Meet our Guest Speakers
Executive Director – Chief Operating Officer – R&D IT at Eli Lilly and Company
James is currently an Executive Director and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Research and Development (R&D) IT at Eli Lilly and Company.
He has spent his entire 22+ year career at Lilly, working across many different teams and functions within the IT organization. As the current COO for R&D, James is responsible for leading many key operations for the organization, including: strategy, finances, talent acquisition and alignment, business plan, culture, etc. Throughout his professional career, James has played a key role in many different innovative strategies and programs for the IT organization, as well as, influencing many of Lilly’s recruiting, developing, and diversity initiatives.
James has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, Business Process Management, and Operations Management from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. James lives just outside of Indianapolis with his wife and 4 daughters.
Director, Research and Development IT at Eli Lilly and Company
Bharathi is a Director in the Product Development organization, which is part of Research and Development IT at Lilly.
She has spent over 15 years designing and developing applications using Java and cloud technologies. As a director in Product Development, she is responsible for engaging with business, other IT leaders, project sponsors/owners, external suppliers, and strategic partners to oversee the design of applications, platforms and architecture and development roadmaps. Throughout her professional career, she has mentored several women in IT and STEM fields and is passionate about continuous upskilling in order to drive innovation and digital transformation. Bharathi has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of Madras, India and a Master’s degree in Information Technology from University of Cincinnati. She lives with her husband in Carmel, Indiana, and has two grown children.
IT/OT Specialist at Avient Corporation
Ashley graduated from Miami University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Minor in Computer Science. She is currently an IT/OT Specialist II on the Business and Industrial IT Team at RoviSys in Aurora, OH. She is passionate about supporting young women in engineering and encouraging students to pursue a career in STEM-related fields.
Senior Director of Global IT Risk and Audit at Procter & Gamble
Amy graduated from Miami with a degree in Systems Analysis in 1989 and currently works for Procter and Gamble (P&G) in Global Internal Audit, managing IT Audit and Risk globally for P&G.
During her career at P&G Amy also led the organization responsible for delivery of all employee-facing services and led Safe IT solutions.
Partner/Sr. Executive at Accenture, Retired
Marie graduated from Miami in 1974 with a degree in Systems Analysis. Marie started her career with Arthur Andersen, which became Andersen Consulting and is now Accenture. She was one of the first female Partners with Andersen Consulting and retired from Accenture after 28 years. She managed large, complex projects and served as the Global Partner for Quality prior to her retirement. Marie is the founder of the CEC Women's Advisory Committee. Marie currently lives in the San Diego area.
Director of Social Impact at Lockheed Martin
Meagan Campion leads Social Impact initiatives at Lockheed Martin, leveraging over 17 years experience with the company. With specialization in business and digital transformations, she's been pivotal in initiatives ranging from STEM education to workforce development. Previously, she served as Executive Director at Business Strengthening America, endeavoring to instill volunteerism in American business culture, and was also a Manager of Community Involvement at AT&T.
Executive Lead for Diversity and Inclusion in Tech & SVP Shared and Card Tech at Capital One
Julie Elberfeld is an experienced Fortune 100 Divisional CIO and Executive Champion for Diversity and
Inclusion in Technology. A former Senior Vice President in Card & Small Business Technology and the Executive Sponsor of Diversity and Inclusion for Technology at Capital One Financial Corporation where she founded Women in Tech (WIT), an initiative designed to drive efforts in supporting a more inclusive culture and growth for technical women.
Julie joined Capital One in 2010 and is leading large transformational initiatives in payments and partnerships for our Card business. Prior to this role, Julie was leading an initiative to transform Capital One’s mainframe environment as applications and data are migrated from mainframe platforms to the cloud. Julie served as the Divisional Chief Information Officer of Commercial Banking Technology for her first seven years at Capital One. Julie’s career also includes service at Fifth Third Bank, with roles from software engineer to the Commercial Bank Chief Information Officer.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Julie is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Miami University with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and graduate studies in Mathematics at Miami University.
