Staff & Board

Dan Swinney

Founder and Senior Advisor
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Dan founded Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) in 1982 in response to the thousands of manufacturing plant closings in the Chicago area. At the beginning, the organization’s work was focused on industrial retention efforts. Dan led a team that studied hundreds of companies and worked on dozens of campaigns with local unions, community-based organizations and the City of Chicago under the Harold Washington administration to save industrial jobs. Dan was one of the founders of the Labor Research Review, a journal published between 1982 – 1994. LRR was a highly regarded forum for analysis, criticism and strategic thinking on the American labor movement in the late 20th century. 

Dan served as the founding executive director until 2020. He continues to serve the organization as a senior advisor, guiding many of MR’s strategic initiatives. He is recognized nationally as a leading expert and resource. He writes and speaks regularly for manufacturing trade associations, universities and colleges, community development networks, unions, and others interested in promoting advanced manufacturing and its intersection with public interests domestically and internationally. 

Prior to founding MR, Dan worked for 13 years as a machinist in the Chicago area. He organized Steelworker Local 8787 at G+W Taylor Forge in Cicero, Illinois and served as Vice President. Taylor Forge closed in 1983. Dan also worked as a production machinist at Sunbeam and Victor Gasket. 

Dan graduated from the University of Wisconsin, with a B.A. in history in 1967. Before and through college, Dan worked as an activist and an organizer, interning for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Georgia in 1965, working for the Georgia Council of Human Relations in 1966, and organized soldiers against the Vietnam War at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center between 1968-1970.  

See a list of Dan’s major articles and presentations here

Erica Swinney Staley

Executive Director
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Since 2008, Erica has worked for Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) and now serves as its Executive Director. MR advances sustainable development anchored in manufacturing. Through MR, Erica developed and managed the Manufacturing Connect (MC) and Young Manufacturers Association (YMA) programs to expose, inspire, prepare, and support Black and Latinx youth and young adults to pursue career pathways in manufacturing.  
Erica also has been one of the lead grant writers for MR, including designing the program which MR earned a multi-year grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor and most recently a grant that lead to establishing MR as a youth-delegate agency for the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. 
Erica, a biracial Black woman (she/her), was born and raised in the Humboldt Park and Logan Square neighborhoods of Chicago and attended Chicago Public Schools through graduating from Whitney Young Magnet HS. After completing her BA degree at the University of California (Berkeley), she served two years in Peace Corps in Paraguay and eighteen months in Americorps. She later earned a Master’s degree in Ecology from San Francisco State University. Before joining MR, Erica started her career in California as a community organizer and project manager for youth and community projects addressing environmental, social, and economic justice issues in low-income, communities of color. Erica currently lives in Logan Square with her husband and son.

David Robinson

External Affairs Director
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Robinson began his varied and unique professional life as an award-winning reporter for the Detroit News, then as an editor for United Press International (UPI), and later, as a senior editor and columnist for the Black Press Review, the Agenda literary magazine. 

In the 80’s Robinson joined the Harold Washington administration’s economic development policy and program team in Chicago where he developed cutting-edge programs and policy focusing on municipal recycling and solid waste management, and he is considered an early pioneer in the industry. 

Robinson has also owned a public affairs company, held numerous senior roles in government, managed many issues and elective office campaigns and has over 30 years working in and for the interests of communities of color.

In 2016, Robinson joined the team at Manufacturing Renaissance where he recognized the unequaled strength manufacturing presents for re-building struggling communities while also strengthening regional economies.  In his role as External Affairs Director, Robinson works to build political and community advocacy and policies around linking public education and community wealth building to the modern manufacturing industry in the spirit of social inclusion.  Robinson has written legislation, organized the faith community to advocate for manufacturing, and he built a robust community support network for Manufacturing Renaissance’s programs.  He has also positioned Manufacturing Renaissance as a go-to source for media.

Robinson studied journalism and history at Morehouse College and policy and social science at DePaul and Roosevelt Universities.  He also holds professional certifications in conflict resolution, organizational and executive leadership. 

Robinson enjoys film, music, golf and martial arts.  He has published numerous articles and his recent book, The World is Watching, was released in 2019.

