Food+City Challenge Prize Advisory Committee



“A well-intentioned overhelper driven by endless curiosity” (as noted by my first grade teacher), I am steadfast in solving the world’s toughest problems. At scale. Thinking BIG is a regular habit.

Shawna’s portfolio of work includes clinical and strategy roles in health, education, the arts, economic development, and media production. She is an active mentor to Austin’s startup community and develops partnerships for Singularity University. Her best work is delivered under the influence of chocolate.

Ben Dyer

Ben J. Dyer is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He is an instructor for the Longhorn Startup Lab, a UT undergraduate entrepreneurship course in which students create actual ventures. He is Chairman of MeetMePay, Inc., author of TechDrawl, and an active board member of BeHome247, Inc. He provides pro-bono advice and coaching to numerous early-stage technology ventures in the Austin community and is involved with Capital Factory and the SXSW Accelerator program.

Shari Wynne Ressler

Shari Wynne Ressler is an Austin-based entrepreneur and attorney who is passionate about equipping innovators for success and building communities through connection. Shari is Founder and CEO of SKU, and she is also Founder and CEO of MWR Legal, a full-service business law firm serving smart startups and high growth companies in Austin and beyond. Shari is an active member of the Austin entrepreneurial ecosystem and is a member of the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN) and a past president of the Austin chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). She holds a BA from UC Davis and a JD from the UC Berkeley School of Law.

Manuel Rosso

Manuel Rosso is the Founder and CEO of Food on the Table, the most comprehensive and highest-rated mobile meal planning platform. Food on the Table is the brainchild of his year as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Austin Ventures.

Prior to Food on the Table, Manuel spent the past 20 years in a variety of marketing, strategy and leadership roles that range from introducing Puerto Rican consumers to Tennessee Whisky to practicing Customer Development at IMVU. After learning the world of package goods and beverage marketing early in his career, he pursued his passion for technology and transitioned to a seven-year stint in consumer product and marketing at Dell Inc.

Carol Thompson

Carol Thompson is an entrepreneur, economic development strategist and business advisor. After serving as CEO of a five-store Computerland franchise, co-founding Hiretech and Thompson Executive Search, Thompson founded The Thompson Group in 1993. The Thompson Group has since served clients ranging from local businesses to Fortune 500 companies.  Thompson has been recognized by the Austin Business Journal as “one of Austin’s 5 most powerful women” and named by the Austin American-Statesman as one of Austin’s “top 25 tech players to know.” She was on the cover of Digital South Magazine, which named her “A Real Hero of Southern Technology.”

Chris Valentine

Event Producer Chris Valentine produces the SXSW Accelerator and SXSW V2Venture, an annual showcase of the newest startups and innovations; as well as SXSW Startup Village and SXSW Startup Austin, two programs that bring together and highlights the startup programming for SXSW Interactive Conference. Aside from SXSW, Chris is the Founder and CEO of Adeo InterActive, a full service event production firm. Chris has produced many other events and /or programs for such clients as AARP, Turner Entertainment, Busby Foundation, Business Investment Growth, and Engage Digital Media to name a few. Chris has lived in Austin Texas since 1988.