Kaplan Institute

Kaplan Institute Board of Advisors

Edward L. Kaplan

Ed Kaplan

Degrees: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology; M.B.A. from the University of Chicago

Career: Edward L. Kaplan (ME ’65) is president of Nalpak, Inc., a private investment firm. He retired as the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Zebra Technologies in 2007. Because of his leadership, Zebra became a multi-billion dollar business and the global leader in providing bar code labeling and plastic card printing solutions. Kaplan began his career as a project engineer for Seeburg Corp., later joining Teletype Corp. as a mechanical engineer performing research and development in the printer division.

Service and Philanthropy: In 2014 Kaplan, along with his wife, Carol, made a gift of $11 million to establish the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at Illinois Tech, the first new academic building on Illinois Tech’s campus in more than 40 years. As a member of the Kaplan Institute (KI) Board of Advisors, Kaplan continues to offer his visionary expertise on initiatives and strategy to support KI as a multi-disciplinary hub for discovery, innovation, and business creation. As a student, Kaplan was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Kaplan serves on the board of the Museum of Science and Industry and Hyde Park Angels. He has been a member of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees since 1993. In recognition of his extraordinary leadership and service, Kaplan received the Award of Merit in 2000 and the Alumni Medal in 2011 from the university.

James E Cowie

James Cowie

Degrees: B.A. in Government (’77) from Colby College; M.B.A. (’82) from Stanford University

Career: James E. Cowie has more than 25 years of investing experience in technology services and education. He served as managing director of Frontenac, a private equity firm, from 1988 until his retirement in 2015. At that time, he became executive chairman of Collegis Education, a technology-enabled solutions provider serving colleges and universities. He currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Collegis.

Service and Philanthropy: Cowie joined the Civic Outreach Committee of the Illinois Institute of Technology Board of Trustees in 2012 to help advance the priorities of Fueling Innovation: The Campaign for IIT. He has introduced the university to numerous civic and corporate leaders, and raised the university’s profile in the business and civic communities while contributing to the successful completion of the university’s $250 million campaign goal in 2016. In 2017 Cowie once again utilized his professional networks to help raise more than $800,000 for the Center for Active Computational Thinking through Illinois Tech’s inaugural Tech-X event, for which he also led event planning efforts.Indispensable to the growth and development of the former College of Science, Cowie has helped lead that college’s administration through many changes, such as the search for a new dean and other key administrative positions, recruitment of one-third of its new faculty, and the introduction of new programs. Additionally, he offered counsel to the College of Science for nine years. In addition to his volunteer roles, Cowie is also a generous donor to many university priorities. He and his wife, Kathleen, support scholarships and founded the James and Kathleen Cowie Scholarship Fund. Cowie has also supported undergraduate research and presidential strategic initiatives, as well as Tech-X and College of Science programs. Outside of his work with Illinois Tech, Cowie is a current and past member of many boards of directors for technology, financial, educational, and nonprofit organizations.

Mel Flowers

Mel Flowers

Degrees: B.S. in Marketing from Bradley University; J.D. from the Chicago-Kent College of Law

Career: Mel Flowers serves as the Midwest Market Unit CE legal lead and previously served as the North American transaction contracting legal lead for Accenture’s Products Operating Group (OG). Flowers is a technology lawyer, a certified information privacy professional, and an English solicitor with broad global legal and management experience. He has spent 13-plus years at Accenture. Prior to his current role, Flowers was responsible for leading the Global Alliance, Strategic Ventures, and Technology Resale legal teams and for providing legal support to Accenture’s Global Delivery Network, various Accenture affiliate businesses, and global outsourcing offerings. He also serves as the secretary for two Accenture affiliates. Prior to Accenture, he spent nearly 14 years at AT&T.

Service and Philanthropy: Flowers serves on the Board of Trustees for Bradley University and on the boards of Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Edward G. Irvin Foundation, as an advisory member of Forward (an initiative to advance corporate counsel of color), and is a member of various bar associations, including the United States Supreme Court Bar and the Law Society of England & Wales. Flowers is also a winner of the Chicago Appleseed Pro Bono Champion Award.