Associate Director – Tech@Lilly Software Engineering Hub at Eli Lilly and Company
Miranda Ferguson, a dedicated problem solver, excels at the confluence of technology and healthcare. Her academic journey began at Miami University, graduating in 2016 with a degree in Software Engineering. Recently, she completed her MBA from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, further enhancing her expertise in the tech-healthcare synergy. Presently serving as an Associate Director of Eli Lilly's Software Engineering Hub, Miranda spearheads the establishment of an innovative organization geared towards streamlining software delivery. In her spare time, Miranda's role as an advisor for the California Innovation Fund allows her to stay connected with the startup landscape and seek out promising venture capital investments.
IT Senior Analyst at Eli Lilly and Company
Michele is currently a Senior Analyst in the Global Patient Safety organization, also a part of Research and Development IT at Lilly, and has been with the company full-time for nearly four years. After interning with Lilly, she started her career in Clinical Trial Operations taking on Business Analyst, Certified Scrum Master, and Project Execution lead roles where she drove the delivery of large-scale system implementations and data migrations. Recently transitioning, she’ll continue to lead Scrum teams to modernize and transform the Patient Safety system landscape. She’s passionate about volunteering through Lilly and building an inclusive and encouraging team environment.
Michele has a Bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain, Information, & Analytics from Purdue University. She lives in downtown Indianapolis and enjoys exploring all that the city has to offer.
President Emeritus Miami University
Dr. James Garland was the President Emeritus and Professor of Physics Emer. at Miami University from September 1996 to July 2006. In 2012, the Miami University Board of Trustees voted to name the central section of the Engineering Building after Garland. Before he was the president at Miami University, he was a professor of Physics and Dean at Ohio State University for 26 years.
He graduated from Princeton University with an A.B. in Physics in 1964. He followed up his A.B. with a Ph.D. in Solid State Physics at Cornell University in 1969, and received his Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge in 1970.
Professor of Leadership
Megan W. Gerhardt, Ph.D. is a Professor of Management and Leadership at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University, where she also serves as Director of Leadership Development for the Farmer School and the Robert D. Johnson Co-Director of the Isaac & Oxley Center for Business Leadership. She is also the founder of Gentelligence Academy, an online learning platform to promote the power of age diversity in the workplace
Mary Ellen Giffels
ICEO Senior Career Advisor at LHH, and Leadership Facilitator at the Center for Creative Leadership
Mary Ellen Giffels is a senior financial services digital transformation professional with the talent to make change happen. She is able to draw on her background and training in technology, financial services, process improvement, psychology, and change management to bridge technical and non-technical concepts and lead teams to deliver.
Mary Ellen recently left Synchrony Financial where she was the Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives. At Synchrony, she oversaw the execution of a $500M investment over 5 years with 30+ multi-year complex, cross-organizational, technology-focused programs designed to advance the company’s strategic plan. Giffels is also a GE certified Lean Six Sigma Quality Leader and Master Black Belt with over 9 years in Lean Six Sigma roles where she drove process improvement, design and modernization for GE Capital’s Real Estate and Retail Finance divisions. She has coached and certified over 50 Master Black Belt, Black Belt, and Green Belt projects.
Mary Ellen holds an MBA in Finance and Management Strategy from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, an MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of Santa Monica, and a BS in Systems Analysis from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Mary Ellen is currently doing consulting work while simultaneously designing the next step in her career. When not working, she enjoys sailing the Great Lakes, rehabbing her 40 y.o. sailboat, goldsmithing, gardening and coaching people to achieve their goals and be their best selves.
