Our Team

Led by Founder & CEO Gary Schoeniger and President Bree Langemo, ELI has assembled a team of educators, entrepreneurs, and strategic partners who are dedicated to achieving our mission.

ELI Staff

Gary Schoeniger

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Author and entrepreneur Gary Schoeniger has emerged as an internationally recognized thought leader in the field of entrepreneurial mindset education and training. Drawing from more than 15 years of research, Schoeniger has developed entrepreneurial education and training programs for academic, corporate, government, and non-government clients worldwide including the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Schoeniger led the design and development of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program through a partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Schoeniger, along with Pulitzer nominee Clifton Taulbert, is also 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.”

Bree Langemo

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President Bree Langemo provides overall strategic and operational direction for the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative with a focus on developing high impact partnerships with academic, government, profit and non-profit organizations to empower their constituents with an entrepreneurial mindset.

As Dean of Business, Public Service & Social Sciences at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Langemo helped coordinate the initial rollout of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program as a required student success course in Fall 2014 with significant results. Immediately following her hiring as ELI Vice President of Strategic Partnerships in early 2015, Langemo led the development of ELI’s newest product, the Ice House Student Success Program, a student success course designed to inspire and engage students with the perseverance and determination of an entrepreneurial mindset needed to succeed in school and in life.

With more than a decade in higher education as a faculty, chair, and dean, Langemo’s work has focused on student success by serving as a campus lead for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Completion by Design” grant at Sinclair Community College, helping to implement the Lumina Foundation’s Achieving the Dream grant, and leading a number of institutional student success initiatives centered on the First Year Experience. Langemo’s work, both in higher education and now at ELI, has focused on leading higher education institutions and organizations to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture with stakeholder buy-in and to plan impactful, metric driven implementations.

Langemo earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Minnesota-Moorhead and worked as a bank accountant following graduation. In May 2003, she earned her Juris Doctorate from Ohio Northern University’s Claude W. Pettit College of Law. After passing the State of Ohio bar examination, Bree spent several years working as a staff attorney before transitioning to higher education.


Rob Herndon

Rob Herndon serves as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. In this role, he is responsible for client engagement, product development, thought leadership and training. With over twenty-one years of experience in leadership positions as an Air Force officer along with eight years of experience in education at the university, community college and high school levels, Rob brings an ability to adapt to and overcome any challenge. He recognizes the importance of education in lifting all members of society and finds power in the entrepreneurial mindset to change people’s lives for the better.

Prior to joining ELI, Rob served as the Associate Dean of Business and Technology at Pikes Peak Community College where he participated in the implementation of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program as a student success course as well as worked with faculty to build out Entrepreneurship programming in the Business Division. His previous roles within education include leading the Air Force ROTC detachment at Utah State University where he taught the senior-level classes on leadership and national security along with guiding over 100 students through their transition from college student to officer. He has also served as the Deputy Commander of the 34 Air Force ROTC detachments in the northwest region of the United States, overseeing the education of over 2,800 students. Most recently, Rob had the honor of teaching high school math to some extraordinary students in York County, Virginia.

Prior to these positions, Rob developed strategic budgetary plans for cyber-related programs, piloted aircraft to 42 different countries and all 50 states, and led a team of engineers responsible for making modifications to a worldwide satellite control network.

In Rob’s free time, he loves traveling and spending time with his wife, a high school science teacher, and their three children as they conquer their schoolwork, opponents on the soccer field, or the critics of any acting productions that they participate in.

Joanie Weber

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Entrepreneur and recent graduate, Joanie Weber, is currently serving as the Training & Services Manager for the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI). She works on coordination and logistics for Ice House Entrepreneurship Program facilitator trainings, partnership development, and customer service.

Prior to joining ELI, Weber was a research intern for the Burton D. Morgan Foundation in Hudson, Ohio. She worked to gain a deeper understanding of the general landscape of business plan competitions, identify best practices, and review outcomes and impact through an in-depth review of objectives, processes, and structures.

Weber earned her Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from Kent State University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her fur babies, Cooper and Maizie, traveling, and being outdoors.

Nic Houle

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Nic Houle serves as the Administrative Assistant for the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI). He assists ELI staff with Ice House Entrepreneurship Program facilitator training coordination, event planning and registration, client relations, and will be helping to develop promotion materials for ELI.

