The Conexus Team

We’ve brought together some of the brightest minds in Indiana to help position our state as a global leader in advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML). Our continued success is due to the vision, expertise, and hard work of our internal team and our board of directors.

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Bryce Carpenter
Senior Vice President, Industry Engagement
Email: bcarpenter@conexusindiana.com

As Senior Vice President of Industry Engagement, Bryce supports the organization’s robust network of industry, public-sector and higher education stakeholders as they identify and activate the most impactful projects for industry growth.

Prior to joining Conexus Indiana, Bryce spent more than 10 years in business development, fundraising, marketing and communications for the Marion County Republican Central Committee (MCRCC). He most recently worked as the Executive Director for the MCRCC in Indianapolis, creating and executing individually tailored campaign platforms and grassroots strategies, and partnering with the Indianapolis City-County Council, State Legislature, and Mayor’s office on advance issues and legislation. Within the Committee, he previously held the position of Communication and Political Director where he managed press relations and volunteer programs.

Bryce holds a Bachelor of Arts from Centre College, Danville, Ky., where he majored in Government and minored in History.

Bryce Carpenter

Senior Vice President, Industry Engagement

Bio
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Frederick Cartwright
President and CEO
Email: fcartwright@conexusindiana.com

Frederick Cartwright has always been on the leading edge of innovation and brings more than 38 years of experience in automotive technology commercialization, business development, public/private partnerships and talent development to his role as Conexus Indiana’s president and CEO.

An Indiana native, Fred graduated from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and from Butler University with a master’s degree in business administration. He began his career with Allison Transmission, where he developed the original business case for hybrid powertrains and led the development and production approval for transit buses. He continued at General Motors for 10 years where he held numerous high-profile positions in Detroit and Europe focusing on advanced technology and collaborations with automotive manufacturers in the United States and Europe.

In 2013, Fred became executive director of the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville, S.C., which is a 250-acre, $250 million advanced-technology research campus where education, research and economic development collaborate to create a global venue for the automotive industry. As executive director, he led multiple growth initiatives, including a $25 million partnership in advanced manufacturing workforce development and research, called the Center for Manufacturing Innovation, with Greenville Technical College. He led the growth of CU-ICAR, as an economic development engine for the Greenville area, by recruiting new companies and research to the campus and the creation of a $25 million multi-tenant co-working environment, called One Research Drive.

Fred lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Beth Kay, and has two grown children who are early in their careers in the high-tech fields of advanced logistics and driverless truck technologies.

Frederick Cartwright

President and CEO

Bio

Frederick Cartwright

President and CEO

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Guillermo Guillen
Manager, Adult Programs
Email: gguillen@conexusindiana.com

A 28-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps with additional experience in the private sector, Guillermo has spent much of his career focused on training and process improvement.

Joining Conexus Indiana in July of 2021, Guillermo came from the manufacturing and orientation training department at Subaru of Indiana (SIA), where he helped employees gain basic skills and learn about standard work and safety processes in the manufacturing environment. Previously, the fluent Spanish speaker led and trained employees at two Nevada aircraft-maintenance firms, DynCorp International and L3 Vertex.

Guillermo holds a number of certifications, including a Green Belt in Process Improvement Management in Lean and Six Sigma and Theory of Constraints, as has undertaken extensive training in supply chain management. While with the Marine Corps, he put his expertise to work as lead maintenance production supervisor of a Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron, an aircraft component repair facility supporting seven fixed-wing squadrons and processing more than 900 components each month. In that role, he implemented Theory of Constraint/Lean Six Sigma methodologies to produce an 80% reduction in awaiting parts and component runaround time.

Guillermo Guillen

Manager, Adult Programs

Bio
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Ryan Henderson
Director, Innovation and Digital Transformation
Email: rhenderson@conexusindiana.com

Ryan advances Conexus’ Industry 4.0 programs, which support Indiana’s advanced manufacturing and logistics companies with technology adoption and digital transformation to drive productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability. He is passionate about emerging technologies and research, and strives to lead innovative collaborations between industry, academia and the public sector to accelerate the fourth industrial revolution.

