Led by Founder & CEO Gary Schoeniger, ELI has assembled a team of entrepreneurial staff, contributors, and advisory board members who are dedicated to achieving our vision and mission.
Founder & CEO
Author and entrepreneur Gary Schoeniger has emerged as an internationally recognized thought leader in the field of entrepreneurial mindset education and training. Gary is the co-author of Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur, an international bestseller described as “required reading for humanity.” Drawing from decades of research, Gary led the design and development of the original Ice House Entrepreneurship Program through a partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Gary has presented around the world including the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, European Commission, U.S. State Department, and the Colombian Ministry of Education.
Gary is currently a member of the Forbes Business Council, the Dean’s Council at Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and an advisory council member for Tecnológico de Monterrey’s Tec21 model to produce graduates in Mexico with an entrepreneurial spirit and humanistic outlook for the 21st Century. Gary also served as past board member for the Hershey Montessori School in Concord, Ohio.
President Rob Herndon is responsible for client engagement, new product development, thought leadership and training. With degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Systems Management, Rob spent over eight years in education at the university, community college, and high school levels as well as twenty-one years as a United States Air Force officer. In his varied roles as an engineer, pilot, commander, faculty member and associate dean, Rob positively impacted hundreds of colleagues and students that he’s enjoyed interacting with over the years.
Rob has served as a volunteer youth soccer and baseball coach and currently serves as the President of Lemon-Aide’s Friends, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to assisting cancer patients in need.
Director of Training & Operations
Director of Training & Operations Joanie Weber is responsible for coordinating ELI keynote, workshop, and training services as well as the oversight of ELI operations, human resources, and finances. Prior to joining ELI in 2014, Joanie earned her B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from Kent State University and served as a research intern for the Burton D. Morgan Foundation in Hudson, Ohio. She worked to gain a deeper understanding of business plan competitions, identify best practices, and review outcomes and impact through an in-depth review of objectives, processes, and structures.
Previously a volunteer for the Humane Society, Joanie now has two rescue dogs of her own, Cooper and Maizie, and has become the standby dog sitter for traveling colleagues.
Director of Client Engagement
Director of Client Engagement Nic Houle provides support for client engagement, program implementation, and order fulfillment. Prior to joining ELI, Nic performed national service through AmeriCorps for two years, where he assisted with a healthy futures program in the city of Lansing, Michigan. In this role, Nic served a diverse community of residents, promoting healthy living through gardening and farming. Through this experience, Nic participated in community leadership trainings, service project event planning, and neighborhood resource development within the program.
With a degree in Comparative Cultures, Politics & Social Relations, Nic has served as a member of the nature stewardship team at Fenner Nature Center and as a volunteer with Michigan State Representative Theresa Abed to ensure all voices were heard in the state legislature.
Public Relations & Marketing Specialist
Sarah Williamson has more than 15 years of experience creating and implementing strategic PR programs for entrepreneurs and education organizations. From startups and nonprofit organizations to research institutes and schools, Sarah has spent her career helping clients secure results that make an impact. Sarah has a podcast filled with actionable, step by step tips for growing your organization and elevating your brand through PR: https://buildmomentum.
Dave Cross is a seventh and eighth-grade social studies teacher at Strong Vincent Middle School in Erie, Pennsylvania. With degrees in Hotel Restaurant Management and Education, Dave worked as a food service manager for 5 years, and for the past 12 years, he has served as a middle school teacher for Erie’s Public Schools. During the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 school years, for a period of ten weeks, Dave taught the ELI Ice House Entrepreneurship Program to seventh-grade students. As a result of his success, Dave is working to develop a middle school edition of the program.
Dave resides in Millcreek, PA with his wife and two children. Dave has been a volunteer youth soccer coach and currently teaches martial arts to adults and children.
Curriculum Designer/Implementation Specialist
Dr. Lynne Chandler-Garcia contributes to ELI’s curriculum development, program assessment tools, and program implementation support. Lynne was the lead curriculum writer for ELI’s newest product, the Ice House Student Success Program (IHSS), as well as the customization of IHSS for Tecnologico de Monterrey’s implementation in 2017. A prolific author, Dr. Garcia has a wide range of publications as well as over fifteen years of teaching, instructional design, and curriculum development experience. With a Master’s and Ph.D. in Political Science, Lynne currently works as a professor of Political Science at the United States Air Force Academy.
Lynne volunteers for Junior Achievement and serves on the the Colorado Spring’s School District 12 Accreditation and Assessment Committee.
Rodney Walker, a Chicago native, is the founder of Forever Life Productions, a company that creates custom videos for special occasions and events. Along with his production company, Rodney travels both nationally and internationally, speaking at public schools, corporations, and conferences about the importance of education, entrepreneurship education, mentoring at-risk youth, and corporate philanthropy for non-profit organizations aimed to uplift and support at-risk youth.