Sam Guren

Sam Guren

Degrees: Graduate of the University of Wisconsin; M.B.A. from the Wharton Graduate School at the University of Pennsylvania

Career: Sam Guren was a recipient of the Stanley C. Golder Medal, which “acknowledges individuals who have made profound and lasting contributions to the private equity industry in Illinois.” Guren started in the venture capital/private equity business in 1975 with Continental Illinois Venture Corporation (CIVC), a subsidiary of Continental Bank (Chicago). During his tenure with CIVC, the firm’s investments ranged from Apple Computer to Yoplait to Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts. The KKR investment took the firm into the buyout investment business. In 1981 Guren was recruited by William Blair to co-found and manage William Blair Venture Partners. He grew the business to six professionals during three funds. Investments ranged from the founding of The Sports Authority and Ulta to the buyout of Sanford Corporation and investments in various technology, health care, and cable television companies. Robert Baird recruited Guren in 1996 to manage the Baird Capital funds. While there, BCP grew from two to five professionals, with a focus on outsourcing and temporary staffing. Guren joined Allied Capital in 1999, and stayed through 2002. He managed the Chicago office and was on its investment and operating committees.

Service and Philanthropy: From 2007 to 2011 he was the managing director of the Hyde Park Angels, an angel network affiliated with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Other volunteer boards he has worked with have included 1871, including the finance committee, and the Knapp Center, chair of the governance committee. He is currently on the Board of Advisors of the Scholarship Committee for the Ringling School of Design. In addition, Guren co-founded and co-manages Bridge Angel Investors, an angel network based in Sarasota, Florida.

Stacey Kacek

Stacey Kacek

Degrees: B.S. in Computer and Electrical Engineering from Purdue University; M.B.A. from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Career: With a 30-year career in technology and solutions, Stacey Kacek has successfully married executive leadership with technical know-how, bringing a deep knowledge of scale and growth to small companies. As chief executive officer and board member at Contelligent, a growth-stage SaaS company monitoring the world’s containers, Kacek has architected a turnaround to bring innovative efficiencies to the waste industry. Previously, she was CEO of growth-stage fintech startup Vertex Analytics, for which she remains an active board member. Prior to Vertex, Kacek served first as chief technical officer and, ultimately, CEO of Microsystems, rising to the CEO role in less than two years. Before joining Microsystems, Kacek wielded years of experience in asset intelligence, product development, and engineering. With roots in software development, she has led people, platforms, and products at high-profile firms including Motorola, SmartSignal, and GE Intelligent Platforms, where she defined, integrated, and led a $40 million software business comprising two external acquisitions and one core GE business.

Service and Philanthropy: Since 2017 Kacek has actively served on the Board of Directors for Vertex Analytics. The Kacek family has contributed to the extensive renovation of a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed residential building on Illinois Tech’s main campus, which was completed in July 2020 and renamed George J. Kacek Hall.

Joel D. Krauss

Joel D. Krauss

Degrees: B.S. in Mathematics (’71) from Illinois Institute of Technology; M.B.A. (’74) from University of Chicago

Career: Prior to his retirement in 2017, Joel D. Krauss had been founding principal at Market Strategy Group since 2005, a role in which he advised organizations and executives on initiatives focused on achieving profitable growth. In 1985 Krauss co-founded OmniTech Consulting Group, which he sold to Diamond Cluster International in 1999.

