2012 CEO NATIONAL CONFERENCE
SPEAKER BIOS * I N DI CAT E S C E O A L U M
AARON STEED Meathead Movers, Inc. Aaron Steed started Meathead Movers at 17 years old with his brother Evan with only a pager and $100.00. As a competitive high school wrestler, he needed to figure out a way to make money while going to school and competing across the county. Aaron turned down a wrestling scholarship to focus on growing Meathead Movers and compete in mixed martial arts competitions. Since 1997, Aaron has grown Meathead Movers to become one of the largest independent moving companies in the USA and has been nationally recognized as an emerging entrepreneur.
ADAM ROBINSON Hireology Adam Robinson is a noted recruiting industry expert, speaker, and author. He launched his current business, Hireology, (www.Hireology.com) with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions using data. He holds a patent pending proprietary approach to candidate risk analysis. Previously, Adam was the founder and CEO of Illuma, a provider of high-volume recruitment outsourcing programs, and the creator of the Ionix Hiring System, a full suite of interview and assessment tools. From 20002004 Adam was Senior Director of Professional Services at Chicago-based Click Commerce, managing a $30M implementation portfolio for this NASDAQ-traded enterprise software provider. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship and serves on the Board of Directors for Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), where he helped to develop and launch a national program that teaches core business skills to early-stage entrepreneurs. Adam is also on the Board of Advisors for DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, and an instructor at MIT’s Entrepreneurial Master’s Program. Adam has a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.
AL GROSSMAN Con-Tech Lighting Al Grossman spent many years in the electrical/lighting industry. In the last years of his business career he was Co-founder, President and CEO of Con-Tech Lighting, a business manufacturing and importing commercial lighting products sold through wholesalers throughout North America. Earlier, he owned and operated a manufacturer’s sales representation firm, initially started his business career advancing through sales, product development, and general management for Air King Corp, a Chicago based manufacturing firm producing residential and commercial ventilation and lighting products. Al has and continues to be active in the community, serves on various boards, philanthropic organizations and has been a SCORE Counselor. Al is an award recipient of the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.
ALISON GUTTERNMAN Jelmar, llc Alison Gutterman is president of Jelmar, LLC, a unique, family-owned cleaning products manufacturer that has been in business for more than 60 years. Passed down through generations of the Gutterman family, Alison became president in 2007. Honored by this, Alison has embraced the idea of women’s leadership and business, involving herself in community organizations dedicated to serving women in business and creating a sense of community around those who lead their respective industries. Alison surrounds herself with other strong women in the business sector, serving as a member of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), WIPP (Women Impacting Public Policy), WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) and on the Advisory Board of Directors for SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), member of WPO (Women’s Presidents Organization) and NEW (network of executive women). As much as she is proud of her “day job”, her most important job is raising her two adopted children, Michaela and Eli.
ANDREW FORSTER Cguros Inc. Andrew Forster is currently working as founder of Cguros Inc., a cloud based software company with headquarters in Raleigh, NC. Cguros, an application built with the concept of information technology greatly improving efficiency with added transparency within the medical industry. He has an extensive background in the real estate industry, and has worked as a contractor (Owner Carolina Renovations), agent (Keller Williams), and investor (Bottom Line Financial) working to build and renovate homes in the popular Raleigh Durham region of North Carolina.
ANGLE BUSH Your15Minutes Radio Network Angle S. Bush serves as the Executive Producer of Your15Minutes Radio Network™, where she has interviewed entrepreneurs, government officials, and thought leaders from across the globe. Her experience traveling extensively throughout the U.S. presenting keynote addresses and workshops at the top colleges and universities coupled with her enthusiasm for entrepreneurs led to the development of Perfecting Your Pitch Preparing for The Interview Seminar™ an interactive workshop designed to equip you with the interview skills needed to discuss your product/service to various media outlets. Angle holds a M.S. Degree in Administration from Central Michigan University and will begin her studies at Harvard University in 2013.
ANNA MARIA VITI-WELCH The Viti Companies Anna Maria Viti-Welch, President of Guy Viti Insurance Agency, Inc., joined the agency in 1985, which was started by her grandfather and father and has successfully grown and paved the way for the company to offer unparalleled customer service and insurance to their clients. In 2010, she was named a BizOver Honoree as well as a Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides Team Leader. Guy Viti Insurance was recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) with the Corporate Partner of the Year award in 2007, 2008, and 2010 and was also one of the four finalists for the 2009 Illinois Family Business of the Year award. In 2009, Guy Viti Insurance was also named the number one agency for Society Insurance Company, after being ranked in the top ten the previous year. Among these prestigious awards, Guy Viti Insurance is certified by the Green Business League and has recently been certified as Workers’ Compensation Specialists. Anna Maria has extensive experience the restaurant and night club industry with special attention to the three stages of building a restaurant; from lease, to remodel, to opening the doors.
ANNETTE FISCHER Program Manager, Northwestern Mutual Annette Fischer is a Program Manager with Northwestern Mutual. In this role, she manages multiple leadership development programs designed to build and enhance critical leadership skills. Additionally, Annette manages key projects impacting the company’s recruiting initiatives and the nationally recognized internship program. Annette began her career with Northwestern Mutual in 1990 and has held various positions throughout the company. Annette is a graduate from Carroll University in Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Journalism.
ASH KUMRA DreamItAlive.com Ash Kumra is an award winning entrepreneur and public speaker recently recognized by the White House as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs making an impact for America. Ash is currently co-founder of DreamItAlive.com, an online community dedicated to guiding people to create, believe and live out their dreams using virtual dream boards. Please visit AshKumra.com to receive free daily entrepreneurship advice and information on his upcoming “Entrepreneurship” book.
BILL STRINGFELLOW Genesis, Inc. / R-O International Bill Stringfellow started in business when he was twenty-five and has been a serial entrepreneur for over thirty years. He is the founder and CEO Genesis, Inc, a precision sheet-metal-forming and fabrication business, which is now actively run by his sons. He also started R-O International, a leader in coin-operated vending machinery. Bill also runs Shamrock Hill Farm, a race horsing stable. He is a founding member of UIC's Family Business Council.
BRUCE STARCHER Starcher Group llc Bruce Starcher is a creative problem solver with 25 years of experience in the technology sector working with senior managers across a broad set of business issues. Over the past 10 years, he has developed an expertise in Business Model Innovation and worked across a number of industries. Bruce has identified a cumulative $2.5B of value in projects ranging from $1M to $1B covering start-ups to mature businesses. He is currently Managing Director at Starcher Group llc, a consultancy specializing in business model innovation and using business model thinking to solve critical business issues.
CHAD FOLKENING eCorp / Domain Holdings / Global Ventures Chad Folkening is founder of Global Ventures, a world leading premium domain asset holding and development company. Investments include Mergers.com, Domain Holdings, Referrals.com and many others. Born in Indiana, at age 14 Chad founded Student Services, Inc.(SSI) a home services management company. In 1995 he sold SSI and developed and managed in Charleston, SC a successful art/cafe called Aberrations. After selling the company a year later, Chad began his next venture in 1996 called eCorp that focused on Internet Real Estate, Technology and Applications. Selling a majority stake in 2011, Chad now runs Global Ventures and its 17,000 premium domain assets out of its 26,000 ft. extreme home office, Kesslermansion.com. Chad attended Butler University and Ball State University.
