Past Speakers

Nancy GianniChief Belief Officer of GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers

Nancy Gianni, Chief Belief Officer of GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement CentersNancy Gianni is the Chief Belief Officer and founder of GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers as well as an author and public speaker. GiGi’s Playhouse is the ONLY international network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers created to provide FREE life-changing therapeutic and educational programs for all ages.

With 43 GiGi’s Playhouse locations across the U.S. and Mexico, and a demand to open 200 more worldwide using her replicable model, Gianni has no choice but to stay at the top of her game.

As the dynamic force that is changing the disability world, Gianni’s story was featured recently on the Today show and on CNN where she was named a CNN Hero in 2016. Gianni, possessed with over-the-top energy and drive serves as both the visionary leader behind the organization’s launch and dramatic growth; and perhaps in her most important role, being GiGi’s mom.

Gianni gave birth to her beautiful daughter GiGi in 2002. After receiving the Down syndrome diagnosis, her fears coupled with the negative reactions of the medical staff made Nancy believe that her life, as she knew it, was changed forever. Well, GiGi had another plan! Her birth ignited an unstoppable force of miracles, hope and unconditional love that is now changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every day.

What began as a mother’s vision to change perception, and maximize her daughter’s successes, has evolved into a global movement of acceptance for ALL!

Gianni resides in South Barrington, Illinois with her husband and their four children.

Lisa WardellPresident and CEO of Adtalem

Lisa W. Wardell is President and Chief Executive Officer of Adtalem Global EducationThe purpose of Adtalem Global Education is to empower students to achieve their goals, find success and make inspiring contributions to our global community.

Adtalem Global Education is a leading global education provider and the parent organization of Adtalem Educacional do Brasil (IBMEC, Damásio and Wyden institutions), American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, Becker Professional Education, Chamberlain University, EduPristine, Ross University School of Medicine and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. Adtalem is a member of the S&P MidCap 400 Index.
Wardell was appointed President and CEO in 2016 and has been a member of Adtalem’s board of directors since 2008. She is the only African-American female CEO in the S&P 400 Index.

Prior to her current position with Adtalem, Wardell was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for The RLJ Companies, a diversified holding company with portfolio companies in the financial services, asset management, real estate, hospitality, professional sports, film production and gaming industries. As COO, Wardell was responsible for managing The RLJ Companies portfolio, including strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, business strategy, operations and finance.

With significant experience in structuring and negotiating private equity deals and mergers and acquisitions, Wardell was a key member of the team that led the formation of RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive, now RML, which is the largest minority automotive dealership in the U.S. with more than $1.3 billion in annual revenues. RML has successfully acquired $100 million of additional Harley-Davidson motorcycle and multi-brand automotive dealerships since inception.

Prior to joining The RLJ Companies, Wardell was a Principal at Katalyst Venture Partners, a private equity firm that invested in start-up technology companies in the media and communications industries from 2000 to 2003. From 1998 to 2000, Wardell worked as a Senior Consultant for Accenture in the organization’s communications and technology strategic services practice where she assisted with development of new business architectures for internet technologies and determined key convergence components enabled for telecommunications providers.

Wardell earned her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and her law degree from Stanford Law School. She earned her master’s degree in finance and entrepreneurial management from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Wardell serves on the Board of Directors for Lowe’s Home Improvement (NYSE: LOW), a Fortune 50 company, as well as THINK450, the innovation engine of the National Basketball Players Association, supporting NBA players and their development away from the game. She is also a member of The Business Council, the Executive Leadership Council, CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion and the Fortune CEO Initiative. Among numerous recognitions, she was recently selected by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the “300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America” (2017) and has been featured on Savoy Magazine’sTM Power 300: Most Influential Black Corporate Directors list (2017 and 2016). Wardell is often featured for her strategic insights by media outlets, including Bloomberg, Fortune, Politico, Investor’s Business Daily, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among others.

Mark FeldmanPartner at Cause Consulting

Mark FeldmanTransformed by watching his first surgery over thirty years ago, Mark immediately knew that he would never become a doctor. He thus applied his passion for helping people and love of problem-solving towards mobilizing others around critical social issues.

Today, Mark’s clients appreciate his coaching style and confidence as he guides them through business challenges and creates strategies that work. Every day he partners with CEO, marketing, CSR and foundation leaders of some of the world’s most powerful brands to craft impact-driven strategies, strong programs and memorable stories.

Mark is at the forefront of the corporate social impact and marketing fields. He is recognized as an “exemplary leader in corporate responsibility” by Corporate Responsibility Magazine and is the recipient of a 2015 Presidential Points of Light Award for his on-going leadership and commitment to community involvement and local change. He has written for Harvard Business Review and Boston College’s Corporate Citizen Magazine. Most recently, Mark and co-author Nikki Korn published “Evolution, Innovation and Best Practices in Corporate Social Impact,” a chapter within Springer’s Managing for Social Impact guide book for practitioners.

Mark’s experience spans the corporate, nonprofit, government and consulting sectors. He kicked-off his career by helping ignite the corporate volunteerism movement at New York Cares and developing community relations programs at Citibank. While at the U.S. Government’s Corporation for National Service, he formed public-private partnerships to support and launch AmeriCorps. Later, Mark became the Executive Vice President of Omnicom’s Cone Communications, where he built and drove its Cause Branding and corporate responsibility practice. He is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Mark loves teaching workshops and webinars for executives with the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, ACCP, Engage for Good, Conference Board and leading universities. You will always find Mark ready to “scrub in” for the next challenge.

Jonathan TerrellFounder and President of KCIC

Jonathan Terrell

Jonathan Terrell is the Founder and President of KCIC, a consulting firm that helps companies manage their product liabilities.

Like many entrepreneurs, in the early years of building his company, Jonathan poured everything into his business — even at the expense of his own well-being. Seven years ago, feeling overweight and unfit, he resolved to change his lifestyle. At the age of 48, he began transforming himself into an avid endurance athlete; in just six years, he completed 28 marathons and multiple triathlons.

Then, on February 5, 2018, — nearly a year to the day before he talks to EBC — Jonathan became one of only 104 people worldwide to finish the World Marathon Challenge: 7 marathons, in 7 days, on all 7 continents. He dedicated the race and year-long training effort to pediatric mental health — a cause close to his heart. His goal: to raise $1 million to help upgrade the inpatient mental health unit at the children’s hospital in Washington, D.C.

Jonathan was only able to savor his accomplishment for a short while, however. Last June, he was hit by an SUV while cycling. Airlifted from the scene, he spent three weeks in the hospital in critical condition and three months recovering in a wheelchair. Doctors said he’d never run again, but Jonathan is now putting his focus on physical therapy; with his positive attitude and strong beliefs, he is determined to prove his doctors wrong and plans to race again in 2019. His race calendar includes two Ironman Triathlons and a marathon at the North Pole.

Endurance training has taught Jonathan many lessons that he applies daily as a business owner. During his talk, he will share some of the disciplines, habits and attitudes he’s found are common between doing extreme endurance sports and building a healthy business, such as:

– Connecting to a higher purpose
– Breaking big goals down
– Building in accountability
– Being a “paranoid optimist”
– Practicing gratitude
– Having a relationship with pain

KCIC is a privately held consulting firm that partners with corporations in managing their products liabilities and related insurance assets in industries such as manufacturing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. With offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, KCIC combines leading-edge technology and consulting expertise to solve data-intensive challenges. KCIC has been recognized by Washington SmartCEO magazine as one of the region’s 50 fastest-growing mid-sized companies.