Veronica Buenrostro

Director of Financial Management
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Veronica joined Manufacturing Renaissance in March 2016, bringing over 10 years of accounting and 15 years of office management experience. Throughout her career, she has worked for several non-profits, including the Mujeres Latina en Accion. She holds a M.B.A from National Louis University, and a B.A in Business Administration, with a concentration in Accounting from the Robert Morris University. Although she was born and raised in Chicago, she speaks fluently in Spanish.

Joyce Weston​

Program Director, Career Pathway Services
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Joyce Weston, a Chicago native, obtained both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work at Northeastern Illinois University and Loyola University Chicago, respectively.  Having grown up in the Cabrini Green housing projects, Joyce’s plan and passion has always been to work in underserved communities.  She has spent the last 15 years providing clinical and case management services to youth, families and older adults throughout the city.  Joyce brings a breadth of program management, evaluation and quality compliance experience to MR.


Although she enjoys the administrative side of social work, Joyce is also committed to the therapeutic process and maintains a private practice, working with individuals and couples.  Her work is rooted in her belief that, given the right tools, people have the ability to create lasting change in their lives.  And when she isn’t working, Joyce is continually chasing the next adventure in her own life. 

Selene Diaz

Assistant Director for Economic Development

Selene is an accomplished leader with over 15 years of global experience managing people, operations, and products in the direct-selling, e-commerce, and manufacturing industries. For the last six years, Selene worked at LBP Manufacturing, a Pritzker Private Capital company, that manufactures sustainable packaging for the foodservice industry. Selene also has extensive experience in private equity and company valuation.


During her career, she was exposed to every aspect of the business from product management to warehouse operations to sales and accounting. Selene’s experience taught her the importance of listening – to customers, to business partners, and to employees.


Selene completed her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a focus on finance and entrepreneurship in June. She earned her undergraduate degree at Elmhurst College in Communications and Organizational Psychology.


Ms. Diaz’s deep experience and knowledge in finance and manufacturing business and operations will help us take the Re/Cast project to another level. See her experience here.

Leslye Long

Assistant Program Director
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Leslye Long is a native Chicagoan who has provided mentor program development to youth and adults throughout Chicagoland communities for almost 16 years. Leslye joined Manufacturing Renaissance in 2014, when the organization was awarded a $2.4M Department of Labor grant, which brought to the development of Manufacturing Connect’s mentoring program. She is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago and enjoys incorporating organized creativity and life skills into her program designs. During her spare time she enjoys self-improvement activities and teaching Empowerment Art Workshops at the University of Chicago’s Logan Art Center.

Brence Turner

Senior Machining Instructor
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Brence Turner is Manufacturing Renaissance’s Senior Machining Instructor who has over 20 years of aerospace and power generation industry experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in Vocational Leadership, Training and Development, as well as a Journeyman’s apprenticeship certification from the Tooling and Manufacturing Association.  He is committed to bridging his experience and partnering with youth to enhance their access to economic equity through educational and advanced manufacturing career pathways. His work is rooted in building stronger communities in the City of Chicago and the surround Chicagoland area. When he is not in the classroom, he enjoys personal training, reading, and spending time with his family.

DeeDee Jones

Industry Coordinator
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Dee Dee is responsible for recruiting manufacturing companies for field trips, job shadowing experiences, internships and career opportunities, as well as prepare students for careers in manufacturing. DeeDee has been part of the MR team since 2014. She has recruited for various manufacturing companies in multiple industries for various types of positions for over 15 years. She also worked as an adviser for manufacturing companies on current trends, labor market information, workforce programs and funding and connected companies to partner agencies for additional resources. She is a graduate from Lewis University with a B.A. in Business Administration and MMS NIMS Credential holder.

Torres Hughes

Program Coordinator
Young Manufacturers Association
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Torres started off as a Program Assistant joining the Manufacturing Renaissance’s team on a full-time basis in the fall of 2018, although he has been part of the network for many years. Torres is in fact a 2012 graduate of Manufacturing Connect Austin Polytech Academy, with 2 NIMS credentials. He worked for a couple of years in manufacturing at WaterSaver Faucet and Freedman Seating, before discovering that his real passion and interest is community development. As a program coordinator, he supports YMA training and services activities, particularly in its outreach efforts and engagement with the YMA members.

