SEAS 360° Workshop Facilitators

Jessica Allen.

Jessica Allen

Mechanical Engineer, NASA: Cold Stowage Team

Jessica's Bio

Jessie Allen is originally from Rochester, N.Y. She graduated from the University at Buffalo in December of 2011 with a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. She moved to Houston, Texas in February of 2012, at which time she started her first engineering job for an oil and gas company. She was in the oil field for 3 ½ years. In January 2016 she started at NASA (through Jacobs Technology), as part of the Cold Stowage Team for the International Space Station (ISS). The Cold Stowage team works with Commercial Partners (Space-X, Orbital) to send up supplies and science experiments to the ISS for the astronauts. The team sends up and returns temperature-controlled experiments in specially-designed freezers and insulators for use on the ISS. The team travels to Florida and Virginia for the launches of these capsules, and works closely in the integration process for the capsule. Cold Stowage also travels to California for the retrieval of the Space-X Dragon capsule when it returns from a mission from the ISS, to recover our freezers and the science experiments.

Jessie is involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in Houston, as well as a Women in STEM group at NASA (SWAN). She also volunteers in the Houston community frequently – she volunteered at the Super Bowl when it was in Houston in 2017!

Nate Bolt.

Nathaniel Bolt

Assistant Engineer for Turner Construction Company

Nathaniel's Bio

Nate Bolt graduated from UB in 2011 with his BS in Civil Engineering and his MBA from Niagara University in 2014. He have been working for Turner Construction since graduation and has had many roles including field engineer, assistant superintendent and cost engineer. Projects he has been on with Turner include UB Davis Hall, Kaleida GVI, Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Niagara Wheatfield Schools and Lockport Schools. In addition to being a project engineer for Turner, he is the lead recruiter and interviewer for the Buffalo Office. He serves on multiple boards including the UB Engineering Young Alumni Board, Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union Finance Overview Board and the Sister’s of St. Francis Council. 

Ed Brodka.

Ed Brodka

Group Learning Coordinator/ Career Counselor, UB Career Services

Ed's Bio

Ed Brodka is a full-time Career Counselor who specializes in helping students prepare for their future job or internship. He can help you create or update your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter or personal statement for graduate school. Once you get an interview for a job or internship, Ed can prepare you to put your best foot forward with a Practice Interview. Best of all, he can help you find and network with UB alumni and professionals.

Christopher Connor.

Christopher Connor

Assistant Dean for Graduate Education, UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Christopher's Bio

With 20 years of experience in higher education, Chris’s experience includes leadership roles in undergraduate and graduate education both from an institutional and academic unit perspective. He currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Graduate Education in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University at Buffalo. In his current role, he focuses strategically on all aspects of the graduate student lifecycle including new program development, international and domestic recruitment, enrollment planning, financial aid leveraging, diversity programs, graduate student professional development and alumni engagement.

Dennis Elsenbeck.

Dennis Elsenbeck

Head of Energy and Sustainability, Energy Consulting Services, Phillips Lytle LLP

Dennis's Bio

Dennis Elsenbeck provides consulting services on a broad range of energy-related opportunities encompassing a forward view of supply, distribution and demand options.

In his leadership role with a major U.S. utility for nearly 30 years, he brings to Phillips Lytle insight, analytics and business perspectives on long-term policies and the economic landscape. He assists clients with due diligence and regulatory compliance on energy transactions; regulatory counseling involving Public Service Commission proceedings; energy procurement and utility negotiations involving government entities and municipalities; procurement consulting regarding the reduction of energy costs and review of economic incentives; market driven integrated resource planning, and identifying commercial and technical issues associated with energy-related opportunities.

Dennis helps clients move critical energy projects forward by providing creative solutions and overcoming project challenges. He works to develop the voice of the consumer in energy policy and bill impacts as sustainability becomes a focus of energy policy. Elsenbeck collaborates with clients in shaping the “utility of the future.”

Dennis is a well-recognized expert in the energy field and is a highly sought-after lecturer on a variety of topics across the U.S.  He is the Past-Chair of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, and has served on the Executive Board of Directors for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Steering Committee for the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Board of Directors for the Buffalo Urban Development Commission, Board of Directors for the Greater Erie County & Buffalo United Way and Board Member of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. 

