SD Certified Workshop Leader
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.
Darshini Render is a higher education professional. At present, she serves as an Assistant Director for Student Success in the College of Engineering at Purdue University, where she operationalize and implements programs for professional development. She teaches career development, cross-cultural leadership skills and introduction to Strategic Doing for undergraduates.
Since 2009, Darshini has been involved in training and development in several public and private universities. Darshini has considerable practical experience in mentoring, coaching, career services program development, multidisciplinary research, consulting, and teaching. Darshini is a PLUS-Fulbright scholar, and received her B.A in Sociology and Business Administration from Colorado State University and her M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Darshini is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research interests are in pedagogies of collaborative sciences.
Dr. Doug Dunston is Professor Emeritus in Humanities at New Mexico Tech and KEEN Program Coordinator at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he designs and leads workshops that help School of Engineering faculty leverage research and ideas from the areas of curiosity, motivation, empathy, listening, improvisation, systems thinking, and experiential learning.
He has a deep technical and artistic background and divides his time between New Mexico and Minnesota. When weather and schedule align, he can often be found several thousand feet above the ground, regaining his sense of perspective in a two-seater RV-9A experimental airplane.