Bringing people together for a common good has been a lifelong passion for Dr. Rena Cotsones.
As Associate Vice President of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development for Northern Illinois University, Rena works with regional partners to create and implement collaborative approaches to advancing education, economic development, workforce development, and innovation initiatives in northern Illinois and Chicagoland.
Most recently, Rena provided leadership for the creation of NIU Engineering @ RVC, a community-based, industry-integrated engineering baccalaureate completion program in partnership with the community college and industry partners in Rockford, Illinois. This collaborative workforce solution has inspired the development of other innovative approaches to education and workforce development in the region and won the 2017 Award of Excellence for Talent Development from the University Economic Development Association (UEDA).
Rena chaired the national Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO) of the Association of Public and Landgrant Universities (APLU) in 2017. She helped lead the team that won APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation for NIU in 2013. She is a board member of the University Economic Development Association. She is also a member of the national core team for Strategic Doing, a program of Purdue University’s Agile Strategy Lab and is a Strategic Doing instructor. In northern Illinois, she serves on the boards of numerous Chambers, economic development and education organizations.
Rena started her career as a broadcast journalist after graduating from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University.
Janyce Fadden is Director of Strategic Engagement at the University of North Alabama College of Business. Her role includes implementing an innovation pipeline strategy called Shoals Shift Project and other business engagement projects. Currently using Strategic Doing, a flexible agile methodology, the Shoals Shift Project seeks to build a digital economy by enhancing the region’s competitiveness. This award-winning project recently recognized by the Appalachian Regional Commission with a significant grant to accelerate the results. The project has been recognized as outstanding by the University Economic Development Association and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. In addition, using lean management techniques Fadden has been a key contributor with the College of Business Graduate recruitment team whose work has resulted in doubling the MBA enrollment thus becoming Alabama’s largest program. She has taught the 2.5 day practitioner training and facilitated numerous workshops in workforce development, economic development, higher education, entrepreneurship, community development, rural economies, manufacturing, and nonprofits.
Nancy Franklin, Principal of Franklin Solutions, collaborates with leaders of higher education, government, and business to facilitate strategic partnerships, innovation initiatives, talent development, agile planning, and program creation. Previously, she led strategic initiatives in community-university engagement, academic pathway development, STEM capacity-building, and integrating technology into teaching and learning at Virginia Tech, Penn State, and Indiana State University after an early career with IBM and ROLM. Nancy has been inducted into the Academy of Community Engagement Scholars, is a member of the Strategic Doing Faculty, and is the author of more than a dozen publications. She holds a doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s from Virginia Tech, and a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University.
Timothy (Tim)V. Franklin, Ph.D., serves as Vice President and chief operating officer for the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), an NJIT corporation that applies the intellectual and technological resources of the state’s science and technology university to challenges identified by industry partners. Franklin contributed substantially to the design and rationale for this innovative, industry-facing university interface designed around innovation labs and services. In parallel, Franklin serves as Associate Vice President for Business and Economic Development and Special Advisor to the President for New Jersey Institute for Technology (NJIT). In this role, Franklin leads strategic initiatives, fosters institutional-scale programs, manages public and private partnerships, and articulates programs to advance the University’s economic development and research missions. Franklin convenes NJIT’s Business Engagement Team, which integrates university programs in comprehensive partnerships with industry and government.
Franklin is an expert in higher education policy, experienced strategic planner, trained Strategic Doing facilitator, inaugural member and vice president of the Academy for Community Engagement Scholarship, faculty for the Strategic Doing Institute, national advisory board member for MForesight (NSF and NIST-sponsored organization dedicated to renewing U.S. manufacturing).
Franklin also brings a history of starting new endeavors. Prior to coming to NJIT, Franklin founded and led TRE Networks, Inc., a non-profit organization of leading national organizations and universities dedicated to advancing the role of research universities in transformative regional engagement (TRE). He led national conferences and meetings of the TRE Roundtable focused on accelerating policy and practice in regional development. While at Virginia Tech, Franklin led the University’s Southside Initiative, a broad-scale effort to define its 21stCentury land-grant mission. In that role, Franklin was the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), a unique regional stewarding institution that received numerous regional, state, and national recognitions.
Franklin is the former Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development for The Pennsylvania State University. Tim also served for eight years as Associate Vice President for Government Relations and Planning at Indiana State University.
Joe joined the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University in 2010 to help coordinate and lead project and program activities related to local community and economic development.
For over 15 years Joe has been working with rural communities, organizations, associations, and volunteers throughout the Southeast and Midwest. He has a strong passion for and a commitment to helping local “sparkplugs” realize their own potential and capacities. Joe strongly believes that these “sparkplugs” exist in every community or organization, and with the proper structure and support, they can go on to accomplish amazing results.
Joe brings a deep understanding of practical community engagement and development strategies to each project. He has worked with over 100 industry, public, higher education, and non-profit clients to not only develop collaborative strategies, but implement those strategies as well. The result is inspired community or organizational members armed with clear results to be achieved and the needed collaboration and implementation tools to achieve them.
Joe holds a B.S. degree in History, a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration, and a Ph.D. in Instructional Systems and Workforce Development, all awarded from Mississippi State University. He is both a Certified Strategic Doing Workshop Leader and a Certified Strategic Doing Faculty member. His Strategic Doing efforts have focused on working with rural communities, regions, and non-profit organizations in the areas of community and economic development, workforce development, and entrepreneurship.
Prior to joining the Stennis Institute in 2010, Joe was Interim Director of the Mississippi State Community Action, a Governmental Training Specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, and a City Planner for the City of Germantown, TN.
Joe is an active volunteer and advocate for community engagement and change in his own town, where he is involved with several improvement efforts and organizations. He and his wife Sarah are the proud parents of three children –Nate, Caleb, and Leah– and reside in Starkville, MS.
A native of the Washington DC Metropolitan area, Michon serves as the Strategic Initiatives Program Lead for the Office of Information Technology (OIT) for the Department of Employment Services (DOES). She was instrumental in working with management to redesign, what is now, the agency’s compliance unit. In her role as Strategic Initiative Lead for OIT, she has also been instrumental as one of the IT design architects for the deployment of customer-facing technical solutions within the agency’s American Job Centers (AJC). She has an extensive background in academic instruction; training and development; and project management with government, nonprofit and educational organizations.
Michon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication and a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Communication–both from Howard University in Washington, DC. She has also completed all coursework and comprehensive exams toward a doctoral degree in Intercultural Communication from Howard University. Michon has over 20 years of education and experience in the fields of human communication and mass media; project management; community relations; and compliance.
Michon’s expertise in these areas has allowed her to work in a variety of contexts ranging from academic institutions to law enforcement agencies. Maintaining such a wide range and scope allows her to provide a unique skill set for all organizations. Her professional positions include: Professor at Prince George’s Community College; Community Relations Specialist/Public Affairs at Prince George’s County Department of Corrections; Public Affairs Specialist & Compliance Manager at the DC Department of Corrections; Public Relations/Development at Christian Brothers Conference; and Transportation Security Specialist at the Transportation Security Administration.
Michon has used Strategic Doing to train over 700 local government employees and contractors which in turn helped the agency re-define its approach to navigating complex problems and designing a landscape for “attainable and doable” actions that met specific desired outcomes.