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Innovation Breakfast: Building Innovative Cultures

Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network

Thursday, January 10, 2019 from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM (CST)

Innovation Breakfast: Building Innovative Cultures

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Members Only Ended Free  
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Event Details

Building An Innovative Culture: Join Us For January’s Innovation Breakfast!

Kick 2019 off right with networking and a spirited discussion with three Chicagoland leaders who have built innovative teams.

Our panel will feature: Katlin Smith whose team at Simple Mills is at the forefront of the clean food movement, Barb Pugesek who works to weave growth mindsets and experiential learning into the lives of FONA International’s employees, and Michelle Hayward who leads a team at Bluedog that Crain's named as the best company for women to work in Chicago in 2018.

As you step up to lead your teams into 2019, pick up some pointers from three incredibly forward-thinking cultural leaders!

Innovation Breakfast -- Thursday, January 10th -- Doors Open 7:00 AM


Introducing the Speakers:

Katlin Smith is the Founder and CEO of Simple Mills. She’s built a Chicago-based team that is reshaping the food industry. Katlin launched Simple Mills in 2013 and today leads a company at the forefront of the clean food movement. Despite being in a crowded market with long-established competitors, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 natural baking mix, the #1 natural cracker, and the #2 natural cookie by dollar sales, according to SPINS. Simple Mills products are distributed in more than 16,000 conventional and natural grocery stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Kroger, Safeway, and Amazon. All products are free of gluten, grain, dairy, soy, GMOs, excessive sugar, and artificial flavors and fillers. The current lineup includes baking mixes, frostings, almond flour crackers, sprouted seed crackers, and crunchy cookies. Smith is a former Deloitte management consultant, winner of the University of Chicago’s Booth School New Venture Challenge, a member of Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, and a regular columnist for Inc. magazine.


Barb Pugesek is the Director of Customer and Culture Excellence at Fona International, where she has been a cultural and communication leader for 18+ years. Barb helps to articulate and execute FONA’s core values and people-driven culture, in all facets of the business. At FONA, a family-owned producer of taste solutions, Barb has held roles in marketing, employee engagement, and culture. In her current role, Barb tests and deploys new approaches and business models for driving customer solutions. She is an integral part of FONA’s Value’s Team and is responsible for programs designed to help employees understand and live out the business’ winning DNA such as growth mindset, experiential learning, and innovation hacking.


Michelle Hayward is the Founder and CEO of Bluedog Design, an innovation, growth, and brand consultancy. Michelle has been in the food and beverage business since before she could see over the counter at her parents’ grocery store. Today, Michelle and her teams work with 50+ global and national clients including Nestlé and Mars to drive clarity, unlock growth, and build paths forward amidst the complexity of market and organizational change. Michelle proudly served on Michigan State’s Marketing Advisory Council and mentors companies through Michigan State’s Conquer Accelerator program. She is currently the board vice president of the Everwood Foundation for the Arts.

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Innovation Breakfast Series Location: 403 N. Carpenter, Chicago, IL 60642

Breakfast provided by Fifty Gazelles

Schedule of Events (January 10th):

7:00 AM - Doors Open, Networking & Breakfast

7:30 AM - Panel Discussion

8:30 AM - Wrap-up

Transportation Information:

Limited street parking is available on a first-come, first serve basis

Other parking options:

  • 331 N Green St. - IRT Coyne Impark Lot - $9 for 0-12 hours.
  • 408 N. Aberdeen St. - flat rate parking

The Morgan (Pink and Green) and Grand (Blue) CTA stops are close walking distance. 

Divvy stations are located at Morgan and Lake, and May and Fulton.

Come join other innovators and the Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network in shining the spotlight on three leaders shaping the future of Chicago's food and beverage industry!

We Need YOU... To "Spread the Warmth"!!

Every January, Tiesta Tea Foundation gathers together to pass out hot tea and Warmth Kits to the estimated 80,000+ Chicagoans that are homeless and struggle to survive the brutal cold every winter. 

Please join us in "Spreading the Warmth" by bringing a warm item or non-perishable food to the Innovation Breakfast. Anything we can do to help warm up the folks of Chicago!

Have questions about Innovation Breakfast: Building Innovative Cultures? Contact Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network

When & Where

Fifty Gazelles
403 North Carpenter Street
Chicago, IL 60642

Thursday, January 10, 2019 from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM (CST)

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Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network

Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network

Sparking innovation and building an ecosystem that supports it are key ambitions of the Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network. The Network stands at the forefront of the companies, technologies and business models that are reshaping Chicago. Today, more than 3,500 food and beverage companies call Chicagoland home, accounting for 130,000 employees and $32 billion in annual sales. We seek to grow these numbers as we make Chicagoland the global food & beverage hub of the future.

The Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network drives inclusive economic growth by bringing together the food & beverage industry to collaborate on opportunities in workforce development, food safety, innovation & technology, and business services.  Learn more

Alan Reed is CEO of the Network.

Jeremy Anderson of Fifty Gazelles is the volunteer host and organizer of the Innovation Breakfast series. 

  Contact the Organizer

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