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EIU Lumpkin College of Business and Technology

Lumpkin College GOLD Board

The Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Board, formed in 2021, is made up of recent alumni who are engaged in supporting Lumpkin College and our students. They provide mentoring to current students, help prepare students for and aid them in the transition from school to work, and assist with recruiting for the college.    

Click here if you are interested in serving on the GOLD Board, and we will get in touch with you.


Member Biographies



Derek Pierce - Chair

Derek graduated in 2018 with a BSB in Finance & Accounting. While at EIU, Derek was heavily involved in Student Government (VP of Student Affairs and the Executive Vice President, where he served a term on the Board of Trustees), Greek Life (IFC, and various leadership positions in Sigma Chi Fraternity), Office of Admissions (Tour Guide), and various student organizations.

After graduating from EIU, Derek went to the Graduate School at the University of Iowa and obtained a Master’s degree in Finance in 2019. He began his career as an intern during the Summer of 2019 at Bank of America’s headquarters in Charlotte, NC, where he worked in Global Banking and Markets doing daily profit and loss analysis on Consumer & Non-Agency Asset Backed Securities. After his internship, Derek accepted a role in the FMAP (Financial Management Analyst Program) rotational program. He began work earlier than expected to assist with the review of documents for the Paycheck Protection Program in the Spring of 2020. His first year-long rotation was in Global Financial Controls in the Broker Dealer Regulatory Reporting space, where he produced the daily SEA 15c3-3 Customer Protection computation for a BofAS subsidiary (Banc of Americas Securities, LLC) with a customer protection impact of $1-2 billion dollars. Recently, Derek has moved into a new rotation in Corporate Treasury on the Domestic SALM Funding team where he reports, monitors, and forecasts the funding needs of the Bank.

Derek currently lives in Charlotte, NC and enjoys being active, competing, and traveling.





Grant Cougill - Vice Chair

Grant graduated in 2013 with a BS in Applied Engineering and Technology (AET). While at EIU Grant was heavily involved in Campus Rec and served as a referee for various sports as well as handling the payroll for all student refs. He worked his way up to a Team Sport Supervisor (TSS) throughout his sophomore to senior years.

Grant started his career at Hydro-Gear in Sullivan, IL as a Manufacturing Engineer Intern during his junior through senior years. He held various positions while at Hydro-Gear that included Manufacturing Engineer Intern, Test Lab Tech, and lastly as a Buyer in their purchasing department, responsible for sourcing over 10 million pounds of aluminum annually.

Since Hydro-Gear, Grant has worked in several different industries including Food Service as the Printing Department Manager for International Paper in Shelbyville, IL, Plant Superintendent for MasterBrand Cabinets in Goshen, IN, and is currently the Manufacturing Manager for Assembly at Musco Sports Lighting, LLC in Muscatine, IA. Musco specializes in sports lighting with some of the most recent notable projects being the lights for the MLB Field of Dreams game, the Olympics, numerous MLB, NFL, NBA, and MLS stadiums or arenas, and EIU’s O’Brien Stadium, to name just a few.

Grant currently lives in the Quad Cities with his wife and 2 children. He enjoys golfing, watching sports, woodworking, and DIY projects.






Theo Laleian - Secretary

Theo graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelors of Science in Computer & Information Technology in May of 2020. Immediately following graduation, he began classes at EIU for his Master's degree and graduated with a Master of Science in Technology in May of 2021. Theo was the founder and president of the EIU eSports RSO, as well as member of the EIU Robotics Team for three years and served as team captain for two of those years.  

Theo has been a software developer for a couple of large insurance companies and has experience coding in Python, VB.NET, C#, Java, Java Spring, SQL, as well as a few others. Theo has troubleshot and rewritten a significant amount of code. He has also assisted with environment support, which includes getting the servers up and running with the software needed to support the company.

Theo has always loved playing video games. His favorite games are League of Legends and Call of Duty. For those nerdy enough to know, he is a support main and currently sits around the rank of Masters 100LP. Also, Theo enjoys live streaming his gameplay to, and enjoys modifying and racing vehicles. Finally, Theo has worked on quite a few projects using the Arduino platform for the microcontroller.



