John Fernandez

Senior Vice President of Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, The Mill

A respected senior executive leader, John has extensive experience leading private and public organizations. John joined The Mill, Bloomington's home for innovators, to catalyze the regional innovation ecosystem, including leading collaborations with Indiana University, investors, and the robust start-up community. A key priority includes developing and managing The Trades District, a center for innovation located in Bloomington's certified tech park.

As Dentons’ Global Chief Innovation Officer, John worked closely with the Firm’s lawyers and cross-functional teams, designing innovative programs and solutions, driving greater efficiencies, engagements, and revenue. John is also a Managing Director of Nextlaw Ventures, the industry’s first global legal tech venture launched by Dentons in 2015.

Prior to joining Dentons, John served as President Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. During his tenure, he launched groundbreaking federal initiatives to accelerate innovation-based growth strategies. John served as Bloomington, Indiana’s mayor from 1996 to 2003. With his leadership, Bloomington’s economy thrived despite facing significant changes arising from the global economy. He worked with business and Indiana University leaders to launch Bloomington’s Life Sciences Partnership, securing more than $243 million in private investment, and creating more than 3,700 jobs.