Jonathan has more than 30 years of international financial services experience with a multi-disciplinary background in accounting, finance and insurance. Prior to founding KCIC in 2002, he worked at Zurich Financial Services, JP Morgan, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

In addition to leading KCIC, he is in demand as an expert witness in disputes involving insurance company reorganizations, economic damage calculations, and insurance coverage valuation. Among his philanthropic commitments, Jonathan serves on the Corporate Advisory Council of Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife and two sons. He also supports Boy Scouts of America, Legatus, and Live Action.

Paula FasseasFounder of PAWS

Paula Fasseas

On May 30, 1998, PAWS Chicago was launched with an adoption event, Angels with Tails. The message that homeless pets needed to be saved was taken to the public. The event was held on the streets and in the boutiques of the Magnificent Mile where local businesses enthusiastically agreed to showcase the animals in their storefronts.

That single event brought the plight of homeless pets to the foreground, leading to continued public and media engagement that evolved over time:

First, a volunteer-run storefront Adoption Center on Clark Street
Next, the opening of the Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic
Then, the momentous inauguration of the Pippen Fasseas Adoption Center
And the most recent openings of the Training & Foster Care Center and the Glenn L. Felner North Shore Adoption Center
Through it all, the growth and evolution of PAWS Chicago has been driven by public awareness and the recognition that every person can take action to help homeless pets.

This has culminated into a collective action that has had transformative results, with the killing in Chicago declining by more than 80% since PAWS Chicago’s founding

Paula Fasseas honored as Chicago magazine’s Chicagoan of the Year

In January 2008, PAWS Chicago founder Paula Fasseas was labeled a Transformer by Chicago magazine and honored as Chicago magazine’s Chicagoan of the Year.

Oprah Winfrey Features PAWS Chicago’s Lincoln Park Adoption Center on Her Show

On April 21, 2008 Oprah Winfrey aired her visit to the Pippen Fasseas Adoption Center, showcasing the state-of-the-art facility and lifesaving work. It aired on her show as a part of a three-part series on puppy mills. The show put PAWS Chicago on the map as a national leader in No Kill.

Maddie’s Fund Grants Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine and PAWS Chicago Shelter Medicine Grant

No Kill leader Maddie’s Fund helped launch the field of shelter medicine in veterinary schools through generous grant-making.

In September 2008, Maddie’s Fund granted Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine one of its largest grants, with a portion of the program develop a teaching medical program with residencies and fellowships available for veterinary students at PAWS Chicago.

Michael FassnachtCEO of FCB Chicago

Michael Fassnacht

With more than two decades of strategic expertise and proven client skills, Michael Fassnacht has been instrumental in elevating the agency’s work, culture and industry profile in his role as CEO & President.

Michael has extensive entrepreneurial, corporate, regional and local agency experience, and has helped add new vigor and momentum to the agency by bringing in marquee accounts, including Cox Communications, AB InBev, Humana, Discover Card, Choose Chicago and Aramark.

In 2014 the agency moved into the one of the most prestigious and recognizable buildings in the world, the John Hancock Center. Honored with the Coolest Office in Chicago recognition by Crain’s, the office’s design and capabilities powerfully unite with a modern aesthetic, rejuvenating the longtime agency that is credited with founding the modern advertising movement.

In 2015, the agency had its best Cannes performance since the festival was established in 1954, with varied category wins from Film, Mobile to PR – evidence that having best-in-class capabilities under one roof opens the door to unlimited business building solutions for clients.

Before he was promoted to President in 2010, Michael served as global chief strategy officer at FCB, setting the overall corporate strategy while driving excellence across marketing disciplines, and integrating expertise into intellectual property used across the network’s client base.

As one of the network’s most published thought leaders, Michael also forged FCB’s global data strategy as the agency’s chief customer intelligence officer from 2006 to 2009, creating the customer intelligence teams to bring data to life in unique and relevant ways that would later become the benchmark for the industry.

Michael has helped numerous global companies such as American Express, Apple, The Gap, Starwood and more in their transformation from transaction-based to relationship-based customer organizations. Prior to its merger with FCB, Michael served at director of customer intelligence at Draft Chicago, founded the analytics firm Loyalty Matrix, served as VP of CRM pioneer Netcentives, and was the general manager of Lufthansa’s data practice and loyalty activities.

A native of Germany, Michael’s approachability and unique leadership style, paired with the agency’s highly regarded portfolio of work, have helped FCB Chicago attract the best talent and be the go-to source for creativity hailing from the Midwest.

Andrew LimourisCEO of Medix

Founded in 2001, Medix is a leading provider of workforce solutions for clients and candidates across the Healthcare, Scientific and Information Technology industries. The Chicago-based staffing firm helps individuals find the right jobs and companies find the right talent. Medix is dedicated to showing up for its clients, talent and people.

“I founded Medix based on the mission and purpose of positively impacting lives. As Medix’s CEO, I lead the organization in being more than just a traditional staffing firm with innovative hiring solutions. I have worked to ensure that we achieve our core purpose of positively impacting 20,000 lives by formalizing that purpose in Medix’s DNA. This core purpose is rooted in everything that Medix does within operating the business, forging relationships and running our teams.

At Medix, we look beyond resumes to get to the heart of candidates’ competencies and skills. We find talent the right job, instead of sticking them in empty seats. As a result, our clients in the healthcare, science and IT industries enjoy the benefits of satisfied employees, increased revenue and unified teamwork. Medix has developed into one of the largest and fastest-growing staffing agencies in America.

I truly believe that giving people a real purpose – something beyond financial gain – leads to great accomplishment, and improves a company’s bottom line in the process. My book Won with Purpose details my efforts to cultivate a deeper purpose within teams as both President and CEO of Medix and as a youth football coach. ” — Andrew Limouris

Kirk DillardChairman, Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)

Kirk Dillard serves as the chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors since June 2014.

Chairman Dillard and the RTA Board oversee the nation’s second-largest public transportation system by passenger miles traveled, which serves more than eight million residents in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The Authority is charged with regional financial oversight, funding, and transit planning for Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace Suburban Bus and ADA Paratransit. The RTA manages a regional transit operating budget of nearly $3 billion with assets of approximately $160 billion and a $5 billion five-year capital program.

Chairman Dillard served as a Republican senator from Chicago’s western suburbs in the Illinois State Senate. Prior to serving as senator, Chairman Dillard served with distinction as Chief of Staff to former Governor Jim Edgar and as Legislative Director to former Governor James Thompson. He is currently a partner at Locke Lord LLP, one of Chicago’s oldest and largest law firms. Chairman Dillard has been recognized in Crain’s Chicago Business’ “Who’s Who in Chicago Business” and was recently awarded the American Public Transportation Association’s “Best of the Best” Local Distinguished Service Award.

Chairman Dillard has a B.A. and honorary doctorate from Western Illinois University, a J.D. from the DePaul University College of Law and served as a Public Policy Mentor for the University of Chicago. Chairman Dillard is a lifelong resident of the region and has been a rider of public transportation for more than 50 years, riding the Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains since early childhood, and now is a regular rider of Metra.