CHRIS MILLER* Delta Real Estate Portfolio, LLC Chris Miller is the founder of Delta Real Estate Portfolio, LLC (Delta REP), a property management and real estate investment firm based out of Omaha, NE that operates nearly $10M of residential real estate. During college, Chris used what he was learning in his finance courses with what he learned from his father who was a carpenter/handyman to begin his career as a real estate entrepreneur at the age of 20. Before graduating with dual degrees in finance and real estate, he had control of a personal portfolio of $1M, obtained his broker’s license, and set up a scholarship for entrepreneurship students at his alma mater, the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Today Chris enjoys traveling and playing the CFO role in a handful of other fun startups within his umbrella company, Park Wild Capital. He has new startups in SMS and Facebook Messaging API Tech, Jet Ski Rentals, Youth Sports and Tutoring Programs, a Sheep Farm, a Patented Leaf Blower Invention and more!
CHRIS STEVENS Keurig Chris Stevens is one the original four team members to develop and launch the Keurig Premium Coffee System in 1998. Chris is responsible for all aspects of Keurig’s Corporate Responsibility initiatives as part of GMCR’s commitment to donate at least 5% of its pretax profits to environmental and social causes. Joining the co-founders in 1996, Chris developed the Keurig brand, sales, distribution and marketing strategies for the Company. He brought to Keurig more than 20 years of experience in consumer goods sales and marketing as well as general management from consumer companies such as Procter & Gamble and Anheuser-Busch. Chris received his BS from Notre Dame, where he has also taught in the Mendoza College of Business. Chris has been an angel investor in several start-ups, has done acting, broadcasting and voice-over work and is the executive producer of the movie “Three Days” set for Fall, 2012 release. Chris is also the author of "Fighting to Give" a book he self-published last year about an ND classmate who died after a courageous battle against ALS. 100% of the proceeds go to research for Lou Gehrig's Disease with the goal of raising $1 million. The book is on amazon.com. Chris is a father of five and lives in the Boston area where Keurig started and still maintains its corporate offices.
CHRIS-TIA DONALDSON Thank God I’m Natural (tgin) Chris-Tia Donaldson, by day, provides legal advice to executives at one of the world's largest Fortune 100 companies, and by night, the Harvard educated lawyer is inspiring women from Chicago to South Africa to adopt healthier greener lifestyles through tgin, her all natural line of products for the hair, body and home. Chris-Tia has appeared on ABCNews, FoxNews and WGNNews for her thoughts on African American women, beauty issues, and healthy living. From green smoothies to sulfate-free shampoos, Chris-Tia’s mission is to show Americans that eating healthy, exercising, and living well doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Follow Chris-Tia on Twitter @tginatural.
DAN ARRIOLA iD Commerce & Logistics / Inktel Dan Arriola is the Co-Founder of Inktel & iD Commerce & Logistics. His firms provide business processing outsourcing for Fortune 500 companies and Government agencies with offices in Chicago, Miami, & Ft Lauderdale. Mr. Arriola’s firms have consistently been awarded “Best Places To Work” in Illinois & Florida. He is a graduate of Xavier University and a past recipient of a Johnson & Johnson scholarship to attend Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management’s NMSDC Advanced Management Education Program. He is a 2010 graduate of the “Owner/President Management” Program at Harvard Business School. Dan is actively involved in the Chicago community as a member of the Chicago chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO), where he serves as a mentor in the EO Accelerator Program, coaching first-stage entrepreneurs. In addition, Dan is a board member of X-Labs, a business competition at his alma mater Xavier University Williams College of Business; where he identifies, coaches, and develops entrepreneurs who have the most aspiring ideas.
DAN HEUERTZ Food & Beverage Partners Dan Heuertz is the President and CEO of Food & Beverage Partners. With over 27 years of hands on management experience in the hospitality industry ranging from boutique restaurants to live music venues, Dan has developed, consulted, and managed over 100 restaurant operations. He was the President and primary driver of PRMG Clubs from its inception in 2008, growing it from a single club to over 60 clubs in 13 states. Dan is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
DAN STANEK Castle Party Rental Dan Stanek has been an entrepreneur ever since he can remember. His early ventures consisted of selling fruits/vegetables from his family's garden door to door, running a lemonade stand, selling sea shells gathered on family vacation, etc. His latest venture is Castle Party Rental, which began during his sophomore year of high school. Dan was awarded the McKelvey Scholarship in 2009 which helped him to get into and pay for school at the University of Chicago where he is currently a 4th year studying political science and planning to attend grad school at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
DANIEL GOMEZ INIGUEZ Solben Daniel Gómez Iñiguez is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of SOLBEN, a multi-million dollar company manufacturer of biodiesel and alternative energy solutions. In addition to being an undergraduate student at Monterrey Institute of Technology, majoring in Chemical Engineering and minoring in Industrial Engineering, Daniel also helped to found Mexico's first renewable energy cluster that is home to a number of alternative energy projects and companies. Daniel placed 2nd in the 2010 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, and he has received many other awards and recognitions, including, being awarded at the New York Stock Exchange as the most innovative out of the top 50 student created companies and named to Inc. Magazine’s 2011 30 Under 30 list.
DAVID GARDNER ColorJar David Gardner is the co-founder of ColorJar, an agency of strategists, designers, and technology developers who produce select projects they fall in love with. 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. He co-founded his first startup as a student at Dartmouth College, received a partnership offer from AOL for his startup in India, and was an All Ivy League basketball player who played professionally in Germany.
DAVID SIMNICK SoapBox Soaps, LLC David Simnick is a social entrepreneur and co-founder of SoapBox Soaps. As an Eagle Scout, Dave’s dream was to found for-profit companies with a social mission at their core. Since then, he has worked as a consultant to USAID, the U.S. Army, Michelle Rhee, the U.S. Senate, and was a Teach for America educator in Northern Philadelphia. He founded SoapBox Soaps, a company whose mission is to donate bars of aid soap for every bar sold, stopping global epidemics in their tracks. Dave has a house full of notebooks; he doesn’t like to let ideas get away from him! He’s worked on various sides of the startup industry: helping companies expand, getting the ball rolling with funding and publicity, making connections, and putting ideas together from the ground up.
DAWN GRAY Gray Talent Group Dawn Gray has been a talent agent for the past ten years, placing actors in such high visibility films and television shows as Contagion, Boss, The Chicago Code, and Shameless as well as in national commercials and Broadway shows. Prior to that she produced the film, Stray Dogs, which is available on Netflix. Dawn previously ran a successful business, MOMents Inc, which provided support to working mothers and also has extensive experience in public relations and marketing. A proud graduate of Northwestern University, and a former child actor, Dawn is delighted to pursue her passion of helping actors find success in this wonderful, wacky business.
DEREK HENZE* Toppers Pizza Derek Henze, 30, is a franchisee with Toppers Pizza. He is the developing area Franchisee for all the stores in Minneapolis, MN market, expecting to open his third restaurant in January 2013. Derek served in the US Army for eight years as a Field Artillery Specialist and Army Paralegal, serving one tour in Iraq from 2003-2004. He is a college graduate from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater double majoring in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. While in college, he worked full time for the past 5 years at Toppers Pizza corporate office, headquartered in Whitewater, WI, as their national marketing coordinator and spent a couple years as their franchise development representative. He is also a participant in the International Franchise Associations VetFran program. He has started several non-profit businesses while in college and was the founding president of the UWW CEO Chapter.
DESIREE VARGAS WRIGLEY GiveForward.com Desiree Vargas Wrigley, CEO and Co-Founder of GiveForward, graduated from Yale University in 2004. Prior to founding GiveForward in 2008 with co-founder Ethan Austin, she worked as a specialist in collegiate entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City and as an independent consultant for Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors. She is passionate about philanthropy and the role that small-scale donors can have on our communities. When not working, she spends time with her amazing family and inventing recipes that don’t always work.