Dennis is on the Advisory Councils of the Erie Community College Foundation and Daemen College. He was the Campaign Chairman for the Greater Buffalo and Erie County United Way from 2011 to 2012. 

Dennis was recently appointed, by Governor Cuomo, to be one of five members of the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board. In recent years, Dennis as been recognized by Leadership Buffalo’s Annual Service Award, the University of Buffalo’s Annual Community Leadership Medal, the University of Buffalo Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association’s Engineer of the Year and the National Federation for Just Communities’ Community Leader Award for his commitment to the WNY Community.

Dennis Elsenbeck is the Regional Executive for National Grid’s Western Division and is responsible for representing the Company in public affairs, community relations and network alignment, as well as, the region’s large commercial and industrial customers in terms of energy sales, reliability, service and strategic energy planning.  He has held previous positions as Marketing and Sales Director, Regional Manager of the Mohawk Valley Region and Business Services Vice President.  Dennis has been employed at National Grid for twenty five years.

Prior to joining National Grid, Dennis held positions in project engineering, project management and product management with United Technologies Building Systems Group and Carrier Corporation. Dennis holds an Associates degree in Air Conditioning from Mohawk Valley Community College, a Bachelor in Industrial Engineering degree from SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica, a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Rochester and a Masters in Engineering from the University at Buffalo.  Dennis also served in the United States Navy as an electrician’s mate Petty Officer 2nd Class aboard the Destroyer Tender USS Sierra AD-18. Dennis’ current areas of interest involve Smart Grid, Micro-Grid, Workforce Development, Network Strategy integration into Smart Growth, Sustainability, Energy Management, Energy Policy and STEM in the classroom and Workforce Development.

Dennis is the Past-Chair of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Dean’s Council for the University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering. He serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Steering Committee for the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Board of Directors for the Buffalo Urban Development Commission, Board of Directors for the Greater Erie County & Buffalo United Way and Board Member of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. Dennis serves on the Smart Growth and Energy Working Groups of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. Dennis is on the Advisory Councils of the Erie Community College Foundation and Daemen College. He was the Campaign Chairman for the Greater Buffalo and Erie County United Way from 2011 to 2012. Dennis was recently appointed, by Governor Cuomo, to be one of five members of the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board.

In recent years, Dennis has been recognized by Leadership Buffalo’s Annual Service Award, the University of Buffalo’s Annual Community Leadership Medal, the University of Buffalo Engineering Alumni Association’s Engineer of the Year and the National Federation for Just Communities’ Community Leader Award for his commitment to the WNY Community.

Rob Jacoby.

Rob Jacoby

Retired Global Manager, Royal Dutch Shell

Rob's Bio

Prior to his retirement after 34 years, Rob Jacoby was  Enterprise Category Manager, Maintenance and Engineering Services for Royal Dutch Shell.  He led a global team responsible for the development and execution of a Global Contracting and Procurement Strategy for Maintaining Worldwide Operating Assets and delivering Engineering Services.  In addition to the development of a global strategy, he was responsible for supporting business unit initiatives which included the development of Maintenance and Contracting strategies for large capital projects in emerging countries (Iraq, Qatar and Kazakhstan).  He also served as a member of Supplier Management Teams to enhance Shell’s relationships with key suppliers.   

Prior to Rob’s appointment as Enterprise Category Manger, he was Global Manager of the Shell Global Solutions International – Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) Consultancy group and was based in The Hague.  He was responsible for leading a team of “world class” scientists that provided Research & Development support in the areas of Process Technical Safety, Major Hazard Management, Capital Projects HSE Management, Remediation, Air Quality, Sustainable Development & Ecology and Environmental Litigation Support, for the Royal Dutch Shell Group of Companies.  He also served as a member of the HSE Leadership Team that provided strategic direction to Executive Management on HSE matters.  Prior to being named Global Manager, Rob was the US Regional Manager – HSE Consultancy, at Shell’s Technology Center in Houston.

Rob also held a number of other positions in Production Management, Product Stewardship, Corporate Crisis Management, Project Engineering, Process Engineering, and as Regulatory Affairs Advisor.  Rob also held positions as Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager at two large Shell Refineries / Chemical Plants in New Orleans and San Francisco.

