iSPI staff

a small but mighty team

Executive Director

Katie Davison joined Innovate Springfield as executive director in February of 2016.  Katie oversees the strategic advancement of Innovate Springfield and directs the implementation of the incubator’s core programs: social innovation and business incubation. As the organization's first executive director, Katie has led Innovate Springfield through its startup phase and supported the growth of the organization by increasing membership, improving general awareness about the incubator, and broadening the community of experts and supporters.


Under Davison’s leadership, Innovate Springfield successfully transitioned from it’s founding organization, the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, to University of Illinois - Springfield at the Center for State Policy and Leadership in August 2018. Becoming a university-led incubator allows the organization to tap into the vast resources offered by UIS, the UI System, and state networks. Katie also creates opportunities for university faculty, students, and staff to engage with Innovate Springfield services and activities.


Prior to Innovate Springfield, Katie spent 13 years at Northern Illinois University, Center for Governmental Studies where she managed numerous large-scale information technology, workforce and economic development, human service, and local governance projects. Her focus areas included strategic planning, economic development, and public policy research. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. Katie is a Springfield native and returned in 2013 to raise her family in the best big little-city in the Midwest. She and her husband, Ryan, have three boys Arthur, Isaac, and Jacob.

Business Incubation Program Coordinator

Sarah Beth Ayers serves as the Business Incubation Program Coordinator with Innovate Springfield. In this role, Sarah develops and implements high-quality business incubation training programs for Innovate Springfield's members and catalyzes member companies' growth by connecting them with supporters, investors, advisors, and the resources provided by Innovate Springfield and through the connection to University. She leads all communications, branding and marketing efforts for the organization, and has played a key role in Innovate Springfield's growth since she was hired in March of 2017. In her time managing the business incubation program at Innovate Springfield, membership has grown to more than 80 individuals representing 50+ companies. 


Sarah started her career as the Executive Administrative Assistant to the President of Maskorp Ltd., a Springfield founded startup responsible for 2nd Cinema Video and Friar Tuck Beverage. Sarah’s tenure with the organization saw tremendous advances in video streaming technology, and in response to this market change, Maskorp Ltd. pivoted away from more than 20 brick and mortar video rental locations throughout Central Illinois to focus on expanding and building the Friar Tuck Beverage brand. In addition to providing administrative support to the President, corporate headquarters, and network of retail locations, Sarah played a pivotal role in the design and development of all print and promotional items for the organization, and in growing their brand presence on social media. 


Upon achievement of her BA in Fine Art (‘11) and while working toward her MA in Public Administration (‘16) from the University of Illinois – Springfield, Sarah coordinated and facilitated training events for the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a statewide network of rape crisis centers. In this role, Sarah gained an acumen for nonprofit administration and was exposed to countless hours of professional development training. This position required Sarah to manage an annual schedule of events expressly focused on supporting crisis workers in their career advancement, a skillset that has translated well to Sarah’s ability to support Innovate Springfield’s growing network of entrepreneurs. 

Social Innovation Program Director

Hillary Rains joined the Innovate Springfield team in 2020 as the Program Director for Social Innovation. She works closely with the seven member organizations of the Continuum of Learning and coordinates with local stakeholders in order to develop and maintain evidence-based programs to improve education outcomes and employment opportunities, especially for the most vulnerable populations in and around Springfield. Her work is guided by the 2015 Sangamon Success Report and its 25 recommendations for improving outcomes for less advantaged children in Sangamon County.

Hillary began her career working with students in after-school and summer enrichment programming in her hometown of Robinson, Illinois. From there, she received her BA in Secondary Education (’10) at Eastern Illinois University. She worked full time as a youth services librarian at the Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute, Indiana while getting her Master of Library and Information Science (’14) degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Hillary moved to Springfield in 2017, working as the Youth Services Manager at Lincoln Library, overseeing collection development, programming, and innovative community connections.  She is passionate about creative, compassionate, and data-supported solutions in community health, education, and local employment. 

Office Manager

Trish Schlobohm is the Office Manager at Innovate Springfield. She grew up in nearby Petersburg but spent most of the last two decades in Portland, OR before returning to Central Illinois in 2017. Trish has an undergraduate degree in Biology and a Master of Science Teaching degree, both from Portland State University. She is delighted to be working for an organization that has such a clearly positive impact on the local community, due it’s mission to support local entrepreneurs and increase equity. Returning to Springfield has been a joy, especially the proximity to family, long-lost friends, abundant bird-watching opportunities, and her (re)discovery that Illinois is home to a profusion of mushroom species - including many edible and/or therapeutic varieties - and she enjoys scouring both city and countryside in hot pursuit of these wild treasures. Her forays into nature (mushroom focused or not) frequently include her daughter Marion, two pound-dogs, and anyone else lucky enough to be around when they embark on their adventures. Naturally, a voracious love of cooking accompanies her adoration for edible fungi and other local delights. 

Please reload

Head-shots graciously provided by the amazing Sarah Petty Photography.