DIANE MELVILLE Transfer Bootcamp Diane Melville is an experienced education professional and entrepreneur. She’s spent years advocating for college financial aid reform and has years of experience as a private financial aid consultant. As an entrepreneur, Diane has focused on solving student-facing needs in education. Her first company, ScholarPRO, is an online common application for scholarships. ScholarPRO was a member of Chicago’s very own Excelerate Labs inaugural class of 2010. Diane is the author of the upcoming book “A Guide to Community College” which ties into her latest venture in the community college guidance market. Her newest venture, Transfer Bootcamp, provides an online guidance program designed specifically for community college transfer students.
DIANNE WELSH University of North Carolina Greensboro Dianne H.B. Welsh is the architect of the entrepreneurship program at The University of North Carolina-Greensboro, including the crossdisciplinary Entrepreneurship program with 40 courses in 20 departments that has won major international awards. Dianne is the Hayes Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and is President of Family First International, Inc. She founded two successful SEA Conferences in Tampa, Florida and Greensboro, North Carolina.
DIONNA GRIFFIN-IRONS Second City Dionna Griffin-Irons is a Second City Detroit alumnus. In her 10+ years working with the legendary Second City, she has performed with Improv All Stars, Theatre on the Lake, Chicago resident stages and produced numerous shows for the company's corporate division. Her Outreach and Diversity work has taken her abroad to Norway and Latvia where she collaborated with the United States Embassy to teach workshops in the region. Her background includes stage performance, talent identification, teaching and producing. Read her blog www.tumblr.com/blog/outreachdi for career tips and fun ways to improvise your life!
DOMINGO MENESES CrowdNoize, LLC Domingo Meneses is a recent graduate of DePaul University’s Entrepreneurship and Management Information System programs. Domingo has a background in sport and entertainment management, event production, brand marketing, sponsorships, team development, and change management. Domingo is currently the Co-Founder of CrowdNoize, LLC, a music technology startup that focuses on live music discovery and digital commerce, which is his second entertainment venture.
DUANE ABEL Corkey Comics Publishing Duane Abel is the cartoonist of the comic strip series ZED and because of the four key fundamentals, was able to become the youngest syndicated cartoonist in the world at age 15. Harnessing the power of those four words also allowed him to accept a full tuition scholarship to the University of Akron and sign his first book deal...on the SAME day! He has since gone on to form CORKEY COMICS PUBLISHING which distributes ZED to weekly newspapers and publishes annual book collections. He is also a popular speaker at schools nationwide where he not only inspires and motivates, he also gets to do the two things that always got him into trouble when he was in school - talk too much and draw cartoons!
DUANE SPIRES Extreme Youth Sports Inc. Duane Spires is a national motivational speaker, business coach, and the CEO of Extreme Youth Sports Inc. Duane is the recipient of the 2011 Empact 100 award, where he was invited to speak at the White House in front of members of Congress and other important decision makers about the importance of teaching entrepreneurship to young adults. Duane started his first company, Extreme Youth Sports Inc., when he was 19 years old while attending the University of South Florida and it currently generates over one million dollars per year from its youth sports summer camps and after school programs.
ELAINE LUTHER Studio 925 / All Things Metal Clay Elaine Luther is an artist who has worked with metal since 1990 and with paper, glue and contact paper since she can remember. After 20 years of making jewelry, her newest passion is mixed media painting. In her paintings she uses image transfer, metal photographs, images she hunts down and thrift store finds. She has taught since 1992 at a number of art centers including Lillstreet Art Center and the Indianapolis Art Center. Her sculptures have been exhibited at those art centers and Gallery I/O in New Orleans and Womanmade Gallery in Chicago.
ELIZABETH RUSSELL Russell Law Elizabeth Russell's company Russell Law represents individuals and businesses in the arts and entertainment industry. Her clients have included national music, art and design foundations, museums, authors, visual artists, filmmakers, musicians and dramatists. She holds an undergraduate degree in music, has professional experience as an arts administrator, and is remarkably fluent in plain English.
ERIKA JACOBI Program Consultant, Northwestern Mutual Erika is a Program Consultant at Northwestern Mutual. She has lead different project and program initiatives that impact the growth of the company within Leadership Development, Recruiting and Retention and College Marketing. Erika began her career with Northwestern Mutual in 2000, and has held various positions throughout the company. Erika is a graduate from Alverno College with a bachelor’s degree in International Business. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband Brian and enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking and cooking.
ERIN WALTER nuphorIQ Erin Walter has a lot of notches on her belt, often to the surprise of many who are unfamiliar with the incredible work ethic and determination that has found her success at a relatively young age. Erin is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of nuphorIQ, a small business marketing company that chooses to remain small in stature but giant in talent, ability, and potential. In further affirmation to her credibility, Erin is a “double Demon,” graduating from DePaul University with a Bachelor’s in Management and Marketing and an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Marketing Planning and Strategy. She played two seasons in the Women’s Professional Soccer league for the St. Louis Athletica, while simultaneously maintaining her position as Director of Marketing for Tasty Catering.
EVELYN BANDOH EAB Creative Evelyn Bandoh is an SBA award winning writer, speaker, trainer, creative business coach and founder of her second business EAB Creative Planning Services. She uses her real world skills in financial and business planning along with her intuitive talents to help artist, crafters, creative professionals and anyone searching for life satisfaction, to embrace their inner entrepreneur, find their clear and creative genius and build successful creative enterprises. Evelyn writes the blogs Fiscally Fit Fashionista and Artist as Entrepreneur and makes healing jewelry. Evelyn’s newest venture is a digital and print media publishing company focusing on content to empower, inspire and motivate people to use entrepreneurial and financial freedom tools to live and lead satisfied lives. Learn more at http://eabplannng.com.
EVELYN ECHOLS Echols Consulting Ltd Evelyn Echols became one of the first highly successful women entrepreneurs in the United States when she established International Travel Service. This was a commercial agency that within a year had already attracted several major accounts, including Pepsi-Cola, NBC, RCA, and Westinghouse. She sold the agency and established Echols International Travel and Hotel School, which became known as the best travel school in the United States operating in Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco with about 40,000 graduates. In the 1990s, both the New York Business Owners and Chicago Business Owners named Evelyn Entrepreneur of the Year. She is a member of the CEO Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, and has received awards from many foreign countries for her work in creating good will among nations through the medium of travel. In addition to having served on the boards of several organizations and having hosted a TV series, she wrote a book titled “They Said I Couldn’t Do It, But I Did.” She was the country's first woman to join Rotary International. At the age of 97, Evelyn is still going strong and has built her career on a reputation for accomplishing the impossible.
FRANK KLESITZ* Vyral Marketing Frank Klesitz is a 27 year old founder of Vyral Marketing, a social media and video marketing start up. Named 40 under 40 and Top 100 Entrepreneurs Under 30, Frank is a marketing and sales specialist to starting service-based companies without any financing, and without an idea. Vyral Marketing is projected to surpass $1 million in revenues by 2013, started from scratch in 2009 without any financing or insider connections.
GARY SCHOENIGER The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative Gary Schoeniger, is an author and entrepreneur who has emerged as a nationally recognized thought leader in the field of entrepreneurship education. He is the co-author and chief architect of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, a powerful and dynamic learning program that is redefining entrepreneurship education in classrooms and communities throughout the US and beyond. Sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program has been widely embraced by educators and entrepreneurs featured on CNN Money, NPR, Inc. Magazine and the Huffington Post.
