Meet the Trainers
Eric, a lifelong resident of the Coulee Region, has been involved in the electrical trade since 1977, first as an apprentice, then as a journeyman, becoming a master in 1985. He holds a license both in Wisconsin and Minnesota. For 34 years he has worked for a local electrical contractor and is currently an estimator and project manager. Since 1997 he has served as chairperson for the Associated Builders & Contractors of Wisconsin Apprenticeship Advisory Committee. He teaches evening classes for the apprenticeship program and in 2007 was awarded Wisconsin Craft Professional of the Year for his commitment to the apprenticeship program.
Eric began working in 2008 as an adjunct instructor with Western Technical College Business and Industry Services and Lifelong Learning, specializing in customized electrical training and still working with the tools on a regular basis. Eric brings more than three decade's worth of "hands-on" experience to his classes, providing real life applications for students to use on a daily basis. He mixes humor with a laidback teaching style, focusing on student needs. Eric and his wife Mary have two adult children and live south of La Crosse. They enjoy ballroom dancing, the outdoors, and riding their Harley. They are currently attempting to train or be trained by their new Labrador pup, Nelly.
Gretchen Heilman is a full-time instructor for the Supervisory Management program at Western Technical College and a part-time teacher in the School District of La Crosse. She worked for four years as a Safety Representative and Engineer for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway where she instructed employees on workplace safety programs, communicated federal and company safety regulations to employees, and managed train crews. Gretchen is a certified OSHA trainer who has provided workplace safety training, including OSHA 30 and 10 hour certifications to more than 1,000 employees for 20+ businesses.
She is currently pursuing a doctor of educational leadership degree, and holds a master of arts in education degree, a bachelor of business administration degree, and an associate of applied science degree in supervisory management. Gretchen lives in the La Crosse area and works to create a safe work environment for all employees.
Lance C. Hughey
Lance C. Hughey assumed his current position as an Attorney Advisor in the Fort McCoy Legal Office, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, specializing in Labor and Employment law on January 26, 2004. The role of Contract and Fiscal Law Attorney was added on December 26, 2005. In his role of Labor Counselor, Mr. Hughey services the USARC Civilian Personal Advisory Center and USARC Equal Employment Opportunity Office. Both organizations service a civilian workforce of over 13,000 individuals across the United States, Germany, Korea and Puerto Rico. Mr. Hughey has had the opportunity to litigate EEOC and MSPB cases in over 25 states, as well as in Puerto Rico and Korea. In his Contract and Fiscal law role, Mr. Hughey advises the Fort McCoy Army Contracting Agency. In fiscal year 2005, more than $113 million in contracts for construction and services were awarded.
With more than 25 years of combined experience in teaching and leadership, Joseph Lyman is a high-energy, results-oriented speaker. He has been praised for his seminars on leadership development, business communication, negotiation, dealing with negative attitudes, and customer service.
Joseph also ran his own business creating, establishing and presenting reading improvement programsówith which he reached over 4,000 students.
Joseph's a seasoned instructor who has taught technical and management courses at schools and businesses and he's also hired, managed and trained sales and service professionals in automotive and other industries.
Steve McCombs has over 20 years of experience as a consultant, facilitator, tradesman, and author in the fields of manufacturing, construction, health care, and education. He has been a regular contributor to Small Business Times and his writing has also appeared in Training Magazine, American Society for Training and Development Journal, In Business, Tactics, and The Business Journal. Further, Steve has worked with companies including Miller Brewing, Century Foods, Giddings and Lewis, Custom Products Corporation, FedEx, Marathon Petroleum, and Merck Pharmaceuticals. As a Consultant for Western his primary focus is to help companies discover ways to improve their performance through performance technology, needs assessment, process improvement, employee development and /or training.
Brandee currently is an Instructor in the Supervisory/Management program at Western Technical College, teaching at both the La Crosse and Tomah Campuses, since the fall semester of 2006. Prior to that, Ms. Ortery was a Supervisor in the Customer Support department at IDEXX Laboratories. IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. is a worldwide leader in the development and commercialization of innovative technology-based products and services for veterinary, food and water applications. The Company provides the preferred tools for monitoring the health of production animals, such as cattle, swine and poultry. IDEXX also provides diagnostics for detection of microbiological contamination of drinking water, and for screening of antibiotic residues in milk. In her role as Customer Support Supervisor she was responsible for the performance of her team from hiring through separation.
Brandee has also completed several training projects through Western's Business and Industry Services division for telecommunication firms, turf equipment manufacturers and fabrication shops. Among the courses she has taught for these and other clients are; Safe and Effective Interviewing, The Art and Science of Interviewing, Legal Issues, and Hiring and Firing.
Roxanne Smothers, B.S, M.B.A. is an adjunct instructor and trainer for Western Technical College. Roxanne has taught courses in Supervision Principles, Leadership Development, Human Resources, Legal Issues, Team Building and Problem Solving, Project Management, Diversity and Change Management, Organizational Development, Personal Skills and Introduction to Business.
As a trainer in the Business and Industry Services Division at Western, Roxanne has worked with Midwest Securities, Parker Hannifin, Gold'n Plump, Ashley Distribution Services Ltd, the Ho-Chunk Nation and others, providing services ranging from facilitating Gap Analyses and Strategic Planning Sessions, Safe and Effective Interviewing, Train-The-Trainer programs, and various seminars and workshops related to human resource development. Her passion lies in training and developing human capital through communication and internal support, leading to a more productive and efficient work environment.
Roxanne holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse and has spent her career in sales and training.
Kenric Sorenson has been a Welding Instructor at Western Technical College since 1998. Prior to joining Western he gained several years of practical experience as a Millwright, Welder and Fabricator. He also holds an Associate of Science Degree from Western Technical College, as well as two Journeyman's cards. He is a patient and articulate instructor who sincerely cares about his students' success.