Mikayla Neese - Treasurer

Mikayla graduated from EIU in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Business in Accounting, and in 2019 with an  MBA with a concentration in Accounting.  While at EIU, Mikayla was involved with Student Accounting Society as Vice President of Recruitment, and Beta Alpha Psi as President and Vice President of Community Service.  She also served as a Homework Hero Tutor and a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team.

Mikayla started her career in public accounting with West & Company upon obtaining her Bachelor's degree. There, she was exposed to taxes and governmental audits.  In 2018, she accepted a position with First Neighbor Bank as a staff accountant.  This opportunity allowed her to work with her own clients in the areas of payroll, sales tax, and bookkeeping.  She also prepared taxes during tax season.  In May 2021, Mikayla has advanced in her career and is now serving as the CFO at Tempco Products.  She is exposed to the manufacturing industry and learning a new side of accounting, where she prepares and reviews the financials, invoices customers, figures the daily deposit, prepares payroll, calculates monthly figures, and prepares vendor checks.

In her spare time, Mikayla enjoys lounging in her hammock, campfires, and spending time with family.  She is an avid hunter and fisherman and recently had her first large buck mounted in a European Mount.  She also enjoys photography and hopes to open her own business for photography in the future. 



Zachary Cohen - Strategic Consultant

Zachary graduated in 2020 with a BSB in Accounting, then followed with completing his MBA with a focus in Accountancy from EIU in the spring of 2021. During his time at Eastern, Zachary was heavily involved in student organizations, including various roles in the Sigma Chi fraternity, Beta Gamma Sigma, and Student Government. While in student government Zachary served terms as Speaker of the Senate, VP of Student Affairs, and Executive Vice President. He also served as Student Trustee on the EIU Board of Trustees. The various involvements in these roles served as a springboard into the beginning of his career.

Throught his academic career at EIU, Zachary had three internships: two as a corporate accounting intern with Caterpillar, Inc., and one as a tax intern with Crowe, LLP. During his internships with Caterpillar, Zachary completed tasks involved in internal auditing, as well as many cost accounting projects such as running discounted cash flow models and sales variance reporting. While working at Crowe, Zachary completed SALT tax returns, as well as federal returns, for clients ranging from tiered partnerships involved in private equity all the way to billion-dollar businesses. Currently, Zachary works as an accountant for Caterpillar, focusing heavily on data architecture and systems development to support restructuring within the company’s internal reporting structure.

Zachary currently lives in Peoria, Illinois and spends his free time golfing, working out, and watching Chicago sports. Yes, this involves being overly optimistic about the Bears every year.



Erika Butler - Management and Lawyer

Erika graduated EIU in 2014 with a BSB degree in Business Management and a minor in Psychology.  She was involved in Greek life (Kappa Delta), the Order of Omega Honor society, studied abroad, and was the first spring semester Student Commencement Speaker (2014).

After EIU, Erika attended Valparaiso University School of Law and took the Indiana Bar exam. She was in the criminal law clinic, held many internships with judges and private practice attorneys, and worked as a public defender in the conflicts division in Lake County, Indiana. Erika also served as a member of many women’s lawyer groups and criminal lawyer groups. 

Currently, Erika works at a law firm, Sidley Austin LLP, in downtown Chicago as an External Careers Operations Coordinator in the Training and Development Department. In this role, Erika helps current lawyers, alumni, and friends of the firm transition their careers, generally from corporate law practice to in-house legal positions. 

In her spare time, Erika likes to travel the world, go to concerts, and spend time with family.



Selena Castillo - Management

Selena graduated in 2017 with a BSB in Management and, after taking a semester off, returned to EIU to complete her MBA in 2019. During her time at Eastern, Selena was involved in a number of organizations. She served as VP of Community Service for Delta Sigma Pi (professional business fraternity), President of Beta Gamma Sigma, was a member of SHRM, Order of Omega and Tri Delta. While in graduate school, Selena served as the RSO liaison between faculty and students.

