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Leadership

Lance Pressl
Managing Director

Lance Pressl was appointed managing director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at the Illinois Institute of Technology in July 2019. Dr. Pressl will focus on matters of strategy, corporate relations, student employment, and fundraising. In addition, he will help coordinate the Kaplan Institute’s engagement activities and events with other units across the university in order to speed and streamline effective and growing interactions with the corporate, business, and technology communities to advance tech entrepreneurship.

Dr. Pressl has extensive experience in the public, private and not for profit sectors. Prior to joining the Kaplan Team, Pressl ran a startup media production company dedicated to showcasing and supporting entrepreneurs and startups.

Previously, Pressl served as President of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation where he developed and implemented programs and events promoting long-term economic growth through innovation-based economic development. Highlights of his tenure as Foundation President include: Founding and leading “The Territorial Review of the Chicagoland Tri-State Metropolitan Area”, the first of its kind study in the United States conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); creating the InnovateNow! Initiative and producing annual Innovation Summits; founding the Illinois Innovation Index; leading the effort to establish the Illinois Innovation Council and re-establishing The Illinois Science Technology Coalition.

Pressl began his professional career in state government in 1979, serving as a budget analyst for the Illinois Bureau of the Budget and later as the special assistant to the chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. After pursuing his graduate studies, he joined a small Chicago-based venture capital firm as vice president and held several leadership positions at Philip Morris Companies, Inc., including director of issues management and director of corporate affairs. In 1996, Pressl was named president of the Civic Federation, the oldest taxpayer watchdog organization in the country. The leadership he demonstrated at the Civic Federation earned him a gubernatorial appointment to the Illinois Accountability Council.

In 2000, Pressl was the Democratic candidate for the United States Eighth Congressional District of Illinois. His congressional race is the subject of the book, Challenging the Incumbent, Congressional Quarterly Press, 2004. Later, Pressl was appointed senior associate for government and public policy for the American Council on Education and previously served as vice president for federal relations and public policy at the Council of Graduate Schools, based in Washington, D.C.

He currently serves as Non-Resident Senior Policy Fellow at the Institute for Work and the Economy. Pressl was awarded the Ford Fellowship for Regional Sustainable Development in the spring of 2008. He earned his BA, MA and Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University.


Jeremy Alexis
Jeremy Alexis
IPRO Program Director

Jeremy Alexis is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Design and the director of Illinois Tech’s Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program. Alexis teaches ID’s core design process class and co-teaches the biomedical engineering design capstone. He is the lead faculty for the Institute of Design’s executive education program, working with organizations such as FedEx, Ford, Nestle Purina, Hitachi Data Systems, The Kresge Foundation, and Leadership Greater Chicago. He conducts research in health care and criminal justice reform with partners including the American Bar Association, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the Sheriff of Cook County. Before joining Illinois Tech in 2005, he worked at the design/innovation firms Gravity Tank (now part of Salesforce) and Doblin (now part of Deloitte).

Jeremy has an M.Des. and B.Arch. from Illinois Tech.

Perspectives on Innovation


Jeremy Alexis
Akshar Patel
Director, Corporate Innovation

Akshar Patel (CE '13) is director of corporate innovation at the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship (Kaplan Institute). His work includes leadership training, university enrollment, fundraising and non-profit development. He is an instructor of Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) at Illinois Tech. His class focuses on human-centered design for developing countries. Patel has worked on projects in Nicaragua to provide housing and education to communities in need. He is currently on the board of FNE International, an organization that partners with communities in developing nations to identify opportunities to advance housing, health and education. Before joining Kaplan Institute, Patel held roles in Career Services and Institutional Advancement at Illinois Tech and worked in enrollment at Champlain College in Burlington, VT.

Akshar holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology and a Masters of Education from the University of Vermont.