has contributed over $1.4M to date. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Rebuilding Together, a non-profit focused on improving the safety and health of low-income communities and was named the national 2015 Board Member of the Year. Staying true to his construction roots, Les regularly volunteers his time and skills to rebuilding homes and community spaces throughout the five boroughs. Les also sits on the ACE Mentor Board of Directors with the goal of inspiring high school students to pursue careers in the architecture, construction, and engineering industries.

Harry Patten is the Chairman of the Board and CEO of National Land Partners, LLC. His storied rise from Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman to CEO has the makings of an American legend. After leaving UNH to work at Kirby, he quickly rose to the top of his company. Realizing he had an aptitude for sales, Harry turned his talents toward land deals. The success that followed saw Harry become one of the foremost buyers and sellers of rural and recreational land in America. Between 1980 and 1984, Harry grew the Patten Corporation from $3M in revenue to $11M. When he took the company public in 1985, the Patten Corporation stock outperformed all expectations. Over the past 40 years, he has generated more than $1B in sales.
Harry’s forte and success has been in acquiring undeveloped rural properties and subdividing them into parcels sold mainly to residents of metropolitan areas for recreational, retirement, or investment purposes. In 1987, he was selected by Fortune Magazine as one of the year’s 50 Most Fascinating Business People. In 1988, he was featured in a front page article of The Wall Street Journal. In 1992, he was included in the official registry of the Who’s Who of American Business Leaders.  

 Harry’s success in business is matched only by his philanthropic drive. In 2011, Harry was honored with the Horatio Alger Association’s Distinguished American Award and over the years has mentored scholars selected by the organization. He is heavily engaged with his alma mater, being a supporter of the UNH Entrepreneurship Center since its inception and serving on the UNH Foundation Board of Directors. In 2018, he fulfilled his life-long interest in service dogs and through his generosity became a member of the Cornerstone Society of Southeastern Guide Dogs. His passion for supporting youth education resulted in the publication of the book What Kids Need to Succeed, which he co-authored with his daughter, Andrea. His other areas of philanthropy include High Hopes for Haiti, Junior Achievement, and the Massachusetts General Hospital.


Katie is founder and CEO of Koya Leadership Partners. Koya is a nationally recognized executive search firm that is dedicated to placing exceptionally talented leaders at mission-driven organizations and institutions of higher education. She started the company on a single belief: "The right person in the right place can change the world." That belief has evolved over time into the guiding principles for her firm. In 2018, Koya was named number 14 on Forbes’ “America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms,” the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Private Businesses, and the Boston Business Journal’s Fast 50 Award.

With a strong commitment to civic and women’s leadership, Katie serves on numerous boards. She is Board Chair of IGNITE, the bipartisan initiative committed to building the next generation of female political leaders. Katie also sits on the boards of The Home for Little Wanderers and her alma mater, the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire, and serves as a corporator of the Newburyport Five Cent Savings Bank. Katie is a Fellow at Pipeline Angels, a network of new and seasoned women investors that is changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women social entrepreneurs. Katie was also named as a finalist for EY's prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year® New England program. Katie was previously named a Boston Brava Award Winner by SmartCEO, which recognizes high-impact women business leaders.

Chris is co-owner of RMC Research Corporation. RMC is a national firm engaged in research and consultation in areas related to the well-being of families, children, and communities, specifically education, the arts, literacy, media, and health care and prevention. Her current work involves support for state and federal early childhood policy, student-centered learning and community engagement, and evaluation of theater and dance programs. Dwyer spent a decade developing media and print tools for evidence-based strategies in reading and mathematics and two decades providing technical assistance for the federal government and state agencies in the implementation of family literacy programs, focusing on early childhood and parent development. Throughout her career, Dwyer has conducted evaluations of arts and culture initiatives for national foundations. Earlier in her career, she and RMC colleagues worked with children’s public television programs such as Reading Rainbow, Arthur, Puzzle Place.

Chris's work as a Portsmouth City Councilor, founding board member of the Portsmouth Music Hall, former chair of the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, trustee of the Currier Museum of Art, board member of the UNH Foundation, New Hampshire Business Committee for the Arts, and the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits have all made these organizations stronger and more relevant.

In 2018, Chris received the Eileen D. Foley Award, and was a recipient of the 2010 Granite State Award from the University of New Hampshire.

Peter T. Paul is the chairman of Headlands Asset Management LLC, an investment management company he founded in 2008. He is also the owner of West Biofuels, a research and development venture and Peter Paul Wines. He is chairman of The Headlands Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1995.

In 1986, Peter founded Headlands Mortgage Company, which became one of the premier wholesale lending institutions in the country, specializing in originating, selling, securitizing and servicing residential mortgage loans. After leading Headlands through a successful IPO (NASDAQ-HDLD) in February 1998, he negotiated its merger with GreenPoint Financial in 1999.

Peter became vice chairman of GreenPoint Financial (NYSE-GPT) and president and CEO of GreenPoint Mortgage. In 2003, he opened Paul Financial LLC, a mortgage loan banking company from 2003 to 2007.

He has served on the following public boards: Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corp (1998-2004), Sequoia National Bank (2001-2005) and JMP Securities (2006-2009).

In 1999, he was the recipient of the Ernst and Young entrepreneur of the Year award in financial services. In 2003, he received an Alumni Award for Distinguished Service from The Graduate School of Management at Boston University. Five years later, he received the inaugural Achievement in Business Award from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics. He received the Pettee Medal, in 2009, from the University of New Hampshire Alumni Association.  In 2017 he received the Hubbard Award. Peter has been an important philanthropist to UNH providing over $40 million of support to the university.

Peter earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from UNH in 1967. In 1971, he earned an MBA from Boston University, where he currently serves as a trustee.

Chris has worked at Planet Fitness for 25 years and was elevated to CEO in January 2013 after working his way through the ranks over the years and being named one of the initial partners of the company. Planet Fitness is a franchising powerhouse with more than 12 million members and over 1,600 locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Mexico. The company successfully completed its initial public offering in August 2015 under his leadership, and trades under the ticker symbol PLNT on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chris’ passion for giving back to the community evolved into the creation of the company’s national philanthropic initiative, The Judgement Free Generation, aimed at combating the judgement and bullying faced by today’s teens by creating a culture of kindness and encouragement. Over $3mm of funding has provided critical anti-bullying training and resources to youth nationwide.

Chris was awarded the 2015 Leader of Innovation Medal by Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson University), which is awarded to innovative entrepreneurs who have made significant contributions to their industry to better society and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in New England in 2016.

David has founded or co-founded numerous business and social ventures. He founded IDEXX Laboratories in 1984 and served as CEO and Chair until 2002. IDEXX is a publicly-traded leading animal health diagnostics company with revenues of $2B. David co-founded Vets First Choice in 2010 and serves as Chair. Vets First Choice will be a publicly-traded $4B animal publicly-traded software services and specialty pharma company via a transaction scheduled to close later this year.  He is also the founding CEO and Chair of Ikaria Holdings, a human pharmaceutical company.

David served as chair of The Jackson Laboratory (ME), Treasurer of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and Trustee of the National Parks Foundation, among others. Among his notable work is a leadership role in the US National Park Centennial and in protecting the Earth’s high seas for conservation, via the Sargasso Sea Alliance and the ongoing Aspen High Seas Initiative.  He has received numerous national and international awards for his social and business entrepreneurship.


Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2019
Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Student Engagement Panel 2019
Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2018
Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Student Engagement Panel 2018

Did You Know?

Entrepreneurship is in Wildcat DNA!

Over 10,000 UNH alums have founded, co-founded, or owned a business or venture.


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