the team

Leadership Team

We Believe In People Planet Profit

Founding Team

Gary L. Polk Sr., MS

Founder / CEO

Founder / CEO

Gary L. Polk, Sr. is a distinguished Adjunct Professor of Business Management, Ethics, and Entrepreneurship at CSUDH (California State University, Dominguez Hills) located in Carson, CA. He discovered his true passion for teaching in 1991 when he began instructing at CSU, Northridge, and has been an influential figure in the academic community ever since.

Currently, Gary serves as an independent Business Advisor at Pacific Coast Regional (PCR)/SBDC, where he is a well-known figure in the entrepreneur ecosystem that encompasses L.A. County.  Moreover, he has served as the Executive Director of two business incubators. Firstly, for two years, he successfully turned around the South Bay Entrepreneurial Center (SBEC), leading it from red ink to black ink. Secondly, Gary was the Founder and first Executive Director of the Innovation Incubator @ CSUDH, where he served for three years before returning to full-time teaching in 2019. Additionally, he also serves as a Coach and CEO / Founder of Polk Consulting. Gary’s background in banking, District Financial Services Sales Management, and Women’s College Basketball Coaching/Recruiting Coordination spans 40 years of practitioner experience.

Gary received his Bachelor of Arts in Marketing/Finance from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, and his Master of Science in Administration from CSUDH. His academic areas of research include Strategic Management, Ethics, and Entrepreneurship. Recently, Gary was honored with the NFTE 2020 National Volunteer of the Year Award, along with his wife, Claudine.

Gary has been blessed with a loving family, which includes his wife, five grandchildren, three adult children, and two dogs. He currently resides in the South Bay region of Los Angeles. Gandhi’s quote, “Live as if you were going to die tomorrow, Learn as if you were going to live forever,” encapsulates Gary’s positive outlook on life.


Michael S. Manahan


Co-Founder / CFO

Michael S. Manahan is a financial strategist, consultant, and full-time professor at California State Dominguez Hills. He has over 30 years of experience in the financial industry, having served as the chief financial officer for three publicly traded companies and started and owned seven small businesses. He is a graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Financial Management and has earned an MBA from Pepperdine University, as well as a CPA (non-active) in Canada. Mr. Manahan has also completed all coursework for a Doctorate in Organizational Change at Pepperdine University (ABD).

As an advisor, Mr. Manahan has worked with more than 150 management teams and has co-founded the Polk Institute Foundation. He is the author of “The Secrets to Raising Capital,” “The Key to Landing a Job – The Interview,” and “The Secrets to Job Success.” Mr. Manahan is also the former host of Biz Rap Radio show and podcast and has been featured and quoted on financial websites such as Yahoo Finance, WalletHub, MoneyGeek, and The Motley Fool for his advice on personal finance and his work with the Polk Institute.

In addition to his extensive experience and publications, Mr. Manahan is dedicated to educating the CEOs and CFOs of the future as a teacher of finance and accounting at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Devon Blaine

Public Relations

Co-Founder / PR

Devon Blaine is a professional communicator with vast experience in all aspects of the industry. Formerly an actress, model, and stunt driver, Blaine founded The Blaine Group, Inc., a full-service communications agency based in Beverly Hills, California, in 1975.

The agency specializes in creating comprehensive public relations campaigns and marketing strategies, as well as providing stand-alone services. Blaine has been responsible for overseeing the implementation of consumer, trade, and financial public relations campaigns, investor relations, advertising efforts, and marketing strategy, including conducting market research, for a diverse range of companies and organizations.

Blaine’s agency has an award-winning track record in serving the needs of emerging companies and major corporations alike. In addition to her business achievements, Blaine is also actively involved in entrepreneurial organizations such as LAVA, where she serves as a Director for 18 years.

Blaine is a frequent speaker on topics such as branding, marketing, and public relations. Her agency has created and managed special events, fundraisers, and community relations projects. In 2012, Blaine was named Book Publicist of the Year by Book Publicists of Southern California for her agency’s international campaign on behalf of Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust by Ken Scott and Bobby Owsinski.

Blaine’s knowledge gained from venture-building is incorporated into the philosophy of The Blaine Group. Her reputation as “the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur” is well-earned, and she continues to provide expert guidance to businesses of all sizes.

Alix Williams II

Director of Talent Acquisition

Co-Founder/Director of Talent Acquisition

My passion lies in utilizing my combined experience as a senior recruiter and spiritual leader to help early to mid-career professionals navigate their career, and ultimately experience a meaningful life. Over the course of my career as a recruiter, I’ve succeeded in helping over 700 people to take strides forward in their career. The majority of the people that I have worked with find themselves at a crossroads on their path. The college senior, the recently laid-off young professional who isn’t sure what to do next, the mid-career professional who has been working the same job for eight years and seeks change.

Erin Thompson talking about polk-ise

Grecia R. Iniguez

Associate Director, Talent / Rec

Erin Thompson

Chief of Global Partnerships

Co-Founder/ Chief of Global Partnerships

Erin Thompson is Special Projects Manager for Inner City Law Center and Program Manager for Homeful.LA – a non-profit law firm that focuses on housing and benefits cases and a program that promotes opportunities for both lawyers and non-lawyers in Los Angeles County to volunteer, advocate and donate towards ending homelessness. Erin is founder of her own entrepreneurial endeavors including E3 Enterprises LLC., an edutainment production company, and The S Word Project, which created safe spaces for hundreds of teens in LA and Chicago to talk about sex and relationships. Erin is currently an adjunct Professor of Social Entrepreneurship for Loyola Marymount University’s College of Business Administration – MBA Program. Her passion is to cause leaders and have them be educated, engaged and inspired. She is also a Chicago Bears Football fan.

Timothy Dura

Chief Operating Officer

Co-Founder / Chief Operations Officer

Tim received two B.Sci. Degrees from North Dakota State University and an M Ed/Bus degree from Chapman University. He served and retired as a command fighter pilot in the USAF, after 22 years. Tim started and operated three diverse businesses including a catering operation, a dinner theater and a regional airline. He then began a 20-year teaching career and got involved with teaching entrepreneurship. Tim’s program was extremely successful sending 6 businesses to the NFTE National Business Plan Competition in New York City during the 7 years he taught entrepreneurship. Tim retired from teaching in 2018 and after a 5 year friendship with Gary, became involved with the Polk Institute.


Claudine Pacheco Polk

Chief of Staff / Director of Candidate Success

Jason Clark

Director of Branding and Market Support

Co-Founder/Director of Branding and Market Support

Creative Director Jason Clark is a multi-talented visual wizard. As an art director and graphic designer and Professional Photographer, Jason has over 30 years of professional experience in all areas of corporate branding, marketing design, publication design, advertising, commercial photography and conceptual development, design and production.