Lisa-Ann Barnes, PMP, Project+ is the president and founder of BluePontoon (formerly IreeTec), a company specializing in project management. Lisa-Ann is an active project manager and teacher with over 30 years’ experience managing projects, implementing project management offices, and facilitating strategic plans. Lisa-Ann has developed an adaptable methodology for project management and has implemented it successfully in a variety of industries including financial services, information technology, life sciences, manufacturing, and non-profit. She is the author of two digital books on project management, Project Management from Start to Finish and Project Management for Team Members, in addition to coauthoring a book on information technology project management.

Lisa-Ann holds the PMP certification from the Project Management Institute, holds the Project+ certification from CompTIA, and recently completed an EdM from the University of Illinois with an emphasis on adult learning and e-learning ecologies.

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Daniel C. Baumgartner

Daniel C. Baumgartner

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Currently teaching:
Applied Project Management

Daniel Baumgartner is an independent management consultant with more than 30 years of business process management and information technology experience. Formerly a partner in several large management consulting firms, he has held leadership roles in management and information technology consulting services, managed client business analysts and functional managers, and demonstrated expertise in improving business processes, developing IT strategies and plans, leading the implementation of IT solutions to address business issues, and selecting and implementing enterprise-wide software applications. Baumgartner holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

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Perla Castro

Perla Castro

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Perla Castro is the owner of Alpha PM Consulting. A dedicated entrepreneur and a highly adaptable program manager, she has over 20 years of experience driving sizable global program success for Fortune 500 leaders and nonprofit organizations. Often leading multiple projects concurrently, Castro is an expert in building team consensus and cultivating exceptional relationships across cultures, industries, and organizations. Fluent in both Spanish and English, Castro donates her time and experience as a project manager to various community organizations in Chicago and Guatemala. She is also a passionate early-onset Alzheimer’s caregiver, an avid advocate, and an education and awareness activist. Castro holds a master’s degree in management information systems from DePaul University and a certificate in leadership from the Metropolitan Leadership Institute.

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Alyssa Dickman

Alyssa Dickman

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Currently teaching:
Developing People and Teams

Alyssa Dickman has over 20 years’ experience in Talent and Leadership Development. She brings a focus on the people-side of business to all her work, including individuals looking to grow their leadership, teams wanting to work better together, and organizations focusing on talent strategy. Her past experience includes organizational effectiveness consulting at Slalom Consulting and other roles in recruiting, learning, and change management. She is certified in an array of development tools, including MBTI Type Indicator, Hogan Leadership Assessment Series and DISC communication styles. She holds a BA from Brandeis University, an MS in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University and is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach accredited by the International Coach Federation.

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Imran Khan currently serves as the Director of R&D Digital and Data Strategy for Global Medical Affairs at AbbVie Biopharmaceuticals, where he is responsible for spearheading the strategy, development, and deployment of the digital technologies and data capabilities needed to support our pipeline and stakeholders. He has a successful track record of developing innovative technology solutions to enable healthcare providers and patients manage advanced medication therapies for some of the world’s most complex diseases.


Prior to joining biopharma, Khan worked for Advocate Health Care, a large Integrated Delivery Network health system in the state of Illinois, where he led Electronic Health Records implementations, Health Information Exchanges, Patient Portals, several Interoperability projects, and clinical quality improvement initiatives for the largest community of hospital-affiliated physicians in the United States. In other roles, Khan worked for GE Healthcare and Walgreens, where he developed and supported several clinical and pharmaceutical applications.


Khan has 15 years of Strategic Management, Project Management, Change Management, and Organizational Leadership experience in delivering business technology solutions, digital transformations, IT capabilities, and products. Additionally, he has 10 years of graduate teaching experience in online and classroom settings. Khan earned his BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois, MS in Medical Informatics from Northwestern University, and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Additionally, he is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP).

