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 play 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

Chief Government Affairs Officer

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

Chris’s role as chief government affairs officer is a culmination of his history at Northwoods. After more than a decade helping establish the company as an industry leader in human services innovation, Chris now serves as our principal advocate, ambassador, and liaison to local, state, and federal officials and other government leaders. His role is two-fold: provide an industry perspective to help influence policy decisions, while making sure agencies understand how upcoming changes will impact their business.

Northwoods continues to grow and make a larger and more meaningful impact on agencies across the country. As that happens, Chris is the steward who makes sure our uncompromising commitment to elevating human services is seen and heard by those who are shaping the future of it.


Sarah Edwards

Sarah Edwards

General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer

Not often do you find a company where everyone—from the very top of leadership all the way down—implicitly trusts each other to do their job, and where micromanagement doesn’t exist. Northwoods, however, has a culture 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 chief administrative officer, comes in.

Sarah sets the strategy, direction, and coordination of all things HR, administration/facilities, internal systems, 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.


Rich Diers

Rich Diers

Chief Innovation 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 chief innovation officer, Rich combines his love for technology with his desire to help people by determining the most meaningful ways human services agencies can apply emerging tools and innovative practices to make the biggest impact on the community. He’s our “champion of change”—encouraging everyone at Northwoods to think more creatively about how we can grow as an organization in a way that benefits our customers.

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

Chief Technology Officer

After developing and delivering technology services across several industries for the first half of his career, Don Abney was starting to feel like a solution without a meaningful problem to solve.

Northwoods, however, is creating several of the most socially impactful technology solutions Don has ever seen. Being part of an organization that measures success in terms of helping people, and provides the opportunity to bring over 20 years of experience to bear on such meaningful work, fuels his 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 technology officer, he works to instill this same belief across product delivery and the rest of the company by setting the vision, strategy, and direction of Northwoods’ product offerings.

Don tends the garden, so our product development, product management, and solution engineering teams can focus on growing and nurturing solutions and customer relationships that deliver true business value and improve outcomes.


Cindy Sheets

Cindy Sheets

Chief Services Officer

Cindy Sheets has spent 30 years helping businesses implement technology to transform the way they operate. She puts that experience to work at Northwoods because she truly believes in what our software does to help children and families.

Cindy’s role as chief services officer is to oversee Northwoods’ project implementations nationwide, while enhancing collaboration and cross-delivery between services and support teams. She leads both the Compass® and Traverse® solutions groups, as well as the project management office, practice advisory group, customer success, and technical communication and training. As Northwoods grows, so do the levels of implementations we manage and services we deliver. Cindy is paving the way for a seamless customer experience, regardless of project scope, size, or complexity.

Cindy excels at listening between the lines—not only hearing the words someone says, but also understanding what they’re feeling and how their emotions complete the message they’re trying to convey. This helps her ask the right questions to surface the right information, ensuring every project meets all of an agency’s business requirements and positions them for current and future success.


Chris McConnell

Chris McConnell

Chief Business Development Officer

As one of Northwoods’ first employees, Chris McConnell has seen first-hand the community’s need for the programs that social services organizations provide. Today, as chief business development officer, Chris ensures that as many state and county agencies as possible use Northwoods' solutions to deliver better services in those communities.

Chris leads Northwoods’ rapidly growing team of business development managers and representatives—setting the bar for sales performance and territory growth, plus mentoring and motivating the team to achieve its goals. He also oversees strategic alliances, revenue strategy, marketing, and engagement with key stakeholders, including lobbyists, legislators, and community partners.  

Chris is ultimately responsible for building a best-in-class business development team, process, and culture. As a result, he has helped Northwoods grow into a company that works on multi-million-dollar, state-wide deals, while never losing focus on the individual workers that rely on our solutions every day.


Nick Patel

Nick Patel

Chief Financial Officer

Nick Patel has spent the past 17 years helping large and small businesses make informed, smart financial decisions. What attracted him to Northwoods is our commitment to collaboration and working together toward a common, meaningful mission. More importantly, working here gives Nick the ability to combine his business and technically savvy with his own personal goal of making sure all children are healthy, cared for, and safe.

