Board of Directors
Meredith Schmidt has 10+ years’ experience working in the financial markets, fulfilling a variety of roles that all have centered around business analysis, including business data analytics, customer experience, business process improvements, and business analysis as a service. She has conceptualized and gained executive support to invest in business analysis as a service and has since built out the practice at OCC.
She’s hands-on in development and plays a critical role in the mentorship and oversight of analysts fulfilling the BA role. She has a passion for business analysis and believes it’s the foundation to success on all endeavors.
VP OF PROGRAMS
Pete Mandra, Lead Business Analyst at the American Medical Association, has more than 20 years of experience in business analysis, management consulting, business process improvement, and Information Systems optimization in a variety of industries, including transportation, energy utilities, telecommunications, and health care.
Pete enjoys teaching others about the importance of business analysis and the value of obtaining industry-recognized certifications. He has launched and led two Business Analysis Centers of Excellences in the workplace to implement and support improvement measures, elevate the business analyst role, and provide mentorship opportunities for junior colleagues. Pete has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College Chicago, an MBA from Lewis University, and possesses IIBA’s CBAP, AAC, and CBDA certifications. On multiple occasions, he has also served as a subject matter expert for various certification bodies.
VP OF COMMUNICATIONS
Back in eighth grade, I fielded 18 classmates’ calls for help within 24 hours before an assignment on assembly language was due. Those classmates always believed I’d end up working with computers. As for me, enabling them to understand the material delighted me.
Interested in how people learn, I pursued my Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, focusing on mathematical reasoning. As a grad student, I also improved communication within and beyond the department by setting up and maintaining the department’s website (debuting it in 1994).
Since then, with my commitment to greater understanding, quality service, and clear communication, I do that “computer work,” while enabling colleagues and clients to solve problems and understand how to use or build technology solutions.
VP OF MEMBERSHIP
Karen Richards is a Senior Account Executive with NueVista Group, an IT Consulting and services firm focused in the Chicagoland market. She has been with NueVista for the past 15 years and has been involved in the Chicago chapter of the IIBA since 2007.
Karen’s expertise is relationship management, sales and marketing. She has worked with numerous clients over the years assisting with technology projects and organizational growth via the best resources available. She has built and fostered a reputation of partnering with her clients and looking after their best interests rather than just filling a role. Through the IT Leadership practice at NueVista Group she’s worked to introduce organizations to the IIBA and to further the careers and increase the effectiveness of their BAs.
She has a B.S. from Loyola University in Chicago.
VP OF FINANCE
Christopher Pool has more than 20 years of experience working in financial services (FinTech) and IT consulting as a business systems analyst (BSA), focused on core competencies centered around business analysis, data analytics, reporting, process modeling, business process improvement, UXUI Design, and product development. As Product Manager and lead practitioner, he provides BA support and mentorship across multiple product development teams and helps to promote BA competencies and best practices across his organization.
Chris joined the IIBA in 2021 and was elected as VP of Finance for the Chicago chapter in 2022. He joined the local chapter in hopes to learn and serve a community of practice that believes in working together to promote and enhance the BA service.
VP OF MARKETING & RELATIONSHIPS
Mike Plichta has 25 years of IT experience, the majority of which was spent as either a Business Analyst or a manager of Business Analysts at Allstate, Motorola Solutions, and Heidrick & Struggles. He is currently an IT Director at Heidrick, a publicly traded company with $1B in revenue specializing in executive recruiting, management consulting, and on-demand niche talent services. Mike has spent his past two years fulfilling the Business Relationship Manager role for Heidrick’s two fastest growing product lines. His team leverages vendors of software and implementation services to meet their business needs for sales automation and digital marketing. He has been an active member of IIBA and a CBAP since 2014. He has certifications as a ScrumMaster and Product Owner, an MBA, and an MS in Computer Science.
VP OF VOLUNTEERS
Marci Watts Marci Watts, MBA, FLMI, ACS, ARA, CTM, SAFe 6 SP, SAF3 6 POPM, SAFe 6 APM has over 25 years’ experience working as a Business Analyst/ Product Owner/ Product Manager for Allstate Insurance Company in its auto and property insurance lines. Marci also has 25+ years of volunteer experience with organizations such as Junior Achievement and Community Threads.
Marci holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with a minor in Economics from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. She holds several SAFe Agile certifications and is working on her IIBA Agile and Product Ownership Analysis certifications.
David Phillips is a Principal Consultant in Business Alignment for Daugherty Business Solutions, a national consulting company with over 1,200 consultants across the country. David has spent his entire career in consulting with Fortune 500 companies in various business analysis, scrum, and XP roles. He has been in the Chicagoland area for two and half years, based out of Logan Square, but has also lived in Atlanta and Minneapolis and has been a member of IIBA since 2014.
David has spent his career jumping back and forth between serving technology delivery teams and supporting the operations of various business groups across enterprises, finding value and solutions at the confluence of new technology and rapidly changing business problems. He has a strong background in data and analytics, user experience design and delivery, product management, and leading development teams to cultivate agile problem solving cultures.