Soft Skills

Upcoming Events:
October 8th – Soft Skills Workshop

For further information and book click here now.

COURSE DETAILS

Soft Skills are the intangible but important qualities that enable you to work and interact with the people around you effectively. They are also called ‘people skills’, ‘interpersonal skills’ or ‘social skills’.

“Research has found that soft skills rival technical and academic skills in predicting success in the workplace, As a result, they are increasingly desired by employers, who say they can always train people in the technical matters”. (Chicago Tribune-July 3rd, 2016)

  • Career Advancement
  • Effective Leadership
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Satisfying Relationships
  • Living your purpose
  • Fulfilling your dreams
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Time management
  • Problem Solving
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Goal Setting
  • Decision Making
  • Team Building
  • Organizational
  • Creative Thinking
  • Self-Awareness
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Mindfulness
  • Empathy
  • Accountability

SHEBANI KULKARNI

Shebani Kulkarni’s innovative entrepreneurial skills and leadership skills at Fortune 500 Companies of over two decades have made her a sought-after Thought leader, Coach, Speaker and Host. As Founder of EQuest Global Group, she has created a platform to connect people of diverse backgrounds and empower them with the skills and resources to unleash their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. Apart from being a popular Personal Development Coach and Mindfulness Trainer, Shebani has also hosted and directed television shows, fashion shows, music concerts, beauty pageants and dance contests globally. As Co-founder of Dhrishti Arts in 2001, she has presented over 150 prestigious performing arts events across the globe. The Dhrishti Foundation was established in 2004 in India to empower underprivileged women and children with training in classical music, yoga and performing arts. As a strong advocate for holistic health and women empowerment, Shebani has served on the Board of various Committees and received several prestigious awards.

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Call: 815 404 3803

info@equestglobalgroup.com

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Mamta Sharma

Leadership Coach, Motivational Speaker
President – Sunrise Education

www.mamta-sharma.com

Mamta Sharma is an award winning coach and was felicitated as one of the “50 Most Influential Global Coaching Leaders” by the World Coaching Congress and the World HRD Congress in 2016. She is a John Maxwell Certified Speaker, Trainer and Coach and offers workshops, seminars, coaching and key note speaking. Her expertise is in aiding personal and professional growth through study and practical applications of various Leadership Principles and methods.

She has also served as a Leadership mentor in many area schools in their FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) activities acting as Speaker and Mentor to the students. She has served as a Judge in the Leadership and Speaking category at the 2015 FBLA Nationals for 12,000 high school participants. Besides, Mamta has offered various youth workshops at many local schools.

Mamta has worked in Corporate America for the past two decades in key leadership roles and holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from India and a Business Management degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Business in Chicago.

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Deborah Olivia

President and CEO of the Brown Farmer Group

Deborah Olivia Farmer is president and CEO of the Brown Farmer Group, Inc.., a full-service, Chicago-based communications firm. Established in 2014, the fast-growing firm provides strategic Media advice and counsel to a select clientèle that includes small businesses and entrepreneurs, faith-based and community organizations, media personalities and more throughout the Chicagoland area, and nationwide.

Mrs. Farmer was born into a family that stressed loyalty to kin, community, church, and country. With that mantra instilled in her from birth, she has made a conscious, persistent effort to use her talents and hard work to reach personal goals, while assisting others in achieving theirs.

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Maaria Mozaffar

President and Founder, The Skinless Project Company

Maaria Mozaffar is a thought leader for a new generation. In a world obsessed with physical beauty, consumerism without conscience and quick fixes in health, love and life; she is a role model. Maaria is teaching the world; especially women, how to live in the moment, focus on what matters and bring authenticity into their lives. She is committed in the face of negative media stereotypes to build women up, change their relationships and connect communities globally. She is indeed empowering women to make the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Maaria is an attorney, a mediator, a policy drafter, a social entrepreneur, a health advocate, a triathlete, a mother of three, a wife and yes she is passionate about all areas of her life. She is madly in love with life and is the new global face of having it all.
Lindsey has won many awards, including the National Diversity Council’s Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois-Advocacy Award, Ebony Magazine’s 2009 Power 150 and Chicago United’s Business Leaders of Color award.

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Kirsten Zoub

Dasein’s growth catalyst, passionate and experienced speaker and trainer

Dasein’s growth catalyst, Kirsten Zoub, is a passionate and experienced speaker and trainer. She devotes herself to engaging her participants, and offering techniques to make an immediate difference in their personal lives and careers.

