EXL Center names two new co-directors

The EXL Center named two new co-directors last week, Carolyn Behrman and Annal Vyas.

These new directors will take the place of Founding Director Jeff Hoffman and Resource Director Ian Schwarber, both of whom resigned in September.

Behrman has previously been appointed to the EXL Center as faculty coordination adviser. As a doctor of anthropology, she has worked with a focus on women’s health, family dynamics in low income environments, and with urban trailer parks. Most recently, she has focused her work on the city of Akron, and the power dynamics present within specific communities, including a neighborhood watch group and a school district.

Vyas is a business lawyer who teaches business planning law and cyber law at the UA School of Law. He has helped found several programs at Akron, including Akron Pecha Kucha, which brings professionals from different backgrounds and industries together to give talks about innovations in their fields. He also assisted in the creation of NEXTOhio, an annual conference which seeks to bring people together to talk about the future of local tech startups.

This new joint directorship offers “an interesting blend,” says Behrman, “I think we’re going to work this well.”

“[The EXL Center is] going to keep making a difference in the community at a variety of levels.” Behrman continued, “[We will be] engaging with young people who are interested in startups, and in making Akron a richer and more exciting place to live, and in solving our community’s problems.”

Behrman says that the founders, Schwarber and Hoffman, have given them a really strong foundation to continue EXL programming.

Initiatives such as the Unclasses, the Summer Scholars, and the Arkon Hackathon, which were started under the previous directorship, will continue. “They can’t look exactly how they looked before, but they are going to be exciting and interesting opportunities,” says Behrman.

When asked about Vyas being named as a co-director, Behrman said “He’s energetic in a focused and intellectual way. He’s creative. What he’s going to bring is different, because it comes from the law and it comes from his relationships with people, to create businesses through the law. He is a fun and exciting addition.”

When asked about specific future programs, Behrman said the Center is talking with the Akron Council of Engineering and Scientific Societies (ACESS) about creating mentoring relationships between STEM businesses in the area and UA students.

No official time limits have been given to these appointments as of yet.