About Us

The Innovation Institute was founded around the principles of extreme collaboration, deep research, high energy, innovative thinking and the drive to cross the finish line. We launched with a few major projects, and since our inception have continued to hone our core skills: diving into the heart of the problem, swarming around the issues and testing and iterating into amazing solutions that stick.

Our team of collaborative professionals - made of the exceptionally creative and talented - blends the perspectives of designers, researchers, digital strategists and scientists. It’s that fusion of thinking that accelerates breakthroughs and sparks tomorrow’s innovation. These professionals lead new initiatives, while our launched units continue to innovate while serving students, faculty, staff and the entire state of Florida. Each of our units is focused on a unique set of challenges; together, they’re working to advance innovation and transformation at the University of West Florida and beyond.


Our Team

The Innovation Institute’s team works closely with a cohesive network of university partners to turn novel ideas into solutions that matter. Several team members trained at the Stanford d.School, IDEO and the INK Factory bringing world class experience in their discipline and work areas making engaging with us a wildly focused and creative experience.

Mike Dieckmann
Associate VP and CEO Florida Virtual Campus
Dr. Michelle Horton
Interim Assistant Vice President and Director Complete Florida
Dr. Dave Dawson
Research Scientist
Dr. Gerry Hoewing, VADM U.S. Navy (Retired)
Senior Advisor for Strategic Innovation
Nicole Gislason
Director, Office of Workforce and Industrial Innovation
Dr. Karen Rasmussen
Research and Innovation Administrator
Christian Garman
Director Program Development
Chris Middleton
Director Strategic Innovation
Ann Dziadon
Associate Director Innovative Programs
Preston Obray
Program Coordinator Career Education
Brian Butler
Multimedia Production Manager
Michaela Rodriguez
Graphic Designer
Fawnn Harnage
Director of Budgets & Administration
Sonia Davis
Administrative Specialist

Our Facilities

Our main UWF facility is housed in an old warehouse at the corner of Belmont and DeVilliers in downtown Pensacola. The entire space is designed for collaboration, brainstorming and creating. In addition to our primary space, we’ve also launched other innovation locations that are scattered throughout downtown Pensacola and on the main campus of the University of West Florida.