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SEMI Foundation Team Member

Shari Liss, SEMI Foundation

Shari Liss is the Executive Director of the SEMI Foundation. Shari is responsible for driving the SEMI Strategic Initiatives for Workforce Development. Specifically, she provides leadership to the SEMI Foundation with sustainable programs that attract and fill the global electronics industry talent pipeline. Shari is also responsible for leading our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives.

Shari joined SEMI from Ignited, where she was the Chief Executive Officer. At Ignited, she recruited, trained, and placed more than 400 educators in summer fellowships at top companies for transformative professional development that grew the Bay Area’s STEM talent pool and workforce pipelines. Prior to Ignited, Shari piloted an alternative high school for at-risk students, taught college calculus, and developed mathematics programs to serve both gifted and challenged students in the Bay Area. She was also named a Woman of Influence in 2017 by the Silicon Valley Business Journal for her long-standing service to the education and nonprofit communities.

Shari received a Bachelor of Science, in Mathematics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master of Science, in Mathematics from the State University of New York at Albany.

Patrick GillenPatrick Gillen joined the SEMI Foundation as an Apprenticeship Administrator in September 2022.  He will primarily support the administration, data, and contract compliance of the SEMI Career and Apprenticeship Network (SCAN) in Michigan, including both apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. He will also provide support for related SEMI Foundation programs.

Before joining SEMI, Patrick worked with clients at Thomas P. Miller and Associates to develop workforce and economic development solutions for their communities. Before that, Patrick worked as an advancement research specialist at Kent State University. 

Patrick GillenMelinda Gomez joined the SEMI Foundation in March 2023 as the Manager of Veteran Initiatives. In this role, she will create and expand opportunities for Veterans across the semiconductor and microelectronics industry.

Melinda has been working to connect the Veteran community with meaningful employment opportunities for over 10 years. She joins the SEMI Foundation from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Initiative where she worked to help transitioning military find their place in the American workforce. She has a Master of Public Administration and is a Certified Career Coach. She lives in San Diego with her family and enjoys all the beautiful outdoor activities of the area in her spare time.

Jeana Harper-KirklandJeana Harper-Kirkland joined the SEMI Foundation as Program Navigator – SCAN Michigan in September 2022.  She will be the boots-on-the ground support and coordinator for the design, development, and implementation of the SEMI Foundation’s SEMI Career and Apprenticeship Network (SCAN) program in Michigan. 

Before joining SEMI, Jeana worked as an Eligibility Specialist at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and before that, as a Career Pathways Navigator and Instructor at Southwest Economic Solutions. Jeana also is a veteran Spanish Teacher and Teacher Coach with the Detroit Public Schools. 

Jeana holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts degree in Spanish from Eastern Michigan University with Teacher Certification.  Jeana is located in Detroit, Michigan, where she lives with her husband.  In her spare time, she runs her small business, enjoys reading, dances African and Latin dance, and is a “resource navigator” for family and friends. 


Jeanny Ho joined SEMI Foundation at SEMI in June 2022 as Program Manager, Workforce Development. She provides administrative support to Foundation programs, communications, and leadership. She oversees the Foundation’s mentoring program and SEMI Career site and will support diversity, equity, and inclusion activities and research.

Before joining SEMI, Jeanny worked for various semiconductor-related companies such as Golden Spirits VN (Vietnam), NXP Semiconductors, Pericom/Diodes, Philips Semiconductors, and VLSI Technology. She worked from an Administrative Assistant position at VLSI to becoming a Marketing Communications/Program Manager after completing her B.S. in Marketing from San Jose State University. Her diverse experience in the semiconductor industry includes managing tradeshows, webinars, World-Wide Technology Center training, branding, graphic designs, product launches, and websites. She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Teo Chow, and Vietnamese. Jeanny enjoys traveling, playing volleyball, watching anime, gardening, aquascaping, and raising fancy goldfish.

Margaret Kindling, SEMIMargaret Kindling joined SEMI in September 1988. After many years overseeing all aspects of meeting management for the Americas, including ASMC, university engagement and regional programs, she is now the Senior Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programming for the SEMI Foundation. Margaret continues to manage the Women in Semiconductors (WiS) program which was the first SEMI event developed and managed by women. In addition to WiS, she manages SEMI VetWorks initiatives, WFD/DEI programming at SEMICON West, the SEMI MOD and the SEMI Foundation Excellence in Achievement Award.

Near and dear to her heart are the many industry volunteers with whom she has had the honor to work over the years. She owes a debt of gratitude to RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) students attending ASMC for an ‘aha’ moment which led her on the DEI path. In 2007, she was awarded a SEMI Global Recognition Award for her work on ASMC. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in German from Georgetown. An Upstate New York transplant, Margaret works out of her home in Northern Virginia.

Berton M. Cropped

Berton Mahardja joined the SEMI Foundation in September 2021 and is the Director of Education and Regional Initiatives. Berton helps envision, design, and lead the expansion of current programs and the creation of new programs that support STEM learning for students and adults. He works to evolve, deliver, and grow successful global programs, build relationships with member companies and educational institutions, and enhance the impact and effectiveness of all of SEMI Foundation’s education programs.  

