Administration and Finance
Steve DeBretto, Executive Director
Steve oversees the strategy and operations of ICNC and is responsible for seeing that the organization is consistently focused on its mission. Before assuming the executive director role, Steve led ICNC’s membership department and was later the first director of ICNC’s export assistance program. Steve grew up in Joliet, Illinois and moved to Chicago to attend university. He lived in Spain and Poland before returning to Chicago and joining ICNC. He has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management with majors in international business, finance, and marketing. Steve and his family live in Rogers Park.
Joshua Punchur, Finance Manager
Josh assumed the responsibilities of ICNC’s Finance Manager in December 2014 where he handles the recording and reporting of financial data. A passion for economic development developed within Josh while attending the University of Pittsburgh to obtain an Urban Studies degree. He moved to Chicago in 2007 to work with a technical assistance center focused on financing small businesses in low income communities throughout the city. This experience inspired Josh to later obtain a Master of Science in Accounting degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago while also working at their Small Business Development Center. Outside of work, Josh enjoys cooking, bicycling, and watching the Steelers.
Veronica Robles, Office Administrator
Veronica handles all administrative responsibilities, which include welcoming visitors, maintaining ICNC's databases, managing conference room reservations, and ensuring that the office is running smoothly. Veronica will also be assisting with finance and property management tasks such as tenant on-boarding, key cards, parking leases, maintenance requests, and tracking of rent and membership dues. Veronica earned her Bachelor's of Science in Speech Language Science at Northern Arizona University and also volunteers with Casa Central and Chicago Canine Rescue. Outside of work, Veronica enjoys traveling as much as possible, spending time with loved ones and her dogs, and bowling.
Business Advising and Entrepreneurship Education
Merly Thomas, Director of Small Business Development Center
Merly oversees the daily operations of the SBDC, housed within ICNC. She is tasked with providing advising to small business clients in areas of business development, marketing, finance, and strategy to name a few. Prior to being a part of the ICNC team, she was a food entrepreneur which opened doors to live, work, and travel across Asia Pacific and Southeast Asia. She has an MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Nottingham as well as a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Texas-Health Science Center. Outside of work, she and her husband are experimental chefs who enjoy hosting friends for meals and gourmet coffee, active in their local church all while chasing after two very curious toddlers.
Lauro Arias, Director of International Trade Center
Lauro Arias is the Director of the International Trade Center. International work is in his DNA. A native of Uruguay and educated in England, Lauro opened the Canadian market for Wines of Uruguay and later worked for an international fruit shipping organization. He is a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) by the National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE International). He has particular expertise in feasibility studies and business plans. He speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese. He enjoys going to Farmers Markets with his wife and searching for the best alfajores in the City.
Hannah Jones, Director of Economic Development
Originally from a small farming community in Southern Illinois, Hannah moved to Chicago to begin studying cities in 2010. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Public Affairs from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013, and her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy in 2015. Starting as an intern, Hannah now heads ICNC's Economic Development department where she assists local businesses with navigating City Hall, locating incentive and grant programs, as well as advocating for improved industrial policies and services. In her free time, Hannah enjoys reading comic books, trying out different makeup techniques, and being as vocal as possible about her love for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fund Development and Marketing
Michelle Collett, Marketing and Fund Development Associate
As the Marketing Associate at ICNC, Michelle is in charge of social media, managing the website, and other marketing initiatives. Michelle recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business degree in Marketing from DePaul University. Michelle previously volunteered with the American Cancer Society and participates in the Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics of Illinois every year. Outside of work, Michelle enjoys spending time with her big family, taking photos, attending concerts and sporting events, and traveling anywhere and everywhere.
Incubator Property Management
Robert Climack, Property Manager
Bob Climack is the Property Manager at ICNC. Prior to this role, Bob worked at ICNC as an Account Executive. As an Account Executive, Bob strived to provide the best customer service to employers while focusing on business growth and job creation. Now as ICNC’s Property Manager, Bob looks forward to providing tenants with exceptional management, including prompt maintenance service, as well as maintaining a safe and attractive environment to work in. Bob earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Public Administration from Governor’s State University, where he studied public policy and urban planning.
