The Garage Staff
As founding executive director of The Garage, Melissa leads the team and vision for the space, community, and programming. She is a former Googler, startup veteran, and entrepreneur with a decade of experience at consumer technology companies in Silicon Valley. Currently, she is a committee member of ChicagoNEXT (the mayor’s technology council), a member of P33 (the Chicago Technology Initiative), and a venture partner at Chicago Ventures. She was named to Chicago Inno’s 50 on Fire in 2017 and Crain’s Tech 50 in 2018. Melissa received her BA in computer science from Dartmouth College.
Hayes manages The Garage’s programs and resources, including Residency, Propel, Wildfire and mentorship. Additionally, she leads efforts to partner with the broader Northwestern community on entrepreneurial initiatives. Before joining the staff full time in 2018, Hayes was an EIR at The Garage, mentoring myriad student startup teams. A founding member of the management team at Legacy.com, Hayes has served in leadership and advisory roles at multiple digital companies. Earlier in her career, she taught journalism at Medill after several years as a magazine writer and foreign correspondent. Hayes has a BA from Vanderbilt University and did graduate work as a Rotary Scholar at the University of Perugia in Italy and as a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Assistant Director of Operations & Finance
Elisa ensures smooth operations and finances to support The Garage’s programs, spaces, and community. She 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.
Senior IT Manager
Ben ensures The Garage has the right physical and digital technologies to support our space and community. He 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 oversees all of the marketing, branding, and communications for The Garage. She has worked in the public and educational sectors and has special interests in international relations and social entrepreneurship. Elisabeth also has extensive experience in nonprofit marketing. She’s joined The Garage with a passion for work in higher education and a love of all things student-centered. Elisabeth received her BA in Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies and her Master’s of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from Northern Illinois University.
Director, The Garage San Francisco
Mike is responsible for local operations, programming, and building a community of entrepreneurial focused Northwestern alumni, students, and faculty in San Francisco. Prior to The Garage, Mike was an investor at a venture capital firm founded by Northwestern alumni, where he provided support and mentorship. He began his career serving in a multitude of strategy-focused roles at one of the largest media companies in Los Angeles. Mike is a proud Northwestern alum, having graduated with a BS in Communication focused on TV & Film.