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Chicago Innovation Summit

Chicago Innovation Summit

July 24, 2019 1:00 pm - 6:30 pm



Nancy Ruscheinski: As Zeno’s global Chief Operating Officer, Nancy focuses on operationalizing client excellence.  She oversees the growth and integration of Zeno’s global Corporate and Health practices as well as key functions including Strategy & Planning, Research & Measurement, Creative, Talent/Recruiting, the agency’s global client management program and its learning and development platform known as Fearless U.  Nancy established and oversees the Zeno Media Network, a global community of Zeno media specialists who share contacts, best practices and real-time leads. Her client experience is extensive and includes work for such brands and organizations as Kraft Foods, Hilton, Darden, Quaker, Humana, United Airlines, Burger King, Wrigley, Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, Netflix, Serta and SC Johnson. Nancy joined Zeno after 29 years at Zeno’s sister agency, Edelman, where she wore many hats including US COO, president of Edelman Chicago and founder/chairman of Edelman’s digital business. She was also the agency’s first Chief Innovation Officer. Nancy is a board member of Chicago Innovation and the Off the Street Club, and a member of the Chicago Network and the Executives Club.  She has a BA from the University of Notre Dame and lives in Chicago with her husband, two children and two big Labrador retrievers.

Kelly Leonard: 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. Kelly formerly 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. Kelly co-created a new initiative with the Center for Decision Research at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business called The Second Science Project, which he looks at behavioral science through the lens of improvisation. @KLsecondcity

Ron Gleason: Ron Gleason is the Director of News and Programming at WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9 FM, Chicago’s All News Station and home of the Chicago Bears. His career spans some 40 years starting with his very first gig as sports anchor and reporter at Sportsphone while completing his final year at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Illinois. Upon graduating, Gleason took on-air positions delivering news and sports at WCBY-AM and FM in Cheboygan, Michigan, then was Sports Director at WJOL and WLLI in Joliet before accepting a position as sports reporter and anchor at Newsradio 780 in 1985. During his first go-round at the station, he also filled in on sportscasts for the CBS Radio Network. In 1988, he landed the Sports Directors’ position at WMAQ, while filling in on White Sox play-by-play broadcasts, eventually taking a position as the first Director of Sports and Programming at WSCR “The Score” in 1991. During his time there, Gleason became the radio voice of DePaul Basketball, calling games through 2005 when he accepted his current position at WBBM. In 2001, Ron also joined the Chicago Bears Broadcast team at WBBM and in 2004 became a news anchor at the station. During this time, he also served as president of the UBC Radio Network, a small syndication company.

Tonise Paul: Tonise Paul is President & CEO of Energy BBDO and a Director of BBDO Worldwide, the most awarded agency network in the world for creativity and effectiveness. Tonise’s vision for Energy BBDO to be a “leading edge creative organization” has led to continual innovation of the agency’s capabilities. This has resulted in Energy’s growth into a global, multi-cultural, integrated, award-winning company partnering with many industry-leading companies to build some of the world’s most iconic brands. Tonise is a champion of women’s and children’s concerns, sitting on the boards of the US Fund for UNICEF and the Off the Street Club. She is a founding member of Times Up/Advertising and a member of The Chicago Network. She has been recognized as “Advertising Woman of the Year” by the Chicago Advertising Federation and named one of the 30 most powerful women in advertising by Business Insider. At present, she is also the Chairman of the Board of the Executives’ Club of Chicago.

Leslie Vickrey: Leslie Vickrey is a marketing expert and business advisor who began her career with McDonald’s Corporation and Junior Achievement. After serving as head of marketing for Spherion’s technology division, Leslie quickly found her niche. Today, as CEO of ClearEdge Marketing, Leslie works closely with leaders in high-growth technology and software companies, and HR tech and recruitment industries to drive business results with strategic marketing programs. Leslie’s passion for building meaningful relationships extends beyond ClearEdge. In 2013, Leslie co-founded ARA, a group of women and men 6,000+ strong dedicated to attracting, retaining and advancing women in tech. She is also on the Board of Directors for Chicago Innovation and a judge for their annual awards program, has been named to the UIC Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame2016 Enterprising Women of the Year and the TechWeek 100 ChicagoLeslie is a frequent speaker and regular contributor to industry publications such as Recruiting Daily and Entrepreneur. Follow Leslie on Twitter and LinkedIn to discuss all things marketing, HR and leadership, and listen to her podcast TheEdge to learn from executive women in the recruitment industry.