Rob served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Marine Preservation Association (MPA) and served as a member of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) Technical Subcommittee, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association Steering Committee, and The International Process Safety Group (iPSG), IChemE, London, UK.  He also served as a member of Community Advisory Panels in California and Louisiana and is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas.

Rob graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering Technology and received a Master’s of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  He also completed a Business and Leadership Program at The University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Business School.

Joshua LaFave.

Joshua LaFave

Executive Director of Graduate and Continuing Education, SUNY Potsdam

Joshua's Bio

Joshua LaFave’s experience over the past eleven years has included a comprehensive canvas of Graduate Enrollment Management functions. These roles have included enrollment planning, marketing and recruitment, admissions, student services, retention, advising/coaching and career planning. In his current role, Joshua is responsible for all elements of the graduate student lifecycle, as well as the college’s special sessions, early college programs, non-credit offerings, and conferences/special programs. His research on Graduate Enrollment Management includes the adoption of the integrated interdependence model in GEM, working definitions, the four “O’s” of student services, and holistic strategic enrollment management planning. He is also an adjunct instructor in the Organizational Performance and Technology graduate program at his institution.

Josh’s research interests include the continued development of Graduate Enrollment Management as it relates to the integration of various functions in GEM, and the synchronization of those areas as it relates to strategy, operational efficiencies, and the differentiated student experience.

Before joining SUNY Potsdam, Josh served as the Director of Graduate Enrollment for the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, as well as Associate Director of Graduate Business Programs at Clarkson University.

Regis O'Connor.

Regis O'Connor

President, O'Connor Analytics LLC

Regis's Bio

As President of O’Connor Analytics LLC, Regis O’Connor blends data science with classical qualitative and quantitative research techniques. She has extensive experience generating creative, consumer-based research that inspires new product development, refines business strategies, optimizes market performance, and reveals market gaps and opportunities. Clients include SUNY and Fortune 500 corporations with global projects in education, technology, consumer packaged goods, durable goods, and retail businesses. Core specialties are data analysis and visualization. Regis holds a BA in Statistics from the University of Rochester and an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University. 

Katie Tudini.

Katie Tudini

Assistant Vice Provost for International Student Services, UB International Student Services

Katie's Bio

Katie Tudini has more than 10 years of experience in the field of international education, including a three-year stint as an international student adviser at Georgia State University in Atlanta and service as a senior adviser at Georgia Tech.

A native of Western New York, Tudini earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SUNY Fredonia in 2005 and a master’s degree in college student personnel administration from Canisius College in 2007. Her husband, Jeff Tudini, received an MS in environmental engineering from UB.

Well regarded in the field of immigration compliance for international students, she was recently appointed chair of the International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the largest professional association of its kind in the world.

Jordan Walbesser.

Jordan Walbesser

Counsel at Mattel

Jordan's Bio

Jordan is a toy lawyer (in-house counsel) for Mattel where he handles legal issues in strategic development, apps, and gaming. He has degrees from UB in computer engineering and law. He is active in the Buffalo entrepreneurial community and also serves on the UB Engineering Alumni Association Board.

Jim Wehrfritz.

Jim Wehrfritz

Executive/Project Manager (Retired), Exxon Mobil Corporation

Jim's Bio

James Wehrfritz began his international energy industry consulting firm Erie-Niagara Consulting LLC in  2014 after a long career with Exxon Corporation, beginning in 1978, and then Exxon-Mobil Corporation after the merger. At Exxon, he held management and professional positions, involving upstream (production), midstream (transportation), and downstream (refining) organizations, along with business development, planning, engineering, construction, marketing, and operations.

Jim holds a BS degree in civil engineering (water resources concentration) from the University at Buffalo (1974-78) and has completed graduate work at the University of Houston (1981-86), MBA courses in accounting, finance and management, in addition to engineering graduate courses on turbo machinery and thermodynamics.

Jim was presented our Volunteer Recognition Award for frequently donating his time to the students in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. You’ll often find Jim on campus mentoring graduate students, participating in networking events and panels and playing a key role in the Career Perspectives and Networking Conference that is set up every year for UB Engineering and Applied Sciences graduate students. Jim is also instrumental in getting the “SEAS 360” Professional Development Program up and running, which is a free professional Ed development training series for graduate students.