March 22, 2023

Gerald Blazey

Gerald Blazey, Ph.D., is Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships at Northern Illinois University. He joined the iFiber Board of Directors in 2022. At NIU, he oversees research endeavors and plays a crucial role advancing the mission of the university by supporting individual researchers and building teams and collaborations across units and with other institutions.

A scientist specializing in high energy particle physics, Dr. Blazey took on his current role in May 2015. From 2011-2014, he served as a senior policy advisor at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the U.S. President, where he was involved with the development of President Obama’s budgets for the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). During the previous four years, he worked with the DOE Office of Science, where he served as program manager of the International Linear Collider Program.

Prior to his intergovernmental personnel assignments in Washington, D.C., Dr. Blazey had a distinguished career at NIU. He joined the faculty in 1996 after working at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Batavia. At NIU, he helped establish and has served as co-director of the Northern Illinois Center for Accelerator and Detector Development.

In 2000, Blazey was awarded NIU’s Presidential Research Professorship, the university’s highest honor for outstanding research. He later was named NIU presidential science advisor, a position charged with assisting university leadership in the development of scientific initiatives and coordinating the university’s work with federal laboratories.

Outside the university, Blazey has served two terms as elected co-spokesperson for Fermilab’s international DZero collaboration, among the world’s premier experiments in particle physics.

Todd Cagnoni

Todd Cagnoni, AICP, is City Administrator for Rockford, IL. He joined the iFiber Board of Directors in 2022. He has more than 20 years of experience in various levels of community planning, economic development and management at the municipal, county and regional level.

Since 2013, Cagnoni has led the Community and Economic Development Department, responsible for the City of Rockford’s development and re-development efforts including planning, neighborhood development, economic development, zoning and building. The Department is directly responsible for oversight and programming of the City’s Community Development Block Grant Program and HOME Investment Partnerships Program. The Department facilitates the City’s Tax Increment Financing Districts, Enterprise Zone and River Edge Zone, all cost reduction tools for investment in the City.

The Community and Economic Development Department led the City’s effort in the completion of the Downtown Strategic Action Plan in 2015/2016. The plan received an Illinois Charter Award from the Congress of New Urbanism Illinois (CNU-IL). The Charter Award is the highest honor granted each year by CNU-IL, recognizing projects that exemplify quality urban design and best practices in walkability.

Throughout his career, Cagnoni has been the lead facilitator and negotiator on behalf of the City in a number of annexations agreements, development, re-developments and initiatives within the City.  Notably, he completed the development agreement that advanced the establishment of the Save-A-Lot grocery store on West State Street, removing a food desert that existed for over a decade in west Rockford.

As Deputy Director of the Community and Economic Development, Cagnoni facilitated the consolidation of the Building Department and Planning / Zoning Office reducing overall costs, streamlining business practices and building a platform for accountability. He was a key member in obtaining and leading the technical assistance grant from the Center of Community Progress, a national recognized not-for-profit focused on neighborhood revitalization, resulting in the published report “Laying the Foundation: Developing and Improved Approach to Problem Properties in Rockford”. The report and identified tasks, is leading the City’s efforts in blight removal.

Prior to joining the City, Cagnoni was a Land Preservation Specialist for the Natural Land Institute, a local not-for-profit, working to protect natural areas in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin including the bluff lands along the Mississippi River in the driftless area of Northwest Illinois. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Mid-America Economic Development Council, Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance and the Rockford Area Economic Development Council. He is a member the American Planning Association, Congress of New Urbanism, International Economic Development Council, U.S. Green Building Council, Natural Land Institute and Ride Illinois. He became a Certified Planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners in the year 2000.

July 1, 2019

John Haag

John Haag, Director of IT for LaSalle County, joined the iFiber Board in April 2019. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology Management from DeVry University. John would like people to know the iFiber network is more than just an ISP for businesses and organizations in the community; it offers so much more in services beyond just Internet.  He also acknowledged that iFiber has an amazing support staff who are always responsive to its clients wants and needs. On a personal note, John added that he and his family are on a mission to visit every Major League Baseball stadium in the country.

Eric Haan

Eric Haan joined the iFiber Board in June 2019, and was named Chairman in 2021. He is Director of Technology for the Eastland CUSD #308, a position he has held for 13 years. In this position Eric implemented one of the very first 1:1 environments in the state and oversees one of the most technology rich districts in the area. Eric has worked in educational technology for the past 20 years in various positions, including as a classroom teacher and serving as the Learning Technology Center Director for Area II North for two years with the Illinois State Board of Education. Before taking a job in education, Eric was an Information Systems Coordinator with the U.S. Postal Service.  As an IT Director in rural Illinois, Eric saw the extraordinary opportunities the iFiber project would bring to the area and became a champion for the project the moment it was announced. Eric attended many local board meetings for libraries, municipalities and school districts to explain what having access to the iFiber network meant for the area and how each entity could benefit from leveraging the technology. Eric has since worked with many local entities to help them take advantage of the network by expanding services, reducing costs and building in redundancies. Eric’s educational background includes a BS in Information Technologies and an MA in Teaching in Learning with Technologies.

January 28, 2021

Todd Hughes

Todd Hughes, Information Technology Director for the City of Rockford, joined the iFiber and Illinois Fiber Ventures Boards in January, 2021. He serves as Vice Chair of the Fiber Ventures board. Fiber Ventures is the for-profit arm of iFiber. Todd’s credentials include a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, Certified Project Manager, Microsoft Certified Professional and holds a Cyber Security Analyst certification from the SANS Institute. He previously worked in the healthcare, telecommunications, and Internet service sectors. The last 16 years have been in the public sector. Todd said, “iFiber is important to residents and businesses, stimulating economic growth by providing scalable network transport services to public/private sectors of the northwest Illinois region.” He enjoys spending time with his family in northern Wisconsin for summer and winter vacations. He especially likes to embarrass the family wearing his Chicago Bears attire whenever they go out. “Wisconsin’s north woods were much more peaceful when cellular service was not available,” he notes.

