Vice President and Managing Partner, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
Geoff Alexander has been wining and dining Chicago’s discerning palate the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. ® (LEYE) way since May 1993 – a career he began merely nine days after his college graduation. Since then Geoff has worked with some of the most notable concept’s in LEYE’s ever-burgeoning local, national and international portfolio, including Mity Nice Grill; Shaw’s Crab House; Big Bowl (eight locations locally and nationally); Vong’s Thai KitchenTM(VTK) named one of “Chicago’s Top 20 New Restaurants,” (Chicago magazine, May 2002), Frankie’s Scaloppine at the 900 Shops on North Michigan Avenue and now Wow Bao, a concept focusing on steamed Asian buns. Geoff has also revolutionized the way diners interact with restaurants by being a leader in restaurant technologies and the use of social media. Under his guidance, Wow Bao has implemented online ordering both from an iPhone app and from computer desktops for pick-up orders, bicycle delivery and domestic shipping. He has also installed self-ordering kiosks for guest ordering. Aside from pioneering the @baomouth twitterfeed into a well respected Chicago Social Media influencer, Alexander partnered with Foursquare to have Wow Bao as one of its first Chicago restaurants offerings. Wow Bao has also flourished through a text messaging platform that Alexander created. He is now a widely sought after speaker on the subject of Social Media and restaurant technologies having presented at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago and the Foodservice Technology Conference and Showcase (FSTEC) in Long Beach, CA. He resides in Chicago with his family.
Vice President, Social Business Transformation, IBM Corporation
Ed Brill is Vice President, Social Business Transformation, IBM Corporation. He is responsible for the strategy and overall project management associated with the social business transformation of IBM. Brill and his team are accelerating IBM's culture of participation, leveraging the organization's most important assets -- the expertise of our people. Brill has an extensive background in the use of social business tools and techniques to drive change in markets and organizations. Brill has been one of IBM's most influential online voices for over a decade, starting with contributions to the initial development of the IBM Social Computing Guidelines. Brill recently authored the IBM Press book Opting In: Lessons in Social Business, an Amazon bestseller endorsed by industry analysts, social media pundits, and software executives. Brill also publishes a weblog at www.edbrill.com, and is prominent on public social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. He is a returning member of the advisory board for Social Media Week Chicago 2014. Previously, Brill was Director, Mobile Enterprise Marketing at IBM. He was responsible for IBM MobileFirst, the industry's most comprehensive portfolio of solutions for the mobile enterprise. Earlier, Brill was Director, Product Line Management, for IBM Social Business software. Brill was responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM's messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including IBM Notes and Domino. In twenty years at IBM, Brill has led a variety of sales, marketing, strategy, and product-related organizations. Committed to understanding the global marketplace, Brill has visited IBM customers in over forty countries, and is a frequent speaker at IBM and industry events worldwide. Brill has also been selected to participate in an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge project team in Tainan, Taiwan, in July 2014. Brill holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Indiana University, with a minor in political science.
Vice President, Marketing, Sprout Social
Andrew Caravella is vice president of marketing at Sprout Social, a leading social media management and engagement platform for business. He leads a rock star team that creates and delivers relevant, engaging content and conversations through multiple forms of media and technology. Andrew believes the heart of social media hinges on exceptional experiences and meaningful human connections, and he uses those principles to guide dedicated direct acquisition, lead generation and brand visibility initiatives. Focused primarily on digital and social media, his career work includes executive communications, brand management, education campaigns, and event planning for everyone from Fortune 500 brands to not-for-profit organizations. Prior to joining Sprout Social, Andrew was director of marketing at the search marketing agency Performics (Publicis Groupe). He previously served as a search product marketing manager at DoubleClick and began his career in public relations and account management at Weber Shandwick. Andrew earned an MS in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University and BAs in political science and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is a competitive volleyball player, a tennis and Roger Federer fanatic, a SPARK program middle school mentor and serves on the auxiliary boards of Vital Bridges and Chicago’s acclaimed Joffrey Ballet.
