Thank You!


You helped make the 5th Annual Little Black Dress Night a huge success on May 8, 2019!

What a panel, what an audience, what a location and what a great group of sponsors!

The 5th Annual Little Black Dress Night was an unforgettable evening for the women of Chicago Tech Academy’s Young Women’s Leadership Society. We had 200 guests, raised over $40,000 in donations, and together, we are sending our young women off into the final month of school with some ideas things to think about:

  • Search for more than a seat at the table, find your voice and use it at that table!
  • Recognize that diversity is more than skin deep. It’s in your biology, in your environment and in the way you choose to be YOU.
  • Diversity and inclusion, today more than ever, are sought after by companies. because diverse organizations are higher performing organizations!
  • The word “No” is also a complete sentence. We use this word too infrequently. Don’t be afraid to use it.

There were 200 women and men who showed up on May 8, 2019, in honor of our students. Now, these bright stars have an even bigger community to draw from for internships, jobs, mentors, and inspiration.

We’ll be reaching out to you soon!

Thank you and mark your calendars for May 2020!

– The Little Black Dress Night Planning Committee


Terri Brax

Founder of TeacherCare

CEO of Women Tech Founders

Terri Brax is the founder of TeacherCare, a nationwide agency helping families and organizations find private teachers, and the CEO of Women Tech Founders, a community of today and tomorrow’s female founders, investors and leaders.

Terri is passionate about equalizing power by weaving together education, technology, neuroscience, and media. In addition to entrepreneurial roles, Terri speaks and cares about diversity, innovation, and leadership. She also leads children’s charities and participates on boards that move communities forward.

She treasures her time with her family, friends and the inspiring people she meets every day.

Lightning Talk

Mary Rafferty

Mary Rafferty Photography

Artist, Do You See Me?

My ongoing photography project Do You See Me? explores the personal histories, strengths, and points of view of African-American women in Chicago. This project and much of my prior work spotlight the challenges of being a woman in America today by combining storytelling with portraiture to explore women’s resilience and strengths and by sharing the challenges they face.

The title Do You See Me? references the lack of representation of black women in mainstream culture throughout history with the responsive action of documenting and exhibiting the stories of these women through their portraits and own words. Do You See Me? captures the personal narratives of black women through portraiture and their responses to the open-ended question, “What does it mean to be a black woman in the United States today?”

Through the intimate process of both collecting and sharing these personal stories, my work captures moments that document women’s experience in contemporary social and political time. Their handwritten responses are digitally overlaid on the portraits, which furthers the intimacy of the project.

As a white female photojournalist, I feel compelled to bring greater equity to the images of women in our culture, and I am inspired by the stories of the women I have met through this project. Together, we create the collaborative pieces that ask – Do You See Me?

Do you see me? is an ongoing project to include all women and their stories. Please reach out if you are interested in participating to


This year’s panelists embody the pioneer spirit, leadership, and grit that ChiTech’s Young Women’s Leadership Society cultivates.

Michelle Y. Bess

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead

Sprout Social

Michelle Y. Bess is a premier connector of people serving as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Sprout Social, leading efforts to ensure all people feel a sense of belonging and that their voices are heard. Prior to Sprout Social, Michelle worked in college persistence at OneGoal and Posse Chicago and is an Alumna of the Surge Fellowship. She attended Whitworth University, earning a B.A. in Biology and completed Georgetown University’s Executive Certificate in Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Management.

Bess was recognized as a 2018 AdWeek Rising Brand Star, serves as a Board Director of Degrees of Change, past President of the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Associate Board, and is the Founder of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Professionals Meet-Up. Michelle is a native of Washington state
and resides in the Kenwood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

Colleen D. Egan

Director of People, Culture and Endless Possibilities

Clarity Partners

Colleen started her career as an R.N., but became frustrated with the slow adoption of technology in healthcare. She became the Operations Director at Quantum Leap, a division of the public digital agency LEAPNET and that experience became the foundation for the rest of
her career.