GARY VAUGHAN Lawrence University Gary Vaughan has a passion for helping business owners through his consulting firm where he specializes in financial sustainability and growth. He currently serves on several civic committees and nonprofit boards. He has also been a judge for the Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest for the past several years. Vaughan is a lecturer of economics/entrepreneurship at Lawrence University.
GERALD E. HILLS Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization / Bradley University Dr. Gerald Hills is a co-founder of CEO and is a pioneer in the development of the entrepreneurship discipline. He holds the endowed Turner Chair in Entrepreneurship at Bradley University. Prior to coming to Bradley, he led the development of an entrepreneurship program at University of Illinois at Chicago that was consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally. He has written and edited more than 100 entrepreneurship articles and 25 books, was the co-founder and first president of the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and president of the International Council for Small Business. He chaired an advisory board of the U.S. SBA under President Reagan, and advanced entrepreneurship in Poland through a congressional commission project. Dr. Hills earned his bachelor’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and his master’s and doctorate from Indiana University.
GRETA POPE Greta Pope Entertainment, Inc. Greta Pope is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed entertainer. She has delighted audiences throughout Europe, the Far East, South America and the Caribbean, as well as the U.S. and Canada. Pope has been touted as one of the great voices of our time; she performs with ease all styles, from country to opera, and from rhythm and blues to Broadway. She has shared the stage with such wellknown performers as Wynonna Judd, Dick Van Dyke, Stanley Clarke, Ramsey Lewis, Rich Little, Penn & Teller and many others. Her voice is featured on commercials and voice-overs, including those for McDonald's, Whirlpool, Allstate, Lexus, Estee Lauder and others.
HENRY GIVRAY SmithBucklin Henry Givray is President, CEO and Chairman of SmithBucklin, the world’s largest association management and professional services company. Since Henry joined SmithBucklin as its CEO in August 2002, the company has shattered every performance record in its history. This includes growth, client retention, new-client acquisition, employee satisfaction and financial performance. Henry has authored numerous articles on leadership, several of which have been published in BusinessWeek and Crain’s Chicago Business. In addition, Henry’s thoughts on leadership and building strong organizational cultures are featured in several books, including the aforementioned “Results Rule!” and “On My Honor, I Will: The Blueprint for Integrity-Driven Leadership,” both by Randy G. Pennington, and many more! Henry is also among 25 leaders featured in Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski and Thomas D. Kuczmarski’s book “Apples are Square – Thinking Differently About Leadership,” which reveals characteristics of the ideal 21st century leader.
JACK DEBOER Chairman of Consolidated Holdings, Inc. Jack DeBoer’s career started in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when he began selling real estate during the summers while in high school. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in business in 1952, and following two years as a military police officer during the Korean War, he teamed up with his father to build homes in southern Michigan. By 1966, he was building apartments. By 1973, his company had built more than 16,000 apartments in 30 cities across 25 states. So impressive was this accomplishment that National Real Estate Investor magazine recognized DeBoer as the “second-largest multi-family developer in the United States.” But it is the concept of the “extended-stay hotel” and the creation of three iconic hotel brands that is DeBoer’s biggest contribution to the hospitality industry, as he is recognized as the pioneer of the extended-stay and all-suite hotel concepts. He designed and built the first Residence Inn, an allsuite hotel, in downtown Wichita, Kansas, in 1975, and built or franchised 100 more properties before selling it to Marriott Corporation in 1987. In 1988, he co-founded Summerfield Hotel Corporation, a second-generation upscale all-suite hotel chain, which was sold to Hyatt. In 1995, he founded the Candlewood Hotel Company, which was purchased by InterContinental Hotels Group in December 2003. In June 2002, DeBoer created Value Place, a short-term apartment concept that continues to expand with more than 177 locations. He also developed the Grand Champions Club, a world-class tennis facility and health club in Aspen, Colorado, where Maroon Creek Golf Course and residential lots were later added. Today, DeBoer serves as Hix Corporation’s chairman of the board. He also serves as chairman of Consolidated Holdings, Inc., which he founded in 1989. In addition to his many successful business ventures, DeBoer’s contributions outside of his business interests have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor—The Uncommon Citizen Award—in 1992; induction into the Wichita Business Hall of Fame in 1997; UCLA’s hotel industry Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2001; and Michigan State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in October 2001, to name a few. Jack DeBoer is an active pilot and currently holds the 3 kilometer world speed record for jet aircraft under 18,000 pounds. In 1988, DeBoer and his wife, Marilyn, completed a four-month-long trip around the world, and as a result of his experiences he authored a book titled Risk Only Money to benefit World Vision-Burma.
JADE SIMMONS Jade Media Jade Simmons is easily one of the most exciting and versatile artists on the scene today. Demonstrating an uncommon display of passion and innovation at every turn, she been called a musical force of nature by Yamaha. From the White House to the Miss America stage, to hosting the webcasts of both the Cliburn and Tchaikovsky competitions, Jade has carved out an impossibly diverse career as a selfmanaged artist that includes performances with orchestra, solo recitals, and artist residencies at prestigious universities. She also provides career building assistance to emerging artists via an online platform called Emerge Already! and has released the Ultimate Guide to Career Building for Emerging Artists. Jade is the founder of the Impulse Artist Series (501c3) which provides performance opportunities and career building assistance to emerging musicians and most recently Superwoman Records, a label devoted to “adventurous music by adventurous women.” Fall 2012 featured her in a September release called Playing with Fire, a release party at the Apple store in Soho and featured in the October issue of Essence garnering an Icon Award alongside Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. A resident of Houston, Jade was named Best Arts Ambassador by the Houston Press.
JAMIE PRITSCHER That’s Caring / nuphorIQ Jamie Pritscher holds several prestigious positions in a variety of local Chicago companies, including Director of Communications at Tasty Catering, Co-Founder and CEO of online eco-friendly gift company That’s Caring, and Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of creative marketing agency nuphorIQ. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with minors in Psychology and Visual Communication from Illinois State University, as well as a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communication from Roosevelt University. Jamie been presented with national awards for her green and leadership efforts, including holding a place as a finalist in 2010 in the “30 Under 30 for Sustainability,” and the “Top 100 Under 50 Emerging Leaders” by Diversity MBA magazine in 2011.
JASON LUCASH OrigAudio, a division of Forty Four Group LLC Jason Lucash is an inventor and entrepreneur most notably known for founding Origaudio. His first product called “Fold n’ Play,” are foldable speakers made from recycled materials and require zero external power, making the product eco-friendly; these speakers landed Lucash a spot on Time Magazine's prestigious "Top 50 Inventions of 2009" list. Lucash was featured in second and third seasons of ABC's show Shark Tank, where he received an investment from billionaire Robert Herjavec. In 2012, Lucash was named to the OC Metro magazine 40 under 40 list for being one of the most innovative people in Orange County.
JEET BANERJEE StatFuse Jeet Banerjee is a 19 year old serial entrepreneur and college student who loves to help others on their entrepreneurial journey. He created his first company at the age of 17 and went on to sell the company two years later. Driven by his love for entrepreneurship, he is currently the co-founder of StatFuse, a free web application to help high school students transition into college, which received more than 12,000 users without a dollar put into marketing within a few weeks of launching. Jeet is also the founder of Vintelli and is extremely close to launching a third startup.
