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Meet the Team

Meet the Team

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation team is paving the way for Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit. Housed on a collaborative campus, we are a group of committed professionals dedicated to promoting and supporting students, faculty, staff, alumni, researchers and local entrepreneurs as they navigate the complex process of creating and growing a startup. To see a full list of Polsky Council members, click here. For general inquiries, questions, and feedback about the Polsky Center, please contact us at polsky@uchicago.edu.

We are hiring! View the job openings.      

Polsky Exchange

E.J. Reedy
E.J. Reedy

E.J. Reedy

Senior Director, Polsky Exchange

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.0812
M: 512-294-9547

ereedy0@uchicago.edu

E.J. Reedy is the senior director of the Polsky Exchange, the Polsky Center’s 34,000 square foot co-working space on 53rd street in Hyde Park. In addition to his role at the Polsky Exchange, E.J. leads the Polsky Center’s fintech initiatives and the Polsky Accelerator program. He is a global thought leader in entrepreneurship, having spent the last decade working for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the largest philanthropy devoted to promoting entrepreneurship. E.J.’s research and commentary has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and a host of other global outlets.

Steph Avalos-Bock
Steph Avalos-Bock

Steph Avalos-Bock

Assistant Director, Educational Programming

1452 East 53rd Street, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-5168

Steph Avalos-Bock, AB ’08, serves as the assistant director, educational programming at Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Based at the Polsky Exchange, she is responsible for the educational workshops and events and the mentorship program. She also runs the Polsky Incubator, a program for ambitious startups working full-time out of the Polsky Exchange. Steph offers weekly office hours to advise entrepreneurs on all aspects of starting a startup, from ideas to testing and building products. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Steph worked with innovative Fortune 500s to build mobile apps at Solstice, and co-founded a 3D printer startup. 

Steph earned an AB in music from the University of Chicago. 

Cindy Domecki
Cindy Domecki

Cindy Domecki

Receptionist

1452 East 53rd Street, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773-795-0075

Cindy Domecki is responsible for all visitors’ first impressions of the Polsky Exchange both in person and through telephone. Additionally she assists with various administrative tasks.

Jane Johnson
Jane Johnson

Jane Johnson

3D and Fabrication Fellow

1452 E. 53rd St.
Chicago, IL 60615
773.702.2952

janej@uchicago.edu

Jane Johnson serves as the 3D and Fabrication Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She assists members with prototyping and ensures lab equipment is properly functioning. Prior to joining Polsky, she was in the Metal Fabrication industry as a CNC Machinist where she worked on projects for aerospace and other projects related to the Department of Defense. Jane recently completed the robotics training program at Building Self Determination, and is also certified by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

Jane joined Technology Manufacturing Aligned in 2013 and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council in 2017. In her spare time, she serves the homeless in her community and is part of a motorcycle club. She also practices yoga.  

Elizabeth Koprucki
Elizabeth Koprucki

Elizabeth Koprucki

Assistant Director, Fab Lab and Design

1452 E. 53rd St.
Chicago, IL 60615
773-795-0558

Elizabeth Koprucki serves as the assistant director, Fab Lab and design at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She manages the Polsky Center’s Fab Lab where she mentors entrepreneurs and researchers through the prototyping process. She oversees the Fab Lab’s programming and staffing and connects Polsky Exchange members with resources on campus and across Chicago. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Elizabeth designed and co-taught a maker program at the Ancona School, as well as working as a maker educator at the Art Institute and the Chicago Public Library. She served as CNC area host at Pumping Station:One and has done graphic design for a number of South Side businesses and nonprofits. 

Elizabeth earned a BA in graphic design from Bradley University. 

Elizabeth is passionate about getting people involved in prototyping and making. In her spare time, she continues to be active in the Chicago maker community. She volunteers as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and enjoys making jewelry and traveling. 