As chief financial officer, Nick is responsible for overseeing Northwoods’ financial health to ensure the business is in a position for continued grow, while investing in our people, products, and mission. He focuses on providing Northwoods’ leadership team with the insights and information they need to make data-driven decisions that help to push the company forward.


Bill Gray

Bill Gray

Vice President, Financial Analysis

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.

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. Today, as vice president of financial analysis, this means combining historical perspective with projections and planning models so that we can continue to invest in new and better solutions for our customers.

Bill also applies Northwoods’ outward approach to business—observing customers to identify ways they can be more efficient—inwardly to streamline financial processes and improve collaboration between teams, from sales to support and everyone in between. The better we work together, the bigger the impact we can have on the organizations we help.


Rich Bowlen

Rich Bowlen

Vice President/Evangelist, Child Welfare

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/evangelist, child welfare, Rich is casting an even wider net—not only helping kids and families within one county, but all over the country.

Rich serves as our national lead and advocate for child welfare and protective services, ensuring that everything we do reflects the work of practitioners as they engage with children and families regardless of where they are in the system. He’s the connector between Northwoods’ employees and our child welfare partners, including agencies, advocacy groups, policymakers, court systems, state and local legislators, national industry leaders, and more.

Rich focuses on providing a true partnership with customers, while guiding Northwoods’ child welfare offering—including how we communicate, who we partner with, and how and why we develop and deliver products and services aimed at helping social workers make a difference.


Greg Tipping

Greg Tipping

Vice President/Evangelist, Economic Assistance and Child Support

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, technology, and process problems human services agencies face daily. These problems became even more critical considering the negative impact they have on people relying on the agency’s services. When his county became one of our first partners, 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.

As vice president/evangelist, economic assistance and child support, Greg puts his prior agency experience to work by guiding the vision for the impact of our solutions on the programs he once led. Internally, he’s an industry expert and advocate—working closely with our product management and delivery teams to ensure the software and services we offer work the way caseworkers need. Externally, he collaborates with agency, government, and policy leaders across the country to create a shared vision for the future of economic assistance and child support.

By helping agencies get more time back to focus on their core missions, Greg can fulfill his own core mission: make a difference in the lives of folks that rely on support from agencies to get by day to day.


Michael Drabek

Michael Drabek

Vice President, Sales

Success at Northwoods isn't about the software we sell, it's about the people whose lives we impact by selling it. Michael Drabek thrives on knowing we offer solutions that empower the human services workforce to provide holistic benefits, treatment, and services to the vulnerable people they help.

As vice president of sales, Michael coaches and mentors Northwoods' business development representatives so they can grow and nurture business at the county level.

One of the original members of our sales team, Michael knows the challenges of government buying better than anybody in the business. He uses this insight to lead his team in developing more structured and proactive approaches to selling, while providing agencies with the information they need to make technology decisions that support their mission and position them to achieve long-term success.


Aaron Caldwell

Aaron Caldwell

Director of the Northwoods Support Center

Aaron Caldwell is passionate about the work our customers do and is always looking to help them solve problems using his experience and knowledge of technology. Aaron’s enthusiasm for helping our customers rubs off on everyone he works with to create a culture at Northwoods that puts 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 the Northwoods Support Center, Aaron leads Northwoods’ support and upgrades teams who keep our customers’ systems running at peak performance so they can focus solely on helping clients. He makes sure both Northwoods and our customers are prepared for future technology and business changes that will impact them.


Steve Kaifas

Steve Kaifas

Director of Customer Success

Human services agency leaders need to know the challenges and constraints they’re up against every day are represented in the technology they use. Having walked a mile in their shoes, Steve Kaifas’s goal is to provide that source of comfort and familiarity to Northwoods’ customers across the country.

