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2023 Illinois Women’s Conference

March 23, 2023
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM (CT)

BMO
320 S. Canal Street Suite 17 Chicago, IL. 60606
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Theme
Growing & Glowing: Everything I Need is Within!
More Information

#GrowNGlow2023

Gold Sponsor

BMO Financial Group

Sponsors

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)BonfireComcastDuPage County Health Department

Our theme for the 13th annual IL Women’s Conference is Growing & Glowing: Everything I Need is Within! 2023 is “Our Year of Know”, knowing ourselves, knowing our value, our boundaries and knowing our possibilities. Even in a season where we aren’t winning, we’re learning and leaning into reimagining, resilience, resetting and reinventing next and best opportunities. Let’s take a pause during Women’s History Month to fully listen, go within and beyond. We’ve earned straight A’s: Achievement, Acceleration, Adaptability & Advancement. This convergence brings together the entire spectrum of intersectional womanhood and the day will be full of exceedingly exceptional experiences that will meet each of you where you are and fuel you to new heights. Join us!


Keynote Speakers

Maria Castro
Maria
Castro
Founder & CEO
#LovePurse
Maria Castro
Maria Castro
Founder & CEO
#LovePurse

In 2005 Maria joined the community investment team at Comcast where she helps to implement and manage programs that deliver social and business value to their nonprofit organizations and communities. Comcast is a company known for achieving social impact through innovative employee engagement, solid community partnerships and CSR/DE&I initiatives that include foundation grant giving, volunteer opportunities and sponsorships of local community events. As the Regional External Affairs Manager, she helps to identify corporate giving opportunities for Comcast’s core focus areas of youth leadership, volunteerism, digital literacy, and work force development. Having been born and raised in Chicago’s Pilsen community, it has brought her back full circle and has allowed her to bring much needed resources to that community as well as to other incredible nonprofits in the Greater Chicago Region. She is also the Founder/CEO of Inspiration of #LovePurse, a nonprofit that is “putting love on the shoulders of women in need, one #LovePurse at a time” and has collected and gifted almost 10,000 purses since March 2021. Donations have been distributed in Illinois, Texas, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, Mexico, Canada, and the Ukraine. The idea for starting this mission was to help women in domestic violence, homeless & human trafficking shelters realize that they matter, they are respected, thought of, and loved. Maria believes that sharing your Tx3’s #TimeTalentsTreasures is a requirement and not an option in life. She currently serves as the Chairwoman for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Chicago Chapter, Telemundo Chicago’s Action Board, and the Women’s Business Development Center’s Advisory Council. She is a co-author of Today’s Inspired Latinas Volume V, Today’s Inspired Leader Volume II, Hispanic Stars Rising, A New Face of Power Inaugural Edition and the author of Kindness (part of the Word Power Series Collection). Maria has served as a panelist, moderator, keynote speaker, and emcee for numerous events and as a speaker for Latina Talks (New York Times & Chicago). She has received numerous award acknowledgements; Negocios Now 2019 Who’s Who Hispanic Chicago, 2019 Aurora Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’ Hispanic Catalyst Champion, YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, People with Disabilities Champion Award from Seguin Services, Corporate Visionary award from El Valor, 2020 Hispanic Style Latina of Influence, 2020 Today’s Inspired Latina’s Woman of the Year Award, National Diversity Council’s 2021 Top Latino Leader, 2021 Chicago Latina Expo Business Leader Award, International Women’s Day 2022 Honoree, Negocios Now 2022 Who’s Who in Hispanic Business, Wintrust 2022 Latinx Community Award, and the 2009 proclamation of Maria Castro day in the City of Aurora.

Larissa Chaikowsky
Larissa
Chaikowsky
US Chief Human Resource Officer and Head, Talent Reskilling & Acceleration
BMO Bank
Larissa Chaikowsky
Larissa Chaikowsky
US Chief Human Resource Officer and Head, Talent Reskilling & Acceleration
BMO Bank

Larissa Chaikowsky is US CHRO and Head of Talent Reskilling & Acceleration within People & Culture at BMO Financial Group. In her US CHRO role, she oversees the strategic and operational governance processes of the U.S. HR organization and executes on enterprise people strategies. She leads human resources related matters as they pertain to U.S. regulatory agencies, and U.S. mergers and acquisitions. Larissa has a leadership role with the Human Resources Committee of the BMO Financial Corp board of Directors and the Benefits Investment Committee. She also chairs the U.S. Compensation Oversight Committee and the U.S. Benefits Administration Committee. As the Head of Talent Reskilling & Acceleration, she is accountable for leading and executing on the global enterprise-wide people workstreams that will advance BMO’s digital first strategic agenda. Her team acts as an accelerator and catalyst for strategic change, enabling People & Culture to support the company’s digital transformation at pace. Larissa also currently sits on the Capital Markets Corporation Board. During her fifteen-year tenure at BMO, she has held several senior positions, including the Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Wealth Management, and across several other parts of the organization including corporate strategy and technology & operations. She has played a key role in helping redefine BMO’s brand, culture and in improving business practices. External to BMO, Larissa is an executive committee member of the Bank Administration Institute (BAI), and until recently served on the boards of Inspiration Corporation, American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois and Chicago-Toronto Sister Cities. Larissa received her Bachelor of International Business and Relations from the Sprott School of Business and holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, where she was an Ivey Scholar.

Letticia Flores Poole
Letticia
Flores Poole
Vice President and Senior Manager Business Banking Industry Vertical Team
BMO Bank
Letticia Flores Poole
Letticia Flores Poole
Vice President and Senior Manager Business Banking Industry Vertical Team
BMO Bank

Letticia Flores Poole has been in banking for over 20yrs. Currently with BMO Harris Bank for 4 ½ yrs. Current role is a Regional Sales Manager -Bank at Work program. I have the pleasure of providing financial education and solutions to employees throughout the Chicago land area. I enjoy being able to educate and help people within our communities reach their financial goals. I am currently the Illinois Chapter Chair of BMO Latino Alliance. I actively participate in with BPN, Women Alliance and BMO Pride. Recently I have the opportunity to work with our State of Minority Small Business round tables. Where I help our minority businesses voices be heard. I have been a part of multiple organizations from Nonprofits to resource groups throughout my career, where I held multiple positions on the board from President to Treasurer to Member at Large. To name a few Supporting Professionals Network Association, South Chicago Chamber, Northwest Connection Chamber, Latinas in Childcare, Northside Latinos Progress. Letticia is married with one son and one bonus daughter and 2 grand kids. Born and raised in Chicago. Loves to bike ride and explore new bike paths.

Vachon Harper-Young
Vachon
Harper-Young
Vice President and Senior Manager of Vertical Industry Programs
BMO Bank
Vachon Harper-Young
Vachon Harper-Young
Vice President and Senior Manager of Vertical Industry Programs
BMO Bank

Vachon Harper-Young, Vice President and Senior Manager of Vertical Industry Programs Co-Heads the BMO for Women, Black, Latinx and Native-owned Businesses a $300 million, five- year commitment aimed at breaking down barriers faced by minority businesses helping to drive an inclusive economic recovery. She has been in banking for over 25 years in a variety of sales, management and individual contributor roles joining BMO Harris in 2003 as part of the inaugural Business Banking Micro Lending team. She received the Award of Excellence as a top lender and has received the Raising the BAR Leadership Award from BMO Alliance for Women Chicago. Throughout her banking career, Vachon Harper-Young has been supporting small businesses as a trusted advisor providing access to capital and business education training. She is most proud of the opportunity to have launched the BMO for Black and Latinx Business special purpose credit program and being a part of the program’s expansion to Women and Native-owned businesses. She is an active member of the Chicagoland community serving as The Idea Candidates Board Chair, Board Member for the Association House of Chicago, a member of the Allies for Community Business (CDFI) Portfolio Advisory Council, Program Director at Freedom Hillside Church, Board Advisor to the John Walt Foundation, a member of the NAACP and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Vachon earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Communications from Illinois State University and an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management.

