Professional Development Week 2023

Mentor-Protege Program

In the mentoring program, students and professionals are paired based on a common background. Students are encouraged to register by March 29 for to be paired early. GCAS will connect and introduce you to your assigned mentor through an email, and you may decide to meet up with your mentor in person on April 3 after the panel, during the networking session. Mentor profiles can be found here on this page, so if you have a strong preference to be connected to some other person on the catalog of profiles, please reach out to us even after pairing has been done.  Mentorship is not restricted to the week of PDW.  It could be extended upon mutual agreement.

Register early here for mentor-matching.

Career/Alumni Panel

Students will get to ask all the questions to two sets of panel of professionals with Arts, Science and Business backgrounds.  The panel session is from 3pm to 4:30pm

Register for this event here or above.


The networking session will follow right after the panel and will continue for an hour.  Students are encouraged to come with their resumes if they would like to receive quick feedback.  There would also be opportunities for informational interviews.

Register for this event here or above.

Browse below to see our list of speakers, panelists and mentors!

Jennifer Polk

Jennifer Polk, PhD, is a career coach and educator. She regularly facilitates professional development workshops and delivers presentations for students and postdocs. Her University Affairs blog was a three-time gold winner from the Canadian Online Publishing Awards. Jen's essays have also appeared in Inside Higher Ed, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Globe and Mail, Academic Matters, as well as in three books. More recently, she was an expert panelist for the 2021 Canadian Council of Academies report, Degrees of Success, on the challenges PhDs face transitioning to employment. In addition, Jen currently serves on the board of directors for CAGS, the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies. She earned her PhD in history from the University of Toronto. Find Jen online at From PhD to Life.

Jeff Rockwood

Entrepreneur in Residence – Bounce Innovation Hub.                                 CEO & Founder – Idlebrook Group

Mr. Jeff Rockwood flourishes at the intersection of technology and impact. Over his 20+ year career, he has curated high-performance teams and driven successful go-to-market initiatives. Currently, Jeff is advising and empowering technology scale-ups and start-ups. At Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron and part of the northern Ohio Jumpstart ecosystem, Jeff serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence.                                                                                                            Prior to his current role of partnering with private equity and economic developers, Jeff co-launched and grew a software & analytics company, ran strategic projects at Fortune 100 firms, and spearheaded international market expansion.                                                                                                      Jeff earned an M.B.A. from Case Western Reserve University, Weatherhead School of Management as well as a bachelor's in Information Systems from Cedarville College. In his free time, Jeff enjoys his family, faith, soccer, golf, and skiing. He also enjoys cross-cultural friendships and travel, as he has visited more than 20 countries across five continents.

Andrea Hauser

Andrea Hauser was appointed as the inaugural executive director of the President's Leadership Development Program at Case Western Reserve University in February 2022. She earned a doctorate in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University and is an alumna of Kent State University, where she earned a master of education in higher education and student affairs and a bachelor of science in integrated social studies education. She has more than 10 years of experience in higher education, serving in both student and academic affairs. Her research focuses on college student identity development, leadership development, and feminist research methods.

Brita Thielen

Brita Thielen graduated with her PhD in English with a concentration in Writing History & Theory in May 2022. Her dissertation spanned the fields of rhetoric and professional communication by examining the strategies food writers use to convey expertise, credibility, and professionalism to their audiences, particularly when they write from historically-marginalized or extra-institutional positions. Brita joined the University of Minnesota Foundation as a Development Researcher in November 2022.

Charmaine Jones

Charmaine Jones is currently AVP, Internal and Executive Communications at AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., a global commercial insurance provider with 6,000+ employees. Previously, she worked as Communications Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and Communications Manager at the Cleveland Clinic. Charmaine holds a b.a. in journalism from Miami University of Oxford, Ohio, and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. A Cleveland native, Charmaine resides in Solon with her husband and two teenage children.

