Ashley Norris graduated from Mid America Nazarene with her Bachelors in Elementary Education. During her Master’s program at the University of Colorado at Denver, she continued to advance her career and decided to move into a leadership and development role.
She values personal and professional development and enjoys supporting the Acumen community.
Ashley and her husband, Kyle, have two boys and attend New Life in Gardner. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, which typically includes some type of sporting event or competitive game.
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Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto, and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable, and debt-free.
Today, he is the CEO of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies.
He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars Church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing, and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.
Drew Hiss launched his outsourced payroll and HR technology solutions company, Checkdate Solutions, in 1994. The entrepreneurial venture was a classic bootstrap start-up whose launch plan underestimated capital needs and ramp up time by significant multiples. The adventure predictably included scrapping for cash, overhauling the business model, rebranding, refocusing, redirecting resources, shifting tech platforms, praying, seeking counsel and wisdom, etc. Not surprisingly, deep entrepreneurial scar tissue was forged. Ultimately Checkdate Solutions became one of Kansas City’s fastest-growing companies and was named one of the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce Best Businesses not once, but twice. Additionally, Checkdate Solutions ranked as one of KC’s top 100 fastest-growing companies for nine consecutive years and was in the top 25 nationally in its industry.
Today’s workplace culture tends to compartmentalize personal virtues from commerce, creating silos and compartmentalization between business, family, community, values, and faith. But as a CEO, Drew and his company grew when he “decompartmentalized:” on his journey, he learned to integrate his life of commerce and his life of family, faith, and values.
Drew merged Checkdate Solutions with payroll industry leader Paycor, stepping away from the company in 2008 and serving on its board for eight years. Drew remains an owner of the firm. Today, Drew’s heart for helping business owners leverage the influence of their business platform for eternal impact is at the core of Acumen, which he founded late in 2015. Acumen is a catalytic iron-sharpening-iron environment forged from the fiery furnace of entrepreneurial battle, marketplace survival, and integration of the timeless wisdom of the ages.
Drew and his wife, Sarah, have been married for 32 years and have four children (plus two beautiful daughters-in-law) ranging in age from 28 to 22. In early 2020, Drew and Sarah relocated to Evergreen, CO, He is a raving-fan congregant of Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, CO, and enjoys snowboarding, hunting, cycling, hiking, and a variety of outdoor activities and adventures, including running with his two dogs.
Elizabeth Shandy graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelors in Public Relations. In addition, she received her Masters in Leadership from Grantham University. Her deep passion for leadership came from her role as a peer advisor for nontraditional and military students while studying for her Masters.
As Growth Marketing Specialist, Elizabeth enhances Acumen's brand awareness, content management, and supports regional marketing efforts. She has several years of marketing experience as well as skillsets in recruiting and advising. Her favorite thing about being part of the Acumen marketing team is getting to make a creative impact every day. She has several certificates in digital marketing, including social media, graphic design, sales support, and content management.
Elizabeth and her husband, Nick, have one daughter and attend Prince of Peace. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring wineries, crafting, playing the keyboard, and spending time with her friends and family.
Hallie Knox graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelors in English Literature, and quickly followed her passion for words and story into a career in content writing. She’s loved working on everything from blog posts to marketing emails to internal reports for clients in consulting, education, tech, and beyond. Hallie has been involved in various writing projects for Acumen since April 2022, and is thrilled to officially join the team as our Content Writer!
Aside from her writing and editing work, Hallie spent a few years as a literacy and special education teacher, and continues to serve part-time as an educator for a fully outdoor forest school on the side. A “missionary kid” who grew up moving all over Europe, Asia, and the Balkans, she is now settled in Boise, Idaho, where she reads avidly, cooks experimentally, attends St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, and spends time with her twin daughters, husband, and their two big goofy dogs.
As an experienced marketing leader, Jennifer Miller has managed and built both sales and marketing teams from the ground up. She believes that at the core of all organizations and processes, people are what drive change and growth in a company. Her passion for supporting companies to build scalable processes has impacted many organizations over the years, one of which received the honor of the #1 Fastest-Growing Technology company in Austin and #86 on the 2019 Inc 5000 list. The range of experience Jennifer holds in both small startup and Fortune 100 companies have given her both scalable and strategic insight into how to build an organization’s brand. Through her organization, Strategically Connected, a Marketing Consulting Agency, she has thrived in supporting organizations find their purpose and growth path.
She served as President of the Austin American Marketing Association Board (a national organization focused on connecting and developing marketers) during the 2020-2021 Board Year and continues to be a part of the organization.
Seeing impact, both large and small, is something that Jennifer thrives on. Being a part of Acumen drives a path for strengthening not only organizations but the leaders that are a part of it. Her mission at Acumen is to support the organization through strategy and scalable growth paths to build a community of leaders that drive change.
She and her husband love all things mountains, lakes, and forests. They experience God’s incredible artwork each day in Leavenworth, WA, and attend Plain Community Church.
Jenny Trupka graduated from Kansas State University with a Masters in Accountancy and started her career in public accounting.
Most recently, Jenny had been with an agriculture company for five years serving in several different roles assisting with marketing, accounting, and human resources, most recently as the Director of HR. Additionally, Jenny owned and operated a full-service event planning company. Today, Jenny is the Director of Finance and Operations at Acumen.
Jenny and her husband, Tristan, have one son and one daughter and attend the Church of the Resurrection-West. In her spare time, Jenny enjoys staying active, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
Click here to find out more about Steve & the Front Range Region.
Steve Van Diest, President of Acumen’s new Front Range Region (Denver and communities to the north as far as Ft. Collins and south as far a Colorado Springs). Steve has been married for 28 years to his wife Christine, and together they have 4 children; Jonathan, Benjamin, Isabela, and Jacob (ages 22-14).
Steve earned an undergrad degree from Cal Poly (Mathematics) and a graduate degree from Bakke Graduate University (Entrepreneurship). A University of Colorado football fan, he can be found cheering his oldest, an inside linebacker for the Buffs. #SkoBuffs! He spent the past dozen years as an entrepreneur and founder of 2 businesses in the fast-growing sleep space.
The first, a franchised multi-state retail mattress concept that grew to over 4 regions nationally (Steve also owned 4 area Denver locations), and second, a B2B and B2C e-commerce natural pillow manufacturing business. He spent the first half of his career in non-profit leadership internationally with Cru that took him to live in Chile, Spain & Mexico.
Steve is quoted as saying he “loves the entrepreneurial spirit and seeing leaders make something out of nothing and radically impact their family, community, and companies.
Augie Grasis III Kansas City
Dan Robson Kansas City
Jon Schram Kansas City & Emerald Coast
Pete Gazlay Northern Colorado
Scott Stanger Kansas City
Sean Miller Kansas City
Steve Van Diest Front Range
Tim Haake Kansas City
Tim James Kansas City