Patricia Mota
Patricia
Mota
CEO
Hispanic Alliance for Career Advancement (HACE)
Patricia Mota
Patricia Mota
CEO
Hispanic Alliance for Career Advancement (HACE)

Patricia is an innovative trailblazer, advocate for access & equity, startup entrepreneur, author, connector, public speaker, and compassionate leader with a particular strength that exemplifies the mission of the Hispanic Alliance of Career Enhancement (HACE); to positively impact the workforce by cultivating the pipeline of Latinx/a/os talent and providing insight, access and support to their careers. Patricia serves as the President & CEO for HACE, leading strategy, fundraising & development, leadership programs, and expanding organizational reach on a national and international scale. Patricia is also a co-founder of SHENIX™, a Fintech tool to close the wealth gap that impact Latinas. Patricia’s story of transition is one that is representative of many of the stories of those positively impacted by programs and opportunities through HACE. Patricia is a proud Mexican-American, Latina, daughter of immigrants, and first-generation college graduate and professional. She is a fitness enthusiast, health, and lifestyle aficionado. Patricia has a strong history of serving in capacities that garner access to education, meaningful jobs, and advancement, also reflected by her service on various boards and accolades; serving on the Associated Colleges of Illinois, Indiana University’s O’Neil School of Public Affairs Distinguished Alumni Council, Chicago Theological Seminary Board of Trustee, Illinois Treasurer Charitable Trust Board and most recently awarded the SHERO award by the Center for Asian Pacific American Women (CAPAW) in 2021, the Nonprofit HR Top Leaders to Watch in 2020, and Crain’s Chicago Business Top 20 Most Powerful Latinos in Chicago in 2019. Patricia earned a double Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University-Bloomington in Spanish and Communication & Culture and a Master’s in Public Affairs (MPA) in Public Management from Indiana University’s School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)-Indianapolis, along with executive leadership certificates from both Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Patricia is also a certified coach and Insights Discovery© licensed practitioner, and a proud 2022 World Economic Forum at Davos Del

Nicole R. Robinson
Nicole R.
Robinson
Chief Executive Officer
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago
Nicole R. Robinson
Nicole R. Robinson
Chief Executive Officer
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Nicole R. Robinson has spent her career building bridges between communities, individuals, government, and business leaders. Today, Nicole serves as the Chief Executive Officer for YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, a human centered organization dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women. Inspired by this mission and the resilience of the families who turn to the YWCA, Nicole is committed to building community resilience to heal from violence; unleashing youth potential and ensuring communities have economic equity needed to thrive. It’s a privilege for Nicole to serve as steward of the mission, vision, strategy, operational and financial leadership of a $44MM, 300 team member human services enterprise, with 15 sites across Cook County, DuPage County and Lake County. Prior to joining YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, Nicole was the Chief Partnership and Program Officer at the Greater Chicago Food Depository where she designed strategies to expand food access while tackling the root causes of poverty, unemployment, and racial inequity. Her food justice advocacy resulted in a $10MM investment in the emergency food system and she inspired the reimagination of Chicago’s entire food system as one the of the co-founders of Chicago’s first ever Food Equity Council. Before joining the social sector, Nicole began her career in corporate finance supporting various business units and would go on to lead the corporate foundation for Kraft Foods and Mondelez International. Through the Mondelez foundation she invested $150MM in award-winning programs spanning the globe, while reaching underserved and underrepresented neighborhoods from Brazil to Ghana to Indonesia. Since joining YWCA Metropolitan Chicago as CEO in January 2022, Nicole has been focused on building both community and organizational resilience as a foundation for continued growth as we support families in their transition from an equitable recovery to an equitable future. As a resident of the Bronzeville community, she loves Chicago and wants it to be better. She has been featured in Crain’s Business Chicago amongst the list of Notable Black Leaders and Executives 2022.


Panelists

La'Dweena A. Smith
La'Dweena
A. Smith
CEO
Keller Williams ONE Chicago
La'Dweena A. Smith
La'Dweena A. Smith
CEO
Keller Williams ONE Chicago

La'Dweena Smith is the current Chief Executive Officer of Keller Williams ONEChicago, KW1C a 400-agent real estate company where she is responsible for managing the growth, production, and profitability of the organization. La’Dweena will be making history with KW1C as part of a Black investor group who will be bringing Keller Williams to the Southside of Chicago and providing resources to the underserved in that area. La’Dweena is the chair of the KW Regional Social Equity Task Force and she serves as a national representative as well. In addition to running KW1C La’Dweena also has her own successful Real Estate business Home Smith Homes where she assists sellers, buyers, and real estate investors with all their real estate needs. She is an active and financial member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. where she serves the Chicago Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter as their 2nd Vice President in charge of Programming Planning and Development. She is a mom of one young adult and in her free time she enjoys cooking, biking, reading and wine tastings.

Tammy Butts
Tammy
Butts
Executive Vice President
Equitable Advisors
Tammy Butts
Tammy Butts
Executive Vice President
Equitable Advisors

Tammy Butts is a Complex Executive Vice President and Branch Manager for Equitable Advisors, LLC in Chicago, Illinois with more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. Tammy built a successful practice providing financial planning strategies and guidance to families and business owners. In 2005, she was promoted to Divisional Vice President. In that role, she hired and developed a successful, diverse team of financial professionals. Recognized for her success, she received several management awards. In 2009 she was promoted to Divisional Executive Vice President managing the Illinois Branch managing over 200 advisors and staff. Leadership/Awards: Sept 14, 2022 will become Equitable’s 1st female Old Guard President in its 117 year history Previous Board member of: GAMA (now FINSECA); American College Foundation; and NAIFA. Numerous EQ awards including 5 President’s Trophies ranking in Top 10 Nationally “POWER 50 WOMEN ILLINOIS” IL Women’s Conference 3/28/19--National Diversity Council Profiles in Diversity Journal as a “WOMAN WORTH WATCHING” in 2010 Media: Quoted in numerous financial articles for Chicago Tribune, Barron’s, and other publications Interviewed on TV and Radio including Fox News and CLTV News Education: BBA Finance Texas Christian University American College ChFC and CLU

Elizabeth Connolly
Elizabeth
Connolly
General Counsel, Executive Vice President
Sinai Chicago
Elizabeth Connolly
Elizabeth Connolly
General Counsel, Executive Vice President
Sinai Chicago

As Sinai Chicago’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Ms. Connolly oversees the legal affairs and risk management functions of Chicago’s largest private safety net healthcare delivery system. She advises senior management, physician leaders, and the Board of Directors on a variety of legal issues and strategic initiatives. Her areas of expertise include transactions, complex litigation, governance matters, enterprise risk management, and peer review. As part of the corporate executive team, Ms. Connolly is a lead participant and strategic adviser in key transactions, including public-private partnerships, academic affiliations, and new ventures. Ms. Connolly began her legal career as a trial lawyer, defending hospitals, physicians, and nurses in professional liability cases. After eight years as a litigator, she embarked upon her in-house career at Northwest Community Hospital, where she redesigned the risk management function, implemented a captive insurance program, and had oversight over litigation. Prior to joining Sinai Chicago, Ms. Connolly served as the Associate General Counsel for OSF Little Company of Mary Hospital, where she designed a new contract management program and oversaw the legal transactions for the organization, handling a wide array of complex agreements, including physician contracts, software licensing agreements, telehealth, and leasing arrangements. Ms. Connolly has earned a certification in healthcare compliance and is an Associate of Risk Management. She is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association, the Executive’s Club, and the Association of Corporate Counsel. She is a requested speaker on a variety of medical-legal issues.

