Meet Our Mentors + Speakers

//Meet Our Mentors + Speakers
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Mark Achler

    Math Venture Partners
    Mark is the Managing Director of Math Venture Partners - an early to mid-stage technology venture capital fund and a [...]
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    About Mark Achler

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    Mark is the Managing Director of Math Venture Partners – an early to mid-stage technology venture capital fund and a Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Kellogg.

    Mark was recently the senior vice president of new business, strategy and innovation at Redbox, where he managed the Company’s long-term planning and expansion into new business opportunities.  Achler was featured as a mentor to a tech startup on Bloomberg TV’s “The Mentor.”, and in Inc. Magazine Trep Life series.

    Achler started his career by co-founding one of the first personal computer retail stores in the country and participated in the launch of the IBM PC in Boca Raton in 1981. He then moved to Apple, where he was the worldwide introduction manager for the Apple //c.

    Upon leaving Apple, Achler co-founded and served as chief executive officer of the Whitewater Group, a company that specialized in development tools and programming languages and shipped the second application for Windows 1.0. After building and eventually selling the Whitewater Group, he co-founded the video game company, Kinesoft Development, where he served as president. Kinesoft was instrumental in developing the technology that allowed Sega and Nintendo scrolling action arcade games to be played on Windows 95.

    After leaving Kinesoft, Achler served as a founding general partner in Kettle Partners, an early-stage venture capital fund. While at Kettle, Achler was the lead investor in local Chicago companies such as Surepayroll (sold to PAYX) and Novarra (sold to NOK).

    Fueled by a lifelong passion for building new businesses, Achler also has helped to co-found Emmi Solutions, a provider of patient education, where he first served as president and later became chief executive officer.

    Achler is a frequent speaker, resource and ardent champion for the entrepreneurial community; where he is a mentor for TechStars and the Chicago High Tech Academy.  He thinks he has had a fun and eclectic career and his wife thinks he can’t hold a job – all a matter of perspective.

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    Bob Adducci

    Social Venture Partners Chicago
    Bob is the owner of Adducci Partners Ltd and a founding partner of Social Venture Partners Chicago.  Bob's focus is to [...]
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    About Bob Adducci

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    Bob is the owner of Adducci Partners Ltd and a founding partner of Social Venture Partners Chicago.  Bob’s focus is to foster the development of the leadership capacity, emotional intelligence and strategic thinking ability of young social entrepreneurs. He is passionate about engaging in a coaching/mentoring role with talented, ambitious and positive young leaders with great vision, but typically lacking an abundance of real world business savvy. It’s an “experience gap” dynamic whereby a seasoned veteran like Bob can hopefully assist them in minimizing their learning curve of becoming transformational business leaders.

    Bob’s primary motivation in becoming a commercial real estate entrepreneur was to attain financial independence while having fun and enabling the personal freedom to pursue a multi-faceted personal mission; to make a difference in the community through philanthropy, mentoring and value-added pro bono consulting, and; to lead a meaningful life, travel the world, accept significant personal challenges, and enrich the lives of my family, and; to create value and accumulate wealth through strategic deal-making in commercial real estate.

    Adducci Partners Ltd develops, acquires and invests in commercial real estate and land ventures as a principal. Specialty in adding value to strategically selected projects resulting in significant premium in investment returns. Also consult on a wide variety of commercial real estate issues.

    Adducci Family Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization that supports providing life enhancing opportunities for at-risk youth in the Chicago area.

    “Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece-by thought, choice, courage and determination.” – John Luther

    Specialties: Mentoring, Life Transformation, Deal Making, Value-Added Investments, Bootstrapping

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    Shradha Agarwal

    ContextMedia
    ContextMedia co-founder Shradha Agarwal has always had a passion for communication and launched her first media enterprise [...]
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    About Shradha Agarwal

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    ContextMedia co-founder Shradha Agarwal has always had a passion for communication and launched her first media enterprise at age 9. While building ContextMedia from the ground up, she branded the healthcare media company as for-benefit, a successful for-profit enterprise that exists for social benefit, and focused on organizational culture architecture. Having led ContextMedia’s product development strategies for media and technology, and overseen the expansion initiatives that have doubled the company’s growth year-over-year, Shradha now focuses on recruiting, empowering and scaling a fast-growing team in Chicago and New York City.

    Shradha is a startup adviser, investor and founding partner of Jumpstart Ventures. A frequent conference speaker around the country, Shradha also serves on the boards of Northwestern Student Holdings, HY Connect, Global Act and Techweek. Shradha, along with co-founder Rishi, was honored at the White House as Empact’s top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country and at the United Nations as Best Female Founder. Shradha was also recognized by Built in Chicago’s Moxie Awards as Tech Woman of the Year in 2013 and inducted into the Crain’s Chicago Business 40 Under 40 list of young achievers in 2012.

    While a broadcast media student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, completing her undergraduate degree with a concentration in economics and international relations, she founded the Northwestern Business Review and served as the Editor-in-Chief developing the mission, plan and operations for the bi-annual magazine still distributed. Shradha enjoys exploring and has traveled through Europe, Americas, Africa and Asia, fascinated by learning new cultures. Shradha is also a music and dance enthusiast, having once run her own dance troupe fusing Contemporary and Classical forms.

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    Karthic Athreya

    Cisco Systems
    Karthic Athreya is Product and Marketing leader with expertise in software monetization, product portfolio strategy, [...]
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    About Karthic Athreya

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    Karthic Athreya is Product and Marketing leader with expertise in software monetization, product portfolio strategy, development and downstream execution. His current assignment with Cisco Systems is on customer adoption and software fulfillment. He has successful track record of launching award winning products with most recent being predictive talent analytics in addition to advising a multiple award winning video platform on their marketing/product strategy. He has been part of multiple startups and has played pivotal role in growing consulting organization ground up with over 50% CAGR. Karthic brings in 15+ years of IT product marketing, sales and consulting experience and holds a masters in applied electronics and a M.B.A from Kellogg School of Management.

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    George Aye

    Greater Good Studio
    George Aye co-founded Greater Good Studio in 2011 as a way to increase the impact of his user-centered design practice. [...]
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    About George Aye

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    George Aye co-founded Greater Good Studio in 2011 as a way to increase the impact of his user-centered design practice. George began his design career at IDEO Chicago, leading projects in consumer electronics, healthcare and consumer packaged goods. He holds nine patents and many of his designs have been commercialized by clients. After 7 years at IDEO, George became the lead designer at the Chicago Transit Authority, where he explored the intersection of design and public policy by envisioning the design of a new bus system for Chicago. George spent a year as Creative Director at IA Collaborative, building a new industrial design team, before transitioning to academia as a full-time, tenure track professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. George currently teaches within the Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects program, where his work focuses on human-centered design for social impact. George remains wildly optimistic that we can solve the most entrenched problems of our time, together for the greater good. George received his B.Eng. in Engineering Design Visualisation from Bournemouth University, UK.

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    Sara Cantor Aye

    Greater Good Studio
    Sara Cantor Aye co-founded Greater Good Studio in 2011 to apply her design research and innovation practice to the social [...]
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    About Sara Cantor Aye

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    Sara Cantor Aye co-founded Greater Good Studio in 2011 to apply her design research and innovation practice to the social sector. Formerly Research Director at IA Collaborative and a founding member of the Retail Planning team at RTC, Sara works as an advocate for the user across every step of the design process. Sara teaches as adjunct faculty at Kellogg School of Management, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Institute of Design at IIT and Lake Forest College. She is a board member of EPIC, a team-anchored coach at Design for America, and a mentor at Northwestern’s Engineering Design and Innovation program. Sara believes that empathy is what makes us uniquely human, and that by making research tangible, visual and memorable, we can generate the empathy needed to design truly human-centered change.

    Sara received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, and her M.Des in Design Planning from the Institute of Design at IIT.

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    Marian Baker

    Wake Up Inspired
    Named one of 50 top coaches in America, Marian Baker is a master certified coach and award-winning author of Wake Up [...]
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    About Marian Baker

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    Named one of 50 top coaches in America, Marian Baker is a master certified coach and award-winning author of Wake Up Inspired – Fuel Healthier Success and Love the Life You’re Meant to Lead. She specializes in equipping growth-seeking professionals to transform ways they create sustainable, fulfilling success and be a new kind of inspired leadership we need for our evolving future. Marian is profiled in the book, The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching: 50 Top Executive Coaches Reveal Their Secrets. Called the Queen of Powerful Questions by a leader of Coaches Training Institute, she’s been featured on ABC-TV, The Chicago Tribune, Health magazine and more. Her new program is inspired by decades of research, 16 years privilege of coaching accomplished professionals, and study with today’s brightest thought leaders. She’s coauthor of the Awakening Corporate Soul: High Performance, High Fulfillment  workbook. She leverages her prior 14 years of strategic planning experience in the marketing arena, now applied to client’s inspired success. The Wake Up Inspired book has earned 5-star reviews on Amazon and national book of the year awards. Marian loves this work, admires her clients and falls asleep grateful with her family in Chicago. Reach her at Marian@MarianBaker.com and www.wakeupinspired.com.

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    Greg Barnes

    Hyde Park Venture Partners
    Greg is currently the Principal at Hyde Park Venture Partners. Prior to this position, Greg was the COO at Piece & Co., [...]
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    About Greg Barnes

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    Greg is currently the Principal at Hyde Park Venture Partners. Prior to this position, Greg was the COO at Piece & Co., an Impact Engine company, and Senior Director of New Ventures at Coinstar, Inc., responsible for the organic business development, strategic investing, and new venture portfolio support functions. In this role, Greg is leading the development, evaluation, and launch of organic new ventures, as well providing ongoing support and guidance. Previously, Greg led the Core Growth Strategy team for Redbox, LLC., responsible for executing projects to help drive profitable and sustained growth for the redbox DVD rental business. Prior to joining Redbox/Coinstar in 2007, Greg worked at DiamondCluster, and in Strategy and Business Development at Culligan International.

    Greg has an undergraduate degree from Miami University.

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    Bruce Barron

    Origin Ventures
    Bruce N. Barron is a principal and co-founder of Origin Ventures. He serves on the Boards of Directors of GrubHub, ifbyphone [...]
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    About Bruce Barron

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    Bruce N. Barron is a principal and co-founder of Origin Ventures. He serves on the Boards of Directors of GrubHub, ifbyphone and ClaimForce.

    Since 1985, Bruce has been involved in the management of several start-up medical technology companies. From 1995 – 2007 he had served as a member of the board of directors of Applied NeuroSolutions, Inc. (APNS), a publicly traded biotechnology company developing a diagnostic to detect, and therapeutics to treat, Alzheimer’s disease. He also served as CEO of APNS from 1995-2004, and as Chairman of the Board from 1999-2006.  From 1988 to 2001 Bruce also served on the board of directors of Trimedyne Inc., a public company, which is a manufacturer of surgical lasers used to treat diseases and other medical conditions.  He had served as President/Chairman CEO and/or CFO, from time to time, of the following companies: Gynex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (sold to what is now known as Savient Pharmaceuticals in 1993), Pharmatec Inc. (merged with Pharmos Corp. in 1992) and Xtramedics, Inc. (merged with Athena Medical Corp. in 1994). Bruce assisted in guiding these entrepreneurial, public companies through their early stages to their ultimate sales or mergers with larger companies.