Prior to joining ELI, Nic served as a National Service Member with Michigan AmeriCorps, where he assisted with a healthy futures program in the city of Lansing. In this role he served a diverse community of residents, promoting healthy living through gardening and farming. Through this two year experience, Nic participated in community leadership trainings, service project event planning, and resource development within the program.

Houle earned his duel degree Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Relations and Policy along with Comparative Cultures and Politics from Michigan State University. In his free time, Nic enjoys hiking, woodworking, and craft beer brewing.

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Mike Sutyak

Mike Sutyak co-founded the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI) along with Gary Schoeniger in 2007, and acted as the Director of Technology until 2013. In addition to collaboration on strategic vision, he was responsible for content development, the production and management of online courseware, as well as overseeing systems implementation and technology integration.

Prior to starting ELI, he founded Sutyak Marketing and Design, a web development firm dedicated to providing digital marketing strategy for small to medium businesses, across a variety of industries. He has over 10 years experience managing projects from ideation to implementation, as well as directing teams to incorporate development strategies. This also includes reviewing new media trends and strategically aligning them with client objectives.

Sutyak holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology from Bowling Green State University. He has extensive field experience, including project management on research studies conducted in the Caribbean and North Atlantic. He also worked at SeaWorld Cleveland as head aquarist of their shark exhibit.

ELI Contributors

Catherine Bornhorst

Catherine Bornhorst is the Executive Director for the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER) at the elite Miami University in Ohio, where she is also a professor in teacher education. NNER is a membership network dedicated to the simultaneous renewal of schools and the institutions that prepare teachers by providing equal access to quality learning, improving teaching and learning through pedagogy that nurtures and challenges all learners, and providing students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to become fully engaged participants in a democratic society.

Catherine’s experience is focused on program evaluation and educational research largely committed to social and educational change. Her projects include curriculum development for Early College High Schools, early childhood education and advocacy, STEM education, and after school programming. She has previously taught in kindergarten through third grade classrooms in Cincinnati Public Schools and has engaged in multi-lingual classes as well as high schools. Catherine graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Miami University and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of New Mexico

Catherine has joined the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative as a contributor to ELI’s educational research, program evaluation and assessment needs.

Lynne Chandler-Garcia

As ELI’s Lead Curriculum Designer, Dr. Lynne Chandler-Garcia is responsible for writing new curriculum for our many diverse stakeholders and updating existing curriculum to meet the changing needs of education and workforce development. In this role, she incorporates leading academic research, thought leadership, and new technology into training and educational programs. Dr. Garcia was the lead curriculum writer for ELI’s newest product, the Ice House Student Success Program, in 2015.

Dr. Garcia brings over fifteen years of teaching, instructional design, and curriculum development experience. She has consulted for a number of leading academic publishers including McGraw Hill, Adapt Courseware, and the U.S. Army. Dr. Garcia is the owner of a curriculum design firm, which focuses on using cutting-edge technologies, such as game-based education and adaptive learning systems, to present substantive topics in ways that engage students.

A prolific author, Dr. Garcia has a wide range of publications to her credit. She holds a Master’s and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Maryland, College Park.

ELI Advisory Board

Tony Wagner

Tony Wagner currently serves as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab. Prior to this appointment, Tony was the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, and the founder and co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for more than a decade. His 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 five books. Tony’s latest, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2012 to rave reviews and has been translated into ten languages. His 2008 book, The Global Achievement Gap, continues to be an international best seller with a Second Edition recently released.

Tony recently collaborated with noted filmmaker Robert Compton to create a 60 minute documentary, “The Finland Phenomenon: Inside The World’s Most Surprising School System.” He also served as the Education advisor for a major new education documentary, “Most Likely to Succeed,” which had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Simon & Schuster will publish Tony’s sixth book, by the same title and co-authored by Ted Dintersmith, in August 2015.

Tony earned an M.A.T. and an Ed.D. at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

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Thom Ruhe

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Thom Ruhe, President and Chief Executive Officer of NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina, has significant work experience in entrepreneurially led economic development activities. Prior to his role at NC IDEA, Thom served as CEO of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, working with governments, universities, and NGOs around the world to deliver the entrepreneurial mindset education needed to grow vibrant economies.  

Thom also served a seven-year tenure as the Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. In that role, he directed the Foundation’s programs addressing entrepreneurial education, mentoring, access to capital, and fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems. Specific programs included: Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, 1Million Cups, Founders School, Investor IQ, Entrepreneurship.ORG, and more. Thom also led Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, a school dedicated to advancing community deployed experiential-based entrepreneurial education. 

