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.


Gary Schoeniger

Founder & CEO

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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

Vice President of Strategic Partnerships

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

Director of Training & Operations

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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.

Annette Beck

VP Operations

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Annette Beck served for two years at the Kauffman Foundation as chief technology officer and senior director of the entrepreneurship team responsible for funding innovation initiatives through community colleges, development of ID8Nation.com, an online entrepreneurship ecosystem magazine, and a multitude of online resources for entrepreneurs. During her tenure at Kauffman, Beck worked with the World Economic Forum and Global Entrepreneurship Week to establish the GlobalResourceLibrary.org, and with the US Department Global Innovation of Science and Technology (GIST) on the international rollout of GistNetwork.org and Kauffman’s 1MillionCups program.

Prior to Kauffman, Beck served as President of ASK Consulting Inc providing a variety of leadership, project management and support services to clients. Annette held the office of President and CEO of Protection One, the 2nd largest commercial and residential security services firm in the US and Canada with $2 billion asset base and $400 million revenues and 3,500 employees.

Annette served in several roles at Western Resources, a $7 billion utility conglomerate created by merger of KGE and KPL, including Chairman/President KGE, VP customer service and director corporate strategy. Achievements include cost saving initiatives, corporate partnerships, consolidation of systems and platforms, and participating in several acquisitions, e.g., Westinghouse and Multimedia Security, that took customer base from zero to 1.5 million.

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Pilar Gaitán Carrizosa

VP Strategic Partnerships – Latin America

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Pilar brings her background in education psychology and passion for empowering others to her role as VP of Strategic Partnerships in Latin America. She also supports pedagogy & curriculum development as well. With more than 15 years of experience in the educational field, she has worked in schools and higher education institutions with students, teachers and parents, both private and public sector and also at policy design level positions.

Prior to working with ELI, Pilar worked at the Colombian Ministry of Education and was in charge of high school improvement policies and entrepreneurship culture promotion in educational environments.  During that time, Pilar and her team designed the entrepreneurship education guidelines for schools in Colombia.

At the Colombian Ministry of Education, Pilar was the Manager of the National Fund for High School Improvement and as the Quality Director for the Department of Chocó where she was in charge of teachers’ development and pedagogic improvement of schools in the region.
Pilar has also worked at the National University of Colombia and Pedagogic University of Colombia, closely working with the Education Faculty Dean and as Director for the Student Academic Orientation and Development Center.

Pilar is passionate about education, when she is not working you might find her enjoying sunsets in the company of family and/or friends, reading, traveling, making new friends and learning about new cultures and ways to see and understand the magic gift of life.

Lynne Chandler-Garcia

Lead Curriculum Designer

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.

Daniel Cichello

Implementation Specialist

Daniel Cichello serves as the in-house Implementation Specialist, helping clients with technical issues related to online learning platforms and the courses offered by ELI.

Before coming to work for ELI, Daniel worked for the City of Colorado Springs as the city’s SharePoint Administrator. Previously, Daniel was the IT Manager for Diamond Wire Material Technologies, a subsidiary of Meyer Burger.

Before moving into the IT field, Daniel was a public school teacher for 15 years and helped pioneer some of the first online schools in Colorado. When not in front of a computer, Daniel spends his time traveling with his wife, a librarian and their 2 sons.

Grace Thurlow


Grace Thurlow is a student at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She will graduate in the spring of 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Administrative Support. Grace is a part-time intern at The Navigators, a non-profit organization, where she has worked as a clerical assistant since 2010. Grace enjoys taking responsibility for tasks and persisting until those tasks are completed. She also loves to help support others. When Grace is not working or schooling, she enjoys horseback riding, jogging, volunteering at the Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center, and water color painting.

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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.

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.