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2014 Media, Capital and Talent Day

Chicago Innovation Awards

Monday, August 18, 2014 from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM (CDT)

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Media, Capital and Talent Day ticket
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Event Details

In 2013, the Chicago Innovation Awards surveyed all nominees and asked the question: “What are your three biggest challenges today?” The three most common answers were gaining awareness for new products and services, raising capital, and finding and retaining talent. To turn these challenges into opportunities, we invite you and a guest to join us for Media, Capital, and Talent Day.  Hosted by the Chicago Innovation Awards, this half-day summit on August 18th will educate Chicago’s top innovators about how to gain visibility in the marketplace, raise capital, and hire/retain the best people.

Held at the Museum of Broadcast Communications at 360 N. State Street, this event will feature panel discussions and talks by leading media, capital and talent experts.

You will be joined by innovators from every industry, large corporations and start-ups, venture capitalists and angel investors, government and non-profit leaders, as well as this year's Chicago Innovation Awards nominees, past winners, sponsors, board members, and judges.

The schedule for Media, Capital and Talent Day on Monday, August 18th:

1:00pm-1:30pm: Arrival and registration
1:30pm-2:30pm: Talent Panel
2:45pm-3:45pm: Media Panel
4:00pm-5:00pm: Capital Panel
5:00pm-6:00pm: Cocktails and networking


Museum of Broadcast Communications
360 N. State St. 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

If you are driving to Media, Capital, & Talent Day, we recommend you reserve parking in advance using SpotHero. To get started, just visit SpotHero's Chicago parking website or download the iphone app / android app. Then search for parking near the Museum of Broadcast Communications, compare discounted parking rates and reserve a guaranteed parking spot. With questions, you can email or call SpotHero at 312-566-7768.

Drinks and appetizers are included, and provided by Blue Plate.

Media, Capital and Talent Day has sold out every year, so please RSVP as soon as possible if you plan to attend.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Panelist Bios:



Sandee Kastrul is President and Co-Founder of i.c.stars. Founded in 1999, i.c.stars provides opportunities to break the cycle of poverty that limits inner-city youth, preparing future leaders to develop skills in business and technology. Sandee draws upon the connections between creativity, innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship in building i.c. stars and inspiring and educating others. Her previous work in education includes implementing professional development programs, designing a comprehensive science and civics interactive program, and developing and facilitating diversity trainings and cross-cultural curriculum strategies. Sandee serves on the Board of Directors for Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, the Local Economic and Employment Development Council, the Experience Institute, and Las Caras Lindas. She received the National Forum for Black Public Administrators Community Service Award in 2012, the Black Data Processors Association (BDPA) Leadership Award in 2009, and the BDPA Spirit Award in 2004.

Michael Rothman has over 25 years of experience in the industrial service sector and 10 years in the retail services industry. Michael has served as Chairman and CEO of SMS Assist, L.L.C. since its startup in 2003, transforming the business into an advanced technology company whose mobile and cloud-based facilities maintenance platform manages over 28,000 affiliated providers to service a nationwide roster of Fortune 500 retail and industrial clients representing over 50,000 locations. Prior to SMS Assist, Michael founded Kenny Industrial Services, a national coating and industrial cleaning company. Before his departure in 2003, he had positioned Kenny as the #1 coating company and #32 in the top 600 specialty contractors in the country rated by E&R (Engineering Newsweek) and won many top safety awards.

Robert D. Blackwell, Sr., is an entrepreneur, IT executive, and founder of two companies. His career includes experience in every phase of the Information Technology industry. He owned and operated Blackwell Consulting, but left at the end of 2013 to devote himself to writing and publishing his first book My Evolution as an Entrepreneur – The Story Behind Blackwell Consulting. He is now the managing partner at SMS consulting. Bob was previously the Director of IBM’s Global Services operation in the Midwest, where he managed more than 250 people and generated more than $300 million in revenue. He then moved on to start his own business, Blackwell Consulting Services, which became the largest minority-owned management and information technology organization in the Midwest.

John Figiel is currently the Senior Director of Human Resources and Organization Development for TandemHR, a Human Resources consulting firm. John has worked in Human Resources for over twenty five years, first as an HR generalist, and for the past fourteen years, as a Learning and Organization Development professional. During this time, John has worked with a variety of clients to design and implement a wide range of HR, Talent and OD strategies and programs that support and drive organization priorities. Prior to joining Tandem, John served as the Director of Organization Effectiveness for the University of Chicago, where he worked with leaders to implement talent solutions focused on performance management, succession planning, organizational change and leadership development. John holds a Masters degree in Labor and Industrial Relations, and a BS degree from the University of Illinois.

