Kristel Smith serves as an Executive Director at Eastern Kentucky University. Her specific role includes serving as Director for both the Kentucky Innovation Network at Richmond and the EKU Business & Technology Accelerator. In her roles, Ms. Smith has assisted hundreds of companies and prepares businesses, communities, and industry clusters for strategic growth and development. She creates business models, and integrates innovation and intellectual property to deliver solid financial business positioning and growth. Kristel is skilled in developing key partnerships, advisory boards, and educational models for startups, businesses, and other organizations. Entrepreneurial in experience and thinking, Kristel connects universities, communities, businesses, and government leaders. Her educational background includes a bachelor of computer science, an MBA, and an international economics study at the School of Economics in Austria. She completed Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaching and Leadership Institute (Scotland) administered by the University of Kentucky and Venture Capital Institute at Emory University, and has several certifications, including as FastTrac administrator and facilitator through the Kaufmann Foundation, as well as, through the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA). Among other accomplishments, her strong background and experience at Procter & Gamble and IBM, and various boards and community service projects provide Kristel with a well-rounded and exceptional ability to analyze, lead and position organizations for growth and change. She serves on the Kentucky Commission for Small Business Advocacy, as well as other small business and work force councils.
Cassie Williams joined the CEDET staff in June 2009 as the administrative assistant. Cassie comes from a background that identifies with the point of view of a small business entrepreneur, as she was employed by a small "Mom & Pop" family owned photography studio in Lexington, Ky. for 25 years. In addition to her administrative experience, customer relation skills and an appreciation of the importance of the entrepreneur, she brings a background rich in portraiture as a photographer for the studio. She received several awards from the Kentucky and National Professional Photographers Association as one of the youngest recipients. One of her Pet Portrait images was part of a traveling exhibit with the PPA which hung, at one point, at the Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida. In addition, she was the creator and editor of a small Women's magazine and has several writings in progress which she hopes to have published someday.
Jason Rainey joined the Kentucky Small Business Development Center at Eastern Kentucky University as Director in 2014 with a passion for the people of east Kentucky and more than a decade of experience in lending environments. He has a diverse background that includes strong experience in financial lending as well as business management consulting and training. His personal experience as a small business owner allows for a unique perspective as he assists SBDC clients with their own business planning and analysis.
During his time with USDA Rural Development, Jason worked in a leadership role with distribution of the American Recovery Reinvestment Act Business & Industry loan program monies, totaling $59.6 million dollars directly invested into Kentucky businesses to save and create jobs. He also served as the lead Business-Cooperative Loan Specialist in Eastern Kentucky serving 23 counties.
Jason earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and a Master in Business Administration from Morehead State University and currently serves as President-Elect of the MSU Alumni Association, Inc. He is a former Board of Regents member and Student Government President at Morehead State University and former gubernatorial appointee for the State Board for Proprietary Education. Jason resides in Lexington.