Our Team

Chris Thomas - Co-Founder & President
Chris Thomas
Co-Founder & President

Chris Thomas is a Co-Founder of the Detroit Mobility Lab, an entity dedicated to helping Detroit become one of the world’s foremost future mobility ecosystems. Prior to the Detroit Mobility Lab he co-founded Fontinalis Partners and worked to build it into one of the premier investment firms in next-generation mobility. While at Fontinalis Chris served as a Board Member for nuTonomy (acquired by Aptiv in October 2017) and Karamba Security and as a Board Observer at Ouster, Life360, and SmartKargo. Prior to Fontinalis Chris served in the U.S. Army as a Communications Officer in the U.S. and Iraq. Before joining the military, Chris worked as an Investment Banker at UBS within its Technology and Energy groups in New York and San Francisco.

Additionally, Chris serves as an Executive in Residence for Mobility at the Quicken Loans Community Fund, a Senior Advisor to the COMMIT Foundation, a member of the Global Cleantech 100 expert panel, and a member of the Techweek Detroit Advisory Board. He is also a Co-Owner of Buddy's Pizza, the birthplace of original Detroit-style pizza, and an avid angel investor. Chris has previously served as the Chairman of Read to a Child, a national children’s literacy and mentoring nonprofit, and as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Personal Transportation Systems.

Chris earned his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management. While at Yale he served on the Honor Committee and graduated with distinction in former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s seminar on Faith and Globalization. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Economics and International Relations from Michigan State University. Chris is a resident of the City of Detroit where he lives with his wife and sons. He is a staunch advocate of connected communities, early childhood literacy, and the doctrine of the strenuous life.

Jessica Robinson
Jessica Robinson
Executive Director, Michigan Mobility Institute

Jessica Robinson is Executive Director of the Michigan Mobility Institute where she works to accelerate the development of talent for the growing mobility industry. Starting in 2021, the Michigan Mobility Institute will offer the first-of-its-kind Master of Mobility program. The Institute is the first initiative of the Detroit Mobility Lab which she co-founded to focus on building the mobility talent infrastructure necessary to shape the sector’s future within the City of Detroit.

Jessica previously led the development of next-generation mobility efforts at Ford Smart Mobility where she was Director, City Solutions, a group focused on working with cities. This field-based team worked to understand local priorities and to identify new mobility solutions to meet current and future transportation needs. An early leader in the mobility industry, she scaled Zipcar’s innovative car sharing model as Seattle Marketing Manager, San Francisco Bay Area Locations Manager, and in new cities and airports in North America as Market Launch Manager.

In recognition of her public-private work, Jessica was named a 2017 Next City Vanguard, a competitive distinction for top young urban innovators working to make change in cities. She is Advisory Board Chair for PlanetM, an initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, set up to create a partnership of mobility organizations, communities, educational institutions, R&D, and government working together to connect Michigan with those working on innovations that will define the future of transportation.

Jessica’s background in technology and innovation includes prior work launching startup accelerator programs at Techstars with industry-leading corporate partners to further a global ecosystem focused on empowering entrepreneurs. She is an active startup mentor, advisor to the student-run Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund at the University of Michigan, and micro lender who invests in women entrepreneurs and business owners in Detroit.

Jessica graduated with highest honors from the University of Massachusetts with a BA in Anthropology and brings an unexpected perspective to the challenges that fall at the intersection of mobility and technology.

Advisory Board

This group plays a central role in enabling the Michigan Mobility Institute to deliver on our vision of designing training for the new jobs that will be created within the mobility industry. These distinguished thought leaders come from a range of disciplines within engineering and business. They are all leading practitioners who are teaching, building, and investing at the cutting edge of mobility technology. Their combined experience represents innovations in autonomous driving, vehicle deployment, aerospace engineering, and urban air travel.

Karl Iagnemma
Dr. Karl Iagnemma - President, nuTonomy (an Aptiv Company)

 

Karl Iagnemma is Co-Founder of Boston-based nuTonomy, Inc., the leading developer of autonomous vehicle software, and President of Aptiv’s Autonomous Mobility division. Karl is a recognized authority on robotics and autonomous vehicles. As former director of the Robotic Mobility Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), his research resulted in more than 150 technical publications, 50 issued or filed patents, and numerous edited volumes, including books on the DARPA Grand Challenge and Urban Challenge autonomous vehicle competitions. Karl was named one of 2017’s “Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs” by Goldman Sachs and designated a member of the 2017 “Recode 100” list of technology influencers.

Karl holds MS and PhD degrees from MIT, where he was a National Science Foundation fellow, and a BS from the University of Michigan, where he graduated first in his class. Karl is also an award-winning author of fiction whose novels and short stories have been translated into seven languages.

