Law and real estate expert Nelson Del Rio is taking on a new role at Seattle startup Blokable, one of last year’s Seattle 10 companies. Del Rio, who co-founded the startup and has served as an advisor since its launch, joined the company as a co-CEO alongside co-founder and co-CEO Aaron Holm.
Holm will continue to lead production and technology at Blokable, which is developing a modular housing system to build affordable housing at scale. Del Rio will oversee design, building efficiency and “evolving the antiquated, often broken residential housing development process to Blokable’s new delivery and operation platform,” according to a release from the company. He will also retain his position as a member of the company’s board of directors.
“After working with Aaron as a close adviser for almost two years, it became clear that the two of us working closely together represented a unique blend of backgrounds and skills required to radically change the existing housing development and ownership paradigm,” Del Rio told GeekWire in an email interview.
Del Rio’s background gives a clue to Blokable’s future plans in the real estate world. He pioneered public-private partnerships for handling government-occupied commercial buildings that brought together government entities, nonprofits and commercial developers. Now, Blokable says, he’s bringing the same expertise to residential real estate.
Del Rio said that the current crisis around affordable housing in cities, particularly those facing fast growth like Seattle, will be important to Blokable’s future.
“Without the creation of a scalable solution to the current housing dilemma, middle/low/no income citizens will eventually become renters at best and homeless at worse,” he said. “As communities attempt to address the crisis, many will resort to temporary shelters, tents, tiny homes, and other sub-par or economically unsustainable solutions. We are at a tipping point, we either solve the issue at the base of all individual and community growth now or likely lose the opportunity forever.”
— Former Starbucks and Waggener Edstrom exec Corey duBrowa is leaving his executive role at Salesforce to join Google. DuBrowa confirmed the move in a tweet after it was reported by PRWeek.
DuBrowa spent much of his career in Oregon, including almost ten years as the president of account services for public relations firm Waggener Edstrom. He then spent more than six years as the SVP of global communications at Starbucks at its headquarters in Seattle before joining Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco as its chief communications officer last year.
At Google, duBrowa will serve as vice president of global communications and public affairs, reporting directly to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Both Google and Salesforce are ramping up their presence in the Seattle area with fast-growing offices.
— Enterprise software training company Skilljar tapped former ExtraHop and LiveStories executive Samuel Sunderaraj as its new vice president of sales.
Sunderaraj joins Skilljar from Seattle-based data visualization company LiveStories, where he was the VP of growth operations. He was previously the VP of inside sales at Seattle-based IT analytics company ExtraHop Networks.
Sunderaraj’s addition comes less than a month after Skilljar closed its $16.4 million Series A funding round.
— Avanade, a professional services company formed jointly by Microsoft and Accenture, hired tech executive Mark Livingston to spearhead an expansion of the company’s advisory services with a focus on AI.
Livingston was most recently the EVP of business consulting at IT services company Cognizant and previously spent 13 years at management consultant A.T. Kearney. At Avanade, he will lead the company’s advisory services to assist clients through digital transformations, with a particular mind to new AI technologies.
“Digital transformation is hard and organizations need help to ready for the AI-inspired world,” Avanade CEO Adam Warby said in a press release. “As an agile, design-led practice, Avanade Advisory Services is ideally positioned to help clients with a bold new approach. Mark has the rare experience required to rapidly scale the business and optimize the digital and technology capabilities we bring to market.”
— Ramkumar Krishnan, a longtime energy executive and current CTO at NantEnergy, is the newest entrepreneur-in-residence at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, an open-access facility for developing and testing energy devices and systems at the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute.
Krishnan first joined NantEnergy (formerly Fluidic Energy) in 2008 and became the company’s CTO in 2013. The company now provides electricity services to millions of people in communities in Southeast Asia and Latin America, particularly those with difficult operating environments.
At Testbeds, Krishnan will mentor and advise early-stage cleantech startup companies and entrepreneurs, including through office hours open to the public.
— AI company Suplari appointed tech executive Brad DePew as its new SVP of sales, field operations and account management. The news comes after Suplari raised $10.3 million last week and unveiled its AI-fueled business software efficiency product.
DePew joins the company from IT company Applause, where he was the vice president of sales. He formerly held executive sales positions at Seattle companies Scout Analytics and ClipCard. His appointment was announced by executive search firm The Laurel Group.
— Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced that Dr. Jay Mendoza, a physician and public health researcher, is taking the helm as the director of the its Health Disparities Research Center. Mendoza will also become the associate director for two related programs: The Minority Health and Health Disparities program at the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium, and the Hutch’s Cancer Prevention Program.
In the roles, Mendoza will lead cancer outreach and education efforts in much of Western Washington with the goal of improving cancer-related public health efforts in the region. The programs particularly focus on at-risk populations, including those from rural areas, those of low-income, minorities, the LGBTQ community and the elderly.
“Our focus will be to connect Hutch and Consortium researchers with communities and community groups to reduce the cancer burden throughout the 13-county catchment area that we serve,” Mendoza said in a press release. “The Hutch already has a very impressive research portfolio and research accomplishments. What we’re going to do is extend those accomplishments and benefits to all populations in the catchment area, especially those who’ve had a difficult time connecting with the Hutch and the Cancer Consortium.”