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Meet the Staff

Leadership Team

Executive Director (Vacant)

Acting Executive Director, Brandon Lagana
blagana@niu.edu
815-753-7204

Brandon Lagana

Brandon Lagana

Director, Planning & Assessment
blagana@niu.edu
815-753-7140

Education

Ed.D., Adult, Higher, and Community Education
M.A., Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education
B.A., Speech Communication

I joined Career Services in 2011. I lead the department's career-related data collection, analysis and assessment, in addition to serving as the department's acting executive director since August 2015.

Why did you choose your career path? What do you like best about your career choice?

Experiencing life through learning and serving others is my mission professionally and personally. It is why higher education has been a rewarding career for 22 years and why my passion for helping students develop career paths continues to be energizing. I enjoy helping students achieve their goals, and seeing them make connections across disciplines to create something new for themselves, their families and their communities.

Cathy Doederlein

Cathy Doederlein

Director, Internships & External Relations
cdoederlein1@niu.edu
815-753-7169

Education

M.A., Communication
B.A., Communication

I joined Career Services in 2015, and have been employed at NIU since 2011 (and am also a proud double alumna). I oversee internships and external relations with a primary focus towards increasing internship opportunities for students and helping our employer partners best meet their internship and full-time hiring needs.

What energizes you?

The students! Having the opportunities to work with students to narrow down what they think they might want to pursue as a career path, helping them find internship opportunities to consider pursuing, and then seeing them experience an internship that allows them to confirm if they are on the right career path for them…when a student gets to have that “Aha! moment” about their potential career, it’s very rewarding!

Joyce Keller

Joyce Keller

Associate Director, Career Development
jkeller@niu.edu
815-753-9113

Education

M.S.Ed., Counseling, Emphasis in Student Development in Higher Education
B.A., English

I began working as a career counselor at NIU in 2001 and joined the Career Services team in 2005. I provide direction and leadership for student career development, including career counseling services and career education initiatives.

Why did you choose your career path? What do you like best about your career choice?

Colleges are places of great transformation, where students explore their strengths and interests and establish career and life goals. I realized early in my own career development that I wanted to educate and support students as they work through these life-shaping changes. The best part of working in Career Services is the privilege of witnessing the moments when students discover new possibilities for their lives.

Edward Heard

Edward Heard

Assistant Director, Campus Partnerships & Engagement
edwardheard@niu.edu
815-753-8347

Education

Psy.D., Clinical Psychology
Th.M., Theology
B.S., Journalism

I began my time of service at NIU in 2004, joining Career Services in 2008. I collaborate with university partners, employers and alumni to induce student success, and I also provide strategic outreach to diverse communities on campus. Through counseling I help students search for life meaning and purpose, a process that includes an evolving vocational story.

Career advice for students

Thoroughly consider career objectives and engage in experiences that will move you toward them. It’s natural to redefine your goals. Be prepared for change, and keep life perspective along your career path. Value feedback from others, build a network of support and tap into the plethora of resources at the university. Balance confidence with humility and infuse personal integrity into your professional development.

Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery

Business Manager
Assistant to the Executive Director
wmontgomery@niu.edu
815-753-7204

I joined Career Services in 2013. I am a member of the Career Services leadership team. I primarily perform business and human resource functions of the department, provide director-level contact in campus interactions and network with all areas of our department.

A fun fact about myself

In my spare time I’m a genealogist - casually since a teenager, actively since 1982. Who wouldn’t be with such an old surname? I built a database with over 6,000 names, all related. I have three websites of family trees. I have connected family lines that reach back over 300 years, to Ireland. My DNA connections prove it. In my lifetime I will “experience” Ireland, perhaps for the 300-year anniversary of my rugged ancestors coming to America in 1718.

Internships & External Relations

Caroline Kosmel

Caroline Kosmel

Student Relations Specialist
ckosmel@niu.edu
815-753-8341

I joined Career Services in October 2001. My primary role is internship administration, documenting/processing the paperwork for internships that students engage in with employers to gain career-related work experiences. Additional duties include credential file management, full-time and graduate school placements and other administrative support functions.

A fun fact about myself

I like to travel, to explore new places. While growing up, I always thought it would be fun to have a career as a flight attendant. I did take a different career path, in which I enjoy helping students become successful as they make their career choices. You may see me walking around campus during my lunch hour to get exercise and it re-energizes me for the rest of the day.

Carolyn Ramsey

Carolyn Ramsey

Employer Relations Specialist
cramsey@niu.edu
815-753-7170

I joined Career Services in 2002. I enjoy my duties scheduling on-campus interviews for our students, working with employers, activating internships and jobs in the Huskies Get Hired database and assisting students and employers in using Huskies Get Hired.

What energizes you?

I am energized by our NIU students when they get either an internship or full-time position. To top that off, many of our graduates come back as recruiters.  Current students are really impressed to see one of their own as a successful NIU alumnus in a real-life job representing their employer. I love being able to interact with NIU students!  I’m also energized by my grandchildren and learning about genealogy.

Jan Wylde

Jan Wylde

Employer Relations Specialist
jwylde2@niu.edu
815-753-8346

I joined Career Services in 2006 as extra help, becoming full-time staff a year later. My primary responsibilities as an employer relations specialist include working with employers to post their jobs and internships, reserve space and create schedules for on-campus interviews and coordinate campus interviews taking place in Career Services. I am a member of the career fair planning team and a co-coordinator of the Graduate and Professional School Fair.

Career advice or favorite tip I would give to students

Finish your degree. Just make it happen. Whether you are the first in your family to finish college or are continuing a long family tradition, a baccalaureate degree opens up a whole new level of opportunities for you. Employers know that your experiences have prepared you to think and work through problems. Earning that diploma is an accomplishment that you take with you whatever path you choose and will always be an asset.

