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Chicago Innovation

Innovation is for Everyone

February 23rd, 20225:00 pm - 7:00 pm

We all know that diversity is good for people, so it’s no surprise that it’s also good for business. And yet, Black and Latine innovators too often experience a “broken rung” from entry level to manager roles. This year’s “Innovation is for Everyone” will explore what we all can do starting today to close this gap, featuring a conversation with 5 Founding Mentors from our newest program to support Black and Latine innovators, The Ladder.

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Andrea Zopp

Managing Partner of Cleveland Avenue. Leads investment in minority and women-led entrepreneurs. Previous roles include CEO of World Business Chicago; Deputy Mayor of Chicago; and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.

Robert Blackwell Jr.

CEO, EKI-Digital. A member of the U.S. Black Business Participation Task Force, he founded Alpha Mission to generate contracts for Black-owned businesses.

Andrea Saenz

COO, Chicago Community Trust. Previous roles include Chief Strategy Officer for Chicago Public Library and Chief of Staff for CPS; serves on 8 boards including the ACLU.

Rich Rodriguez

CEO of Acero Schools. Oversees one of the largest and highest performing public charter school networks in Chicago; previously was President of the CTA.

Carlos Cardenas

Senior VP, Wintrust Manages a team responsible for a $300 million client-credit portfolio with 120 private and closely held middle-market companies.

Tope Sadiku

Global Head of Digital Employee Experience, the Kraft Heinz Company. Focused on employee productivity and creativity for the company's 38,000+ employees across the world.

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