After graduation, Selena began work in insurance as a claim team manager, where she managed a team of approximately 12 associates. Following that, she became a campaign manager at a marketing firm helping to bring smaller companies some exposure in different test markets, before returning to insurance as an assistant broker, in which she ultimately places many clients in the market with higher risk. 

In her free time, Selena enjoys going to the gym, reading books, traveling and spending time with family and friends.



Christopher Dixon - Business Administration Major Representative

Christopher graduated in 2020 with a BSB degree in Finance. At EIU, he was a member of the swim team, the historian and treasurer of Phi Sigma Pi, the treasurer of the Political Science Association and President of RHA during the 2018-19 year. Christopher was also heavily involved in New Student and Family Programs where he served as an orientation leader and a senior prowl leader. Christopher believes it is these diverse experiences  that helped set him up for success in his professional career.

After EIU, Christopher became a Food Service Manager for Aramark within the Indiana Department of Corrections at the Westville Correctional Facility where he was the youngest person to serve in the role in the state’s history. After serving in that role for approximately one year, Christopher became a LEAP associate at Unifirst in Pontiac, Michigan, where he has learned the roles of each of the major departments, and will be placed into a higher management role anywhere within the US or Canada at the conclusion of the program.

Christopher currently resides in Fenton, Michigan, where he enjoys hiking and taking in all of Michigan’s natural beauty. Along with this, he is a diehard Bears and Blackhawks fan (although ROUGH while living in Metro Detroit).



Jesse Green - Accounting & Finance

Jesse graduated from EIU in 2014, with a BSB degree in Accounting & Finance. As a commuter student from nearby Marshall, IL, Jesse was heavily involved on campus through his undergraduate career. His leadership included serving as President of the Professional Business Fraternity Delta Sigma Pi for two years, President of the EIU College Republicans, statewide Illinois College Republican Federation Chairman for two years, Student Government Executive, Student Investment Society President and countless other boards and groups.

Upon graduation, Jesse worked for former Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner’s successful campaign. He worked on political campaigns ranging from Illinois to Indiana and Kentucky. After later stints in corporate accounting and finance, Jesse moved to Denver, Colorado in 2020 where he currently works for Atlas Pacific Engineering. As the lead Financial Analyst, he loves his role where he owns the financial forecast and is heavily involved in supporting machines that produce/process foods such as apples, peaches, sweet corn, and pistachios.

Outside of work, Jesse spends much of his time hiking, working out, making finance YouTube videos and investing in the stock market. Jesse and his wife currently reside in Parker, Colorado where he still cheers on the the St. Louis Cardinals and any team Jimmy Garoppolo plays on. Go Panthers!



Rachel Grunloh - Accounting Major Representative

Rachel graduated in 2014 with by BS in Business, majoring in Accounting, and in 2015 with her MBA in  Accountancy. While at EIU, Rachel was involved in the Student Accounting Society, completed three accounting internships, and worked part time.

Rachel began her career in public accounting at a large global public accounting firm in 2015 and became a licensed CPA in 2016. While in public accounting Rachel completed external audits for a variety of industries, including manufacturing and distribution, construction, nonprofit, agriculture and government. 

In 2017, Rachel left public accounting and began working as an internal auditor for a large financial institution. In 2019, She accepted a new job completing internal audits for a global manufacturing and distribution company. Her responsibilities as an internal auditor have consisted of performing operational, financial, regulatory and SOX audits.

Rachel currently lives in Effingham, Illinois and enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and being active!




Marlyn Koester - Marketing Representative

Marlyn is a proud EIU business alum, millennial marketer, spaghetti lover and student of life. Marlyn is a highly creative and motivated person who earned a Marketing degree from Eastern Illinois University in 2016. Her other passions include entrepreneurship, technology, food and travel.