Mieka Matthews

Program Coordinator
Manufacturing Connect
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Mieka joined Manufacturing Renaissance in the fall of 2015 as a tutor and is now a full-time program assistant as of July 2017. She supports all program activities related to our Manufacturing Connect program based at Austin College & Career Academy. In particular, she helps with the implementation of mentoring activities, tutoring and manages participants’ Individualized Development Plans. Mieka received her B.A in Human Development at The University of Illinois at Chicago. She hopes to further pursue a career in education and politics. Mieka is currently obtaining her M.Ed in Youth Development from UIC. 

Leslie Montoya

Bookkeeper & Program Assistant, Career Pathway Services
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Leslie provides administrative support to the Manufacturing Renaissance team. Leslie is an Illinoisan native and has worked in the nonprofit community in Chicago as a Family Advocate and Case Worker for the past six years. She received a BA in Anthropology from DePaul University with a minor in History. Leslie developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector during her time as a Case Worker with Heartland Alliance. This experience gave her a deep appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life for people in low income communities.


Edward Hamburg


Edward Hamburg serves on the board of directors of high technology companies and as a venture partner with the private equity group of Morgan Stanley. His directorships include Interactive Intelligence Incorporated (contact center software), Interlink Electronics (components for medical and hand-held devices), Perceptive Software (document management), ThruPoint (information technology services), Core Security Technologies (software for computer perimeter testing), HyPerformix (capacity planning software), and Sendmail (software for managing complex e-mail systems).

Mr. Hamburg was Executive Vice President of Corporate Operations, Chief Financial Officer, and Corporate Secretary of SPSS Inc. from 1992 to 2004. He headed SPSS business and corporate development efforts from 1986 to 1992 after senior roles in sales, marketing, and professional services. Ed received a Ph.D. from the department of political science at The University of Chicago and was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his M.A. and B.A. from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Tod Lickerman

Tod is an independent investor and advisor to a number of growth companies including the nano-tech company Ultra Small Fibers, the medical device company Stem Scaffold Technologies and the European indoor skydiving company ISI, based in Germany. Tod’s main focus is as Chair and Managing Partner of the Chicago Impact Development Company, a development company committed to investing in American inner cities. Tod has over 33 years experience in the commercial real estate field helping to create two of the top global commercial real estate firms; JLL and Cushman & Wakefield.

From 2013 – 2017 Tod was instrumental in carving out the international real estate services company DTZ from their Australian parent company and selling the company to a private equity consortium led by TPG, PAG and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. As CEO of DTZ Tod led growth and M&A acquiring Cassidy Turley in the United States and the international real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield. After acquisition and integration of 20 companies deploying capital in excess of $4.1B, C&W went public in 2018 and has an enterprise value of over $7B.

At JLL Tod ran several divisions including Corporate Solutions, Commercial Solutions, Healthcare, Energy and Sustainability Services, Corporate Property Services, European Facility Management and Project and Development Services during his 23 year tenure at the firm. Tod has a degree in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin.

Victor Dickson

Victor Dickson is the President/CEO of Safer Foundation in Chicago IL, a leader in community corrections, prisoner reentry and workforce development. Safer Foundation assists individuals with a full spectrum of services designed to overcome the barriers to reentry. The core of Safer’s mission is job preparation and placement which substantially lowers the rate of recidivism. Safer Foundation helps individuals reenter as productive, contributing members to society. Victor offers not-for-profit and corporate senior level management experience in strategic planning, organizational development, financial management and process improvement.

Victor is a member of the State of Illinois Human Services Commission, the State Workforce Investment Opportunity Board and State Commission to Eliminate Poverty. He served on the City of Chicago Police Accountability Task Force and was recently appointed to the Cook County Commission for Social Innovation. Mr. Dickson received his undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University Chicago IL.

Doug Gamble


Mr. Gamble was an International Representative of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) 1995-2002 and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU), 1985-1995. He was associated with the union’s Industrial Development Department, which worked with staff and local unions on developing union-centered “high road” manufacturing and labor-management partnerships.
He recently served on the boards of directors of the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee, and the Socio-Technical Systems Roundtable, of which he was President. He was a founder of the Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network and worked as a university professor. He received his undergraduate degree from Maryville College (TN) and an M.A and PhD from Ohio State University.

