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.
Kate McEnroe started her career after receiving an MBA from the Wharton School in line-management customer service positions in the telecommunications industry. Over the past thirty years she has grown to be a though leader in the economic development and site selection consulting fields. As an entrepreneur in her own consulting practice, she appreciates the value of collaboration in building bandwidth, raising visibility, and making an impact.
She focuses on the geographic and market positioning strategies and tactics that support the aspirations of companies, communities, and individuals. By sharing direct insights and offering flexible approaches, Kate ensures that clients gain a better understanding of their strengths and their options, and that they are better equipped to take immediate and long-term action to improve their place in the world.
Over the years, her corporate clients have included leaders in the healthcare, business services, telecommunications, and metals industries along with family owned enterprises and membership associations.
She is an expert in coaching economic development organizations through work plan development, designing high impact business cases for workforce assets, optimizing marketing resources, and applying data visualization principles to the task of marketing places. She is currently utilizing her expertise to create content designed for students, parents, and their advisors that will enable them to make effective education and career choices.
As a complement to her certification as a Strategic Doing Workshop Facilitator, Kate is also certified to administer the AEM-Cube Team Dynamics Assessment. She believes in the power of continually learning and has completed training with David McCandless, Edward Tufte, Ann K. Emery, and Stephanie Evergreen of the Evergreen Academy on data visualization. She is also trained in Mindfulness Meditation and is a Narrative Coach Core Practitioner and certified to administer the MARI Assessment tool.