JEFF HOFFMAN Founder and CEO in the Priceline.com Family of Companies Jeff Hoffman is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, mentor, and speaker. As a serial entrepreneur in the internet, technology, and entertainment industries, Jeff is well-known as founder and CEO in the Priceline.com family of companies. His entrepreneurial experience of founding, co-founding and being CEO spans numerous start-ups and larger companies, having led his companies through acquisitions and public offerings (Priceline.com, uBid.com, CTI, and others). In 2010, Jeff was inducted into the CEO Hall of Fame for his Lifetime Achievement in entrepreneurship. Currently, Jeff is a partner and co-founder in RightTurn.com, a new e-commerce company launching in 2012. Jeff is also a co-founder and partner at ColorJar, the idea accelerator that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. Jeff has also produced feature films (Cabin Fever), hosted music concerts and tours (Elton John, Boyz II Men, others), and sponsored charity events (NSYNC, Evander Holyfield, others), and serves on boards of both businesses and non-profits in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
JENNIFER MORAN GREENOLA Style Jennifer Moran, is a social entrepreneur and Founder/CEO of the Chicago-based, revolutionary fashion brand GREENOLA Style (www.greenolastyle.com). Founded in 2009, GREENOLA Style has been recognized in Crain's Chicago Business Week, DePaul Alumni Publications, The Stoneyfield Entrepreneurship Institute, and will be hosting a Lab for Chicago Ideas Week 2012. Working directly with 55 women entrepreneurs, Moran's designs are ethically made in Bolivia using environmentally friendly practices. Competing in a mainstream fashion market, the GREENOLA Style line is sold in over 180 boutiques nationwide, online, and at their store in the Andersonville, Chicago community.
JOEL FENELON Muzime, Inc. Joel Fenelon is the founder and CEO of Muzime, Inc. He has a Master Degree in Music Performance from the University of WisconsinMilwaukee and a Bachelor Degree in Music Performance with a minor in Business Management from the University of Tampa. Joel is an accomplished orchestral conductor, tube player, and businessman.
JOHN E. HUGHES John E. Hughes and Co; Fannie May Candies; The Hughes Foundation; Hughes Enterprises Age 85 (Born February 27, 1927) Non-Traditional Academic Path, 1947 – 2003 G.E.D. (Hyde Park High School, Chicago); Qualified Parachutist (The Parachute School, U.S. Army, Ft. Benning, GA); NonCommissioned Officers School (Ft. Benning, GA); Accounting Diploma (LaSalle Extension University); Undergraduate School (Wilson Jr. College, now Kennedy King Community College, and Northwestern University, Chicago); CPA Certificate (University of Illinois); University of Hard Knocks – Success without an Undergrad Degree (Alderson-Broaddus College, W. VA); Doctor of Humane Letters – 2003 (DePaul University, Chicago, IL) Career History, 1938 – 2010 Self-Employed/Independent Contractor – Scrap collection sales; Yard and sidewalk maintenance service; Newspaper carrier; C.P.A. firms; Retailing; Manufacturing; Livestock; Private Clubs; Independent Professional Baseball; Fine Arts and Sports Memorabilia Collector; CEO and CFO; Educator; Financial Management Services; Corporate Director; Trustee; Private Charitable Foundations and Philanthropist Significant Awards, 1988 – 2012 First Annual Outstanding Alumnus, City Colleges of Chicago – 1988; National Best Supporter of Entrepreneurship, Inc. Magazine – 1991; National Retail Entrepreneur of the Year, Retail Executive Magazine – 1991; Distinguished Management Service, DePaul University, Chicago – 1991; Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship, DePaul University, Chicago – 2007; Lifetime Achievement, University of Illinois/Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame – 1994; University of Illinois at Chicago, Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization Hall of Fame 2003; Outstanding Supporter of Entrepreneurship Education, USASBE – 2003; Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship, Beloit College – 2008; Chartered Global Management Accountant designation - 2012 Military (Volunteer Draftee), 1945 – 1946 U.S. Army Parachute Wings, 1945; U.S. Army Honorable Discharge, 1946; Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal WW II; Victory Medal WW II; Cold War Victory Medal; Airborne and Air Assault Medal; Meritorious Unit Citation – 82nd Airborne Division; Presidential Unit Citation – 504th P.I.R.; Special Forces; Marksman Award; Letter from the White House, Harry S. Truman (President) recognition of WW II Military Service. Personal to Present John and Jeanne Hughes have been married for 64 years. He has a daughter and son-in-law, two grandsons, a granddaughter-in-law, and a great-grandson.
JOHN LUSTIG Advanced Medical Certification LLC John Lustig is a serial entrepreneur whose professional history spans developing new enzyme technology for biofuels, to continuing medical education programs for health care professionals. As one of 9 kids raised on a teacher salary, John has been an entrepreneur since birth starting to sell vegetables at the age of 4. At the age of 19, he dropped out of Purdue with a 3.8 GPA and 3 majors for a VC offer and to start his first company. Now 23, John has left VC and is now on his second multi-million dollar start-up in the last 12 months.
JOHN ROOD Next Step Test Preparation John Rood is the Founder of Next Step Test Preparation. Next Step provides one-on-one tutoring and admissions consulting services for students and professional headed to graduate school. Founded in 2009, Next Step employs 50 part-time instructors and operates in 15 regional markets as well as online. Before founding Next Step, Mr. Rood was an innovation and new product development consultant for three years in Chicago. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Michigan State University.
JONATHAN OZERAN RECSOLU Jonathan Ozeran is VP, Product & Mobile at RECSOLU, a custom recruiting software company whose clients include more than 100 major corporations. Additionally, he is a mentor at Code Academy, a co-organizer of Mobile Monday Chicago and an advisor to Chicagobased startups and Catapult Chicago. Previously, he served as a mobile technology strategist and led the design team for Lextech Global Services. Earlier, Jonathan established the mobile applications unit for the Tribune Company within its interactive division. Jonathan has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in computer & information systems from Northwestern University.
JORDAN JOHNSON Totuit Mobile Application Architects Jordan Johnson brings project management and leadership experience from his tenure in GE’s Financial Management Program and experience running large-scale organizations. At GE, he experienced 3 different businesses in Connecticut, New York and Washington, D.C. in six-month rotations. As part of the rigorous development program, he developed the ability to analyze and solve complex and unique financial problems faced by various GE businesses. He also learned how to quickly and effectively contribute to different teams in a large-scale organization. While he was at UF, he was active on campus and served as Student Body President in 2009. Here, he led 20 full-time staff members and over 300 student cabinet secretaries, agency directors and their respective teams to put the students’ $16MM budget to good use. Today, Johnson spends his time managing development projects and day-to-day operations at Totuit.
JOSEPH WARREN Brainstorm Weekly LLC Joseph Warren opened a professional fundraising company for national non-profit organizations such as The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at the age of 19. Within the first 12 months, he grew his venture into a 50-person startup doing $2M+ in revenue. Over the next 24 months, he scaled the business into multiple locations and tripled its revenue. Currently, he is a college lecturer and professional speaker. Joseph Warren (along with renowned speaker and author Dr. Alexander Osterwalder and 470 other practitioners) co-created the groundbreaking and best-selling book, “Business Model Generation – A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers.”
JUDE CONWAY Entrepreneurial Advisors, Inc. Jude Conway is the author of the book “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Understanding Angel and Venture Investing” and has spent over 20 years managing venture capital funds in Iowa and Illinois. He also taught entrepreneurial finance at Bradley University and formed an advisory service for entrepreneurs. Currently Mr. Conway is raising a new early stage venture fund that will focus on agricultural biotechnology in the Midwest. Mr. Conway is a frequent speaker at regional and national conferences.
