Meet the Judges

WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge is a 3-month challenge run by Entrepreneur Club, College of Business and sponsored by the WSU Foundation. At WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge, we want to help students turn their ideas into reality. We provide the resources, mentors, and funds to aid students in engaged learning and exploration of business development. Students have the freedom to create a product, learn from each other, and have fun working on an idea with friends from cross disciplines. Moreover, we offer the opportunity for students to network with other creators and professionals.

 Robert Strauss Retired, VP Business Development at Fastenal
Robert “Bob” Strauss is an alumnus (class of 1979) of Winona State University and a trustee with the WSU Foundation. Strauss is a retired VP of Business Development at Fastenal. Strauss has been active with the YMCA, Saint Mary's Press Board of Directors, Winona Area Catholic Schools, Cotter, and as a youth soccer and hockey coach. Strauss has been a WSU Foundation Trustee since 1994.
 Tim Penny President / CEO at Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation since 2007
Tim Penny is an alumnus (class of 1974) of Winona State University. Penny’s extensive background complements many of the Foundation’s key interests, including the areas of early childhood development and economic development. Penny represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982 – 1994. Previously, he was a member of the Minnesota State Senate from 1976-1982. Most recently, he was a Senior Counselor at Himle Horner, a Twin Cities-based public affairs firm, and a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute. Penny is co-chair of the Economic Club of Minnesota, co-chair of The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and serves on the Board of Parent Aware for School Readiness. Penny has co-authored three books: Common Cents; The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics; and Payment Due. Born and raised on a family farm in southeastern Minnesota, Tim received his B.A. in political science from Winona State University.
 Deb Peters Executive Coach and Master Facilitator of Leadership Summits, Strategic Planning Leader
Deb Peters is an alumnus (class of 1976) of Winona State University. Peters founded Morgan McGuire Leadership to help CEOs and their teams leverage collaboration and collective wisdom to accelerate results. With an MBA and a 25 year track record, she's helped Global 1000 leaders achieve results that include double digit growth in retention, optimized payroll costs & efficiencies of scale in sales. Clients see her as a catalyst who helps leaders grow their business, their people, their competitive lead and themselves.
 Kris Blackard Sr. Project Manager at Logistics Health Incorporated
Kris Blanchard is an alumnus (class of 1992) of Winona State University and a board member of the WSU Alumni Society. Blanchard is responsible for advanced project management and leads cross-functional teams to success. Prior to Logistics Health Incorporated, Kris was employed a Riverside Electronics’ as a business development director. Blanchard is active in many community organizations including The Great River Shakespeare Festival, and Big Brothers/Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region.
 John Killen President / CEO at WinCraft Incorporated

John Killen, a member of the WSU college of Business Advisory Board, is President and CEO of WinCraft Incorporated, a corporate sponsor of the College of the College of Business.

Established 56 years ago, WinCraft, a Winona based, privately held domestic manufacturing company employs over 670 people. WinCraft holds more than 600 retail licensing agreements featuring the NFL, Major League Baseball, NHL, NBA, NCAA, NASCAR, the USOC, Major League Soccer, colleges, all the player associations and niche sport properties throughout North America. WinCraft is a manufacturer of more than 30 product families for these leagues.

John is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has spent 28 years with WinCraft and 4 years at NBA Properties as the Director and Group Manager of Promotions.