Nima Merchant
Nima Merchant

Nima Merchant

Senior Associate Director of Strategic Planning and Partnership

1452 E 53rd St., 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-5625

nmerchant@uchicago.edu

Nima Merchant serves as senior associate director of strategic planning and partnerships at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She facilitates collaboration with community, ecosystem and corporate partners, in addition to leading organizational strategic initiatives.  

Prior to joining Polsky, Nima held several roles at Chicago Booth in both full-time admissions and Career Services. Before joining the University of Chicago, Nima spent several years in healthcare working for the Advisory Board Company, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Johns Hopkins Medicine International, and a boutique practice management consulting firm.  

Nima holds an MPH from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a bachelor of science from Syracuse University in health sciences/management.  

Nima has a diverse set of interests and during her free time enjoys live music, cooking with her family, enjoying Chicago’s many amazing restaurants, and working out.  

Danielle Moore
Danielle Moore

Danielle Moore

Receptionist

1452 East 53rd Street, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773-834-5168

Danielle Moore is responsible for all visitors’ first impressions of the Polsky Exchange both in person and through telephone inquiries regarding membership. Additionally she assists with various administrative task.

Nick Neu
Nick Neu

Nick Neu

Operations Manager

1452 East 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
773-702-2470

nneu@uchicago.edu

 

Nick Neu serves as the operations manager at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Based out of the Polsky Exchange, Nick plays an integral role in maintaining the most publicly accessible and community facing component of the Polsky Center footprint, overseeing all physical aspects of the Polsky Exchange. By coordinating with the Polsky reception team, security staff, and porters, he manages logistical support for events, programming, and Polsky staff working within the facility. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Nick managed the inventory team as a member of the Facilities Services department at the University of Chicago. In addition to providing sourcing, procurement, and planning support, while also assisting with various department wide analytics projects.

Nick earned a BA in chemistry from Michigan State University. Since graduating from MSU, he has continued to explore additional educational opportunities, earning a certificate in supply chain management from MIT and becoming increasingly involved with APPA, the leading industry group for educational facilities management professionals.  

Isra Omar
Isra Omar

Isra Omar

Program Manager

1452 E. 53rd St., 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60615

iomar@uchicago.edu 

Isra Omar manages the Polsky Small Business Growth program, which supports small business owners on the south and west side of Chicago to help them grow and scale their businesses through consulting work completed by top student talent.

Isra has a strong passion for helping small businesses and the local Chicago community. She is a volunteer for the Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA) where she manage the oral recording sessions of its storytellers in partnership with StoryCorps. In recognition of her hard work, Isra was named the first recipient of the Emerging Young Leader Award presented during the 2018 Annual MALA Gala. She previously worked for Studio Gang Architects. Isra is a graduate of DePaul University with a degree in accountancy and a minor in Arabic studies. 

 

Christopher Schneider
Christopher Schneider

Christopher Schneider

IT Support Specialist

1452 E. 53rd St., 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60615

cschneider1@uchicago.edu

Christopher  Schneider serves as the IT support specialist at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He runs the TechBar at the Polsky Exchange, a walk-up technology support desk providing IT consulting, equipment rentals, and troubleshooting support for Polsky Exchange members and staff. In addition, he works with the Polsky Exchange staff to improve systems and programming to better serve the needs of entrepreneurs at the University and the Mid-South Side.  

Christopher  is interested in how technology and innovation shape ethics and culture in the modern world, and how to promote and support social impact innovation. In his spare time, he enjoys biking, hammocking, and reading about theology, philosophy, and politics. 

Katie Spoden
Katie Spoden

Katie Spoden

Assistant Director

Polsky Exchange North
1452 E. 53rd St., 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773.795.0209

kspoden@uchicago.edu

As the Assistant Director at the Polsky Exchange, Katie is responsible for coordinating the membership program for the coworking space and planning Polsky Exchange events. She has previously managed events for the Field Museum in Chicago.

Katie holds a Masters in Leadership Studies from North Central College in Naperville with concentrations in Social Entrepreneurship and Professional Management, and a BS in Sociology from Bradley University in Peoria.

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