Leadership Team

Gary Heinze

Gary Heinze

President and Chief Executive Officer

Gary Heinze’s mission is a simple one: leave the world a better place than when he got here. Leading a company that’s dedicated to helping serve the most vulnerable members of society is just one way Gary fulfills that mission.

Gary is the conductor of the orchestra—responsible for keeping everyone at Northwoods in tune and playing at the right tempo. As president and CEO, he provides strategic direction to ensure the various pieces of the business work in harmony, allowing Northwoods to provide technology solutions that empower human services workers to deliver better outcomes to people who need help.

Gary is always looking for ways that Northwoods can do more, give more, and grow more to be not just a software company, but a place that leaves a lasting and meaningful impact on the world.


Christopher Carlson

Christopher Carlson

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Always do what’s right to build a better tomorrow for customers and the communities they serve. That’s the philosophy Chris Carlson motivates Northwoods’ employees to live and breathe every single day.

As executive vice president and chief operating officer, Chris touches every facet of the company—from working with the CEO and executive leadership to set Northwoods’ vision and values, to working with employees and leaders across all departments to ensure Northwoods stays on course. No matter how much the company grows or changes, Chris is the steward who makes sure Northwoods never loses the core elements that define us along the way.


Jim Aten

Jim Aten

Executive Vice President and Chief Delivery Officer

Jim Aten has never met a challenge he didn’t love. Overcoming challenges is how you grow, after all, and Jim is always striving to take Northwoods to the next level.

As an inaugural member of the Northwoods’ Business Advisory Board in 2013, Jim saw several opportunities for the company to grow and better serve customers. Today, as executive vice president and chief delivery officer, Jim has brought many of those opportunities to life. For example, Jim recently led the establishment of Northwoods’ three practice management groups—a move that positions the company to increase customer satisfaction, while attracting and retaining the best talent, as we grow.

Jim oversees all departments involved in delivering Northwoods’ solutions to our customers, including product development, product management, practice management, technical communication, and customer support. This position gives him a charter to provide a helping hand to anyone in the company who needs it, and that makes him excited to come to work every day.


Rich Diers

Rich Diers

Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

The world doesn’t just need companies that build technology; it needs companies that can find a purpose for the technology they build. That’s why Rich Diers comes to work every day.

Rich believes in “falling in love” with customers’ problems—watching what they do, how they do it, and where they struggle—and then using the insights he collects to create software that helps solve those problems in new and unique ways.

As executive vice president and chief technology officer, Rich combines his love for technology with his desire to help people by setting the technical vision, strategy, and direction of Northwoods’ product offerings. He also ensures all of Northwoods’ technical and product development teams continue moving in that same direction.

As he explained what he does to his son one day, his son summarized it best: Rich’s job is to create really awesome technology to help the people who help the people who need help.


Don Abney

Don Abney

Vice President and Chief Product Officer

After 20 years of developing and delivering technology services across several industries, Don Abney was starting to feel like a solution without a meaningful problem to solve. Northwoods, however, is creating one of the most socially impactful technology solutions Don has ever seen, and that fuels Don’s fire.

Don understands that technology problems are people problems, and that if you’re empathetic toward the humans involved in creating and using software, you’re capable of achieving truly amazing things.

As chief product officer, Don works to instill this same belief across Northwoods’ entire product delivery shop, while keeping everyone on the team organized, productive, happy, and taken care of. Don tends the garden, so his team can focus on growing and nurturing products that deliver true business value.


Michael Littman

Michael Littman

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Every company needs someone to oversee finance and accounting, but Michael Littman doesn’t want to work just anywhere. Michael was taught at a young age that everyone has a responsibility to make the world a better place. By working at Northwoods and supporting customers that devote their lives to doing so, Michael can fulfill a duty he was brought up to believe as a kid.

Michael’s role as vice president and chief financial officer revolves around numbers—calculating them, interpreting them, and communicating them to the company. But when Michael looks at a number, he sees so much more. He sees the opportunity to poke and prod at the number until he understands the trends and reasons behind it. He sees the problems a number can solve and the questions it will surface.

Most importantly, Michael sees how the number can help Northwoods grow. His curiosity ensures the company can continue to invest in the developing products that make customers’ lives easier.


Rich Bowlen

Rich Bowlen

Vice President, Protective Services

Every day, every hour, thousands of kids are counting on just one person to give everything they have to make their day a little bit better than the one before. Rich Bowlen’s goal is and always has been to give his very best day in and day out to do the most good for the most kids.

When Rich served as director of a child and adult protective services agency, he did everything he could to support his social workers and supervisors, so they could help the kids and families relying on the agency’s care. Today, as Northwoods’ vice president and director of protective services, Rich is casting an even wider net—not only helping kids and families within one county, but all over the country.

Rich serves as the voice for children and families and connector between Northwoods’ customers and employees. He focuses on providing a true partnership with customers, while growing Northwoods’ protective services team and guiding how we develop, implement, and support products aimed at helping social workers make a difference.

Rich also continues to promote and advocate for the work of protective services within Northwoods’ walls, as well as with local, state, and national government and industry leaders.


Greg Tipping

Greg Tipping

Vice President, Complex Solutions Group

Human services agencies always have that one problem they don’t know how to fix. Those are the problems Greg Tipping wants to learn, love, and help solve.

Early on in his career working in Job and Family Services, Greg recognized the myriad of business and technology problems human services agencies face daily. This lack of sufficient tools and processes became even more critical considering the negative impact it was having on people relying on the agency’s services.

When his county became one of the first to partner with Northwoods, Greg instantly saw how Northwoods’ solutions enabled his workers to get more done. He also realized he could impact exponentially more people by joining Northwoods’ team than continuing to work at the local level.