Global Social Media Manager, Deloitte
Janet Chang is the global social media manager at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) where she oversees Deloitte’s global social media strategy, campaigns, and channels. She also advises member firms, service and industry marketers, other DTTL teams as well as employees on social media strategies, guidelines, and best practices. Over the past year she helped onboard Deloitte’s Global CEO as a LinkedIn Influencer, grew Deloitte’s global LinkedIn audience to more than 1 million followers, and is leading efforts to integrate enterprise social management platforms across the network. Janet holds a degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She’s a big fan of Chicago despite the winters, a little obsessive over cats, and will go to great lengths for good food.
Program Director, Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising, University of Illinois
Rhiannon creates and directs experiential and professional development programs for the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising, including Media University, Digital Bootcamp, Study Abroad, the PR Certificate Program, and Professional Advertising Certificate programs. She also teaches for the Department and is a Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship with the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Illinois. Prior to joining the Advertising Department, Rhiannon was the Assistant Director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering at Illinois. She joined the TEC’s staff in 2005, and was responsible for the development and implementation of programs, policies, procedures and objectives of the Center and its role in promoting technology entrepreneurship to students and faculty within the College of Engineering and across the Illinois campus. Rhiannon also led curriculum development for the Center, and was an instructor for the TEC’s High Tech Venture Marketing course. MBA from Salem International University with a concentration in International Business in 2010. Prior to joining the University, she was a Media Supervisor, and later, the training class professor for Starcom in Chicago. During her tenure at Starcom and StarLink (now Spark), Rhiannon and her team were recognized for innovation in media and won several awards including an SMG Fuel Award, and Media Magazine’s “Media Plan of the Year.”Rhiannon lives in Savoy, IL with her husband and three young children, who always keep her laughing. She participated in the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer walk in 2009, where she walked 39.3 miles to raise funds for breast cancer research, and is currently raising money for the Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research.
Executive Director Spiegel Digital & Database Research Initiative, Medill IMC, Northwestern University
Tom joined the faculty at Northwestern University in January 1998, served as Associate Dean and Department Chair from 2005 to 2011, and now leads a research initiative and serves as senior director of distance learning. He is a widely recognized expert in the areas of integrated marketing communications, direct, database & e-commerce marketing management, customer loyalty, customer relationship management, & channel integration. He is a former Senior Vice President of The Leo Burnett Company; Former Vice President and General Manager of Ogilvy & Mather Direct/OgilvyOne, and former member of the editorial advisory board for the Journal of Consumer Marketing
Account Executive, Commercial & Mid-Market, SAVO Group
Linda Dao recently joined SAVO Group to build out their Commercial & Mid-Market division. SAVO’s technology and consulting services help companies achieve their revenue initiatives by harnessing the power of sales process, social collaboration, mobility and analytics. Linda was most recently the VP, Corporate Relations at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. She was responsible for leading new member recruitment, retention, and revenue strategies for her members. Linda built such a strong reputation for helping organizations increase revenue that Crain’s Chicago profiled her in 2013. Prior to joining the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Linda owned and managed her own advertising consultancy, worked as an Executive Recruiter in Advertising & Marketing at Lucas Group, and served as Membership Director for ClubCorp. Linda received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of Southern California.
Director of Business Development and Community Manager, Built In Chicago
Rebecca is the Director of Business Development and Community Manager of Built In Chicago, a platform which enables cities to connect, educate and promote their growing digital communities. The company currently operates three sites in Chicago (BuiltInChicago.com), Los Angeles (BuiltInLA.com) and Colorado (builtincolorado.com), and is headquartered in Chicago. Through online and offline activities, the Built In platform connects startups, large companies, universities, civics/non profits, local government, accelerators, incubators and investors. Activities include media content curation, an active job board, data aggregation and publication, and events–at a hyper-local city level-with one shared goal–to help support digital communities. Rebecca's responsibilities include strategic planning, sales, business development, community development and events. Rebecca has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Illinois Champaign - Urbana.
Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Rockit Ranch Productions; TV & Radio Contributor
Billy Dec is an Emmy Award Winning Entertainment TV Personality, Attorney and CEO/Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, Chicago’s premier hospitality & entertainment development company, specializing in the creation, marketing and management of some of the city’s top venues including Rockit Bar & Grill, Sunda, Underground, Bottlefork, Rockit Burger Bar, ¡AY CHIWOWA! Dec is a weekly on air Entertainment Contributor on ABC TV’s “Windy City Live” (replacing the "Oprah Winfrey Show") and on 103.5 KISS FM radio. Most recently, Dec has been appointed by President Obama to serve on his White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Dec’s educational background includes the University of Illinois, Chicago-Kent College of Law & the Harvard Business School. He has received numerous awards including “Excellence in Business Award” from the State of Illinois, the Asian American Hall of Fame Award, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Community Leadership Award and Chicago-Kent College of Law Alumni Professional Achievement Award. Dec is also actively involved in philanthropic organizations like Make a Wish, After School Matters, Lookingglass Theatre…and formerly served as the Director of Cultural Relations for the Olympic Committee. Dec writes his own blog http://www.aChicagoThing.com about Chicago and its culturally rich entertainment landscape, where his contact info, press pages & upcoming events calendar are also posted, along with access to his heavily followed http://www.Facebook.com/BillyDec & http://www.Instagram.com/BillyDec.
Social Media and Online Community Manager, CCC Information Services
John is the Social Media and Online Community Manager for CCC Information Services; the leading provider of software for the auto claims industry. In this role John is responsible for creating and leading the company-wide digital strategy including building and fostering online communities, driving SEO and SEM tactics, and crafting and implementing online content strategies. In a previous role, John was Director of Web and Social Media Marketing for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. During his time as Director, the Chamber saw an unprecedented amount of growth throughout social media and other online communities. Through his work, John helped to successfully drive brand awareness and shape the Chamber as a regional business resource. This role was vital to the growth Chamber’s brand and mission and quickly became an important face of the organization along with other key senior roles. Through the development and implementation of online content, the Chamber generated new revenue streams, awareness and targeted a new demographic of members.communities. Through his work, John helped to successfully drive brand awareness and shape the Chamber as a regional business resource. John transitioned from his role in the Chamber Foundation where he managed and developed programs and initiatives in the areas of innovation, economic development and other core programs in accordance with the objectives of the Chamber Foundation and the InnovateNow Initiative. John began his career with Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce in 2006 in the Government Affairs Division, supporting the Chamber’s advocacy and legislative goals and mission. He earned his BA in Political Science and English from DePaul University and lives with his wife Kristen in Chicago.
Suzanne Fanning, identified by Forbes in 2013 as "one of social media's top movers and shakers," currently serves as the President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) She was selected for this position by top marketers from Intel, Hershey's, Procter and Gamble, American Express, Nestle, Unilever, Ogilvy, Warner Bros., and others to unite the world's most innovative companies and help drive the industry forward. Social business strategies she developed for global corporations have been featured in Advertising Age Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes Magazine, and on the cover of PR Week, and published in several renowned marketing books. Her programs have achieved record-breaking results across the board for online and offline engagement as well as sales for several global brands. The Viral Garden called the social media program she developed with Brains on Fire "the best corporate run social media program in existence," and Forrester ranked her blog in the "Top 20 Corporate Blogs Worldwide." She received the Individual Excellence Award from her company in Helsinki, Finland, for personally making the biggest impact worldwide on the business, and she has received numerous additional industry awards. Suzanne is also a published author and top-rated speaker. She has appeared on CBS news, PBS and TLC and was a presenter at the Daytime Emmys due to her pioneering work in web tv. Her most recent speaking engagements include PRSA, PivotCon NY, Social Media Week, Association of National Advertisers, Forrester National Convention, PR Newswire, The Business Development Institute, Digital Media Masters Summit at Microsoft and the BlogHer Business Convention. In 2014 she is scheduled to give keynote addresses at the Social Media Strategies Summit, and at Ohio State University for the Public Relations Student Society of America Convention. She will also moderate a panel which includes American Express, Nestle and Google, for the Social Media Preview at the Chicago Auto Show. In addition to leading the incredible WOMMA team, speaking across the country, and writing articles, Suzanne serves on the advisory boards for Social Media Week Chicago and iBlog.
