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.
Executive Director, World Alliance for the Volunteer Economy
Dan has a degree in Behavioral Psychology from the University of Fla with extensive experience in neuroscience-informed Leadership and Organization Development consulting and training. He has worked with government, for-profit and non-profit organizations in the US, Europe and the Far East, focusing on improving productivity and results through optimizing strategies, leadership, communications and employee engagement.
Dan’s partial client list includes: Sandia National Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, University of NM, NM State University, Bueno Foods, United Way, ABQ Public Schools, Public Service Co of NM, US Dept of the Interior, US Corps of Engineers, Philips Semiconductors, NM Society of Human Resource Managers, NM’s Children Youth and Families Department, Kirtland Federal Credit Union, Zia Trust Company and Chavez-Grieves Engineering.
In addition to Strategic Doing, Dan has been certified in many Organization Development assessments and practices including DiSC Workstyles, Social Styles, Myers-Briggs, experiential team building activities, Crucial Conversations, Open Space Technology, Strategic Planning, Appreciative Inquiry and Future Search Conferences.
Dan is active with education advocacy, community development and veterans support services in Albuquerque, serving as past Chair of the Albuquerque Business-Education Compact and on the Board of ABC Community Schools. He also plays French Horn with the Albuquerque Concert Band and volunteers his time with the No Veteran Dies Aloneprogram at the Albuquerque VA Hospital.
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.