    Bruce received a B.S. degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1977. He earned his C.P.A. certificate and worked as an accountant in the Chicago office of Touche Ross (the predecessor of Deloitte & Touche) and other medium-size public accounting firms. He left the practice of public accounting in 1985 to begin his entrepreneurial career.

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    Dennis Barsema

    Northern Illinois University College of Business
    Dennis Barsema is an entrepreneur and instructor at Northern Illinois University College of Business. He was previously the [...]
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    About Dennis Barsema

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    Dennis Barsema is an entrepreneur and instructor at Northern Illinois University College of Business. He was previously the CEO of Blue Lane Networks (acquired by VMWare), CEO and Chairman of Onetta, Inc. (acquired by Bookham Technologies), and president and CEO of Redback Networks, where he led the company through rapid growth and one of the most successful IPOs in Wall Street history.

    Dennis has more than 30 years of executive experience in telecommunications, software, and optical networking. Prior to joining Redback in 1997, he held senior executive positions at Centigram Corporation (acquired by ADC), Softswitch (acquired by Lotus Development Corporation), Primary Access (acquired by 3Com), and Paradyne Corporation (acquired by Zhone).

    He serves, or has served, on the board of directors of numerous venture capital-funded companies, including Redback Networks, Blue Lane Technologies, Onetta, Azanda, Telenisus, Tahoe Networks, Stoke, Community Collaboration, and Restaurant.com.

    Dennis is the current Chairman of the Northern Illinois University Foundation and he has been a director on numerous non-profit boards, including Oportunidad Microfinanzas of Mexico, Se Mas (a microfinance institution) of Mexico, NEST (St. Louis), Collaboration Group, and Carpenters Place of Rockford, Illinois.

    He is also an advisor to the non-profit, micro-finance organization, Opportunity International in Oak Brook, Illinois, Panzanzee, and the School of Business at Northern Illinois University, and is a past advisor to the School of Business at Santa Clara University in San Jose, California.

    Dennis earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management from Northern Illinois University. He is married with three sons and resides in Barrington Hills, IL.

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    Sheryl Bartol

    BancAmerica Capital Investors
    Sheryl Bartol is a private equity investor and Managing Director with BancAmerica Capital Investors, where she has spent the [...]
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    About Sheryl Bartol

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    Sheryl Bartol is a private equity investor and Managing Director with BancAmerica Capital Investors, where she has spent the last 17 years investing in and serving on the boards of companies in industries ranging from wood products, carpeting, and metal fabrication to radio broadcasting, refurbished tech equipment, and aftermarket imaging products.

    In addition to evaluating companies from a financial and strategic perspective, Sheryl has deep experience raising financing, negotiating loan agreements and amendments, negotiating purchase agreements, structuring management compensation plans, managing litigation and indemnity claims, executing senior management employment decisions, evaluating operating and expenditure budgets, assessing exit timing, and leading sale processes.

    She has invested in companies representing a broad range of business models, and serving many different end-markets including auto suppliers, service companies, corporate offices, retail, transportation, education, government and advertising,

    Sheryl earned her MBA from University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business and received her undergraduate degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Sheryl currently serves as Treasurer of the Beth Emet Foundation. When not at work, Sheryl can usually be found with her husband, Stopher, and their three children.

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    Aner Ben-Ami

    Pi Investments
    Aner is Director of Investments at Pi Investments, a  single-family office committed to investing its portfolio in support [...]
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    About Aner Ben-Ami

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    Aner is Director of Investments at Pi Investments, a  single-family office committed to investing its portfolio in support of a more sustainable and just economy. Aner manages Pi’s direct investing, and also advises on its broader portfolio of indirect (fund) investments. At Pi, Aner leads investments in early stage social enterprises addressing issues related to environmental sustainability and community empowerment.

    Prior to joining Pi Investments, Aner was a Project Leader at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). At BCG, Aner worked with industry leaders across the energy, water and transportation value chains on issues such as electrification of transportation, distributed generation, LED adoption and others. Earlier in his career, Aner also worked at Israel’s leading project finance and infrastructure consultancy and worked with leading players in the water, energy and transportation in his home country.

    Aner has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management (where he graduated with honors), and has served in a Military Intelligence role in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

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    Ryan Blitstein

    Change Illinois
    Ryan Blitstein is the President & CEO of Change Illinois, a coalition leading systemic political and government reform [...]
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    About Ryan Blitstein

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    Ryan Blitstein is the President & CEO of Change Illinois, a coalition leading systemic political and government reform in the state. He oversees the organization’s strategy, operations, and development efforts. Ryan also serves as a volunteer member of the Chicago Committee of Human Rights Watch and as board treasurer of Global Press Institute, which trains and employs women as professional reporters in 24 developing countries, where their stories ignite social change. He advises dozens of local, national, and global nonprofits and is a frequent speaker and writer on impact and social innovation.

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    Bruce Boyd

    Arabella Advisors
    Bruce Boyd joined Arabella Advisors, a national philanthropy and social impact consulting firm, as a Principal and Managing [...]
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    About Bruce Boyd

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    Bruce Boyd joined Arabella Advisors, a national philanthropy and social impact consulting firm, as a Principal and Managing Director in 2007 after spending 20 years building and leading for-profit and nonprofit ventures. Bruce oversees the work in Arabella’s Chicago office and has led a range of engagements for Arabella’s foundation, individual and family, and corporate clients. These engagements have focused on strategic planning, due diligence, program implementation, and evaluation of impact, and they have stretched across a range of issue areas including community development, human rights, education, and the environment.

    In addition to his work at Arabella, Bruce serves as an advisor to the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) grant-making intermediary often used by Arabella clients. The New Venture Fund, among the fastest growing nonprofit organizations in the country, manages grant making programs, incubates projects, and hosts donor collaborations. Bruce also serves on the boards of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, the Morrison Family Foundation, and his own family’s foundation. He writes and speaks widely about philanthropy, social impact, and the nonprofit sector.

    Prior to joining Arabella, Bruce served for 13 years as a Senior Manager at The Nature Conservancy, where he led the Illinois Program, the Upper Mississippi River Project, and the four-continent Great Rivers Partnership. He is also a former member of the Board of Governors of Opportunity International, a leading micro-finance nonprofit, and a former Trustee of the Merit School of Music in Chicago. Bruce started his career in law but left legal practice to buy a manufacturing company out of bankruptcy, which he ran and later sold to a Fortune 500 company. He graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College, earned his law degree from the University of Chicago, and studied business at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

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    Amanda Britt

    Panzanzee
    Amanda launched Panzanzee in 2011 to fulfill her dream of growing businesses with social impact and enabling entrepreneurs [...]
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    About Amanda Britt

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    Amanda launched Panzanzee in 2011 to fulfill her dream of growing businesses with social impact and enabling entrepreneurs to develop their dreams. Early career roles in the United Nations, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a State Department- sponsored non-profit, International House of Metrolina, revealed economic and humanitarian opportunities that Amanda believed business could do well. She built on this vision with eight years at Bank of America Corporation as Senior Vice President serving as Senior Strategic Planner, Portfolio Manager, and Transactions & Investments Manager in corporate and commercial real estate. She quickly became a serial intra-preneur when each new role she undertook was new to the business and required creating the job.

    She also co-founded the Young Professionals Leadership Forum in Charlotte, NC, led the first global small group at Park Community Church, and supports Foundations for His Ministry in Oaxaca, Mexico. A North Carolina native, Amanda holds a B.A. in Political Science from Davidson College with additional concentrations in French and Vocal Performance. You might also find her in Chicago co-chairing Young Ambassadors of Opportunity, teaching yoga on the beach, or fronting her rock band, The Recasts.

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    Jeffrey Carter

      Hyde Park Angels
      Jeffrey Carter was the co-founder of Hyde Park Angels. He is a former member of the CME Board of Directors and was a member [...]
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      About Jeffrey Carter

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      Jeffrey Carter was the co-founder of Hyde Park Angels. He is a former member of the CME Board of Directors and was a member of the Strategic Planning Committee. Currently he is trying to raise a small VC fund, West Loop Ventures. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Business, and has an MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth Graduate School of Business.

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      Connie Capone

      GreenOhm
      Connie Capone is currently the President of GreenOhm.  Prior to GreenOhm, she was the CEO of ePropertyData, a software data [...]
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      About Connie Capone

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      Connie Capone is currently the President of GreenOhm.  Prior to GreenOhm, she was the CEO of ePropertyData, a software data company serving the commercial real estate industry.  ePD was merged after a turnaround of the business.  She also served as the EIR (entrepreneur in residence) at Argonne National Laboratory, representing various venture capital firms’ interests in Lab technology.

      Connie spent 11 years as a Partner with JK&B Capital, a leading Chicago based venture capital firm.  She was a Senior Manager at Booz Allen & Hamilton and started her career at Price Waterhouse. After earning a CPA, she transitioned into the systems consulting group where she programmed and installed SAP financial software.  Connie earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with distinction and high honors.

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      Cary Chessick

      Positivity
      Cary is a Co-Founder and Partner in Positivity, an investor in both Impact Engine and Firestarter Fund. Cary is the former [...]
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      About Cary Chessick

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      Cary is a Co-Founder and Partner in Positivity, an investor in both Impact Engine and Firestarter Fund. Cary is the former CEO of Restaurant.com. Cary was Ernst & Young’s 2010 Midwest Entrepreneur of the Year. Cary was also an American Business Awards’ finalist for Executive of the Year in 2010, and was inducted into the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame for 2011. Cary was selected by NIU for the 2011 College of Business Honorary Alumnus award for his contributions to business and to the success of the college. Chicago Tribune recognized Restaurant.com as one of Chicago’s Top Workplaces in 2011. Restaurant.com was ranked #767 on the Inc. 500|5000 list of the fastest growing private companies for 2010. Cary was the founder of the award-winning Feed it Forward program and the Social Giving Movement TweetitForward. Cary has a B.S. In Psychology from the University of Illinois, a J.D. from the DePaul College of Law and a Two-Year Graduate Certificate in Emotional Intelligence from the Liautaud Graduate School of Business from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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      Lon Chow

      Apex Venture Partners
      Lon Chow is a general partner with investment focus in software applications and technology-enabled services. Prior to [...]
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      About Lon Chow

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      Lon Chow is a general partner with investment focus in software applications and technology-enabled services. Prior to joining Apex, Lon was a partner with Mercer Management Consulting (formerly Strategic Planning Associates), where he developed and implemented growth strategies for clients in computing, media, and telecommunications industries. He also held various operating management positions with Pacific Telesis. Lon received an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Davis.

      Lon currently serves on the boards of Analyte Health, ALI Solutions, Appolicious, Current Analysis, Sittercity, TargetData, and Timelines. He is a board observer of Trunk Club. Lon’s outside board membership includes Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and Viewpoints Network

      Lon’s previous investments included ICON Solutions (acquired by AnswerThink), KnowledgeStorm (acquired by TechTarget), PlaceWare (acquired by Microsoft), Shoebuy.com (acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp), Thinque Systems (acquired by MEI), Tradex Technologies (acquired by Ariba) and WorldPrints (acquired by At Home).