Dr. Lady J

Dr. Lady J is a non-binary trans woman who holds a doctorate in Musicology from Case Western Reserve University with a PhD specialization in drag performance history. Leading through activism and education, Lady J received the 2022 Trans Educator Award from Margie's Hope and was named Cleveland's Best Activist of 2021 by Cleveland Scene readers. Her dissertation "From the Love Ball to RuPaul: The Mainstreaming of Drag in the 1990s" has now reached over 5000 downloads and was featured as a ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Success Story. She has also written for the Journal of the American Musicological Society, reviewing Gillian Rodger's Just One of the Boys: Female-to-Male Cross-Dressing on the American Variety Stage, and her essay "Experimenting with Lady J: A Trans Take on Drag" will be featured in Dance in US Popular Culture (forthcoming). She also serves as the Official Historian for the Austin International Drag Festival and served as the inaugural Director of Programming, Education & Outreach for Studio West 117, a new LGBTQ+ arts and entertainment hub for the Greater Cleveland area. She also recently co-produced and co-hosted the official podcast for FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art where she created a drag costume and performance in collaboration with tufted textile artist Loraine Lynn.

Jason Hoehnen

Jason Hoehnen is a digital product leader with experience delivering innovative, technology-driven, consumer-led products and services across growth stage, corporate, and consulting environments. Jason currently works as a Director at Level20, the growth incubator at Progressive Insurance, where he led the development of and operates Castle, a digitally-enabled concierge home repair business. Prior to Progressive, he has held roles spanning consulting, product strategy, media, marketing, and technology across the Financial Services, Retail, and Consumer Technology industries for companies sized from start-ups through the Fortune 500. Jason is a proud Case alumni, holding a MS in business management from Weatherhead and a bachelor's degree from Otterbein University.

Julia A. Weagraff

Julie A. Weagraff is the Vice President, Fund Development, for Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, and has worked for the council since 2015. She oversees a staff of five and is responsible for all fundraising and advocacy activities for the council, which covers 18 counties across Northeast Ohio and serves 18,000 girl members and 9,000 adult members. She secured the council's first two capital grants from the State of Ohio and is currently leading a $7 million capital campaign to build a STEM Center of Excellence to serve Girl Scouts and students across the Northeast Ohio region.
Ms. Weagraff holds a master's degree in nonprofit management from Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor's degree in public relations with honors from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. She currently serves as President of the Board of Trustees of the Northern Ohio Charitable Gift Planners. Ms. Weagraff also serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Akron Musical Association, the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland, and is a member of the Leadership Council of the Cleveland Leadership Center. In 2022, she was elected to the Association of Fundraising Professionals Global Nominating Committee, representing Ohio and Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Government Affairs Committee of the Akron Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter, ATHENA Akron, and is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Mandy Smith

Mandy Smith is the Director of Education at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She oversees all pre-kindergarten through college onsite and online learning as well as The Garage, the Rock Hall's interactive musical instrument exhibit. She earned her PhD in Musicology from Case Western Reserve University, her MA in Musicology from California State University, Long Beach, and a BA in History of Rock & Roll Music from Indiana University. Mandy has drummed in punk, metal, alternative, and prog rock bands for 30 years.

Mark Corson

Mark has 40 years' experience as a management consultant and learning and development leader. Mark traveled and served clients on six continents, sometimes under challenging circumstances. Besides Cleveland, he has lived in Calgary, Cape Town, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, and Johannesburg. Clients he served include Abbott Labs, Allstate Insurance, Anglo American, Bamangwato Concessions, Bayer, Bougainville Copper, Cleveland Cliffs, Coca-Cola, Dow, Eli Lilly, ExxonMobil, Ford, GSK, JP Morgan, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, Nestle, Shell, Singapore Ministry of Defense, STERIS, Waste Management, and others.

Michael C. Anderson

Mike Anderson was born in Toledo, Ohio. He received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Case Institute of Technology in 1971. Mike returned to Case Western Reserve in 1973 to pursue a graduate degree in Information Science, receiving his PhD in 1976. After graduating, Mike took a faculty position at the Medical College of Ohio, also serving as the Director of Academic Computing. In 1981, Mike left MCO for an IT position in the private sector. Now in his 42nd year in corporate IT, Mike manages the engineering team at Great Northern Consulting in Columbus, Ohio. In his spare time, Mike is a writer and has published three books on contemporary American politics. He lives in Westerville, Ohio with his wife Eva.