KAITLYN CARAWAY* 360º Mobility Kaitlyn Caraway has been an entrepreneur since the age of 13 when she opened her first business. Throughout high school she operated the business and made her first international sales at the age of 15. Upon graduating high school she was awarded the McKelvey Entrepreneurial Scholarship and attended Ball State University to study entrepreneurship. While in college, she owned and operated an academic tutoring firm while also working in tech-transfer with the US Navy. Throughout her senior year she competed in 6 business plan and elevator pitch competitions all over the US and is now the owner of a her newest start-up 360º Mobility, which is sponsored by the US Navy through a licensing partnership. While working through 360º Mobility’s start-up phase she is currently serving as the director of marketing at The Wellness Source.
KARA KURCZ Motiv8 Media / Solas Fashion Kara Kurcz's career in entertainment started right out of college with the television show 'America's Most Wanted.' Soon after, Kara found herself at E! Entertainment. There she received accolades in TV Guide and People Magazine for producing and directing, 'Dirty Dancing The E! True Hollywood Story.' She then went on to produce and direct for a wide range of shows and networks ranging from NBC to TruTV and shows such as EXTRA, The Tyra Banks Show, the Oxygen hit series 'Girl's Behaving Badly' and 'Busted' for MTV. In 2004, she launched her first handbag line, Solas Fashion, with her husband Brian Lee. Her clutch designs have been featured in several national publications and are worn by celebrities such as Fergie, Carrie Underwood and Chelsea Handler. In 2011, she completed her first Documentary feature film, big TIME, "There is no such thing as an overnight success." The movie was praised the "Secret for Business" by MSNBC and was featured on EXTRA and Fox News.
KARL F DISQUE, PhD National Healthcare Provider Solutions LLC Dr. Karl F. Disque is a serial entrepreneur that looks to maximize assets. He grew up in Southern Indiana into a family that had a carpet business and dovetailed with property acquisition and management. He was told to “go to school and get a good job so you don’t have to work so hard.” So as a dutiful son, he went to pharmacy school and to medical school and is now an anesthesiologist. However, he realized along the way that he was positioning himself as an employee, which just didn’t fit his personality. Luckily, over the past decade, he has had plenty of free time to explore entrepreneurship and has been involved in dozens of companies. His latest venture of note is NHCPS, an online medical education company that generates 2+million in revenue annually.
KATE KOZIOL K Squared Communications Kate Koziol, president of Chicago-headquartered K Squared Communications, brings 20 years of experience to her work in public relations, social networking and marketing. Ms. Koziol has worked side-by-side with young Kenyan business owners in a U.S. State department program based in Nyahruhru, Kenya, she has been to the White House in Washington, DC to accept the Women Business Owner Star by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council in recognition of entrepreneurial leadership and professional excellence and works locally as an Executive in Residence for University of Chicago at Illinois’ Institute. Ms. Koziol is also on the board of directors for the Fetal Alcohol Support Team and is on the Allied Council for the Chicago Business Travel Association board. She is also a member of Public Relations Society of America, Women President’s Organization, and Independent Writers of Chicago.
KENNY NGUYEN* Big Fish Presentations Kenny Nguyen is the CEO/Founder of Big Fish Presentations, a company whose mantra is “turning presentations into experiences.” Kenny and his team work with clients nationwide by providing customized presentation design, presentation training workshops, and commercial video. His presentation tips have been featured on popular news outlets and blogs such as YFS Magazine, Under30CEO, WorkAwesome, EO Overdrive and MO.com. Kenny was also a regional finalist at 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards and honored in Silicon Bayou’s Top 100 list of Louisiana growing entrepreneurs. His company Big Fish Presentations was also featured on Inc Magazine’s Coolest College Startups of 2012 list.
KEVIN LANGLEY Ellis Construction, Inc. Kevin Langley has been an entrepreneur since his days as a student at Louisiana State University (LSU). Since then, he has successfully founded and grown two of the New Orleans area’s top 100 largest privately held businesses. Langley is currently the CEO and co-owner of Ellis Construction, Inc., a regional commercial contractor based in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. A serial entrepreneur, he also owns various other companies in construction, real estate, environmental technology and new media. Langley and his companies have received numerous awards, including Inc magazine’s Inner City 100, New Orleans’ City Business magazine’s Power Generation award, and the Junior Achievement’s Rising Star award. He is the former Chairman of the Global Board of Directors of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
KIMBERLY BENJAMIN HR Strategies Plus Kimberly A. Benjamin, PHR started Be Blessed Career Consulting Inc. and HR Strategies Plus LLC to be a resource to people who need assistance in career planning, goal setting and new business development. Kimberly is also the Executive Director of A Purposed Transition, a non-profit organization designed to assist people in discovering their purpose through career and entrepreneurship exploration. Kimberly's has over 20 years of human resource experience working for Fortune 500 Companies such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company, ITT Industries, Wal-mart, Toys-R-Us, University of Michigan, Cornerstone Schools and the Michigan Primary Care Association. She teaches human resource management and entrepreneurship classes at University of Michigan College of Business, Wayne County Community College, Concordia University, and the Kingdom Business Institute. Ms. Kimberly Benjamin is also the Author of How to Be Highly Favored and Empowered to Prosper in Your Job Search Book and Workbook and Producer of Has God Given You a Business Idea Workshop 50-Part CD, DVD andMP3 Series and Founder of The Online Business Training Institute™.
KRIS SWANSON Flex Execs Management Solutions Kris Swanson co-founded Flex Execs Management Solutions in 1990. Flex Execs is an Interim Management and Recruiting services firm headquartered in Chicago. Kris is past President of the Illinois Search & Staffing Association and has served on committees with the American Staffing Association. Prior to founding Flex Execs, Kris spent 17 years with a group of entrepreneurial firms in the fields of real estate, transportation and logistics. Kris is a member of the Women’s President Organization, and is active in the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago.
LISA NICOLE BELL Inspired Life Media Group Lisa Nicole Bell brings more than 10 years of relevant business experience to her role as the CEO of Inspired Life Media Group. Named a Woman Making A Difference by the Los Angeles Business Journal, Lisa and her team create media projects designed to move the social progress agenda forward. Partnering with brands like K-Swiss, Luna, and Bellaboo, Lisa is an international speaker, author, and contributor to the Business Beware television show reaching more than 23 million homes. American Entertainment magazine named Lisa a Speaker to Watch, and numerous outlets have honored her accomplishments. She holds a degree with honors in Business Law. Lisa and her work have been featured in dozens of media outlets including the Huffington Post, Forbes Woman, PBS, Under 30 CEO, FOX Small Business, and more. Learn more about Lisa at www.lisanicolebell.com.
LYNN BASA Basa Projects, LLC Lynn Basa is a Chicago artist who divides her practice between painting and large-scale public art commissions around the country. To date, she has completed 55 public and private site-specific commissions. Her work is included in over 100 corporate, private, and museum collections such as the Rhode Island School of Design Museum and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. She is the author of The Artist’s Guide to Public Art, and teaches a class in the Sculpture department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on public art professional practices. She is the former chair of the public art committee of the Seattle Arts Commission and founding director and curator of the University of Washington Medical Center’s 1000-piece art collection.