Collectively Thom’s work experience has spanned multiple entrepreneurial endeavors and economic development organizations.

freada advisory board

Freada Kapor Klein

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Freada Kapor Klein Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D. is the founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, which promotes innovative approaches to fairness in higher education and workplaces. The Institute’s Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), a three-summer high school program serving under-represented students of color, is in the process of scaling nationally. The Academy works to ensure racial equity within the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The Institute’s workplace programs have conducted landmark research, including the 2011 study, The Tilted Playing Field: Hidden Bias in IT Workplaces. Freada’s book Giving Notice: Why the Best and the Brightest Leave the Workplace and How You Can Help Them Stay (Jossey-Bass 2007) combines quantitative research on who leaves corporate America and why, with stories of day-to-day experiences detailing the human and financial cost.

As a Venture Partner at Kapor Capital (www.kaporcapital.com), Freada invests in women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color whose IT start-ups aspire to generate economic value and positive social impact. Kapor Capital’s investment sectors include, but are not limited to, education, health, and consumer finance. Freada is also a Co-Chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact, a Trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Mitch Kapor

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Mitch Kapor is the Co-Chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact in Oakland, California, which is relentlessly pursuing creative strategies to leverage tech for positive, progressive change. Through the Kapor Capital Impact Fund, Mitch is an active investor in double bottom line seed stage tech companies.

He is a Director of the Level Playing Field Institute, which works to increase fairness in education and the workplace by closing the opportunity gap and removing barriers to success. LPFI operates the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), which prepares students from under-represented communities to be competitive in science, technology, engineering, and math-related studies at top universities.

Mitch is a pioneer of the personal computing industry. He is the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, the “killer app” which made the PC ubiquitous in business in the 1980s. He is the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which protects freedom and privacy on the Internet and founding Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, maker of the open source web browser Firefox. Mitch’s investments include UUNET, Real Networks, Linden Lab, Uber, Twilio, and Asana.

David Galbenski

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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. He currently resides in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, USA with his wife, Lynn and daughter, Sarah.

Sam Gerace

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Sam Gerace is currently the CEO of Veritix, a state-of-the-art digital ticketing, event marketing, and relationship management solutions provider for the sports and live entertainment industries. A successful three-time entrepreneur, Gerace was the founder of Be Free (Nasdaq:BFRE), a comprehensive Internet marketing information services company processing over $2 billion in annual commerce transactions for leading retail and consumer businesses. He founded the company in 1996, and was CEO, CTO and a Director, heading the company’s Operations, Development and Product Strategy. In 2002 the company merged with ValueClick, Inc. (Nasdaq:VCLK), an advertising and marketing information service company for leading retail and consumer businesses, where he served as Executive Vice President, CTO and on the Board of Directors.

Prior to Be Free, Gerace founded PCX Consulting, Inc., which offered marketing information systems for industry and retail business, and PCX Information Systems, Inc., which offered direct marketing software for the public-utility industry.

Gerace served as Entrepreneur in Residence with Jumpstart, Inc., an Ohio corporation whose mission is to accelerate the growth of early stage businesses and ideas into venture-ready companies. In that capacity he worked with a portfolio of early-stage companies, assisting them through the seed and growth stages. Gerace earned a B.A. in Biochemistry from Harvard University, and an MBA in Executive Management from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.

Donna Duffey

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Donna Duffey joined the faculty at Johnson County Community College (Overland Park, Kansas) in 1987 bringing with her 17 years of executive experience in retail management. At JCCC, she is a full time Professor and Department Chair for the Entrepreneurship Associate of Applied Science Degree program and its related certificate programs. She has received both the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Faculty Achievement Award and the Distinguished Service Award during her tenure at JCCC.

External to JCCC, Ms Duffey has been actively involved in the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) since the 1st conference in 2003. Donna was NACCE’s Faculty of the Year Award Winner in 2009. Additionally, she has been actively involved in the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) since 1995 and served as the President of the Board of Directors during the 2001-2002 academic year.

Ms. Duffey has published numerous articles on entrepreneurship programming at the community college level and has developed and presented over thirty regional and national conference presentations in the last several years. She has provided assistance to countless community colleges across the country in the development of their entrepreneurship programming initiatives. Ms. Duffey holds a BS in Fashion Merchandising from Wisconsin State University-Stout and a MBA from Baker University.