Ryan joined Conexus Indiana from Techstars, where he helped manage The Heritage Group Accelerator Powered by Techstars. During the program, Ryan helped 10 hardtech startups grow from early-stage to venture-backed companies. He engaged founders in Techstars intensive 3-month accelerator programming, which included working closely with 12 global network partners, the corporate partner (The Heritage Group & Heritage Group Ventures), over 85 mentors, and the Techstars associate team.

Before Techstars, Ryan worked at Current, Chicago’s water innovation hub. He helped build pilot projects and ran various events to accelerate the adoption of innovative water technologies. Most notably, Ryan supported the implementation of H2NOW Chicago, a first-of-its-kind pilot project that provides real-time water quality data from the Chicago River to the general public.

Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Eastern Illinois University, and a master’s degree in sustainability management from DePaul University.

Ryan Henderson

Director, Innovation and Digital Transformation

Bio

Ryan Henderson

Director, Innovation and Digital Transformation

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Nikki Jagow
Sr. Manager, Talent Programs
Email: njagow@conexusindiana.com

Nikki, Sr. Manager of Talent Programs, spent more than 15 years in K-12 education. At Conexus, she uses that experience to support of K-12 talent initiatives with particular emphasis on the Modern Apprenticeship Program creating connections between high school students, educators and employers to establish comprehensive career pathways in advanced manufacturing.

Prior to joining Conexus, Nikki was the Work Based Learning Coordinator for the J. Everett Light Career Center (JELCC) where she was responsible for creating opportunities for students to learn in the workplace by facilitating and coordinating internships, apprenticeships and career exposure projects focused on student pathway goals. In this position she assisted students and families in successful transitions to postsecondary programs or career placements. The most meaningful moments were seeing students realize the powerful potential their future holds when their pathway is made clear.

Prior to JELCC, Nikki was a Parent and Community Coordinator for Indianapolis Public Schools. In this role she coordinated the efforts to establish the school as a centralized hub and resource to the students and families that attended. She was responsible for developing parent workshops to increase student academic performance, creating a viable parent/teacher organization, developing and sustaining community involvement, and organizing school-wide tutoring programs. It was in this role that she discovered a genuine talent and passion for seeing student growth and achievement.

Nikki attended Indiana State University and University of Southern Indiana with a major in Community and Public Health.

Nikki Jagow

Manager, Talent Programs

Bio
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Leighton Johnson
Director, Innovation & Digital Transformation
Email: ljohnson@conexusindiana.com

As Director of Innovation & Digital Transformation, Leighton Johnson helps coordinate, execute and optimize the organization’s Industry 4.0 programs, events and research. As a part of the Digital Transformation team, Leighton implements strategies for effective program administration, data and analytics, and reporting to ensure that the organization is meeting its programming goals.  

Prior to Conexus, Leighton served as Senior Director of Workforce Solutions for the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership where he led program design and sustainability planning for applied learning, workforce development and degree/non-degree credentialing programs tied to efforts within the Labs for Industry Futures & Transformation (LIFT) Network, which focuses on accelerating economic growth within advanced industry sectors. 

Prior to his promotion to Senior Director, Leighton held the position of Director of Education & Workforce Initiatives where he focused on aligning the education sector with the local workforce, working closely with stakeholders from K-12 education to industry leadership. 

Leighton also held a range of positions at Jobs for the Future, The Boston Foundation and the Lumina Foundation. In service to his community, he also volunteered as a statewide advisory board member – representing Indiana’s Economic Growth Region 2 – for the State of Indiana’s Registered Apprenticeship strategies and is a Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation Class IV Fellow. 

Leighton is a graduate of Indiana University, holding a bachelor’s degree in history and African American studies.  

Leighton Johnson

Director, Innovation & Digital Transformation

Bio

Leighton Johnson

Director, Innovation & Digital Transformation

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Mitch Landess
Vice President, Innovation and Digital Transformation

Email: mlandess@conexusindiana.com

Mitch Landess serves as Conexus Indiana’s Vice President of Innovation and Digital Transformation. Mitch joined Conexus after more than 17 years as a member of the leadership team at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Rose-Hulman Ventures – the institute’s revenue-generating enterprise that serves engineering clients and provides student internships and real-world work experiences. Mitch started his career as a control systems engineer and operations team member for the startup of the $438-million Wabash River Gasification Repowering Project.