MATT HENNESSY VSOP Productions Matt Hennessy is a Chicago based Producer, Mix Engineer and Studio Owner with strong roots in the Chicago Urban Music Scene. He received formal training at Berklee College of Music, studying both Jazz Performance and Production. In 2000, after returning to his native Chicago, Hennessy joined the staff of Chicago Trax/The Chocolate Factory to engineer projects for R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Twista, Kanye West, DMX, and many others. The coming years would ﬁnd Hennessy behind the boards for a diverse group of artists from Disturbed to Mariah Carey. Teaming up with Grammy Award Winner/Producer Maurice Joshua, Hennessy has worked on many production and remix projects for Beyonce (Destiny's Child), Omarion, John Legend, Shakira and the late Curtis Mayﬁeld. In 2009 Matt opened VSOP Studios in Chicago. In 2004 Matt began getting more involved with the Chicago NARAS chapter helping with events or Grammy Awards related projects; in 2010 he was elected to the board of Governors and was made Chair of the Midwest Producers and Engineers Wing.
MATT MCCORMICK* McCormick Real Estate Inc Matt McCormick is an unending entrepreneur. He started a lawn care business in 6th grade that he sold in 2009. He purchased his first real estate investment at age 15. He is currently launching a business that “accelerates the assimilation process of Chinese students as they come to study in the US.” He was a recipient of the McKelvey Entrepreneurship Scholarship. He graduated from Miami University (Ohio) in May 2012 with a degree in entrepreneurship. Some of his unique work includes: teaching English in Thailand, Zamboni driver, TV deconstruction expert. He enjoys traveling, sports & volunteering.
MICHAEL DELAZZER An Original Founding Member of Redbox Mike DeLazzer, after 25 years and 7 business ventures, was inducted into the Chicago Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2006 and into the CEO Hall of Fame in 2010. His entrepreneurial path started in 1996 when he started Kodel Corporation, an industrial design and importing company that still provides custom products designed by Kodel and manufactured by its sister facilities in Taipei and Shenzhen, China. In 2001, Mike founded GETAMOVIE, Inc. and developed a revolutionary new DVD robotic vending kiosk. GETAMOVIE merged with McDonald’s Ventures, a subsidiary of McDonald’s Corporation, in July, 2005. The merged venture was re-launched as redbox, LLC. In 2005, Mike founded SafeGuard Shutters, a manufacturer and installer of hurricane shutters in Florida and quickly signed an exclusive contract to sell and install shutters for Home Depot. Building on past success, he co-founded New Retail Ltd., which is a licensee of redbox.This company will deploy redbox machines throughout the UK and Europe. Wanting to seed future entrepreneurial expertise, Mike founded and funded Gaton Ltd., a non-profit organization that fosters entrepreneurship in Ghana, West Africa by supplying micro credit to pastors in that country through rice distributions they in turn sell, as a self-sustaining method to cover their living expenses in the mission field. Prior to launching these companies, Mike was partner and Vice President at International Importers Incorporated, a company that developed custom mechanical and electronic products in Asia that were later sold to large OEM’s in the U.S. Mike graduated from Valparaiso University in 1977 with a BS in Marketing, earned an Associate Degree in Electronic Engineering, and has several patents.
MICHAEL FOLTZ Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC Michael Foltz is a founder and Principal of Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC, a fee-only, independent wealth management Firm in Itasca, Illinois that currently manages approximately $2.0 billion of assets. He left Price Waterhouse over 25 years ago to start the Firm and now heads the Firm’s Business Owner Service Team. Michael was engaged in the practice of law for over 20 years and has extensive experience in all types of legal and business financing matters. He is a CPA and Certified Financial Planner with over 25 years of experience.
MIKE EVANS (2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Hall of Fame Inductee) 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 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 MCGEE The Starter League Mike McGee’s greatest claim to fame (before The Starter League) was that his High School mascot was a pretzel. He went to Northwestern for four years where he spent two years being a student and two years in student government, miraculously becoming Student Body President Senior year. In Spring 2011, Mike decided to turn down Obama for America (his first real job offer) to co-found The Starter League (formerly Code Academy), a beginner web development and web design school in Chicago.
MIKE VENY Mike Veny, Inc. Mike Veny is a drummer, entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, and he has been able to parlay his love of music, and of drumming in particular, into multiple successful career paths and charitable endeavors. Mike is the founder and owner of FastDrumSkills.Com, MusicLessonBusiness.Com, and SupportMusicEducation.Com. His entrepreneurial skills, leadership skills and people skills have made him an in-demand speaker and a consultant to some of the top businesses in the world. As for charitable endeavors, Mike is on the Board of Directors for the Fender Music Foundation and a member of the NAMM Foundation’s SupportMusic Coalition, which seeks to strengthen community commitment and support for quality music education in schools.
NANCY NGUYEN* Sweet T Salon / The Networking Diary Nancy T. Nguyen, MBA is a First Generation American trilingual entrepreneur and the author of The Networking Diary. After earning a B.A. in Spanish at NC State University, Nancy established her career at the Chicago White Sox and City of Chicago while serving as an Ambassador for DePaul’s Graduate School of Business. She’s studied business and networked in Japan and Peru. Nancy founded Sweet T Salon in Raleigh, NC. She is a lifelong advocate of Locks-of-Love, SPCA, ArtReach 4 Kids, and Alpha Kappa Psi Co-ed Business Fraternity. Crowned as Ms. Corporate America in 2011, she works to inspire entrepreneurs throughout the world.
NEAL SALES-GRIFFIN The Starter League Neal Sales-Griffin is currently the founder and CEO of The Starter League (formerly Code Academy), a beginner web design and development school in Chicago. Neal has worked and consulted with numerous startups and not-for-profits across Chicago. He has had the privilege of working with OCA Ventures and Sandbox Industries, two prominent venture firms in Chicago. Neal also serves as a board member of the Chicago chapter of International Game Developers Association.
NICK CHMURA* BetterBoo.com Nick Chmura, originally a corn fed Midwesterner, spent the first 18 years of his life in Oberlin, Ohio before moving to Tampa, Florida to start his college education. His mind was blown away by the sexiness of entrepreneurship, which led him to launch 3 companies while in college. His current project BetterBoo.com was featured as one of Inc. Magazine’s 2012 Coolest College Startups. He was a finalist in CEO’s National Elevator Pitch Competition in 2010, which led to his raising of first round funding to start his business. He loves traveling, adventures and helping others pursue their dreams.
PAUL SPIEGELMAN The Beryl Companies Paul Spiegelman is founder and CEO of The Beryl Companies, which includes: BerylHealth, a patient experience company dedicated to improving relationships between healthcare providers and consumers; The Beryl Institute, a membership organization that serves as the premier thought leader on improving the patient experience in healthcare; The Circle, a training company that helps businesses enhance employee engagement; and The Small Giants Community, a global organization that brings together leaders who are focused on valuesbased business principles. Paul is leading a unique, people-centric culture that has remarkably high employee and customer retention rates. BerylHealth has won 9 “best place to work” awards, including the #2 Best Medium Sized Company to Work for in America. He was honored with the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year award. Paul is a sought-after speaker and author on executive leadership, entrepreneurship, corporate culture, customer relationships and employee engagement. His views have been published in Entrepreneur, The Dallas Morning News, Inc Magazine., Healthcare Financial Management, Leadership Excellence and many other noteworthy publications, as well as in his first internationally published book “Why is Everyone Smiling? The Secret Behind Passion, Productivity and Profit.” His current book, due in March 2013, is called “Patients Come Second: Leading Change by Changing the Way you Lead.” Paul practiced law for two years prior to founding Beryl. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA and a law degree from Southwestern University. To learn more about Paul, please visit www.paulspiegelman.com.