Alisyn Malek
Alisyn Malek - COO & Co-Founder, May Mobility

Alisyn Malek is the COO and Co-Founder of May Mobility, Inc. May Mobility is developing and deploying self-driving technology to transform transportation. By starting with the best first market–low-speed shuttles for public roadways–May Mobility is launching turnkey transportation services now and establishing a ground game that will propel the company into larger markets.

She was formerly the head of the innovation pipeline at General Motors. Prior to that role, she was an investment manager at GM Ventures. During her tenure there, she led investment in the autonomous space, including the early negotiations with Cruise Automation, helping to cement GM’s autonomous strategy. As an automotive engineer, she led a global team to develop SAE Level 3 charging technology for GM’s Spark and Bolt EV products, as well as supporting release of electrical components for the first generation Chevy Volt.

Ms. Malek holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and master’s degree in Energy Systems Engineering from the University of Michigan, as well as an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.  Ms. Malek was recognized as a top ten female innovator to watch by Smithsonian in 2018, named a top automotive professional under 35 to watch by LinkedIn in 2015 for her work in cutting-edge product development and corporate venture, and identified as a Crain’s Detroit 20 in their 20’s awardee for her work in engineering and deployment of advanced charging systems.

Anita Sengupta
Dr. Anita Sengupta - Chief Product Officer, Airspace Experience Technologies

 

Dr. Anita Sengupta is a rocket scientist and aerospace engineer who for over 20 years has been developing technologies that have enabled the exploration of Mars, Asteroids, and Deep Space. She started her career working on the launch vehicles and communications satellites at Boeing Space and Communications. Next her journey took her to the forefront of the US space program. At NASA her doctoral research focused the developing the ion engines that powered the Dawn spacecraft to reach Vesta and Ceres in the main asteroid belt launched in 2006. She was then responsible for the supersonic parachute system that was integral to the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars in 2012. From 2012 to 2017 she managed and led the development of the Cold Atom Laboratory, a laser-cooling quantum physics facility for the International Space Station.

Her next engineering role  took her to the private sector as a senior executive leading the development of an in-vacuum, magnetically levitating, electrically propelled high-speed transportation system known as the hyperloop. She led the product planning, systems architecture, regulatory compliance, and human safety certification as Senior Vice President of Engineering Systems at Virgin Hyperloop.

Her current venture is leading the development of a hybrid-electric, Vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) urban aerial mobility system as Chief Product Officer (CPO) of Airspace Experience Technologies (ASX). With the development of an emission-free VTOL aircraft, Anita and the team at ASX hope to revolutionize urban transit and bring about a key technology for the smart cities of the future. She believes that high-tech solutions to transportation, can reduce our carbon foot print and combat climate change.

Dr. Sengupta is also a Research Associate Professor at the University of Southern California. She teaches the only Entry Descent and Landing class on the West Coast for Graduate students in the Astronautics and Space Technology Department. She is also a professional public speaker and STEM outreach advocate. She keynotes events around the world sharing with audiences her personal and professional experiences of Engineering the Red Planet and the Future of Green Transportation.

In her spare time she is an avid private pilot, motorcyclist, runner, snow boarder, bicyclist, and science fiction enthusiast.

Marc Weiser
Marc Weiser - Managing Director, RPM Ventures

Marc Weiser is Managing Director of RPM Ventures, a Midwest and Silicon Valley-based seed and early stage venture firm focused on B2B & B2B2C internet and mobile startups, with $200M in assets under management. For RPM, Weiser specializes in investing in Automotive, Mobility, and Transportation startups. Over the last 15 years he has served on over 20 boards of directors and currently sits on the boards of: BountyJobs, the leading contingency recruiting marketplace; Mobi, a machine learning, multi-modal, dynamic route planning system for smart mobility; and Polysync, a cloud based platform & operating system for the development of autonomous vehicles.

In addition to his board roles for RPM, Weiser is Vice-Chair of McKinley, Inc., one of the largest private real estate companies in the US. Marc is also a member the National Advisory Council, Science Committee for NASA, and is on the board of the James Beard Foundation. Previously he was a founding member of the board of the Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) and Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan where he was also on the board of the Wolverine Venture Fund. Marc also served on the Board of Trustees of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. He is the recipient of the University of Michigan Alumni Distinguished Service Award for his efforts in founding the CFE, the TechArb (student accelerator), and the Masters in Entrepreneurship program.

Marc graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan with a BSE in aerospace engineering and an MBA with highest honors. He lives in San Francisco, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife, daughter, and son.