Grant Stirling Ph.D.Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer of Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

“Mr. Stirling has extensive experience in developing transformational fundraising strategies to advance research and other hospital priorities,” said Patrick M. Magoon, President and CEO of Lurie Children’s. “His outstanding knowledge, skills and passion make him the ideal leader to oversee our philanthropic efforts in support of the hospital’s mission.”

Stirling has presented widely on fundraising to advance research and other key issues in philanthropy at professional conferences throughout the U.S. and Canada. He also has chaired conference committees for the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy and the Woodmark Group, an organization of 26 prominent children’s hospitals.

Stirling received his doctorate in English Language and Literature from York University in Toronto. He has published articles in peer-reviewed academic journals and has presented papers at arts and humanities academic conferences across North America.

Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals in the U.S.News & World Report 2015-16 Honor Roll rankings. Founded in 1882, Lurie Children’s is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and one of only a handful of U.S. children’s hospitals with a dedicated pediatric research center, Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. Lurie Children’s relies on philanthropy to serve more than 174,000 children and their families each year.

Chris NashSenior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Adtalem Global Education

Chris Nash was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Adtalem Global Education in 2013, with responsibility for managing all aspects of Adtalem’s IT strategy, planning and operations, including academic technologies, business support services, application development, infrastructure, project management office and enterprise architecture.

Nash joined Adtalem in 2010 as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. Before Adtalem, Nash served as Chief Technology Officer for Millward Brown, one of the world’s largest market research companies. In this role, Nash was responsible for global strategy and supported all technology solutions used by 84 offices across 54 countries. Before Millward Brown, Nash served in a variety of IT roles over 12 years at Kraft Foods. He led numerous manufacturing, supply chain and customer service initiatives, served as one of Kraft’s first enterprise architects, and in his final role, as IT client account director for Finance, Corporate and HQ systems. Nash also worked for Greenbrier & Russel Consulting and Rand McNally.

Nash holds a master’s in business from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Beloit College.

Kelly LeonardSecond City Works Executive Director, Insights & Applied Improvisation

Kelly Leonard is the Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation at The Second City and Second City Works. His book, “Yes, And: Lessons from The Second City” was released to critical acclaim in 2015 by HarperCollins and was praised by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair who called it “…an excellent guide to the lessons that have bubbled up in Second City’s improv workshops.” Kelly is a popular speaker on the power of improvisation to transform people’s lives. He has presented at The Aspen Ideas Festival, TEDx Broadway, the Chicago Ideas Festival, The Stanford Graduate School of Business and for companies such as Coca Cola, Microsoft, Memorial Sloan Kettering and DDB Worldwide. Kelly co-created and co-directs a new initiative with the Center for Decision Research at the Booth School at the University of Chicago that looks at behavioral science through the lens of improvisation. He also hosts the podcast, “Getting to Yes, And,” for Second City Works and WGN radio that features interviews with thought leaders such as Simon Sinek, Adam Grant, Gretchen Rubin, Dan Pink and Brene Brown.

For over twenty years, Kelly oversaw Second City’s live theatrical divisions where he helped generate original productions with such talent as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Steve Carell, Keegan Michael Key, Amy Sedaris and others. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Anne Libera and their children Nick and Nora.

Follow Kelly Leanard on Twitter.

Nick Sarillo, CEO of Nick’s Pizza & Pub and Author of ‘A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business’

Nick Sarillo is the founder and CEO of Nick’s Pizza & Pub and Nick’s University. Founded in 1995, Nick’s Pizza & Pub is one of the top ten busiest independent pizza companies in per-store sales in the United States. Nick’s Pizza & Pub has margins nearly twice that of the average pizza restaurant. In an industry in which the average annual turnover rate is more than 150 percent, Nick’s Pizza and Pub boasts a less than 25 percent employee turnover rate. Incredible when you consider 70 percent or more of his employees are under the age of 25! Nick’s University offers hands-on experiential learning, one and two-day classes, as well as online training courses. Nick is an active member of the Conscious Capitalism and Small Giants Communities.

Prior to founding Nick’s Pizza and Pub, Nick worked in the construction business. He worked as a union carpenter and then a general contractor. For 11 years, he owned a custom home building company.

Best Selling Author and a Great Story!

Nick credits his company’s success to his purpose-driven culture, which is the focus of his book, A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business (Portfolio; 2012). In addition, other authors have heard and traveled to Nick’s restaurants to learn and write about his approach to culture, leadership and management. You can find him referenced in:

Authentic Speaker

Nick is a two-time Tedx speaker and regularly speaks at meetings and conventions on the topics of business culture, entrepreneurship, leadership and customer loyalty. Past clients include: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Club Management Association of America (CMAA), Great Game of Business, Inc Magazine, Business Owners Groups, Vistage, Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), State Farm Insurance, and the University of Las Vegas.


Nick’s profile and insights have been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Inc Magazine, Fast Company, Newsweek, Investor’s Business Daily, American Express Open Forum and more. He also appeared on NBC Nightly News when they featured Nick’s very own “It’s a Wonderful Life” story.

Community Service and Integral Sustainability

Nick is rooted within the communities he serves through philanthropic initiatives, including the donation of five percent of all sales to charitable causes. Also, he has coined the phrase Integral Sustainability – Nick practices both natural and human sustainability. For example, all of his restaurants are built with recycled barn wood. Plus, his operations have processes such as “safe spaces” and “Trust and Track Leadership” that address the mental, emotional and spiritual health of his workplaces and team members.


Nick’s restaurants have won the National Restaurant Association/American Express “Good Neighbor Award” four times and have been featured in Chicago Best as “Great Pizza and Company.”

Arturo Gomez, CEO and Co-Founder of Big Game Air

Arturo’s creative business vision and passion for sports merged to forge the exciting business that is Big Game Air. For more than 19 years, Arturo has been creating hospitality concepts and building strong teams to grow their footprint in Chicago’s incredibly competitive hospitality landscape.
Arturo’s operational and marketing expertise, industry acumen, and dedication and drive for success have made him one of the most respected professionals in Chicago’s hospitality industry. His ability to identify talent and create solid teams has enabled long-term sustained growth for his ventures. At the forefront of Arturo’s profitable business partnerships and admired employee relations is his highly effective leadership abilities and customer connections, that have placed his projects at the top of a very short list of consumer and media favorites.

Born and raised in Lansing, Michigan, Arturo attended the University of Michigan where he majored in Biology and Latin American studies. Upon moving to Chicago in 1997, he started his career in the Chicago hospitality industry. With a passion for providing superior customer service experiences, he worked his way to become a nightclub general manager, and shortly thereafter in 2002, Arturo teamed up with two other industry professionals, and together they launched Rockit Ranch Productions, a Chicago-based restaurant and nightlife development and management company. Since its debut, Rockit Ranch has developed into seven unique venues with a team of more than 650 employees. In 2017, Arturo went on to pursue other entrepreneurial interests, and joined forces with friend and fellow hospitality veteran Todd Rubin, to launch Big Game Air.
For nearly two decades, there is no area of business development that Arturo has not been intimately involved with. It is this strong diversified experience that Arturo brings to the leadership team of Big Game Air. He truly believes that the guest experience is paramount, and he focuses on delivering an elevated and memorable entertainment experience through innovative products with top level service.