Before joining SEMI, Berton led a successful school turnaround as the Vice Principal at Redwood High School in Redwood City, California that decreased school policy violations by 89%, lowered school suspensions by 70%, and raised attendance rates by 18%. Prior to that position, Berton served as Director of Teacher Engagement at Teach for America, and as a Special Education Teacher, Resource Specialist for San Jose Unified School District. Berton enjoys skiing, traveling, and cooking.


Purvi Rami joined the SEMI Foundation as a Program Manager, Registered Apprenticeships in January 2024. She will be responsible for developing the capacity and expertise of the SEMI Foundation in building and supporting Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs), and engaging community organizations as thought partners around RAP design, delivery, and execution. Specifically, Purvi will collaborate with community organizations to increase awareness of apprenticeship in the microelectronics industry in California and support the success of program participants. A key part of her work will be reaching out to underserved communities and helping to shift an industry toward more inclusive and equitable hiring and retention.

Before joining SEMI, Purvi was a program manager for the Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP), where she facilitated a statewide initiative to create a supportive network of labor-management training partnerships, resulting in federal registration of new apprenticeship programs, a streamlined state healthcare apprenticeship registration process, and the development of a coordinated strategy for healthcare apprenticeship expansion in California. She comes to the SEMI Foundation with over 15 years of experience working for public, private, and government sector organizations focused on education, workforce development, philanthropy, and healthcare. Purvi holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Communication Studies from UCLA. Outside of work, Purvi enjoys reading, walking, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Robert Sanger

Rob Sanger joined the SEMI Foundation in January 2024 as a Program Manager, Workforce & Training for California. Rob will be responsible for developing the capacity and expertise of the SEMI Foundation in building and supporting Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) for roles in microelectronics in California, and scaling apprenticeship programs across many employers. A key part of his work will be developing partnerships across member companies, government agencies, service providers, and much more.

Before joining SEMI, Rob served as the Director of Workforce Programs at the California Manufacturers & Technology Association (CMTA). At CMTA, Rob directed the marketing, sales, training, and strategic planning for workforce incentive partnerships with the State of California and the Federal Government. Rob also worked as a Program Manager at Applied Materials earlier in his career. He comes to SEMI with over 20 years of experience in workforce development, training and public-private partnerships. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Rob enjoys hiking, skiing, and outrigger canoe paddling in his free time in Northern California.

Rick VanIttersum

Rick VanIttersum joined the SEMI Foundation as Program Manager – SCAN Michigan in September 2022. He will strategize, oversee, and implement the SEMI Foundation’s SEMI Career and Apprenticeship Network (SCAN) program in Michigan. He will collaborate closely with a wide range of external stakeholders, overseeing the development of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in multiple occupations in the industry.

Before joining SEMI, Rick spent eight years at Kinexus Group/Michigan Works! Berrien-Cass-Van Buren working as a Talent Development Specialist and then a Talent Development Manager in the American Job Center.  Most recently, Rick served as Vocational Training Manager & Apprenticeship Success Coordinator. He managed apprenticeship building activity in Southwest Michigan and created new USDOL Registered Apprenticeship programs in non-traditional occupations.  

Rick enjoys spending time with his wife Sara, his daughter Chloe (age 5), his son James (age 1), and his dog Brownie.   Rick is an avid University of Michigan sports fan where he is a football season ticket holder, and has attended Michigan games at nearly every Big Ten campus (minus Rutgers and Maryland).  He is looking forward to future Big Ten games at USC and UCLA.  Rick also enjoys traveling, exploring craft breweries, and relaxing on Michigan’s many lakes and waterways.

Richard Walker

Richard Walker serves as the Senior Program Manager - Industry Awareness, working to elevate the semiconductor industry's profile through strategic programming and partnerships to help drive the expansion of a skilled and diverse workforce talent pool. 

During his tenure at Detroit PBS, Richard co-founded a sports science company specializing in wearable sensor data analysis for elite sports teams before championing initiatives like a new PBS show highlighting women in STEM careers. With prior experience in corporate law, and extensive marketing and advertising roles across various agency scales, Richard brings a wealth of expertise to his current role. 

Based in S.E. Michigan with his wife and three children, Richard holds a Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University – College of Law, an MBA from Wayne State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams is the Deputy Director of the SEMI Foundation. Michelle is responsible for the organization’s storytelling and communications, resource generation, and working toward diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Foundation, within SEMI, and for the industry.  

Michelle’s diverse professional background includes working as a professional musician and performer, published writer, Emergency Medical Technician, emergency services responder in disaster relief, and in wine education. Previously, Michelle served at the helm of nonprofit organizations dedicated to strengthening local communities and positively impacting policy and program development on regional, state-wide, and national levels.

Most recently she served as Executive Director at Arts Council Santa Cruz County, where she led an institutional turnaround and oversaw systemic and programmatic overhauls to address equity, sustainability, and greater community impact. At the core of Michelle’s work is devotion to equitable and supportive workplace culture, and the cultivation and nurturing of powerful and successful cross-sector partnerships.

Michelle is located in Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband and two young sons, and where she is still getting used to looking for alligators on a daily basis.