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      Jeff Coney

        Northwestern University
        Jeff Coney serves as Director of Economic Development at Northwestern University, a position he was appointed to in [...]
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        About Jeff Coney

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        Jeff Coney serves as Director of Economic Development at Northwestern University, a position he was appointed to in September, 2007. He is also a member of the management team of the Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO). His responsibilities include selected intellectual property and license management, marketing and business development for INVO. Coney joined Northwestern in 2000 as Director of New Business Initiatives.

        Prior to joining the University, Coney spent 14 years as a software entrepreneur. He co-founded Facility Management Systems, Inc., a local software company, which was sold to a publicly traded company. He has also had prior employment with Arthur Andersen, Metropolitan Structures and The City of Chicago. Mr. Coney holds BA and MBA degrees from Northwestern and is a CPA.

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        Patricia Cox

        Urban Health Initiative, University of Chicago
        Patricia Cox is the Immediate Past Chair of the Goodman Theatre Board of Trustees. A founder of St. Nicholas Theatre Company [...]
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        About Patricia Cox

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        Patricia Cox is the Immediate Past Chair of the Goodman Theatre Board of Trustees. A founder of St. Nicholas Theatre Company (with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet and actors William H. Macy and Steven Schachter), Cox was among the city’s first performing arts marketing, development and management leaders to achieve national reputation. She has started, worked with and consulted for a wide range of not-for-profit arts organizations in Chicago and across the country. Cox served as Executive Director of the Chicago Alliance for the Performing Arts and was the Director of Marketing Development for Manhattan Theatre Club and the Boston Ballet. As a consultant, she has worked for the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Boston, and regional foundations such as the Chicago Community Trust and the Cleveland Foundation. She serves on the Foundation Board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the Board of Directors of High Jump, an academic enrichment program for talented, economically challenged middle school students. Cox is a member of the Urban Health Initiative of the University of Chicago Medical Center, committed to addressing health needs of the South Side Chicago community.

        Ms. Cox is President of the KPW Foundation, which supports local, national, and international efforts in the areas of arts, education, and health care. Patricia is currently actively investing in Chicago-based early-stage businesses.

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        Jennifer Chan

        Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine
        Dr. Jennifer Chan is the Director of Global Emergency Medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern [...]
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        About Jennifer Chan

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        Dr. Jennifer Chan is the Director of Global Emergency Medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. Jennifer is also an Associate faculty member of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and member of the Crisis Dynamics Program. Her projects and research focuses on crisis mapping and helping organizations integrate technology and new information flows into humanitarian programming. She collaborates with humanitarian, technology and volunteer groups to help them learn about the outcomes and impact of their collaborative efforts through evaluation and research. Her project work and research efforts translate into training emerging practitioners in humanitarian technologies. She is the lead instructor of humanitarian technologies education module at the Humanitarian Studies Course.

        Jennifer has worked and collaborated with NGOs and UN agencies for the past seven years. She has provided public health technical support to organizations such as Oxfam America, the American Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee and the World Health Organization. She also collaborates with organizations involved in reshaping humanitarian information management including Ushahidi, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, and the Northwestern Humanitarian and Non-Profit Logistics Group. She co-authored the Disaster 2.0 report that describes the challenges and future of information sharing and technology in humanitarian crisis.

        After completing her undergraduate studies at Columbia University, she pursued additional degrees in medicine and public health at Northwestern University School of Medicine and Tulane School of Public Health. She completed her emergency medicine training at the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency program followed by an International Emergency Medicine Fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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        Frank Cheswick

        Cheswick Capital LLC
        Frank Cheswick brings over thirty years of private equity, banking and entrepreneurship experience to assist growing [...]
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        About Frank Cheswick

        Frank Cheswick Headshot

        Frank Cheswick brings over thirty years of private equity, banking and entrepreneurship experience to assist growing companies. He started Cheswick Capital LLC, after co-founding the Aldine Capital Fund LP in 2006.  Aldine raised a $108 million Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) fund to make subordinated debt or “mezzanine” investments in middle market companies.  Prior to Aldine, Cheswick was the head of underwriting for Banc One Mezzanine Corp., (acquired by JP Morgan Chase in 2005).

        Cheswick spent his early career as a banker and private equity investor with Bankers Trust Company, (acquired by Deutsche Bank AG in 1998).  In 1994 he left Bankers Trust Company to co-found Paradigm Capital LLC with Ed Condon, the former Treasurer of Sears.  Among the notable successes at Paradigm was assisting in the formation of Civigenics LLC, a conversion of a not-for-profit into a for-profit entity and raising two rounds of venture capital. Civigenics grew into the second largest privately held corrections operator and the largest provider of correctional treatment in the United States.  Civigenics was acquired by Community Education Centers (CEC) in 2007.

        In 1998, Cheswick conceived the idea and co-founded Legacy.com Inc., the leading provider of on-line obituaries for the newspaper industry. By putting death notices on the internet Legacy.com Inc. facilitated the condolence process and made memorial charitable giving easier.  Today, Legacy.com is among the 50 most trafficked U.S. domains with over 20 million monthly unique visitors.  Legacy was acquired by Great Hill Partners, a Boston based private equity firm in April 2012.

        Frank Cheswick holds an undergraduate degree in finance from Fordham University and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.  He has four children and 8 grandchildren.

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        Dana Damyen

        TwoRoads Solutions
        Dana Damyen is a business executive who serves in CFO and interim CFO roles.  She has broad and deep experience in all [...]
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        About Dana Damyen

        Dana Damyen Headshot

        Dana Damyen is a business executive who serves in CFO and interim CFO roles.  She has broad and deep experience in all aspects of financial, accounting and administrative management.  Dana founded and is Principal with TwoRoads Solutions – a consulting firm that assists private equity-owned and private companies to execute transformational and transactional initiatives and also provides interim CFO services.

        Prior to establishing TwoRoads, Dana served as Divisional CFO and Corporate Director FP&A at Orval Kent Food Company, Inc.  She was Active Screw & Fastener LLC’s first CFO prior to joining Orval Kent.  At Whirlpool Corporation she was as the first executive finance professional in the Global Procurement group where she served as Director of Finance, Global Procurement and Global Strategic Outsourcing.  Dana also has over 11 years of Big Four experience with Ernst & Young in tax and corporate finance and with KPMG in corporate finance.

        Dana founded the Chicago Business Book Roundtable and currently serves as Chairperson.  She also serves on the board of directors for Between Friends, an agency serving victims of domestic violence.

        Linda Darragh Headshot

        Linda Darragh

        Investment Committee
        Linda Darragh recently joined the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University as the executive director of the [...]
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        About Linda Darragh

        Linda Darragh Headshot

        Linda Darragh recently joined the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University as the executive director of the Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice and the Heizer Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital. In this role, she is Kellogg’s senior administrator overseeing and integrating the school’s curricular, co-curricular, and alumni outreach activities in entrepreneurship, social enterprise, venture capital and private equity. Linda is a cornerstone of the Chicago entrepreneurship community and recognized globally as a leader in entrepreneurship education. Prior to Kellogg, she served as the director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she was instrumental in furthering entrepreneurship. Linda received her Master’s degree from the University of Toronto and her Bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University.

        Arielle Deane Headshot

        Arielle Deane

        gravitytank
        Arielle is a strategist at gravitytank, where she draws upon her background in strategy and marketing to develop innovative [...]
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        About Arielle Deane

        Arielle Deane Headshot

        Arielle is a strategist at gravitytank, where she draws upon her background in strategy and marketing to develop innovative solutions for clients. Her understanding of how to bridge consumer insights with business strategy has led to successful solutions for clients such as FedEx, Merck, and the Mayo Clinic.  Prior to gravitytank, Arielle worked in market research and business development for Lockheed Martin Information Technology in Washington DC- her hometown.

        Arielle holds a B.S. in Marketing and Technology Management from Georgetown University, an MBA in Marketing from the Kellogg School of Management and an MEM degree in Innovation from the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University

        Mentor with No Photo

        John DeBlasio

        Bootstrap-Capital LLC
        John DeBlasio is Founder and Executive Director of the GPD Charitable Trust as well as Managing Partner of Bootstrap-Capital [...]
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        About John DeBlasio

        Mentor with No Photo

        John DeBlasio is Founder and Executive Director of the GPD Charitable Trust as well as Managing Partner of Bootstrap-Capital LLC. Both were established following the sale of Sallyport Global Holdings in June 2011 where John was previously Owner. The Foundation was established programs to assist at-risk young adults as well as to promote democracy world-wide and has made several significant grants and partnerships since inception while Bootstrap Capital has focused on investing in strong entrepreneurs leading growth stage companies.

        Previously, as owner of Sallyport Global Holdings, John built an organization which employed over 1,900 people worldwide and became the largest provider of security and facilities management services to USAID prime contractors operating in Iraq as well as a primary contractor for DoD and DoS work in Central Asia and Africa. John is a 1989 West Point Graduate who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Reserve Civil Affairs branch and was deployed to the Middle East in 2003-2004 where he worked with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) as an Advisor to the Ministry of Trade and with the US Embassy in Amman Jordan as the CPA Liaison for the Embassy. During that time he was awarded a Bronze Star as well as a Joint Service Commendation medal.

        John has traveled to Iraq and other locations in the Middle East and Central Asia more than 50 times over the past 12 years. He is a resident of Chicago and was appointed in 2006 as a member of the US-Iraq Business Dialogue by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez as well as selected as an Emerging Leader by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in 2011.

        He maintains regular contact with colleagues and contacts in the region and is an excellent resource for up-to-date information on both military and political policy as well as business opportunities in Iraq as well as across the Middle East and Central Asia.

        John has been extensively quoted in the press, has had full articles about Iraq published in the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post (Outlook Section), and has appeared as an expert commentator on the History Channel, ABC News, MSNBC, NPR, and the Lehrer News Hour.

        Rick Desai Headshot

        Rick Desai

        Dashfire
        Rick Desai is a co-founder of Dashfire, a startup enablement firm that has launched 20 digital ventures since September [...]
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        About Rick Desai

        Rick Desai Headshot

        Rick Desai is a co-founder of Dashfire, a startup enablement firm that has launched 20 digital ventures since September 2009, including BucketFeet, EverTrue, kWhOURS, and Bloomboard. Rick has over six years of investment experience, including tenures at the $14 billion Chicago-based private equity firm, Madison Dearborn Partners and Lehman Brothers Investment Bank. While at Madison Dearborn, Rick worked on the $4 billion acquisition of VWR, a global leader in scientific product distribution. In 2008, Rick was granted the William J. Clinton Fellowship and spent a year at the Indian NGO, Saath, concentrating on microfinance, market-based development, and youth livelihood in Indian slums. He is also an angel investor in social enterprises and sits on the Board of Directors of R3 Resources.

        Rick graduated from Georgetown University with a B.S.B.A and is a co-founder of the Venturing Hoyas, an alumni organization that supports Georgetown entrepreneurship.