Service and Philanthropy: In addition to providing general scholarship support, Krauss established the Marvin and Elaine Krauss Scholarship Fund in 2011 in honor of his father. He and his wife, Sophia, often met with their scholars in the former College of Science to discuss their plans for the future. His focus on the College of Science also included support of a distinguished computer science lecture series and undergraduate summer research program, as well as serving as chair of the college’s Board of Advisors. Krauss has been a staunch supporter of Illinois Tech through volunteer roles. He is a member of the Board of Trustees and its Advancement and Civic Outreach committees, and served as co-chair of Fueling Innovation: The Campaign for IIT, where he was instrumental in its successful $250 million completion in 2016. Additionally, Krauss is a past member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. Because of his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship, having started two businesses, Krauss provided foundational support of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. Krauss and his family are members of the Philip Danforth Armour Society, which recognizes philanthropic families who have given transformational gifts of $1 million or more in support of the university’s mission.

Richard N. Levy

Richard Levy

Degrees: B.A. in Political Science from Ohio State University; M.B.A. from Stuart School of Business at Illinois Institute of Technology; J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law

Career: Richard N. Levy is the chief executive officer and founder of Victory Park Capital. He oversees the firm’s investment and operational activities. Levy is also the chairman of the firm’s management and investment committees. Levy serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of multiple Victory Park portfolio companies, including VPC Pizza Operating Corp. (Giordano’s), Mediterranean Cuisine Holding Company, LLC (Yalla), and Enteris Biopharma, Inc. Previously, Levy served as head of the Small Cap Structured Products Group and co-head of the Solutions Group at Magnetar Capital. He also co-founded and served as managing partner at Crestview Capital Partners.

Service and Philanthropy: Levy has been an Illinois Tech trustee since 2017, and is a supporter of numerous philanthropic initiatives in Chicago and globally.

Douglas M. Monieson

Douglas Monieson

Degrees: B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan; M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Chicago

Career: Douglas M. Monieson has been a trustee of Illinois Tech since 2018. He is chairman emeritus of Hyde Park Angels, the largest and most active angel group in the Midwest. He is on the Board of Directors of Rails to Trails, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that converts old railroad lines into bike paths, and is an entrepreneur in residence at University of Chicago. In addition to investing, Monieson takes an active role in Hyde Park Angels companies. He is chief executive officer and executive chairman of UICO, a touch sensing technology company that enables rugged touch through water and gloves. He has several successful exits for the group, including Fishidy, a mobile/social fishing app that was recently acquired by Ray Marine, a division of Flir Inc., in 2017. He also led the successful exit of Gradebeam, which was purchased by Textura in 2011. Gradebeam.com was a SaaS business that connects general contractors and subcontractors in the construction industry. In addition, Monieson has been involved in the financial trading community for more than 30 years. He began his career in 1989 as a spot foreign exchange dealer at Manufacturers Hanover. He became a commodity trading advisor in 1991 and worked for Commodities Corporation, where he successfully traded from both their Princeton, New Jersey, and Chicago offices. Since 1994 he has been an active member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). Monieson is a founding member of the NASDAQIO0 futures pit, and served as the vice chairman of the Pit Committee from the pit's inception until 2001. He worked closely with the CME Board of Directors and staff on pit design, pit space allocation, and helped with the successful launch of the e-mini NASDAQ contract in 2001. Monieson is a valued member of the CME Pit Supervision Committee (1999–present) and has served on the CME Group's Political Action Committee since 2007.

Service and Philanthropy: Monieson is chairman emeritus of Hyde Park Angels, the largest and most active angel group in the Midwest.

Bailey Moore

Bailey Moore

Degrees: B.S. in Business Management, with a minor in Finance, from Purdue University; Kauffman Fellows Class 24

Career: Bailey Moore is the co-founder and managing director of Wintrust Ventures, a division of Wintrust Financial Corporation. Wintrust Ventures is an early stage investment fund focused on emerging growth businesses in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Northwest Indiana. She is responsible for investment strategy, fund operations, and portfolio company relations. Since building the venture practice in 2014, Moore has been responsible for investments in 36 companies. She has led WTFC’s investments in The Mom Project, Array Behavioral Care, Foxtrot Marketplace, and Interior Define, among many others. Her investment thesis has allowed the organization to maintain a lower risk tolerance than an average early stage fund with replicable returns. Previously, Moore held various roles in commercial lending, credit, and bankruptcy consulting.

