Fulcrum Point Boards
Board of Directors
Board of Directors
- President – Nik Rokop
- Vice President – James Robinson
- Treasurer – Ian McCutcheon
- Heather Aranyi
- Stephen Burns
- Michael Drouet
- Samuel G. Kramer
- James Sanders
- President Emeritus – Judith Neisser
Board of Directors
Nik Rokop is an Industry Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at IIT Stuart School of Business. He teaches entrepreneurship at the undergraduate and graduate level, in addition to assisting on special projects for the Dean of IIT Stuart, supporting the Entrepreneurship Academy, recruiting for the undergraduate business program, and supporting IIT’s Innovation Center.
As a life-long entrepreneur, advisor to and investor in entrepreneurial ventures, Rokop has a passion for creating new businesses and helping others succeed. Rokop is past President & CEO of nLake Technology Partners, a management, business development, and technology commercialization group specializing in nanotechnology. He has more than 20 years of successful entrepreneurial experience in engineering, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and international operations. His career spans the iron and steel industries, manufacturing, consulting and the Internet.
James Robinson is CEO of Septentrion Studios, a design-thinking consulting firm. He is also a Realtor and real estate investor with Septentrion Properties, helping international clients invest in Chicago real estate. James previously served as the Director for Strategy, Innovation, and Evaluation at Rotary International where he was responsible for developing and implementing global membership, fundraising and grant making strategies; evaluating the global impact of Rotary clubs; and facilitating change management. Prior to this role, James launched The Rotary Foundation’s new grant making model called the Future Vision plan, which was a 2013 Edison Award winner for social innovation. He has a BA in international relations from Michigan State University and an MPA in nonprofit leadership from Grand Valley State University. James enjoys opportunities exploring the arts and culture scene in more than 40 countries he has visited. He has an active interest in art therapy programs, meditation, sound therapy and Jungian Psychology, as well as composing electronic music.
Ian McCutcheon, a native of Chicago, is now a custom letterpress printer and owner Squanto Press, LLC, on West Chicago Avenue. He comes to printing after 20 years of institutional and residential architecture in Chicago and in Europe. Ian works and lives in Chicago and spends an increasing portion of his time in West Illinois where he and his family have built a traditional post & beam timber barn residence and greenhouse outbuildings for organic farming. He is involved with local conservation foundations in West Illinois and is also a Trustee for the Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Ian has long been involved with Chicago concert choir organizations and continues his regular trumpet studies with Fulcrum Point Artistic Director, Stephen Burns.
Trumpet virtuoso and conductor Stephen Burns is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Fulcrum Point New Music Project in Chicago. He has been acclaimed on four continents for his consistently and widely varied performances encompassing recitals, orchestral appearances, chamber ensemble engagements, and innovative multi-media presentations involving video, dance theatre, and sculpture.
In 1998, Stephen Burns was invited to create innovative new music programs as the Artist in Residence with Performing Arts Chicago. He founded Fulcrum Point New Music Project whose mission is to champion classical music influenced and inspired by Pop culture, Jazz, Rock, Blues, Latin, Folk, Klezmer, World Music, literature, film, art, dance, and theatre.
Originally from Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, Stephen Burns studied under Armando Ghitalla, Gerard Schwarz, Pierre Thibaud, and Arnold Jacobs at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Julliard School (BM/MM 1981-82), as well as in Paris and Chicago for post-graduate studies. He has won many prestigious awards including the 1981 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, 1982 Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 1983 National Endowment for the Arts Recitalist Grant, the Naumburg Scholarship at Juilliard, “Outstanding Brass Player” at Tanglewood and the aforementioned 1988 Maurice Andre Concour International de Paris. Sought after internationally for master classes, Mr. Burns is a former tenured Professor of Music at Indiana University and Visiting Lecturer at the Arturo Toscanini Foundation Corso MYTHOS in Bologna, Italy. He presently resides in Chicago with his wife, school psychologist, Kate Neisser and their twin sons Edward and Isaac. Stephen Burns is a Yamaha performing artist.
Learn more about Stephen at Meet Our Founder!
Mike’s career has led him from working in the Aerospace and Defense Sector as a systems and software engineer to developing system designs at Citadel LLC as the hands-on Software Engineer and Manager/Team Lead with extensive experience in software small team and business support leadership, project management, business analysis and software development. Mike holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Science in Financial Markets and Trading. Mike is also an avid music lover and amateur violist.