        Jim Deters Headshot

        Jim Deters

        Galvanize
        Jim Deters is the founder and managing director of Galvanize.  Jim's adventurous spirit both drives his entrepreneurial [...]
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        About Jim Deters

        Jim Deters Headshot

        Jim Deters is the founder and managing director of Galvanize.  Jim’s adventurous spirit both drives his entrepreneurial ventures and his active lifestyle. Always on the move, Jim built Ascendant Technology, a company focused on providing custom software engineering approaches to companies to fulfill their digital needs. After working with small and large companies alike, including Fortune 500 Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ascendant was acquired by Avnet, leaving Jim plenty of time to pursue his passion for shaking up the Denver entrepreneurial scene. Now investing in break-out companies, Jim’s latest startup, Galvanize, has hit the ground running. Galvanize is a curated community of emerging startups and disruptive digital companies that brings together capital, community and curriculum all under one roof.

        Additionally, Jim opened ChoLon, an Asian cuisine bistro, with his wife Alicia and Chef Lon Symensma in 2010. If you can’t find Jim disrupting the Denver Startup scene, look for him on the mountains biking, skiing, or spending time with his wife and three children.

        Jim Dugan Headshot

        Jim Dugan

        OCA Ventures
        Jim Dugan is the Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of OCA Ventures. Prior to co-founding OCA Ventures [...]
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        About Jim Dugan

        Jim Dugan Headshot

        Jim Dugan is the Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of OCA Ventures. Prior to co-founding OCA Ventures in 2001, Jim oversaw the OCA Ventures Pledge Fund which made direct venture capital investments for the O’Connor Partners Investment Office. Jim has board responsibilities for EdMap, Cleversafe, TDJM, Javlin Capital, SumRidge Partners, Campus Explorer, Apparel Media Group, Automated Insights, BodyShopBids, and Heard Capital.

        Jim has over 17 years of corporate finance, capital markets, and venture capital investment experience. Prior to forming OCA Ventures, Jim traded derivatives at the Chicago Board of Trade and worked in corporate finance with Continental Bank. While at Continental Bank, Jim participated in the structured financing of companies ranging in capital size from $10 million to several billion dollars and in the formation of a $150 million subsidiary to fund mezzanine debt and equity financings.

        Jim received a BA in Economics from the University of Rochester and earned his MBA (MM) from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management.  In addition to his responsibilities at OCA Ventures, Jim is a founding member of the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA), where he formerly served five years as Treasurer, Director and member of the Executive Committee. Prior to serving as Treasurer, Jim was the Chairman of the Legislative Committee for the IVCA, in which capacity he helped establish HB 3212 as Illinois law.

        Jim is a frequent guest lecturer and panelist at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Chicago Booth GSB. Jim is also a board member of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC), NU Wave, AVAC Fund, and a charter member of Tie Network Chicago.  Jim is Co-Founder and Treasurer of www.SmartBet.org.

        Ryan Dupuis Headshot

        Ryan Dupuis

        Kapow Events
        Ryan is an entrepreneur who has worked a great deal with small and medium businesses to help them find unique solutions to [...]
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        About Ryan Dupuis

        Ryan Dupuis Headshot

        Ryan is an entrepreneur who has worked a great deal with small and medium businesses to help them find unique solutions to problems they face on a daily basis. As the 40th employee and first Sales Manager at Groupon, he helped develop the sales management process implemented to over 30 other professionals as the position grew. After spending a few years growing the California markets and teams, he moved over to build the sales and operations for Groupon’s loyalty program. These experiences at Groupon built a strong knowledge of business strategies and processes for growing and keeping customers through gameification, referral programs and loyalty strategies.

        Joe Dwyer Headshot

        Joe Dwyer

        Digital Intent
        Joe Dwyer is a venture capitalist, technologist, and serial entrepreneur. He is a a partner at Digital Intent, a firm that [...]
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        About Joe Dwyer

        Joe Dwyer Headshot

        Joe Dwyer is a venture capitalist, technologist, and serial entrepreneur. He is a a partner at Digital Intent, a firm that conceives, builds, and grows new digital startups, as well as a venture partner at OCA Ventures.

        Joe has been creating and growing new digital businesses for almost twenty years. Established in 1994, Joe’s first company helped clients such as Bain & Company, Albertson’s, and Exodus Computing conceive and build new digital products. In 1996, he created The Virtual Market, one of the first dynamically generated e-commerce sites on the web. In the late 1990′s, Joe helped form LoanSurfer.com (later joining the board and becoming CTO), which quickly grew to be one of the top-five online mortgage banks. And in 2001 he co-founded TouchPoint Solutions, an enterprise software-as-a-service company with customers including Kodak, British Petroleum, and Lockheed Martin.

        In addition to founding companies, Joe has stepped in as CEO for several companies to shepherd them through particularly high growth phases, or to transform the companies. For example, Joe was CEO of ArtistData, a social media solution for music artists, which was subsequently acquired by SonicBids. He was also CEO of Brill Street, a company that leverages technology to better match employers with promising young talent.

        Joe continues to support the Chicago entrepreneurial community as a mentor for Excelerate Labs, an executive advisor for Techweek, a Charter Member of TIE, and a lecturer for the Founder Institute, among other activities.

        Joe holds an MBA with Distinction from the Kellogg School of Management, and a law degree Cum Laude from the Northwestern University School of Law, where he was awarded the Order of the Coif. Joe also has an undergraduate degree in international relations from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

        Joe has been programming for longer than he cares to admit, and creating web user interfaces since the early 1990′s. His latest exploration is into high-performance distributed real-time systems based on Node.js and Redis. He has also lived and worked abroad extensively, and needs to brush up on his language skills in French, Spanish, and German.

        Clement Erbmann Headshot

        Clement Erbmann

        First Analysis Corp.
        Clement Erbmann is a managing director at First Analysis Corp., coordinating international activities and focuses on [...]
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        About Clement Erbmann

        Clement Erbmann Headshot

        Clement Erbmann is a managing director at First Analysis Corp., coordinating international activities and focuses on educational, marketing services and cleantech investing. Prior to joining First Analysis in 1989, he worked for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in securities sales, fund management, special equities, and private placements.

        Clement is a member of the Anti-Defamation League’s executive board and is treasurer of the Education Industry Association. He has been very active at Kellogg School of Management serving on the Kellogg Alumni Advisory Board, guest lecturer on various topics, entrepreneur in residence, student mentorship program, judge in business plan competitions, internship host for Larry and Carol Levy Center and Heizer Center for Entrepreneurship, elected to Pete Henderson Society. Currently sitting on  Board of Directors of Gapbuster Ltd (UK), Learning.com and AdvancePath Academics.

        He earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

        Jeff Eschbach Headshot

        Jeff Eschbach

        Page Vault
        Jeff Eschbach is the CEO and founder of Page Vault, a startup in the legal tech space, and previously served as a Senior [...]
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        About Jeff Eschbach

        Jeff Eschbach Headshot

        Jeff Eschbach is the CEO and founder of Page Vault, a startup in the legal tech space, and previously served as a Senior R&D Solutions Manager/Architect at Motorola Solutions. He has over 15 years of high-tech innovation experience at best-in-class corporations such as Intel Japan and Motorola Research Labs. His leadership positions have spanned technical R&D, product management and corporate strategy, with assignments across Asia, Latin America and the US.

        Jeff has managed new-product-introduction teams in numerous settings, taking novel ideas from concept to first-generation productization. He has earned seven patents for creative technological solutions that address business needs and has successfully integrated multiple innovations into high-tech products. His work has directly impacted context-aware communication systems, intelligent tracking devices, virtual and augmented reality platforms, and mission-critical broadband wireless networks.

        Jeff is a National Science Foundation Fellow and earned both his BS with distinction and MS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University. He later received his MBA with highest honors from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, focusing on Entrepreneurship and Tech Strategy.

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        Mike Evans

        GrubHub
        Mike Evans is the co-founder and COO of GrubHub. Mike Evans graduated MIT in 2000 with a pile of degrees and an equally [...]
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        About Mike Evans

        Mike-Evans-Headshot

        Mike Evans is the co-founder and COO of GrubHub. Mike Evans graduated MIT in 2000 with a pile of degrees and an equally impressive pile of debt. Following along the dotcom bandwagon, Mike moved to Chicago to work at Apartments.com. While there he came to understand the value of lead generation Internet advertising.

        In 2004, Mike wrote version one of GrubHub.com because he was frustrated with futilely searching for delivery restaurants and grumbling through inaccurate orders. After refining the website, he jumped ship and went full time to pursue making GrubHub.com a real business. Armed with a “Sales for Dummies” book, Mike and co-founder Matt Maloney bootstrapped the business for two years. In 2006, GrubHub won the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge. The company’s rapid growth has led to five rounds of investment funding, totaling $84.1 million.

        Mike attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned undergraduate and masters’ degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.

        Nicholas Evans Headshot

        Nicholas Evans

        dsgn_co
        Nicholas is the founder of dsgn_co.  Nicholas works at the intersection of social research, business strategy, and design. [...]
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        About Nicholas Evans

        Nicholas Evans Headshot

        Nicholas is the founder of dsgn_co.  Nicholas works at the intersection of social research, business strategy, and design. He helps clients discover insights and translate them into opportunities for innovation. Nicholas has worked in the corporate world on projects for Samsung, GE, Best Buy, Merck, Office Max, online retailers, and a handful of startups as well as the philanthropic world on electronic medical records in Rwanda, diabetes care in India, and clean water systems in Honduras. Through his new venture, dsgn_co, he helps startups design businesses, not just products. Nicholas developed a passion for design research and interaction design while earning his Master’s degree in Engineering Design & Innovation from Northwestern University, where he now serves on the Advisory Board for the program.

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        Anne Evens

        Elevate Energy
        Anne Evens is the CEO of Elevate Energy (formerly CNT Energy), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping households and [...]
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        About Anne Evens

        Anne-Evens-Headshot2

        Anne Evens is the CEO of Elevate Energy (formerly CNT Energy), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping households and communities control their energy costs. In this role she manages a budget of $8 million and a growing staff of 50 while providing oversight for programs related to energy efficiency retrofits in multifamily buildings, energy performance of commercial and residential buildings, regional energy and climate planning, as well as smart grid and dynamic electricity pricing initiatives. Ms. Evens has worked in energy efficiency and affordable housing for twenty years in both the nonprofit and governmental sectors in the U.S. and in southern Africa.

        Ms. Evens serves on the regional ARRA coordinating committee as energy efficiency lead, coordinates an energy efficiency working group in Chicago, is the board member of the National Center for Healthy Homes and the U.S. Green Buildings Council Illinois Chapter.

        Specifically related to affordable housing, Ms. Evens oversees implementation of one of the country’s largest and most successful programs for retrofitting existing multifamily rental housing. The CNT Energy Savers program has retrofitted 9,500 rental units, has more than 5,000 units in construction and is on track to complete more than 12,500 retrofits by the end of this year. On average these projects are saving 30 percent on energy costs, or over $10,000 on a typical 30 unit building.

        Ms. Evens also oversees expansion of the nation’s first residential, market-based, hourly electricity programs, which serve more than 20,000 customers of two major Illinois utilities. These programs have saved customers more than $3 million in energy costs. In addition to program implementation work, Ms. Evens also acted as lead researcher on the Chicago Climate Action Plan and the Regional Energy Snapshot for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

        Education:

        Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

        M.S., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

        B.S., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

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        Steve Farsht

        TechStars Chicago
        Steve is a Co-Founder of Corazon Capital and a Board Member of Techstars Chicago. Steve co-managed Techstars Chicago in 2013 [...]
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        About Steve Farsht

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        Steve is a Co-Founder of Corazon Capital and a Board Member of Techstars Chicago. Steve co-managed Techstars Chicago in 2013 and 2014. Steve was Chief Operating Officer of Tap.Me, which was sold to MediaMath in 2012.

