William “Bill” Digneit (M.F.A. Florida State University 2011) is currently one of the founding Co-Directors of SISU: The Innovation Institute at Northern Michigan University. Bill is also the current Department Head of The Theatre and Dance department and Director of The Forest Roberts Theatre at NMU and holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Technical Production and Management. At NMU, Bill oversees the Theatre and Dance Department, markets and promotes the current season, and teaches classes focusing on technical practices applicable in the nightlife and festival venues. Innovation, collaboration, listening, equity, and a willingness to try something new are the pillars that Mr. Digneit’s leadership is supported by in higher education.
Outside the classroom, Bill is the current production manager for the annual Live Design International Conference and Trade Show in Las Vegas and has also managed LDI Mexico. He has been working in production management with LDI for over 12 years. He is passionate about entertainment technology education to push the industry towards a brighter future. Mr. Digneit also works regionally and nationally to facilitate meaningful change within the entertainment industry’s inclusivity practices. He founded and launched the first fully inclusive theatre audiences experience at NMU and the “Theatre For All” program is now a cornerstone of the program. Bill is the co-owner of Double Trouble Entertainment, a Michigan based entertainment and production-company focusing on nightclub design and outdoor events.Also Mr. Digneit is the co-owner of DIGS Marquette, a restaurant and entertainment venue in Marquette, MI.
Sarah calls Marquette her hometown and NMU her alma mater. After graduating in 2010 with a BS in English writing, Sarah spent time living in both Chicago and New Hampshire. During this period, she worked in marketing roles across numerous industries, specializing in digital content creation and social media management. In 2020 she returned to her Wildcat roots, currently residing as the Marketing Director for NMU University Marketing and Communications. As a member of the SISU team, Sarah assists with marketing, promotions, and outreach efforts.
Carolyn moved from Grand Rapids, Mich. to the Marquette area in March 2021. She joined the NMU Center for Rural Health and SISU team as Senior Secretary. Carolyn has extensive experience in managing day-to-day office operations in a personable and professional manner. She is an actively engaged team member who is learning more about rural health issues. Carolyn is environmentally conscious and strives to ensure the future will be sustainable in a sociably responsible manner.
Visiting SISU Scholar
Dr. Garret Westlake is leading the transformation of Virginia Commonwealth University into one of the nation’s leading universities for cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation. As executive director of the da Vinci Center for Innovation, Dr. Westlake advances university-wide student innovation and entrepreneurship through curriculum as well as through curated experiential education opportunities. Dr. Westlake is also a Visiting Scholar at SISU: The Innovation Institute at NMU.
As a technology entrepreneur, Dr. Westlake founded a social impact company that employed individuals with autism in STEM. Prior to joining VCU, Dr. Westlake served as the associate dean of student entrepreneurship for Arizona State University’s #1 ranked Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He has worked closely with Ashoka U, the Clinton Global Initiative University, and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Students and startups he has mentored have been named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for Healthcare Innovation, awarded Rhodes Scholarships, named Resolution Project Fellows, and have been accepted to SXSW and Y Combinator. Dr. Westlake is also a certified facilitator of design thinking.