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Connie Lindsey

Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility of Northern Trust Bank

Connie Lindsey is Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility of Northern Trust Bank, and the first African-American woman to hold that position. She is also the National
President of Girl Scouts USA, and has been profiled on national television on PBS’ 30 minutes and ABC’s Heart and Soul.

Lindsey has won many awards, including the National Diversity Council’s Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois-Advocacy Award, Ebony Magazine’s 2009 Power 150 and Chicago United’s Business Leaders of Color award.

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Tom Kuchan

Director EMEA Financial Services at Tesla Motors

Tom Kuchan is an entrepreneurial leader with line experience in banking, automotive, and finance industries in global markets (US, Europe, Middle East, South America, Asia, and Africa), and successful leadership in credit, strategy execution, start up, and project & process management.

He excel at achieving results in multi-cultural settings and identifying and solving business problems in highly complex environments with large volume of data points.

Tom believes in leading, managing, and changing based on measurable objectives, “What gets measured gets done.”

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Myrna Torres

Branch Director, AARP
Myrna Torres has over 30 years of non-profit experience in a variety of settings centered around children and youth development, community organizing, and residential care for adolescents. She has worked for organizations that are citywide, statewide and now national. The vast majority of her experience has been in leadership positions. Her primary commitment has always been to develop staff, particularly on leadership for that is at the heart of empowerment, which she learned as a community organizer. She is also an experienced trainer and has trained on such topics as cultural competency, community organizing and leadership.

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Gina Amaro Rudan


President -Genuine Insights, Inc.,
Bestselling Author – ‘Practical Genius’,
Thought Leader and Trainer for
Fortune 500 Companies

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Luz Canino-Baker

President – LNC Coaching and Latinas On The Plaza

President – LNC Coaching and Latinas On The Plaza, MBA,
ICF Certified Coach, Certified Emotional Intelligence Instructor

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Shebani Kulkarni


President/Founder – EQuest Global Group, Inc.,
Co-Founder – Dhrishti Arts,
Exec. Vice President – The Meadows Club,
Personal Development Coach,
Mindfulness and Yoga Instructor

Shebani Kulkarni’s innovative entrepreneurial skills and leadership skills at Fortune 500 Companies of over two decades have made her a sought-after Thought leader, Coach, Speaker and Host. As Founder of EQuest Global Group, she has created a platform to connect people of diverse backgrounds and empower them with the skills and resources to unleash their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. Apart from being a popular Personal Development Coach and Mindfulness Trainer, Shebani has also hosted and directed television shows, fashion shows, music concerts, beauty pageants and dance contests globally. As Co-founder of Dhrishti Arts in 2001, she has presented over 150 prestigious performing arts events across the globe. The Dhrishti Foundation was established in 2004 in India to empower underprivileged women and children with training in classical music, yoga and performing arts. As a strong advocate for holistic health and women empowerment, Shebani has served on the Board of various Committees and received several prestigious awards.

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Clarita Santos

Senior Director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Clarita Santos is Senior Director of Community Health Initiatives at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL). In this role, she oversees BCBSIL’s community investments, volunteerism and community engagement across Illinois. Since 2007, she has provided guidance on the allocation of millions annually in BCBSIL grant funding to community partners in support of the goals of increasing access to care and reducing health disparities among the uninsured and under-insured in Illinois. Currently, Ms. Santos is coordinating Be Covered Illinois, a grass-roots, unbranded initiative in partnership with 86 community organizations to inform and educate Illinois residents about the Affordable Care Act. Prior to joining BCBSIL, Santos was Director of Program Funding at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. Clarita has served in the field of public health since 1992, with a particular focus on Asian American health concerns. Previous roles include Executive Director of the Asian American AIDS Services, Co-Vice President of the Asian American Institute, board member of the Leadership Center for Asian Pacific Americans, member of the Chicago Department of Public Health HIV Prevention Planning Group, FilCRA (Filipino Civil Rights Advocates), and the Filipino American Network. In 1996, Clarita was one of five founding board members of the Asian Health Coalition. Today that agency is a leading non-profit healthcare organization with a network of over 25 community partners in the Chicago metropolitan area.