Will Towns: Dr. William W. Towns is a scholar, activist, and practitioner, dedicated to helping solve civic and urban issues at the structural level.  Dr. Towns is the Executive Director of Benefit Chicago, a collaboration between The Chicago Community Trust, The MacArthur Foundation, and Calvert Impact Capital, to mobilize $100 million in impact investments targeting the social enterprise sector in the Chicago region. He came to Benefit Chicago from the University of Chicago, where he was an Assistant Vice President and led the Office of Civic Engagement’s Anchor Strategy, which looked to understand how a university could support equitable economic change. Dr. Towns serves on numerous boards and committees, within the housing, health care, banking and education sectors, including appointments by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to the Chicago Community Land Trust Board and to the Advisory Council on Agriculture, Small Business and Labor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Dr. Towns is an Adjunct Lecturer of Social Impact at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He received a BA from Loyola University Chicago, an MBA from the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D., from Benedictine University.

Marc Shiffman: Marc Shiffman currently serves as the president and chief executive officer. Shiffman joined SMS Assist in 2010 to oversee special initiatives. Since joining the organization, he has primarily focused on finance and administration, including accounting, corporate finance, human resources, legal, marketing, compliance, training, and operations. Prior to joining SMS Assist, Mr. Shiffman founded Marc R. Shiffman Advisors, which provided general management and consulting services to specialty and consumer products companies. In his role there, Mr. Shiffman provided strategic, financial and operating support as well as interim executive management. He also sourced deals, evaluated opportunities and performed due diligence for potential acquisitions across multiple industries. Before starting his own consulting practice, Mr. Shiffman served in financial and general management positions of increasing responsibility as a senior executive at MacAndrews & Forbes owned and operated companies including Revlon, Coleman and Sunbeam. Mr. Shiffman earned a bachelor’s of science degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

Renetta McCann: As Chief Inclusion Experience Officer for Publicis Groupe, Renetta McCann works to drive inclusion at all levels of the organization, with an emphasis on ensuring that the company’s clients are benefiting from the many strategic advantages that diverse teams deliver. She began her career at Leo Burnett, and, after a long tenure, she became the CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group Worldwide. Under her leadership, client billings exceeded $26 billion and the global workforce rose to over 6,000 people. Most recently, she served as the Chief Talent Officer for Leo Burnett USA as well as Publicis Communications North America. Along the way, Renetta has been an active volunteer and contributor to various industry and civic organizations. Currently, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust, the Marketing Committee of the Robert and Ann Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Legacy Giving Committee of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. In 2002, she was named “Corporate Executive of the Year” by Black Enterprise magazine and was selected Ad Woman of the Year by the Chicago Advertising Federation. Rennetta holds an M.S. in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University. She lives in Chicago with her husband Kevin and children, Ella and Alexander.

Adam Hecktman: Adam J. Hecktman is Microsoft’s Director of Technology and Civic Innovation for Chicago. In this capacity, Adam helps the cities’ civic leaders – and the communities they serve – use cutting-edge ideas around technology to solve the city’s biggest social challenges. He provides guidance on the key issues and opportunities facing neighborhoods and communities today and in the future. Prior to this role, Adam was the Director of the Microsoft Technology Center – Chicago, helping organizations ensure long-term success when facing their toughest business challenges and opportunities. He has been with Microsoft in Chicago since 1991. Prior to Microsoft, Adam was a consultant at Accenture. Adam received a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is pursuing his Master of Data Science with a concentration on Computational Methods at DePaul University. Adam has served his community in various capacities and appointments at non-profit, civic, and professional organizations including 1871, the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and THRIVE Chicago. A lifelong Chicago resident, Adam lives with his family in the Old Town neighborhood. He can be found at and

Julie Winkler: Julie Winkler serves as Chief Commercial Officer of CME Group. She leads the company’s sales, product marketing, research and product development, data analytics and digitization functions, as well as its innovation lab. Previously, she served as Senior Managing Director, Research, Product Development and Index Services of CME Group since 2014 and as Managing Director, Research and Product Development since 2007. Julie joined the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) as a Staff Investigator in the Office of Investigations and Audits, and in 1998, she joined the Business Development area as an Economist in the Research and Strategic Analysis group. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration in finance from Valparaiso University and an MBA in finance and derivatives markets with highest honors from Loyola University.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors for S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and Valparaiso University.  She is also a Revenue 50 member within the World 50 network. 

