Team - Meet Our Skeleton Crew

Team

Jessica Zweig
Jessica Zweig

Cofounder

Jessica’s biggest fear is leaping where there is no net. In 2008, she took her first leap into entrepreneurship, launching her first company, CheekyChicago, which became the largest digital women’s magazine seven years in a row reaching hundreds of thousands of local readers.  In 2014, she leapt again when she launched her second business, The SimplyBe Agency, Chicago’s premiere personal branding company.  In 2016, Jessica leapt once more, founding the Fear Paradox with her partner Nicole, aimed at bringing women entrepreneurs together in a revolutionary new context.  Jessica has been featured in Crains, ABC, NBC, FOX, Refinery 29 as an expert on lifestyle and entrepreneurship, and was listed by INC as one of the ‘Top 7 Digital Marketers to Watch’ in 2017. In all this leaping, Jessica has discovered that the net does indeed appear, but only when she fully jumped.
Nicole Yeary
Nicole Yeary

Cofounder

Nicole’s biggest fear is missing the mark. After years of getting told “no,” “not yet,” “not now” and “no thank you,” she decided to place a bet on herself.  In 2010, after 15 years of working for Fortune 500 companies, she launched Ms.Tech, a Chicago-based company focused on seeing more women start and scale companies. Ms.Tech has been recognized by Crain’s as one of the “Great Tech Groups, practically guaranteed to commune with the scene’s best and brightest!”  She invests her time advising and guiding the next generation of companies through creating startup programs. She is a one of Chicago’s “Top 100 Innovators” by Tribune, awarded “Prominent Woman in Tech” by the Illinois Technology Association, 35 Under 35 Making an Impact, and one of the 100 Most Inspirational Women by Today’s Chicago Woman, MAFA Masters “Industry Entrepreneur Emerging Leader.”
Megan Taylor
Megan Taylor

Programming

Megan’s biggest fear is the fear of failure, however she combats that belief by forging her own pathway in music and media by following her own intuition and curiosity. Megan is a senior producer and DJ at Fig Media, a boutique  event and creative media agency. Megan followed her love for music and has become a leading DJ and influential tastemaker in Chicago. She was named “Chicago’s #1 DJ” by respected publications. She has DJ’d internationally and her clients are top brands such as Chanel, Nike, and Vogue, and also top events, most recently the Chicago Cubs World Series Gala. Megan believes in life-long learning and recently received her Masters in Transformational Leadership and Coaching at the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential. Megan also prioritizes time for International travel and learning and has visited over 35 countries. Her favorite quote is:  “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  – Jack Canfield

Michael Donnelly
MICHAEL DONNELLY

Director of Production

Mike DeCicco
Mike DeCicco

Production Associate

Aleksa Narbutaitis
Aleksa Narbutaitis

Coordinator

Aleksa’s biggest fear is the “What if..?” in life. Aleksa is a self-proclaimed Jill of all trades. In 2013 Aleksa opened and managed a boutique fitness studio in Chicago. She’s always had a knack for entrepreneurship and a passion for art, and having earned experience in fitness and small business, she got an itch to pursue something new. She recently earned her Master’s in Leadership for Creative Enterprises from Northwestern where she found her niche in branding and marketing. Now proudly the #2 #girlboss at The SimplyBe Agency, she brings with her small business management, marketing, and social media management experience, as well as an eye for design and a passion for personal brands. The what if factor is a real thing every time you want to take that next step, but taking it with a bit of gumption and faith will only lead you to life’s next sweet adventure.

Queen Council

Kelly Hoey
Kelly Hoey

Author & Speaker
j. kelly hoey

Kelly Hoey is the author of Build Your Dream Network (January 2017 / Tarcher Perigee). She has been lauded from Forbes (“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship”) to Fast Company (“1 of the 25 Smartest Women On Twitter”) to Business Insider (“1 of the 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter”). Empowering A Billion Women By 2020 included her on their list of the “100 Most Influential Global Leaders Empowering Women Worldwide”. Kelly appears on CNBC’s Power Pitch and works with inclusive companies including Comcast and Capital One. Her career story is one transformation. Kelly’s career started in corporate law. A chance opportunity in 2009 to work with a visionary leader sparked her transition from earning a paycheck to seeking equity. Co-founding a startup accelerator then an interim CMO role are just part of Kelly’s journey of reinvention as an author, influencer and investor.
Marci McCalmon
Marci McCalmon

VP Customer Success
Peanut Butter

Marci’s biggest fear is falling short of expectations. Marci is Vice President of Customer Success at Peanut Butter. Prior to joining Peanut Butter, Marci spent most of her career in high-growth human resources organizations including CoAdvantage and ProService Hawaii.  Most recently, Marci led the day to day operations of Rippleshot, a fintech start-up in Chicago. Marci has extensive experience building high performing sales, account management, and operational support teams. She is a proud graduate of North Park University.