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Dr. Michele Vaughn

CEO, Teen & Single Mothers Resource Center, Inc.
Dr. Michele Vaughn is the CEO of Teen & Single Mothers Resource Center, Inc. and her primary mission is to empower single mothers to become a role model to their children through the power of advanced education. She has a Master’s of Science in Counseling and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Argosy University. She is an author of ‘If You Can Birth a Baby, You Can Birth Your Dreams’. Dr. Vaughn is highly recognized for her drive in the field of higher education. She is a five time award recipient and has appeared on Fox and Friends to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

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Anisha Patel

Founding Principal, InnovusED LLC.

Anisha is the Founding Principal of InnovusED LLC, an educational consulting firm specializing in education, organization and leadership; which provides complete program management and implementation to educational institutions both public and private. InnovusED is sought after to facilitate program management and professional development on various topics, including the importance of cultural inclusion and global education. Anisha was awarded academic merit scholarships in college and earned a Masters in Educational Administration and Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She benefitted immensely from leadership opportunities throughout her schooling, including serving as President of the Honors Society. Due to her combined excellence in academics, service and leadership she was awarded the distinction of giving the commencement address as the Valedictorian. She is therefore, passionate about nurturing youth leadership via extracurricular activities and is on the development team of an educational nonprofit MOSAYEC. Anisha also serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Education Conference.

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Laura Müller

Founder, Dynamic Professional Women’s Network

Laura Müller is a YouTube personality, businesswoman, celebrity blogger, journalist and author. She hosts the YouTube Healthy cooking show Las Recetas de Laura and Eat Healthy with Laura with more than 250 thousand followers. Las Recetas de Laura is also on TV on Mundo Fox in the USA, Enlace México News in México and Cuscatleca Channel 67 in El Salvador. She is also a radio host for the news show Radio Claret America. Müller wrote a book based on her syndicated Sunday column named Ruleta Urbana for the Organización Editorial Mexicana. She was recognized as one of the top 100 influential Latinas for her healthy cooking show at the Mujeres Destacadas Award 2014. Along with her husband, she is the founder of Media Forward Productions Inc., which helps industries and organizations to use social media and new technologies to gather more traffic and followers into their projects.

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Leonor Gil

Senior V.P. in the Institutional Product Services.

Leonor Gil is a Senior Vice President in the Institutional Product Services (IPS) group at Northern Trust Securities, Inc. In this leadership role, Leonor is responsible for core NTSI product servicing, including commission recapture, soft dollars and exchange funds. Prior to joining Northern Trust in 2008, she was the Director of Operations for high net worth and institutional clients at Harris Associates L. P. Her depth of experience includes Commission Management, Prime Brokerage, trading systems, operations, portfolio administration and management of project teams. Leonor has over twenty five years of industry experience.

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Kathy Volpi

Kathy Volpi is currently an Executive Director at Sloan Valve Company, located in Franklin Park, IL. Since joining the company in 2011, Kathy has led the New Product Development Initiatives organization and also directed product category business. She recently organized the response to a labor strike to maintain and exceed production volumes until settled. Before this, Kathy was at U.S. Cellular. While there, Kathy led teams and business operations in Product Management, Marketing, Strategy, promotions, and sponsorships. Her past experience includes General Manager, North America for Cybiko, a wireless hardware and software applications developer providing more than 300 applications and games for the youth market. She also worked at Motorola in several capacities within the Personal Communications Sector, Commercial, Government and Industrial Solutions Sector and New Business Ventures organizations. Prior to that, Kathy worked at Leo Burnett ensuring that broadcast commercials were produced and sent to television stations and cable.

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Georgeanna Mehr

President, Hoffman Estates Community Bank

Georgeanna Mehr is the President of Hoffman Estates Community Bank and Hanover Park Community Bank comprised of a total of four locations.

Georgeanna started her banking career in 1970 with Cragin Federal Savings in the Retail department and later as a Training consultant for IRAs and Keogh plans. In the mid 70s Georgeanna joined Telegraph Savings, a 7 branch savings and loan working as a supervisor, training coordinator and finally as the training department manager. During this time she served as an instructor at the Institute of Financial Education. In 1982 after moving from Chicago to Wauconda, Georgeanna joined First Federal Savings of Barrington where she worked until 1999 as the branch manager. Since September of 2001, she has developed the three Hoffman Estates locations and the Hanover Park location as leading community banks.

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Christie Ruffino

Founder, Dynamic Professional Women’s Network

Christie Ruffino is the President and Founder of the Dynamic Professional Women’s Network which is an industry exclusive networking organization designed to help women create partnerships with each other to generate ideas, alliances, and revenues within a structured referral generating format. She has referral chapters in many cities, and each chapter has only one member from any business category. Seven years since its conception, more than 1500 members have joined DPWN recognizing it as a driving force behind the success and profitability for many of its members’ business. Christie is also a published “Best-selling” author and the creator and publisher of the Overcoming Mediocrity series of books that feature Dynamic and Courageous women who have shared their stories meant to encourage and inspire others.

