Our Team

Our Team

Ben Gouwens

Executive Director

Ben Gouwens was born and raised in a smaller town in Northwest Indiana.  After dabbling in all types of sports growing up, he settled on tennis and competed on the varsity team for Munster High School where he was able to play at the state level.  Upon graduation, he attended Indiana University where he majored in Finance and Operations Management in the Kelley School of Business.  He continued his tennis career at the collegiate level where he had the chance to compete on the national level for the Hoosier’s club team.

After being exposed to entrepreneurship in a senior year internship, his pursuit of the lifestyle and opportunities that came with it soon followed.  Shortly after graduation in 2011, he began in the Chicago office where he was able to quickly make a major impact.  A few months afterward, Ben helped to expand the office to the Cleveland market where he was promoted to assistant management in only three short months.  After showing great results managing offices throughout the Midwest, he returned to Chicago where he’ll continue to helps others accomplish their goals and provide them the same opportunity he was given.

Gina Carnago

HR Director

Gina originally grew up outside of Detroit in Rochester Hills, MI. From a young age she became an avid sports enthusiast and competed in lacrosse and basketball. She attended Michigan State University where she majored in Physiology and minored in Bioethics and Humanities.

She went to graduate school for Biology at Drexel University with the intention of going to medical school.  Upon completion of her first year there, she decided her passion lay more in the business world which led her to Kirkwood. After starting in the account executive role, she transitioned into the HR Director position where she has found her niche aiding in the company’s continuous growth.  She remains a die hard Spartan sports fan and has a passion for Pizza!

Corey Capone

Campaign Manager

Corey Capone is originally from the northeast corner of Pennsylvania outside the Scranton area. He grew up in a very competitive family with his father being a baseball coach and mother being a cheerleading coach; he learned early on the importance of drive and commitment. After playing three sports throughout high school and considering opportunities to continue baseball and golf at the collegiate level, Corey decided to attend the University of Pittsburgh.

While at Pitt Corey set his sights on law school, majoring in Communications/Rhetoric and minoring in Philosophy. Aside from academics he continued to develop his leadership skills outside the classroom. Corey was able to extend his baseball career with Pitt’s club team which is consistently ranked among the top 10 Division 1 teams in the country, and help them compete for a national title. While playing baseball and preparing for the LSAT Corey was also elected president of his fraternity. He describes his time being president as pivotal in taking his leadership, problem solving, and time management skills to the next level. Upon graduation Corey evaluated his options and decided to play to his strengths by pursuing a career in business and entrepreneurship.

Gabe Salazar-Servent

Corporate Trainer

Gabriel Salazar-Servent was born in Houston, TX, USA. He lived majority of his life abroad; from countries like Chile, Colombia, San Salvador, Nicaragua and Indonesia, all the way to Italy, Germany, London, Switzerland, Slovakia, Estonia, and many more. Through his extensive travels he picked up the local tongues, speaking well over 4 languages: English, Spanish, French, German, and Slovak.

After his High School graduation in Jakarta, Indonesia [2009] he moved to Geneva, Switzerland where he studied Culinary Arts & Hotel Management in Cesar Ritz Institut Hotelier. He jump started his culinary career working in (high-end) Michelin Star restaurants; rising the ranks quickly to a Sous Chef position (in the best rated Hotel restaurant in Bratislava, Slovakia – Kempinski Hotel River Park). His talents brought him down to Miami, Florida where he continued to develop his talent and trade working with world renowned chefs, such as: Bradley Kilgore, Dominique Crenn, Massimo Bottura, and many more. Always on the move, he and his wife ended here in Chicago, Illinois working for the 15th best Chef in the world: Grant Achatz.

After mastering the kitchen world, he branched out into the world of sales and marketing and found Kirkwood’s management training program under the mentorship of Benjamin Gouwens here in the Chicago office.

Jeff Miceli

Corporate Trainer

Jeff grew up in a town outside of Chicago in Des Plaines, IL. Growing up, he played a myriad of sports, but the one’s that he stuck with in the high school were Football, Basketball, and Volleyball. These three sports molded his mentality and drive his competitiveness to this day.

Jeff graduated from Elk Grove High School and pursued his Bachelor’s in Spanish through the Liberal Arts and Management Program at Indiana University. He also earned his Business Management certificate and a Business Minor on top of that. Jeff likes to continually stay busy, so he volunteered as a practice player for the Indiana University NCAA Women’s Volleyball team.  Furthermore, he continued to compete on a national level for club volleyball throughout his four years at Indiana. In the 2014-2015 season, he was elected President of IU Men’s Club Volleyball Team. Then during the 2015-2016 season, he was elected Advising Chair for the club on top of that he was Treasurer for the entire Indiana University’s Club Sport Federation as well.

Finally, Jeff believes in continual development of both technical and soft skills to open up opportunities, and Indiana University has created a great foundation for this professional development. For the future, Kirkwood will help improve communication skills, leadership, management, and problem solving while solidifying the ability to bring enthusiasm to the table.

Robbie Jesk

Corporate Trainer

Robbie grew up on the South Side of Chicago. He has always been competitive from a young age and competed in many different sports with hockey being his favorite. He played from the time he was 5 until after graduation from Marian Catholic High School. Aside from sports, Robbie has a huge love for music and started playing piano at the age of 7.
After high school, he moved to Phoenix and attended Arizona State University where he graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice. He developed an entrepreneurial mindset at a very young age and after graduation moved back to Chicago to start his own music producing company which helped promote underground hip hop artists. He recorded with some of his favorite artists which included D12, Cash Money, and The Lox to name a few. After working in corporate America for a few years he wanted to find an opportunity that would fulfill his entrepreneurial spirit which is when he found Kirkwood.
He likes being able to apply his background in sales and marketing to the performance based business model and looks forward to being able to further his communication and leadership skills with the company.

Kirkwood is proud to work with alumni from these academically excellent universities:

• Indiana University
• University of Cincinnati
• Depaul University
• Michigan State University
• University of Iowa
• Loyola University
• Northern Illinois University
• University of Pittsburgh
• University of St. Francis
• University of Cincinnati
• Illinois State University
• Benedictine University

Internship Spotlight

Here at Kirkwood we strive to develop true MVPs.  Whether it’s a full time career or a summer internship, we are looking for team players who understand that success comes with hard work, discipline and great attitude.  Everyone at Kirkwood has the opportunity to grow into management positions.

Kirkwood offers internships throughout the school year in both our HR/Administrative Department and Sales & Consulting Department.  Our interns provide are integrated into Kirkwood’s fun and fast paced company culture.  As an intern, each individual team member will learn company systems, daily operations, and leadership development from our management team.  Interns are a crucial part of the Kirkwood team as we learn from them as much as they learn from us!

Alyssa LaCapra

Lake Forest College

Alyssa LaCapra was born in Palatine, Illinois. She grew up cheering on her older brothers play high school football which motivated her pursue sports at an early age. She enjoyed playing soccer growing up and eventually moved on to play varsity tennis during her high school career.

Coming out of high school, she was unsure of her future career path, so she chose to complete all of her general education courses at Harper College before committing to a university. In 2016, she graduated from Harper College with her Associates Degree and then transferred to Lake Forest College. She is currently a senior there and plans to graduate in May with her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing