Our LEADERSHIP team

Eliza VanCort

CEO and Founder

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Eliza has lived a career of seemingly disparate interests and professions, yet all of her work has one common theme: a fascination with the power of communication. When studying Political Science and interning at the DCCC, Eliza was intrigued by human behavior's role in influencing opinions and shaping society. Years later as an acting student in NYC she was exposed to the Meisner Technique, learning from Sanford Meisner's protege, Phil Gushee. She watched in awe as her class learned to pick up on the minutiae of human behavior, adjust to micro-behaviors and influence interpersonal outcomes. Later Eliza fell in love with teaching the technique in Boston. She was exhilarated by the impact teaching superior communication skills had on stage and in every aspect of students' lives. Over 15 years ago Eliza founded The Actor's Workshop of Ithaca (AWI), now Central NY’s preeminent Meisner Technique studio. She still teaches there part-time, helping students become superior communicators.

Eliza now primarily spends her time enjoying her second entrepreneurial venture, VanCort Consulting (VCC). Her work at VCC achieves one singular goal: positively impacting critical professional communication skills of VCC's clients. Her clients realize their professional goals, optimizing their organizations' efficiency, cohesion, and productivity.

With her work at VCC, Eliza parlayed her communication expertise, research skills, and love of people into a thriving career. She never tires of going to work.


Jeff Hodges

Digital Content Director

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Jeff comes to VCC with a unique hybrid of skills. He was worked as an film editor, DP (Director of Photography), editor, director, actor, and acting teacher. This unique skills set has allowed Jeff to produce work which has an authentic and engaging feel, as he understands the rigors of working in front of and behind the camera. Jeff's teaching skills have helped him become a highy-effective director of actors and non-actors alike, helping them to maintain a relaxed, engaging demeanor. Jeff has collaborated on, or solo produced, a variety of video content, including music videos, documentaries, promos and educational modules. In addition, for the past several years Jeff has been fortunate to work at PhotoSynthesis Productions, an award winning independent film production company. During his tenure at PSP Jeff has worked collaborated on award winning projects, including Angkor Awakens, an award winning documentary praised in the New York Times Arts section. VCC was recently commissioned to Produce and edit, in less than a week's time, a promotional video commissioned by The Alliance to promote the March for Science. Ever since, they have been trusted collaborators. Jeff will be spending much of his time during the next year preparing for the hard launch of  VCC's informative, engaging and highly innovative video content programming.


Deepika Rajagopalan

Transnational Communication and Programming  Advisor

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Deepika, a native of India, is a software engineer with a focus on security. She worked at Goldman Sachs for 3 years as a software engineer for emerging markets before coming to the US. Once in the US, Deepika received two Masters at Cornell University in computer security. After Cornell, she worked as Team Leader in an Internet security startup. During this time Eliza worked with Deepika on Leadership Skills for Women in STEM, which inspired Deepika to more closely examine the role of multi-cultural women in STEM. Today Deepika works with VCC while managing to work full-time at Google. She has developed a strong interest in the impact culture, gender, race and age have on micro and macro interpersonal communication in STEM. A trusted collaborator of Eliza's, Deepika has advised Eliza primarily on Women and Transcultural Communication in India. VCC's model of building a leadership team with interdisciplinary skills has allowed VCC to optimize collaboration and innovation with a team boasting diverse cross-disciplinary subject matter expertise. Deepika wears two diverse yet intersecting hats at VCC. Her engineering skills will help in strategic planning on incorporating AI into interactive modules, particularly in modules focused on women, diversity and cross cultural communication. In addition, VCC's Indian client base in STEM continue to grow exponentially. Deepika serves as a critical advisor in VCC's transcultural communication work, particularly as it pertains to VCC's vast client base of Indian millennials in STEM.


Tyree Cobbins

U.S. Diversity Initiatives Coordinator

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Tyree is an undergraduate. He studied both Digital Cinema and Theater/Acting, interning in Hollywood with various studios and networks.  Eventually he found The Actor's Workshop of Ithaca (AWI), and upon graduation joined AWI as Eliza's teaching assistant, a part time position he continues to enjoy today. 

Tyree is an inspiring teacher. He quickly and authentically forges connections with people of all backgrounds, and he has developed a  passion for social justice. He is particularly committed to utilizing storytelling to shape societal narratives. VCC's out of the box hiring philosophy is a primary foundation of its ongoing success. This philosophy is simple. The best way to optimize human capital is to hire highly capable, intellectually curious, hard working and passionate collaborators, rather than those with the best resumes on paper. Tyree's creative innovation, motivational team building skills, excellent outreach abilities and fierce work ethic has powerfully impacted the number of students from diverse backgrounds at AWI. This track record eventually led Eliza to approach Tyree about joining VCC's leadership team. At VCC Tyree is developing an outreach program to create a community of diverse student populations in academia who know of VCC's work, and help bring this work to the faculty and staff. The goal is to play a part in retention of URMs and First Generation students. Tyree is also using his arts background to help steer the direction of VCC's diversity work with millennials, identifying high impact areas of interest specific to his generation for strategic planning of video content. Tyree is excited to use his superior communication skills to help VCC make a difference. 


Kim Gorden 

Strategic Planning Project Manager

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Kim, a successful project manager with over six years of experience, is interested in implementing leadership and communication systems in professional settings, resulting in tangible growth and increased revenue for the companies she works with. She has worked across the startup and tech sector, specifically with SolarBridge Technology and BigCommerce. 

Hailing from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign in the field of Communications, Kim is a graduate of the  University of Illinois Business Center's Leadership Certificate Program and the prestigious University of Karlova leadership program in the Czech Republic. She additionally has trained for a certificate in Project Management Professionalization. She is excited to offer her skills to VanCort Consulting, a company with a strong focus on empowering women in leadership roles.