Andrew Swinand, CEO of Leo Burnett North America

As CEO of Leo Burnett North America, Andrew brings a wealth of industry experience and an entrepreneurial vision to lead an agency that uses the power of data and creativity to drive business for clients.

He was previously the founder and CEO of marketing startup The Abundancy, and co-founded its holding company Abundant Venture Partners (AVP), an incubator focused on building media and healthcare companies.

Prior to that, Andrew was president of Starcom MediaVest Group, the world’s largest media agency. Previously, he served as a brand manager at Procter & Gamble and an account supervisor at BBDO. Andrew also proudly served his country as a platoon leader in the U.S. Army.

Andrew has been recognized by Advertising Age as a “Media Maven,” and was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement in 2008.

Kathleen Yosko, CEO of Marianjoy

Since 1998 Kathleen Yosko has served as the President and CEO of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. Marianjoy is a network of 500 inpatient medical acute/subacute beds and outpatient rehabilitation services delivering a full range of multispecialty services to adults and children in the greater Chicagoland area.

More than 50,000 patients receive care within Marianjoy service network annually. Under Ms. Yosko’s leadership Marianjoy experienced a transformation in programming and care delivery including the most recent merger with Northwestern Medicine March 1, 2016.

Ms. Yosko is active in professional organizations. She currently serves on the Transforming Illinois health Care Board of the Illinois Hospital Association; Chicago Chapter of the International Women’s Forum; DuPage Health Coalition Board; Board; DuPage County Workforce Board; Illinois Performance Excellence Board (IPEX); American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association Board (AMRPA); Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence Board and the Chicago Project Against Violence Prevention. She is a member of the Chicago Network, the Economic Club of Chicago, the Executives Club of Chicago, the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Christine Center Board.

Marc Malnati, CEO Lou Malnati’s

Marc Malnati, owner of Lou Malnati’s Pizzerias, graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management in 1977. Shortly after, he started honing his management and leadership skills in the pizzerias.   Since then, Marc has grown the company from two pizzerias to 47 throughout the Chicagoland area and an Arizona location opened in May 2016.

Marc received Chicagoan of the Year award from Chicago Magazine in 1996 for his involvement in the opening of a Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Chicago’s under privileged Lawndale neighborhood. He has appeared on many Food Network and Travel Channel TV shows, including defeating Bobby Flay in 2009 on his hit TV show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”. In 2014, he was honored as the “Executive of the Year” by the Public Relations Society of America for his attention grabbing challenge to television personality Jon Stewart, who criticized Chicago-style deep dish pizza.

Marc believes strongly that culture is the most critical part of a business and has built a relational business model which calls for investing time in relationships and actively pursuing personal and professional growth. As a result of his efforts, in 2016 Lou Malnati’s was named one of the top places to work by Chicago Tribune for the seventh year in a row. They were also named among the top 150 best places to work by Workplace Dynamics.

Marc plays an active role in the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR). In the past 10 years under Marc’s leadership, the Lou Malnati’s Cancer Research Fund raised more than $3 million to benefit organizations dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. He has established an annual Thanksgiving food basket drive donating hundreds of food baskets to Chicago’s under-resourced families each year. He has matched employee donations to local, national, and international fundraising efforts such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the tornadoes in Missouri and Illinois, and the tsunami in Indonesia. Additionally, staying local is important to Marc, so Lou Malnati’s donates upwards of $100,000 in gift cards and $500,000 in food annually to local non-profit community organizations and schools.

Marc and Jeanne, his wife of 36 years, live in Chicago and have three adult children and three grandchildren.

John Venhuizen, CEO of Ace Hardware

John Venhuizen is President and Chief Executive Officer of Ace Hardware Corporation. Venhuizen, 45, is a 22-year veteran of Ace. Prior to this role, Venhuizen most recently served as President and Chief Operating Officer.

Venhuizen joined Ace within the marketing department in 1992. After serving a number of roles both in corporate and the field within marketing, category management and merchandising, Venhuizen was promoted to Manager of Marketing in 2000, where he oversaw Ace’s brand strategy, customer relationship management initiative, e-commerce and consumer research, among other duties. In 2004, Venhuizen became Director of Business Development where he led Ace’s aggressive growth strategy and implementation. In 2006, Venhuizen was promoted to Vice President of Business Development. In 2008, Venhuizen served as Vice President, Business Development, Retail Training and International as Ace launched Ace International Holdings to expand brand licensees around the globe. In 2010, he was promoted to Executive Vice President where he oversaw Ace’s supply chain, IT, international and strategy.

Venhuizen currently serves as a Director on a number of boards including the Mark Morton Memorial Foundation, Ace International Holdings and Ace Retail Holdings. He is a graduate of Trinity Christian College. Venhuizen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a marketing concentration. He resides in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Julie Yurko, President and CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank

Julie joined Northern Illinois Food Bank in 2009 and served as the organization’s philanthropy team lead since 2010 before her appointment to president and CEO in 2014. Julie has more than 20 years of experience in managing fundraising, operations and marketing at a variety of not-for-profit organizations. Prior to joining the Food Bank, Julie served as director of major gifts at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where she successfully established a new major gifts program and helped secure more than $112M to expand Orchestra Hall and construct Symphony Center. She also held positions at The Children’s Memorial Foundation (now Lurie’s Children’s Medical Center) and the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo. Currently, Julie serves as Chair for Feeding Illinois, the state food bank association, and is a member of the Governor’s Commission to End Hunger in Illinois.

Julie has a degree in music and business from Northern Illinois University. She and her husband Ed live in Winfield with their four children.

Brad Schneider, Co-founder of Rightpoint

Brad Schneider is the co-founder and co-CEO of Rightpoint. Since launching the company in 2007 with Ross Freedman, Rightpoint has experienced over 900% revenue growth and has earned a solid reputation as a digital agency leader in Chicago and across the tech services industry. Fueled by a $55 million equity investment in 2015, Rightpoint expanded its national footprint into six new U.S. markets with the acquisition of Boston-based Agency Oasis in 2016.
Under Brad’s leadership, Rightpoint has been named one of Crain’s Best Places to Work and Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces. In addition, Brad and co-founder Ross Freedman were recognized in 2015 with the coveted EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2015 Award in the Midwest program.
Prior to starting Rightpoint, Brad co-founded systems integration firm Wired Matrix, which more than quadrupled in size in just three years. In 2002, Brad led the successful merger of Wired Matrix with another tech consulting firm. Before embarking on his entrepreneurial path, Brad worked as a consultant with Arthur Anderson.
Brad’s vision for Rightpoint centers on balancing business needs and technology to create digital experiences that amplify brands and improve core business functions. A digital maker at heart, in his role as co-CEO, Brad works hands-on with Rightpoint clients, ensuring usability and world-class visual design are at the core of every engagement.

Ross Freedman, Co-founder of Rightpoint

Ross is co-founder and co-CEO of Rightpoint, an award winning technology and design services agency headquartered in Chicago.  Ross is responsible for the strategic direction of the company and the realization of the company’s vision.

Under Ross’ leadership, Rightpoint has helped to boost the Chicago economy and job market adding nearly 300 positions since the company was founded in 2007. With consistent double-digit annual revenue growth, 2015 marked Rightpoint’s best year yet with 35 percent year over year growth and more than $36 million in total revenues.

