Professional Development - Instructor Bios
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.
Pat is currently the Open Enrollment Coordinator in Lifelong Learning at Western Technical College. Prior to that, she was a Training Consultant in the Business & Industry Services Department and Child Care Coordinator in Family & Consumer Sciences. Pat holds both a Bachelors and a Master’s degree in education; previously taught at the high school and associate degree level and continues to present customized training seminars for Business and Industry. She offers DiSC training for large and small groups through the Business and Industry Services department at Western. She has presented Introduction to DiSC, Improve Communication Using DiSC, and DiSC for Conflict Management.
Josh is an Instructor in the Supervisory Management program at Western where he teaches accelerated cohort classes in face to face and online formats. Prior to coming to Western, he spent over 10 years within the manufacturing sector working in supervision, process improvement and CI training, procurement, and middle management. A former MSC-ST and Saint Mary’s University of MN graduate, Josh most recently completed his M.B.A. from Viterbo University and is currently completing the requirements for his 5 year WTCS certification.
Josh’s goal for all of his classes is to take proven methodologies and applicable theory and combine them with real life scenarios to produce a learning experience which is hands on, enjoyable, and easy to internalize. “People’s own experiences really bring the topic areas to life”.
Josh resides in Saint Charles, MN with his wife Kristin and 2 children, Skyler and Lillian.
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.
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, 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.
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.
Paula Zastrow works in the Health and Public Safety Division office at Western, where she is the administrative program assistant to many health programs. She earned her associate’s degree in administrative assistant–information processing from Western Technical College, her bachelor’s in business administration–organizational management from Viterbo University, as well as her master’s in business administration from Viterbo.
"I enjoy teaching in the Lifelong Learning programs. It is very exciting to help others learn new concepts, especially in the ever-changing field of technology. Each student brings a new, refreshing perspective to the classroom and I am always learning something from each student."
Paula lives in Holmen, Wisconsin with her husband, Steve, and their two children, Chris, who is a student at UW-Stevens Point, and Stephen, who attends Holmen Middle School.