Our Team

The Garage Staff

Melissa Kaufman

Executive Director

Office Hours

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) and a member of P33 (the Chicago Technology Initiative). 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.

Mike Raab

Associate Director

Office Hours

Mike is responsible for overseeing key programs and initiatives, developing relationships with the Northwestern and Chicago entrepreneurial communities, and building new communities around the world to support Northwestern student founders. 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.

Image of Elisa Mitchell

Elisa Mitchell

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.

Jake Juracka

Technology Manager

Jake is in charge of maintaining all technology within The Garage and The Makerspace. Jake found his passion for 3D Printing and Makerspace operations while working at DePaul University’s Idea Realization Lab. After achieving his BS in Video Game Development, Jake put his expertise towards industry, working as Lead Quality Inspector for Fast Radius, a cloud manufacturing company pushing the limits of 3D printing for industrial applications. Excited to be returning to an education role, Jake works to keep all the tools and equipment in The Garage running smoothly, and looks forward to helping students and prospective entrepreneurs realize their creative visions.

Founders in Residence

Ana Cornell

Founder in Residence

Office Hours

Ana is the CEO and Co-Founder of Acorn Genetics, the first at-home DNA testing company. At Northwestern, she studied biomedical engineering, and has experience building user interfaces for apps, nanotech and hardware, and a deep understanding of genetics and xgenetic technology. While at Acorn, she has raised $70,000, recruited and currently manages 15 undergrads, graduates, and full time employees, and participated in a number of programs including Jumpstart, the national NSF I-Corps, and Propel.

Raman Malik

Founder in Residence

Office Hours

Raman is a graduate student at the Kellogg School of Management and the McCormick School of Engineering. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of Rhetoric – a presentation feedback platform.  Prior to Northwestern, Raman spent six years in data science, the majority on the growth team at Lyft as a Data Science Manager. He is passionate about building products to help founders grow and advance their careers.

Mateo Price

Founder in Residence

Office Hours

Mateo studied Psychology and Economics at NU and is passionate about brands, social media, and building digital communities. He’s the founder of Authentic Media Ascension (AMA), which is a creator growth studio helping brands & creators better engage their audiences through data. The business started with a cold email to his favorite YouTuber and has since grown to creating $5M in incremental revenue for their partners.

Medill / Garage Fellows

Katherine Lewis

Medill / Garage Fellow

Katherine Lewis has 20 years of experience as a journalist and author, writing frequently on parenting, education, careers, diversity, and social justice. She lives in Washington DC and received her BA in Physics from Harvard.

Chandra Whitfield

Medill / Garage Fellow

Office Hours

Chandra Whitfield is an award winning, freelance multimedia writer and reporter. She has covered many topics ranging from diversity to travel to mental health for publications ranging from The New York Times to People. Chandra lives in Denver and received her BA in Journalism from Clark Atlanta University.


Please contact us at thegarage@northwestern.edu