Dorri McWhorter
Dorri McWhorter

CEO
YWCA Chicago

Dorri McWhorter became the CEO of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago in March 2013. She has embarked upon a journey to transform the 140 year old social service agency to a 21st century social enterprise. Dorri is moving the agency into the digital age by re‐launching the TechGYRLS program, which focuses on developing STEM awareness for girls ages 9 through 14 and introducing 3D: Developing Digital Diversity, which provides web and mobile application development training to adult women. Dorri was included in the inaugural list of “The Blue Network”, comprised of the top 100 innovators in Chicago, by Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovation. In Spring of 2015, the YWCA launched its own e‐commerce site, YShop.org, which provides carefully curated goods and services from businesses that support the mission of the YWCA. In 2016, McWhorter was recognized by Good City Chicago receiving its Innovative Leader Award.
A proven leader in the corporate and social change sectors, Dorri prides herself on being a socially‐ conscious business leader throughout her career. McWhorter is an active member of Chicago’s civic, business and philanthropic communities. Most recently, she was a partner at Crowe Horwath LLP, one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S. She has also held senior positions with Snap‐on Incorporated and Booz Allen Hamilton. Dorri is also active in the accounting profession having served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and a Board of Directors for the Illinois CPA Society. McWhorter also serves on the Board of Directors for several organizations, including The Metropolitan Club, Chicago Finance Exchange, and Chicago Child Care Society. McWhorter is also a member of the Executive Council of Ms. Tech advancing women businesses in technology and a board member of the Chicago Center for Arts and Technology. As an engaged community leader, McWhorter is a member of the Mayor’s Commission on a Safer Chicago and served as a member of Mayor Emanuel’s second term transition team. She is also a board member for the State of Illinois Charitable Trust. McWhorter received her bachelors in business administration from the University of Wisconsin‐Madison and her masters in business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Denise Senter
Denise Senter

CMP, XXL Sales & Marketing

Denise has launched and marketed new technology products her entire career.
It started with her very first project – an ‘Intrapreneurship’ effort at EDS, delivering software that revolutionized Financial Services and ultimately changed the way systems were architected and developed globally.

Since then, she has worked internationally as a marketing executive, advisor for technology startups and small/mid-size companies, and consultant to Fortune 500 enterprises – launching, managing, and marketing more than 50 new products, companies, and lines of business.

As the Chief Marketing Partner at XXL Sales & Marketing, Denise helps companies bring great, relevant technologies to market — and market them so they accelerate sales.

By helping them engage their target customers early in product development, her clients build products that meet real market needs.

When she is not launching and growing new technology companies, she is teaching 40 Breaths – a mindfulness practice – to entrepreneurs, executives, professionals, and full-time parents.


Cindy Burrell
Cindy Burrell

Pres. , Diversity in Boardrooms

Diversity in Boardrooms consults with Corporate Boards and Advisory Boards. Ms. Burrell contributes over 20 years of executive search expertise with a special focus in recruiting and referring diverse Director Candidates who enhance a company’s growth, profitability, and social responsibility reputation.

In the Chicago area, Ms. Burrell is a recognized leader in the business community as well as a strong diversity advocate nationally. She is a Founder and Board Director of the Private Directors Association, an organization that promotes and educates on the private company value of boards. In addition, she is on the Advisory Board for Skytop Strategies and she is a Board Leader for 2020 Women on Boards, a national organization.

Ms. Burrell’s academic achievements include a Master’s degree from Boston University and a Bachelor’s degree from DePauw University.

Mika Stambaugh
Mika Stambaugh

VP, C-Strategies LLC

Mika is a veteran, Emmy award-winning journalist and dynamic entrepreneur known for her creative strategies in executing media and communications campaigns.