Leslie Drish
Leslie
Drish
Vice President, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
Leslie Drish
Leslie Drish
Vice President, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago

Leslie J. Drish is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. In this role, Leslie implements and monitors programs that advance the diversity and inclusion journey within the Bank. She is responsible for strategically supporting leadership on DEI, focusing on innovative, engaging and cutting-edge initiatives that drive DEI deeper into the Bank’s organizational culture. Leslie has over 25 years’ experience developing innovative diversity, volunteer and educational programs with proven ability to drive performance, program improvement, quality initiatives and quantifiable results. She has been recognized for community outreach and development of programs that engage support for organizational mission, vision and strategy. In 2019, Leslie was named as a Chicago Defender Woman of Excellence. She currently serves on the Board of Gads Hill Center and is a mentor for the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources. Prior to joining FHLBC, Leslie was the Inclusion and Diversity Manager for Tyson Foods, Manager of Diversity & Inclusion at the YMCA of the USA and the Director of Education at the Chicago Urban League. In addition, she was Educator at Morgan Park High School in Chicago, IL. Leslie earned a Master of Educational Leadership from National-Louis University, a Master of Public Administration from University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from DePaul University.

Tawana Edgeson-Steiner
Tawana
Edgeson-Steiner
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Linden Oaks - Edward Elmhurst Health
Tawana Edgeson-Steiner
Tawana Edgeson-Steiner
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Linden Oaks - Edward Elmhurst Health

Dr. Edgeson-Steiner is a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked in the field of mental health for over 20 years. Her experience expands across different areas including community mental health centers, mental health hospitals, private practice, and schools. She is an advocate for diversity and inclusion, and currently serves as a Chairperson for Linden Oaks Behavioral Health Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Dr. Edgeson-Steiner’s passion for youth and mental health inspired her to develop a character development program, Becoming Authentically Me (B.A.M.), focusing on fostering emotional and mental resilience. She has been a guest presenter for many organizations including schools, community organizations and churches.

Rosa Escareno
Rosa
Escareno
General Superintendent & CEO
Chicago Park District
Rosa Escareno
Rosa Escareno
General Superintendent & CEO
Chicago Park District

As General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District, Rosa Escareño oversees one of the largest park systems in the country with nearly 9,000 acres of parkland, 2,000 acres of natural areas, more than 600 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 11 museums, 10 harbors, eight golf courses, two world-class conservatories, and a sports stadium. Appointed to lead transformative change at the District, she manages a team of 3,000 year-round that snowballs into 6,500 during the summer to carry out hundreds of recreational programs, special events and sustainable initiatives in service to Chicago’s residents. Escareño is a lifelong public servant with 30 years of government experience. She has managed day-to-day operations, implemented policy reforms, and led transformative change supporting working class families, building economic and income equity, and growing small business opportunities under three Chicago Mayors. Prior to her appointment as Park District Superintendent and CEO, Escareño served as Commissioner of the city of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Ms. Escareño holds a Master of Science in Communications from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University Chicago. Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, she is a lifelong Chicagoan who resides on Chicago’s northwest side.

Yan Feng
Yan
Feng
Interim Department Head of Earth System Science and Climate Research
Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy
Yan Feng
Yan Feng
Interim Department Head of Earth System Science and Climate Research
Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

Dr. Feng is a Principal atmospheric and climate scientist at Argonne. She works on modeling air pollutants, atmospheric chemistry, and their impact on the Earth’s climate and human society.

Theresa Fletcher-Brown
Theresa
Fletcher-Brown
Director, EEO and Compliance Programs l EEO Officer
Chicago Transit Authority
Theresa Fletcher-Brown
Theresa Fletcher-Brown
Director, EEO and Compliance Programs l EEO Officer
Chicago Transit Authority

Theresa Fletcher-Brown is a transit professional with over 20-years of experience. Theresa currently works for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the second largest transit in North America. As the Director and EEO officer for the CTA, Theresa manages Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Initiatives and hosts a monthly virtual discussion about DEI in the workplace for the CTA employees and external stakeholders.

Lauren Glenn
Lauren
Glenn
DEI Communication Specialist
NorthShore-Edward-Elmhurst Health
Lauren Glenn
Lauren Glenn
DEI Communication Specialist
NorthShore-Edward-Elmhurst Health

Lauren Glenn is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Communication Specialist for NorthShore University Health System. She is a passionate advocate for diverse representation in healthcare and believes that a well-told story can create lasting change. She has been able to put her communications degree from Butler University to good use, and spends her days writing stories that amplify underrepresented communities. She hopes to one day serve as a leader in the DEI space,and continue her journey as an advocate at heart. When she’s not in the office, Lauren can be found on the running trail or checking out a new book. Her all-time favorite read is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.

Pam Greer
Pam
Greer
Real Estate Strategist
eXp Realty, LLC
Pam Greer
Pam Greer
Real Estate Strategist
eXp Realty, LLC

Pam Greer is a Real Estate Strategist, Investor, and Real Estate Re Developer. Pam has a passion for working with Luxury Real Estate New Construction and sellers looking to upgrade or downsize their lifestyle. Pam is also the founder and CEO of PRG PROPERTIES, a Real-estate acquisition, rehabilitation, re-development, sales, and investment company headquartered in Chicago, IL. Pam believes that homeownership is the cornerstone of building generational wealth and sustainable communities. She is committed to helping others reach their financial goals through Real Estate, ownership, and investments. Pam holds a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership from Lewis University and is a proud member of Mainstreet Organization of Realtors where she was appointed to the Golf Committee to assist in planning one of the summer's biggest events. Pam is a member of the National Association of Realtors; Pam is a member of the Dearborn Realties Board and Pam is also a member of one of the newest Networks of Women's Council of Realtors South Suburban! Her Motto Is “If you work as hard for yourself as you work for someone else it's no way you can't be successful."

Falesa Ivory
Falesa
Ivory
Licensed Psychologist
University of Nebraska Counseling and Psychological Services Center
Falesa Ivory
Falesa Ivory
Licensed Psychologist
University of Nebraska Counseling and Psychological Services Center

Dr. Falesa Ivory currently serves as a psychologist at the University of Nebraska Counseling and Psychological Services Center. In this role, she specializes in working with Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and other vulnerable populations on identity, trauma, phase of life, and spirituality. She has held therapeutic roles in both private and public spaces, working with diverse populations with serious mental illness, neurodiversity, and individuals with mental and physical disabilities. Dr. Ivory has been the guest speaker for organizations and conferences, locally and regionally, to bring awareness to diversity, inclusion, mental health, and well-being concerns affecting underrepresented populations and communities. A Provisionally Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner, Dr. Ivory, received a BA from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MA from Lewis University, and an MA and Doctor of Philosophy in clinical psychology from Fielding Graduate University.

Margo Jacquot
Margo
Jacquot
Founder and Chief Care Officer
The Juniper Center
Margo Jacquot
Margo Jacquot
Founder and Chief Care Officer
The Juniper Center

Dr. Margo Jacquot (she/her) is the award-winning founder and Chief Care Officer of The Juniper Center, one of the largest counseling and therapy practices across Chicagoland, with 70+ clinicians at 5 locations, plus serving all Illinois and Indiana with telehealth. She is a nationally renowned speaker on LGBTQ inclusion, parenting teens, trauma recovery, and the connection between brain science, your nervous system and mental health. Through social media, video, podcasts, livestreams, and in-person events Dr. Jacquot strives to #demolishthestigma by making mental health care relatable and accessible. When you are looking for clinical insight, Dr. Jacquot is a go-to resource. She is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Supervisory Addictions Counselor and Board-Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress. She is Certified in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a powerful treatment to help people resolve anxiety, panic, depression, phobias, stress, and trauma.

Melissa M. Lagowski
Melissa M.
Lagowski
Executive Director
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Chicago
Melissa M. Lagowski
Melissa M. Lagowski
Executive Director
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Chicago

Melissa created Big Buzz Idea Group in November 2004 so Chicagoland nonprofits would have an honest outsourcing partner to bring their largest projects to life. After raising more than $6 million dollars for clients through successful events, Melissa expanded the company services to provide management, marketing, event and consulting services for nonprofits and associations so that charitable organizations can run more effectively and create a greater impact. With 32 years of corporate and nonprofit experience, she has launched and executed large fundraisers, conceived several innovative and lucrative new programs, coordinated a variety of dinners/awards functions and organized numerous conferences/workshops. Her largest project to date is Ribfest Chicago, where she was responsible for every facet of the event including festival promotion, sponsorship development, entertainment booking and vendor management. Having begun with 5,000 attendees, the event grew to 70,000 people annually and was featured on Food Network’s “Eating America” with Anthony Anderson. Melissa is a member and serves as the Executive Director of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Chicago Area Chapter. Awards and accomplishments include the Woman of Influence by The Chicago Business Journal; the NAWBO Chicago Presidential Award of Excellence; Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Graduate; Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women Magazine; and Influential Women in Business Award by the Daily Herald Business Ledger; Melissa graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. Her program emphasis was public relations and event planning.