Rightpoint challenges the status quo with a team of passionate designers and software developers who infuse strategy, technology and creative/marketing services to deliver engaging client experiences. Rightpoint’s unique, non-hierarchical, “intrapreneurial” culture encompasses the spirit of free-thinking, teamwork, leadership, passion and excellence that its founders created.

Prior to Rightpoint, in1999, Ross co-founded systems integration firm Wired Matrix with Brad Schneider. Despite launching amid the dot-com recession, Wired Matrix quadrupled in size in just three years and ultimately merged with another technology firm.

In addition to recognition with several business and industry awards, in 2015, Ross was named Midwest winner of the prestigious EY “Entrepreneur of the Year” with co-founder Brad Schneider.

Joe Kanfer, CEO of GOJO Industries Inc (maker of Purell)

Joe Kanfer is Chairman and CEO of GOJO Industries. Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, GOJO is a world leader in the field of hygiene and skin care products for institutional markets and known as the inventor of PURELL® Instant Hand Sanitizer. Joe is also a venture investor in the United States and Israel. He is Chairman of Startvest Partners, which develops biotech startups in Israel, and of HeadSense, a company focused on measuring inter-cranial pressure and concussion.

Joe is active in national Jewish affairs and is the past Chair of JFNA/The Jewish Federations of North America, the coordinating organization of the North American Jewish community, which includes the 155 Jewish communities of North America. He served on the board of the Jewish Agency for Israel and is past Chair of JESNA/the Jewish Education Service of North America, the Akron Jewish Federation and The Lippman School. He is also a Founding Chair of Lippman Kanfer Foundation. He currently serves as Chair of Honeymoon Israel, a new venture to bring young couples to Israel and foster Jewish community when they return.

Joe is Chairman of the Advisory Board of Bits and Atoms Innovation Center, a catalyst for new companies and job creation and a member of the Executive Committee of the Greater Akron Chamber Board of Directors. He is the past Chair of Akron Tomorrow and past Vice Chair of The University of Akron Board of Trustees. 

Joe received the 2011 H. Peter Burg Award from the Greater Akron Chamber and the 2015 Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award from the Akron Community Foundation. He holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Joe is married with four children and 12 grandchildren.

Michael Brophy, President of Benedictine University

An innovative higher education professional, Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., became the 11th president of Benedictine University in August 2015.

Brophy began his career in higher education as an associate dean of admission at The College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y., where he completed his undergraduate and graduate studies. He also worked in enrollment management at The Sage Colleges in Troy and Albany, N.Y., Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and the State University of New York in Canton, N.Y.

He left the State University of New York system to become film instructor, first-year seminar instructor and associate provost at Long Island University in Southampton, N.Y. He was later named campus executive officer, dean and associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin’s Baraboo campus, where he led academic programming and facilities development that helped increase enrollment by 10 percent.

In 2006, Brophy was named president of Marymount California University, a Catholic, liberal arts college with 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students in Southern California. There, he led the transformation of a private two-year college to a multisite university with undergraduate and graduate degree offerings, doubling enrollment since 2009. He also spearheaded a facilities improvement project that updated aging facilities and built new living and learning environments and campuses in Southern and Northern California.

Brophy was named the “Educator of the Year” by the Harbor City/Harbor Gateway Chamber of Commerce in 2013 and “Citizen of the Year” by the Rotary Club of Palos Verdes Sunset in 2012. He has presented on fundraising and higher education leadership, was appointed a columnist for the Huffington Post, and was featured on the cover of the Los Angeles Business Journal.

An accomplished filmmaker, Brophy wrote, directed and edited three films that were screened at film festivals, theaters, museums, universities and foundations throughout the United States, Cuba and Europe. His screenplays were selected to the Independent Feature Project Market in New York.

In addition, he has accompanied gospel choirs at the State University of New York as a musician and performed with students and faculty at recitals at Marymount California University, University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County and The College of Saint Rose.

Brophy earned Bachelor of Arts in Music (Piano) and a Master of Arts in English degrees from The College of Saint Rose (NY), a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Long Island University (NY), and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A Fulbright recipient, he has taught and conducted research in Europe and Cuba. He and his wife, Tara, live with their three children in Naperville, Illinois.

Mike Gordon President of the Chicago Wolves

Mike Gordon is in his seventh season as the Wolves president of business operations after joining the organization as vice president of partnerships in February 2009.

The 2015-16 season marked the fifth time in six years the Wolves increased their revenue and the team perennially ranks among the top AHL franchises in sponsorships and ticket sales.

During Gordon’s tenure, the front office won the 2010 President’s Award given annually to one American Hockey League organization to reward excellence in all areas off the ice. The Wolves won Sponsorship Sales Department of the Year awards in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 and were recognized for excellence in community service in 2012 and fan experience in 2013.

Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, Global Lead Partner of KPMG

Kathy Hopinkah Hannan is a senior partner with KPMG LLP. She has held numerous leadership roles throughout her career. She began her career at KPMG in 1985 and was admitted to the partnership in 1994 in the International Tax practice. Hannan was promoted to Midwest partner-in-charge of international services in 1996. Two years later, she was named partner-in-charge of KPMG’s Chicago metro-tax practice. Hannan was subsequently appointed to Vice Chair, Human Resources in December of 2000, where she was responsible for retention, recruitment and workplace initiatives, in addition to continuing Human Resources’ significant contribution to the achievement of firmwide goals. Hannan also served as a member of the firm’s Management Committee and Global HR Steering Group. Then in February of 2004, Hannan was named the Midwest Area Managing Partner for KPMG’s Tax Services, the first female to be named to such a position at KPMG. In 2009 she was appointed as the National Managing Partner of Diversity and Corporate Responsibility in December, 2009. In this role she provided strategic direction to leverage diversity and inclusion and corporate philanthropy for commercial sustainability. She is currently working with the Board Leadership Center to clarify governance issues, and on the Advisory Board for the Women Corporate Directors Foundation that promotes and strengthens women who are on corporate boards.

Hannan’s tenure in the accounting profession reflects over 30 years of industry expertise. Currently, Hannan continues to provide tax services to a select pool of global clients.

Her passion for speaking out for women in the workplace has had a trailblazer effect. The firm recognized Hannan’s ability to lead and selected her for KPMG’s 2002 Leadership Summit, a program that develops the future leaders of the firm’s Americas practice. The next year, she founded the KPMG Women’s Advisory Board with the objective to improve the retention and advancement of women in the firm. With Hannan’s leadership, the Women’s Advisory Board established the KPMG Network of Women, the firm’s first diversity network and the model for all other networks. The KPMG Network of Women is represented across the firm with close to 60 local chapters and engages approximately 2300 men and women. Hannan served as the Chair of KPMG’s Diversity Advisory Board, advancing the Chairman’s vision on diversity. She also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of The KPMG Foundation which provides ideas, actions and financial support to diverse academic and business communities.

Paul Spiegelman, Chief Culture Officer of Stericycle

Paul Spiegelman is Chief Culture Officer of Stericycle, a NASDAQ listed global services organization with 20,000+ employees and is the Founder of BerylHealth, The Beryl Institute and the Small Giants Community.

Paul is a New York Times best-selling author and has been honored with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Paul is a sought-after speaker and author on leadership, employee engagement, entrepreneurship, corporate culture, and customer relationships. He makes frequent radio and TV appearances and his views have been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Inc. Magazine.

