Mr. Straus brings more than three decades of experience in both the public and private sectors to his client services and business development activities for Exponent. His broad range of experience includes work in public affairs and government service, public school administration, job training, legislative affairs, technology development and commercialization, and small business operations and management.
Mr. Straus holds a B.A. in American Studies from Knox College (Galesburg, IL) and an M.A.T. in History from Smith College (Northampton, MA). He completed additional graduate work in Education from the University of Illinois at Springfield (formerly Sangamon State University).
Following graduate school, Mr. Straus was the Assistant to the Superintendent at the Northern Suburban Special Education District, a 23-school district cooperative providing services to students with special needs. He was selected to serve as one of the state’s first impartial hearing officers, recruited to conduct hearings between school districts and the parents of special-needs students who disagreed with the student’s evaluations or the program proposed to meet the student’s individual needs.
Based on his work as a hearing officer, he joined the Illinois State Board of Education, where his first responsibilities were to manage and train Illinois’ corps of hearing officers. During this time, he helped create the state’s mediation program, which offered an alternative to the more formal and quasi-judicial hearings. His work there also included monitoring and evaluating local-district special education programs, investigating and resolving complaints from parents regarding their child’s special services, primarily within the Chicago Public Schools and among Chicagoland suburban schools.
Following his work at the State Board, he joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. His first work there was managing and monitoring legislative affairs primarily related to state and federal job training programs. He served as the primary staff contact for the Illinois Job Training Coordinating Council.
Mr. Straus then joined the newly formed Governor’s Commission on Science and Technology, ultimately becoming its Executive Director. The Commission was a public/private advisory group that recommended ways in which the State could identify, promote, and invest in new technologies with commercial applications. He managed grant programs with annual budgets of $17-20 million, and a companion venture investment funded with annual appropriations of $3 million.
Finally, before joining Exponent, Mr. Straus became the first Director of Program Development for Packer Engineering (Naperville, IL). During his time there, company revenues grew from $8 million to over $20 million.
He joined Exponent in 2001, first as a Client Services Specialist and now as a Manager of Business Development.
Mr. Straus is active in Knox College alumni activities, having been President of its national alumni association and having served on its Board of Trustees. He was a founding board member of the Illinois Medical District Guest House and remains active as a volunteer.