Website: http://www.dpwomen.com/

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Kathleen Caldwell

Founder, WHEE Institute and Caldwell Consulting Group

Kathleen Caldwell is president of Caldwell Consulting Group and founder of the Global WHEE Institute (Wealthy, Healthy, Energetic Edge) ®. Kathleen is described by her clients as “challenging, energetic, encouraging and focused on results,” and has more than twenty years of experience in global business strategy, leadership and team development. She is a highly respected adviser, credentialed business and health coach, speaker and author.

Kathleen is the co-author of Blueprint for Success with the late Dr. Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and Dr. Ken Blanchard (The One Minute Manager). She writes frequently for business publications on leadership, management and business and life success related topics.

Caldwell has received numerous awards and honors also holds two United States trademarks for her work in team building and leadership.

A Chicago native, Caldwell is a graduate of Florida State University and currently resides in Woodstock, Illinois with her husband and ballroom dancing partner, Judge Michael T. Caldwell. In her spare time, she leads an energetic and fun Zumba class and is a gourmet cook.

Website: http://www.caldwellconsulting.biz/Caldwell_Consulting_Group_home.html

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Talayah G. Stovall

President, TGrace

Talayah G. Stovall, President of TGrace, is an author, speaker and certifiedlife purpose coach. Her mission is to empower people to use their passion tolive in their purpose. Through her keynotes, workshops, coaching and EmPOWERed to… newsletter, Talayahinspires people to utilize their God-given abilities to achieve their personaland professional goals andincrease their life satisfaction. Talayah brings awealth of training and life experience into her work. She has experiencedcareer and life transitions herself and has learned the power of reinvention.With an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and a Master ofBusiness Administration in Marketing, she spent over 16 years in the bankingindustry before leaving to follow her true passion. In addition to being anentrepreneur, she is currently an adjunct instructor at Columbia College andDeVry University in Chicago, where she teaches speech and writing. Talayah’s lifelong passion for writing andspeaking led her to complete her books, LightBulb Moments: 75 Lessons for Everyday Living and Crossing the Threshold: Opening Your Door to Successful Relationships. She also has an eBook: 150 Important Questions You Should Ask Before You Say “I Do.” andtwo motivational audio CDs, P.U.M.P. ItUp! and 7 Secrets to Ignite YourDreams. Talayah is a lifetime member of the NationalBlack MBA Association. She is on the Board of the Chicago Youth Centers -Rebecca Crown Center, and a member of the Trustee Board of the Vernon ParkChurch of God. Talayah was recognized in “Who’s Who inAcademia, has been included in the Emerald Who’s Who Among Executives andProfessionals, has twice appeared in Ebony Magazine and has twice beenrecognized in “Outstanding Young Women of America.” She is a native and currentresident of Chicago, Illinois. To book Talayah for a speaking engagement,find out about upcoming events or to sign up for the EmPOWERed to…newsletter visit www.talayahstovall.com.

Website: http://talayahstovall.com/

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Annette Winkelman

Region Technology Operations Leader, Deloitte

Annette Winkelman is the Region Technology Operations Leader for Deloitte Services LP with responsibility is for all technology services and support for 20,000+ Deloitte employees in the central region. As the Regional Technology Operations Leader Annette is responsible for establishing vision, developing the strategy, and leading a team of 96 people in bringing the strategy to life.

Annette’s career at Deloitte has included being a pioneer amongst her peers and establishing a team of people to form the first ITS Deployment Center of Excellence. This team’s responsibilities include driving internal adoption through unique marketing strategies and educating the people of Deloitte about the new and existing technologies deployed. Annette’s other roles at Deloitte have included Regional Technology Leader for Deloitte’s Midwest region, developing several technology team strategies and leading the teams in achieving the aligned goals. Annette has played key leadership roles in projects such as the design and build of the Chicago office and all technologies included in the new 500,000 square foot space, smooth integration of ~1000 people from Arthur Anderson in 2001, led the IT support efforts for the integration of Bearing Point in 2009 and most recently Annette served as the Chief of Staff for Deloitte’s US and Global CIO from September 2009 – 2010.