Paul practiced law for two years prior to founding BerylHealth. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA and a law degree from Southwestern University. To learn more about Paul, please visit

Donald A. Orseno, Executive Director/CEO of Metra

As Executive Director/CEO of Metra, Mr. Orseno provides overall leadership and direction to all areas of Metra’s Administrative and Operating Program to ensure that Metra achieves its vision, mission, goals and objectives. Financial responsibility includes oversight of Metra’s budget, which totaled $1.1 billion for operations and capital in 2015. Metra is geographically one of the largest commuter rail systems in the nation, serving a six-county region of more than 3,700 square miles.

Mr. Orseno began his career in 1974 at the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company. In 1984, he began working for Metra and has held progressively responsible senior leadership positions, formerly serving as Metra’s Deputy Executive Director/COO prior to his current position. Mr. Orseno has worked in the railroad industry for 41 years.

Mr. Orseno is a member of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Board of Directors, and also serves as Chairman of APTA’s Commuter Rail Committee and Chairman of the Commuter Rail CEO’s Subcommittee. He is a member of the Safety Operations and Management Committee (SOMC) of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), and is also a member of the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) Board of Directors. Mr. Orseno is also a member of the Eno Center of Transportation Board of Advisors Executive Leader Subcommittee.

Mr. Orseno is the past President of the Association of American Railroad Superintendents, and the Chicago Railroad Superintendents Association (CRSA).

Henry Fogel, Dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University

Henry Fogel was appointed Dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University beginning in July, 2009, a school at which he has taught a course in orchestral studies since 2002. In addition, he continues to provide a limited amount of consulting for musical organizations, working as a part of the Catherine French Group. Recent clients include the Elgin Symphony, the Illinois Philharmonic, the Lake Forest Symphony Orchestra, and the Seattle Symphony. He has been an artistic consultant to the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra in Brazil since 2008, and has consulted for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Edinburg Festival. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou, China.

From 2003-2008 he was President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, an organization that serves almost 1,000 symphony orchestras. He retired from that position in 2008, but remained as a senior advisor through 2009. During his seven years with the League, he visited over 190 orchestras in America. Under his leadership the League attained fiscal stability, operating in the black for each year of his Presidency. In addition, the League undertook a major strategic planning process, resulting in a more effective and responsive service organization for the field.

Vicki Escarra, Global CEO Opportunity International

Since 2012 Vicki Escarra has been the global CEO of Opportunity International, a global non-profit organization that helps people in developing nations work their way out of poverty. The organization provides loans, savings programs, insurance, training and other financial services to more than 12 million people in 28 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

At Opportunity International Escarra has led initiatives to create a long-term strategic plan, rebrand the organization, streamline operations and increase global fundraising by 30 percent in 2013, expanding the organization’s work around the world. She also strengthened partnerships with corporate and institutional donors such as Caterpillar, MasterCard and John Deere as part of the organization’s plan to create 20 million jobs by 2020.

From 2006 to 2012 Escarra served as President and chief executive officer of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. As president and CEO of Feeding America, Escarra increased fundraising by 300 percent, nearly doubled its client base, and increased corporate contributions from $8 million to $33 million in about six years. “Vicki’s impact on the Feeding America network has been phenomenal,” said David Brearton, Feeding America board chair via a statement. “The Board of Directors is profoundly grateful to Vicki for her more than six years of dedicated service.”

Connie Lindsey, Executive Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Northern Trust Bank

Connie L. Lindsey is Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northern Trust, Chicago. She is responsible for the design and implementation of the global Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity and Inclusion strategy for Northern Trust. She also provides oversight and leadership to the firm’s response to environmental matters as well as social issues.

Prior to becoming the Head of CSR, Ms. Lindsey led the client servicing teams in the Public Entities and Institutions segment in the Corporate & Institutional Services business, serving public fund and not-for-profit clients. Ms. Lindsey has held a number of leadership roles at the firm, including Deputy Business Head in Operations and Technology, Group Head in Northern Trust’s Wealth Management business, and Manager in Treasury Management Consulting and Product Management.

Marc Schulman, President Eli’s Cheesecake

Marc S. Schulman is President of the Eli’s Cheesecake Company, one of the country’s largest specialty cheesecake and dessert bakeries located on the northwest side of Chicago. The Cheesecake was the dream of Marc’s father, famous Chicago restaurateur, Eli Schulman, who created the signature dessert for his legendary restaurant, Eli’s the Place for Steak, and which made its public debut at the first Taste of Chicago in 1980. Eli’s Cheesecake was named a top ten Chicago food icon by the Chicago Tribune in its 150th Commemorative issue.

Schulman and Eli’s are committed to promoting educational opportunities and careers in the food industry through its partnership with the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. Schulman serves as a co-chair of the Business Advisory Board for CHSAS and served this year on the Leadership Council and co-chair of the Education & Innovation Committee for FARM Illinois.

Doug Cook, Owner and President Feldco

Douglas M. Cook is owner and president of Feldco, the Midwest’s largest window, siding and door company. Prior to acquiring Feldco, the lifelong Chicagoan spent over a dozen years in broadcasting working for Katz Media Corporation and Cox Broadcasting.

While attending the Kellogg School of Management he became interested in entrepreneurship, and following graduation set out to acquire a company in the Chicago area. After a search of over two years in which he examined more than 120 companies, visited 60 and made offers on four, he was successful in acquiring Feldco, then a 25-year-old firm that had been providing window products to Chicagoland homeowners since the mid-1970s. Without altering the product line, he set about reinvigorating the company’s culture by bringing a fresh approach to marketing and management while making Feldco one area’s of the most visible and recognized firms. Since acquiring Feldco in 2000, it has grown more than 600 percent while expanding operations into three additional Midwestern states. The company does not aim to simply satisfy customers, Feldco sets out daily to delight customers and has developed a comprehensive company-wide system to make this a reality. Today, Feldco operates eight offices with over 450 representatives delivering in excess of $50MM in revenues annually.

Rich Stoddart, CEO of Leo Burnett North America

Not long after joining Leo Burnett in 1985, Rich Stoddart knew why he loved working in advertising: “No other field, I realized, calls for such a unique combination of business analysis, the study of human behavior and the insatiable desire to be creative and forward-thinking.”

Twenty years later, following stops at Fallon and on the client side at Ford Motor Company, Rich returned to Leo Burnett as President, North America, to bring these elements together and create ideas that “wake people up and have an impact on the world.”

He quickly set about strengthening the leadership team, attracting new talent, uniting Leo Burnett and marketing-services arm Arc Worldwide — and infusing the agency with his infectious, focused energy and belief that creativity is the most powerful force in the universe.

The result: today, Rich leads and inspires a growing agency that is delivering groundbreaking, results-oriented work to longtime and new clients alike.

Mark Kaufman, Founder/CEO of Athletico

Mark Kaufman, who also holds degrees from the University of Arizona, Northwestern University, and the University of Iowa, is the president and founder of Athletico, a provider of outpatient physical therapy, sports medicine and rehabilitation services in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. Kaufman founded the company in 1991, which now offers clinical services in 85 locations in and around the Chicago area, Milwaukee, WI, and Indiana. In addition to serving the general public, Athletico contracts with many professional sports teams—including the Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Fire, and US Soccer—and dance companies, high schools and colleges throughout the Chicago area, including Northwestern University, University of Illinois and the Big Ten. Athletico is also involved with outreach services for many endurance events and training groups and golf groups such as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Illinois PGA, and the Chicago District Golf Association.

