Latest Posts

Seven Deadly Sins for Facilities Managers

No matter how successful a Facilities Manager is, everyone needs advice. Remember the popular adage that “things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance”? Give yourself every chance you can and avoid some of…

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Want More Occupational Health and Safety Info?

Want more Occupational Health and Safety information? Click on the link below to access NIU’s National Safety Education Center or the Occupational Health and Safety blog link under Other Resources.        

What is Your Safety IQ?

Most of us make regular visits to the doctor for check-ups or to help improve our health.  In those visits, the doctor first takes our temperature, weight, blood pressure and checks our heart.  It is important the doctor test these…

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Why Certification – The Human Resource Edition

Why Certification If you are like me, and many people, you might have found yourself using 2020/2021 as an opportunity to ask yourself “what is next for me”. Well, assuming the answer is something other than moving to the Bahamas…

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Take Notice Employers; Equal Pay Compliance

On March 23, 2021, Illinois enacted SB 1480, which amends several laws, notably the Illinois Equal Pay Act.  While effected employers have significant lead time to begin their compliance efforts (3 years from enactment), Illinois employers will need to start…

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Stakeholder Engagement in a Virtual World

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way that we work; time will tell if working habits and norms ever go “back to normal”.  In the meantime, there have been a lot of lessons learned about how to best engage with…

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Benefit Trends in the Time of COVID

This last year has been one of many new experiences. In some instances, it has been a blessing to be able to be home and spend quality time with family, while others may have found this time to be one…

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HR Heroes

What do hospitals, police stations, fire stations, grocery stores and schools have in common? They employ essential workers, aka HEROES. Doctors, nurses, custodians, police officers, fire fighters, cashiers, stock people, teachers…these are all roles that have been essential to keeping…

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Our Experts

John Newquist

OSHA-Authorized Outreach Trainer

John has over 30 years of experience as a safety trainer. Since 1987 John has trained over 50,000 people including OSHA compliance officers and Fortune 500 Clients. His areas of expertise include Incident Investigation, Confined Space, Excavation Safety, Cranes Signaling, Rigging Safety, Fall Protection, Scaffold Competent Person, Silica Competent Person, CHST Prep, Lockout, Machine Guarding, OSHA Recordkeeping, and Safety Management. Services: Mock OSHA Inspections, Site Safety Audits, Expert Witness 

Don Bartalone

OSHA-Authorized General Industry and Construction Outreach Trainer

Don Bartalone is the lead instructor at the National Safety Education Center. He has 35 years of transportation and warehouse industry experience, serving on the safety team and committee for 20 of those years. Don also spent five years as a facility manager/safety coordinator for an oil refinery and has recently traveled to Saudi Arabia to assist in safety program development for the world’s largest oil company. He holds National Safety Council certificates in Fork Lift Truck Operator Training, Incident Investigation, Safety Inspections and Advanced Safety. Services: 10- and 30-hour General Industry OSHA training, OSHA 511, 501 and 503 instruction.

Brent Bryden

OSHA-Authorized Outreach Trainer

Brent Bryden has 35 years of manufacturing safety and environmental health experience. Brent specializes in facilitating training for small, medium and large employers with a wide range of needs. He is passionate about using basic safety education and training to form strong safety foundations within an organization. Continuous improvement in safety training is his vision and providing results-oriented, quality products and services is his goal. Services: Training, Inspection Audits, Abatement Assistance, Safety Program Development, Implementation & Management.

Allencia Ballard, MPM

OSHA-Authorized General Industry Outreach Trainer

Allencia Ballard has been designing and delivering curriculum and learning materials to teach adults in the business and education sectors for over 10 years.  She is an OSHA-authorized General Industry Outreach Trainer with 6 years of manufacturing safety and environmental health experience, specializing in hazard recognition and machine guarding safety.  She also holds a master's degree in Project Management.

Ericka Westgard

Sr. Facilities Leader

Ericka Westgard is an experienced senior facilities leader and outsourcing expert, having worked with several Fortune 500 clients across many industries developing and implementing integrated facilities strategies.  She has successfully led complex operational workforces across multi-site client portfolios occupying upwards of 100M square feet within the Americas. Ericka balances her operational account leadership experience by having successfully led a number of global support teams, serving more than 10,000 internal facilities associates across the Americas, APAC and EMEA. Ericka has held a number of instructor positions across the US and is a qualified instructor for CFM, FMP and ProFM through Northern Illinois University.

Jerry DiCola

Sr. Director Real Estate and Facilities Operations

Jerry DiCola is the Senior Director, Real Estate and Facilities Operations for Horizon Therapeutics, Inc., a specialty biopharmaceutical company focused on improving patients’ lives by identifying, developing, acquiring and commercializing differentiated products that address unmet medical needs.  As an IFMA, certified instructor Jerry has been facilitating IFMA courses at Northern Illinois University since 2008.  Most recently, board member for Disability Inclusion, an organization which commitment is, “To collaborate with purpose to promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities, to inspire accessible innovation for all, and to foster cultures of inclusion”.   In addition, an active member of the Aspire Facility Committee.  He was a chapter president for the Chicago Chapter of IFMA from 2013 to 2015.

Ronette Kersting

Lean Project Manager

A highly motivated, passionate and accomplished leader with 25+ years of successful experience in a Fortune 500 company.  Ronette creates value by delivering innovative and sustainable solutions to drive bottom line results to help organizations and customers prosper today and tomorrow.  She is a proven leader with a solid background in Project Management, Continuous Improvement, Product Development, Six Sigma, Lean, Supply Chain, Logistics, and Manufacturing coupled with a strong customer design focus.  Ronette received her BS Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and MBA from Northern Illinois University.

Karen Brown

Director of Human Resources, Highland Community College

Karen Brown has held a number of senior executive positions in healthcare and human resources. She currently serves as the Director of Human Resources, Highland Community College, Freeport, IL. Prior to this, she served as Vice President, Operations, at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center, Rockford, IL.  Karen has a Master of Business Administration degree from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. She holds professional certifications: through the American College of Healthcare Executives, Fellow (FACHE); Society for Human Resource Management, Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP); and Human Resources (SPHR).  

Stephanie Gambro

Director of Business Transformation for a Large Fortune 500 Company

Stephanie is a Director of Transformation for a large Fortune 500 Company. She has over twenty years of experience driving strategic transformational programs within large multi-functional organizations. Working with Executive Leadership teams, she helps set the strategic objectives and efforts that will drive an organization towards success. Stephanie also teaches with the NIU Outreach Program, preparing professional learners to sit for the PMP and the SHRM S-CP and CP exams.

John Newton

Human Resources and Learning and Development Professional

John Newton is a Human Resources and Learning and Development professional. He is a coach, consultant, trainer, teacher and public speaker who specializes in helping people and organizations reach their ultimate potential. His company, John Newton and Associates, provides people-development services to a multitude of industries in both non-profit and for-profit organizations. John’s philosophy is “Kindness is the bottom line.” Be kind to your employees and they will reward you with hard work and commitment. John has been an Instructor for Northern Illinois University for over 15 years.
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