Maria Wynne is the Chief Executive Officer of Leadership Greater Chicago (LGC). For 30 years, LGC’s mission has been to educate and connect leaders from the business, government and nonprofit communities, inspire civic engagement, and build better communities. Wynne has broad leadership experience in the corporate, public, and nonprofit sectors. She has led national sales and marketing organizations in senior roles for both Microsoft and Xerox, and she most recently served as CEO for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana from 2008 to 2013. As the largest Girl Scout council globally with $18M in revenue and $31M in assets, the council served 84,000 girls and supported a network of more than 24,000 volunteers. As a community leader, Wynne serves as a director of the Goodman Theatre, a Trustee of North Central College, a Trustee of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, and a board member of the Chicago Innovation Awards. She has been recognized as one of Today’s Chicago Woman magazine’s 100 Women of Influence (2013) and as one of 100 Women Making a Difference (2011).



Dan Miller is a veteran Chicago journalist and commentator. He was business editor of the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Sun-Times, and helped launch Crain's Chicago Business. He was named publisher of Crain's City & State in 1990, and later served as chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission from 1995-1999. Dan was named Illinois Journalist of the Year by Northern Illinois University in 1981, and was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006. He serves as a policy adviser at free market thinktank Heartland Institute. He co-founded the Chicago Innovation Awards in 2002 with Tom Kuczmarski.

Joycelyn Winnecke is Vice President and Associate Editor at the Chicago Tribune and President of  Tribune Content Agency, a global syndication and licensing business.  She develops new business ideas for media and journalism. Winnecke’s team is responsible for Blue Sky Innovation, which delivers news and analysis, networking and advice for innovators and entrepreneurs. Winnecke earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Indiana and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Winnecke serves on the boards of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago and the Chicago Tribune Foundation. She is active in The Chicago Network and the Economic Club of Chicago and serves on the President’s Advisory Board for Governors State University.

Ron Gleason is the Director of News and Programming for WBBM Newsradio. He started his career as a sports anchor and reporter at Sportsphone while finishing his last year at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In 1988, he accepted a sports director position at WMAQ, where he also served as a backup play-by-play announcer for White Sox baseball. Gleason also did freelance play-by-play of NCAA basketball and high-school championship contests for what was then known as Sportschannel. He added radio play-by-play duties for DePaul basketball in 1997, a role he enjoyed until taking his current job at WBBM eight years later. Gleason oversaw The Score until 2001, when he joined the Chicago Bears Football Broadcast team at WBBM and, in 2004, was hired as a news anchor as well.

David Armano is the Global Strategy Director, Key Accounts, for Edelman in Chicago. David’s remit includes partnering with the firm’s senior clients across a handful of key U.S. based accounts with global reach, focusing on strategically impacting integrated marketing efforts that are social at the core. David is considered a highly influential voice on the subject of social media for business and has over 80,000 subscribers to his blog and Twitter stream. He has contributed articles to the Harvard Business Review, Bloomberg Businessweek, AdAge, Adweek and Digiday. David has pioneered digital and social solutions for clients such as Kellogg’s, HP, eBay, Adidas, WW Grainger and the U.S. Dairy Industry, and has held senior positions with digital outfits including and Digitas.

Ann Dwyer is deputy managing editor of Crain's Chicago Business. Ann oversees all aspects of Crain's daily news report, serves on Crain's editorial board, coordinates op-ed contributions, and frequently writes the publication's weekly editorials. From 2008 until 2014, Ms. Dwyer edited Crain's Focus section, which delivers in-depth reports on topics ranging from law and real estate to finance and small business. The Focus section also showcases some of Crain's highest-profile features, including 40 Under 40, Best Places to Work, Fast Fifty and Who's Who in Chicago Business. Ann has won awards for reporting, editing, headline writing and editorial writing from the Illinois Press Association, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association, the Chicago Headline Club and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. A native of Oak Park, Ms. Dwyer studied English and journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Shamus Toomey is Managing Editor of Chicago, overseeing the staff of Chicago reporters and editors tackling the news of the city's many diverse neighborhoods. Shamus came to from the Chicago Sun-Times, where he was the assistant managing editor, overseeing the newspaper's news coverage, and he supervised the team that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. Shamus studied journalism at Syracuse University.