Marketing Manager, Chicago Loop Alliance
As the Marketing Manager for Chicago Loop Alliance, Dillon Goodson is responsible for creating and executing strategic marketing campaigns that promote downtown Chicago. Since joining the team in 2010, he has elevated the organization’s work to international prominence; Chicago Loop Alliance has garnered more than half a billion earned media impressions, and its award-winning programs attract hundreds of thousands of people to the Loop each year. In 2011, Dillon oversaw the expansion of Chicago Loop Alliance’s signature initiative, Pop-Up Art Loop, which activates vacant storefronts in the Loop with temporary art exhibitions. By leveraging creative partnerships between sponsors, property owners, and artists, Pop-Up Art Loop quickly became a model for its successful use of art to drive economic development. The program has won numerous awards from organizations that include the International Downtown Association and Friends of Downtown, and in 2012 it was presented as a juried entry by the United States of America in its official pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Last year, he helped author the 2013 Strategic Action Plan—a five-year plan that articulates Chicago Loop Alliance’s direction and vision for the Loop. This effort included extensive outreach to a large collection of public and private stakeholders over the course of an entire year. As part of the visioning process, he also worked with a team of designers and developers to create LoopChicago.com—a dynamic website and resource for the millions of people who visit the Loop annually. Traffic to that website is projected to increase fivefold in 2014. Prior to joining Chicago Loop Alliance, Dillon worked for the Congress for the New Urbanism, a leading international organization devoted to advancing walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from DePaul University, where he was President of the Student Government Association. He was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee and is an avid cyclist, arts enthusiast, and volunteer, serving as Chair of the Auxiliary Board of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University and as a member of the Advisory Board of Social Media Week Chicago.
Midwest Community Manager, Google+ Local
Amy Ravit Korin joined Google as the Midwest Community Manager for Google+ Local in 2011. With over a dozen years of experience in social and emerging media, Amy founded interactiveAmy.com in 2009 and served on the Board of the Chicago Social Media Club from 2008-2012 and Social Media Week Advisory Board in 2012. Amy earned her MBA from Loyola University’s Graduate School of Business with a concentration in Marketing and Human Resources and studied Communications at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Amy lives and breathes social media personally and professionally; and is even an online dating success story – reconnecting with the first boy she ever kissed and marrying him! You can follow Amy online at @interactiveAmy or @GoogleLocalCHI.
Founder and CEO, socialdeviant
Marc is the founder and CEO of socialdeviant, a social media agency dedicated to creating value for brands in a socially connected world. Marc has 20+ years of marketing and M&A experience, serving as CEO of MRM and Arc, and as a director at Lake Capital. Early in his career, Marc co-founded startup Digital Knowledge Assets, a Web-based knowledge-management platform, with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and Telcoms guru Tim McDonald.
Director, Events, Magazine and Social Media, Morningstar, Inc.
Leslie is responsible for global brand management of Morningstar Conferences, as well as business management for the annual Morningstar Investment Conference and the Morningstar ETF Invest Conference held in Chicago, and Morningstar Advisor magazine. A champion for social media within the organization, Leslie is also responsible for the Morningstar’s social media strategy. Prior to joining Morningstar, Leslie spent 14 years in the publishing industry in a variety of marketing, new business development, and editorial roles. Leslie holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and German from Adrian College.