AVP IT, Chief Enterprise Business Architect at Eli Lilly and Company
Charlie leads the Enterprise Business Architecture for Lilly global Tech team. His role is to help our Tech organization deliver digital solutions faster and with higher value that drive Lilly’s company growth and success. He leads a talented team of innovators and architects who create and shape solutions for our strategic business priorities, such as improving customer experience, accelerating research and development, enhancing data analytics, and increasing operational efficiency. He also partners closely with our Digital Core teams to ensure that our enterprise foundation tech stack is modern, effective, and scalable. During his more than 30 years at Lilly, Charlie has been a software leader focused on delivering digital innovations in pharmaceutical drug development across many therapeutic areas. Most recently, he was responsible for enabling excellent patient experiences through clinically relevant, digital health software and devices. Prior to that, the majority of roles were in Medicines Development IT where he led the harmonization, integration and automation of clinical information management and data flow. He also had senior leadership roles in our global infrastructure organization enabling digital platform solutions and employee enablement across our enterprise.
Charlie earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Systems Analysis from Miami University. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and they have three grown children spread across the country.
David C. Hodge
President Emeritus at Miami University
David Charles Hodge was the 21st president of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He began his tenure on July 1, 2006. Previously he was the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, where he was also chair of the Department of Geography. Hodge was born and raised in Minnesota and earned a bachelor's degree in 1970 from Macalester College and earned a doctorate in 1975 from Pennsylvania State University; both were in geography.
President Six Disciplines Northwest Ohio
Eric Kurjan is the president and owner of the Six Disciplines NWO. Six Disciplines delivers management and executive consulting, coaching and strategic advisory services to clients across North America.
Prior to joining Six Disciplines, Kurjan was the president of Plumbline Solutions, Inc., a 75-person start-up software consulting company. Plumbline was formed as a spin-off from Microsoft’s Findlay, Ohio, location in August 2004.
Prior to Plumbline, Kurjan was general manager of the North American professional services organization for Microsoft Corp. As general manager, he led a team of more than 500.
Kurjan also was the general manager of Microsoft Corp. - Great Plains’ Solomon business unit, where he was responsible for product development, professional services and sales and marketing across all Solomon product line offerings. Kurjan was also instrumental in negotiating the details of the acquisition of Solomon Software by Great Plains in 2000.
Kurjan currently serves on the board of trustees of the Blanchard Valley Hospital System, Findlay Country Club (past president, two terms) and Plumbline Solutions, Inc. He has also served as the 2006 Campaign Chairman for the Hancock County United Way and 2008 Board Chair. He has also demonstrated his leadership and team-building abilities as a past member of the Findlay-Hancock County Arts Partnership, Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, as well campaign chairman of the Hancock County Community Recreation Center Committee.
President and CEO of ManufacturAgility
For the past two decades, Mr. Lakes had served as an executive and breakthrough leader of American Manufacturing companies. He had assembled and coached teams to attain unprecedented levels of innovation, growth and performance in a variety of industries. A few of Mr. Lakes’ accomplishments include:
- Led the world leader in machine tools, robotics and plastic processing machinery to earn “IndustryWeek Magazine’s America’s 10 Best Plants Award.” He reconfigured two “patchwork”, manufacturing plants for lean, cellular, flow, while maintaining full-production levels.
- Led the operational turnaround of a global lift-crane company by quintupling the output with one-half the facilities, equipment and personnel. The company also developed a crane that lifted itself from the delivery truck and self-assembled, eliminating the need for another assembly crane and crew at each delivery / jobsite.
- Led a $120 million naval shipyard to capture $5.6 billion in contracts. Also introduced Lean to cut costs by 42%.
- Led the turnaround of a 150 year old machine tool company by doubling sales and increasing earnings 26 fold in the first year.
- Led the third largest machine tool and automation company in the world to double earnings performance while cutting net working assets to -23% of sales.
Mr. Lakes was the President and owner of ManufacturAgility, L.L.C., a consulting company, whose mission is: ”Leading the Resurgence of American Manufacturing , One Company at a Time.”
Martin was a 1977 graduate of Miami’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and served on the faculty advisory council for that school.