At Conexus Indiana, Mitch uses that experience to develop pathways to digital transformation for advanced manufacturing and logistics firms.

Mitch holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Mitch Landess

Vice President, Innovation and Digital Transformation

Bio
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Christy Linn
Manager, Talent Programs

Email: clinn@conexusindiana.com

As Manager of Talent Programs, Christy Linn is helping to build a world-class workforce pipeline for advanced manufacturing and logistics. Through talent development programming, community involvement and the administration of operational functions, Christy works with the Skills Alignment team to develop and implement programs which directly connect students and educators with AML stakeholders.

Prior to Conexus, Christy served as an Executive Director of Digby Place in Lafayette, where she focused on healthcare compliance, strategic planning and team training and support to promote quality care and independence for the residents she served. She has an extensive background in healthcare management, having previously served in Executive Director and Senior Executive Director roles for Sunrise Senior Living and Bickford Senior Living.

Christy started her career in Human Resources, working as a Recruiter, Staffing Supervisor, HR Representative and HR Assistant at UPS, Corporate Staffing Resources/CBS Personnel, Fargo & Company and Monarch Beverage Company, respectively.

Christy is a graduate of Marion College, holding a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Christy Linn

Manager, Talent Programs

Bio

Christy Linn

Manager, Talent Programs

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Bob McQuern
Director, Adult Education
Email: rmcquern@conexusindiana.com

Bob works with industry and educational partners of our Catapult program to provide job training to unemployed and underemployed Hoosiers for entry-level manufacturing jobs. The goal of the Catapult program is to meet current and emerging industry needs, build a stronger talent pipeline, expand employment participation and increase worker wages.

Bob joined Conexus after a 30-year career in the manufacturing industry, starting on the production side and working his way to human resources. Working with Caterpillar and Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA), Bob specialized in recruiting production, technical and professional staff, and implementing policies and procedures and wage and benefits surveys. While working for SIA, Bob managed the Advanced Internship Manufacturing (AIM) program for high school students which provides skills and training to develop students into full-time maintenance associates.

Bob McQuern

Director, Adult Education

Bio
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Laura Miller
Vice President, Communications
Email: lmiller@conexusindiana.com

Laura Miller is a 35+-year marketing communications veteran with a passion for crafting and delivering compelling messages that support the growth of Indiana’s economy and Hoosier career opportunities.

As Vice President of Communications, Laura is responsible for developing Conexus Indiana’s strategic communications plan and working with its network of partners to increase the awareness of Indiana’s advanced manufacturing and logistics industries. She leads Conexus Indiana’s statewide public awareness campaign to inspire young Hoosier adults to pursue a career in advanced manufacturing and logistics as well as content development, creative design and social and digital strategies.

Laura began her career as a journalist, first as part-owner of a community newspaper then as a general assignment reporter for a weekly business journal.

After 11 years as a journalist, she joined a small marketing communications agency in Indianapolis as public relations director. She later joined Eli Lilly and Company as a corporate Public Relations Senior Associate where she gained experience working in the medical field and communicating complex issues to consumer audiences.

Laura stepped back into the agency environment after nearly four years at Eli Lilly and Company, serving in leadership roles at various global and small public relations and advertising agencies in Indianapolis. Her last agency position was as Vice President, Director of Public Relations for Caldwell VanRiper.

Laura Miller

Vice President, Communications

Bio

Laura Miller

Vice President, Communications

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Tara Pearson
Senior Director, Research and Public Sector Engagement
Email: tpearson@conexusindiana.com

As Senior Director of Research and Public Sector Engagement, Tara Pearson works closely with Conexus Indiana’s networked community to identify opportunities for advanced manufacturing and logistics sector growth and promotion. Specifically, she leads targeted projects focused on infrastructure, workforce development, economic development and innovation in collaboration with industry leaders from throughout the state.

