Alison is a Communication Design Lead at IDEO Chicago who helps people connect with brands through design. Her work lives at the intersection of visual communication, user experience, brand strategy, and innovation with an approach rooted in design thinking. At IDEO, Alison focuses on leading projects across a variety of industries, spanning products, services and experiences—from education, finance, and food to healthcare, entertainment, and philanthropy. She’s passionate about problem solving in a way that starts with understanding people and ends with new, real, human-centered solutions that enhance their lives. Prior to IDEO, she spent time as an Art Director, producing work for clients like TLC, Discovery Channel, AOL and Rosetta Stone. She hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications from the University of Delaware with a concentration in Advertising and Graphic Design and minors in Art History and Material Culture.
Benjamin - Consultant, BCG
Ben joined The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, in August 2014 as an associate after earning his undergraduate degree in Finance – Real Estate from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. While at BCG, Ben has gained experience working with clients in Consumer Packaged Goods, Retail, Sports Apparel, Travel & Tourism, and Financial Institutions on topics such as strategy, marketing, pricing, and organizational effectiveness. In 2016, Ben temporarily left BCG to work with Great Wolf Resorts (GWR), the largest family of indoor water park resorts in the US. While at GWR, Ben evaluated new markets to inform investment decisions and identified cost saving opportunities in the brand. In the fall, Ben will be going back to school to get his MBA at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, where he plans to pursue opportunities with early stage companies and/or venture capital.
Martin - Career Coach
Martin McGovern believes that everyone deserves to be understood. So, he helps individuals and businesses clarify their messaging and communicate their goals to the world. Martin is a Marketing Strategist, Entrepreneur, and Career Coach.
Khahlil - Editor in Chief, BONNE New York
Khalil is the Editor-in-Cheief and Designer at BONNE New York. BONNE New York is a digital media company providing coverage and analysis of the events fluencing the landscapes of fashion, culture, people, and media, reflective of the spirit of New York City. The company places strong emphasis on sustainability and social consciousness, both in business practices and in product development and design.
Debra - Founder, Design Dance
Debra entrepreneur, arts educator and native Chicagoan. She is the founder of Design Dance, a company increasing access to arts programming for over 1400 students weekly. She became director of her first dance education program in her hometown at the age of 16 and has been teaching, choreographing, directing and mentoring ever since. In 2008, Debra founded Design Dance as a way to bring dance education to children in all communities regardless of age, experience level, background and income through partnership with schools and community centers. In addition to her work in arts education, Debra is proud to contribute to the social entrepreneurship community through workshops and special events, as well as fellowship through the StartingBloc community.
Riana - Founder, FoodTrace
Riana Lynn is a leader in innovation, technology, and “good food.” As a serial entrepreneur, Riana has developed high-growth, nationally recognized technology and food businesses. She has served as a recent Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Google – Code2040. After first-hand experience working with struggling food innovators, she was inspired to develop supply chain software and create FoodTrace. Her products have significantly impacted thousands of food businesses across the US and beyond. Riana’s development work was pivotal for CNBC’s small business hit show, “The Profit.” Her accomplishments have been featured in USA Today, Wired, Entrepreneur Magazine, Crain’s “20 in their 20s”, among others. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before pursuing a Masters at Northwestern University. A native of the Chicago area, Riana is a techie, a world traveler, and a food innovation expert!
Josh - Consultant, Alvarez & Marsal
Josh is currently a consultant at Alvarez & Marsal he where serves clients on a variety of engagements in high tech, private equity, and consume goods industries. Before A&M, Josh worked at tech companies ranging in size from a 15 person venture-backed startup, to eCommerce giant, Amazon.com. He also founded The Fieldhouse Project and served as the director of the Youth Advisory Council program. Fieldhouse is a 501c3 nonprofit that focuses on using sports to improve academic and civic engagement in rural, underdeveloped areas.
Alex - Co-Founder, YNG Ventures
Alex ran a catering business for five years in his teens, and organized the first network for young people to get involved in the microfinance sector. He joined the founding team of the Nexus Youth Summit to form the first global community for young philanthropists and social entrepreneurs. He was formerly Executive Director of Compass Partners, a social venture incubator on 20 college campuses. After that, he co-founded YPONextGeneration, a 3000-member personal and professional development network for future entrepreneurs and family business leaders. Currently he works in business development at Oscar and co-manages YNG Ventures, a group of next-gen angel investors around the world. Their most recent group investment was in The Infatuation. He speaks about social enterprise development and facilitating impact investing partnerships. He's currently most passionate about improving the food system.
Hayley - Director of Product Research, The Future Project
Hayley started her career on the people team at an innovation company and now works on the innovation team at a people company. More concretely, she spent the first five years of her career recruiting social entrepreneurs to Ashoka, a leading association of 3,000 innovators around the world. Then she helped to build the human resources team at The Future Project from the ground up. Now she's part of The Future Project's research team where she helps explores ways to unlock passion and purpose in high schools across the nation. She loves big questions, helping people articulate what they want to gift the world, and absurd business ideas.
Mollie - Career Development Coach, Flatiron School
Mollie Khine is a Career Development Coach & Facilitator. She works alongside young and mid-career professionals who are looking for more meaning or direction in their work through weekly one-on-one coaching sessions. Prior to coaching, Mollie worked in the hedge fund industry for both Avenue Capital Group, and Bridgewater Associates, where her roles were to manage institutional investor relationships. She started her career as an Auditor at PwC, after graduating from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor's in Accounting.
Outside of her work, Mollie runs a dinner series in NYC - Conversate - to bring strangers together to share a meal and a thought-provoking discussion about a particular theme. She also loves growing veggies in her small backyard garden and riding her (new) road bike!
Allison - Marketing Coordinator, hello products
For Allison, it’s all about the people. Her favorite part of marketing is building brands by creating memorable consumer experiences. From field to digital, she believes that the power of a brand lies in how much you can make a person fall in love with your brand's ethos, not just its products.
Allison is the currently the Marketing Coordinator at hello products, a naturally friendly oral care brand, where she runs hello's social channels and influencer outreach, developing content that drives engagement while focusing on the brand's core values. She also supports eCommerce, email marketing, and other marketing programs.
Prior to hello, Allison held various marketing and PR roles and internships with Birchbox, KIND Snacks, Nickelodeon, ABC TV, Insomnia Cookies and Brooks Brothers. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Allison lives in NYC where you can catch her frequently at the theatre, a comedy night or chasing down the city’s best food spots.
Tom - Principal, FinTech Forge
Tom has spent his career working with companies in the financial services industry through roles in investment banking, private equity and as an entrepreneur. He currently is a Principal at FinTech Forge and is part of the founding team. In Tom’s current role, he works with established financial institutions to extend their innovation capacity through partnerships and investments in emerging financial technologies. While at UBS Investment Bank, he advised clients ranging from large public companies to high-growth startups. He worked on transactions including Charles Schwab's acquisition of optionsXpress and multiple fintech IPOs. Previously, Tom was at Lovell Minnick Partners, a financial services-focused private equity firm with $1.7 billion in committed capital. Tom founded an alternative credit scoring and reporting company that sold to banks while pursuing his MBA.