Given the obstacles placed before him as a foster child, Rodney struggled academically and socially in school. In his early years of elementary school, he was placed in special education, repeated the fourth grade due to poor academic performance, and underperformed with a sub-1.5 GPA in his Freshman year of high school. But despite it all, Walker became an award-winning entrepreneur, with a Bachelors’s degree from Morehouse College, and a Master’s degree from Yale University – all before the age of 25.
Rodney is the bestselling author of the educational memoir titled “A New Day One: Trauma, Grace, and a Young Man’s Journey from Foster Care to Yale,” available on Amazon and in all major bookstores nationwide.
In an effort to address the epidemic of violence and social failure among at-risk youth in Chicago, Walker has partnered with former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to create a comprehensive employment pipeline program for disconnected youth across the city. This fall, Walker will be pursuing his Doctorate in Education at Harvard University.
Tony Wagner currently serves as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab and as a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute. Tony’s previous work experience includes twelve years as a high school teacher, K-8 principal, university professor in teacher education, and founding executive director of Educators for Social Responsibility. Tony is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and a widely published author. His work includes numerous articles and six books including Most Likely To Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for The Innovation Era and Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World. Tony earned an M.A.T. and an Ed.D. at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
Milena Stoycheva is the CEO of Junior Achievement Bulgaria and Visiting Professor with the EIT Digital Master School in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur and educator, she is passionate about the importance of education and the opportunity for young people to develop their talents and discover their future as entrepreneurs. Milena has served as the Chair of the Global Member Council of Junior Achievement Worldwide and Senior Adviser of Higher Education of Junior Achievement Europe. She was the first Dean of Students of the American University in Bulgaria following its establishment in 1991. Additionally, to having a few own ventures, she has served on the entrepreneurship and science core group of Intel Education Team in Europe; worked as a journalist with AP television; and mentored teams in different training programs on business development and technology entrepreneurship. She has degrees from Bulgarian and American universities.
Bree Langemo, J.D.
Bree Langemo, J.D. has spent more than a decade as a college faculty, chair, and dean in higher education. An accountant and attorney, Bree is also the former president of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI), where she led operations, partnership development, client engagement, and product development including the Ice House Student Success Program, which has led to significant student success results in institutions around the world. Bree is the author of the foundational chapter, Leading with an Entrepreneurial Mindset, for the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) book: Community Colleges as Incubators of Innovation: Unleashing Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Communities and Students. Bree is the founding board member and board chair for uCodeGirl, a nonprofit focused on developing computing and entrepreneurial skills in young girls to inspire them in the technology careers of the future. She is also a member of Minnesota State Community & Technical College’s Community Advisory Board and the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Intellectual Property Committee. Bree currently serves as a curriculum developer for Agate Development, consults on NACCE’s Verizon Innovative Learning Program, and teaches Business Law at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, where she is also working on building out the institution’s Entrepreneurship Program.
Professor David Romero is a Senior Research Scientist and Scientific Project Manager at the Center for Innovation in Design and Technology at Tecnológico de Monterrey University in Mexico. Previous roles include executive director positions in the departments of Research & Development, entrepreneurship, innovation and technology management as well as business incubation and acceleration, family business and technology transfer. His research interests include the interdisciplinary fields of innovation, technology, and engineering management for emerging technologies and digital business models. David is a member of the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society. He has published more than 100 journal and international conference articles and serves at different editorial and scientific committee boards in the disciplines of business and industrial engineering.
Margie Worthington Smith is passionate about developing human capital. Her roles at the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship, Cape Town Embrace, and the Triple Trust Organization have all contributed towards empowering individuals to find their strengths to grow towards excellence. Margie has served on several boards and as the executive director of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, an organization committed to cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset in the youth of South Africa. Margie currently consults organizations on building vision, strategy, and culture and is working to establish a new organisation, Encompass, with a purpose of empowering children to develop tools to cope with the pressures of modern technology.
David Galbenski is an entrepreneur, lawyer, author and public speaker with global reach. His entrepreneurial achievements include being recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner and a two-time recipient of the Inc. 500 award which celebrates the 500 fastest growing, private companies in the USA. David is a passionate supporter of building the next generation of entrepreneurs to innovate and create products and services that help to solve some of the world’s biggest issues. As the Global Chairman of The Entrepreneurs’ Organization in 2008/09, he helped fuel the entrepreneurial spirit in over 40 countries around the globe. David graduated with distinction from the University of Michigan Business School in 1990 and cum laude from Wayne State University Law School in 1993.