Peter Cunningham


Peter Cunningham is a communications consultant specializing in message, strategy, public affairs and speechwriting. He has worked for private and public sector clients, political candidates, non-profits and governments at the local, state and federal level. Most recently, Peter served as Executive Director of Education Post, a Chicago-based non-profit communications organization promoting efforts to improve public education. Previously, Peter was President of Cunningham Communications, a Chicago-based communications company serving public, private and non-profit sector clients. He recently served as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration’s first term. Prior to that he worked with Arne Duncan when he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. For several years Peter was affiliated with the political consulting firm Axelrod and Associates, and also served for five years in the administration of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. He earned an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia and a B.A. in Philosophy from Duke.

Garrick Davis

Garrick Davis is the Program Manager at the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission. He directs program management efforts for the processing and verification review of more than 97,000 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. Prior, he was the Legislative Director for Economic and Financial Policy at the National Urban League Policy Institute in Washington, DC.
Garrick, under the Obama administration, was a Policy Analyst in the Office of the Vice President as part of a team assigned with the tactical implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and received his undergraduate degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Craig Freedman

Through Craig’s leadership and commitment to the company’s mission and core values, Freedman Seating (“FSC’) has grown to become an industry leader providing seating solutions to the bus, rail, marine and light truck industries. Located on Chicago’s West Side in the West Humboldt/Austin neighborhoods, FSC is proud of its over 650 employees. Craig maintains a strong presence in the community and is passionate about providing opportunity to its underserved residents.   He is especially active in helping young people train in manufacturing disciplines, participating on advisory committees, and supporting shadowing and internship programs for area high schools. Craig is dedicated to keeping Chicago’s manufacturing industry alive and vibrant by partnering with Jane Addams Resource Corporation and being on the boards of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future and Manufacturing Renaissance. Craig had the honor to serve on the Manufacturing Council of the Department of Commerce where he joined the workforce development committee. After graduating from Northwestern University in 1988 with a BA in Economics, Craig Freedman worked as an analyst with Morgan-Stanley before pursuing his MBA from Harvard University. In 1992, Craig returned to Chicago to focus on strategic planning and operations at Freedman Seating, where he would eventually become President then CEO.

Montez King

Montez King is the Executive Director of NIMS, the nationally-recognized organization responsible for developing national standards and competency-based credentials in manufacturing trades. Mr. King is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the NIMS operation including administration, programs and strategic planning.

In October 2017, Mr. King was appointed to the President’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, formed by the Secretary of Labor “to identify strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeship progress are insufficient.” Prior to his promotion into the Executive Director role, Mr. King was the Credentialing Director at NIMS and led all technical support, data analytics and quality assurance activities for global credentialing.

Before joining NIMS, Mr. King served as Training and Technology Manager for Magna International, one of the world’s largest OEM automotive parts manufacturers. At Magna, Mr. King oversaw training and technology development for the organization’s manufacturing training facility in the United States. He directed overall planning, development and implementation of their curriculum and instructions. He also directed the training, coaching, mentoring and evaluating of all instructors.

Previously, as a CNC Programming Manager at Kenlee Corporation, Mr. King managed the development and implementation of all manufacturing processes, CNC programming, and fixture design for the aerospace and medical device industry. He led a team of manufacturing specialists in developing reliable manufacturing process and work instructions to produce high precision parts and complex assemblies.

Mr. King launched his career at Teledyne Energy Systems as a Machinist Apprentice, where he earned his Maryland State Journeyperson Machinist certificate. Compelled to give back to his hometown of Baltimore and his alma mater, Mr. King taught at the Community College of Baltimore County for nearly a decade. He designed and implemented instructions for advanced manufacturing courses: CNC Machining Applications, CNC Programming, Geometrical Dimensioning and Tolerancing and taught two to three courses per semester.

His academic background includes a B.S. degree in Information Technology and M.ED degree in Adult Education from the University of Phoenix as well as his 4-year apprenticeship in Machine Tool Technology at the Community College of Baltimore County.