Karthik Krishnan: As the Global CEO of Britannica Group (Britannica, Merriam-Webster, Britannica Knowledge Systems, and Melingo), Karthik is focused on elevating trustworthy information in the digital universe and transforming learning both inside and outside the classroom. He is also an Adjunct Professor (since 2012) at the New York University Stern School of Business, where he teaches students about the media industry and how disruptive forces (digitization, consumer-generated content) are reshaping the media environment. He is on the board of Urban Upbound, a nonprofit focused on transforming the lives of people in public housing in New York City through job training, financial fitness, and college access. Prior to joining Britannica, Karthik spent over a decade at RELX (formerly known as Reed Elsevier; a FTSE 100 company) in various business leadership roles, driving business and cultural transformations and accelerating growth. He was involved with the William J. Clinton Foundation and was recognized by former President Clinton for his leadership in launching the Urban Enterprise Initiative. Karthik has an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business, a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Coimbatore Institute of Technology as well as a certificate in Design Thinking from Stanford University.

Matt Lewisman: Matthew Lewisman is an executive leader with over 20 years of Financial Services, Consulting and SaaS implementation experience across Operations, Technology and Product development functions. He is currently the COO of Theron Technology and is responsible for the strategic direction and delivery of TTS’ Global Services division. Prior to joining Theron, Matthew held key positions as a Managing Director at Credit Suisse, with responsibility for Strategy, Execution and Data Services as the US Chief Data Officer. Prior to Credit Suisse Matthew was senior principal at Sagence Consulting and Head of Product & Implementation for Textura, a SaaS organization now owned by Oracle. Matthew holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Finance (BSc) from City, University of London, and is a qualified Chartered Institute of Management Accountant (CIMA) member.

Robert Pasin: Robert heads Radio Flyer Inc., the business founded by his grandfather in 1917. Robert works with a wonderful group of passionate “Flyers” whose mission is to create products that bring smiles to kids of all ages and to create warm memories that last a lifetime. Company sales have grown significantly because of Robert’s focus on building a highly committed and creative team. Robert is the Emmy winning producer of the animated short film, Taking Flight, and author of the national bestseller book, Radio Flyer: 100 Years of America’s Little Red Wagon. In 1991, Robert earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Notre Dame. After graduation, Robert taught 6th grade in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood through the Amate House Young Adult Volunteer Program. In 1997, Robert completed his M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Jeff Aronin: As Chairman and CEO of Paragon Biosciences, Jeffrey Aronin has launched several successful portfolio companies, including Harmony Biosciences, Castle Creek Pharma, Emalex Biosciences, and Skyline Biosciences. Previously, he has founded Ovation Pharmaceuticals, where he served as President and CEO from 2000 to 2009, leading an organization that developed medicines which earned four novel drug approvals from the FDA. He also founded Marathon Pharmaceuticals, where he served as Chairman and CEO from 2011 to 2017. As founder and co-chairman of MATTER, a health-technology startup incubator, he has led one of Chicago’s most remarkable, philanthropic venture-innovation successes, with over 220 healthcare companies founded and grown since 2015. Jeffrey is also a member of The Commercial Club of Chicago and serves on several corporate and civic boards including Discover Financial Services and The Aspen Institute. He serves as a mentor to students and young professionals and is also a frequent lecturer at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. Through the Aronin Family Foundation, Jeffrey and his wife Lisa provide millions of dollars in funding for medical innovation, education innovation, and innovative approaches to neighborhood revitalization and economic growth.

Amy Francetic: Amy oversees the Fund’s investment activities and operations. Her career spans over 20 years of high technology entrepreneurship, private equity, and research. Prior to the Fund, she served as co-founder and CEO of technology accelerator Clean Energy Trust which has invested in dozens of early-stage clean energy companies across the Midwestern US. Amy also held roles at private equity firm MVC Capital and Stanford Research Institute. Earlier in her career, she was co-founder and CEO of a tech company that she sold to Lego Systems. Amy serves on Advisory Boards for the WISER Institute at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and the Museum of Science and Industry. In 2014, she was awarded the Corporate Citizen of the Year Award from the Executives’ Club of Chicago, and Leading Woman in Technology from the Illinois Technology Association. She has a BA from Stanford University. Amy currently sits on the Board of Directors for Aquilon, SparkCognition and Aurora Solar.

Eric Weinheimer: Since July 1, 2014, Eric has been the President and CEO of Forefront, the only regional association in the U.S. that represents grantmakers, nonprofits, advisors, social entrepreneurs, impact investors and their allies. Prior to his current position, Eric was President and CEO of The Cara Program, a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive training, job placement and support services to individuals who are homeless and struggling in poverty.  During Eric’s tenure, The Cara Program founded and established 3 social enterprises, including Cleanslate Chicago. Eric earned a B.S. from Boston College and an M.B.A. from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service.  Eric serves on the Advisory Board for Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation and Benefit Chicago.   He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation.  He is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago.

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