Many Cities. One Community.


Meet the National Team

Ashley Norris-1

Ashley Norris

Director of Client

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

Dan Cooper

Chief Executive

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.

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Drew Hiss-1

Drew Hiss

Founder &

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.

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Elizabeth Shandy

Elizabeth Shandy

Sales Development &
Marketing Manager

Elizabeth Shandy graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and minor in Communication and Leadership Studies. In addition, she received her Master of Science in Leadership from Grantham University. Her passion for leadership came from the many mentors who shepherded her through her undergrad and master programs. She believes effective leadership is crucial because it equips individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively guide and inspire teams towards achieving organizational goals.

As Sales Development & Marketing Manager, Elizabeth helps create and execute effective strategies to generate leads, nurture prospects, and oversee 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 Acumen is meeting and building relationships with impactful leaders in the community. She is HubSpot certified in marketing and sales software, digital advertising and marketing, social media, and content management.

Elizabeth and her husband, Nick, have one daughter and attend Prince of Peace. Her many hobbies include: crafting, playing keyboard, reading, exploring wineries with her husband, and keeping up with her daughter's dance lessons.

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Hallie Knox


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.

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Steve Van Diest-1

Steve Van Diest

Front Range

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.

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