Our Leadership

Anne Kaplan

Vice President

Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development

Anne Kaplan has been an administrator at Northern Illinois University for over forty years. She has served in continuing education roles at the college level, in development and academic planning in the academic affairs area, and for thirteen years as executive assistant to the president and Vice President for Administration. In that role, she was responsible for intercollegiate athletics, human resource services, information technology, university legal services and internal audit. 

She is currently Vice President for the division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, where she oversees the university’s three regional centers, the Lorado Taft Campus, the Illinois Council on Economic Education, a range of non-credit and continuing professional development programs, NIU’s centralized conferencing and event management function, and four regional networks developed around the Center for Governmental Studies, the P-20 Center, the Northern Illinois Center for Non-Profit Excellence, and Northern Public Radio.

Since 2000, when she organized this division, national organizations such as the Carnegie Foundation, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, and the University Economic Development Association have recognized the quality of NIU’s outreach and engagement initiatives with major awards and recognitions.

Before coming to NIU, Kaplan worked in Great Britain's Open University.  She holds a Ph.D. in history from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.


Rena Cotsones, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President, Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development

Bringing people together for a common good has been a lifelong passion for Rena Cotsones.

As Associate Vice President of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development for Northern Illinois University, she works with regional partners to create and implement collaborative approaches to advancing education, economic development, workforce development, and innovation initiatives in northern Illinois and Chicagoland. 

She worked with NIU engineering, community college and industry leaders to create NIU Engineering @ RVC, a community-based, industry-integrated engineering baccalaureate completion program in Rockford, Illinois. This collaborative workforce solution has inspired the development of other innovative approaches to education and workforce development in the region and won the 2017 Award of Excellence for Talent + Place Development from the University Economic Development Association (UEDA). She is also a member of the university leadership team guiding the development of the Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability, the NIU hub of the emerging University of Illinois-led Discovery Partners Institute/Illinois Innovation Network. 

She chaired the national Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO) of the Association of Public and Landgrant Universities (APLU) in 2017.  She was elected to the national board of the University Economic Development Association in 2018.  She is a member of the national core team for Strategic Doing, a program of Purdue University’s Agile Strategy Lab, and leads workshops and trainings around the U.S. as a certified practitioner and faculty member.  In northern Illinois, she serves on the boards of numerous Chambers, economic development and education organizations. 

She began her career as a television journalist after graduating from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication.  She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University. 

Amy Jo Clemens

Director, Center for P20 Engagement

Amy Jo Clemens is the director of the Northern Illinois University Center for P-20 Engagement. She has spent 30 years in education, with more than 15 of those years in policy development, program delivery and student advocacy.

A key strategy she employs in the P-20 Center is to focus on system-level activities which improve students’ progress from the early childhood system through K-12 schools and into colleges and universities. This type of coordination will result in a P-20 education system that has fewer barriers for the most vulnerable students and works better for all Illinois children and families.

Amy Jo began working for the P-20 Center in 2016 as a senior research associate focused primarily on early childhood education (birth through 3rd grade) and career pathways in high school and higher education. She has led professional development for educators focused on Next Generation Science Standards and college and career readiness. She has also won state and federal grants to study the effectiveness of early childhood education programs in the state of Illinois.

Amy Jo brings to the P-20 center many years of experience as a classroom teacher, principal, and in a local regional office of education. She began her career as a teacher in a Montessori preschool before completing the Illinois teacher certification program at NIU and teaching high school chemistry and physics. She then served as the Principal of Malta High School, where she began writing grants.

Her experience in state educational policy and program delivery includes serving as an assistant superintendent for the Illinois State Board of Education and regional superintendent in Lee and Ogle counties.

Amy Jo met NIU alum Alan Clemens when they were both Graduate Assistants in Grant Hall 30 years ago.  They married and have three grown children – Emily, Thomas and Nicholas. She likes to garden and read in her spare time (now that she has some spare time after years of attending her children’s athletic and arts events!).


Diana Robinson

Director, Center for Governmental Studies

Diana Robinson is Director of Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies (CGS). In addition to managing CGS and its more than 30 professional staff, Diana is directly involved in a variety of applied research, policy analysis, program evaluation and strategic planning projects in education, workforce development and local government. Prior to coming to CGS, Diana was Deputy Superintendent for Workforce and Community Partnerships at the Illinois State Board of Education. While there she directed vocational and adult education for the state.