Social Media Director, CDW
Lauren is an experienced marketing professional with a focus on Social Media and a passion for photography and community service. Currently she heads Social Media at CDW, a leading provider of technology services. When not finding ways to connect customers and co-workers via the use of social media, you can find her teaching at the graduate level, behind the lens at a photo shoot or donating her time to urban education causes. BtoB Magazine recognized her as one of the 2012 Top 25 Digital Marketers. In addition to being a frequent speaker at conferences, Lauren contributes to the industry as a member of the Ethics Advisory Board for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). . Her past lives include executive sales and marketing positions at SBC (currently AT&T) along with a tenure at the Quaker Oats Co. and Burrell Advertising. Lauren is a proud Bison having received her BBA from Howard University. She also has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
New Media Manager, DePaul University Career Center
Aside from serving as an adjunct professor at both Judson University in Elgin, IL (teaching Media Studies) and DePaul University in Chicago, IL (teaching Interactive and Social Media), Doug has served since 2009 as a New Media Manager at DePaul University. He has personally been responsible for growing digital communities from zero to thousands over multiple channels, managing content strategies and driving and tracking hundreds of thousands of engagements each month. Doug’s work as a social media strategist and consultant has focused on helping organizations by developing strategies and deploying tactical solutions. He has also been lucky enough to present at numerous conferences and developed training and educational materials as well, guiding others in the best practices and emerging trends that impact the places where higher education, new media, and technology meet. Trained formally as a storyteller, Doug is passionate about understanding the digital social objects that inspire us to have community and conversation, understanding the past, present, and future of the tools we use to tell each other stories, and finding viable ways to have sustainable attention gathering practices that don't treat human attention as an inexhaustible resource.
Senior Vice President, Director of Converged Media, Edelman Digital
Based in Chicago, Elizabeth is SVP, Director of Paid Media. Elizabeth currently oversees paid and earned social media programs for several of the world’s most innovative brands. Elizabeth has spoken at several industry conferences, including: Global Conference for Accor (Budapest), WOMMA (Miami, Las Vegas), Digiday (New York), Society for New Communications Research (Boston) and Pace University’s Executive Summit (New York). In addition to Elizabeth’s involvement with Social Media Week, she is also a judge for some of the industry’s most prestigious shows, like the Effies, the Shortys and Digiday. Elizabeth is a classically trained violist and a member of the Chicago Classical Symphony orchestra. You may also recognize her as the voice of Red Lobster’s ad campaigns.
Director of Strategic Brand Development, Mariano's
Amanda Puck is the Director of Strategic Brand Development for Mariano's, as well as a recognized leader in the hospitality, event and communications industries. Formerly as the EVP of XA, The Experiential Agency, she was responsible for the successful blend of traditional and new media tactics. Through her new and emerging media efforts, Amanda made valuable connections that generated buzz and revenue for her clients such as Virgin Hotels, Saks Fifth Avenue, The James Chicago, David Burke's Primehouse, Le Colonial, Horseshoe Casino, William Grant & Sons, The Joffrey, Levy Restaurant Group, Michael Kors, Hermes, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Marc Jacobs at the Waldorf-Astoria. A foodie first, Amanda was the Managing Partner of Spago Restaurant and also the two-time Emmy Award winning host of “Check, Please” on WTTW Channel 11 for its first two seasons in 2001 and 2002.
Senior Marketing Representative – Social Media Programs, United Airlines
Shanna Quinn has immersed herself in the social media sphere since 2008, serving in a number of key roles including Writer for GapersBlock.com, Contributing Editor at Galavanting Productions, Organizer and swag handler for TBEX 2009 & 2010, and Community Manager & Social Media Strategist for Imagination Publishing. In her current role as Senior Marketing Representative on the Social Media team at United Airlines, Shanna focuses on content strategy and execution, campaigns and social customer support. When she’s not at work, you can find her traveling, tweeting, exploring Chicago, or discovering the newest cupcake creation.
