In 2015, Forbes Magazine ranked Chicago #1 on "The World's Top Cities for Female Entrepreneurs." Join us on May 18th as we celebrate this success by discussing how inclusivity unlocks innovation at our companies and in our city.
We encourage women and men to attend.
Like past Chicago Innovation Awards events, we expect this event to sell out.
Please RSVP soon if you plan to attend.
Driving to The 2nd Annual Celebrating Women in Innovation?
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Thomas D. Kuczmarski
Thomas D. Kuczmarski, president of Kuczmarski Innovation, is a nationally recognized expert in the innovation and development of new products and services. Over the course of his career, he has helped hundreds of clients, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations, learn to systematically unlock the value of innovation. The author of six books and many articles, Mr. Kuczmarski has taught product and service innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management for 32 years. Mr. Kuczmarski is the founder and co-chair, along with Dan Miller, of the Chicago Innovation Awards, which recognizes each year the most innovative new products, services, business models and processes developed in the Chicago area.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has been a dedicated community leader for over two decades. She has worked with the Cook County Board of Commissioners, elected officials and county employees to implement major reform and reshape county government through fiscal responsibility, innovative leadership, transparency & accountability, and improved services. President Preckwinkle has developed a broad policy agenda – focusing on critical public safety reform, working to strengthen the county’s health care system, and increasing the capacity and capability of our economic development efforts.Before being elected Cook County Board President, Preckwinkle served 19 years as Alderman of the 4th Ward, and, prior to holding elected office, taught high school history for ten years.
Andrea Hanis is the editor of Blue Sky Innovation, a Chicago Tribune premium content site about innovation, entrepreneurship, Chicago's tech community, creative workplaces and big ideas. Blue Sky Innovation also publishes the Blue Sky Vault, a business resource with guides to top innovators, events, coworking spaces and educational resources. Its Innovation Hub presents content from top providers including Inc. magazine and groups including the Chicago Innovation Awards, Chicago Ideas Week and the City Club of Chicago. Andrea is a graduate of Indiana University and previously worked at Crain’s Chicago Business and the Chicago Sun-Times.
Shradha Agarwal is the President & Co-founder of ContextMedia, a healthcare media company that delivers lifestyle education to 20M patients each month nationally. Her organization has doubled its revenue, profitability and distribution year-over-year while being consistently recognized for its culture, customer service and technology leadership. Shradha also co-founded JumpStart Ventures in 2011 to fund other passionate entrepreneurs who are executing ambitious solutions in healthcare, education and media communications. The CEC recently honored both ContextMedia co-founders with the “2015 Chicagoness Award” for their deep commitment to developing the city’s ecosystem. Shradha was also recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House and awarded the Prominent Woman in Tech by ITA.
Sandee Kastrul is president and co-founder of i.c.stars, an innovative nonprofit leadership and technology training program founded in 1999 to prepare inner-city adults for technology careers and community leadership. Under Sandee’s leadership, i.c.stars was highlighted by the U.S Chamber of Commerce for its work in youth employment. Selected as a Chicago Community Trust Fellow in 2015, Sandee has spoken at events including Dreamforce, Chicago Ideas Week, and in corporate events hosted by Accenture and Motorola, among many others. Prior to i.c.stars, Sandee has worked in education including focused work on cross-curricular integration strategies, diversity training, and curriculum development.
Harper Reed is the Head of Commerce at Braintree, a full-stack payment platform owned by PayPal that lets companies build their own experiences and then scale their businesses around the globe. Harper is an hacker/engineer who builds paradigm-shifting tech and leads others to do the same. Harper loves using the vastness of the Internet to bring people together, whether as CTO of Obama for America, CTO at Threadless.com, or on his own projects. Through the acquisition of his company, Modest, inc, Harper is helping to define the future of commerce at PayPal. You can often find Harper playing with new technologies, looking for something to hack, or enjoying life in Chicago with his amazing partner, Hiromi and their bizarre poodle, Lulu.
Terry Savage is a nationally recognized expert on personal finance, the economy and the markets. She writes a weekly personal finance column syndicated by Tribune Content Agency, blogs regularly on the Huffington Post, and is the author of four best-selling books on personal finance. She frequently appears on television and radio programs, commenting on the financial markets, personal finance, and current economic events. Terry started her career as a stockbroker and became a founding member and first woman trader on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. She was also a member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s International Monetary Market and serves on the Board of Directors of CME Group. In 2014, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Chicago Journalists Assocation.
Michelle Vondrasek is the CEO of Von Technologies. She holds dear her position as a leader of one of few woman-owned businesses competing in the Telecommunication Technology field. Identifying opportunities to apply and practice her values with Customers that possess similar ideals produced a burgeoning business recognized by the WPO as 17th of the 50 fastest growing women-led organizations in 2015. As a certified WBE since Von’s inception Von Technologies has leveraged the support of the Women’s Business Development Center for leadership development, contract negotiation training and networking. In 2014, Michelle became a WBENC Forum committee member and was one of twelve women selected by Ernst & Young as one of the Entrepreneurial Winning Women class 2015.
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