Martin passed away in the fall of 2023 and will always be remembered by the Leadership Institute for his contributions to the future of engineering.
Associate Director Information and Digital Solutions at Eli Lilly and Company
Jeffrey M. Lee uses his background in Broadcast Media and Pastoral Ministry from World Evangelism Bible College to work in a variety of jobs and experiences from the Army, construction, restaurants, bus driver, teacher, pastor, and finally IT at Lilly.
Lee has been at Eli Lilly for 22 years - mostly working in IT embedded across manufacturing and medicine development. Three of those years were spent as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt running 28 projects across multiple organizations saving millions of dollars, improving processes, building strategies and reducing waste. Currently, he is the leader for the Portfolio and Project Management IT (a.k.a “Tech@Lilly”)
Vice President Talent Insights and Innovation
Amy Leschke-Kahle is a ‘88 Chemical Engineering Miami alum who is currently the Vice President of Performance Acceleration for The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC). As VP of TMBC, she collaborates with clients and utilizes research-based techniques to measure and accelerate employee engagement and performance. She has previously held VP and Director positions within the Kohl’s Corporation. She has extensive training in the areas of leadership development, succession planning, human resources, talent and performance management and team building. Ms. Leschke-Kahle is also a published contributor in Forbes, Fast Company and HR Daily Advisor.
Sr. Director at Eli Lilly and Company, Retired
Results-driven Information Technology Leader with key strengths in strategic planning, IT service engagement, agile transformation, successful initiation, planning, execution, control and implementation of complex, multimillion dollar ($5 million) projects, as well as coaching, developing and managing resources and dynamic business partnerships.
Associate Vice President for Racial Justice at Eli Lilly and Company
Terry Morris serves as Eli Lilly and Company’s Associate Vice President for Racial Justice. After 20 years in information technology roles from Clinical Development to Global Services, in 2020, he took a DE&I role focused on addressing equitable opportunities for blacks and other marginalized communities, from jobs to health equity and beyond. Terry not only embodies what hard work and values ingrained in faith and family can do professionally – he has reinvested his strengths back into the community through volunteerism and intentional impact – something he considers his life motto. Morris graduated from Florida A&M University in 2000 with a computer and information systems degree. He obtained a master’s degree in policy analysis from IUPUI School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 2010. Terry has always had a passion for serving the community and teaching. He spent 15 years teaching at various colleges (Crossroads Bible College and IUPUI).
Terry serves on several community boards as a trustee (Martin University and Kingdom Apostolic Ministries). He also serves on the City of Indianapolis Information Service Board. He is the Immediate Past National President of the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA). He has served on the following boards: Indiana Black Expo (IBE), IUPUI Informatics Diversity Enhanced Workforce (IDEW), FAMU CIS Department Advisory Board, and the Center for Congregations. Terry lives in Fishers, IN, is married, and they have two children.
Executive Director of the Preble County Chamber of Commerce
Karen Moss, Executive Director of the Preble County Chamber of Commerce, brings a wealth of leadership experience to her role. Formerly the Assistant Director of the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute in the College of Engineering and Computing at Miami University, Oxford, Karen's dedication to excellence has been recognized through two awards from Miami University for Performance Resulting in Distinguished Excellence.
Actively involved in the community, Karen serves on the Board of the Preble County Development Partnership, contributing to the region's growth and prosperity. She is a continuous learner, earning Leadership and Communication certificates from Toastmasters International, as well as certificates from Leadership Preble County, and the Paul G. Duke Academy for Community Leadership.
Beyond her professional achievements, Karen served as the former Mayor of Camden, Ohio. As a strong community leader, Karen Moss brings her passion for leadership to the forefront, driving initiatives that empower and uplift the Preble County business community.