Erasmo Velazquez, Assistant Property Manager
Erasmo joined ICNC as the Assistant Property Manager in September 2018. Prior to ICNC, he was in Banking for two years where he provided financial services to entrepreneurs and small business owners. In 2016, he graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. Prior to pursuing an education, Erasmo served in the U.S. Army as an M1 Armor Crewman (Tanker), which included a nine month deployment to Afghanistan. Outside of work, Erasmo enjoys spending time with family and friends and watching sports.
Noemi Alvarado, Custodian
Noemi has been with ICNC since March of 2015. Noemi is a custodian where she keeps the common area and outside grounds clean.
Rosa Castruita, Custodian
Rosa has been with ICNC since August of 2015. Rosa is a custodian where she keeps the common area and outside grounds clean.
George Ortiz, Building Maintenance
George was born in Patzcuaro, Michoacan in Mexico. He went to "Secundaria Tecnica Industrial" (high school) in Morelia, Michoacan and went to his first year of college. He was also a car mechanic in Mexico. George came to the U.S.A. in 1972 and was introduced to the ICNC/KIDC buildings in 1974 by his uncle who was an engineer. He works on the building's maintenance team where plumbing is his main job. He has worked for ICNC/KIDC for 43 years. George has been married for 26 years and has 6 children and 12 grandchildren. George's hobbies include playing with his granchildren, his son's dog, and his train set.
Adan Perez, Building Construction
Adan has been with ICNC since September of 2013. Adan is a building maintenance employee with a focus on carpentry.
Jaime Vela, Custodian
Jaime has been with ICNC since July of 2015. Jaime assists both the custodial team and building maintenance crew, where he helps keep the grounds clean and assists in various painting projects.
Hugo Viramontes, Building Maintenance
Hugo has been with ICNC since February of 2014. Hugo is a building maintenance employee with a focus on electrical work.
Darius Williams, Building Maintenance
Darius is a Chicago native. He attended high school in Chicago at Robert Lindblom and studied Business Administration, Sales, and Marketing at Peru State College in Peru, Nebraska. Darius has worked as a contractor and is skilled in painting, drywall, plumbing, and general repairs. He has worked in the trades for over 20 years. He is passionate about customer service and ICNC provides Darius with a platform for him to not only meet, but exceed tenant expectations. He loves to travel. Any time the opportunity exists, Darius enjoys learning about other people.
Priscilla Torrence, Director of Workforce Development
Priscilla has lead ICNC’s business employment and human resources services since 2005. In this capacity, she provides one on one coaching for our small business owners in all functions of HR, assists in developing training curriculum for various trainings, manages a workforce development team as well as facilitates our extremely successful emergency medical technician program. Priscilla enjoys learning new things and has earned a dual master’s degree in Human Resources and Educational Management from the Keller Graduate School of Management. Her enthusiasm for developing people through employee relations and teaching has allowed her to engage in several roles including computer class instructor, job readiness and leadership development trainer, guest speaker at various agencies and human resources liaison for many of our employers. Priscilla enjoys gardening and delights in quality time spent with her family and friends, travelling, cooking and being an active member at her church.
Nancy Kramer, Community Engagement Coordinator
Nancy is thrilled to be working with Priscilla as a Workforce Development Coordinator. She has over 12 years of experience with the City Colleges of Chicago in program management and workforce development. She will be working with ICNC members and further developing relations with community based organizations.
Damein Walls, Culinary Program Instructor
Damein is our Culinary Instructor for our Impact Culinary Training Program. Damein obtained his Culinary Education from Kendall College, before he went on to persue a Masters in Clinical Psychology. From running restaurants to teaching, he has a variety of experience in the culinary world. Damein is thrilled to be a part of ICNC, as well as helping build the culinary culture within.
Mattie Young-Burns, Culinary Program Manager
Originally from Minneapolis, Mattie manages the Impact Culinary Training Program located at The Hatchery, including recruiting and supporting students and managing restaurant internships. Mattie has her Bachelor’s in Government and Spanish from Lawrence University. Before coming to ICNC, she spent 5 years working in nutrition education in Chicago after starting her career doing youth development work in India and Latin America. In her free time, Mattie loves to cook, travel and walk her dog in Humboldt Park.
Photos by: The Camera Department