        Previously, Steve was a General Partner with Norwest Equity Partners. Over his 9 years with the firm, Steve invested $280 million of equity in 13 management buyouts and growth capital investments across a variety of industries. His platform companies completed 9 add-on acquisitions. Steve served on 8 boards and led the sale of several companies to strategic and financial buyers.

        Steve is a Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management where he also received his MBA. Steve has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

        Jason Fried Headshot

        Jason Fried

        Basecamp
        Jason Fried is the co-founder and CEO of Basecamp (formerly 37Signals), a Chicago-based web-application company. He [...]
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        About Jason Fried

        Jason Fried Headshot

        Jason Fried is the co-founder and CEO of Basecamp (formerly 37Signals), a Chicago-based web-application company. He co-authored all of 37signals’ books, including the upcoming book, Remote, and Rework, which was published in 2010. Jason writes for Inc.’s “Get Real” column and helps maintain his company’s popular blog, “Signal vs. Noise.” He believes in keeping things the right size, manageable, and high quality – not big, out of control, and mediocre. He’s working every day to make 37signals the place where people can do the best work of their lives.

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        Antonio Garcia

        Gravitytank
        Antonio Garcia is Associate Partner at gravitytank where he leads the firm’s interaction design discipline and social [...]
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        About Antonio Garcia

        Antonio-Garcia-Headshot

        Antonio Garcia is Associate Partner at gravitytank where he leads the firm’s interaction design discipline and social innovation practice. Prior to working in innovation, Antonio was strategic director of Firebelly Design, a socially responsible design studio in Chicago.

        He holds a BFA in Advertising Design from the Atlanta College of Art (now SCAD) and attended the Harvard Business School AIGA Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders Executive Education Program in 2007. Antonio mentors students in the Engineering Design and Innovation (EDI) program at Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute and teaches New Product Definition at the Institute of Design at IIT.

        When he’s not designing the future, Antonio draws and DJs.

        David Gardner Headshot

        David Gardner

        ColorJar
        David Gardner is the co-founder of ColorJar, a digital agency of strategists, designers, and technology developers who [...]
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        About David Gardner

        David Gardner Headshot

        David Gardner is the co-founder of ColorJar, a digital agency of strategists, designers, and technology developers who produce select projects they fall in love with. They’ve worked with clients ranging from startups, nonprofits, professional athletes, celebrities, and big brands.

        In 2011, David was honored at the White House winning the Empact100 as one of the “Top 100 entrepreneurs under 30 in the US.” He’s a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEC) and is a mentor at Excelerate Labs in Chicago.

        He co-founded his first startup as a student at Dartmouth College, received a partnership offer from AOL for his startup in India, and also led the redesign of uBid.com and the launch of sister-site RedTag.com.

        David was an All Ivy League basketball player who played professionally in Germany.

        Cory-Garfin-Headshot

        Cory Garfin

        Experience Designer and Digital Learning Consultant
        Cory Garfin is an Experience Designer and Digital Learning Consultant. Previously, Cory was Project Director at the Susan [...]
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        About Cory Garfin

        Cory-Garfin-Headshot

        Cory Garfin is an Experience Designer and Digital Learning Consultant. Previously, Cory was Project Director at the Susan Crown Exchange (SCE), a foundation focusing on youth learning and empowerment. At SCE, Cory coordinated efforts between the foundation, film companies, and game developers for an educational game initiative. Prior to working with SCE, Cory worked with the MacArthur Foundation, the Pearson Foundation and the Chicago Public Library as Project Manager for the YOUmedia Network, a program to bring digital learning spaces and mentor-led programming for teens to libraries, museums and community centers across the country. He was a Producer on the design team that created the initial YOUmedia, at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library, while in graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University. Cory holds a Masters in Entertainment Technology from CMU, an MFA in Writing and Critical Studies from CalArts, and a BA in Film Studies from Columbia University.

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        John Geis

        Glossre.com
        John recently co-founded Glossre.com, a glossary of real estate, to achieve the ambitious goal of helping the American [...]
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        About John Geis

        John-Geis-Headshot

        John recently co-founded Glossre.com, a glossary of real estate, to achieve the ambitious goal of helping the American public re-envision what owned real estate means to them, as well as provide them with tools and a new medium to derive more utility (both financially and emotionally) from their homes.

        John was formerly the Chief Operating Officer of Dabble (www.dabble.co). Dabble is an online marketplace that offers affordable offline classes across a range of topics. He was responsible for business development, as well as the finance and legal functions.  Prior to joining Dabble, John was the VP of Strategy & Business Development of Expense Consulting (www.expenseconsulting.com). Expense Consulting is a spend management consultancy and group purchasing organization. John currently serves as a member of the Board of Advisors.  John began his career in investment banking at BMO Capital Markets (www.bmocm.com), one of the largest diversified financial services providers in North America, where he primarily focused on mergers and acquisitions.

        John is a passionate volunteer, working with organizations such as the Spark Program (www.sparkprogram.org), which is a national nonprofit that provides life-changing apprenticeships to youth from disadvantaged communities. John is on the Chicago Advisory Board and also serves as an Apprentice Teacher. He also works with Trees That Feed (www.treesthatfeed.org) as a volunteer and outreach strategist. Trees That Feed reforests tropical areas with trees that produce edible fruit, as well as assists subsistence farmers in transforming their fields into agro-forests. His interests include art deco design and architecture, reading, classic cars, and fly-tying. He is an avid golfer and plays in an adult ice hockey league.

        John holds a bachelor’s degree with a dual concentration in Finance & Entrepreneurship from Babson College (www.babson.edu) where he graduated with honors. He is NASD Series 7 and 63 certified.

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        Deepak Goel

        500 Startups
        Deepak Goel, CTO of Packback Books, is a seasoned product management and product marketing executive. Prior to that, he was [...]
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        About Deepak Goel

        Mentor with No Photo

        Deepak Goel, CTO of Packback Books, is a seasoned product management and product marketing executive. Prior to that, he was Chief Product Officer of IndiaHomes and Director of Product Management at Coupons.com. He has also been an executive at Microsoft & Nokia. Deepak is an angel investor, mentor at 500 Startups, and a strategy, product and marketing advisor. Deepak is a Computer Science graduate from IIT, Delhi, India and holds an MBA from Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley.

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        Josh Gray

          Oracle
          Josh Gray is a Venture Partner at Insight Venture Partners. He works closely with CEOs and their executive teams to drive [...]
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          About Josh Gray

          Josh Gray Headshot

          Josh Gray is a Venture Partner at Insight Venture Partners. He works closely with CEOs and their executive teams to drive growth, improve operations, and achieve better & faster outcomes.

          In 2013, Josh joined Oracle via its acquisition of BigMachines, where he served as General Manager of the BigMachines Express business. Josh started and grew BigMachines Express to a multi-million dollar business. He previously led BigMachines’ Customer Success team and served as Director of Business Strategy, managing growth and operational initiatives across the organization.

          Previously, Josh held roles in both the public & private sectors. He worked for the Chicago Public Schools, served as Assistant COO for Obama for America, and consulted for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Prior to BCG, Josh spent four years as a venture capital and private equity investor with Lehman Brothers Venture Capital Group and Svoboda Capital Partners.

          Josh holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, where he was selected as a Zuckerman Fellow. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan with a BA in Political Science.

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          Marc Grens

          OuterEdge Ventures
          Marc Jason Grens is the Founder & Chief Innovation Officer for OuterEdge Ventures. Marc has a significant background in [...]
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          About Marc Grens

          Mentor with No Photo

          Marc Jason Grens is the Founder & Chief Innovation Officer for OuterEdge Ventures. Marc has a significant background in the investment industry studying businesses and investment structures and has learned what makes companies perform at a high-level, from an investment point of view. Over the past few years, he’s changed his tune to focus more on working with entrepreneurs acting as a hands-on accelerator utilizing his knowledge of the investment markets and providing out-of-the-box ideas to grow a business. Marc is currently affiliated with several companies serving on Advisory Boards in financial technology, healthcare technology, business services, and a private equity firm. Marc received an MBA from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University studying finance, economics, and entrepreneurship.

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          Kathryn J. Hayley

          UnitedHealthcare
          Kathryn J. Hayley is Executive Vice President, Strategic Relationships, Medicare and Retirement with UnitedHealthcare. [...]
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          About Kathryn J. Hayley

          Kathryn Hayley Headshot

          Kathryn J. Hayley is Executive Vice President, Strategic Relationships, Medicare and Retirement with UnitedHealthcare.  Hayley is responsible for maturing and coordinating strategic relationships with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Optum, as well as relationships with industry associations and other organizations driving the future of Medicare and senior health.

          Previously, Haley served as Executive Vice President with Aon Group, after serving as CEO of the Americas Consulting division of Aon Hewitt, the world’s largest human capital consulting firm. Hayley was responsible for driving revenue growth, building high levels of client satisfaction, developing unmatched thought leadership, and recruiting, developing and retaining the best talent in the industry for Aon Hewitt’s Consulting operations in the United States and Latin America. For nearly 30 years, Hayley has been an innovative leader in the consulting industry.

          Prior to the October 1, 2010 merger of Aon Consulting and Hewitt, Hayley was CEO of Aon Consulting. Hayley joined Aon Consulting in June of 2006 and under her leadership, the profitability of the organization increased significantly. She built a world class leadership team that drove the development of innovative solutions for employers in health care, retirement, talent management, corporate transactions and outsourcing. Hayley continues to lead Aon Corporation’s Women’s Development Council.

          Prior to her tenure at Aon Consulting, Hayley spent 21 years at Deloitte Consulting serving in numerous leadership positions.  Prior to joining Deloitte in 1984, Hayley was a manager of financial systems for Northwestern University and a systems consultant with American Management Systems.

          In addition to her professional roles, Hayley serves on the Board of Directors for The United Way of Greater Metropolitan Chicago, The Chicago Shakespeare Theater and The Civic Consulting Alliance. She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and The Chicago Network.

          In 2007, Business Insurance named Hayley a “Woman to Watch,” and in 2008, she was voted one of the top 25 consultants by Consulting Magazine.

          Hayley received her Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University and her MBA in Finance and Marketing from Northwestern University.  She resides in the Chicago area with her husband Mark, and daughters Loren and Leigh.

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          Laurence K. Hayward

          Independence Equity
          Laurence K. Hayward is a partner at Independence Equity, an early-stage venture fund that invests in technologies that [...]
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          About Laurence K. Hayward

          Laurence-Hayward-Headshot

          Laurence K. Hayward is a partner at Independence Equity, an early-stage venture fund that invests in technologies that promote the efficient use of resources. The fund launched in 2011 and has invested in 8 companies to date. Hayward is co-founder of Cornerstone Angels, a network of accredited investors that has invested in 40 companies since 2006. He is also founder and CEO of VentureLab (started 2003), an organization that helps incubates new ventures. Previously, Hayward was President of Vcapital.com, an internet start-up that matched entrepreneurs with investors, acquired in 2002. Hayward has been forming, investing in and advising start-ups since 1999 following 8 years at Arthur Andersen in the Emerging Company Services practice.