President & CEO at Ohio's Electric Cooperatives
Patrick O’Loughlin is president & CEO of Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, comprised of Buckeye Power, a member-owned generation and transmission cooperative that supplies electric power and energy to the 25 electric distribution cooperatives, and Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, the statewide member services support organization. Together, Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives serves approximately 400,000 members in Ohio and West Virginia. Pat has served the organization in various capacities since 2002, including posts as vice president, engineering & power supply, as well as chief operating officer. Pat is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, holding both a master of environmental sciences degree and a BS in engineering physics.
Amanda Ryerse Morris
Project Engineer at In-Q-Tel
Amanda Ryerse graduated from Miami University in 2018 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Political Science. She is an alumni of the Lily Leadership Institute (f.k.a Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute).
After graduating, Amanda went to work as a cyber threat analyst for Booz Allen Hamilton where she focused on analyzing and leveraging the techniques, tactics and protocols of cyber threat actors, as well as the geopolitical climate, to reduce Booz Allen Hamilton's cyber attack surface. She then went on to join Strategic Investor, IQT, as a cyber product engineer, where she managed the technical development and product delivery of 18+ startup portfolio companies to support US national security. Currently, she has plans to get involved in the international startup community while traveling the world with her husband.
Outside of work, you can find her reading, cooking, or coaching girl's lacrosse.
Associate Director and Global Program Director for ELITE at Eli Lilly
Shondria is an Associate Director and Global Program Director for ELITE, a new hire program targeting new campus hires and new experienced hires entering IT at Lilly. She has over 24 years of experience leading IT and Business projects for multiple fortune 500 companies, including 3M, IBM, Anthem, and Lilly. Shondria is an award-winning project and program manager recognized as a finalist for two consecutive years for the coveted Lilly CIO Awards.
Shondria was recognized as a 2020 Golden Laurel shining star by InnoPower and the Indianapolis Recorder. She is a graduate of Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) Emerge Academy and a recipient of the Butterfly Award. She is a storyteller, community volunteer and connector. She is a member of the board of Trustees for the Oaks Academy, and a past president of BDPA Indianapolis and currently a BDPA Indianapolis board member. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University. She also attended Indiana Wesleyan University, where she earned her Masters in Business Administration and was voted by her cohort as “Most Outstanding Professional.” Shondria and her husband have been married for almost 20 years and have two children: a son and daughter.
User Experience Engineer and Full Stack Developer at Eli Lilly and Company
Michael Siegert Jr. is a user experience engineer and full stack developer with a background in user experience design, backend development in PostgreSQL and Python and front-end development in Typescript and React. Michael currently works at Eli Lilly and Company as a Senior Software Engineer in Research and Development and has worked at Lilly for four years. He graduated from Miami University in 2019 with a BS in Computer Science and Interactive Media Studies, where he was a member of the Lilly Leadership Institute cohort six, and, after graduating, a member of the Seeing Differently cohort one. Michael is also the relationship coordinator for the Lilly Leadership Institute at Miami and facilitates communication between Miami and Lilly for the program. He is also passionate about upskilling and facilitates a forum for technical upskilling on this team, coaches as part of Lilly’s technical bootcamp for Python and creates and presents workshops at Lilly around understanding introversion and personality types.
Deputy Director of Technology Demonstrations at NASA Headquarters
Nicole is the deputy director of technology demonstrations in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, where she assists in managing a broad portfolio of key technology advancements for future science and exploration missions for the agency and nation. Prior to that, she managed a group of senior project managers to accomplish work in launch systems, spacecraft development, and landing systems. As a senior project manager herself, she led testing of the Orion spacecraft, the vehicle which will take the first woman and next man to the lunar surface as part of NASA’s Artemis Program. She has over 25 years of experience across NASA in engineering, mission operations, and program management, and volunteers regularly with numerous organizations to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Nicole has a bachelor’s in Mathematics and Statistics and a bachelors in Aeronautics from Miami University, and a master’s in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Cincinnati.