She founded and served as the Chief Operating Officer for the award-winning design and technology company Two Hundred Twelve Degrees | 212° and worked with clients that included Orbitz, McDonalds, Nike and pro bono clients like Zula USA. She went on to become the Chief Operating Officer and SVP of Production of Zula USA in Los Angeles, CA where she led the company and the production of the Emmy nominated PBS series The Zula Patrol, which
was the first 3D CGI space and science pre-school series on television.

She returned to Chicago and became the Chief Operating Officer of Akoo International where she led the design, deployment and support of the largest DOOH network in the country. The proprietary tech platform was awarded patents across the world, was voted one of the best companies to work at by Adverting Age Magazine and a Rising Star Finalist by the Illinois Technology Association (ITA).

In 2012, as a Principal Consultant with her own company Tiger Puppet Studios, she focused her work on Chicago technology start-ups working for clients in education, healthcare, recruitment solutions, big data and machine learning. As a competitor in StartupBus North America, her
team created the healthcare app MyBestRx, which was selected as a Tech Cocktail hottest startup and where she served as CEO.

In 2017, she became the Director of People, Culture and Endless Possibilities at Clarity Partners, a management and technology consulting firms that specializes in public sector work. Clarity created a role for Colleen which included leading People, Culture, and Operations while being able to do private sector business development and work as an advisor to their
partner company Kinzie Capital. Clarity has been recognized as an INC 5000 fastest growing company for six years in a row. Under her leadership, Clarity has been recognized as a “Best Places to Work” company by several organizations, a Crain’s Fast 50 for the last two years and has also won numerous awards for their design and technology work, diversity, and
commitment to community.

Colleen was the 2018 Illinois Technology Association’s CityLIGHTS Prominent Woman in Tech. She was also a Connected World Women of M2M and IoT and most recently was recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as a Notable LGBTQ executive. She serves on several company advisory boards and sits on numerous non- profit boards and committees including, U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s LGBT taskforce & Diversity in Tech taskforce, Founding 40 board member of DePaul University’s Women in Entrepreneurship
Institute, the Illinois Technology Association Talent Board, Little Kids Rock, Women’s Sports Foundation and Chicago United. She is a frequent speaker on topics including leading for good, diversity, equity, and inclusion, successful culture, women in technology, impact investing and LGBTQ issues.

Megan McCann

CEO & Founder, McCann Partners

Co-Founder, ARA

Megan McCann is an established IT recruitment and technology services leader known for building and leading highly successful IT services firms, and for the work she does to advance diversity and cultivate talent across the technology industry.

Megan is the CEO of leading IT recruitment firm McCann Partners, which she founded in 2011. Megan and her team continue to expand their reach and influence, working with a growing portfolio of diverse and innovative organizations—from Chicago-based startups to companies with a global footprint. Prior to McCann Partners, Megan co-founded and helped build Geneva Technical Services (GTS), and was a strategic force in growing SelecTech—both premier IT recruitment firms.

Megan’s impact on the tech community far exceeds her day-to-day work as CEO of her own firm. Passionate about attracting, retaining and advancing women in technology, Megan is a proud co-founder of ARA, a national organization that seeks to promote women in technology and leadership through mentorship, networking, and open discussion. She is also a founding partner of the Chicago Executive Women’s Networking Group, and was recently recognized as a 2018 Enterprising Woman of the Year, a ChicagoInno 50 on Fire finalist and a Midwest Women in Tech Awards finalist.

Reem Jaghlit

VP, Product Engineering


Reem Jaghlit is the VP of product engineering at ActiveCampaign (a sales and marketing automation software company). Before joining ActiveCampaign, Reem served as the VP of Innovation Engineering at Cheetah Digital and a Sr. Technology Leader at Capital One prior to that. Jaghlit has over 15 years of engineering experience in different industries (marketing, finance and education). She also founded and serves as the CEO of a jewelry company named Sweet Yara, Inc. Reem is very passionate about diversity and women in technology and enjoys the privilege of mentoring women throughout her career.

Highlights from LBDN2017


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