Donna Rockin, formerly Director of the Duman Entrepreneurship Center and Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Jewish Vocational Service Chicago (JVS) has officially joined IIT as the Executive Director of the Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center (KEC). Her appointment caps a six-month global search with more than 60 candidates applying for the position. Rockin had an extensive and very successful career in marketing prior to joining JVS including employment at Firestone and Ford Laboratories prior to forming her own marketing firm, which she successfully ran for nearly 15 years. She has spent the past 11 years at JVS supporting the launch and/or successful development of a variety of Chicago-based companies. Throughout this period, she was very effective in securing needed financial resources both for the various start-up companies and for the Duman Center itself. In the process she has established strong, productive relationships with many of the top industrial and financial leaders in Chicago.
As Executive Director of the KEC, Rockin will be expanding her business development role to not only continue to support small business development in Chicago in general (with a particular focus on the South Side communities around IIT), but to specifically add support for the technology-focused entrepreneurial aspirations of IIT’s students, alumni, faculty and staff. In this process, she will collaborate with and be supported by the strong group of key business and non-profit leaders (including Jules Knapp himself) who serve on the KEC Board of Overseers. She will also specifically partner with other key Illinois Tech organizations including the External Affairs (and IIT’s University Tech Park) under Vice President David Baker; the Community Affairs and Outreach Programs led by Vice President Leroy Kennedy; the Stuart School of Business under the leadership of Dean Harvey Kahalas and within that School, the Entrepreneurship Academy, led by former KEC Managing Director and now Professor, Nik Rokop; and finally the Research, Technology Transfer and Corporate Relations departments that Vice Provost Dennis Roberson also oversees. She will be working closely with each of the Colleges to understand and develop their start-up aspirations and support needs.
Her office is located on the 13th Floor of the IIT Tower and she will regularly use IIT’s space at 1871 in the Merchandise Mart. Please welcome Rockin as she joins Illinois Tech and provide her with both your strong support and your connections to individuals and groups needing start-up support and those who would like to support these efforts either financially or based on their experiences and expertise.