During her time at EIU, Marlyn served as a member of the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi and occasionally served as a coach and judge for the Charleston High School’s Speech and Drama team. After graduation, Marlyn immediately landed her first official “big girl” job at Midland States Bank as a Treasury Operations Specialist. She worked at this community bank in Effingham for about 3 years when she realized she probably wouldn't be getting into their marketing department soon as their turnover rate was low. She decided she wanted something different. She wanted a challenge. She wanted to do marketing. The struggle of finding something in her field right after graduation became apparent, which is a reality for most people nowadays. The titles she has held after her stint at Midland are as follows: Assistant Manager, Multimedia Marketing Consultant, Front Office Coordinator and Marketing Specialist, and now Digital Operations Specialist. Marlyn has moved around a lot in search of finding career longevity. It wasn’t until last year that she realized she is in charge of her career and should be able to pave her own path.

This year Marlyn finally launched her own company, Stori Marketing. She currently works with businesses around the city of Effingham and its surrounding areas with the aim of bringing all businesses, large or small, into the digital landscape through smart and powerful storytelling. You can think of it as an outsourced marketing guru proving solutions in Branding, Content & Social, and Design. Job hopping and not being afraid to take on new challenges has given Marlyn all the skills and industry experience needed to run her own business. She hopes to be a great marketing representative for GOLD and at the same time be an example for those struggling at making life-changing career decisions. Her advice to new graduates: you don’t have to have it all figured out after college; just keep following your passion and building on it and you will be fine.

Go San Francisco Giants and 49ers!




Zachary Peifer - Management & Lawyer

Zachary graduated from EIU in 2016 with a BSB degree in Business Management. While at EIU, Zachary was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and played for the EIU's Hockey Team. After graduating from EIU, Zachary attended law school at Indiana University Maurer School of Law where he graduated with a JD in the spring of 2021.

Later that summer, Zachary passed the bar and moved to Chicago, where he currently serves as an Associate at Eichhorn & Eichhorn, LLP, practicing civil litigation with a focus on medical malpractice defense. In his free time, Zachary enjoys cycling, cooking, playing with his dog, and trying new restaurants. 



Tara Puterbaugh - Accounting

Tara graduated from EIU in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Business degree, specializing in Accounting. While a student at EIU, Tara participated in several on-campus involvement opportunities and held advisory and ambassador roles for Becker Education, the Student Apportionment Board, and the School of Business. Tara was honored to be recognized as a Distinguished Senior and was chosen to speak on behalf of her graduating class during commencement as the student commencement speaker. After EIU, Tara graduated from Bradley University in May 2021 with a Master’s in Business Administration. During her time as an MBA student, Tara was a leader on the MBA Association board and attended campus events for graduate students.

During her time as a student, Tara completed three internships with Caterpillar, Inc. She completed her first internship within the Large Power Systems Division with projects that focused on cost accounting and departmental expense P&L analysis. Her second internship was within the Industrial Power Systems division, focusing on budgeting/forecasting and consolidation of financial statements of several facilities. Tara completed a third internship within the Product Support & Logistics Division and completed projects consisting of budgeting/forecasting and cost accounting support. Currently, Tara is a full-time Staff Accountant at Caterpillar within the Electrification and Energy Solutions (E+ES) Division supporting budgeting/forecasting and internal financial reporting.

Tara currently lives in Peoria, IL. Outside of her professional life, Tara enjoys listening to podcasts, reading, volunteering in the Peoria-area community, exercising, and spending time outdoors with family and friends.


Phillip Sterling - Chair Technology Affairs, Engineering Technology Representative

Phillip is a Charleston, IL native born just down the road in Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. He graduated from Charleston High School in 2009 and continued on to Eastern Illinois University where he graduated in 2013 with a BS in Applied Engineering and Technology (AET). While at EIU, Phillip was involved as a Resident Assistant (RA) at Taylor Hall 5 South and involved with the honors society Phi Sigma Pi.

After graduation in 2013, Phillip joined International Paper in Shelbyville, IL as a Production Supervisor. Working his way through supervisor to a Process Improvement Engineer, then on to Environmental, Health and Safety Manager. During his time as EHS manager, Phillip returned to EIU to achieve his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and was part of the first cohort of their online program. Phillip graduated with his MBA from EIU in 2018.