Valerie Lopez
Valerie
Lopez
Partner & Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practice
Hanold Associates Executive Search & Leadership Advisory
Valerie Lopez
Valerie Lopez
Partner & Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practice
Hanold Associates Executive Search & Leadership Advisory

Val is a Partner and Head of Hanold Associates’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Practice. She specializes in recruiting executive level DEI, Human Resources and Talent leaders. She has over a decade of experience in rapid-growth, private equity-backed SaaS businesses, specializing in M&A integrations and change management. She is especially strong in translating strategy to action, particularly with respect to managing change initiatives and designing and implementing DEI programs. Prior to joining Hanold Associates, Val spent 15+ years in progressive operational roles at Cision before being tapped as their first Global Head of Employee Engagement/Vice President of DEI. She was responsible for providing vision and leadership to the organization’s DEI function and strategy across the globe. Val is a seasoned guest speaker in the DEI space and has had the pleasure of speaking on a variety of panels and fireside chats. In 2019, she was recognized with a Power50 award by the Illinois Diversity Council. Val graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism and Gender Studies. Val splits her time between her home base in Chicago and Las Vegas (her home away from home).

Trayce Madre
Trayce
Madre
Entrepreneur, Speaker & TV Host
Trayce Madre
Trayce Madre
Trayce Madre
Entrepreneur, Speaker & TV Host
Trayce Madre

Trayce Madre is a true leader in luxury who has spent over two decades as a serial entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and dynamic sales coach. Her reputation as a consummate professional precedes her in every industry she enters, and she has made a significant impact as a beauty mogul, luxury real estate agent, and product developer of the vegan hair care line, Restore by Trayce Madre. Trayce's accomplishments have been recognized by some of the most prestigious publications, including Forbes Magazine, Essence, and Naperville Magazine, and she has been invited as a guest on several hit shows, such as The Steve Harvey Show, Windy City Live, and The Biggest Loser. The Trayce Madre Brand has also been featured twice on billboards in Time Square. In 2019, she launched her own podcast, Real Talk with Trayce Madre, which has been a resounding success and is set to materialize into her very own TV show in April 2023. Trayce's impact extends beyond the entertainment industry. She has worked with an impressive list of celebrities, including Angela Simmons, Michelle Williams, Paris Hilton, Drew Sidora, Common, Beverly Johnson, K. Michelle, and Val Warner. As a leader in business, Trayce Madre has taken her vegan product line to new heights. In 2020, she expanded to e-commerce and scaled globally on Amazon.com in Canada, Mexico, and the US. Her success did not go unnoticed, as she secured the coveted partnership with Walmart.com within the first 10 months of its launch. Today, Trayce and the Restore brand have signed a sizable contract to move into Walmart's warehouse and ship 90% of her products from their facilities. Trayce's aspirations are truly remarkable. Her mission is to inspire 1,000,000,000 women to live a soft life filled with top-tier experiences. With her impressive track record and infectious energy, Trayce Madre is a force to be reckoned with and an inspiration to women everywhere.

Lisa L Marsh
Lisa L
Marsh
CEO
MsP’s GFree INC
Lisa L Marsh
Lisa L Marsh
CEO
MsP’s GFree INC

Lisa Marsh is the eldest girl of her six siblings. She attended, Martin Luther King, H.S, and Western Illinois University in Macomb where she received her Bachelors in Law Enforcement Administration. Lisa worked 27 years in Federal Law Enforcement and retired December 2017, to run MsP’sGFree Inc as Founder/CEO. Mrs. Youlas Patterson-Brown, Lisa’s shero and mom is the inspiration and namesake of the company. MsP passed away at sixty (60) from congestive heart failure. James Patterson, Lisa’s dad, passed away at 42, from a stroke, and on October 23, 2018, Lisa lost a sister Venita (CoCo) Statam to a heart attack, Venita was 51. Lisa has been gluten-free since 2009, formulated MsP’sGFree Inc after working farmers markets and taking an accelerator course at Sunshine Enterprises. Lisa certified MsPsGFree 12/23/2015, then had products on the shelf at Whole Foods Market, 9/19/2016. Lisa is determined to take her family’s generational tragedy and turn it into triumph. MsP’sGFree Inc has products in 26 Whole Foods Market locations in and around Chicagoland. MsP’sGFree also has items on Amazon, in Community Fresh Market, in Nourish + Bloom, Fayetteville Georgia, and on their ecommerce website: https://www.mspsglutenfree.com. Lisa and hubby have a blended family of two boys, two girls, and four wonderful grandchildren. All of whom Lisa plans to be around to see graduate from college, get married and successfully run their own businesses. MsP’sGFree Inc is on a mission for optimal health and happiness, and inviting you join us!

Lorri Newson
Lorri
Newson
Chief Financial & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer
Pace Suburban Bus
Lorri Newson
Lorri Newson
Chief Financial & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer
Pace Suburban Bus

Lorri Newson is currently the Chief Financial and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for Pace Suburban (located in the Arlington Heights, IL) and a Certified Diversity Professional. Lorri lives by the words of Robert G. Ingersoll, “This is my doctrine: Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself. Accordingly, Lorri has spent over two decades working with large public agencies to ensure low-moderate income families have access to affordable and quality housing, education, health, economic and transportation opportunities through various federal, state and local government funded programs. Some of her most notable accomplishments include helping transform public housing and creating affordable housing homeownership programs for low-income families in Chicago. When Lorri is not working, she spends time in the gym, reading and coaching women on lifestyle changes to promote health and well-being.

Nelly Pitocco
Nelly
Pitocco
VP, Solution Engineering
Comcast Business
Nelly Pitocco
Nelly Pitocco
VP, Solution Engineering
Comcast Business

Nelly serves as Vice President of Solution Engineering at Comcast Business. In her role, she leads a team of technology engineers responsible for developing next-generation solutions for Comcast Business customers. Prior to Comcast, Nelly held executive positions at T-Mobile, Apollo, AT&T, and IBM where she led global and domestic teams across various organizations including sales, operations, engineering, and product development. She is experienced in change management and transformation – developing and motivating teams to reach their peak performance. Nelly is passionate about STEM and mentoring. Among her volunteering activities, she serves on the board of Embarc Chicago. Nelly is a graduate of DePaul University.

Jeannette Robles
Jeannette
Robles
Director, Global Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)
Jeannette Robles
Jeannette Robles
Director, Global Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)

Jeannette is a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) executive, human resource professional and trainer with subject matter expertise leading inclusive leadership development, coaching, strategic planning, and goal setting in large complex organizations. Her experience spans the tech, financial and now agriculture industries and has been focused in developing and implementing successful diversity and inclusion strategies for leadership accountability, and the development of employee engagement and retention efforts. Jeannette has her degree in Human Resources Management from DePaul University and holds various industry certifications in coaching, human resources, training and DEIB. On a personal note, she is a Chicago native with deep Puerto Rican roots and loves to go “glamping” with her family as often as she can.

