KEEN Leadership Council

The KEEN Leadership Council (KLC) empowers KEEN partner institutions to shape and guide Network initiatives and activities.

The KLC will:

  • Provide guidance on how KEEN partner institutions can engage and lead in the Network.
  • Assist with activities such as connecting new KEEN Leaders within the growing Network.
  • Provide input on promoting the entrepreneurial mindset.

Nomination and Voting System

The KLC is inclusive and reflective of the Network’s wonderful and diverse range of KEEN partner institutions, in terms of size, focus, mission, geographic location, and more. All official partner candidates are sent to the primary contacts at all KEEN partner schools for review and voting.

Meet the KEEN Leadership Council


Dr. Cheryl Bodnar

(elected 2021)

Associate Professor, Rowan University

Cheryl has been a KEEN leader since 2016 when she helped to establish Rowan as a new KEEN partner. Since that time, she has served as a facilitator for the ICE workshops, has been selected as a KEEN Rising Star Award Winner, and has been involved in several KEEN projects (such as the EM Cmap Toolkit). Her passion lies in helping faculty see their own entrepreneurial mindset and assisting them in leveraging these traits throughout their work. She looks forward to her continued service on the KEEN Leadership Council.


Dr. DeAnna Leitzke

(elected 2024)

Chair of the Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management Department, Milwaukee School of Engineering

Since attending her first KNC in 2018, DeAnna felt she had found a community that aligned perfectly with her passion for engineering education. The entrepreneurial mindset, which she firmly believes is crucial for 21st-century engineers, has been a focal point of her professional development as an academic leader at MSOE. With the KLC, DeAnna is eager to play a role in shaping the future of engineering education and ensuring that KEEN remains indispensable to our partner institutions as we envision the next-generation model of the network.


Dr. Erin Jablonski

(elected 2021)

Associate Dean of Faculty, College of Engineering and Faculty Fellow, Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Bucknell University

Erin has been involved with KEEN initiatives at Bucknell since 2011 and has participated in numerous conferences, workshops, and professional development opportunities within the Network. Erin has been a KEEN Leader for a few years and is honored to be part of the inaugural KEEN Leadership Council to contribute to and celebrate the accomplishments of colleagues from across the Network. Erin has also contributed to the Network as a member of the KNC organization committee.


Dr. Heather Dillon

(elected 2024)

Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington Tacoma

Heather has been involved in KEEN for many years, first at her prior institution and more recently at UWT. She is particularly passionate about supporting faculty to build EM as part of undergraduate research experiences. One of the ways she believes she can best contribute to the KLC is assessment of EM; Heather is part of the COMPASS team, developing materials and trainings to better connect faculty with EM assessment tools. She loves listening to the stories of the amazing work people are engaged in and looks forward to supporting the Network further through the KLC.


Dr. J-D Yoder

(elected 2021)

Dean, Ohio Northern University

John-David (J-D) has been part of KEEN since 2005 in various roles at Ohio Northern University, where he currently serves as Dean. He enjoys networking with existing and potential KEEN partners. He has been part of a range of entrepreneurial ventures. His background is in vision-guided robotics and intelligent vehicles. His focus and reason for being on the KEEN Leadership Council is in improving undergraduate engineering education.


Dr. Jessica P.M. Fick

(elected 2021)

Professor and Assistant Dean, University of Wisconsin - Platteville

Jessica first attended KNC in 2018 and was immediately hooked on EM and its potential to transform programs and their graduates. Jessica led the efforts at UW-Platteville to become a KEEN partner in 2020. UW-Platteville continues to spread awareness and knowledge of EM through monthly Teaching with Impact seminars and is developing new champions of EM through the KEEN @ P Leadership Academy. Jessica is serving as the Chair of the KLC and has been involved with EUFD as a coach and facilitator. She is looking forward to continued involvement in the network and shaping its future direction through the KLC.