Service and Philanthropy: Moore currently serves on the Board of Directors of FreshLens Chicago, whose mission is to provide arts programming to under-resourced students in Chicago, giving them the opportunity to develop skills and confidence through the vehicle of photography. Moore has also worked closely with other local groups including Bunker Labs, Link Unlimited, and Future Founders.

Victor A. Morgenstern

Victor A. Morgenstern

Degrees: B.S. in Chemical Engineering (’64) from Illinois Institute of Technology; J.D. (’68) from American University School of Law

Career: Victor A. Morgenstern began his career as a patent attorney and then spent more than four decades in the investment business. He served as principal and chairman of Valor Equity Partners from its inception until 2012, and is currently a senior advisor. Valor’s investments cover restaurants, health services, beauty supplies, and innovative manufacturers such as Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Before Valor, in 1976, Morgenstern was the founding principal of Harris Associates, where he served as president, chief executive officer, and chairman. He also serves as managing partner of Resolute Partners, a private family investment partnership. Prior to his entry into the investment business, Morgenstern was admitted to the Maryland and District of Columbia bars and the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals as a patent attorney.

Service and Philanthropy: Morgenstern and his wife, Faye, have made significant contributions to Illinois Tech. Together, they have supported initiatives at the Institute of Design and College of Architecture, including the Morgenstern Family Visiting Chair in Architecture, which brings world-renowned architects to campus. They established the Morgenstern Family Foundation Scholars Program and have supported civic programs. Morgenstern has also given generously to the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. A member of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees, he is also a past member of the Boards of Advisors for the College of Architecture and the Institute of Design. Morgenstern and his family are members of the Philip Danforth Armour Society, which recognizes philanthropic families who have given transformational gifts of $1 million or more in support of the university’s mission.

Ellen A. Rudnick

Ellen A Rudnick

Degrees: B.A. from Vassar College, 1972; M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 1973

Career: Ellen A. Rudnick is the former executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago, as well as a former clinical professor of entrepreneurship. She currently serves as a senior advisor for new venture programs at the center. Prior to joining the University of Chicago in 1999, Rudnick spent 25 years in the health care industry, both as an executive at Baxter Healthcare and subsequently as an entrepreneur with Healthcare Knowledge Resources and later Pacific Biometrics. She serves or has served on numerous corporate boards in the health care and financial services industries.

Service and Philanthropy: Between 2000–2017, Rudnick served on various boards/committees associated with Northshore University Healthsystem. She helped establish the Myra Rubenstein Weiss Health Resource Center at Northshore, and has also supported initiatives for the hospital’s Breast Center and Woman’s Cardiology program. She co-founded the Health Alliance, an organization for women leaders to network and support one another in their career development and through management challenges in the health care industry. Given her passion for entrepreneurship, she has established the Ellen Rudnick Student Entrepreneur Fund at Vassar College, which provides two students, every year, the resources to spend their summers pursuing entrepreneurial or social impact initiatives every year. And she has similarly endowed a program at the Polsky Center to enable students to participate in its summer accelerator program. She serves or has served on the boards of 1871, Chicago’s tech hub, and MATTER, Chicago’s health care hub. She spends countless hours with aspiring students and alumni entrepreneurs as they test their business models and launch their businesses.

Arvind J. Singh

Arvind Singh

Degrees: M.S. from Birla Institute of Technology and Science; M.B.A. the UCLA Anderson School of Management

Career: Arvind J. Singh was the chairman and chief executive officer at Utopia Global, Inc., a company he co-founded in early 2003 and sold to Genstar-backed Prometheus Group in late 2020. Under Singh’s leadership, Utopia became one of 30 companies globally to become an SAP Software Solution Extension partner. Prior to co-founding Utopia, Singh was the CEO of ValuCom, a company he co-founded in 1996. Under his leadership, ValuCom grew to be one of the most recognized brand names in prepaid telecom in the United States. The company was acquired by Rediff.com (NASDAQ: REDF) in 2001. Singh’s corporate career in technology sales and consumer goods marketing has spanned business-to-business and business-to-consumer blue-chip companies around the world, including IDM (an IBM spin-off), Hewlett Packard, and Kraft Foods. During his tenure at Kraft, Singh launched multiple new brands with P&L responsibility, including a flagship brand with revenues exceeding $1 billion and marketing spend exceeding $200 million annually.