Fabia Talhame
Fabia
Talhame
Marketing Executive
Formerly Wella Company
Fabia Talhame
Fabia Talhame
Marketing Executive
Formerly Wella Company

Fabia is a passionate marketing and personal branding professional whose expertise spans several key areas of marketing including trade, shopper, digital, experiential, and social media marketing, as well as advertising. With nearly two decades of marketing experience, Fabia has planned, managed, and executed many award-winning campaigns for blue-chip CPG, QSR and global beauty brands. Also, a humanitarian at heart, Fabia is working on launching a non-profit organization, Think, See, Be.org whose mission is to empower and equip teens and young adults in underserved communities with the skills needed to succeed in their college and/or entrepreneurial efforts. The organization will offer college prep/admissions assistance, personals skills and branding courses and other professional services. In her spare time, Fabia enjoys taking hot yoga classes, curling up with a good book, visiting new restaurants and traveling.

Allie Temkin
Allie
Temkin
Director, Global Talent Acquisition
Livingston International
Allie Temkin
Allie Temkin
Director, Global Talent Acquisition
Livingston International

Like so many HR professionals, Allie Temkin fell into the world of talent acquisition completely by accident. After spending eight years in the nonprofit space in Chicago, (leading youth development programming in the form of nutrition education and physical activity/play at multiple Chicago Public Schools), she found her way into the wild world of recruitment. While at Common Threads she went from a Program Manager to a Training and Talent Manager; and with this career shift she decided to go after her SHRM-CP and attend every HR networking event possible (only exaggerating slightly) until she found an incredible opportunity at Livingston International as a Recruiter. Four and a half years later, she's now leading their global recruitment as the Director of Talent Acquisition. Outside of Livingston, Allie serves as a mentor through the iMentor program, and was previously the Associate Board Chair for Playworks until 2019 (where she'd previously worked as a Program Coordinator). She obtained a Bachelor of Arts, in Sociology from Beloit college. Allie's true passion is making sure everyone can bring their full selves to work and helping others lead with empathy.

Michelle Thompson
Michelle
Thompson
Senior Director, Training and Learning Development
IAA
Michelle Thompson
Michelle Thompson
Senior Director, Training and Learning Development
IAA

Dr. Thompson has served global workplace and educational communities through leadership and learning for fifteen plus years. Her skills and passion lie in establishing innovative solutions to meet organizational needs, providing pathways to developing talent and bottom-line impact. Michelle’s early career was in non-profit K-12 education, leading global learning programs of NGOs for children and youth across five countries – United States, Mexico, India, Venezuela, and South Africa, as well as urban charter education across the United States in startup, turnaround, and special education. Today, Michelle is senior director of training and development for IAA, Inc. (NYSE: IAA), a leading global digital marketplace connecting vehicle buyers and sellers, headquartered in Westchester, Illinois. In her role, she leads a diverse and remote team of instructional designers, media specialists, and learning management system administrators building elearning training and development content for IAA’s 4,500+ employees and customers across 220+ locations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Dr. Thompson was part of developing the initial proposal for launching IAA’s first training department, initially serving the organization’s 1,800 employees. She has worked to develop a training and learning ecosystem for IAA that is focused on the competencies and skills to support business products and services, through delivery of engaging, inclusive elearning, videos, podcasts, virtual, and social learning, as well as one that can flex with the organization’s growth through digital transformation. Understanding skills needs and laying a path to workforce readiness is top of focus. Michelle serves IAA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DEI) through the Inclusion and Cultural Awareness Committee (ICAC) Leadership Committee as Committee Chair.

Jenni Ullrich
Jenni
Ullrich
AVP, Experience and Engagement
NorthShore-Edward-Elmhurst Health
Jenni Ullrich
Jenni Ullrich
AVP, Experience and Engagement
NorthShore-Edward-Elmhurst Health

Jenni Ullrich has worked in the media, higher education and health care industries in a variety of roles including senior level leadership positions in enterprise sales, product management, operations, talent acquisition, leadership development and employee experience. She is a long time believer in DEIB and advocates for respecting, honoring and embracing differences for optimal team effectiveness and bringing connection and fun to work. She wants to make it all better. Jenni is all about women raising each other up and is here today to join in the power of community.

Letty Vélez
Letty
Vélez
CEO
Velez Global Enterprises, & Social Enterprise IC U/Latinas
Letty Vélez
Letty Vélez
CEO
Velez Global Enterprises, & Social Enterprise IC U/Latinas

Letty Vélez is a Latina serial entrepreneur, who creates value for her Clients/Community Partners & is known as a “Community Navigator.” She is a strong advocate for Small & Minority Owned Businesses, a voice to Legislators & Corporations on Small Business’ rights & driven on equity justice. She is a powerful convener, changemaker, activator & trusted economic development expert. Letty is unapologetic about creating visibility for Small Businesses, she embodies innovation, is a think visionary & hot commodity. She was featured on Fox News as an expert on Small Businesses & grant funding. Acquiring over $7.2m in grants for small businesses, underserved businesses & nonprofits during Covid 19, she has a pulse on access to funding. She founded, led & managed multimillion-dollar businesses, transformed struggling procedures into successfully efficient processes, implemented consensus & cultural transformations. Created Walmart’s first free shuttle program in the U.S., other clients: Sam’s Club, NFL, Chicago Bears, McDonalds, Cubs, PGA, NASCAR, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), O’Hare Airport, Rosemont Convention Center, River’s Casino, Abbott to name a few with her bus former bus company. Letty is a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Chicago Cohort 1 Alumni, who was chosen from her peers to represent them in the inaugural commercials & appointed to speak at the White House on behalf of Small Businesses. She is a 10K SB Captain for Capital Hill, 10K SB Voices Access to Capital Task Force Member & Ambassador. In 2022 she was appointed by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias as the Transition Team, ChairBusiness Services Committee. She was tasked to lead a high level team of leaders to identify essential transformative solutions, priorities, gaps & opportunities for the Secretary of State Business Services for short term & long term goals & action plans. In 2021 Letty was interviewed by the White House & SBA Administrator to be a part of the BidenHarris Administration to oversee six states in the Midwest, which was a Presidential Appointment. The experience was an honor, as a passionate US Citizen, a Latina leader & businesswoman. Every day she aspires to serve her country & small businesses. As a national speaker her message is everyone at the table, inclusivity at the forefront. The greatest reward & joy of her work-getting funding for clients, pouring respect into them & their work, her knowledge & access as a new door of opportunity.

Jennifer Walker
Jennifer
Walker
Director, Global External Relations
Primient
Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Walker
Director, Global External Relations
Primient

Jennifer is #ProudlyPrimient in leading Primient’s external communications and outreach including public relations, website and social channels, brand reputation, and community programming / advocacy. She has more than 20 years of editorial and advocacy experience through a career that spans teaching, publishing, human resources / change management, and corporate communications. Jennifer holds a B.A. in English and Secondary Education from Millikin University and is a graduate of the Public Affairs Council’s Institute.

Melody Waller
Melody
Waller
Health and Wellness Account Director
Burrell Communications Group
Melody Waller
Melody Waller
Health and Wellness Account Director
Burrell Communications Group

Ann Williams
Ann
Williams
Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Treasurer
District U-46
Ann Williams
Ann Williams
Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Treasurer
District U-46

Dr. Ann Williams serves as the Deputy Superintendent for Operations and Treasurer for the 2nd largest school district in the state of Illinois. Serving more than 36,000 students across 11 communities in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Dr. Williams is internationally certified in school finance and operations. Dr. Williams provides leadership and oversight to all operations of the school district including but not limited to Financial Services, Business Services, Information Services, Transportation Services, Food & Nutrition Services, and Plant Operations. Performing as the primary resource and internal operation advisor to the Board of Education and Superintendent, Dr. Williams also serves as Treasurer for funds in excess of $690 Million annually. Dr. Williams’ commitment to serving children can be traced back many years to when she was a cheerleading coach. Since then, she has become a leader in the school business profession. Dr. Williams currently serves on the Illinois State Board of Education’s Professional Review Panel which oversees the Evidence Based Funding Model for Illinois public schools. Dr. Williams also serves on the SFO Certification Commission for the Association of School Business Officials International. Dr. Williams was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials from 2012-2015 and is currently the chair of their Diversity Equity and Inclusion Professional Development Committee. Dr. Williams has served as speaker, author and columnist for various conferences and publications. Currently, she is editing the 10th Edition of The Essentials of School Finance which will be published in the Fall of 2023 by the Illinois Association of School Boards. Committed to educating others, Dr. Williams has trained hundreds of Illinois school board members on fiscal accountability. With more than twenty years’ experience in finance and operations, Ann is also an adjunct professor teaching courses in finance, collective bargaining and human resources. When she is not working, she enjoys international travel, hiking and spending quality time with family and friends. Dr. Ann Williams received her B.S. from Northern Illinois University, her M.B.A. from DePaul University, and her Ed.D from Roosevelt University. Her doctoral dissertation was entitled “The school business official’s role in maintaining financial solvency during challenging economic times.” Her work is published in several professional journals.