Steve brings over a decade of agency leadership experience to his role as director of customer success. He uses his intimate knowledge of agencies’ pains and processes to determine the right tools and support to achieve their goals. He and his team focus on listening, being proactive, and building deep relationships to ensure each unique customer always has access to the answers and resources they need.

After all, by helping customers successfully use our software, we help them meet their missions, strengthen families, and improve well-being.


Rupam Chokshi

Rupam Chokshi

Director of Portfolio Management

Rupam Chokshi is a firm believer that while technology is constantly evolving, it should always be rooted in one thing: solving problems. All the features and benefits in the world ultimately won’t mean a thing if your product doesn’t truly help someone overcome the hurdles that get in their way every day.

Rupam’s keen eye for detail allows him to see all sides of a problem so he can connect it with the right solution. It is through this lens that Rupam approaches his role as director of portfolio management, where he oversees market analysis and segmentation, product positioning and strategy, messaging and persona development, and competitive intelligence. He works closely with the product management and innovation teams to manage our current portfolio, plus provide clarity around what we should do next.

By ensuring our products solve customers’ most important problems, Rupam helps free up their time to focus on the most important aspect of their jobs: their clients.


Jon Eakins

Jon Eakins

Director of Compass Solutions

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’ services delivery leadership team, Jon is able to do just that.

Jon is director of Compass solutions, where he oversees the planning, staffing, and execution of Compass product implementations, with a focus on economic assistance and child support. He draws on over a decade of experience integrating the Compass suite with agencies’ business processes to provide a complete and comprehensive solution.

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.


Chuck Barber

Chuck Barber

Director of Traverse Solutions

It's surprisingly rare that a software company considers both its customers and their customers when developing its products and services. Yet Northwoods puts our customers’ clients—in our case, vulnerable children, adults, and families—at the center of everything we do. This differentiator prompted Chuck Barber to join our team seven years ago and has kept him coming back every day since.

A former Northwoods’ customer, Chuck puts his first-hand experience to work so we can make a meaningful impact on not just everyone we serve, but also everyone they serve.

As director of Traverse solutions, Chuck focuses on creating alignment between internal and external partners. He shares input from current customers with our product development team to help them prioritize new features, while working with business development to anticipate future customers’ needs and convey the value we can provide. He also oversees the team that implements all Traverse projects, while sharing best practices to help customers learn and benefit from each other’s success.


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.


John Schwingle

John Schwingle

Director of Strategic Alliances

John Schwingle has spent the past two decades building connections between some of the largest and most influential technology companies in the world. He’s a firm believer in the value of partnerships built on honesty and trust, and wakes up excited to plant seeds and nurture relationships that will help Northwoods grow.

As director of strategic alliances, John focuses on establishing and expanding Northwoods’ partnerships with systems integrators, consulting groups, and advocates who can help spread Northwoods’ mission and expand the company’s footprint in key markets and states.

This gives John a platform to boost the “double bottom line”—growing the company, and, more importantly, helping both agency workers and the clients they serve improve their quality of life.


Mark Washington

Mark Washington

Director of Health and Human Services Strategy

Mark Washington believes that life is simply an opportunity to help another person. He wants to have as many opportunities—and help as many people—as possible, and that’s why he’s devoted decades to organizations that focus on improving the lives of children, youth, and their families.

What attracted Mark to Northwoods is a combination of two things: unparalleled culture, and a company-wide heartbeat for service. Everyone appreciates the ability to serve other people through what we do, and so they’re truly happy to work here. As director of health and human services strategy, Mark supports internal business units to accelerate growth at the state level so that Northwoods can continue expanding the amount of people we serve.

Mark previously served as assistant commissioner for Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services and commissioner for Kentucky’s Department for Community Based Services, where he focused on identifying opportunities to streamline processes, expand programs, and improve outcomes.

Mark has also worked with national Medicaid Managed Care organizations to improve how they serve and support child welfare. For example, he initiated Kentucky’s Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team (START) model and was recognized by Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky for his efforts to transition the state's child welfare system to focus on prevention and early intervention.