Dr. Ken Bloemer

(elected 2021)

Director, Visioneering Center, University of Dayton

Ken attended his first KEEN National Conference as an industry guest of the University of Dayton in 2010 and he joined UD shortly afterwards. With 30 years of prior industry experience, Ken witnessed firsthand the value created by entrepreneurially minded engineers. He is adamant in his belief that we will produce more innovative and more productive engineers with EM-infused engineering education. Furthermore, we will produce engineers who live more fulfilling lives. This is a mission that excites Ken and he is proud to serve on the KEEN Leadership Council to help advance the cause.


Dr. Kurt Paterson

(elected 2021)

Director and Professor, Arizona State University

Kurt currently serves ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering as Director of The Polytechnic School, one of the nation's leading engaged learning and research institutions with more than 40 degree programs, 300 faculty and staff, and nearly 7500 students. He has served the U.S. Department of State as Senior Sustainability Advisor, following seven boundary-pushing years as Head of Engineering at James Madison University. He enjoys reimagining higher education with others and then making it happen. Kurt is looking forward to elevating expectations for engineering education institutions through the KEEN Leadership Council.


Dr. Maria-Isabel Carnasciali

(appointed 2024)

Associate Dean and Professor, Merrimack College (KLC member by appointment)

Maria-Isabel has over twelve years of experience as a KEEN Leader, previously at U. New Haven, where she helped establish their EM initiatives. Over the past six years, she has been at the forefront of training and supporting faculty from across the network on how they can embed EM into their courses. As facilitator and coach for several EUFD workshops and as a prior Community Catalyst, she has worked with hundreds of faculty as they've developed modules and cards. Maria-Isabel is excited to continue as part of the KEEN Leadership Council to set the stage for the network’s long-term sustainability.


Dr. Marie Dahleh

(elected 2021)

Associate Dean for Strategic Innovation, Tulane University

Marie participated in her first KEEN workshop in the fall of 2019 just months after joining Tulane University. This was quickly followed by a national meeting in Dallas. Most recently she participated in the year long story telling workshop for KEEN leaders. Witnessing the excitement from colleagues after attending KEEN events motivated Marie to serve on the KEEN Leadership Council to help shape the future of KEEN. 


Dr. Mark Budnik

(elected 2024)

Teaching Professor and Pirate of the ECE Curriculum, Carnegie Mellon University

Mark worked in industry for 16 years before completing his PhD, giving him a unique insight into the importance of instilling EM in students. Since 2006, he's pursued his two passions for teaching and improving engineering education for all students. This led to Mark chairing several pedagogical conferences and the ASEE Entrepreneurship Division. It was through ASEE that he found "his people" in KEEN - and their indelible, collaborative spirit that makes this Network so special! With the KLC, he aims to continue to build our collective community and Network.


Dr. Mike Rust

(elected 2024)

Professor of BME | Director of Experiential & Entrepreneurial Learning, Western New England University

Mike feels fortunate to have served KEEN in a variety of capacities over the past 10+ years, including roles as a Community Catalyst, EUFD Workshop Facilitator and Coach, and Mentor via ONU/ASU’s mentorship program. He's also a contributing member of the COMPASS grant, which was funded to provide EM assessment tools and training to our community. He is thrilled to be given the opportunity to help shape KEEN, and looks forward to listening to colleagues across the network so he can do his best to represent their ideas and spirit in the work we are undertaking.


Dr. Olga Pierrakos

(elected 2024)

Founding Chair (2017-2022) and Professor, Wake Forest University

Wake Forest Engineering has been part of KEEN since 2018, building upon impactful faculty development opportunities and reimagining engineering education. An engineering education scholar as well as an entrepreneurial and inclusive leader, Olga feels a strong sense of responsibility – along with great enthusiasm! – to give back to the KEEN community as a KLC member. Olga is also currently a rotating STEM Education Program Director at the National Science Foundation (second stint).

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Have an idea that will help KEEN reach its mission? A question about a recent decision or announcement? Send anonymous feedback to the KEEN Leadership Council.