Tannis Williamson
Tannis
Williamson
Director of Sustainability & Equity
Independent
Tannis Williamson
Tannis Williamson
Director of Sustainability & Equity
Independent

For nearly 20 years, Tannis Williamson has assisted organizations in the US and Europe to develop strategies and creative initiatives that highlights the role that philanthropy and sustainability can play in making life better for all people. Currently, Tannis is the Director of Sustainability and Equity for IAA, a leading global digital marketplace connecting vehicle buyers and sellers. She began her career in philanthropy, as a fundraiser for a civil rights organization based in Chicago. She continued to help other local and national nonprofits to raise funding and awareness on several issues such as breast cancer and education. In 2010, Tannis and her husband left Chicago and moved to Luxembourg for his work. While in Luxembourg, she attended the University of Luxembourg, where she received a Master’s in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. While studying, Tannis worked as a project manager for IMS (Inspiring More Sustainability) Luxembourg, which is Luxembourg’s leading business network organization on Corporate Social Responsibility. In this role, she was responsible for managing the organization's published study on “Corporate Social Responsibility and the Role of Board of Directors”. The study was conducted in partnership with the Economics Department of École Polytechnique in Paris and was presented to over 100 members of Benelux (Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands) corporate boards of directors as part of Institut Luxembourgeois des Administrateurs’ new board member training program. In 2016, she moved to Bonn, Germany, where she lived for two years before moving to The Netherlands. In The Netherlands, she helped to launch the Erasmus Food Lab at Erasmus University. This student driven project incorporated the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals in its programming, like its plant-based cooking workshops to encourage the faculty, staff, and other University stakeholders to embrace sustainability as a lifestyle. Tannis is from Atlanta, Georgia. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Clark Atlanta University. Prior receiving her Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the University of Luxembourg, she also received a Master’s in Public Administration from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business. Tannis is a foodie and loves to travel.


Moderators

Shelley Bromberek-Lambert
Shelley
Bromberek-Lambert
Chief Resilience Officer
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago
Shelley Bromberek-Lambert
Shelley Bromberek-Lambert
Chief Resilience Officer
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

Shelley Bromberek-Lambert has spent over 30 years in education and community service, helping to solve complex problems and enhance young lives. She has a track record for practical and effective strategies that leverage organizations’ number one asset – their people. Shelley is guided by organizational mission and vision, adept at translating those principles into plans and actions that strengthen organizations and deepen impact. Shelley joined YWCA Metropolitan Chicago in 2015 as the Chief Reimagination Officer, tasked with reimagining what the childcare field could be. She has reshaped the YWCA’s approach to early childhood and youth services with a comprehensive approach focused on four distinct stakeholders: childcare providers, educators, children and families. Under Shelley’s leadership, the YWCA grew from $3M in 2015 to $44M in 2023. Shelley recently took a new role with the YWCA as Chief Resilience Office working to build organization resilience. In this role she has direct oversight for the Human Resource, Facilities, IT and Legal functions. Shelley is an active member of the National Afterschool Association and former Chairman of the Board of Directors. Shelley is involved at the local level as a board member of the DuPage Federations Council of Leaders, the West Suburban Philanthropic Network Program Committee and the DuPage Early Childhood Collaboration Steering Committee. She sits on two corporate boards, Reflections Sciences and Right at School. She has received many honors for her work, including the Richard Scofield Award for Exemplary Service and Leadership in the Afterschool Profession and Excellence In Leadership Initiatives. Prior to joining the YWCA, she was the Chief Operating Officers for Knowledge Universe, overseeing operations across the United States and in India. She was a Barbara Bowman Fellow at the Erikson Institute where she wrote the policy paper How to Support The Family Childcare Segment. She received a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University.

Kesha Ivory-Darnell
Kesha
Ivory-Darnell
Manager- Talent Programs
IAA
Kesha Ivory-Darnell
Kesha Ivory-Darnell
Manager- Talent Programs
IAA

Kesha Ivory-Darnell has assisted thousands of workers in obtaining their desired job during her 25-year career in Talent Acquisition and Recruiting. At the start of her career, a mentor advised her that she would love being a recruiter or she would absolutely hate it- there would be no middle ground. Kesha not only loved recruiting, but she also quickly discovered that this work would be more than just her career. In it, she found her true passions, gifts, and life’s work. She began her career as a staffing agency recruiter, where she spent over ten years working with boutique sized to Fortune 500-level organizations to find and place talent from entry-level to the C Suite. Kesha led recruitment teams and helped launch Accounting & Finance staffing divisions for two staffing agencies. Having hired across all levels and industries, Kesha earned a reputation as a trusted partner to her clients and candidates. She was often assisting workers multiple times throughout their careers to land the exact right role for them. One of her clients eventually recruited her to be a Human Resources Business Partner/Recruitment Lead. She spent over ten years honing her skills in the various disciplines in Human Resources, ultimately serving as Assistant Vice President, Human Resources. In 2015, to have more control of her schedule for time with family, Kesha made the difficult decision to take a step away from the work she loved in favor of becoming an independent consultant and career coach. She recruited and coached individuals through career transitions before being hired by one of her corporate clients as a Recruiter Manager/Human Resources Business Partner. Currently, she serves as Manager -Talent Programs at IAA, Inc., where she manages strategic partnerships that support talent attraction to IAA. Her work focuses on engagement and relationship management with educational institutions, overseeing internship programs, building relationships with community partners and workforce development organizations, and DEI strategic sourcing strategy. Kesha studied at Northern Illinois and Lewis Universities and has extensive training in strategic planning and diversity sourcing, resume writing, interview techniques, people management, performance management, and other Human Resources areas. In addition, Kesha is a wife and mother of two college students. In her time away from work, she is an avid traveler who loves spending time with friends and family.

Carolyn Jaw
Carolyn
Jaw
Executive Vice President, Group Head, Sales, Strategy, and Solutions
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
Carolyn Jaw
Carolyn Jaw
Executive Vice President, Group Head, Sales, Strategy, and Solutions
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago

Carolyn Jaw joined the Bank’s Executive Team in January 2020, and became Senior Vice President and Group Head, Sales, Strategy, and Solutions. She became Executive Vice President in January 2021. From 2015 to 2019, Ms. Jaw was Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Institutional Sales, and most recently had responsibility over institutional sales, marketing, and events. Ms. Jaw has worked in various groups at the Bank since 2004, including the sales, capital markets, and mortgage groups. Previously, Ms. Jaw worked at Hillenbrand Capital Partners, a structured products investment fund, where she focused on pricing, funding, and hedging the residential and commercial mortgage loan and securities portfolios. Ms. Jaw serves on the board of The People’s Music School, the largest completely free music school serving Chicago metropolitan area children and is a Northwestern University Affinity Leaders and Learners (ALL) Mentor. Ms. Jaw holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and International Studies from Northwestern University, a Master of Business Administration degree with concentrations in Finance, Economics, Accounting, and Entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Executive Education General Management Program.