Throughout her career, she’s been recognized for her creativity, hustle and leadership, including winning an Emmy in 2008 as a Field Producer at CBS 2 News Chicago. That same year she moonlighted to follow her dream at age 26 to open her own small business, deftly balancing her responsibilities in the newsroom and as an entrepreneur.

Her business savvy and deep understanding of the news industry landed her the role of spokesperson for the City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection in 2014.

At City Hall, Mika spearheaded the communications strategy for several high profile public policies, including: House Sharing ordinance (AirBnB); Rideshare entering the Chicago marketplace; Chicago’s minimum wage increase; amended tobacco and liquor laws; and more than 60 consumer protection campaigns. Her ability to secure media and saturate the market earned the department roughly $5M in media coverage.

Mika combines her newsroom experience and execution of public policy communications strategies to help our clients build winning earned media, marketing and advertising campaigns. Clients will also benefit from her expertise in producing large scale events, most notably her leadership in driving the growth of Mayor Emanuel’s Small Business Expos. Mika tapped into her network to secure high-profile keynote speakers and brands, such as Bill Rancic, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, Bill Kurtis and Laura Schwartz among others, to exponentially increase both attendance (from double digits to several hundred attendees per expo) and revenue (tripling the program’s budget).

Her high energy, positive attitude and passion for this work also carries over into her civic engagement where she serves on the Board of Directors for the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and on several host committees to raise funds and awareness to benefit the sick and less fortunate in Chicago. Mika calls Bronzeville home with her French Mastiff, Chapo.

Kathy Quinn
Kathy Quinn

President, the Q group, llc

Kathy empowers organizations to thrive. She has grown businesses over 400% in less than 18 months.

Together, leaders think bigger about their roles and businesses. Kathy helps translate high-level strategies into identifiable actions. By understanding the psychological profiles of leaders, their teams, and organizations, she identifies the tools and behaviors leaders need to be more effective agents of change.

Leaders quickly move from ambiguity to structure. Everything is approached from a customer-driven mindset, taking into account the nuances and culture of each organization.

Working with both Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial ventures, Kathy has successfully helped organizations expand their markets, create new services and programs and, ultimately, shift the underlying thinking and processes resulting in business growth.

Band of Stars

Kate Laures
Kate Laures

Product Manager, 4C Insights

A versatile, all-hands-on-deck employee who has found a love for the energy and effort that working in a startup demands. Varied experience in design (digital and print), product management, analytics, operations, customer engagement, CRM administration, and higher education.

Ari Krzyzek
Ari Krzyzek

Co-founder, Chykalophia

Co-founder, creative director and chief designer of Chykalophia, Ari Krzyzek implements powerful branding strategies to provide distinctive designs for maximum impact via web, mobile and/or print. Additionally, she founded and hosts Creative Women’s Co., serving as design consultant, mentor and professional peer in support of fellow female entrepreneurs.
Deena McKay
Deena McKay

Enterprise Architect, Discover

Young professional with a Masters of Science in Information Systems Management looking to work for a cutting edge technology organization and illustrate my tech prowess. I have the ability to produce strong and polished documentation, excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, a strong work ethic, superior time management abilities, and outstanding communication and interpersonal skills.
Jennifer Pacelli
Jennifer Pacelli

District Manager, ADP

I work with businesses to manage their largest expenses (labor, benefits, taxes, & workers comp). I can help you build a better company culture, reduce your costs of goods, operating expenses, and taxes. Focus your energy and streamline your time & organization to enhance your revenue. I devise a customized solution for your organization that is scalable, global, and best-in-class. Is your business focused upon 2017 by operating the same practices as 1999? Bring your business up to date with no hardware, no additional employees, and no more strain upon your IT.

I am an experienced business consultant with growth and sustainability in mind. I’m not on your payroll, but I do work for you. I work with business owners to analyze their business administrations to eliminate seams in their workflow and reduce the tedious activity of paperwork. I work to improve efficiency throughout an organization through dedicated service and the best technology in the world. I provide businesses with personalized plans for targeted growth and the infrastructure to make it work. I can make your business operate better.

* Are you mobilized throughout your workforce?
* Are your employees engaged, loyal, and efficient?
* Does top talent seek out your organization? How do you stack up to your competition?
*Are you using Big Data analytics to design your business plan?
I can help your business be better.