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Dr.Sakira Jackson

CEO, BrainPower Consulting

Dr. Sakira Jackson, is one of the most highly regarded business and consulting psychologist in Chicago. She has a Masters in Organizational Psychology and a Doctorate in Business Psychology and Consulting from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. In addition, Dr. Jackson is the founder and CEO Brainpower Consulting and the Masters of Business Academy. Her company and her personal mission is to help Entrepreneurs, Presidents and CEOs increase their income, create customer value and make more money by developing a mindful business state of being. The programs and services offered by her two companies increasing CEO accountable for success; to developing conscious entrepreneurship and leaders through coaching in the best practices for business success and personal transformation. Sakira coaches business owners to million dollar transformations using proven techniques for client attraction, revenue generation, income acceleration and business transformation. As a spiritual scientist and psychologist, she has helped 100s of small business owners transform their business, their lives and their income.

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Tricia Meyer

Founder & Managing Attorney of Meyer Law, a boutique law firm
Tricia is the Founder & Managing Attorney of Meyer Law, a boutique law firm. Tricia has extensive experience advising start up, small and mid-sized businesses on various legal needs, including entity creation, commercial transactions and employment-related matters. Tricia serves as a mentor for several organizations and also volunteers for a non-profit organization. In 2011, Tricia was honored with the Top Corporate Counsel award by First Chair, an organization designed to bring together accomplished and talented attorneys in order to recognize achievement.

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Tiffany Dotson

An author, speaker, coach and leadership expert

Tiffany Dotson is an author, speaker, coach and leadership expert, with over 15 years of experience, helping individuals from the C-suite to the Frontline improve their leadership skills, re-connect to their greatness and find fulfillment in their lives. She has held leadership positions at The Northern Trust, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife, CVS/Caremark, Discover, United Airlines and Cook County Health and Hospitals System. She conducts several leadership, psychological, behavioral and motivational assessments programs, and coaches leaders to build high performing teams. Her book ‘Live a Life of Significance…evolve beyond success’ will be published shortly.Tricia Meyer
Tricia is the Founder & Managing Attorney of Meyer Law, a boutique law firm. Tricia has extensive experience advising start up, small and mid-sized businesses on various legal needs, including entity creation, commercial transactions and employment-related matters. Tricia serves as a mentor for several organizations and also volunteers for a non-profit organization. In 2011, Tricia was honored with the Top Corporate Counsel award by First Chair, an organization designed to bring together accomplished and talented attorneys in order to recognize achievement.

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Simin Rasmussen

Member of the Iranian community

Simin Rasmussen is an active member of the Iranian community, and serves as a board member of ‘Iran House of Greater Chicago’, a cultural and community service organization dedicated to enhance the understanding of Persian Culture and Iranian heritage. Professionally, she has held various positions in higher education institutions in Chicago. In addition, Ms. Rasmussen provides consulting services in cross-cultural and multi-cultural matters to publishers, educational, legal and art organizations to provide better understanding across cultural borders.

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Jacqueline Camacho-Ruiz

Founder marketing and public relations agency

Jacqueline Camacho-Ruiz is the founder of an award-winning marketing and public relations agency, JJR Marketing, She is a popular speaker and author of ‘The Little Book of Business Secrets That Work’. Jackie was recognized as an Emerging Leader by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing, a winner of the Entrepreneurial Award and Influential Women in Business Award by The Business Ledger, and a finalist for the Latina Entrepreneur of the Year. Jackie has contributed to several local and national publications and is a regular radio and TV guest.

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Catherine M. Lee

President of CDL & Associates

Catherine M. Lee is President of CDL & Associates, a consulting firm founded in 1990, specializing in global leadership development, including building cultural intelligence and international negotiations skills. Over the past 18 years, she has conducted workshops in Executive Leadership, Negotiations, Team Building, and Partnering, and is author of ‘The New Rules of International Negotiation: Building Relationships, Earning Trust, and Creating Influence Around the World’. She has worked in Asia, Europe and Latin America, and was President of her community’s Board of Education and Strategic Planning Committee. Recruited to run for U.S. Congress in 1996, she led the Democratic ticket across six counties. She has received awards from NAWBO’s Hall of Fame, The Business Ledger’s Influential Women in Business and Women’s Business Enterprise Award among the ten most well run companies.