Melanie Munoz
Melanie
Munoz
Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Crate & Barrel
Melanie Munoz
Melanie Munoz
Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Crate & Barrel

Pronouns: She/Her Melanie Muñoz is driven by her passion for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a passion that spreads to every realm of her life. In her own words, “DEI isn't what I do, but more who I am.” As a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant and Strategic Advisor she strives to create opportunities for all and support her clients to develop creative solutions that result in impactful change. Melanie specializes in managing DEI strategy, Strategic Partnerships, Business Resource Group Planning & Development, Facilitation, Program Management & subject matter expertise on BIPOC recruitment. She was formerly the Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Sr. DEI Consultant at The Kaleidoscope Group, a full-service Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consulting firm based out of Chicago where she currently serves as a contract DEI consultant alongside her independent work. Some of her former clients include Major League Baseball, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Groupon, Federal Reserve Bank System, Mailchimp and more. In addition to advancing Diversity, Equity and inclusion with her clients she formerly served as President for Prospanica Chicago, whose mission is to empower and enable Latinx professionals to achieve their full educational, economic and social potential. Prospanica Chicago has a strong connection with the Latinx professional community through creative innovation programming, professional development opportunities, and connections with top employers allowing Melanie to advance DEI for her community. She also helped lead Prospanica’s annual Summer Enrichment Program, providing professional development and college readiness for Black and Latinx students in the Chicagoland area. In between leading the world of DEI in Corporate America, Melanie also leads DEI efforts in the context of her faith-based community at People Church Chicago where she launched PIXELS, a social impact organization that supports faith-based organizations and churches addressing issues of racial reconciliation, inclusion and equitable community development. Many pixels, one Picture is the vision. Through Pixels, Melanie has had the ability to develop, build and implement strategies & education specifically developed with a biblical foundation. She has received several awards including the Power of The Future Award by The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, Diversity MBA 50 under 50, Chicago’s 40 Latinos Under 40, and named one of the top twelve leaders in the U.S. as “Coors Light Lider” of 2020. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a minor in Business from The University of Toledo in Ohio and earned her Master of Arts degree in Psychology, focusing on Diversity and Inclusion leadership, and Organizational Change at Cleveland State University. Melanie is also a Certified Diversity Practitioner from Cleveland State University & Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. Melanie’s previous and current roles reflect exemplary leadership competences and most importantly, her true passion for the advancement of DEI.

Chipo C. Nyambuya
Chipo C.
Nyambuya
Managing Partner
CZL P.C.
Chipo C. Nyambuya
Chipo C. Nyambuya
Managing Partner
CZL P.C.

Ms. Nyambuya is a highly respected corporate counsel and legal consultant offering transactional and commercial legal support based on deep understanding of complex legal instruments. A strong negotiator, she is committed to developing successful strategies that mitigate risk while achieving client goals. Her expertise includes advising on corporate and organizational governance and compliance based on CSR, ESG, and DEI principles.

Crystal Odom-McKinney
Crystal
Odom-McKinney
National Director, Senior Community Service Employment Program
Easterseals Inc.
Crystal Odom-McKinney
Crystal Odom-McKinney
National Director, Senior Community Service Employment Program
Easterseals Inc.

Crystal Odom-McKinney is an experienced certified workforce development professional who partners with local and national nonprofits, community partners and businesses to grow their businesses through the training and employment of job seekers. With over 20 years in non-profit management and expertise in working with special populations (youth, veterans, disability, older adults), Crystal knows what truly drives community collaborations. How well you connect with the heart-beating people you’re trying to help and communicate your understanding to those stakeholders is vital in making the match! Crystal serves as Vice President for Illinois Diversity Council; Member of Chicago Jobs Council; Communications Director on the Board of Directors for Building Families Together, Inc., Board Member (Region 5) for National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and is a Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP). She also a partner/mentor of the American Society on Aging/New Ventures in Leadership Program and Chicago Jobs Council Front Line Focus Workforce Development Professionals Mentoring Program. Crystal holds a Master of Art in Counseling Psychology, Lewis University, Romeoville, IL; and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Tennessee State University. Crystal is also a veteran of United States Army.

Jessica Pagliari
Jessica
Pagliari
CEO, Founder & Consultant
Every Day Bliss Co.
Jessica Pagliari
Jessica Pagliari
CEO, Founder & Consultant
Every Day Bliss Co.

Jessica is the founder & CEO of Every Day Bliss, a personal & corporate wellness company. She is an x-top performer in the fortune 15, and a survivor of stress related illness. Jessica combined her corporate experience, Masters in Communication from Northwestern, and various wellness certifications in stress management, breath, and meditation to build high impact corporate wellness programming. Today, Jessica helps organizations support their employee wellness, engagement & retention through her evidence-based methodology.

Bernadette Smith
Bernadette
Smith
CEO
Equality Institute
Bernadette Smith
Bernadette Smith
CEO
Equality Institute

Bernadette Smith is Founder and CEO of the Equality Institute and an award-winning author. She is frequently requested as a keynote speaker to help promote an inclusive work environment and celebrate diversity. She has presented to a variety of audiences, including CEOs, leadership teams, human resource and diversity leaders, sales and marketing professionals and more. Because of her insight and impact as a change agent, she has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, the Washington Post, and Fast Company. Her media exposure includes appearing on CNN, the Today Show, the BBC, and National Public Radio. In 2018 and 2019. Bernadette has been named one of Chicago’s Notable LGBTQ Executives by Crain’s Chicago Business. She has also been selected as one of the Top 25 Women in Meetings by Meetings and Conventions magazine. Bernadette’s fourth book, Inclusive 360, was published this Fall.


Event Chairs

Sha-Narah Bratt
Sha-Narah
Bratt
Practice Lead
Actalent Engineering
Sha-Narah Bratt
Sha-Narah Bratt
Practice Lead
Actalent Engineering

Sha-Narah Bratt is an accomplished workforce solutions partner to civil engineering and environmental services firms in Illinois. She is determined to provide the best consultative support and service possible. As a Practice Lead, she’s focused on guiding her team toward reaching their professional goals and providing mentorship to colleagues across the country. In addition to her primary responsibilities, Sha-Narah has led Actalent Illinois’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee since 2018, receiving three awards since for leading successful fundraising campaigns for local organizations.

Tanjia Coleman, Ph.D.
Tanjia
Coleman, Ph.D.
Director, DE&I
NorthShore University Health System
Tanjia Coleman, Ph.D.
Tanjia Coleman, Ph.D.
Director, DE&I
NorthShore University Health System

