The Garage Team

Melissa Kaufman

Executive Director

Office Hours

Melissa is a startup veteran and entrepreneur with a decade of experience at consumer technologies companies in Silicon Valley. She has worked in-house at Google, YouTube, Polyvore (acquired by Yahoo), and Luvocracy (acquired by WalMart Labs). Most recently, she built her own influencer marketing agency called Storylark. Melissa received her BA in computer science from Dartmouth College in 2003.

Billy Banks

Associate Director

Office Hours

Billy began his career in his family business—a diversified forest products and steel manufacturer. He launched his first startup, M-Tec Corporation, in 2003, and a second one, Reach360, in 2007 after leading the successful sale of his family business. Billy works with Design For America, advises numerous startups and was an adjunct professor at Northwestern prior to starting at The Garage. Billy received his BA in history and political science from Northwestern in 1998 and his MBA in finance and strategy from Indiana University in 2003.

Elisa Mitchell

Assistant Director of Operations & Finance

Elisa Mitchell is an accomplished attorney and CPA with 18 years of experience in the financial securities industry, bringing new investment products to market. As a team member at Allstate, Van Kampen, Morgan Stanley, and Invesco, Elisa helped business leaders navigate a complex competitive landscape and a challenging regulatory framework. She brings strong organizational skills, attention to detail and a can-do attitude to every project. She is thrilled to be the Assistant Director of Operations and Finance at The Garage and enjoys helping each student start a unique entrepreneurial journey.

Benjamin Williams

IT Manager

Ben Williams is a lifelong technology enthusiast, AV systems whiz, and US Army veteran. While deployed to Balad Air Base, Ben assisted as security escort for the ASV fielding and recovery services. During his career, Ben has provided AV/IT services at sites such as The Pentagon, Securities and Exchange Commission, Scott and Nellis Air Force Base, Chevron Headquarters, and ExxonMobil’s Houston campus.

Elisabeth Wright

Marketing Specialist

Elisabeth Wright is a marketing pro with experience in the public, private, and educational sectors, with a special interest in international relations and social entrepreneurship. She joins The Garage with a passion for work in higher education and a love of all things student centered. Elisabeth received her BA in cultural anthropology and her MPA, specializing in nonprofit management, from Northern Illinois University.

Sydnye Doctor

Marketing Coordinator

Sydnye Doctor joins The Garage with a background in marketing, specializing in education, tutoring, and exam prep services. As a former program specialist, she has gained experience in community outreach and special events. Sydnye received her BA in Liberal Arts from Western Illinois University.

Student Aids and Interns

Gabriel Caniglia

Gabriel Caniglia

Sophomore, Cognitive Science & Computer Science

Chicago, IL

Favorite Thing About The Garage: The technology: 3D Printers and Oculus Rifts and drones, oh my!

Chris Chen

Chris Chen

Junior, Computer Science

Prospect, KY

Favorite Thing About The Garage: The fact that almost every wall is a dry-erase board… for those spontaneous, constantly evolving ideas.

Brigitte Broszus

Brigitte Broszus

Junior, Electrical Engineering

San Jose, CA

Favorite Thing About The Garage: so many people to have idea-driven conversations with.

Michelle Nguyen

Michelle Nguyen

Sophomore, Biomedical Engineering

Sugar Land, TX

Favorite Thing About The Garage: Access to technology, like the 3D printer.

Akash Borde

Akash Borde

Sophomore, Computer Science

Iowa City, Iowa

Favorite Thing About The Garage: Northwestern's smartest students come here to build some impressive ideas.

Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller

Junior, Computer Science and Theater

Seattle, WA

Favorite Thing About The Garage: I love how you can come in here at any given hour and people are inventing things.

Joanna Li

Joanna Li

Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Cincinnati, Ohio

Favorite Thing About The Garage: The fast-paced environment filled with crazy ideas and innovative people!