Every year the Strome Entrepreneurial Center recognizes life long achievements in entrepreneurship. Below is a complete list of members of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center Hall of Fame.
2019 Hall of Fame Members
Ajit Prabhu is the Chairman and CEO of QuEST Global, which he co-founded in Schenectady, NY in 1997. Ajit played a significant role in establishing a scalable and sustainable company, an institution that he hopes will outlive him. This phenomenal growth within a short span of 22 years can be attributed to Ajit's entrepreneurial spirit and passion for organization development. What started as a 2 person operation currently employs over 12,500 professionals across 65 engineering centers across 14 countries.
He has been recognized by industry bodies and universities for his outstanding achievements as a passionate entrepreneur. In 2017, Ajit was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Old Dominion University, his alma mater. Ajit has also received Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2014 in the Services category. In 2014, he was also recognized by Singapore-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) for his achievement as an outstanding entrepreneur. Ajit is also the recipient of the prestigious Young Investigator Award, conferred by International Association for Dental Research during his studies at RPI. He is frequently invited to speak in global industry forums as well as educational institutes in US, UK, Singapore and India.
Having begun with a humble background, Ajit nurtures his passion of giving back to the community with specific interest in less-privileged children's education. He continues to support his alma mater and QuEST's adopted Government schools in Bangalore and Hubli, believing that 'Education' plays an inevitable role in shaping children's future and the society at large. He has personally pledged to support college education expenses of one thousand students by 2035 and profusely donate towards this cause. (Ajitprabhufoundation.org) Currently 202 students have benefitted via this foundation.
Prior to founding QuEST, Ajit's career began at GE's Corporate R&D Center as a contract engineer, in Schenectady, NY, while working on power generation, aircraft engines; appliances and locomotive related engineering problems. Ajit holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Karnataka University, India, a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA and, a MS in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic, Troy NY.
Drew Ungvarsky is the Founder and CEO of Grow, one of the top digital agencies in the world. Under Drew's leadership, Grow has created innovative digital experiences and marketing campaigns for leading brands like Google, adidas, Spotify, and EA Games. Drew and his company's work have been recognized by The New York Times, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Adweek among many others. They've also been celebrated by the industry's top award shows, including the Cannes Lions, CLIOs, and Webbys.
Drew is also the founder and CEO of Assembly, an iconic building campus and community of creators and technology innovators coming to Downtown Norfolk. The development is an adaptive reuse of three historic department stores, and will soon be home to the region's leading creative and technology companies, startups, and freelancers.
A 2002 graduate of Old Dominion University, Drew is an active community advocate and civic leader in Norfolk. He serves on the board of the Downtown Norfolk Council, where he's helped create the successful Vibrant Spaces program and the Selden Market. He's also a founding board member of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation. He's previously served on the boards of Re:Vision Norfolk, StartWheel, and RISE.
Renee Warren-Mebane is co-founder of Noelle-Elaine Media, Inc. (NE) and the president of Arielle-Wren, Inc. (AW). Renée celebrated her 26th year as an entrepreneur with her best friend and business partner, Kirsten Poe Hill this past October at Noelle-Elaine Media, Inc.. This dynamic woman has been able to incorporate all of her passions, from real estate to event planning to mentoring and teaching young minds -- she manages it all between her two companies. And, most recently, launching The Tea Standard - another passion of hers.
Under her two nationally recognized firms, she has worked with: Ariel Mutual Funds, BET, Charles Schwab, Citibank, Corporate Governance, Cricket mobile phones, Black Enterprise magazine, Essence, Joint Center Health Policy Institute, IR magazine, MONEY magazine, Disney & Disney Channel, L'Oreal, NAACP, The National Association of Black Accountants, The National Cancer Institute, The National Association Black MBA Association, The National Urban League, Pepsi, Porter Novelli, The SCOOTER Store, The Steve Harvey Foundation, UNCF and Williams Capital Group to mention a few. In addition to her national experience, she has worked on the four continents (North America, South America, Europe and Africa) producing large-scale events. She says it feeds her curiosity for learning.
Prior to creating her companies, she worked for CNBC, Dow Jones & Company and locally here at CBS affiliate WTKR-TV and local papers The Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot; additionally, she often wrote for Black Enterprise and Essence magazines.
She is the co-author of You Buy the Peanut Butter, I'll Get the Bread, The Absolutely True Adventures of Best Friends in Business, worked as an Adjunct/Assistant Professor at New York University for 15 years where she taught Social Media & Event Public Relations. She is currently working on her second book.
Mike Zeiders is Founder and Chairman of Zeiders Enterprises, Inc. With over 1,000 employees, Zeiders Enterprises provides quality of life support programs to military service members and families worldwide.
In 2007, Mike and his wife, Charlotte, founded the Quality of Life Foundation, a charitable organization that supports caregivers of severely wounded, ill, and injured veterans nationwide. He serves as President and Chairman.
In 2013, he founded the Zeiders American Dream Theater, known as The Z. The Z is a charitable organization founded on the belief that imagination, passion, and the discipline of creation are universal requirements for all successful endeavors - artistic and otherwise. The Z's mission is to introduce new works and emerging artists, present unique artistic experiences, and inspire creative growth in our community. He serves as Chairman.
Mike has served as Chairman of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board and is the author of the book, Entrepreneurship, The Art of Succeeding in Business.
Mike graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975 and was awarded a Master's degree in Business Administration from George Mason University in 1984. In 1997, he was a state finalist for the Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year award.