PHILIP BROWN Brown Music Studios Philip Brown is a sought after trombonist and educator in the Chicago area. He has performed with many professional orchestras, including the South Bend Symphony, Rockford Symphony, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Salt Creek Ballet company. He also has performed with many jazz and jobbing bands in the area, including Rob Parton’s jazz tech big band and John Records Landecker. Because of his passion for educating musicians, he maintains one of the largest teaching studios in the country, teaching 70 private low brass students on a weekly basis in the Chicago suburbs. Many of his students are members of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, which has been recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious youth orchestras. Mr. Brown regularly judges Illinois Music Educator Association and Illinois High School Association events. Mr. Brown offers master-classes in brass performance and brass pedagogy.
RAHFEAL GORDON RahGor Motivations & Publishing Rahfeal Gordon, at just 15 years old while attending Arts High School in New Jersey, established his first company. Now a renown international and award-winning entrepreneur motivational speaker, and author before 26 years old, Rahfeal has come a long way from being homeless in the notorious streets of Newark, NJ. Following the launch of his first company and the establishment of a scholarship fund to benefit entrepreneurial students, Rahfeal launched two major companies in 2008 - RahGor Publishing and RahGor Motivations and wrote his first of six published books entitled, “You Won’t Make It.” He won the 2008 Global Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Oppenheimer Funds Social Entrepreneurship Award category by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Rahfeal recently received the Ernst & Young Crystal Award while on the “RahGor World Tour.”
RAY LAND Fabulous Coach Lines / Totuit Mobile Application Architects Ray Land is proprietor of Branford-based, Fabulous Coach Lines, specializing in luxury motorcoach, sedan and limousine transportation across the Southeast. Today, Land is president of the Florida Motorcoach Association and stays very active in young entrepreneurial circles as well as the travel industry. He was recognized in 2009 as the BusRide Magazine Operator of the Year and in 2007 as a Metro's Top Innovative Operator. Fabulous Coach is the product of the industry’s youngest proprietor, Ray Land, established at age 17 and is among BusinessWeek’s 2010 Top 25 Under 25 Best Young Entrepreneurs. Outstanding equipment and cheerful customer service make Fabulous the preferred travel company for organizations with the highest expectations for excellence.
RISHI SHAH ContextMedia Inc. Rishi Shah is the CEO and Founder of ContextMedia, whose products help patients with chronic conditions live healthier through contextually relevant media services. ContextMedia’s point-of-care and mobile media offerings are used by millions of patients monthly and count over half of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies as clients. As a successful entrepreneur and investor, Rishi has received many accolades, including Crain's 40 under 40. He serves on the boards of many early stage companies and civic organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, the Institute for Student Business Education at Northwestern University and as a mentor at Chicago's start-up incubator Excelerate Labs.
SARAH EXLEY Program Consultant, Northwestern Mutual Sarah Exley is a Program Consultant at Northwestern Mutual. She has led various project and program initiatives related to the growth of the company in regards to full-time and internship recruiting, leadership development, and marketing. She is currently leading the company’s NCAA recruiting initiative. Sarah began her career with Northwestern Mutual in 2008 as a Communications Specialist, and has held various positions throughout the company, including consulting roles in organizational, corporate and executive communications. Prior to Northwestern Mutual, she worked in marketing for a financial services company in Orlando, FL, as well as in the publishing industry in Chicago. Sarah is a graduate of Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
SETH KRAVITZ Technori Seth Kravitz is the cofounder of Technori (a publication that celebrates entrepreneurship) and Bow Truss (a premium coffee roasting company). After falling in love with the Chicago entrepreneur community, Seth started mentoring at the Coleman Center at DePaul University, the Knapp Center at IIT, Excelerate Labs, and Code Academy. Seth started a web design firm out of his dorm room at Ohio State when he was 19 before co-founding InsuranceAgents.com in 2004. The company grew to a 65-person operation and reached number 24 on the Inc. 500 before being acquired by Bankrate (NYSE: RATE) in 2012.
SHRADHA AGARWAL ContextMedia Inc. Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia co-founder, has always had a passion for communication. She helped brand the company as for-benefit, marrying the concept of a successful for-profit enterprise that exists for social benefit. While merging her expertise in marketing and media, Shradha makes sure ContextMedia keeps up with the latest in product development strategies throughout various technologies. Shradha speaks often on the topics of entrepreneurship and organizational development and enjoys mentoring and investing in dreamers and achievers. She most recently spoke to students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Entrepreneurship Day.
STELLA FAYMAN Entrepreneurs Unpluggd / FeeFighters Stella Fayman is a serial entrepreneur based in Chicago. She was a founding member of venture backed payments startup FeeFighters, which was acquired by Groupon in the spring of 2012. Her current startup “matchist” connects entrepreneurs with quality freelance developers. She is also a full time student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is a Herman Fellow. Stella is an active member of the Chicago startup community and has served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Excelerate Labs. She is a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.
SUSAN MULDER Kendall College of Art and Design Susan Mulder is an artist. Defining just what that is a little tricky because it can mean different things on different days. Does she have an MFA? Check. Does she create? Check. Does she have a day job? Check. What it boils down to is that she creates art and loves interacting with-and helping others-who are in the same boat. She teaches Professional Practices at Kendall College of Art and Design and serves as director for C.O.D.A. Gallery.
THADDEUS SHALEK Smart Online, Inc. / University of North Carolina at Greensboro Thaddeus Shalek is the CEO of Smart Online, Inc. For 25 years, he was the owner of Shalek & Associates, CPA's INc. He teaches Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is a CPA, CVA, and is an arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers. He advises many graphic and performing artists.
TIM PADGETT Pepper Group Tim Padgett is the President and CEO of Pepper Group, an 18-year-old marketing communications firm. The Pepper Group has won numerous awards for design and campaign development and has been named one of the top B2B agencies in the US by B-to-B Magazine each of the last five years. He has a BS in Marketing Communications with an emphasis in design from Southern Illinois University. He is member of the Illinois Institute of Art’s Professional Advisory Board. Tim is also the President and CEO of Teer1, which provides consultation and a web platform that helps companies encourage, manage and leverage employee volunteering programs. Over the years he has also been a partner in numerous other entrepreneurial ventures. Tim has deep networks, including memberships in national organizations: Entrepreneurs Organization, Young Presidents Organization and the Society for Marketing Professional Services.
TOM WALTER Tasty Catering Tom Walter has started 29 companies and acquired three. He remains a principle in nine of those – six of which were startups by his staff. His businesses include food and beverage, real estate, gifts, a creative agency and an investment company. Tom’s companies have won local and national awards for Best Places to Work and Best Caterer in the United States. Tom is a member of the Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, the Midwest Academy of Management, the Academy of Management and the Small Giants Community. He is the co-author of It’s My Company Too! – a definitive book on employee engagement.
TROY HENIKOFF Excelerate Labs Troy Henikoff is the CEO and Co-founder of Excelerate, a seed stage accelerator in Chicago. Additionally he teaches Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University, is a Faculty Coach at University of Chicago for the New Venture Challenge, is a founder of the FireStarter Fund, 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. Prior to Excelerate, Troy was the CEO 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. Troy was also the President of Amacai, a consumer and business data supplier. Previously, Troy co-founded SurePayroll.com, was the largest Internet based payroll company in the country before being acquired by Paychex. Prior to SurePayroll, Troy built the technology for Jellyvision (creators of “You Don’t Know Jack!” ) and his first company was Specialized Systems and Software, which focused on creating custom database applications.