Tara began her career in investment banking and corporate finance specializing in project-based work. She went on to work as an independent management consultant with a diverse range of industry and nonprofit experience. She has also worked in the public sector, performing policy and advocacy analysis and public policy research. Tara has an MBA from Rollins College and a BS in Finance from the University of Florida. Additionally, through her ongoing coursework as an MPA candidate at IUPUI, she has developed a deep knowledge base in public policy process, advocacy and government relations, public finance, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurship. She has a passion for community and economic development, a commitment to continuous learning, and a fervent desire to impact her local community.

Tara Pearson

Senior Director, Research and Public Sector Engagement

Bio
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Brad Rhorer
COO and Chief Talent Officer
Email: brhorer@conexusindiana.com

Brad is a long-time industry professional recognized in both the public sector and manufacturing industry for his expertise in talent development. As COO and Chief Talent Officer, Brad oversees Conexus Indiana’s operations and uses his years of workforce development experience to develop and direct programs that support secondary and post-secondary students and adult workers.

Brad joined Conexus Indiana after a 25-year career at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. (SIA), starting with experience on the production assembly line. He held positions of increasing leadership during his time at Subaru and became a key figure in the company’s Human Resources operations where he served as manufacturing liaison for more than 5,000 employees at the Lafayette, Ind., plant. He was instrumental in developing major programs to address talent needs at SIA. He is also a member of the Indiana Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, a group created during the 2018 legislative session to assess and realign Indiana’s workforce development programs and services.

Brad holds a master’s degree in business administration from Western Governors University, a bachelor’s degree in management of human resources from Bellevue University and an associate’s degree in organizational leadership and supervision from Purdue University.

Brad Rhorer

COO and Chief Talent Officer

Bio

Brad Rhorer

COO and Chief Talent Officer

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Sonya Snellenberger
Director, Industry Engagement
Email: ssnellenberger@conexusindiana.com

At Conexus Indiana, Sonya Snellenberger helps lead project development and execution in support of the organization’s industry councils and working groups, also supporting public sector professional services agreements and Conexus Indiana’s research efforts. 

Sonya is passionate about community development and facilitating productive relationships between community leaders and industry. Prior to Conexus, Sonya worked for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership for eight years, most recently serving as Director of Talent Initiatives.  

As Director at the regional partnership, Sonya focused her efforts on facilitating communication between local employers and post-secondary institutions to ensure educational opportunities matched the workforce needs of the community. While in this role, she successfully led the organization’s Regional Internship Program, designed to improve the ‘work and learn’ atmosphere throughout the region – growing the program by 30 companies year-over-year and serving more than 300 interns. Sonya began with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership as a Project Coordinator, Millennial 2000 Specialist and later as a Project Manager.  

Additionally, Sonya is a Limited Term Lecturer at Purdue University Fort Wayne where she teaches speech, empowering students to become more effective speakers.  

Sonya holds two bachelor’s degrees, in media and public communication and interpersonal communication, from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. She also holds a master’s degree in professional communication from the same institution.  

Sonya Snellenberger

Director, Industry Engagement

Bio
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Chana Sweeney
Director, Operations
Email: csweeney@conexusindiana.com

As Director of Operations, Chana is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Conexus Indiana, including contracts, invoices, budgeting, and grant reports. She also oversees information technology.

Chana previously worked as the Account Manager for Anthony Travel onsite at Purdue University where she was charged with starting and growing a travel program for the staff and faculty.  She also held positions with Conexus as Executive Assistant & Office Manager, College Park Church as the Executive Assistant & Resource Coordinator, Aramark Harrison Lodging in Hospitality Management and was a Corporate Travel Counselor for organizations such as Honeywell and Adidas, Inc.

Chana is currently serving as a mentor to women in topics related to health and wellness as well as teaching local group fitness classes.

Chana Sweeney

Director, Operations

Bio

Chana Sweeney

Director, Operations

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Liz Waggoner
Operations Manager, Networked Community
Email: ewaggoner@Conexusindiana.com

As the Operations Manager for the Networked Community, Liz Waggoner supports Conexus Indiana’s network of industry, academic and public-sector partners by managing events, relationships and work products.