Christopher Smitherman, II
National Real Estate Manager at McDonald’s
Christopher Smitherman II. is a graduate of the 2018 class at Miami University. He majored in mechanical engineering with a minor in paper science. Smitherman currently works for the McDonald’s corporation as a National Real Estate Manager, maintaining McDonald’s brand standards and managing all property acquisitions for McDonald's in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Since graduating he has started his own digital media consulting business and has spent time working with clients such as Sports Illustrated to create creative and engaging content, grow regular site/page viewers, and increase brand loyalty through strategic marketing and advertising.
Outside of work Smitherman received his MBA in Global Leadership and MS in Organizational Leadership from Colorado Technical University. Smitherman really enjoys learning new things and keeps busy. Life is short and is what you make it. And he wants to make the most of it. He enjoys working out, watching movies, and reading books in my spare time. One thing at McDonald’s people say is always remain a student of the business. Smitherman strives to remain a student of life and is constantly pushing himself to learn new things and take himself to the next level.
Christopher Smitherman, Sr.
Christopher E.C. Smitherman is an American politician and businessman who previously served as the Vice Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio. An Independent, Smitherman has been a member of the Cincinnati City Council and the Cincinnati Planning Commission. Smitherman is the former president of the Cincinnati NAACP, serving from April 2007 to January 2014.
Smitherman is a Financial Planner and small business owner. He has owned and operated his financial planning practice since returning to Cincinnati in 1997. In 2009, Smitherman purchased the old Bond Hill Library and relocated his financial planning office to the building located in Bond Hill, Cincinnati. As a financial planner, Smitherman focuses on helping his clients gain wealth through systematic savings, life insurance, and estate planning.
Engineer, Senior Technology Executive and Advisor, Transformation and Future of Work Leadership
Jeff Wilcox retired from the position of Lockheed Martin Vice President for Digital Transformation. Before that, he was the corporate Vice President for Engineering and Program Operations. Mr. Wilcox is a business strategist, engineering expert and thought leader who envisions and executes forward-thinking solutions that deliver enterprise value. He has deep foundational experience in leading engineering and manufacturing enterprises and applying systems thinking to deliver innovative answers to customers’ most complex challenges. Mr. Wilcox earned his B.S. in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University and his M.S. in electrical engineering from Drexel University. He holds an honorary Doctor of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. Mr. Wilcox is an adjunct professor at Miami University and Georgetown University School of Medicine, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Senior Director - Workforce Collaboration at Eli Lilly and Company
Bryce Williams is a ’99 Systems Analysis Miami alum who is a Workforce Collaboration Advisor with over 20 years of IT experience in the healthcare industry. Mr. Williams currently develops the strategy, adoption, consultation, and behavioral aspects of digital workplace capabilities for the Eli Lilly & Company workforce. Previously, Mr. Williams had been responsible for the implementation of custom or purchased software for pharmaceutical businesses. Some of Mr. Williams’ career specialties include Future of Work, social business, team collaboration, community management, enterprise-wide consultation and education, digital workplace strategy, Cloud solutions and enterprise security for Cloud solutions, and IT support operations.
Associate Director, Product Development Eli Lilly and Company
Nora graduated from Miami University in 2016 with a B.S. in Software Engineering. During her time on campus, she was heavily involved in the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute (now the Lilly Leadership Institute), Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity, and Kode2Learn—an organization focused on teaching elementary school students how to code. After graduation, Nora accepted a job at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis as an IT Analyst in the Medicines Development organization. Over the past 7 years, she has led projects and teams focused on the implementation of technologies within the digital biomarkers, decentralized clinical trials, and product development spaces. Currently, she is completing an international short-term assignment at the Lilly Japan Affiliate in the Research and Development IT space. In this role, Nora leads a team that is focused on implementing digital capabilities and services to support medicines development in Japan.
Nora lives in Indianapolis with her husband Connor (Miami Mergers) and their puppy Willow. She recently completed her dual Executive MBA and MS in Healthcare Leadership from Cornell University.