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Amy Lee Segami

Managing Principal of Segami Consulting

Amy Lee Segami, Managing Principal of Segami Consulting is a popular speaker, engineer, and artist with more than 20 years of international experience in the corporate, engineering, art, and education worlds. Her interactive program is an innovative application of science and visual art, that offers elements of cultural diversity. She has received many honors for her ability to create an innovative way to bridge art and science with her signature ‘Painting On Water’. Amy is a master in finding the balance between art and science, east and west, head and heart. She has conducted several inspiring key notes and workshops and she has been awarded by Today’s Chicago Woman, BBC and Crain’s Chicago Business, among others.

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Stella Fayman

Founding Member, FeeFighters/Co-founder, Entrepreneurs Unpluggd

Stella Fayman is a founding member of FeeFighters, a startup that helps business owners with payments. She is also a co-founder of Entrepreneurs Unpluggd, an event focused on showcasing the stories behind successful entrepreneurs. She runs Ignite Chicago, and organizes events which bring together creative entrepreneurs in the Chicago area. Stella is passionate about all things about entrepreneurship and startup life, and she mentors high school students through the Future Founders program. Stella holds a degree in Psychology and Business Institutions from Northwestern University, and is a Community Advisory Board member at the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.

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Susan Silver

President/Founder, Argentum Strategy Group

Susan is a marketing strategy expert with more than 20 years of experience working with businesses ranging from those in the Fortune 100 to smaller, less formal entrepreneurial companies. She spent 10 years at Kraft Foods working in brand management and has also led the North American marketing function for the Equal Sweetener brand. Susan currently runs the strategic marketing consulting firm, Argentum Strategy Group, where she acts as a Timeshare VP of Marketing for small to mid-sized businesses in B2B, and B2C services. Susan earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and graduated cum laude from Duke University with a dual major in Biology and History.

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Gail Zelitzky

President NAWBO, Chicago/President and Founder, Silver-Robins Consulting

Gail has owned successful, multi-million dollar companies, from a multi-state franchise operation to a worldwide catalog and e-commerce business. For the past 11 years, she has coached entrepreneurs in 50+ industries to achieve the personal and professional performance they expect. Gail is founder of ThinkSales™ – a methodology that leads entrepreneurs into culture-changing growth. She is in her 4th year as a contractor for Interise to deliver the curriculum for the Chicago E200 program. Gail is President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Chicago and is also on the Board of Directors for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce. She is pursuing her MAAPS degree at DePaul University, and consults, coaches, mentors, conducts workshops, writes and speaks – all for the purpose of empowering women and men in business.

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Desiree Vargas Wrigley

CEO/Co-Founder, Give Forward

Desiree’s interest in strategic philanthropy and social ventures was borne out of her work funding entrepreneurship programs at the Kauffman Foundation. But it was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that inspired the vision for GiveForward. Desiree wondered if there was a better way for small-scale donors to contribute directly to families rebuilding, and she realized that no online tools existed to raise money without being a registered 501(c)3 organization. So in 2007, Desiree developed the initial concept for GiveForward as a fundraising platform for anyone wanting to raise money for anything, and in 2008 she launched the first version. Over the past three years, GiveForward has helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars for loved ones during times of need. Desiree is a graduate from Yale with a B.A.in Latin American studies and has been recognized in Crain’s Chicago’s 2011 Business Women to Watch.

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Rona Borre

President and CEO, Instant Technology

Rona Borre, Chicago’s leading female entrepreneur in the IT community, was awarded the 2011 Enterprising Women of the Year Award by Enterprising Women Magazine and the 2009 Influential Woman in Business Award by The Business Ledger. In 2001 she founded a staffing agency, which has become a nationally recognized woman-owned business enterprise. Rona is involved with the Mayor’s Technology Council and Built In Chicago, to bring Chicago to the forefront of the nation’s IT community. She has partnered with Chicago Career Tech and Excelerate Labs (to advice Chicago start-ups in staffing) and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from University of Arizona.

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Brittany Laughlin

Co-Founder, gtrot

Brittany Laughlin is the co-founder of gtrot, which improves travel planning by connecting friends, customizing trip suggestions and providing deals for their destination. Laughlin was described by Joanne Wilson as a ‘tenacious’ entrepreneur and has since been named to the Chicago TechWeek 100, recognized as a Chicago Entrepreneur to Watch and elected as a Top 50 Young Champion for Women. Before narrowing down her interests to travel and tech, Brittany worked for American Express managing a team and a $96 million budget. Brittany has a BS in Marketing and International Business from NYU’s Stern School of Business and a minor in Film and TV from Tisch School of the Arts.

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