Myra G. Orenstein

For over 40 years, Myra Orenstein has been the President of CATV, Inc., a award-winning marketing and advertising collaborative headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. A copywriter by trade, she specialized in cable television marketing and branding campaigns representing cable companies in northeast Ohio and Toronto, Ontario, Canada as well as HBO, Showtime, The Disney Channel, Comcast Cable and numerous record labels. She was a consultant for MasterCard International assisting in its co-branding and credit card acceptance efforts as they pertained to the cable television industry. During the Clinton Administration, she assisted in the creation of Easter at the White House, an annual event hosted by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. For the past 16 years, she has served as Executive Director of Cleveland Independents, the largest organization of locally-owned independent restaurants in the country. She is also the Executive Director of Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District. For many years she has been a freelance writer for Cleveland Magazine and other publications. Myra has received awards from major advertising and marketing organizations including but not limited to Cleveland Society of Communicating Arts, the International Association of Business Communicators, The Communicator Awards, The Davey Awards, Telly Awards, the Andy Awards (New York Art Directors) and Cable Magazine's Cable Marketing and Advertising Award. Born in Malden, Massachusetts; Myra is a long-time resident of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University, she is a parent to Danny (daughter-in-law Sarah; grandson Theo) and Becky.

Nicholas Tomko

I defended my Ph.D. dissertation on December 4, 2018 under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Salomon in the Department of Chemistry. After CWRU, I was hired as a junior scientist at an immunology company called Cellular Technology Limited (CTL) located in Shaker Heights, OH in the contract research department. In my time at CTL, I conducted clinical diagnostic testing for the 2nd FDA approved gene therapy called Zolgensma, developed, qualified and validated an anti-SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein IgG ELISA, and served as a principal investigator for 4 biotech companies developing novel gene therapies. In June 2022, I was hired as a Scientist I, Immunology at Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc. in Columbus, OH to support non-clinical and clinical development and testing of Sarepta's pipeline of gene therapies to treat rare diseases such as muscular dystrophies.

Paul Cox

Paul Cox currently serves as Dean of Creative Arts at Cuyahoga Community College, where he oversees nine academic programs, an extensive preparatory academy for young artists and a performing arts series that includes the internationally acclaimed Tri-C JazzFest. He earned a Ph.D. in music history from Case Western Reserve University in 2011, and has taught at Oberlin, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Case Western Reserve University. From 1996-2004, he was the Associate Director of Performing Arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where he produced over 900 concerts and festivals, including the AKI festival of new music (2x winner of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming). He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and completed additional studies at the Aspen Music School, the Royal College of Music (London), Yale's Norfolk New Music Seminar, and Rice University.

Vivian Chen

Vivian Chen is an International Environmental Program Specialist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appointed through the Presidential Management Fellows Program. At EPA, Vivian works on increasing environmental cooperation through technical exchanges and programming between the United States and the Asia-Pacific region. Before entering the federal government, Vivian worked for various non-profits including the American Councils for International Education, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, and the TOMODACHI Initiative. She also taught English at elementary and junior high schools in rural Japan through the JET Program from 2016 to 2018. Vivian graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a dual B.A. in International Studies and Japanese Studies in 2016 and obtained her M.A. in International Economy from Johns Hopkins University SAIS in 2022.

Vera Perkins-Hughes

Vera Perkins-Hughes serves as the Immediate President, Case Western Reserve University African American Alumni Association. She graduated in 1976 WR, Sociology. She retired from her 35-year career in Social Work, included Direct Social Work for abused and neglected children. She specialized in Adoptions, Child Sexual Abuse and laid the groundwork for what is now Independent Living for all foster care youth 16-21. During 1989-1994, she was selected to manage and pilot the Cuyahoga County Rights of passage program. The primary focus of the ROP program was to help foster care teenagers who had grown up in the foster care system become reintegrated into their communities through cultural identity, as well as learn independent living skills to become successful young adults. Vera served as the residential manager for Ohio Boys Town, a residential facility for foster care males ages 10-21 from 1994-2000. From 2000 until her retirement in December 2012 she worked for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services as a foster care licensing specialist responsible for private foster care and adoption agencies licensing by the State and compliance with all state statutes and Ohio Administrative policies and procedures. Since retiring, she has been an active member of the African American Alumni Association and continues to enjoy coming to campus regularly to participate in all events. Vera is married to Albert, they have two sons AJ and Jabbar, four grandsons and one granddaughter, one great-grandson, all which she adores.


Graduate Council of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Students Council

Graduate Students Appreciation Week (Jenn Brown)

Linsalata Alumni Center

Professional Development Center