Over the past 23 years Kaufman has carefully monitored the growth of his company. Athletico has grown to 85 locations, 10 managed locations, 1 golf and sports performance center, and has added additional programs such as hand therapy, women’s health, spine school, vestibular/concussion, pediatrics, video throwing and running analysis, running and endurance programs, and personal fitness and golf programs. Athletico remains very much a close-knit, caring place to work, where a strong work ethic, commitment to continuing education, and dedication to superior customer service are highly valued.

Jane Hilk, President of Kraft Foods

Jane Hilk is responsible for leading Kraft’s Enhancers and Snack Nuts business unit, which includes iconic brands like A.1. steak sauce, Grey Poupon premium mustards, Kraft and Good Seasons dressings, Kraft and Bull’s-Eye barbecue sauces, Kraft and Miracle Whip spoonable dressings and Planters snack nuts, trail mixes and peanut butters. She was appointed to this position in July 2013.

Prior to her current leadership role, Jane served as Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Refrigerated Meals business unit with responsibility for brands including Oscar Mayer and Lunchables. Jane championed innovation and new ways of marketing in the business, leading a shift in advertising investment from traditional vehicles to more social and digital media. In 2009, the Oscar Mayer brand launched new advertising creative with the largest single campaign in its 125+ year history. The team also introduced Oscar Mayer Selects, which was recognized as one of IRI Pacesetter’s most successful new products in 2011. Jane joined the Refrigerated Meals business as Vice President of Marketing in 2008 and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Marketing in 2010.

DG Macpherson, Senior VP and Group President of Global Supply Chain & International, Grainger

D.G. Macpherson was named Senior Vice President and Group President, Global Supply Chain and International, in September 2013. He is responsible for corporate strategy and continuous improvement, the global supply chain organization, the company’s single channel online business model and international operations in Asia, Europe and Brazil.

Prior to this role Mr. Macpherson was Senior Vice President and President, Global Supply Chain and Corporate Strategy, where he led Grainger’s U.S. product management, inventory, distribution and sourcing capabilities as well as global sourcing, purchasing and transportation efforts. His team also provided specialized supply chain expertise to each of Grainger’s international businesses.

Eric Langshur, Co-founder of Abundant Venture Partners

“I went from wanting my son to be handsome and athletic to wanting my son to live”. – Eric Langshur

We at the Executives Breakfast Club all have at least one thing in common: we understand the importance, value, and benefit of values-based leadership. But how each of us arrived at that understanding is unique to each one of us. On December 12th we will hear Eric’s story. Eric will tell you he was a successful corporate suit. He started out in the corporate world serving as President of Bombardier Aerospace, CAS, a world leader in innovative aviation products, President of United Technologies ONSI Corp, the world’s largest producer of commercial fuel cells, and held several executive level positions within divisions of United Technologies, including Vice President and General Manager of Hamilton Standard Propeller Systems.

Tom Carmazzi, CEO Tuthill Corporation

Tom is Tuthill’s Chief Executive Officer. His role, simply stated, is to bring to life the Vision, Mission, Values and Brand of the Corporation. Tuthill is a privately held (4th generation) manufacturer of industrial products including pumps, meters, blowers, and vacuum systems used in “foundational” markets such as Agriculture, Energy, Chemical, Construction, Food, Beverage and Water Treatment.

Tom came to Tuthill in August of 1999 to help with the implementation of the Tuthill Business System (TBS) or Lean initiative. Since that time he has held various leadership roles and in April of 2011 was promoted to CEO. He believes that all business success starts with leadership. Accordingly, he relishes the time he gets to engage and enroll folks in the journey. A large part of this activity is to identify and better understand the fundamental human issues that hinder employees from willingly and actively pursuing this honorable endeavor.

Charles Adler, Founder of Kickstarter

Charles Adler is a Kickstarter co-founder and from 2007 to 2013 served as its Head of Design. Prior to Kickstarter, Mr. Adler founded the online art publication Subsystence as well as Source-ID, an independent interaction design studio. He’s a designer, a National Design Awards Juror, and named one of 2013’s “top disruptors in business” by Forbes Magazine.
As a technologist and entrepreneur Charles is driven to empower creative people, refactor education toward learning, and protect our environment.

Margaret Stender, Owner of Flow Basketball Academy & Chairman of Chicago Sky

In the spring 2012, Margaret launched a basketball and leadership developmental school for girls called Flow Basketball Academy, which offers year round programming with age appropriate building blocks for girls 8-18. The athletes learn over time how to fully integrate and engage their physical and mental skills, capabilities and preparation; in essence from proper integration of mind, body and spirit…all else flows.

At the Sky, Margaret was the first employee and served as the founding President and CEO of the Chicago Sky for the first six years of this WNBA franchise. She led the team development from a vision and a dream to a thriving multifaceted professional organization.

Watch a Video of Margaret Stender, Owner of Flow Basketball Academy & Chairman of Chicago Sky

Tony Dreyfuss, Founder of Metropolis Coffee Company

I was born in 1974 in Ann Arbor Michigan, then moved to Indonesia at the age of 2. My parents are linguists who specialized in SE Asian languages. In 1980 we left Indonesia and moved to Madison, Wisconsin where I (mis)spent the rest of my youth. I graduated high school in 1992, and then went to UW-Madison where I studied Philosophy and French. I graduated (barely) in 1998.

During college I paid for tuition and rent by driving taxi. It was while driving taxi that I discovered my great love for coffee and coffee houses. During one of my shifts, a single cup of coffee at a bohemian cafe cemented my fate as a coffee baron. I had to make coffee my life.

Greg Wasson President and CEO of Walgreens Co.

Greg Wasson joined Walgreens as a pharmacy intern in 1980 while a student at Purdue University’s School of Pharmacy in West Lafayette, Ind. After earning his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1981, he managed several Houston Walgreens drugstores before being promoted to district manager in 1986. He was promoted to a regional vice president of Walgreens store operations in 1999.

In 2001, he was named a Walgreens vice president and executive vice president of Walgreens Health Initiatives, the company’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM). Wasson was promoted to president of Walgreens Health Initiatives in 2002 and named a Walgreens senior vice president in 2004 and a Walgreens executive vice president in 2005. He became president and chief operating officer of Walgreens in 2007 and was appointed CEO in February 2009.

Daniel Hamburger, President and CEO of DeVry Education Group.

Daniel Hamburger is President and Chief Executive Officer of DeVry Education Group.

The purpose of DeVry Education Group is to empower its students to achieve their educational and career goals. DeVry Group (NYSE: DV; member S&P MidCap 400 Index) is a global provider of educational services and the parent organization of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Becker Professional Education, Carrington College, Carrington College California, Chamberlain College of Nursing, DeVry Brasil, DeVry University, Ross University School of Medicine and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. These institutions offer a wide array of programs in business, healthcare, technology, accounting and finance.

Maria Wynne, Former CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago

Maria Wynne is the former Chief Executive Officer for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the largest Girl Scout council in the world. The council brings leadership development opportunities to more than 84,000 girls ages 5-17 and 24,000 volunteers across six Illinois counties and Four Indiana counties.