Manager of Communications, Chicago Cubs
Kevin Saghy is manager of communications for the Chicago Cubs. In this role, he is responsible for promoting the team’s marketing and ticketing efforts, community involvement and other off-the-field endeavors through various communications channels, while also leading the club’s overall social media efforts. Kevin develops messaging, manages proactive and reactive communications outreach, collaborates with the team’s corporate and community partners, and serves as a spokesperson to local and national media. Kevin manages the club’s social media presence on outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and Tumblr. Under his guidance, the Cubs have published compelling content and implemented numerous sweepstakes, giveaways, polls and in-ballpark activation, with a focus toward personal engagement with fans both online and offline. The Cubs have earned a social media following that ranks among the top five clubs in Major League Baseball. Kevin also serves as an advisory board member for the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, founding board member of the Ohio Northern Chicago Alumni Club and he volunteers for several Chicago-based and national PRSA committees. As a past national president of the student organization (PRSSA), he remains committed to initiatives that advance students in the public relations industry. Prior to joining the Cubs, Saghy worked as an account executive in the corporate practice of Ketchum in Chicago.
Intellectual Property & Business Attorney, Saper Law, Adjunct Professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Daliah is a member of the Illinois Bar and both the General Bar and Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She has handled many high profile cases (including one she argued before the Illinois Supreme Court) and is regularly interviewed on national TV, radio, and in several publications including: Fox News, CNBC, ABC News, The Chicago Tribune, WGN Radio, NPR, and a slew of smaller websites. She has repeatedly received the honor of being named a“Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine (2009,2010,2011,2012,2013), is recognized as a leading Media and Entertainment lawyer by Chambers and Partners, featured on the cover of TheXemplar magazine, profiled by the Chicago Law Bulletin, and has been nominated for the prestigious ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award. This year, Law Bulletin Publishing Company selected Daliah Saper as a “40 under 40,” an incredibly competitive list of accomplished attorneys compiled from over 1250 qualified nominations. Daliah is an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, teaching a Sports and Entertainment Law course. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, teaching an Internet Law course. She is on the faculty of PLI, Practicing Law Institute, and has been selected by Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society to be a member of Harvard’s new Online Media Legal Network (OMLN). In addition Daliah conducts Seminars at Saper Law on a monthly basis, and is a frequent lecturer, panelist, and instructor for organizations around the city and the country. Daliah received her J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law, where she was a staff member on the Journal of Law Technology and Policy and served as President of the Intellectual Property Law Society. Her work experience includes positions at Brinks Hofer Gilson and Lione, a large intellectual property law firm; Lawyers for the Creative Arts, a non-profit organization assisting artists; and the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights organization. She has also worked at Playboy Enterprises, Inc., assisting with the maintenance and enforcement of Playboy’s global trademark portfolio. Prior to starting her own firm, Daliah gained experience as a commercial litigator and negotiated settlement agreements on behalf of individuals sued by the Recording Industry Association of America. She also served as Vice President and in-house counsel of diLuce Productions, Inc., a Chicago based public relations and marketing consulting firm specializing in event production. Daliah is an active member of the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Fashion Foundation, the Technology Executives Club, the Decalogue Society, the Standard Club, and IFP (Independent Feature Project). Through her firm, she supports and sponsors many technology and arts related organizations such as Tech Cocktail and the Midwest Independent Film Festival. She also volunteers for Lawyers for the Creative Arts, Kartemquin Films, Chicago Filmmakers, Women in Film, and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation. Finally, Daliah has extensive overseas experience, having studied at Fudan University in Shanghai and the City University School of Business in London. She speaks Hebrew and Farsi.