During his time in the MBA program, Phillip received a promotion to HR Manager and the facility was acquired by Graphic Packaging International, his current company. Shortly after receiving his MBA, Phillip received an opportunity to become an Operations Manager at the Centralia, IL facility of GPI, which was followed by a promotion to Plant Manager.

The facility is close to 200 employees, working 24/7 to produce 1.5 billion boxes a year out of recycled and virgin paperboard for a variety of industries. They do nearly 500 million Kraft Mac and Cheese boxes a year, along with Stouffer’s Lasagna, General Mills Hamburger Helper, SCJ Ziploc, and Frito Lay Multipack Boxes, to name a few.

Phillip currently lives in Mount Vernon, IL with his wife Brittany and two children, Quinn and Chase. Two of Phillip's passions, outside of family life, are golfing and good red wine.



Britany Webb - Management

Britany graduated from EIU in December 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Management with a focus in Human Resources. While at EIU, Britany was a member of SHRM and was in the Honor’s college. She also worked on campus, both in Thomas Hall and in the Housing and Dining Office.

During Britany's last semester at Eastern, she interned with the Training and Development department with Midland States Bank. In 2018, she accepted a full-time position with Midland as an HR Administrative Assistant, and havssince been promoted to HR Generalist. Britany has had experience in all areas of HR, including training, recruitment, compensation and benefits, risk management, and employee relations. In 2021, Britany sat for her SHRM-CP exam and is now certified.

In her free time, Britany likes to play with her dog and spend time reading and listening to podcasts. She also loves music and going to concerts and the theatre.




Sarah Zerrusen - Management/Marketing & MBA

Sarah graduated with a BSB in Management with a minor in Marketing in May 2017. During her time at EIU, Sarah was involved in Alpha Gamma Delta, EIU's Pink Panther Dance Team, Phi Beta Lambda, and was a student ambassador for EIU Admissions. Upon graduation, Sarah moved to Indianapolis, IN as a leadership consultant for Alpha Gamma Delta. With that position, she traveled the country to help evaluate chapters to create action plans to improve operations and started three new chapters in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

Once that contracted position was complete, Sarah moved back to Mattoon, IL to work for EIU as a Freshman Admissions counselor. It was great to travel, talk to students about the university that gave so much to her, and use her sales skills from business classes. While working full time in admissions and coaching both EIU Dance and Cheer Teams, Sarah went back to school to get her MBA from EIU in May 2021.

Currently, Sarah works as an HR Generalist/Recruiter for Stevens Industries, Inc. in Teutopolis, IL, a manufacturer of laminated wood products. So, the cabinetry in your doctor’s offices, your science labs in high school, and your tables in Lumpkin College of Business and Technology: Stevens Industries, Inc. makes those. In her free time, she likes to golf, travel, hang out with her dogs and husband, garden, and even can vegetables from her garden.




Amanda Sandiford

Amanda graduated from EIU in December 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, and again in December 2016 with a Master’s degree in Business Administration. During her time at EIU, Amanda was an active member of Delta Sigma Pi where she was the VP of Pledge Education in Spring 2015 and the VP of Community Service in Fall 2015. Amanda also served as a Lumpkin School of Business Student Ambassador and a member of Beta Alpha Psi.

In January 2017, Amanda began her full-time career as an Accountant with Marathon Petroleum Corporation at a refinery in Catlettsburg, KY. She was a Yield Accountant for eight months before being rotated to a Project Accountant role for two years. In September 2019, Amanda transferred with Marathon to a refinery in Mandan, ND where she supported both the Mandan Refinery and the Dickinson Renewable Fuels Facility. At Mandan, she helped develop and restructure the site’s accounting department, as well as participated in several special projects outside of the day-to-day responsibilities.In January 2022, Amanda accepted a Lead Analyst role at a refinery in St. Paul Park, MN where she supports a team of four in the Accounting organization..

Currently, Amanda lives near the Twin Cities with her husband. They are actively involved in their local church and enjoy various outdoor activities together. Amanda is also an avid runner and likes exploring new trails and scenery.



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Lumpkin College of Business and Technology

4800 Lumpkin Hall
Charleston, IL 61920

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