Our Team

The Thames River Innovation Places includes: Spark Makerspace, CURE Innovation Commons, the City of New London, the City of Groton, Town of Groton, Connecticut College, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT, the Southeastern CT Enterprise Region, Ledge Light Health District, New London Public Schools, University of Connecticut, the Small Business Development Center, major and small employers, angel investors, and entrepreneurs.

David McBride, Executive Director, Thames River Innovation Place

David McBride’s diverse experience in business, with fast casual food startups, and non-profit work make him ideal to helm this innovative partnership. David worked with Mohegan Sun since his completion of the MBA program at the University of CT. He began in the Casino, then transferred to the Mohegan Tribe, where he held various positions. He became the Director of Finance and in 2008 the department head. In 2012 David was asked to assist with the Tribe's non-gaming business diversification efforts, which evolved into the Mohegan Holding Company. He focused on reviewing non-gaming business opportunities for the Tribe and was instrumental in securing three separate multi-unit franchise agreements to operate over fifty restaurants in New England. David was promoted to Vice President of Food & Beverage where he focused on developing and operating Smashburger and Jersey Mikes franchise restaurants. David’s non-profit work includes founding the James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund in his best friend’s memory who perished on 9-11 in the tragedy in NYC. The foundation provides over $50,000 annually in educational scholarships to local high students attending St. Bernard's, Waterford, New London, and Fitch High School. David also started a family business with the opening of the Waterford Crystal Mall Dairy Queen and has grown the business to include numerous Dairy Queens and other investments. David holds the elected office of Treasurer of Groton Long Point and for many years taught accounting and finance courses for the University of Phoenix.

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Emma Palzere-Rae, Ignite Program Manager

Emma Palzere-Rae comes to the Ignite Program from Safe Futures, where she served as the Director of Development and Communications. Her diverse background and experience in non-profit management, the arts and culture sector and human services will serve Ignite programming well. After fifteen years in New York City producing theater and other programming, Ms. Palzere-Rae came to southeastern Connecticut when she was appointed the first Executive Director of The Chorus of Westerly in Rhode Island. Since that time, she has been active in the community, volunteering with her children’s schools, arts organizations and various non-profits. She has served on the Board of the Southeastern CT Women’s Network and is currently on the Board of the CT Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She is also a member of the new CT Shoreline Chapter of Soroptimists International, where she was awarded the Women Helping Women award. This fall she will be a recipient of an ACE award, given by Writers Block Ink.

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