the team

Leadership Team

We Believe In People Planet Profit

Founding Team

Gary Polk Sr

Gary L. Polk Sr., MS

Founder / CEO

Founder / CEO

Gary L. Polk, Sr. is an Adjunct Professor of Business Management, Ethics and Entrepreneurship at CSUDH (CA State University, Dominguez Hills) in Carson, CA. He began teaching at CSU, Northridge in 1991, and by 1993 found that teaching is his true passion.

Currently Gary serves as an independent Business Advisor with Pacific Coast Regional (PCR)/SBDC.  Gary is very well known in the entrepreneur eco-system encompassing L.A. County.  Gary has also served as Executive Director of two Business Incubators.  First for 2-years with the South Bay Entrepreneurial Center (SBEC).  He lead the SBEC from red ink to black ink in a great turnaround effort.  Gary was the Founder and first Executive Director of the Innovation Incubator @ CSUDH. After three great years in 2019 he returned to teaching full time   Gary has served as a CEO Coach as Founder of Polk Consulting.  A former Banker, District Financial Services Sales Manager, and Women’s College Basketball Coach/Recruiting Coordinator. He has 40 years of practitioner experience to go along with this education background.

Gary is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, BA-Marketing/Finance (C’78) and CSUDH, MS-Administration (C’83).  His academic areas of research includes Strategic Management, Ethics, and Entrepreneurship.

Gary was recently honored with the NFTE 2020 National Volunteer of the Year Award….and his wife Claudine.

Gary is blessed to have 5-grandkids, 3-adult kids, 2-dogs, and 1 Wife. He resides in the South Bay region of Los Angeles.

Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were going to die tomorrow, Learn as if you were going to live forever” and this encapsulates Gary’s very positive view on life.


Michael S. Manahan


Co-Founder / Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Manahan is an educator, financial strategist, author and financial executive. During his successful career as a financial executive and consultant Mr. Manahan developed a keen interest in organizational structure and design, and the role that it plays in organizational success. Consequently in 2006 Mr. Manahan enrolled at Pepperdine University in the doctorate of organization change program completing all the coursework except his dissertation. He received his masters of business administration from Pepperdine in 1992.


Co-Founder/Public Relations

Formerly an actress and model, Blaine established The Blaine Group, a Beverly
Hillsbased fullservice communications agency specializing in public relations, investor relations, crisis management, marketing, and advertising, in 1975. Since that time, the agency has expanded dramatically, creating communications campaigns for clients in diverse fields.

Besides helping other businesses maximize their success, Blaine has long been active in
numerous organizations that aid entrepreneurs, thus earning her reputation as “the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur” and winning awards for The Blaine Group’s efforts along the way.

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

Director, Cohort Recruiting/ Development

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.