WIT+ Member Spotlight

WIT+ Member Spotlight

illustration of spotlight

I started my career in Human Resources, filling a variety of roles over the years, and gaining business analysis and technical skills while working primarily with Learning and Performance Management Systems. I developed strong relationships with our IT partners, who recognized my transferable skills and I successfully transitioned into IT about 13 years ago.

I joined Northwestern in 2016 as a Systems Analyst Lead to support the new Learning Management System for faculty and staff. I was promoted to Application Systems Manager in March 2020. In this role, I manage a team of Systems Analysts who primarily support HR-related systems.

I completed Northwestern's Executive Learning & Organizational Change certification in Coaching and I love to use the coaching skills I learned to help team members find joy in their jobs. This ties in nicely with my personal goal as a manager to create a caring and collaborative joy-filled place to work.

I’ve served on a number of committees and working groups at Northwestern over the past eight years. I am currently a member of the Northwestern IT Women in Technology Steering Committee and I just joined the BTAA WIT+ Steering Committee.


For years I dreamt of owning a business catering to furry family members. I even wrote a business plan as part of a final project in my undergrad program. I really wanted to move forward then but wasn’t in a position to take that leap of faith and realize my dream. Fast forward 27-ish years while staring head-on at a milestone birthday. I’d been working my whole career for large organizations. Organizations whose contributions are well known. But who would ever know what role I played in that? What had I contributed? 

When Covid hit my husband and I moved from the heart of Minneapolis to our lake home in central Minnesota. The area where we live is rapidly changing, Crosby was named as a “Best Place to Live” and one of “America’s Smartest Towns” in 2018 by Outside magazine. The award resulted from the way the community transitioned from a mining-based economy, which ended decades ago and left a dying community, to one centered around adventure recreation. Just recently it made the list of breathtaking towns to visit in Minnesota. I am passionate about this area, about the growth and opportunity that is abundant. This is where I found my inspiration to be part of what makes this a destination for outdoor enthusiasts and a vibrant place to call home. This is how I would create a legacy that positively impacts my community and brings about my purpose.

So began the journey to open Una Rakki. The store will be a unique pet boutique catering to the needs of pets and their parents who love all things outdoors. It will be the ultimate destination for high-quality, specialized products to ensure that pets are safe and comfortable while enjoying nature's beauty. The product line will feature a majority of USA-made products with a focus on supporting as many small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses as possible. Additionally, there will be professional grooming services, as well as self-service wash stations. All grooming products will be pet and environmentally safe, free of harmful chemicals. Using quality products not only helps support the health and well-being of our fuzzy family members but being that I live in lake country, I want to protect the pristine environment and lakes that are enjoyed by wildlife and nature enthusiasts year-round.

With that, I am bidding farewell to UMN after 11 years. I will miss seeing the students in the fall and exclaiming “These kids can’t possibly be starting college, they look 12”!  I will miss supporting the mission and the many great friends and colleagues I’ve been blessed to know along this part of my life story. I hope if you find inspiration in any of this that you will follow your dreams too. Take risks, scary as they might be. As women in IT, we have been taking risks and blazing new trails every step of our careers anyway, right?  But if you have a passion that is different from what you are doing Monday through Friday, 52 weeks a year, don’t be afraid to truly explore the possibility. There are a lot of resources for small, women-owned businesses. Grants to help financially support you, free resources through departments of economic development and small business administration offices to help realize your vision. It’s been all the emotions and all the feelings these last few months but for all the lows I have twice as many highs when I talk with people in the community and see the positive feedback on Una Rakki’s social media. I know I am doing the right thing and hopefully, that old adage will soon hold true, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”.

Wishing you all success, however that manifests itself in you. If you’re ever in the Crosby. Minnesota area, come say hello!

Laura Gordon has been working for the School of Arts and Sciences Information Technology Web group since the Fall of 2016.  Her role is to manage 120+ websites for the school which includes departments, centers, research groups, and administration sites.  While managing the sites she delivers different ways to optimize the way the departments manage the information.  Laura also creates training programs on how to use Joomla technology and Docusign so the administrators in the School of Arts and Sciences can maintain their sites independently.

