Key Hires and Staff Moves Strengthen the Position of the URI Research Foundation in Supporting RI Economic Growth

Home / Blog / Key Hires and Staff Moves Strengthen the Position of the URI Research Foundation in Supporting RI Economic Growth

by | Sep 28, 2020

Providence, RI – September 28, 2020 – The URI Research Foundation (URIRF) is evolving and expanding with the hiring of two executives and the transition of two leaders into new roles. The moves will strengthen URIRF’s initiatives including Polaris MEP, Rhode Island’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and 401 Tech Bridge, the recently-launched Materials and Technology Innovation center. The staffing changes also strategically improve the ability of URIRF to partner with companies to commercialize technologies created by University of Rhode Island faculty, employees and students.

“The URI Research Foundation has enjoyed significant growth over the past five years, which can be attributed to our exceptional staff,” said Michael Katz, Executive Director, URIRF. “We are looking forward to building on that growth in a way that further strengthens Rhode Island’s manufacturing sector.”

Polaris MEP Center Director, Kathie Mahoney

Kathie Mahoney

Katz detailed the latest URIRF staff moves:

  • Kathie Mahoney, most recently the Center Director for MassMEP, joins Polaris MEP as Center Director;
  • Christian Cowan, formerly Center Director for Polaris MEP, is assuming the new roles of URIRF Chief Operating Officer and 401 Tech Bridge Executive Director;
  • Mary Johnson, former Growth & Strategy Manager for Polaris MEP, has been promoted to Manager of 401 Tech Bridge; and
  • Jackie Mazza joins 401 Tech Bridge as Director of Finance.


“Kathie Mahoney brings a wealth of knowledge to the Polaris MEP program at a critical time,” said Cowan. “Her innovative ideas and national connections will be an asset as the MEP center supports the economic recovery of Rhode Island and its manufacturing base”

Polaris MEP, the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), was transferred to the URI Research Foundation in 2014. The non-profit consultancy works with manufacturing companies, supplying continuous improvement, technology acceleration and workforce services that yield significant impacts. In 2019, results generated with Rhode Island manufacturers included $132M in increased revenue, $12M in savings, and 962 new/retained jobs.


URIRF recently established 401 Tech Bridge as a Rhode Island non-profit. 401 Tech Bridge connects manufacturers, small businesses, research and development entities, trade organizations and state and defense agencies to collaborate in the development of new advanced materials, technologies and products for the purposes of commercialization and economic growth.

“Christian Cowan and Mary Johnson are already expanding collaboration among the defense sector, academia and innovative businesses. This is a natural evolution of their roles as connectors and innovators,” said Katz. “We also expect that Christian, in the role of COO, will make it easier for companies to access URI’s extraordinary research services and facilities.”

Jackie Mazza most recently served as Vice President of Finance for Rhode Island Child and Family services. Her career includes work with grants and defense-related manufacturers. “We are excited to draw on Jackie’s mix of public and private experience to support 401 Tech Bridge multi-sector collaborations,” said Cowan.

“The additions of Kathie, Jackie, and Mary continue to round out our organization,” said Katz. “Combined with Christian’s progression, this puts the URI Research Foundation in a strong position to best support the economic growth of Rhode Island through technology and innovation.”


About URI Research Foundation

The URI Research Foundation (d/b/a URI Ventures) is a 501(c)(3) organization established by state statue in 2007 the support scientific research, education, technology commercialization and economic development on behalf of the University of Rhode Island.

About Polaris MEP

Polaris MEP provides competitive business improvement programs to grow Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry. Polaris MEP is a statewide nonprofit organization. An affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the consultancy is a business unit of the URI Research Foundation.

About 401 Tech Bridge

401 Tech Bridge accelerates the journey from concept to prototype to commercial scale while creating business opportunities. The 401 Tech Bridge is a business unit of The University of Rhode Island Research Foundation and serves as a partner intermediary organization for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, supporting the Naval X Northeast Tech Bridge. It receives support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, The Rhode Island Foundation, and the Van Beuren Charitable Foundation.


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