Tanjia M. Coleman, Ph.D., has more than 18 years of experience working as a senior-level human resources and organization development professional in non-profit and Fortune 100 companies, including Microsoft, Starbucks, Tribune Company, Whirlpool, Sears, and Motorola. Currently, Coleman is the President of Reimagine Organization Development, Inc., where she provides clients with various organizational solutions focused on culture, leadership development, diversity, equity & inclusion. She is also the Founder of the Executive Women of Command Leadership Acceleration program. In addition, she holds a faculty position with the Loyola University Quinlan School of Business and National Louis University. She is a founding member of the Loyola University Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leadership Institute Certification Program. Previously, Coleman served as the Chief Human Resources Officer at the Y.W.C.A. Metropolitan Chicago, which for over 140 years has been the oldest and largest women's organization in the region, with a mission to eliminate racism and empower women. Coleman introduced cultural transformation and talent management initiatives as an instrument of business transformation that is advancing strategy and operational outcomes at the Y.W.C.A. Metropolitan Chicago. In the C.H.R.O. role, Coleman was responsible for ensuring the people, and cultural infrastructure met the high demand of the communities the programs served. Before her role at the Y.W.C.A., Coleman was the Senior Director, Human Resources, at KinderCare Education, responsible for 20,000 employees and 1,700 locations. Due to her leadership, KinderCare Education went from one of the most disengaged companies to being on Gallup's Top 37 companies to work. Coleman's contributions earned her the 2019 Visionary Award with Benedictine University. This award is given to distinguished alumni who have positively moved their industry and professions forward and are also committed to philanthropic endeavors. Coleman was the most junior of the recipients, with the three in this category graduating on average 40 years before Coleman. Coleman has earned several awards throughout her professional career, including the Commencement Speaking award, Professional Recognition of Integrity, Dedication and Excellence Legacy of Service, You Are A Star, Human Resources Newcomer of the Year Awards, and being named a 2020 H.R. Influencer. Coleman completed her dissertation to earn her Ph.D. in Organization Development in January 2016 from Benedictine University. In 2014 she received "The Best Student Paper Award" at the Academy of Management - I.S.E.O.R. conference in Lyon, France. She received the Best Paper Collaboration award from the Academy of Management in August 2016. She has completed research papers, presented, and served as a reviewer and discussant at the Midwest Academy of Management, Southwest Academy of Management, Western Sciences Decision Institute, and the International Socio-Economic Institute of Firms and Organizations. Her work was further recognized and published in the Recherches en Sciences de Gestion 2015 publication. Coleman also holds a Master of Science degree in Industrial and Employee Relations from Loyola University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from DePaul University. In 2018, Coleman's titled chapter: Role Modeling as an Alternative to Mentoring for Career Development Outcomes in Organizations was included in the 2018 volume of Leadership and Role Modeling: Understanding Workplace Dynamics published by Palgrave Macmillan. In 2019, Coleman authored the Who Are We Journal? A Diversity & Inclusion Journal was created to foster an understanding and appreciation for exploring differing experiences and beliefs. Coleman is active in several human resources and organization development organizations, including the Academy of Management, Human Resources Management Association of Chicago, Society of Human Resources Management, and the Organization Development Network. Coleman holds various leadership development certifications, including Benchmarks 360, Forte Communication, Behavioral-IQ, Intercultural Development Inventory (I.D.I.), DiSC, Strengths Finders, Servant, and Situational Leadership. Coleman profoundly believes in the importance of philanthropic work. She is affiliated with several organizations: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the K.I.N.D. fund (UNICEF), Imerman Angels, Y.W.C.A., and Feed My Starving Children. In addition, she serves on the Advisory Board of the L.E.A.D.S. (Leadership, Empowerment, Action, Development, and Service) program at Benedictine University and the Loyola University Chicago Quinlan Graduate Dean's Board of Advisors. Most recently, she was a guest on Fox News Chicago discussing women and leadership and is a recipient of the Crain's Chicago Business Award as one of the 2021 most notable D.E. . Executives. Coleman also has a bi-weekly podcast called The Executive Women of Command, "The Commanders," where she provides leadership, strategy, and business guidance. Coleman is often requested to speak at corporations, professional associations, and networking events showcasing her diversity, inclusion, equity, human resources, and organizational and leadership development expertise.

Cherie Price
Cherie
Price
Advisory Board Chapter President
Illinois Diversity Council
Cherie Price
Cherie Price
Advisory Board Chapter President
Illinois Diversity Council

Cherie Price is a multi-facetted professional with an extensive career in leadership roles in health care management beginning at the University of Chicago Medical Center where she supervised Health Information Management. Her expertise lies within communications, change management, process improvement, operational efficiency and social determinants of health to combat health disparities. She has dedicated 25 years of tenure to Elevance Health (formerly Anthem, Inc.), and currently holds the role of Operations Director for their Value Based Solutions Programs. She contributes to improving the health of humanity by delivering high performance health systems that embody; quality, access, efficiency, equity and healthy lives. Cherie’s responsibilities elevate the importance of whole health and advances health care beyond the roots of traditional health insurance. In 2010, Cherie embarked upon a new passion and proficiency that intersected healthcare with diversity, equity and inclusion. She was appointed by her company’s President to Co-Chair an organizational Diversity Council that spanned across their national footprint. Shortly thereafter, in 2012 the Chief Diversity Officer formed a corporate partnership with the newly established Illinois Diversity Council (ILDC) and Cherie joined the non for profit as a volunteer Activities and Events Chair. In the fall of 2016, Cherie became a Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) and stepped into the role of Council President after a unanimous Board of Directors vote. In her role as Council President, Cherie has strategically lead with the National Diversity Council’s core mission, vision and values. Over the last ten years since the Councils inception, Cherie has expanded the ILDC brand as the state’s premier resource for diversity best practices and leadership development and grown the partnership profile exponentially within corporate suites, educational seats and community streets. The business model and value proposition delivers both qualitative and quantifiable results which fundamentally impacts collaboration, innovation, sustainability and profitability. Her reputation as a strategic subject matter expert also includes that of an educator, resource creator and network connector; ultimately fostering cultures of belonging where all are welcomed, valued, heard and supported. Cherie has a thirst for learning and knowledge, as reflected in three higher education degrees; Business Administration, Healthcare Management and a Master’s in Communications with an emphasis is Business Leadership from Northwestern University. She holds numerous professional certifications including Interior Design, Change Management, Six Sigma (pending) and the DiversityFIRST Certified Diversity Professional designation. Cherie is an avid world traveler, inquisitively in love with people, extremely family oriented (aspiring to be the best Auntie ever!) and passionate about artistic creativity. She has resolved to her life’s’ purpose of giving of herself to encourage, empower and elevate others.

Deanna Shoss
Deanna
Shoss
CEO
Intercultural Talk, Inc.
Deanna Shoss
Deanna Shoss
CEO
Intercultural Talk, Inc.

Deanna Shoss (she/her) is Vice President of Marketing for Executive Diversity Services. She’s also the founder and CEO of Intercultural Talk, Inc., where she provides digital and real-life marketing and strategy through a keen intercultural, intergenerational lens. From getting a dinosaur through security at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to supervising the McDonald’s PR account, to leading the League of Chicago Theaters and heading marketing for Jewish Child & Family Services, Deanna likes executing big, exciting projects and using the current tech, tools and trends in marketing to get others’ voices heard. She is the host of the Intercultural Spark weekly Livestream. Her book, Where Two Worlds Meet: A Guide to Connecting with Your Teenage Grandchildren (with co-author Jerry Witkovsky), takes an intergenerational approach and tactics to deepen the grandparent-grandchild connection. Learn more at interculturaltalk.com

Sophie Todd
Sophie
Todd
Delivery Lead
EX3 Labs
Sophie Todd
Sophie Todd
Delivery Lead
EX3 Labs

Sophie brings more than 12 years of customer and client facing experience to the EX3 Labs project delivery team. Her strengths of empathy, communication, organization and relationship management have served her well in her role as a delivery lead. Sophie’s skills have enabled her to play a critical role in the successful delivery of more than a dozen digital projects. In addition to ensuring projects cross the finish line, Sophie specializes in program development and management. Sophie’s ability to navigate complex project environments and relationships with empathy has allowed her to quickly develop trust and understanding with clients. She employs these skills as a Design Thinker, designing and facilitating workshops for clients across many industries including Construction, Healthcare, and Diverse Talent Acquisition. Her experience spans across numerous industries from Aviation, Tourism, Education, Customer Service, Retail to even Real Estate. Throughout her career, Sophie has placed her values of empathy and equity at the forefront of any role she takes on. She continues to employ these values in her every interaction at EX3 Labs.


Agenda

8:30-9:15 am Breakfast & Opening Remarks
9:15-10:00 am Concurrent Session Series I
10:15 am- 11:00 am Concurrent Session Series II
11:15 am – 12:45 pm Luncheon
Keynote
1:00 – 1:30 pm Bank on BMO
1:30 – 2:45 pm Networking
Vendor Showcase
FUNdraiser
3:00 – 3:45 pm Concurrent Session Series III
4:00 – 4:30 pm Closing Remarks
Follow Up Resources

Session

    Concurrent Session 1:

  • Growing & Glowing: All I Need is Within!
  • Working Side by Side: Generational Diversity in the Workplace
  • Diversity of Womanhood: Intersectionality and Identity
    Concurrent Session 2:

  • Birds of a Feather: Professional Association Organizations
  • We Found A New Route! Advancing & Growing in Alternate Careers
  • Healthy Women, Healthy Communities
    Concurrent Session 3:

  • BE-YOU-TIFUL: Authentic & Professional Brand
  • Out of Bounds
  • What did you say? Reading between the lines

Don’t miss your chance to attend, register today!
Sponsorship Information

$3 Transaction Fee Will Be Added

 
For more information, please contact Cherie Price at [email protected].

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