Laura has been working in Information Technology for over 30 years.  Initially focusing on Business Specifications and training and Project management and implementations.  She started working with Joomla in 2004 while building websites for small businesses and public libraries.  She is actively involved with the Joomla User Group community and has traveled all over the world to participate in various Joomla events as an organizer and presenter.  Laura received a Master's in Business Science with a concentration in User Experience Design in 2022.

Currently, Laura is the chair of the Women+ in Information Technology group at Rutgers.  As a team, we meet multiple times a year with hybrid and in-person meetings and learning sessions.  Laura has been involved with the Women+ in IT group with BTAA as the chair of the Coffee Catchup Committee and the conference committee.  She is also the current BTAA WIT Vice Co-Chair.

In her spare time, Laura loves riding roller coasters with her husband who has owned a Roller Coaster Camp for the past 20 years.

What brought me to tech

The IT field was one that was never on my radar as a potential career path. I knew enough about computers to troubleshoot, but nothing more technical than that. I feel there comes a point in everyone’s lives where the need for more is there and the want for something different gets stronger. Some people are okay with being stagnant and the status quo and that is okay. I do not know if it was an opportunity, the “right time”, or the stars aligning, but the IT field seemed to have found me.

 In 2012, my initiation into the IT field occurred while working at the Northeast Regional Center For Rural Development in the College of Agricultural Sciences as an Administrative Coordinator at Penn State. Tasked with processing various financial requests using a 1960s Mainframe for tasks like payroll and invoice payments, I took the initiative to teach myself. Encouraged by my director, I engaged in professional development to enhance my technical knowledge. This effort resulted in a significant reduction in the number of submissions returned for errors. Furthermore, as the Center embarked on multiple projects simultaneously, my director expressed the need for websites for several of them. At that time, I researched various website builders and I acquired the skill of building these websites through a process of trial and error.

 During my time at the Center, I engaged in frequent conversations with a close friend who worked in IT. As she described her job, I found it intriguing. Eventually, she informed me about an opening in her department and encouraged me to apply. I was initially hesitant and questioned my level of IT experience and whether I could contribute to the team. Despite my doubts, with unwavering faith and encouragement from this friend, along with support from my family and friends, I took a leap of faith and applied for the position. I received an offer and happily accepted the position, eagerly looking forward to my next adventure. This decision turned out to be the best decision I ever made, and I have never looked back; I love what I do and would not change a thing. My journey in IT has been filled with accomplishments that I never thought were possible. I have been fortunate to collaborate with an exceptional team and manager who provided consistent support and guidance throughout my IT tenure. This group is not just colleagues; they have become friends and feel like family. I owe much of my IT journey to the encouragement and faith instilled in me by my great friend.

 What I would be doing if not in IT

A career concept frequently discussed with my dad was venturing into business consulting. The objective would involve studying the processes of businesses, using the acquired data to offer recommendations for improving not just operational efficiency but also implementing cost-saving measures, enhancing employee morale, reducing turnover, and increasing customer satisfaction. The notion of utilizing my business degree to aid businesses in elevating their practices and standards for greater success appeared both challenging and fulfilling. It is a career where I could genuinely contribute to making a positive difference. Although additional business education would be necessary, the words of Nelson Mandela resonate: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."


Cordelia Geiken manages two critical teams within Technology Services: Quality Assurance and Assessment, responsible for evaluating and testing all products produced or purchased by Tech Services, and web hosting, responsible for website platforms offered to the campus community. She leads both teams deftly while also leading individuals with different reporting lines to achieve common goals. 

As someone who has improved her skills over more than 30 years of work on campus—starting as a student worker and later becoming the first webmaster on campus, thanks to Mosaic—Geiken also encourages her staff’s professional development. An advocate for inclusivity, she is involved in both campus and Big Ten-level organizations to strengthen women's recruitment, retention, and advancement in IT. 

Along with managing two teams, Geiken co-chairs the campus Web Implementation Guidelines Group. This cross-disciplinary team has created free templates, tools, and resources to help units across campus build and maintain engaging, useful, and accessible websites that meet brand standards, saving units time and money while facilitating a stronger, more consistent web presence across the university.