The Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship at James Madison University has named Suzanne Bergmeister as its next executive director.
An entrepreneur with both a venture capital and a military background, Bergmeister has served as the full-time entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Louisville’s Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship for the past 15 years, and concurrently as assistant director for the past four years.
At Louisville she taught courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level, and mentored MBA competition teams that won over $1 million in competition prize money and two global championships. Her successful track record and hard work within the university and in the broader entrepreneurial community earned her the University of Louisville graduate teaching award twice and the Enterprise Corp Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.
“I am very excited to work with the amazing team at the GCFE and the College of Business to build on the momentum and success they’ve already achieved,” said Bergmeister. “I’m really looking forward to leading the GCFE to increase entrepreneurship across the JMU campus and throughout the region.”
“We are thrilled that Suzanne was tapped to lead the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship at JMU,” said College of Business Dean Mike Busing. “Her prior experience with University of Louisville’s Forcht Center, especially with securing grant funding and mentoring students, veterans and lower income entrepreneurs, will serve JMU and support economic growth in the region. Her deep understanding of both the entrepreneur and venture capitalist is critical as the center evolves and achieves national recognition for excellence.”
Bergmeister is excited to begin work with JMU and the College of Business. She also sees challenges ahead, and opportunities for success. “I believe it is critical that our next generation has an entrepreneurial mindset, meaning the ability to use innovation and creativity to solve problems,” said Bergmeister. “The pandemic proved the huge advantage of agility and being able to pivot quickly when necessary. Yes, the past year has been rough, but I believe that the hallmark of any successful entrepreneur is flexibility.”
Named in honor of leader and philanthropist Leslie Flanary Gilliam (’82), the GCFE promotes entrepreneurship on and off campus to empower individuals and transform lives.
Bergmeister joins the GCFE during an exciting period, as it begins to plan for and welcome students back into the newly built College of Business Learning Complex.