Diana also served as Vice President for the Midwest Regional Office of the National Alliance of Business (NAB), a national business-led organization focused on workforce development and education reform issues. Before NAB, Diana managed National Academy Foundation model youth apprenticeship programs in the City Colleges of Chicago. She also worked in various research and management positions for the City of Chicago during Mayor Harold Washington’s administration in employment and training and economic development.

Diana holds a Master's degree in social services administration from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Staci Hoste

General Manager, Northern Public Radio

Staci Hoste is the director of the region’s public radio stations. Northern Public Radio is a five-station network of public broadcasting services owned and operated by Northern Illinois University. 89.5 WNIJ, the network’s flagship station, is a charter member of NPR and programs news, information and entertainment throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Meanwhile, 90.5 WNIU provides the region’s only source for 24-hour non-commercial classical music. 

Hoste has been a lifelong listener to WNIJ and WNIU – first as a “prisoner of public radio” in her parents’ backseat, and now of her own enthusiastic accord. Hoste joined the stations in 2008 and became director in 2012. In her role, she oversees general station operations as well as the fundraising and community engagement strategies. 

She also maintains and represents an active presence in the public radio industry nationally. Hoste is a director on the University Station Alliance (U:SA) governing board.  The U:SA is a national organization focused on strengthening relations between stations and license holders like that of Northern Public Radio and Northern Illinois University. Work on the U:SA board is centered on building strategic alliances, sharing resources, guarding editorial integrity, benchmarking performance and reviewing governance. Hoste also engages on legislative issues related to public broadcasting throughout the state in her role on the executive committee of the Illinois Public Broadcasting Council. 

Hoste also spends time working with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on issues related to ensuring “universal service” and examining ways to maximize the public/private partnership nature of the Community Service Grants. And, in hopes of learning from others and maybe talking about something other than radio, Hoste serves on the NIU Friends of the Library board as well as the Northwestern Medicine Hospice board of directors. 

Outside of the station, Hoste enjoys spending time outdoors, running, reading and keeping busy raising two “prisoners of public radio” of her own.

Brian Becker

Assistant Director, Outreach

Brian Becker is Director of Outreach Operations for the NIU Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development. He currently manages the division’s budget, information technology infrastructure and services, conference and event services and off-campus facility operations at NIU-Hoffman Estates, NIU-Naperville, NIU-Rockford and the Lorado Taft Field Campus.

Becker has managed budgets, contracts, purchasing and off-campus facilities at NIU for over 23 years. He has served on various university committees and has helped plan and implement university initiatives. He also served on NIU’s Administrative Program Prioritization Task Force in 2016.

Prior to joining NIU, Becker was director of training and support at a company that provided administrative software to K-12 schools and was vice president for operations at an engineering and manufacturing company.

Becker holds a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in Economics, both from the University of Illinois.

Becker is proud of his two sons, both of whom received their bachelor’s degrees from NIU and have launched successful careers.

Jeannine East

Content and Project Manager, Outreach

Jeannine East is our division’s content and project manager. She currently manages the NIU Esports Initiative project. In 2018-19, she coordinated the opening of the NIU Esports Arena in Neptune North Residence Hall and the NIU Esports Cafés at NIU Naperville and NIU Hoffman Estates. She enjoys collaborating with faculty, staff, students and the community to help build programs that support the benefits of competitive esports.

Jeannine also serves as the marketing content expert in OERD. Her background in writing, editing, marketing and data analytics help us create web and print content that is clear, concise and effective.

Before joining our division, Jeannine worked at NIU’s Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications division, managing the web team, project managing and editing large design projects for Creative Services, and writing and coordinating email communication for prospective students. Prior to NIU, she worked for 15 years at start-up internet marketing agencies in Chicago and Salt Lake City in a variety of roles including Strategic Partnership Manager, Senior Editor, and VP of Clientology.

Jeannine holds a bachelor’s degree in English from NIU, a Graduate Certificate in technical writing from NIU and a Certificate in esports management from University of California Irvine. Jeannine is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

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Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development
307 Lowden Hall

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