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Claire Knoten (she/her) has over 5 years’ experience in process improvement for Northwestern Medicine and nearly 10 years of work in academic research. In her current role, she manages large scale implementation and change projects for the Northwestern Medicine system and develops the performance improvement curriculums that contain a national award winning program Academy for Quality and Patient Safety. These programs train hundreds of Northwestern Medicine employees each year and result in the completion of over 80 improvement projects that lead to better quality outcomes, improved performance, and efficiencies. Claire holds multiple degrees in Biology (BS), Forensic Science (MS), and Microbiology and Immunology (PhD). She is also a certified change manager through ProSci and is trained in Kata from the University of Michigan.


Karen Larson

Karen Larson

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Currently teaching:
Applied Project Management

Karen Larson is a senior project manager specializing in leading projects and programs in the healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and distribution industries. Her career spans a variety of Fortune 100 companies, with leadership positions in information technology management, software development, and building project and program management offices. Larson has expertise and significant experience in improving business processes, developing corporate strategies and plans, leading the implementation of IT-oriented solutions to address business issues, and building business intelligence practices. She holds an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, a BA from Miami University, and a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute.

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Amy Leonard has over 11 years of process improvement and project management experience, and is certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSSBB) and ProSci change manager. Currently, Amy serves as Manager for the Performance Improvement Office at Northwestern Medicine. In this role, she and her team support the largest region in the system facilitating improvement efforts in alignment with organizational priorities across all facets of the enterprise. In addition to leading improvement projects, the performance improvement team teaches several courses offered internally and coaches program participants in applying improvement tenets; DMAIC methodology, change management and project facilitation. Amy played an integral role in the creation of course materials and teaching aids for Northwestern’s improvement courses.

Prior to transitioning to performance improvement work, she followed her childhood dream of becoming a registered nurse; working in maternal-child and emergency department settings for almost 20 years. Amy’s earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Purdue University Calumet and Associate Degree in Nursing from College of DuPage


Alex (Alexandre) Melo (DeMelo)

Alex (Alexandre) Melo (DeMelo)

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Currently teaching:
Risk Management

Alex Melo is the CEO of SIDIA - Samsung R&D Institute in Amazon, Brazil. SIDIA works on the research and development of cutting-edge technologies covering Smartphones, Smartwatches, Virtual Reality, Games, Digital TV and others. Melo’s career has spanned several different positions in the technology industry. He has had the opportunity to apply project management concepts to such areas as product development, team building, process improvement, tools development, certifications, and training. Known for developing and using simple and practical approaches to address complex project problems, he follows the same principles in his teaching. Melo holds an MS in engineering, PMP certification from the Project Management Institute, and an executive MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

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Anthony Mersino is an enterprise agile coach with Vitality Chicago. Passionate about helping technology teams thrive and organizations transform, he is frequently invited by organizations to help teams adopt agile thinking and the scrum framework. Mersino teaches a wide range of agile and scrum training courses as well as the cultural elements necessary for an organization to gain true business agility. As a coach he helps organizations establish co-located and cross-functional teams, identify effective product owners, and create initial product backlogs. Mersino enjoys working with an organization’s leaders to help them create an environment where people come first, productivity is high, and teamwork is effective and enjoyable. Author of numerous blog posts and articles, he has also written two books: Agile Project Management for Teams and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers. Mersino earned an undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and an MBA at Loyola College of Maryland as well as PMP and PMI-ACP certification.

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Balajirao Ryali has over 20 years' experience in Engineering and Program Management. Spanning the software, telecommunications, manufacturing, medical devices, and biopharmaceutical industries, his professional career includes wide-ranging industrial experience in the new product process design, development, commercialization, design for six sigma, and continuous improvement areas. Ryali is a passionate Leader-Teacher with an active agenda in the Management Science, Operations and Supply Chain Management, Project Management, Business Analytics, and Business Statistics areas. A senior member of the IEEE and the American Society for Quality, and a member of the Project Management Institute and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, Ryali maintains affiliation to the professional bodies. Ryali holds a PhD from Illinois Institute of Technology, an MEM from Northwestern University, an MBA from DePaul University, an MTech from the University of Mysore, and a BE from Osmania University. He is certified by Stanford as Project Manager, certified by Project Management Institute as Project Management Professional, Program Management Professional, Agile Certified Professional, and certified by American Society for Quality as Six Sigma Black Belt and Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence.


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