Prior to joining the Girl Scouts, Ms. Wynne was an executive leading national sales and marketing organizations as Vice President and as General Manager for America’s leading technology brands, Microsoft and Xerox, Ameritech (now AT&T), and Moore Corporation (now RR Donnelley).

Watch a Video of Maria Wynne, Former CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago

Dennis McKinnon, Former Chicago Bear & Winner of Superbowl XX

McKinnon was the starting wide receiver from the famous 1985 Chicago Bears Superbowl XX Champions. He is one of those rare individuals that were mentored by the likes of Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan that have produced so many highly successful college and professional football coaches. Mike Ditka called him “the best blocking receiver I ever had”.

Dennis is a proven champion both on and off the field. To play for Mike Ditka you must have tremendous ability but you must also have deep character with an unprecedented tenacity to win. So many players from the ’85 Bears are now coaches because they were hand picked by Ditka for the heart they showed on and off the field.

Michael McAvoy, President The Onion

Mike McAvoy has been the President of The Onion since 2008. Prior to becoming President, he was a financial analyst, comptroller, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at America’s Finest News Source. He worked in banking and online education before coming to The Onion.

In his current role, McAvoy is responsible for the day-to-day operation of both The Onion and its sister publication, The A.V. Club. Among other responsibilities, he has direct oversight of the company’s, advertising, product development, technology and finance departments. He hardly writes any jokes at all.

Watch a Video of Michael McAvoy, President The Onion

Peter McNitt, Vice Chair of BMO Harris Bank

Peter McNitt is Vice Chair of BMO Harris Bank. As part of the bank’s executive leadership team, he has a wide range of responsibilities focusing the organization on delivering the full breadth of wealth, commercial and investment banking capabilities to the bank’s customers. He has direct responsibility for strategic initiatives that both strengthen BMO Harris’ capabilities around customer focus and development and expand the bank’s market visibility and presence.

During his career, McNitt has held many leadership roles. He was named Senior Vice President and Head of the Emerging Majors Midwest in 1994. Since that time, he has led U.S. Corporate Banking (as Executive Vice President), U.S. Investment Banking (as Executive Managing Director), and Business Banking (as Vice Chair).

Shawn Riegsecker, CEO & Founder of Centro

Shawn Riegsecker is the founder and CEO of Centro, a software and managed services partner to advertising agencies looking to better manage costs, improve operational efficiencies and increase profitability.
Shawn founded the company in 2001, intent on fixing the inefficient operations in the industry and making it easier to buy, sell and deliver digital media. Since then, he has built Centro into the only provider of both managed services and cloud software to simplify and streamline the full digital campaign lifecycle.

Jon Cotay, Founder of AKIRA (Crain’s 40 under 40)

Jon Davidson Cotay is a businessman, nurse, realtor, and philanthropist. After moving from his native Philippines to the US at age 12, Jon received his B.S. in Nursing at the University of Illinois. He started AKIRA in 2002 with Erikka Wang and Eric Hsueh, and has since seen it grow from a single women’s boutique in Bucktown to a 17-store chain & an international website (

In 2012, Jon was named to Michigan Avenue Magazine’s list of “Chicago’s Most Noteworthy Men.” The previous year, he was honored as one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ “40 Under 40” and one of Michigan Avenue Magazine’s “Cause Celebs.”

Anne Pramaggiore, CEO of ComEd

Pramaggiore is president and CEO of ComEd, which has 5,700 employees and revenues of approximately $6.1 billion. ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation. ComEd delivers electricity to approximately 3.8 million residential and business customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population.

Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) is the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately $33 billion in annual revenues. Headquartered in Chicago, Exelon is the largest competitive U.S. power generator, with more than 35,000 megawatts of owned capacity comprising one of the nation’s cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets.

Anne Saunders, President of Redbox

Anne joined Coinstar in August 2012 as president of Redbox Automated Retail, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coinstar. Prior to Redbox, she was executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Knowledge Universe, where she was responsible for creating the company’s business strategy, accelerating revenue growth, and developing new revenue streams. From 2007 to 2009, Saunders worked at Bank of America, first as senior vice president, brand executive, then as senior vice president, consumer bank executive. Saunders previously held a number of positions at Starbucks where she was responsible for global brand strategy, marketing, and communications.

Watch a Video of Anne Saunders, President of Redbox

Russ Smyth, CEO of The Havi Group

Russ Smyth is Chief Executive Office of The HAVI Group LP, a diversified holding company that owns and manages businesses across the supply chain, marketing and packaging industries, including HAVI Global Solutions, The Marketing Store and HAVI Logistics.

Prior to joining HAVI in 2010, Russ was President and CEO of H&R Block one of the world’s largest tax services provider. In this role, he was responsible for H&R Block’s tax preparation business, as well as the H&R Block Bank and RSM McGladrey, a leading professional services form providing tax and consulting services.

Watch a Video of Russ Smyth, CEO of The Havi Group

Brian Baer, President of Dominick’s

Prior to joining Safeway, Baer spent more than 12 years with the Marriott Corp.’s Food & Beverage and Retail Operations, progressing upward through various financial management positions in operations, corporate finance and real estate development. Before Marriott, he also held positions with The Carlyle Group and Price-Waterhouse Coopers.

He currently is on the Board of Trustees of Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview. He also is a member of the Illinois State Self Insurers Advisory Board as well as the Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce. He holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in both Accounting and Systems from The Pennsylvania State University.

Watch a Video of Brian Baer, President of Dominick’s

Tom Walter, CEO of Tasty Catering & Rich Panico, CEO of Integrated Project Management

Rich Panico
Founder, President, and CEO Integrated Project Management Company, Inc.
After 15 years of service, Rich left Johnson & Johnson to dedicate himself fully to a new business venture. Recognizing a pressing need across industries for top-drawer project execution, Rich founded Integrated Project Management Company, Inc.
Tom Walter
Tom Walter, CEO of Chicago-area Tasty Catering, has been a business owner for over forty years. During this time, he has started twenty-nine companies and acquired three. He remains a principal in nine of those companies, six of which were co-founded by his staff.

Mike Evans, Founder of

Mike Evans is the co-founder and COO of GrubHub. Mike Evans graduated MIT in 2000 with a pile of degrees and an equally impressive pile of debt. Following along the dotcom bandwagon, Mike moved to Chicago to work at While there he came to understand the value of lead generation Internet advertising.

In 2004 Mike wrote version one of because he was frustrated with futilely searching for delivery restaurants and grumbling through inaccurate orders. After refining the website, he jumped ship and went full time to pursue making a real business. Armed with a “Sales for Dummies” book, Mike and co-founder Matt Maloney bootstrapped the business for two years. The company’s rapid growth has led to five rounds of investment funding, totaling $84.1 million.

Doug Porter, CEO Ronald McDonald House Charities- CNI

A New Jersey native, Doug graduated from Cornell University with a BS from the School of Hotel Administration in 1978. Always dreaming of becoming a pilot, Doug went through the NROTC program and received his commission in the U.S. Navy upon graduation. Entering naval flight school in the fall of 1978, Doug accumulated 2000+ hours in carrier-based jets over the next seven years and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for accomplishments during extended deployments to the Indian Ocean.

Upon leaving the military in 1985, Doug joined Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago. Throughout the course of the next 19 years, Doug worked on a number of clients in the Account Management area. In the fall of 2004, Doug retired from his business career and joined Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana as the CEO.