Director, Mass Communications, Chicago White Sox
Nicole Saunches joined the Chicago White Sox as the Director of Mass Communications in 2012. In her role, Nicole develops and directs strategic digital communications plans for a variety of organization-wide initiatives, oversees all White Sox digital communications (whitesox.com, email marketing, social media platforms), creates fan-engagement initiatives and generates content ideas to increase followers and engagement with White Sox digital assets, organizes production of behind-the-scenes videos for whitesox.com, White Sox social media assets and Video on Demand, establishes editorial content for all White Sox publications and oversees White Sox market research. Nicole began her career with the Atlanta Braves in Special Events and later joined the Milwaukee Brewers where she spent six seasons in the Media Relations department. Following the Brewers, she spent more than four years as the Marketing Communications Manager for the U.S. Olympic Committee. With the USOC, Ms. Saunches was a member of the U.S. delegations at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. She also worked as a consultant to the United States Tennis Association prior to joining the White Sox. Nicole graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Leisure Studies/Sports Management and received an M.A. in Sport Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Head of Digital and Social, Solo Cup
With a no-nonsense, business-driven approach to digital marketing, Kasey Skala currently leads social media and online engagement for Dart Container Corporation’s Solo brand. Prior to his current role, Skala was in charge of digital marketing for Great Clips, the world’s largest salon brand. He’s also held positions with U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. In his spare time, he likes to boast about his third-grade mile-run record and his claim to being a world-class Wheel of Fortune player.
Vice President, Public Affairs, MacArthur Foundation
As Vice President, Public Affairs, Andrew Solomon is responsible for the Foundation's strategic efforts to communicate with the press, public, and policymakers. He directs media relations, publications, electronic communications, event planning, and government relations for the Foundation. Before joining MacArthur, Solomon served as Director of Communications & Strategy for Harvard University’s non-partisan Institute of Politics, where he formulated and executed a multi-faceted plan to focus national attention on the youth vote in the 2004 election through targeted research, polling, events and publications. Previously, Solomon was Director of Public Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he crafted and promoted a national message for America’s 1200 mayors after 9/11, positioning them as leaders in the effort to ensure homeland security and helping them win significant federal funding. At the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the second Clinton Administration, Solomon led a comprehensive, long-term communications strategy to re-brand USDA. As Director of Public Affairs & Press Secretary, he served as Secretary Dan Glickman’s lead spokesman, coordinated the communications efforts of 30 USDA agencies, and directed the Department's outreach and speechwriting staffs. He has also worked as Deputy Press Secretary for the Democratic National Committee; Chief of Staff and Press/Legislative Aide in the Massachusetts State Senate; Editor of a budget travel guide; and News Director for Harvard's WHRB radio. Solomon has a Bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Harvard University; and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Digital Director, City of Chicago, Office of the Mayor
Ankur Thakkar is the City of Chicago’s first Digital Director and a Fiction Editor for TriQuarterly Magazine. For the City, he leads initiatives to raise the level of civic discourse between the public and its government, and to further the City's mission to be transparent, accountable and accessible. Thakkar is charged with conveying the Mayor's initiatives through the power of platform-agnostic storytelling, rallying Chicago's developers around the City's growing infrastructure of open data, and collaborating with key players in Chicago's booming digital economy. His writing has previously appeared in Guernica, TriQuarterly, and as part of the 2014 Twitter Fiction Festival. He holds an MFA from Northwestern University and is currently working on his first novel.
Director of Social Computing, Collaboration and Intranets, Rightpoint
Jeff Willinger is the Director of Social Computing, Collaboration and Intranets at Rightpoint and was recently named one of the top SharePoint influencers to watch in 2013, for the second year, and one the most influential social media people in the city of Chicago. He specializes in advising clients on social computing strategies, social intranets and portals, mobile reach vs. reach and increasing employee engagement. With experience spanning more than two decades, Jeff possesses specific expertise in social computing and business inside an organization’s four walls and social media outside their four walls. He is an internationally recognized speaker and expert in Microsoft SharePoint and is a technology and business evangelist with deep expertise in information architecture, enterprise content management, and web 2.0 technology strategy. A character with character, he is the President and Founder of the Social Media Club of Chicago.