iSPI staff.


a small but mighty team.

supporting the overarching economic development strategy for our region and creating a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Sarah Beth Ayers, MPA

Business Incubation Program Director

Sarah Beth Ayers serves as the Business Incubation Program Director with Innovate Springfield. In this role, Sarah leads the business incubation program for Innovate Springfield, catalyzing 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. 


Hillary Rains

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.


Trish Schlobohm

Office Manager

Trish Schlobohm serves as the Office Manager at Innovate Springfield, which means she wears all the hats. 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 to its 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.


all images graciously provided by the talented, Patrick Russell.