Each of our judges brings with them a unique perspective on business and entrepreneurship and we are grateful to them for their help with GRIT Awards.

Stephen Candelmo

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Stephen Candelmo has over 27 years of experience representing private and public companies in all stages of growth as a corporate attorney, advisor, entrepreneur and investor. He is named as an inventor on several patents and was a co-founder of both Fedbid and Synapsify, two venture backed software firms. As a result of this experience, he is well versed in the business, financial, and legal issues facing emerging companies and their investors. Stephen is a graduate of the University of Maryland (College Park), University of Akron School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center.

Lucas Chaya del Pino

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Lucas Chaya del Pino is the head of Dell for Startups at Dell Technologies. He leads a team that supports entrepreneurs and startups with resources that help them grow and scale their technology. Lucas is originally from Argentina, where he launched several ventures in the coffee industry before moving to the US to pursue an MBA from Duke University. Lucas was a professional rally race car driver for seven years and enjoys practicing and watching motorsports. He lives in Austin, TX, with his wife Flor and his two boys, Lucas Jr and Tomas.

Tim Crowley

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Tim Crowley is a native Austinite and a 40-year Austin Banker, joining Frost Bank in 1997 and currently serving as Regional President, Austin Region.  He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and of Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University. Crowley has served in numerous civic and economic development roles including chair of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce 2006, and chair of Opportunity Austin in 2010 and 2011. Crowley joined the Board of the Texas State History Museum Foundation in 2015 and served as its treasurer and now, Immediate Past President.  He is also a current board member of the Greater Austin Crime Commission, and a former Board Chair of Goodwill Industries of Central Texas. Tim and his wife, Carol, also a lifelong Austinite, have been active in numerous children’s causes with Tim having received Life Trustee of the Children's Medical Center Foundation of Central Texas (in support of Dell Childrens) after a decade of service, ending as Chair from 2011-2013. They were recognized as “Champions for Children” in 2013 by the Helping Hand Home Society, as well as being co-founders of the Children’s Hospital Council which has now raised over $15 million in support of Dell Children’s Medical Center.   Tim was also given the 2019 Distinguished Citizen Award by the Boy Scouts of America / Capitol Area Council. They are exceptionally proud of their two children, son, Chris and wife, Katie along with their children Covert, Charlie and Cate; as well as, daughter, Elizabeth Davis and husband, Connor, all of whom reside in Austin. 

Erin Gurak

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Erin Gurak is a social impact leader and community strategist based in Austin, Texas. In recent years, she served as District Director for Congressman Lloyd Doggett where she worked extensively with executives, policymakers, and community leaders to translate policy into action. In particular, Erin was integral in securing SBA loans to support small businesses and their recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Erin has been a nonprofit executive, a social issues and human rights advocate, and currently serves as a Partnerships Analyst at findhelp, a Certified B Corporation that connects people to the help they need with dignity and ease. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from Beloit College.

DeDe Halfhill

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DeDe Halfhill is no stranger to high-stress environments. As a veteran with over 25 years of command experience, she has held several pivotal roles, including advisor to the Department of Defense’s top leader, commander of Air Force bases in Barksdale and Iraq, national security fellow at Georgetown University, senior advisor to the Air Force chief of staff, and chief public affairs officer for the Thunderbirds. She is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and executive coach through Georgetown University’s Executive Leadership Coaching Program. DeDe holds a master’s degree in leadership from American Military University and a B.A. in Communications from the University of Iowa.