          Hayward volunteers as Board Member of the Ecomyths Alliance, a mentor for the Chicagoland Entrepreneur Center, and regularly supports regional Universities as speaker, judge and mentor. He serves of the Boards and Advisory Boards of several portfolio companies. He is a graduate of the Joint MBA/BS program at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana and hold Series 7 and 63 licenses.

          Troy Henikoff Headshot

          Troy Henikoff

          TechStars Chicago
          Troy Henikoff is the Managing Director of TechStars Chicago, is a manager of  the FireStarter Fund, teaches [...]
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          About Troy Henikoff

          Troy Henikoff Headshot

          Troy Henikoff is the Managing Director of TechStars Chicago, is a manager of  the FireStarter Fund, teaches Entrepreneurship and Digital Marketing at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, is a Faculty Coach for University of Chicago / Booth’s New Venture Challenge, is on the board of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and an advisor to Hyde Park Angels. His last 25+ years have been spent starting, running and advising early stage technology companies.

          TechStars is the premier technology accelerator in the world, based in Boulder, CO.  In 2009 Troy cofounded Excelerate Labs here in Chicago and served as its CEO since 2011. Excelerate was ranked as the #3 accelerator in the country by the Kauffman Foundation and by Forbes Magazine.  In its first 3 years, Excelerate had 30 companies go through its program and they raised more than $30 Million in that time. In February 2013 TechStars and Excelerate partnered to create TechStars Chicago which Troy is now running.

          FireStarter Fund is a venture fund that makes seed stage investments in Chicago based digital technology companies. Its LP’s include 42 successful digital entrepreneurs including founders and CEOs of companies like comScore, Restaurant.com, NAVTEQ, Jellyvision, MorningStar, Fieldglass, OKCupid and more. FireStarter offers more than just capital—access to some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs in Chicago.

          As CEO of OneWed, Troy lead the re-launch of OneWed.com, a wedding website that provides the largest online database of wedding vendors, detailed ratings and reviews and a smart, unique voice for wedding planning tips and advice.  The site connects brides and vendors in a focused online marketplace while providing users with the most informative wedding resources available in the online bridal world.  OneWed was Sold to Nearlyweds in Seattle in 2010.

          Troy co-founded SurePayroll.com, an Internet-based payroll service bureau focused on companies with fewer than 100 employees. Under his leadership as President, SurePayroll grew from an idea on paper to a nationally recognized payroll service bureau in less than three years. Today, SurePayroll grew to the largest Internet payroll provider and the fifth largest payroll company in the country, managing billions of payroll dollars annually and two-time Inc. 500 honoree before being acquired by Paychex, Inc. in 2011.

          Before developing SurePayroll, Troy was recruited by Jellyvision, Inc. to build a software development capability from scratch. Within 18 months, Troy assembled a team and set of tools for quickly creating highly interactive multimedia experiences. Troy’s team utilized these tools to develop products including “You Don’t Know Jack®” for Jellyvision, and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire®” for Disney Interactive.

          In 1986, Troy founded Specialized Systems and Software, which focused on creating custom database applications. The company quickly developed a national presence, amassing a client list that included companies like Abbott labs, CDW, Hyatt Hotels and McDonald’s Corp. In 1992, Medline Industries purchased the business and it became the Systemetrics Division of Medline Industries, the largest privately-held US manufacturer and distributor of medical products. Within five years, Systemetrics’ software was installed in nearly 10 percent of the nation’s hospitals.

          Jason-Henrichs

          Jason Henrichs

          The Kinetic Group
          Jason’s been around the startup block over the last 19 years. He’s been a founder, venture capitalist, advisor and [...]
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          About Jason Henrichs

          Jason-Henrichs

          Jason’s been around the startup block over the last 19 years. He’s been a founder, venture capitalist, advisor and angel. There are currently 12 investments in his angel portfolio and he’s in the process of closing lucky number 13. Jason mentors with Techstars and Startup Institute around the world and locally works with Impact Engine and Ms. Tech.

          In addition to the usual criteria of great team, big market and unique solution, Jason will only invest in things he thinks can have a substantial impact on the world. This isn’t to say every company is doing social good, but the world would be less good if their product didn’t exist.

          Bart Houlahan Headshot

          Bart Houlahan

            B Lab
            Bart Houlahan is co-founder of B Lab, a nonprofit that certifies and supports B Corporations, a new kind of company that [...]
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            About Bart Houlahan

            Bart Houlahan Headshot

            Bart Houlahan is co-founder of B Lab, a nonprofit that certifies and supports B Corporations, a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems; they meet comprehensive social and environmental performance standards and higher legally accountability standards. Prior to B Lab, Houlahan was chief financial officer, chief operating officer and president of AND 1, a $250 million basketball footwear, apparel and entertainment company. Houlahan was formerly an investment banker with Stonebridge Associates, BNY Associates, and Prudential-Bache Securities. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

            Rich Hoops Headshot

            Rich Hoops

            HUB Boulder
            Rich is the Co-Founder/Board Member at HUB Boulder.  Since 2003, Rich has dedicated his time to assisting nonprofits and [...]
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            About Rich Hoops

            Rich Hoops Headshot

            Rich is the Co-Founder/Board Member at HUB Boulder.  Since 2003, Rich has dedicated his time to assisting nonprofits and social enterprises in building operational/organizational capacity through strategic consulting, general business and executive coaching, training and lecturing. He has been a partner with Social Venture Partners Boulder County since 2001, currently serves on the board of SVP and was board chair from 2004-2006. Rich is also the board chair for Blood:Water Mission, a Nashville-based nonprofit working to fight the HIV/AIDS and Water crisis in Africa , an advisory board member of the Center for Education on Social Responsibility at the Leeds School of Business, at the University of Colorado, co-founder and Board Chair of HUB Boulder. In addition, Rich is involved in a number of initiatives and activities in the area of social entrepreneurship/social ventures and impact investing both in the Boulder community as well as East Africa.

            Rich began his career in the personal computer industry in 1986 with the Business Products Division of Tandy Corporation. He joined Dell Computer Corporation in 1989 and went on to hold a variety of senior management and executive positions in sales, marketing and business development, nationally and internationally. Rich founded, and served as CEO of Outdoor Intelligence, a startup focused on delivering digital map information and data to the recreational fishing industry. He earned a BA from the University of Missouri- Columbia and an MBA from the Univ. of Chicago Booth School of Business.

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            Mana Ionescu

            Lightspan Digital
            Mana is the president of Chicago social media marketing company Lightspan Digital. Mana believes in social media done with [...]
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            About Mana Ionescu

            Mana Ionescu Headshot

            Mana is the president of Chicago social media marketing company Lightspan Digital. Mana believes in social media done with purpose. She helps clients with extraordinary stories, show and tell those stories and build new profitable connections, through content marketing and social media . Lightspan also offers social media training, strategy and execution.

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            Sarah Elizabeth Ippel

            Sarah Elizabeth Ippel is the founder and executive director of the Academy of Global Citizenship, a Chicago-based charter [...]
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            About Sarah Elizabeth Ippel

            Sarah Elizabeth Ippel Headshot

            Sarah Elizabeth Ippel is the founder and executive director of the Academy of Global Citizenship, a Chicago-based charter school that deeply imbeds wellness and environmental stewardship into its curriculum. Its innovative and holistic approach to education aims to foster systemic change and inspire the way society educates future generations.

            Sarah Elizabeth’s life mission is education reform. Throughout her career, she has traveled to over 80 different countries across 6 continents, extensively examining educational philosophies and world languages, as well as creating international alliances that have contributed to the design and culture of the Academy for Global Citizenship. In addition to studying the application of the International Baccalaureate approach in various cultural contexts across the globe, her earlier initiatives included the development and implementation of globally cooperative literacy programs for orphan children in northern Tanzania.

            Throughout her five-year term as Vice President of Education on the governing board of the United Nations Association, Sarah Elizabeth fostered broader implementation of The Growing Connection, a globally collaborative organic gardening initiative established to cross-culturally connect children and educators.

            In 2010, Sarah Elizabeth was recognized with Chicago magazine’s Green Award and was selected as a United States Delegate to Terra Madre, where she met with representatives from over 60 nations to discuss the sustainability of our local and global food systems. When she is not traveling around the world sharing the Academy for Global Citizenship’s vision for systemic change, Sarah Elizabeth enjoys working on her plans to build a net-positive energy home in Chicago.

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            Bruce Jang

            gravitytank
            Bruce is a strategist at gravitytank, an innovation consultancy that helps clients grow their businesses, define new [...]
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            About Bruce Jang

            Bruce Jang Headshot

            Bruce is a strategist at gravitytank, an innovation consultancy that helps clients grow their businesses, define new products and services, enter new markets, and change their organizations. Social innovation is one of Bruce’s passions, and he has consulted for clients such as Blue Shield of California, the National Park Service, and a wide variety of social service nonprofits.

            Bruce holds a BA in Religious Studies from Pomona College and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, where he was an F.C. Austin Scholar.

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            Ryan Jeffery

            GrowthPanda
            Ryan Jeffery is an experienced entrepreneur, investor and advisor. He is the co-founder of an early stage stealth company [...]
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            About Ryan Jeffery

            Ryan-Jeffery-Headshot

            Ryan Jeffery is an experienced entrepreneur, investor and advisor. He is the co-founder of an early stage stealth company focused on connecting experienced CEO’s with emerging entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses. He is also the co-founder of GrowthPanda, a high-impact consultancy firm dedicated to accelerating growth in nonprofits and social impact companies by providing dedicated support to execute on key initiatives. Previously, Ryan was an early founder of Belly, the world’s leading loyalty platform for retail businesses. At Belly, he worked as the VP of Business Development to grow all business avenues, including sales, marketing, strategic partnerships and corporate development. He helped grow the team from 5 to 130 in 3 years, and was a key player in closing $35m in financing from Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, DAG and 7-Eleven. Before Belly, Ryan worked at Lightbank where he focused on investing in consumer technology companies. Ryan received his degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is currently an advisor for several companies in Chicago and San Francisco.

            Jamie Jones Headshot

            Jamie Jones

            Investment Committee
            Jamie N. Jones is an Innovation Advisor at RTI International, one of the world’s leading research institutes, dedicated to [...]
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            About Jamie Jones

            Jamie Jones Headshot

            Jamie N. Jones is an Innovation Advisor at RTI International, one of the world’s leading research institutes, dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice, and board member at Impact Engine. Prior to RTI, Jamie was the Director of Social Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg (SEEK) Program, where she worked with students, alumni, and members of the community to apply business principles to affect social change. Jamie firmly believes that the greatest social challenges can be mitigated with innovation and the application of sound business practices. She is in constant search for new opportunities to foster collaboration between Kellogg students and the community toward significant social impact.

            Since starting her role at Kellogg, Jamie has launched the International Impact Investing Challenge, conducted research in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, co-hosted the Impact Investing Summit, and facilitated the creation of the NUvention Innovate for Impact course. Jamie’s current research interests are in the design of inclusive business models to create sustainable social impact.

