Leveraging Partnerships to Move Ahead Innovation across Disciplines

This session welcomes experts from within and outside of DePaul to discuss the best practices in leveraging partnerships for innovation. DePaul has a long history of successful partnerships that cross organizational boundaries and disciplines. Panelists will provide examples from their work on such interorganizational and interdisciplinary initiatives, and give faculty guidance on how to get involved in collaborations to leverage resources for innovation. 

Fernando De Maio
Professor, Sociology & Public Health Faculty
College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences and
Director of Research & Data Use
AMA Center for Health Equity

Fernando De Maio Image

Fernando De Maio is a Professor of Sociology at DePaul University. He serves as Director of Research and Data Use at the American Medical Association’s Center for Health Equity. His research and teaching interests lie primarily within medical sociology and social epidemiology, with a focus on the concept of structural violence and the social determinants of health. His work has been guided by the notion of ‘radical statistics’ – the idea that statistical analysis can be used to not just describe the world, but to change it. Dr. De Maio is the author of Health & Social Theory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and Global Health Inequities (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and co-editor of Latin American Perspectives on the Sociology of Health and Illness (Routledge, 2018), Community Health Equity: A Chicago Reader (University of Chicago Press, 2019), and Unequal Cities: Structural Racism and the Death Gap in America’s 30 Largest Cities (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021). He was a founding co-director of the Center for Community Health Equity, a collaboration between DePaul and Rush University. Dr. De Maio has received the Steve Whitman Award from the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group.

Colleen D. Egan
President & CEO
Illinois Science and Technology Coalition & Institute

Colleen Egan Picture

Colleen D. Egan is President and CEO for the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition and Institute. Ms. Egan has served as the Chief Operating Officer for several companies including 212°, Zula USA and Akoo International as well as executive roles with Clarity Partners and Otherwise. She serves on several boards and committees, including as a founding member of The Women In Entrepreneurship Institute at DePaul University, U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s LGBTQ task force, Chicago Tech Academy’s Board of Directors, Illinois Technology Association’s Talent Advisory Board, National Louis University’s Advisory Board M.S. Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship Program, The Women’s Sports Foundation, and the Chicago Innovation Women’s Mentoring Co-Op. Ms. Egan is the recipient of the 2018 Illinois Technology Association CityLIGHTS Prominent Woman in Tech award, the 2018 Connected World Woman of IoT award, and Crain’s Chicago Business Notable LGBTQ Executive in 2018 and in 2019.

Sheena Ereta
Associate Professor and
Co-director, Technology for Social Good Research & Design Lab
College of Computing & Digital Media

Sheena Erete Image

Sheena Erete is an associate professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University and co-director of the Technology for Social Good Research and Design Lab. With a background in computer and social science, she is an expert in understanding how to design and evaluate the use of technologies in resource-constrained communities to address issues such as violence, civic engagement, health and STEM education. With all her work being community-based, Dr. Erete takes an asset-based approach to co-designing technologies with residents from resource-constrained communities.

Dr. Erete has a Ph.D. in Technology and Social Behavior (a joint degree in computer science and communication) from Northwestern University, a Masters in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, and Bachelor degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics from Spelman College. More can be found at www.sheenaerete.com

Stacy Ignoffo
Director of Community Health Innovations
Sinai Urban Health Institute

Stacy Ignoffo Image
(Photo credit: Randy Belice)

Stacy Ignoffo, MSW, is Director of Community Health Innovations at Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI). In this capacity, she leads and provides direction to SUHI’s community health worker interventions and the Center for CHW Research, Outcomes and Workforce Development (SUHI’s training and consulting center).

Ms. Ignoffo has extensive experience developing and implementing public health initiatives, building collaborative projects, engaging diverse stakeholders, and applying for and managing grants and contracts. She has designed, developed and implemented numerous programs designed to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities. These include community-based public health initiatives, community-engaged research projects, and initiatives that address policy and systems changes.

Prior to joining SUHI, Ms. Ignoffo served as Executive Director of the Chicago Asthma Consortium and Senior Director of Programs at Respiratory Health Association where she utilized her knowledge of coalition building, non-profit management and administration, program and policy development and implementation to lead lung health activities.

Maija Renko
Professor & Coleman Chair of Entrepreneurship
Driehaus College of Business

Maija Renko teaches entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship classes at DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business. Her research and teaching interests are focused on the early stages of the entrepreneurial process, social entrepreneurship, and technology entrepreneurship. Her research has been published in leading management and entrepreneurship journals, and she has received a number of grants to support her research activities. Dr. Renko’s teaching and research contribute to a better understanding of how entrepreneurs build successful businesses that not only generate financial rewards for those involved, but also contribute to positive social change, a sense of achievement for those– often disenfranchised members of the society– involved, and the advancement of society through the introduction of innovations.