Chicago’s StartOut chapter began in 2013. Over the years, Chicago has built a reputation as a hotbed of innovative startups. Through humble beginnings in shared office spaces, angel investors organized themselves into networks and incubators to help accelerate the growth of well-known startups from the area.
With local universities formalizing their entrepreneurship programs, Chicago holds the recipe for what is now a robust startup ecosystem.
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25 March 2017
25 March 2017
Programming Board Chair
Steven is the VP Retail Training Manager for MB Financial. During his five years working at MB, he has worked closely with LGBTQ businesses throughout Chicago and takes pride in being involved with StartOut Chicago and helping entrepreneurs.
CEO & Founder of Galvanize Labs, Moira Hardek is challenging education paradigms by combining tech curriculum with gaming. Prior to founding Galvanize Labs, she created the Geek Squad Academy at Best Buy that taught technology skills to 15,000 under-represented youth. In 2017, Moira joined Chicago-based, non-profit Code Now as Director of Learning & Engagement.
Recruited from the Ohio Supreme Court to expand continuing education within Illinois’ judicial branch of government, Brad serves as Senior Judicial Education Coordinator with the Illinois Supreme Court. With over five years’ experience in providing policy, planning, and strategic leadership support to government education boards and committees, Brad is thrilled to now also serve his local LGBTQ community by joining the Programming Board of StartOut Chicago
John Litchfield is an associate and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP, and is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment and Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practices. His primary practice includes counseling clients on a wide range of employment-related matters, including disability accommodations, family and medical leave issues, wage and hour compliance, and other state and federal employment laws. He has represented employers in federal and state litigation matters relating to race and disability discrimination, FMLA claims, and harassment. Mr. Litchfield regularly advises startup and growth companies, in addition to large private and public companies, on employment practices and governance.
Manny Ozaeta is the Director of Membership at 1871, where he supports the broad needs of new and current members. Ozaeta brings with him a wealth of experience through a diverse background in communications, legislative affairs, and customer service.
Heather Roberts is an established technology attorney turned procurement executive. She is currently a Senior Director at Harman International where she is responsible for the global procurement of software and patent licenses related to automotive technologies and professional audio products. Outside of her day job, Heather is heavily involved in building the Chicago entrepreneurial community, acting as the lead for the Chicago chapter of StartOut, a non-profit organization focused on providing opportunities for LGBTQ founders and startups. She is an advisor for WiStem, an incubator for women entrepreneurs and a frequent angel investor. Heather is also passionate about corporate diversity. She started and led the LGBT@moto employee resource group while she was in-house counsel at Motorola and is regularly engaged in public speaking on diversity and entrepreneurship.
Bernadette Smith’s vision is for all people to receive equal treatment as they move through life. She is CEO of Equality Institute, a firm dedicated to consulting with businesses on issues of unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion. She started her career as a pioneer in the LGBTQ wedding industry, where she wrote three books and became a sought-after thought leader, speaker and consultant on issues of inclusion in weddings and travel.
Drew Stern is founder & Co-CEO of Esquify, a venture-backed legal technology company, and has held leadership positions at Salesforce, Buddy Media, Sprout Social and American Express. His passion for technology’s impact on business has been a common thread throughout his career. As an LBGTQ founder, Drew is a strong advocate for workplace diversity, mentorship and entrepreneurship. Drew received his MBA from NYU Stern.
Grant is the Group Vice President of Operations at InContext Solutions – the global leader in cloud-based virtual reality shopping and retail solutions. He has 10+ experience scaling global operational functions for high growth companies. Grant earned a BA at George Washington in political science and history.