            Jamie earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Prior to Kellogg, Jamie was a product development chemist and worked in several areas including medical devices and material science. She earned a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Chemistry from the University of Tennessee. Any free time Jamie has is spent running or biking the trail near Lake Michigan.

            Kevin Jones Headshot

            Kevin Jones

            Social Capital Markets
            Kevin Jones, co-founder and convener of Social Capital Markets, creates information businesses inside emerging markets. He [...]
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            About Kevin Jones

            Kevin Jones Headshot

            Kevin Jones, co-founder and convener of Social Capital Markets, creates information businesses inside emerging markets. He believes that markets emerge in conversation, as people try to explain and understand value. But this market is not like others he’s been in, and that’s what makes it more interesting and more important. The social capital market adds the dimension of impact, what your money actually does in the world before it comes back to you as a gain or loss, to the traditional risk and reward investment equation. “Looking at impact is what has enabled SOCAP to be at the vital intersection of money and meaning”, Kevin said.

            Besides SOCAP,  Kevin is founder of Good Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in social enterprises. He is also part of the team launching the first U.S. node of the Hub, a network of more than a dozen work spaces for social entrepreneurs in cities across the world from Cairo to London.

            His previous six businesses all achieved market dominance before he left or sold them. As a journalist, he has been a columnist for Forbes and Business 2.0 magazines. Early in his career as a journalist, his reporting sent a sheriff to prison on 53 counts of fraud. He has been on the boards of Social Enterprise Alliance, the association of non-profit social enterprises, and Social Venture Partners International, a network of engaged philanthropy circles. Kevin also led a malaria project in Zwaziland and Mozambique, working with Jeff Sachs of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Finally, during his 20 year business career in Mississippi he was heavily involved in public school advocacy.

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            Zach Kaplan

            INVENTABLES, Inc.
            Zach Kaplan is the founder and CEO of INVENTABLES, Inc., the hardware store for designers. The company is attempting to [...]
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            About Zach Kaplan

            Zach Kaplan Headshot

            Zach Kaplan is the founder and CEO of INVENTABLES, Inc., the hardware store for designers. The company is attempting to bring manufacturing from the factory to the desktop, making it as accessible as desktop publishing. Inventables sells machines and supplies for small business manufactures to make products ranging from jewelry and signs to furniture. Each day customers select from a catalog of 30,000 products most of which if ordered by 3pm are shipped same day.

            Kaplan has spoken on product development and innovation to audiences at conferences across the country, including the Technology Entertainment and Design Conference (TED), Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) National Conference, National Plastics Exposition, Sensors Expo & Conference and the International Housewares Show. And, his work has been covered by Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, CNN, NPR and other leading media outlets. In 2006 he was honored by Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry as a Modern Leonardo da Vinci and currently sits on the advisory committee for the Fast Forward exhibit.

            Prior to Inventables, he created Lever Works, a custom web application and hosting company that sold to Leo Media, a multimedia firm, in 2001. He holds a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois.

            Bernhard Kappe Headshot

            Bernhard Kappe

            Pathfinder
            As founder and CEO of Pathfinder, Bernhard applies lean startup principles and agile development to launch successful [...]
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            About Bernhard Kappe

            Bernhard Kappe Headshot

            As founder and CEO of Pathfinder, Bernhard applies lean startup principles and agile development to launch successful products. As a product of the Chicago-tech industry, he has a passion for launching successful software that makes a difference in the world and helping companies deliver more from their innovation pipelines. He leads the Chicago Lean Startup Circle, the Chicago Product Management Association (ChiPMA), and the Chicago Lean Startup Challenge, the top startup competition based on lean startup principles.

            When he’s not a leader in the Chicago-tech world, Bernhard’s an expert giver of piggyback rides and tickle monster to his two little girls. In a cook-off, he would win hands down with his mean recipe for coconut salmon. He’s a native speaker of English and German, and is fluent in Spanish and French.

            Bernhard’s likes include music from and travel to the far corners of the earth, languages, his iPad, and salsa dancing. He can be dazzled with obscure facts and figures. His dislikes include balut and people who sing off key, so you will never catch him watching American Idol.

            Bernhard attributes everything he knows to running into a wall (not literally, but he believes that experience is the best teacher.)

            Sam Kashy Headhot

            Sam Kashy

            Tandem
            Sammy Kashy is the Director of Business Development and Strategy at Tandem. Sam joined Tandem in 2010 with over seventeen [...]
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            About Sam Kashy

            Sam Kashy Headhot

            Sammy Kashy is the Director of Business Development and Strategy at Tandem. Sam joined Tandem in 2010 with over seventeen years of business development experience and is responsible for revenue generation at Tandem. With Sam’s guidance, Tandem grew 27% in 2011 with 200% growth in net new business and is being positioned for accelerated growth. Tandem HR simplifies business for 200 companies and their nearly 9,000 employees.  Tandem HR allows business leaders to keep their focus on revenue generating activities by providing the critical HR infrastructures (Payroll, Employee Benefits, Risk Management/OSHA solutions) and HR expertise to develop your people and business. From start-ups to clients with 500+ employees, people are your competitive advantage and Tandem’s expertise allows you to focus on building great businesses.

            Prior to Tandem, Sam was an entrepreneur and innerpreneur in both emerging and established companies including Anheuser-Busch International, PayNet Inc., and Arthur Andersen & Co.  Sam’s own start up experience includes launching and building All About Fun, LLC, an experiential marketing firm in St. Louis.  His skills span business strategy, M&A, marketing strategy and sales management. 

            Sam graduated from Michigan State University(BA) and Carnegie Mellon(MBA) in Entrepreneurship. Sam lives in Roscoe Village with Stacy and their two daughters. In his spare time enjoys racing sailboats including the Race to Mackinac.

            Mentor with No Photo

            Gary Kaufman

            Gameday CFO
            Gary Kaufman is the CEO of Gameday CFO, where he provides strategic CFO consulting services to early and growth stage [...]
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            About Gary Kaufman

            Mentor with No Photo

            Gary Kaufman is the CEO of Gameday CFO, where he provides strategic CFO consulting services to early and growth stage companies based in the Midwest. Gary has been providing financial and operational leadership for early stage technology companies since 1999, including raising more than $75 million in capital and several successful exits. Most recently he was COO & CFO for Yapmo, a pre-launch mobile collaboration software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. Prior to Yapmo, Gary served as the finance leader for Amadesa (web optimization SaaS, acquired by LivePerson), Ingenient Technologies (embedded software, acquired by Sasken), Sarvega (XML networking, acquired by Intel) and Orbit Commerce (e-commerce software, acquired by Digital River). He began his career in Big 5 public accounting and also held corporate finance positions for two mid-market companies.

            Gary served for 10 years on the Corporate Champions Board of Children’s Memorial Hospital. He received his BS from Northern Illinois and his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

            Mentor with No Photo

            Jeff Keller

            TK Capital, LLC
            Jeff Keller is a Principal at TK Capital, LLC, and before that spent the past 8 years with MacLean-Fogg Company, a privately [...]
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            About Jeff Keller

            Mentor with No Photo

            Jeff Keller is a Principal at TK Capital, LLC, and before that spent the past 8 years with MacLean-Fogg Company, a privately held manufacturing holding company headquartered outside of Chicago.  He was most recently the President of MacLean Vehicle Systems’ Fastener Division, a $150 million supplier of engineered components to the transportation, industrial and aerospace industries.  Prior to running the Fastener Division, Jeff held positions as the VP/GM for the Plastics and Composites Division of MacLean Vehicle Systems, a $25 million division of the company, and as the Director of Business Development for MacLean-Fogg reporting to the CFO.

            Prior to returning to the US and going to work for MacLean-Fogg, Jeff worked for Bank of America in the Santiago, Chile office and was a VP in the Commercial and Investment Banking Group responsible for both large corporate and multinational accounts.

            Jeff has an IMBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a BA in English from the Colorado College.

            Jeff served on the Board of Templeton Kenly for 8 years prior to the sale of the company, and now serves as a Trustee at Lake Forest Academy where he attended high school and is on the Board of Directors of The Tributary Fund.

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            Nick Kellermeyer

            GrubHub
            Nick Kellermeyer is an entrepreneurial sales leader and start up advisor. He helps founders and sales leaders build customer [...]
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            About Nick Kellermeyer

            Nick-Kellermeyer-Headshot

            Nick Kellermeyer is an entrepreneurial sales leader and start up advisor. He helps founders and sales leaders build customer centric sales engines that deliver repeatable and predictable results.

            As GrubHub’s 5th employee and first head of sales, Nick grew GrubHub’s restaurant network from less than 100 accounts in one market to more than 21,000 nationwide during 5 fundraising rounds totaling over $84 million and 2 acquisitions. He managed restaurant acquisition, retention, engagement, and growth through a 100 person department that included inside sales, field sales, national sales, account management, sales managers, trainers, and sales operations.

            Nick’s ability to build data driven, customer success focused sales engines comes from his experience with ESPN, StubHub, GrubHub, Total Attorneys, and endless research on sales & marketing best practices. As a mentor and advisor, Nick helps entrepreneurs and sales leaders figure out the right sales strategy with the right people, processes, messaging, and tools. Above all, Nick truly enjoys coaching and developing strong business leaders.

            JR Kerr Headshot

            JR Kerr

            Frequency540
            JR Kerr is a curator at Frequency540, a strategic communications firm focused on brandsthat amplify both purpose and [...]
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            About JR Kerr

            JR Kerr Headshot

            JR Kerr is a curator at Frequency540, a strategic communications firm focused on brandsthat amplify both purpose and passion. Prior to FQ540 he was a strategist and business development lead. He joined ROI Ventures, now Frequency540, because of his deep commitment to ideas that can change the world. Before ROI, JR worked as the Director for Programming & Curation for Chicago Ideas Week & Lead Curator for the Curation Group. JR’s 15 + years experience in communicating complex ideas, convening networks of influence around social issues, and creating compelling stories has led him to work with Soledad O’Brien, The Gates Foundation, Starwood Hotels, The One Campaign, The White House Public Engagement Office & Office for Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships. He speaks all over the country on social innovation, cause marketing, and culture. He serves on the board of Groupon Grassroots & the Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation, and as an advisor to the Center for Emerging Technologies. His first book on “the influence of the small” in cultural innovation is due out in the next year.

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            Matthew Klein

            Barn Star Ventures
            Matthew launched Barn Star Ventures in August of 2012 to capitalize on his 17 years of experience in entrepreneurship, [...]
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            About Matthew Klein

            Matthew Klein Headshot

            Matthew launched Barn Star Ventures in August of 2012 to capitalize on his 17 years of experience in entrepreneurship, leadership, software development, marketing, and advertising.

            Barn Star Venture’s focus on the investment, creation, management and growth of digital businesses was preceded by Matthew’s 6 years as Founder and CEO of FUOR Digital. A pioneering digital media marketing agency. FUOR was acquired by Kelly, Scott & Madison (KSM) in May of 2012. Matthew’s leadership at FUOR was instrumental in delivering successful business growth through digital media advertising campaigns for companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Florida Power & Light, Jimmy Johns, Bahamas Tourism, Herschend Family Entertainment, and Tootsie Roll Industries.