Prior to joining Conexus in August 2019, Liz spent seven years at Total Quality Logistics (TQL) as a Logistics Coordinator. While with TQL, Liz acted as a liaison between shippers, receivers and transport companies to best serve TQL’s customers. She was also responsible for mentoring and training up and coming team members within the company.

Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts in Law & Society from Purdue University.

Liz Waggoner

Operations Manager, Networked Community 

Bio
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Molly Zentz
Director, Communications
Email: mzentz@Conexusindiana.com

Molly Zentz serves as Conexus Indiana’s Director of Communication. In this role, she works to promote Conexus Indiana, its industry sector and the organization’s objectives by executing strategic marketing and communications strategies and tactics. As a Director, Molly helps manage the many internal and external communications channels across the organization to drive engagement, participation, retention, and positive brand recognition.

Prior to joining Conexus, Molly served as Head of Marketing for agriculture technology company, Solinftec. In that role, she led an international team of marketing and communications professionals to increase the company’s brand awareness, build trust with key stakeholders and refine the company’s brand narrative.

Molly has a diverse background in communications, having managed public relations for national corporations, non-profits and agencies. Her prior work experience includes Indiana Farm Bureau Inc., Angie’s List, BLASTmedia and Raybourn Group International.

Molly holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Indianapolis and is accredited in public relations from the Public Relations Society of America.

Molly Zentz

Director, Communications

Bio

Molly Zentz

Director, Communications

Our Board of Directors

Dr. Gary R. Bertoline

Senior Vice President Online and Learning Innovation, Purdue University

Dr. Gary R. Bertoline

Senior Vice President Online and Learning Innovation, Purdue University

Latoya Botteron

President and CFO, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership

Scott Brand (Chair)

Executive Vice President, Subaru of Indiana Automotive

Scott Brand (Chair)

Executive Vice President, Subaru of Indiana Automotive

Frederick Cartwright

President and CEO, Conexus Indiana

Mark DeFabis

Chief Executive Officer, Integrated Distribution Services Inc.

Mark DeFabis

Chief Executive Officer, Integrated Distribution Services Inc.

Dr. Sue Ellspermann

President, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana

Tom Fuja

Faculty Director of iNDustry Labs, Notre Dame

Tom Fuja

Faculty Director of iNDustry Labs, Notre Dame

Scott Glaze

Owner, Chairman, and CEO, Fort Wayne Metals

Julie K. Griffith

Executive Vice President for Strategy, Partnerships and Outreach, Indiana Innovation Institute

Julie K. Griffith

Executive Vice President for Strategy, Partnerships and Outreach, Indiana Innovation Institute

Winde Hamrick

Chief Operating Officer, Heritage Environmental Services

Elizabeth Hoegeman

Vice President of Global Manufacturing, Cummins

Elizabeth Hoegeman

Vice President of Global Manufacturing, Cummins

David Johnson

CEO, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership

Matthew Ketcham

Head of Indianapolis Manufacturing, Rolls-Royce

Matthew Ketcham

Head of Indianapolis Manufacturing, Rolls-Royce

Kathy Miller

Manufacturing Consultant

Darin Moody

Senior Vice President, Eli Lilly and Company

Darin Moody

Senior Vice President, Eli Lilly and Company

Paul Perkins

President and Co-founder, Amatrol; President, DACW Worldwide

Amish Shah (Vice Chair)

CEO, Kem Krest

Amish Shah (Vice Chair)

CEO, Kem Krest

Mike Smith

Commissioner, Indiana Department of Transportation

Chris Trainor

Senior Vice President, Hillenbrand,
President, Batesville Casket Company

Chris Trainor

Senior Vice President, Hillenbrand,
President, Batesville Casket Company

Teresa Wade

Founder and Owner, CFA Staffing

David Watkins

Vice President, Small Business, Indiana Economic Development Corporation

David Watkins

Vice President, Small Business, Indiana Economic Development Corporation

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