Greetings from ISTC/I Leadership

The year 2020 was an extraordinary year in multiple ways. We watched the COVID-19 pandemic ravage our state’s human and economic health and then watched the watershed moments of tackling social injustices in a sustained and powerful way.

The world stopped in numerous ways, but innovation never stopped – in fact, creativity and innovation thrived, especially in Illinois. Our state was continually challenged, but the collective power of government, corporate, and non-profit efforts not only rose to meet those challenges, but deepened our understanding of what it means to be human and our commitment to helping everyone thrive.

The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) has always existed to measure, connect and advocate for the state’s innovation community and 2020 was no different. Our continued work highlighted the importance of research, innovation and entrepreneurship in solving challenges that improve people’s lives.

As an intermediary organization, we continued connecting, aligning and supporting public and private members of the state’s STEM community through a challenging year. Those members included our state’s research universities, federal labs, leading companies, high schools, emerging startups and a network of civic/non-profit organizations.

We’d like to recognize and thank our committed group of members, partners and funders, who represent the pulse of the state’s innovation community and work to enrich the state’s economy. They not only shared our passion and mission; they were unwavering in their support.

This last year has been extremely challenging for educators and the students. Educational inequities have always existed, but virtual learning exposed the depth and breadth of the problems. The Illinois Science & Technology Institute (ISTI) rose to the virtual challenge as we continued to make lasting connections between companies and classrooms to build Illinois’ STEM talent pipeline. In 2020, we reached a record number of students across more than 43 Illinois high schools and engaged more than 500 mentors. We also incorporated design thinking into our programming and developed diversity, equity, inclusion and unconscious bias training for our mentors. Our global mentor network used ISTI’s Mentor Matching Engine e-mentoring platform (MME) to meet the virtual and equity challenges on a deeper level than ever before. We are determined to bring MME to even more students and organizations across our state, as well as key partners across the country.

Finally, we thank our tremendous board of directors for their dedicated leadership and ongoing guidance through an unprecedented year. We’d also like to thank them for their support in our new strategic vision as we navigate not only the post-COVID-19 economy, but the new tech economy.

We invite you to review our annual report to learn more about our 2020 accomplishments in our pillars of data, advocacy, education, and innovation programs. In 2021, we will continue to make a meaningful impact on the STEM community as we pursue our strategic vision. We look forward to our continued supportive journey with all of you.


  • Colleen D. Egan
  • President & CEO
  • ISTC & Institute
  • Geoff Curtis
  • Board Chair
  • Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs & Chief Communications Officer, Horizon Pharma plc


When multiple people in my network sent me the CEO job description for the Coalition and the Institute, they knew it was perfect for me, and so did I. I have spent my entire life in STEM. I started my career in nursing and moved into technology where I’ve been an executive leader in digital media, education, entertainment, big data and healthcare. I am a serial entrepreneur, enthusiastically curious and solutions driven. I sit on several boards committed to STEM education, women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurism and equity. My experience, my passion for STEM, my relationships and my commitment to the innovation economy of my state will make me a good CEO, but where I go from here will hopefully make me a great CEO and I’m thankful you are on this journey with me.