            Prior to FUOR Matthew was the Director of Digital Marketing for Magnani Continuum Marketing (MCM), a boutique full-service brand marketing agency in Chicago. At MCM he was able to experience the art and business of brand advertising from some of the best in the business.   His time at MCM was spent applying his technology background to create web marketing applications that advanced the brand marketing objectives of companies such as CNA Insurance, MacGregor Golf, Brunswick Bicycles, and the Libman Company.

            Prior to MCM Matthew co-founded and became CEO of Generator Corporation in 1998. Generator was focused on developing transactional B2B and B2C web applications for enterprise businesses such as Staples, Brunswick, Verizon, 3Com and U.S. Robotics.

            Matthew designed and coded his first Internet application in 1995 and from 1996 through 1998 he acted as lead software engineer for over 15 e-commerce applications as a Most Valuable Professional (“Microsoft MVP”) for Microsoft’s e-commerce line of products: Merchant Server & Site Server. Notable sites developed during this time include Staples.com, Programmer’s Paradise, Shopping.com, New York City Kiosks, Flowershops.com and Children’s Hospital Boston.

            Over his 17 years he has grown from PC-technician, network engineer, database engineer, and software engineer to an accomplished digital marketing technology consultant/executive and serial entrepreneur. This professional path has seasoned Matthew in all aspects of starting, building, leading, managing, growing, and promoting digital and professional services based businesses.

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            Scott Kluth

            CouponCabin
            Scott Kluth founded CouponCabin in 2003 in a climate that was not yet accepting of coupons. Most merchants were afraid to [...]
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            About Scott Kluth

            Scott Kluth Headshot

            Scott Kluth founded CouponCabin in 2003 in a climate that was not yet accepting of coupons. Most merchants were afraid to discount their brand and assumed they would lose money from issuing coupons. Despite a chilly initial reception from merchants, Kluth was persistent and built partnerships that brought more trafic and sales to each merchant. CouponCabin has realized substantial year over year growth since the company’s inception.

            CouponCabin draws millions of repeat visitors each month by providing nearly 100,000 up-to-the-minute coupons and deals from 3,900+ online stores. Shoppers have saved nearly $250 million since 2003 and with the largest selection of coupons guaranteed to work, CouponCabin is the best place to start searching for savings. Other sites under the CouponCabin umbrella are CouponMap.com (local coupons on a map) and Save.co.uk (CouponCabin sister site in the UK).

            In addition to the business, Kluth prides himself on philanthropic endeavors, involving his staff in The Kluth Foundation, where employees align themselves with local charities and donate time and foundation funds throughout the year. During an annual retreat, each employee makes a case for his or her nonprofit and the group votes to allocate the funds; 2010 donations were more than $575,000. Kluth graduated from Northern Illinois University and was a member of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee.

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            Abin Kuriakose

            Cook County, Illinois Board of Commissioners (Tenth District)
            A Chicago native, Abin is a dynamic public policy professional and civic engagement advocate for entrepreneurs, the start-up [...]
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            About Abin Kuriakose

            Abin-Kuriakose-Headshot

            A Chicago native, Abin is a dynamic public policy professional and civic engagement advocate for entrepreneurs, the start-up community and the city’s growing collection of diverse and specialized start-up incubators. For several years, Abin’s professional experiences includes both the public and private sectors such as city government, county/regional government, Chicago’s largest neighborhood economic development organization, a $200+ million wealth management firm with offices in Illinois and Colorado and the Chicago Cubs. His active role in Chicago’s civic landscape has given him exposure to a diverse mix of macro and micro policy issues.

            Currently, Abin serves as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Cook County, Illinois Board of Commissioners (Tenth District). His current portfolio of responsibilities includes policy research and development; management of intergovernmental relations with federal, state and municipal agencies, elected officials and staff; and lead coordinator for community relations and engagement of a legislative district with approximately 300,000+ residents – which encompasses multiple Chicago wards and community organizations. One of his first projects as a local government professional included his contribution to develop, launch and maintain OpenPensions.Org, Cook County’s first-ever open data website/portal for the Cook County Pension Fund. His work has included research and analysis of the annual county $3.9 billion budget, urban housing policy, retirement security and public safety reform proposals. Cook County is the second largest county in the United States with a population of 5.2 million residents which includes the City of Chicago and 131 municipalities and also maintains one of the largest unified court systems, public health and hospital systems and forest preserves in the United States.

            Abin also serves as Executive Director for the Chicago City Council Asian-American Caucus (ChiCouncil-AAC). ChiCouncil-AAC is a legislative advocate for city’s Asian-American community, the fastest growing ethnic group in Chicago. Abin’s work as Executive Director includes maintaining working relationships with leading city Asian-American organizations; indentify, develop and pursue the caucus’ legislative objectives within the city council and enhance the caucus’ role as a thought leader within the local Asian-American civic community.

            He currently serves on the community advisory board for the Heartland Health Centers’ Wilson Clinic, the advisory board for the Chicago South Asian Film Festival and contributor for the Young Professional Working Group the Chicago Community Trust Asian Giving Circle and Policy Working Group of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council. Realizing the importance to have a more global approach – Abin has participated in various policy meetings in New York City, Brussels and London. Besides Europe, Abin is an avid traveler which includes visits to South Asia and Australia. Abin is a young professional member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and WorldChicago.

            Born and raised in Chicago, Abin grew up in northside Chicago and attended DePaul University.

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            Paul LeFort

            LeFort Investors L. P.
            Paul LeFort has over 30 years management consulting experience as a Senior Partner at Deloitte Consulting providing [...]
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            About Paul LeFort

            Paul Lefort Headshot

            Paul LeFort has over 30 years management consulting experience as a Senior Partner at Deloitte Consulting providing strategy, operations and technology solutions to over 250 clients with an emphasis in the Hospitality and Health Care industries. He served over 140 health care organizations including hospitals, health insurance plans and large physician groups.

            He also served as the CIO of United Health Group with over 3000 IT staff during a period of rapid growth and acquisitions. He has significant M & A experience with several private capital groups, served as a large scale Customer Advisor to IBM and was a Trizetto Board member during its rapid expansion, IPO and eventual private sale for $ 1.4 billion.

            Currently he serves on the Boards of FINCA International (which is one of the 10 largest global micro-lenders to 900,000 small entrepreneurs in 21 countries) as well as the Peoples Resource Center providing food, clothing and social services to 30,000 DuPage County residents.

            Paul is a General Partner with his wife Eileen (a former officer in the US Navy Nurse Corp and longtime advocate for social justice, the environment, food co-ops, healthy food and alternative medicine programs) for LeFort Investors L. P., a private investment fund focused in equities, real estate, and health care/bio-medical ventures.

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            Deb Lenart

            Strategic Consultant and Senior Advisor
            Deb Lenart has managed growth and innovation in consumer and business-to-business service companies for 25+ years. Her [...]
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            About Deb Lenart

            Deb Lenart Headshot

            Deb Lenart has managed growth and innovation in consumer and business-to-business service companies for 25+ years. Her entrepreneurial leadership style and passion for delivering award-winning customer experiences have been her hallmarks.  She has led multi-billion dollar divisions in publicly traded companies, served as CEO of venture backed start ups, and turned around private equity portfolio companies in crisis in industries ranging from telecom, media, and cable television — to business process outsourcing and for-profit education.

            Most recently she served as Senior Vice President of the $1.2B division of Career Education Corporation, a $2B publicly traded industry leader with 14,000 employees, 115,000 customers, and 90+ locations worldwide. With over 66,000 online students, Deb led the unit to its first growth in 3 years while driving development of the award winning adaptive learning platform, MUSE.

            Prior to Career Ed, Deb was US Segment Leader with EDS’ Global Communications, Media & Entertainment Group directing the development of product and service strategies for US and global communications service providers including AT&T.

            Lenart also served for six years as a CEO and Board Member in two premier private equity firms with $2B+ under management. Under her leadership, these firms won awards for innovation and product/branding success including the Deloitte Technology Fast 50, Frost and Sullivan’s Best New Product Award, Forbes Advertising Excellence, Venture Wire’s Network Outlook Top 10 Award and the Congressional Tech Caucus Recognition.

            Prior to her CEO roles in private equity, Lenart had a successful career with Ameritech.  She was president of Ameritech Custom Business Services, a $2.2B, 6,000 employee, business unit serving Fortune 500 enterprise clients. She also managed field operations and services to over 5,000 customer locations & third-party distribution channels. She was president of Ameritech New Media Inc., and built and grew the largest competitive “overbuilder” in the cable TV industry, and her team was honored with a JD Power Award for customer satisfaction. In this role, Lenart led a $500M joint venture with The Walt Disney Company recognized in the Wall Street Journal.  Her early career included Metropolitan Fiber Systems, Inc., and MCI.

            Lenart has been involved with key legislative and regulatory policies and has testified as a subject matter expert before the US House of Representatives and the US Senate on complex regulatory issues involving telecommunications and media.

            Lenart earned a BS degree in Marketing from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Loyola University. She has served on the Board of Directors with TeleDanmark in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Governing Board of Trustees for Colorado Technical University.

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            Lou Leuzzi

            Netoria Advisors
            Lou Leuzzi is an experienced software industry executive with extensive background in sales, marketing, international [...]
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            About Lou Leuzzi

            Mentor with No Photo

            Lou Leuzzi is an experienced software industry executive with extensive background in sales, marketing, international operations and general management.

            Proven ability to analyze complex unstructured environments and develop effective strategic and tactical programs to maximize revenue and profit. Strong communications skills and a proven ability to recruit motivate and lead. Provides executive leadership across all levels of personnel, from new hires to C-level executives. Proven leader who thrives in dynamic competitive environments. Demonstrates strong leadership, relationship-building, problem-solving, and organizational abilities.

            Proven track record of driving Enterprise Solution sales to numerous industries. Significant experience in platform development delivering Cloud and On-Premise deployment models in the areas of Supply Chain Execution, ERP, Asset Tracking, Warehouse Management, International Trade Logistics, Retail and Business Intelligence and Analytics.

            A specialist is the areas of: Product Launch and Deployment • International Operations • Pricing Specialist •
 Inbound Marketing Specialist • Contract Negotiations • Global Channel Development.

            A Leader in: Building and enhancing shareholder value • Building and growing sales organizations and increasing revenue substantially • Driving profits through strategy, execution, and consistency.

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            Brian Lernihan

            Unilever
            Brian Lernihan is an executive in the fast moving consumer goods industry having worked for Unilever for over 30 years. [...]
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            About Brian Lernihan

            Brian-Lernihan-Headshot

            Brian Lernihan is an executive in the fast moving consumer goods industry having worked for Unilever for over 30 years. Unilever has some of the most recognizable consumer brands in the world with over 400 brands focused on health and wellbeing. On any given day, 2 billion people experience a Unilever product to look good, feel good and get more out of life. Brian is enthusiastic about making a positive impact on people and business, particularly with early stage entrepreneurs.

            Brian has lived in Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, California, Illinois, Connecticut, and Arkansas giving he and his family a chance to experience this great country.

            He currently volunteers at Center for Companies That Care mentoring high school students in their Aim High program. He also mentors and angel invests in socially focused entrepreneurs at Impact Engine.

            Brian graduated from the Krannert School of Business, Purdue University. He and his wife have 3 children, 2 son-in-laws and 3 grandchildren. They all live in Chicago, which makes him happy and very busy!

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