Heather Aranyi is a master soloist, educator, choral conductor, consultant, professional cantor candidate, advisor, and mentor. Named by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the most sought after singers and conductors in Chicago,” Heather’s dynamic skills and far-reaching experiences have brought her passion and expertise to dozens of individuals, schools, institutions, and organizations. She is also on faculty at Northwestern.
Currently, she is on staff at the Lyric Opera where she is both an artist and teacher-in-residence working with communities and schools in the creation and performance of original operas. Through her work with Aranyi Music Corporation she has mentored and expertly guided artists, attorneys, scientists, corporations, as well as professional and aspiring singers and performers. An astounding number of her protégés have gone on to achieve excellence and success in their chosen careers and fields of interest receiving international awards, scholarships, as well as media attention from National Public Radio and The Wall Street Journal. Heather’s skill-set incorporates interdisciplinary, hands-on, innovative approaches to assist her clients in becoming more confident, masterful, and prosperous.
Heather holds graduate degrees in Voice and Opera from Northwestern University and Early Childhood Development from The Erikson Institute at Loyola University. She was awarded a prestigious McCormick fellowship, was a featured presenter at the 31st Annual Women Cantors Network Conference, and has performed throughout Chicago, Europe, and most recently, successfully debuted in New York City at the renowned Carnegie Hall. Her forthcoming plans include additional teaching and leadership appointments, her continued work at the Lyric Opera and Aranyi Music Corporation, and a return to New York City for a performance at the equally notable Lincoln Center.
Samuel G. Kramer is a partner with the firm Baker McKenzie. His practice focuses on multi-jurisdictional outsourcing, complex technology licensing, commercial contracting, and supply chain agreements and integration. He is frequently involved in outsourcing transactions and large scale IT services projects. Mr. Kramer also focuses on emerging technology services, including mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) transactions. He is the North American coordinator of the Firm’s MVNO practice.
Mr. Kramer is recognized in Chambers Global in the field of outsourcing, and in Chambers USA in the fields of Technology Law and Business Process Outsourcing. He also is recognized in The Legal 500 as a leading lawyer in technology outsourcing. In 2004, he was selected as one of the “40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch.” Mr. Kramer is an adjunct faculty member at the John Marshall Law School where he has taught Cyberspace Law in the Information Technology LLM Program. He spent nine months in Baker & McKenzie’s Hong Kong office as an associate in the information technology and telecoms group.
Violinist James Sanders confidently crosses stylistic borders yet stays true to both the jazz violin legacy and his rigorous classical training, creating music that transcends category yet remains faithful to its multiple inspirations, which include his Caribbean heritage. He is a regular presence in Chicago’s creative music movement and has performed around the world, including major jazz festivals in Italy, Brazil, Poland and Chicago. He leads the long running Latin jazz group James Sanders’ Conjunto as well as Proyecto Libre, an ensemble that pulls equally from free improvisation and Afro-Caribbean traditions. He recently formed the Dark Matter String Band with bassist Christian Dillingham to interpret the tradition of African American acoustic string music in a contemporary context. Past projects include the Blue Violin Quartet, an exploration of the role of the violin in jazz. He has been a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta first violin section since 1993 and mentors young musicians through the orchestra’s SEED program.
James also teachers and coordinates the string program for the Arlington Heights IL school district and is on faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago.
Steve Chang is Managing Partner of CityGrounds coffee bar and Gaslight Coffee Roasters, both based in Chicago. He also serves as Chief Strategy Officer of Propeller Collective, a non-profit organization that accelerates graduation rates among first generation and limited-income college students. Prior to this role, Steve worked as a consultant in corporate communications serving Fortune 100 services and technology companies. Steve is interested in creating stronger communities by building meaningful relationships among business, government, and advocacy and non-profit organizations throughout his work.
Jack Hanlon is a Chicago-area native, saxophonist, scholar, and educator. Having taught music at every grade level from kindergarten through undergraduates, he has long advocated arts education and outreach endeavors. Jack graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s of music education and proceeded to teach instrumental and general music in several public schools before pursuing a master’s degree in musicology at the Eastman School of Music. At Eastman, he established himself as a passionate teacher, dedicated events coordinator within Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership, and an endlessly curious scholar whose research interests spanned from German Romanticism, gender studies, and representations of mental health, through late European Modernism. Jack is currently preparing his dissertation proposal on American cultural diplomacy during the Cold War and continues his studies as a saxophonist.
Jack returned to Chicago several years ago for the opportunity to join the city’s primary initiatives on curbing urban violence, work that he has found immensely rewarding and that has earned numerous honors, including the Chicago Police Department’s prestigious Lifesaving Award.