Jay Jorgensen

Jay Jorgensen, Co-Founder and COO of eX2 Technology, LLC, joined the Illinois Fiber Ventures Board in January, 2021. He serves as the board’s Secretary/Treasurer. Illinois Fiber Ventures is the for-profit arm of Illinois Fiber Resources Group (iFiber). Jay has 25 years of experience in the telecom industry. He has worked with members of the iFiber/NIU Broadband team for nearly 20 years building and maintaining fiber optic networks. Jay said, “iFiber provides much needed broadband service to underserved rural areas throughout northern Illinois. The iFiber network was originally constructed using Obama-era federal grant money and has been self-sustaining for a decade. Many other networks that were funded through the same federal programs were not able to find a business model that was self-sustaining. The iFiber team should be very proud of the network they have built.” On a personal note, Jay said he and two college friends make an annual baseball trip. They have been to 27 current and former MLB stadiums.

Kevin Lindeman

Kevin Lindeman, Economic Development District Director/Senior Planner at North Central Illinois Council of Governments, Ottawa, is Chairman of the Illinois Fiber Ventures Board, and member of the iFiber Board. Illinois Fiber Ventures is the for-profit arm of iFiber. Kevin has served on the iFiber Outreach Team since 2010, when the iFiber grant was applied for. He said it is important for people to know how reliable the service is with the iFiber network: “Our uptime is at 99.9%. iFiber is another choice for fiber in our region besides having to go to the big name providers.” Kevin is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. To raise money for clean water, he ran the Chicago Marathon in 2016.

Ray Montelongo

Ray Montelongo is the founder and president of Montel Technologies, a technology engineering firm specializing in design, build, and management of Smart IT and physical security solutions. He joined the Illinois Fiber Ventures Board in January, 2021. Illinois Fiber Ventures is the for-profit arm of Illinois Fiber Resources Group (iFiber). Ray said, “developers who provide connections to the iFiber network provide more value to tenants by providing access to multiple service providers. The iFiber network grants them access to multiple services providers via a private network that competes directly with Amazon and Microsoft.”  On a personal note, Ray serves as head coach for both of his young sons’ t-ball and baseball teams for the Boys and Girls Club. He is a 2020 Member Guest Champion at Forest Hills Country Club.

January 6, 2017

Sam Newton

Sam Newton, Vice Chairman of the Stephenson County Board, has been a member of the iFiber network since its inception as a shovel-ready project during the Obama Administration in 2010. Sam serves on the iFiber Board of Directors as its Treasurer. He is Co-Pastor of Greater New Unity Church of God in Christ in Rockford.

February 23, 2017

Daniel Payette

Daniel Payette has worked at Blackhawk Hills Economic Development District since 2011, where he currently serves as executive director and manager. He has served on iFiber’s Outreach Team for many years. He was appointed to the Illinois Fiber Ventures Board in 2016. Illinois Fiber Ventures is the for-profit arm of Illinois Fiber Resources Group (iFiber). His work has focused on broadband outreach, energy efficiency programs, community planning, and economic development.  He received his Master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Urban and Regional Planning and Bachelor’s in International Affairs from Marquette University.  Dan is a resident and native of Shannon, IL. He enjoys singing, photography, and currently sits on the Rockford Catholic Diocese’s Pastoral Council.

March 22, 2023

Catherine B. Squires

Catherine B. Squires, CFRE, is Vice President for University Advancement, as well as President and CEO of the NIU Foundation, a position she has held since 2015. She joined the iFiber Board of Directors in 2022.  The Division of University Advancement is responsible for friend-raising and fund-raising at Northern Illinois University. Programs within the division are responsible for building strong relationships with NIU alumni and managing philanthropy to benefit the university. The Office of the Vice President for University Advancement provides administrative direction for the Offices of Alumni Relations and Development, as well as being the liaison from the university to its two major volunteer boards: the NIU Alumni Association and the NIU Foundation. Squires earned her bachelor’s degree in Music from NIU in 1980.

Squires is responsible for the overall vision, leadership, strategy, and management of all fundraising and alumni relations activities on behalf of NIU. Working directly with President Baker and academic leadership, she will play a key role in institutional planning that integrates development and alumni relation strategies into the NIU’s overall academic and fiscal plans, soliciting the private financial support necessary to advance NIU’s strategic priorities.

Squires returned to NIU after serving nearly seven years as vice president of the Tufts Medical Center Trust, where she was the chief development executive for Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children, the principal teaching hospitals of Tufts University School of Medicine. At Tufts, she led the growth of the annual fundraising program from $9 to $14 million as a member of the senior leadership team.  She also served as a volunteer member of the organization’s ethics committee, a lifelong professional interest.

From 2005-2008, Squires served as the chief advancement officer of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, where she led staff, volunteers and interns responsible for $11.5 million in annual giving and served as spokesperson in leading the marketing and public affairs functions of the organization.

Squires spent six years as vice president of development for Oak Brook-based Advocate Charitable Foundation. Prior to that, she served as director of development at the Youth Campus of Park Ridge for five years following 15 years of service with the Illinois Chamber Symphony in St. Charles, where she was a founding member of the board of directors, personnel and operations manager and later, executive director. Squires has served in volunteer board positions with the Association of Fundraising Professionals International (AFP) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA).