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.
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.
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.
The associate director at the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab, A social scientist who has studied and practiced strategy and collaboration since 1992, Scott Hutcheson’s focus is on designing tools and learning experiences related to collaborative, agile approaches for doing complex work. He has applied his work in diverse settings like economic development, innovation, business growth, and social change.
Scott has been engaged by nearly 400 industry, public sector, higher education, and nonprofit clients in 30 U.S. states and internationally.
His teaching at Purdue focuses on helping engineering technology students build their skills in agile approaches, collaboration, strategy, and project management.
Scott has a Ph.D. in public policy, a masters in public administration, and an undergraduate degree in theater. His doctoral research was on effective strategy in economic development.
The founder of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab, Ed’s work emphasizes the strategic value of focused regional collaborations and open innovation, network-based models in today’s global economy.
Ed is the developer of Strategic Doing to accelerate collaborations, now widely used across the U.S. and is now gaining attention internationally. His work won the first Arthur D. Little Award for excellence in economic development presented by the American Economic Development Council.
Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France.
Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.
Liz’s passion is for creating programs that nurture the next generation of thinkers and doers, through the development and growth of innovation and STEM education ecosystems. As the senior program director at the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab, Liz shepherds the expansion of the Lab’s programming and partnerships with other universities interested in deploying Strategic Doing.
She is a former senior program officer at VentureWell, where she provided leadership to the Pathways program for the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), an effort to engage with 50 colleges and universities to redesign undergraduate engineering education.
Prior to joining VentureWell, she led STEM initiatives at the Penn State Center – Pittsburgh, was the southwest regional coordinator for the Pennsylvania STEM Network, and served as Director of Outreach and New Economy Program Development at the Institute of Advanced Learning & Research, a Virginia Tech initiative. She earned her BA from Stanford and an MBA from Northeastern University.