Women in Manufacturing Summit

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This event brings together professionals in the manufacturing industry with young women to discover new career paths and grow talent in the manufacturing industry.

Who: Young women in high school and middle school

When: Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Sustainable Technologies Building at the Quad-Cities Campus

Registration is now closed.

Presenters and Program

View Presenter Info as PDF

acri head shotStephanie Acri
President of Evans Premium Manufacturing

Stephanie Acri is a long-time resident of the Quad Cities and a small business owner. She owns and operates a small business, Evans Premium Manufacturing (2004-present). Evans Premium Manufacturing specializes in the production of cylindrical steel parts for the agricultural and construction industries. Acri received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Iowa in 1990 and started her professional career as a project engineer for Alcoa.

Her past community involvement includes “I Cleaned Moline” volunteer, Unity Point Hospital chair and board member, Moline mayor and city council member, Quad Cities Chamber board member, Amy Helpenstell Foundation Advisory Committee member, Roth Pump board member, Small Business Development - International Trade - PTAC Advisory Board member, Augustana Center for the Study of Ethics’ Community Advisory Committee member, Workforce Development Board of Rock Island, Henry and Mercer Counties board member, Moline Rotary member, and Athena Award winner.


traciTraci Bertelsen
Quad City’s Weld Training/ Assembly Training Center of Excellence at John Deere Harvester Works

Traci Bertelsen graduated from Alexis High School, Alexis, IL, and holds two weld certifications – one from Carl Sandburg College, Galesburg, IL, and one from Black Hawk College in Moline, IL. Since graduating from high school, Bertelsen’s years have been spent as a bank teller, day care provider and AI technician before starting her career in manufacturing and training.

For the past 26 years, she has worked in the manufacturing industry. The first seven years were spent at Maytag in Galesburg, IL, and the past 19 years at John Deere Harvester Works (JDHW) in East Moline, IL. Over the last several years, Bertelsen has been working in the Welding Training Lab at JDHW teaching new hires and other Deere employees. Helping others through education and training have proved to be rewarding experiences for her.


ashley headshotAshley Sims
Manager, Wage Hiring
& Training at John Deere Harvester Works

Ashley Sims holds a Master of Business Administration from St. Ambrose University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Sims has worked for John Deere for nearly 16 years with roles in manufacturing, product engineering, human resources and labor relations. Her background in engineering and passion for people have led her on a unique career path where she has merged her talents to focus on attracting, developing and retaining top talent for John Deere. Throughout all of her roles with John Deere, Sims has always put a priority on developing younger generations – from supporting recruitment and outreach events to mentoring interns, apprentices and new employees – she is always excited to share and promote the amazing opportunities that John Deere and manufacturing have to offer!


paolaPaola Velasquez
Director of DEI in
Manufacturing at IMEC

Paola Velasquez has a long tradition in manufacturing. Her parents worked and retired from the industry, and she learned of the value of manufacturing at a young age. Velasquez joined the manufacturing workforce at the beginning of her college years and later went on to gain experience in academia, business and health care. Because of this, she brings a different perspective to the manufacturing industry. Her career has been marked by her passion for leading diversity and inclusion training. For over 20 years, she has worked with the underserved and underrepresented population and has created and led sustainable programs. She has facilitated trainings like Unconscious Bias, Becoming an Ally, Understanding Our Privileges, Brave, Bold Conversations, and Values Exercises – all aimed at addressing the skills gap and raising multicultural awareness. As director of diversity, equity, and inclusion in manufacturing at IMEC, she continues to do the same for manufacturers and facilitate job opportunities in ways that reduce the Illinois manufacturing equity and skills gap.