Cheri provides program leadership, development, and execution for a portfolio of sponsored projects that provide support, services, and outreach activities that advance entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development throughout the state of Illinois. Primary vehicles for these services include the EDA-funded Illinois University Incubator Network (IUIN), the University of Illinois EDA University Center, and the SBA-funded Illinois FAST Center.
Through the IUIN, Cheri cultivates, connects, and convenes university incubator leaders and practitioners in partnership for the purpose of serving and growing the Illinois ecosystem. Through the EDA University Center, Cheri partners with various University of Illinois colleagues, units, programs, and labs – as well as industrial and economic development advocates – to provide entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development support to underserved or capacity-strained regions in Illinois. Through the Illinois FAST Center, Cheri provides client case management for Illinois startups seeking information, training, or assistance in pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding. She also collaborates with various ecosystem partners to produce and deliver SBIR/STTR training webinars, workshops, and proposal preparation programs.
Prior to joining the Research Park at Illinois, Cheri provided outreach and program management for multi-university research consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Energy that focused on cybersecurity & resiliency for energy delivery systems ($18M and $28M); and a research center focused on multicore and parallel computing funded by Microsoft and Intel ($10M). Cheri also had the honor of investing in the academic and professional development of students via roles at two community colleges in East Central Illinois. She has a B.S. degree in Advertising and an M.S. degree in Management and Leadership.