Pete Kadens, Co-Founder and President of SoCore Energy, is an accomplished speaker and leader on green initiatives and is known nationwide for his innovative approach to the proliferation of renewable generation. Prior to SoCore, Pete found and was the CEO of Acquirent, an outsourced sales company which was ranked the #1 outsourced sales company in the United States in 2006 by “The Black Book of Outsourcing”. In his four years as the founder and CEO of Acquirent, Pete was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the business including recruitment, process engineering, and business development, all while growing the company to over 45 full-time employees. Pete is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Streetwise, one of the largest homeless aid organizations in the Midwest, a Director at The Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, and at the US-India Chamber of Commerce. He holds a B.A from Bucknell University. 

Nick Rosa is Co-founder and Managing Director of Sandbox Industries and Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox. Nick serves as an advisor to several companies, such as the Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Fund, Healthbox Global Partners, Marbles: The Brain Store, doggyloot, Lab42 TechStars Chicago and The Chicago Innovation Awards. Prior to forming Sandbox, Nick led the buyout and served as CEO of The NutraSweet Company. As a senior executive at Monsanto, he led the Nutrition and Consumer Products division, overseeing NutraSweet, the consumer Lawn and Garden Business, and Kelco food ingredients business. Nick has lived and worked in several countries, including Kuwait, Switzerland and France, and has also been involved with numerous civic and commercial organizations. Nick holds a B.S. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University and an MBA from DePaul University.

Victor Chang
is an Investment Director for Dell Ventures, which invests in emerging technology companies across all of Dell’s strategic areas. Before joining Dell Ventures, Victor served as Senior Director of Corporate Development at Quest Software (acquired by Dell in 2012) where he was responsible for both M&A and strategic investments. Prior to Quest, Victor was vice president of the Hina Group, a China-based investment bank, where he advised American and Chinese technology companies in cross-border investments. Before Hina, he invested in early- and growth-stage technology companies at Crosslink Capital. Victor began his career as a strategy consultant at the Monitor Group. Victor holds a B.S. and an M.Eng. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Bob Gillespie has over 20 years experience in consulting, technology, leadership and operations. A serial entrepreneur, he believes the ability to build great teams is the most important factor of success. His current venture, Networking Research Group, has created Software as a Solution (SaaS) products that make tradeshows, events and conferences easier to manage, providing tremendous return on investment (ROI) for both organizers and attendees. His latest success was InContext Solutions, a company Co-Founded by Bob and two colleagues in 2009. InContext Solutions was named One of America’s Most Promising Companies by Forbes, selected as one of the Rising Stars by the Illinois Technology Association, and selected from over 300 companies as the winner of the Up and Comer Award at the Chicago Innovation Awards by J.B. Pritzker and New World Ventures. Bob has his BA in Computer Science and English from Knox College and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Finance.

Maura O’Hara is the Executive Director of the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA). The IVCA is a 130 member-firms trade association promoting the interests of the Midwest venture capital and private equity community. Its members firms collectively have over $100 billion in assets under management. Maura has 25 years of marketing, strategy and consulting experience and has worked in diverse industries including retail, home services, consumer packaged goods and professional services. Maura was formerly Vice President of Customer Strategies and Consumer Research at Sears, Roebuck and Co., was in Operational Planning at Helene Curtis, and was in investment banking at Stevenson & Company. Maura holds an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, and serves as a judge for the Chicago Innovation Awards and sits on the boards of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center/1871, ChicagoNEXT and Thrive Counseling Center in Oak Park, IL.

Antonio Guillen is the Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending and Diverse Markets Manager for Wintrust Financial, which has more than 125 community banking locations around the Chicagoland area, southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana. With over 30 years of experience, Mr. Guillen’s expertise is in business banking, specifically small to medium-sized business lending and commercial real estate finance and development. He spends much of his time out in the field building networks and supporting community organizations; his vast experience allows him to guide, mentor and coach many local businesses.


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Founded by Tom Kuczmarski of Kuczmarski Innovation and Dan Miller
Have questions about 2014 Media, Capital and Talent Day? Contact Chicago Innovation Awards
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When & Where

Museum of Broadcast Communications
360 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Monday, August 18, 2014 from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM (CDT)

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2014 Media, Capital and Talent Day
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