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Center for Entrepreneurship

Center for Entrepreneurship Team

Mark Lesko

Mark Lesko, Executive Dean
Office: 246 Axinn Library
Email: Mark.J.Lesko[at]
Phone: 516-463-7486

Mark Lesko is the former Executive Director of Accelerate Long Island, a collaboration of Long Island research institutions to accelerate the formation of a regional innovation-based economy. As Executive Director, Mark oversaw the $1 million Accelerate Long Island Seed Fund/Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund that invested in nine technology-based startup companies. Mark is about to launch a second $3 million Accelerate Long Island Seed Fund, which will involve $1.5 million of investment from New York Ventures.  Under Mark’s leadership, Accelerate Long Island also offered mentorship support for startup companies and engaged in a variety of activities that supported the growth of Long Island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Prior to joining Accelerate Long Island, Mark Lesko was the Supervisor of the Town of Brookhaven – New York State’s second-largest Town with 486,000 residents – for over three years.  As Supervisor, Mark became a regional leader on the issue of economic development and served on Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council for Long Island.  Prior to serving as Brookhaven Town Supervisor, Mark was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice for ten years in Washington D.C., Brooklyn and Long Island. Mark served as Deputy Chief of the Long Island Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. As Deputy Chief, he oversaw all federal criminal prosecutions on Long Island and was the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) crimes coordinator.  Mark also personally prosecuted some of Long Island’s most noteworthy federal cases, including the Muttontown “slave” case and the Symbol Technologies corporate accounting case.  Mark also served as a prosecutor in the homicide/major crimes section in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Mark was a corporate litigator with large law firms in Pittsburgh, PA and Washington, D.C. In Pittsburgh, Mark helped establish the Steel Valley Enterprise Zone Advisory Committee, an organization formed to assist economically depressed communities affected by the closure of steel mills.  Mark is a graduate of Yale University, where he was a quarterback on the football team, and he received his law degree from Georgetown University Law School.

Richard Hayes

Dr. Richard N. Hayes, Academic Director
Office: Weller 040
Email: Richard.hayes[at]
Phone: 516-463-5727

Richard N. Hayes, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship in the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, USA.  At Hofstra, he is the primary entrepreneurship professor and was responsible for completely redesigning the undergraduate entrepreneurship major.  He is an advisor to the entrepreneurship club (Hofstra University Startups) and director of the Entrepreneurship Challenge, an innovative partnership between Hofstra and Capital One Bank.  His research has been published in the Journal of Developmental EntrepreneurshipEntrepreneurial Executive, the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and the African Journal of Business Management.  In addition, his teaching evaluations are among the highest in the business school.

Prior to joining the faculty at Hofstra, Dr. Hayes was a member of the faculty in the School of Business at North Carolina Central University where he was twice named Graduate Teacher of the Year and once named Undergraduate Teacher of the Year. 

Deeply committed to global entrepreneurship and particularly to entrepreneurial development in Africa, Dr. Hayes also holds an appointment as a Visiting Associate Professor in the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.  Richard has also taught at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, the Lagos (Nigeria) Business School and Africa University (Zimbabwe).  He is the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer of the International Academy of African Business and Development (IAABD) and will be the entrepreneurship track chair for the 2018 Africa Academy of Management (AFAM) meetings that will be held in Ethiopia.

He earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.   He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in Corporate Finance from Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA), where he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the United States’ premier academic honor society, a Master of Business Administration from the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University (Atlanta, GA) and a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University Divinity School (Durham, NC).

Stacey Sikes

Stacey Sikes, Senior Assistant Dean for Administration
Office: 246 Axinn Library
Email: Stacey.Sikes[at]
Phone: 516-463-7496

Stacey Sikes previously served as the Assistant Executive Director for Accelerate Long Island, where she coordinated the efforts of the Accelerate Long Island Seed Fund and developed and implemented the organization’s programs. Prior to starting at Accelerate Long Island in 2012, Stacey served as Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, focusing primarily on economic development issues, including the Ronkonkoma Hub Transit-Oriented Development. Stacey was on the writers’ committee for the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, contributing to a strategic plan that was awarded $101 million in economic development grants for the region. Stacey was previously Deputy Regional Representative to United States Senator Charles E. Schumer on Long Island and Director of Special Projects to Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi. Stacey received her Bachelor's and Master’s Degrees in Government and Politics from St. John’s University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She also served as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at St. John’s.

Sharon Goldsmith

Sharon Goldsmith, Director of Operations
Office: 246 Axinn Library
Email: Sharon.N.Goldsmith[at]
Phone: 516-463-5202

Sharon Goldsmith is the Director of Operations for the Center of Entrepreneurship. She has twelve years of combined experience in the business management and entertainment industry. Sharon graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2003 with a degree in Public Relations and immediately joined LL Business Management, Inc. For almost three years, she was a business manager for recording artists, NBA players and other high net worth individuals. Her most famous client, 50 Cent, asked her to join G-Unit Records, Inc. in 2005 as the Director of Finance and later, the Director of Finance and Human Resources. During that time Sharon earned her M.A. in Speech Communication and Rhetoric Studies here at Hofstra University. Sharon spent over ten years contributing to the success of both multi-platinum music releases and supporting 50 Cent’s entrepreneurship. She helped him to achieve success in the tech, non-profit, entertainment and consumer electronic space. Now she is thrilled to be back at Hofstra University.

Sharon Goldsmith

Robert Pollak, Fellow

Robert Pollak is a Fellow for the Center for Entrepreneurship and is assisting with coordinating the Silicon Valley Experience. Robert is a General Partner of SV Angel. He joined in 2011 and is responsible for all aspects of running the firm. At SV Angel, Robert has originated investments in and works particularly closely with Fundbox, Flexport, Headspace, Ironclad, Mark43 and Dronebase. He has spoken at international conferences including Techcrunch Europe and OpenAir Berlin. Prior to SV Angel, Robert worked for a multi-family office within Morgan Stanley, that focused on VCs, late-stage technology companies, and entrepreneurs. He also worked at Arnold & Porter LLP on large-scale M&A transactions in their anti-trust group. Robert graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Economics and Foreign Affairs.

CPXi Venture Challenge