Pictured: Chinwe Ohanele (left) and Diane Sabato, Educator in Residence (right)

By Chinwe Ohanele

The recent National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) conference held in Nashville was nothing short of an exhilarating blend of innovation, inspiration, and invaluable networking. As a critical convener within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in higher education, NACCE’s annual conference brings together educators, nonprofits, and philanthropies—all dedicated to empowering student entrepreneurs. Continuing our near decade long relationship with the organization, The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property’s (Michelson IP’s) participation in this influential gathering marked a significant milestone in our journey to embed intellectual property education and knowledge in educational institutions nationwide.

Embracing Creative Entrepreneurship

This year’s conference theme, “The Beat of Collaboration,” perfectly encapsulated the spirit of innovation and creativity that defines entrepreneurship. The event organizers went above and beyond to curate an experience that not only provided valuable insights and learning opportunities, but also celebrated the artistic dimensions of entrepreneurial endeavors.

One of the highlights of the conference was the presence of a poet, capable of weaving words into poetry based on any given word in just a matter of minutes. This artistic performance served as a poignant reminder of the boundless creativity that lies within each entrepreneur, waiting to be unleashed. Moreover, for Michelson IP, it was a reminder of how quickly intellectual property is created in our digital world and presented a sense of urgency to our mission to ensure entrepreneurs are equipped with the information needed to protect and control the fruits of their creative labor.

The conference also featured a jam session room, a space where participants could express themselves and tap into their inner musicians. This unique addition to the conference’s agenda underscored the importance of embracing our creative instincts, fostering a sense of community and shared expression among the attendees. By allowing hobbyist, amateur, and professional musicians to explore together, we were all inspired to see the power of collaboration in creativity, and certainly in entrepreneurship.

Nashville, with its rich musical heritage and bustling creative scene, provided the perfect backdrop for a conference centered around entrepreneurship, especially the kind that encourages the artpreneur. The city’s vibrant energy and spirit of innovation permeated through the conference, infusing each session, workshop, and networking opportunity with a sense of possibility.

Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers

Michelson IP’s mission to ensure accessible intellectual property education aligns seamlessly with NACCE’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship within community colleges—so much so that we partnered with them at the beginning of our initiative. Over the years, this association has emerged as one of Michelson IP’s most invaluable allies, playing a crucial role in integrating our curriculum into hundreds of institutions across the nation.

The conference provided Michelson IP with an unparalleled platform to share our resources, best practices, and the tangible impact of our programs. We were honored to present alongside one of our esteemed educators in residence: Diane Sabato, Springfield Technical Community College. The program, launched in partnership with NACCE, was intended to encourage educators around the country to take Michelson IP materials and integrate them into their courses. The hope being that by integrating the materials, we would have viable use cases for future educators looking to augment their programs with IP materials. 

Springfield Technical Community College, a minority serving institution lead by Diane Sabato and John Diffley, was a recipient of a grant to implement Michelson IP materials, this simply required them to update their syllabi, slide presentations, and perhaps create some teaching tools that other educators would be able to use. Instead, Sabato’s team used our grant as an impetus to transform the educational landscape in their community.  By partnering with local IP attorneys and community organizations, hosting webinars, and integrating the material in various courses, Diane’s team took the program to a new level. It was clear as Sabato shared her program’s learnings that their successful integration of the program stands testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and a shared vision for empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Looking Forward

The NACCE conference is renowned for its ability to bring together like-minded individuals, organizations, and educators from across the nation, fostering a strong sense of community and collaboration. We were privileged to be a part of this dynamic gathering, benefitting immensely from the connections made and the support garnered. 

With appreciation for the unwavering support of the NACCE community, we look forward to continuing our journey together by empowering educators who are inspiring the next generation of creative entrepreneurs. The journey ahead is filled with potential, and together, we are poised to make a lasting impact on intellectual property education nationwide.


The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, provides access to empowering IP education for budding inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit 20mm.org.