Service and Philanthropy: Singh had the honor to meet one on one with the president of India, the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, in 2003 to brainstorm ideas on ways to promote entrepreneurship in India. He was also the keynote speaker at the United States Department of Homeland Security's Annual Naturalization and Citizenship Ceremony held at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago in 2005.

Jim Gagnard

James Gagnard

Degrees: B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology; completed the coursework for an M.B.A. in Finance from San Francisco State University.

Career: Jim Gagnard has more than 30 years of executive management experience leading enterprise software companies. He has led several companies from early product development to revenue growth and profitability. As a result of his commitment to software innovation, he has worked closely with the venture capital community and strategic investors to raise more than $80 million for his companies. He currently serves as the managing director of the Rocket Wagon Industrial IoT Studio. Until March 2011, Gagnard was chairman and chief executive officer of SmartSignal Corporation, which was acquired by GE in January 2011. The SmartSignal Advanced Analytics product suite is a key component of the Internet of Things and is used by power generation companies, oil and gas companies, and other industries to detect, diagnose, predict, and mitigate equipment failure. Prior to SmartSignal, Gagnard led several privately funded software companies including Diffusion, Launchpoint, and Questra. In addition, he successfully grew Trinzic Corporation as a publicly traded software company specializing in decision support and database connectivity. Gagnard has created more than $480 million of enterprise value for venture capitalists and strategic investors through successful exit transactions. Prior to leading entrepreneurial companies in Silicon Valley, Gagnard held senior management positions with Pansophic Systems, Control Data, and IBM. He has lived in Brussels, where he served as the general manager of Control Data’s Remote Computing Service, and in London, where he served as the vice president of Pansophic System’s European operations.

Service and Philanthropy: Gagnard serves on the Board of Directors of Agentis Energy, Vertex Analytics, and A3 Solutions. He also serves as a Venture Partner of Hyde Park Venture Partners. He is also a board member of the Mies van der Rohe Society and the Ryan Banks Academy. Until March 2017, Gagnard served as the chairman of the Illinois Technology Association, and he is currently a board member of the 1871/ITA IoT Council.

Maryam Saleh

Maryam Saleh

Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from Brown University; Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience from the University of Chicago.

Career: Maryam Saleh is the executive director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. Saleh joined the Kaplan Institute from Machinify, a venture-backed startup that uses machine learning to automate healthcare payer operations. She was a founding member of Cyberkinetics Neurotechnoloy Systems, a startup that commercialized a brain implant that aimed to restore movement in paralyzed individuals. She’s also helped spin out a number of med tech startups as managing director at Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office and later as vice president of programs at MATTER, Chicago’s health tech innovation hub. Saleh is a key player in the Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem, is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, and serves as an advisor at MATTER.

Mahesh Krishnamurthy

Mahesh Krishnamurthy

Degrees: Master of Science from Missouri University of Science and Technology; Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Career: Mahesh Krishnamurthy is the academic director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois Tech, and director of the Grainger Power Electronics and Motor Drives lab. His technical expertise is in the area of electrified transportation, particularly focusing on electric machines, battery storage systems, and power electronics. He holds 13 United States patents, with several pending. Krishnamurthy is a passionate advocate of experiential learning for students, and works very closely with several startup companies and small and large businesses. He leads several student teams at Illinois Tech, including the Formula Electric Race car team and the NASA Robotic Competition teams. He has co-authored more than 125 scientific articles, book chapters, and technical reports. He has been awarded several teaching and research awards. He is currently the editor-in-chief for IEEE Transactions on Transportation Electrification and editor for IEEE Electrification Magazine.