Katherine Zuidema

Katherine Zuidema

Employer Relations Specialist
kzuidema@niu.edu
815-753-8344

I joined Career Services in 2001. As an employer relations specialist, I work with employers across the globe and locally to post their part-time and full-time jobs as well as internship opportunities to our Huskies Get Hired online job search database.

A fun fact about myself

I founded the Huskies Student Food Pantry in 2013 as a way of helping NIU students who struggle financially remain focused and graduate. Because I was in a similar situation myself, I respect and relate to those students who are determined to build a better future for themselves.

Diane Hart

Diane Hart

Employer Relations Specialist
dlhart@niu.edu
815-753-7159

Education

B.S., Business Management, Emphasis in Human Resources

I joined Career Services in 1999. Coordinating the all-majors Internship Fair and the Intern of the Month and Intern of the Year scholarship program are my primary roles in Career Services.

Career advice or favorite tip I would give to students

It’s never too early to begin developing soft skills, like being able to communicate with people in person, and seeking opportunities for yourself. Opportunities include paid or unpaid internships or part-time jobs in the field that you want to be in while you are in school. Know that negative experiences can be just as informative as positive experiences for making future career choices.

Cooky Ikeler

Cooky Ikeler

Database Administrator
cooky@niu.edu
815-753-1650

Education

B.A., Spanish Literature

I joined Career Services in 2000. After a 33-year career at NIU, I retired in 2011. I’ve returned to assist with the administration of Huskies Get Hired including database setup/transfer of data, training, setting policies/procedures, fair registration, updating, reporting and troubleshooting. Additional duties include website maintenance and assisting with job fairs.

A fun fact about myself

I love sports and competition. I have been involved in sports my entire life, playing as well as coaching at various levels. I was on the NIU Badminton Team (1974-1978). My current passion is volleyball. I play at NIU’s Rec Center twice a week with students, staff and faculty. Once a week, I join other seniors at a nearby volleyball facility and enjoy a 3-hour workout. I root for the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Vikings.

Career Counseling & Career Education

Barbara Fouts

Barbara Fouts

Assistant Director
bfouts@niu.edu
815-753-8343

Education

Psy.D., Clinical Psychology
B.A., Psychology

I joined Career Services in 2007. As a career counselor, I help students explore strengths, skills, values, interests and circumstances, and develop plans to achieve career, educational and life goals. Selecting a major, applying for internships, jobs and graduate/professional school can be both exciting and challenging. I offer a supportive place to explore career options and resources, search for career related opportunities, develop internship, job and graduate school materials, and enhance interview skills.

Why did you choose your career path? What do you like best about your career choice?

I felt called to become a counselor - a career focused on giving to others. Students are the best part of my career! I enjoy getting to know students, hearing their stories, watching them progress in their career development, celebrating their successes and sharing my expertise to help them reach their goals. The cool part is that I learn something new from every student I meet.

Brian Pillsbury

Brian Pillsbury

Assistant Director
pillsbury@niu.edu
815-753-9180

Education

Ph.D., Counseling Psychology
B.A., Psychology

I joined Career Services in 2000. Students and I collaborate to identify and help them progress toward their career ambitions. We work together to make student career success a reality. I also manage daily operations for the office and conduct outreach for certain academic departments and the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center.

What energizes you?

I am energized by witnessing and contributing to individual development. I am energized by helping people discover and develop their untapped potential. I am energized whenever a client says to me “Huh. I didn’t know I could do *that*.” It’s the introduction of the individual to the broad array of possibilities that they had little idea existed. Or that they perceived but didn’t know how to navigate. That is what energizes me. And caffeine.

Teri Schmidgall

Teri Schmidgall

Career Counselor
schmidgall@niu.edu
815-753-7201

Education

M.A., Community Counseling
B.A., History and Secondary Education

I joined Career Services in 2007. I am a career counselor and I help students figure out what they want to do with their lives and help them make plans to do it.

Career advice or favorite tip I would give to students

Say YES to opportunity. Your career path won’t be a straight line. There will be detours and maybe obstacles, think of them as opportunities. If you say no to an opportunity that presents itself because it isn’t “perfect,” you will wait forever and miss chances to expand your skill sets, your network and your understanding of what you can accomplish by putting yourself out there. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

Anne Marie Edwards

Anne Marie Edwards

Career Counselor
aedwards8@niu.edu
815-753-8335

Education

Master of Business Administration
M.S. and B.S., Hospitality and Tourism Management

I joined the Career Services team in 2012. Currently, I work as a career counselor assisting students, faculty and staff with their career development needs.

What energizes you?

Light bulb moments energize me! A light bulb moment occurs when a person finally “gets” the meaning of something or has a glimmer of understanding of a message. I love to see students have those moments that sometimes affirm their reasons for coming to NIU and affirm one of the many reasons I enjoy my career choice!

Stephanie Spencer

Stephanie Spencer

Career Development Specialist
sspencer@niu.edu

Education

M.S.Ed., Higher Education and Student Affairs
B.A., Sociology

I joined Career Services in 2014. I work with alumni job seekers, provide marketing assistance to the office and manage special projects.

Why did you choose your career path? What do you like best about your career choice?

As an undergraduate, I worked for residence life, orientation and admissions departments. These roles allowed me to help students make connections on how their time at college could shape life after graduation. I loved helping my peers make career decisions, so I knew this was the path for me! In this career, I get to help people find happiness through making informed career decisions. We spend too many hours working to be unhappy with our jobs!