Thom is a pioneer in advancing entrepreneurship as means to economic independence for anyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status, education, ethnicity or gender. Entrepreneurship education is a general education for a life worth living.
As CEO and President of the NC IDEA Foundation, Thom is leveraging 20 years as an entrepreneur and over a decade of work in entrepreneurial driven economic development. Capitalizing on the many programmatic accomplishments during his tenure at the Kauffman Foundation, JumpStart, and The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, Thom is now working with communities around the world to reap the benefits of democratizing entrepreneurship.
While at the Kauffman Foundation (7 years) he directed the Foundation’s programs addressing entrepreneurial education, mentoring, access to capital and fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems; which included: The Ice House (Mindset) Entrepreneurship Program, ID8 Nation, 1Million Cups, Founders School, Investor IQ, Entrepreneurship.ORG, and more. Thom also lead Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, a community resource for experiential-based entrepreneurial education.
Ruhe serve/d/s in a variety of board and advisory capacities including: The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Fostering Entrepreneurship, Board of Advisers for The Kenan Institute of Free Enterprise at UNC and is a founding trustee for Innovation Fund America.
Thom was the founding chief marketing officer (CMO) for JumpStart, a nonprofit economic development organization and seed stage investment fund created to invest in and accelerate the growth of high-potential, early-stage companies in northeast Ohio. Before JumpStart, Ruhe served as president of Optiem LLC, where he led the growth of a nascent marketing practice to a nationally recognized interactive marketing, communications, and public relations agency. Earlier experience spans founding several entrepreneurial endeavors.
Thom has been quoted and published in: NYTimes, WSJ, Forbes, Inc., and more. Thom has spoken and participated in a variety of functions all over the world including the United Nations, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (Vatican), the USPTO, NACCE, AACC, USASBE, and GEW.
As a world-renowned expert on entrepreneurship, Thom Ruhe is available for speaking engagements and related functions. Past engagements have included speaking at the United Nations General Assembly (New York), the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (Rome), the Global Entrepreneurs Congress (Rio de Janeiro), Creative Business Cup (Copenhagen), Get in the Ring (Amsterdam), Disrupt (Athens), EBAN (Fez), USPTO (Washington DC), and many more.
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