Four local experts to judge WSU STEAM Challenge Final Pitch Competition

As Wayne State student teams prepare to compete for $25,000 in cash prizes at the 2020 STEAM Challenge Final Pitch Competition, challenge organizers welcome four judges who will be responsible for evaluating proposals on how well each student team addressed this year’s STEAM Challenge theme of “Innovating Change and Developing Solutions Toward a Just Society.” 

Organized by the School of Social Work and the Mike Ilitch School of Business, this year’s WSU STEAM Challenge brought interdisciplinary student teams together to identify a real-world problem or issue in Detroit. Teams were tasked with pitching ideas for a project-based solution that uses an interdisciplinary approach. The culmination of this process is the final pitch competition, which is being conducted virtually due to COVID-19/coronavirus precautions.

This round is the final opportunity for the top six interdisciplinary student teams, representing eight schools and colleges, to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges. The top three teams, which will be announced in early April, will split $25,000 in cash prizes to launch their social ventures and improve the lives of Detroiters.

Check out the final six pitch videos and summaries on the STEAM Challenge website.

This year’s panel of final judges includes Erin Bonahoom, Romy Kochan, Rishi Moudgil and Shannon D. Smith.

Erin Bonahoom


Erin Bonahoom is the founder of Canvas Legal PLC, a law practice based in Detroit that is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal services to established businesses, start-ups and nonprofits in Southeast Michigan. Bonahoom spends most of her time working with business owners on the challenges and opportunities they encounter, which she understands first-hand as a business owner. She also partners with a number of organizations in the City of Detroit to provide free and low-cost legal education workshops to assist small business owners and nonprofits with the legal foundations necessary to start and operate their business. Bonahoom is a facilitator and co-chair of the board of directors for the Build Institute in Detroit, a nonprofit focused on economic development empowering the citizens of Detroit and other cities to start their own businesses. She was previously an attorney at one of Detroit’s largest corporate law firms for almost a decade where she represented and counseled national corporations, government entities and small businesses.

Romy Kochan


Romy Kochan is the president and CEO of the Gingras Global family of companies. Gingras Global companies all focus on sustainability and standards for social enterprise and impact investing. Gingras Global is based in Michigan serving a local and global clientele. Kochan has authored publications on impact investing for social enterprise and is a frequent guest speaker. She is also the host of the popular podcast show Bonfires of Social Enterprise, followed in more than 100 countries. Prior to the 2011 Gingras Global launch, Kochan spent 23 years in the financial industry of public investing. She has a strong expertise in investment and financial planning methodologies. Kochan obtained a finance degree from Northern Michigan University in 1990. She then went on to obtain a CLU designation from the American College and a Certified Financial Planning designation from the College of Financial Planning.

Rishi Moudgil


Rishi Moudgil became the founding executive director of GreenLight Fund Detroit in 2017. He was the founder and managing director of the University of Michigan (U-M) Center for Social Impact at the Ross School of Business and previously led U-M’s Nonprofit and Public Management Center. Moudgil has coached, advised and funded multiple social enterprises and nonprofit boards, and he was a management consultant for large educational institutions. Moudgil led the Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest to launch start-up businesses across the state of Michigan and founded K-grams Inc., a national mentoring nonprofit for college and elementary students. He has been named an American Express Next Gen fellow with Independent Sector, Chicago Public Education Fund venture philanthropy fellow and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Grand Angel. As a filmmaker, Moudgil has led storytelling projects across platforms that also leverage social action. He earned his B.B.A., M.B.A. and M.A. in educational studies all from U-M.

Shannon Smith


Shannon D. Smith is a banker associate for JPMorgan Chase & Co. and an experienced professional with a demonstrated expertise in the financial services industry. Previously, Smith was a global philanthropy associate for JPMorgan Chase & Co., focused on supporting organizations addressing major economic and social challenges by expanding opportunity and driving more inclusive economic growth. He also served as a co-chair for the firm’s Equity & Inclusion working group. Prior to working at JP Morgan Chase & Co, Smith was an analyst for the Federal Reserve System, 7th District, where he launched the Detroit Economic Development Challenge, a competition in which Southeast Michigan high school students propose solutions to economic challenges facing Detroit. Smith is very involved in the community. He is currently treasurer for Detroit Young Professionals (DYP), where he spearheaded the #DetroitYouthVote initiative, which focused on educating and engaging millennial voters in the local voting process. He is also a board member of Black Family Development, Inc., Water Access Volunteer Effort, TechTown and Community Advocates of Detroit. Smith was most recently appointed to the Human Rights Commission (The Board for the Civil Rights Inclusion & Opportunity office) by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. On the Human Rights Commission, he chairs the Minority Business Inclusion sub-committee where he works with the CRIO staff to build out a platform for small businesses to find information and to obtain access to capital, technical assistance and procurement opportunities. A Detroit native, Smith attended Detroit Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and went on to attend the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor where he studied political science and economics.

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