Today, Greg serves as vice president of Northwoods’ Complex Solutions Group, where he’s responsible for uncovering and helping solve agencies’ unique problems—the ones that don’t fit within a neat and tidy box. Equipping agencies with custom solutions to deliver services better, Greg can fulfill his mission to make a difference in the lives of folks that rely on support from agencies to get by day to day.


Bill Gray

Bill Gray

Vice President and Commercial Director

Social workers go to school to learn how to strengthen individuals and families. Yet when they get into the field, they spend more time filling out forms and scanning documents than doing actual social work. Bill Gray has worked since day one to find ways to reduce the time it takes social workers to manage routine tasks, so they can spend more time helping people.

Bill’s current role as vice president and commercial director is a culmination of his history at Northwoods. One of the company’s first employees, Bill is the bridge between Northwoods’ past and future, ensuring we never lose our founding focus on making frontline workers’ lives easier.

Bill applies Northwoods’ outward approach to business—observing customers to identify ways they can be more efficient—inwardly. He creates order where there’s chaos, studying Northwoods’ departments and processes to pinpoint opportunities to improve productivity and collaboration. The better we work together, the bigger the impact we can have on the organizations we help.


Sarah Edwards

Sarah Edwards

General Counsel and Director of Human Resources

Not often do you find a company where everyone—from the very top of leadership all the way down—implicitly trusts to do their job, and where micromanagement doesn’t exist. Northwoods, however, has a culture that is built on trust, teamwork, accountability, and other core values. Our culture is incredibly important to the work we do, and it’s something we work very hard to protect … and that’s where Sarah Edwards, general counsel and director of human resources, comes in.

Sarah oversees all things HR and legal—from Northwoods’ hiring, development, and employee retention strategies, to providing counsel and guidance with respect to all Northwoods’ legal matters, including contract negotiation, corporate governance, compliance, and privacy.

Essentially, she’s responsible for establishing and enforcing the right policies and practices to protect Northwoods and preserve its culture over time. Sarah juggles very different, very complex issues that can change at any given moment so that everyone at Northwoods can continue working toward the greater good.


Aaron Caldwell

Aaron Caldwell

Director of Customer Relations

Aaron Caldwell is passionate about the work our customers do and is always looking to help our customers solve problems using his experience and knowledge of technology. Aaron’s enthusiasm for helping our customers rubs off on everyone he works with to help create a culture at Northwoods that puts our customers first in everything we do.

Aaron has over a decade of experience implementing and supporting technology solutions for Human Services agencies. As director of customer relations, Aaron leads the Northwoods’ support center, upgrades, and hosting teams who ensure our customers’ systems work. He makes sure both Northwoods and our customers are prepared for future technology and business changes that will impact them.


Jon Eakins

Jon Eakins

Director, Complex Solutions Group

Jon Eakins thrives knowing every day he’s counted on to contribute to a company that helps not only the workers who rely on its software, but also the communities in which those workers serve. As part of Northwoods’ practice management leadership team, Jon is able to do just that.

Jon is director of Northwoods’ Complex Solutions Group, where he manages projects that fall under the complex solutions umbrella, as well as all projects implemented in public assistance and child support.

Jon has a knack for looking at a project from all sides to understand the key customers involved—How are they wired? What motivates them? Then, he identifies the right team at Northwoods and what skills, support, and tools they need to implement the project successfully and ensure customers are happy. Jon combines his people skills and business acumen in a way that makes the most impact on both the customer and the community.


Tiffany Himmelreich

Tiffany Himmelreich

Director of Marketing

It’s easy to make assumptions and judgments about what social workers and caseworkers do. Movies, newspapers, and other forms of media tend to focus on the negative, fueling misperceptions as a result. Tiffany Himmelreich knows for every negative story or outcome shared, there’s an equally positive one that wasn’t … so it’s her job to help tell those stories.

Tiffany oversees strategic communications, content creation, demand generation, sales enablement, and public relations initiatives as director of marketing.

Whether that’s publishing customer case studies or planning messaging to support a product launch, Tiffany’s role revolves around getting to know customers—observing how they think, how they use information, and how they respond to different messages—and using those insights to tell stories and create resources that empower Northwoods to help as many people as possible.


Shannon Hoffman

Shannon Hoffman

Director of Account Management and Sales Operations

Shannon Hoffman loves to connect the dots. Whether she’s talking to customers or coworkers, Shannon asks questions—Where did you grow up? What do you do for fun? Where did you vacation last?—to find commonalities and build relationships around them.

As director of account management and sales operations, Shannon’s goal is to help Northwoods’ account managers learn to build business relationships in a similar way, so they can find the best solutions for each unique customer. Shannon not only helps account managers solve problems and make decisions, but also provides resources and counseling to help them move up in their careers. Additionally, she oversees behind-the-scenes support for the entire sales team through forecasting, budgeting, reporting, and training.

By giving the sales team the tools, support, and confidence they need to be successful, Shannon ensures customers have what they need to be successful too.


Chris McConnell

Chris McConnell

Director of Sales

Chris McConnell has seen first-hand the community’s need for the programs that social services organizations provide. As director of sales, Chris can ensure that as many agencies as possible have access to Northwoods’ solutions, so they can deliver better services in those communities.

Chris trains and mentors Northwoods’ client executives to help them educate new counties, states, and program areas about how our products can help them improve outcomes.

Chris knows how cumbersome and time-consuming selling to government organizations can be: from the first time talking to an agency until a contract is signed and we’re able to call them a customer, there are plenty of ups, downs, and challenges along the way. He uses his unique ability to light up a room and motivate a team to make sure client executives always stay positive and focused on their goals, even when the going gets tough.

Chris has helped Northwoods grow into a company that works on million-dollar, state-wide deals, while never losing focus on the individual workers that rely on our solutions every day.