Thank you to everyone who attended the 7th Annual Little Black Dress Night on May 12, 2021!

This year’s Little Black Dress Night was the most successful year yet! We heard from several amazing panelists and speakers, including a surprise appearance from the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Janice Jackson. This year we explored themes of impostor syndrome, vulnerability and creating an equitable futures for women and people of color in STEM. 

We had 200 guests attend our virtual event and raised more than $150,000! Thank you to all of our corporate sponsors and guests who made this event possible. We are also excited to have awarded scholarships to several members of our Young Women Leadership Society to help with their college journeys. 

We hope that you can join ChiTech again next year for another night of empowering our young leaders!

– The Little Black Dress Night Planning Committee

KICKOFF SPEAKER

Nena Brichetto

Senior Marketing Advisor, SMB, Zebra Technologies

Biography

Nena Brichetto is currently a Senior Marketing Advisor, SMB, for Zebra Technologies. In this role, she leads the build and execution of a broad spectrum of marketing programs targeting small and growing businesses in a fast-paced high stakes’ environment. Leveraging her passion for diversity and inclusion, she also co-leads the company’s Women’s Inclusion Network in North America. 

For two decades, specializing in high-tech businesses, she has been architecting and implementing integrated, sales-driven direct and indirect multi-channel marketing programs. She has extensive experience in translating complex product information for all types of marketing media and vehicles. Nena is known for her ability to demystify, design and deliver powerful customer-centric growth strategies. 

Previously, she served as a Channel Marketing Manager, North and Latin America, for Zebra and Motorola Solutions. Nena obtained a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Illinois State University where she graduated a Mu Kappa Tau member. She is a lifetime member of Pi Sigma Epsilon. During her free time, Nena loves traveling and volunteering. She believes strongly that a community with a thriving volunteer base improves the overall quality of life and health of all its members.

KEYNOTE

Dorri McWhorter

CEO, YWCA Chicago

Biography

Dorri McWhorter became CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago in March 2013 and has driven a transformation from traditional social service organization to 21st Century social enterprise. Central to the evolution has been work across the enterprise and leadership within the nonprofit sector to create efficiencies, improve access to resources, and deepen impact through the expansion of programs and services.

Increasing impact and organizational sustainability, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s operating budget has grown from $10.5 million in 2013 to an expected $35 million in 2021. The organization has been an active contributor to many critical initiatives across the region, including Census 2020 outreach and engagement, COVID-19 relief, Contact Tracing, and community economic development efforts on the south and west sides of the city. The expansion of services has been boosted by the acquisition and strategic integration of other direct service and policy organizations including Project HELP, DuPage Early Childhood Collaboration, Voices for Illinois Children, StreetWise, World of Money, YWCA Lake County, and Partners in Community Building.

Dorri has led the YWCA’s development of innovative digital services with the launch of YShop.org (e-commerce platform), womenshealthexchange.org (health insurance and information) and the MPWR, pronounced “empower”, mobile app (community engagement). Dorri led the process for the YWCA to partner on the development and launch of an exchange traded fund (ETF) for women’s empowerment (NYSE: WOMN) in partnership with Impact Shares, which is the first non-profit investment advisor to develop an ETF product. 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 and recognized by Good City Chicago receiving its Innovative Leader Award. Dorri is a 2019 Inductee in the Chicago Innovation Hall of Fame.

Dorri prides herself on being a socially-conscious business leader and is committed to creating an inclusive marketplace by leveraging a cross-sector approach of engaging business, civic and community partners. Prior to joining the YWCA, she was a partner at Crowe Horwath, LLP, one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S.. She also held senior positions with Snap-on Incorporated and Booz Allen Hamilton. Dorri serves on the Board of Directors for Lifeway Foods, William Blair Funds and Skyway Concession Company (Chicago Skyway). 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 is the current Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Illinois CPA Society. Dorri serves as Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the First Women’s Bank (in development).

Dorri is dedicated to empowering women as a founding member of the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute at DePaul University and Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. Dorri’s civic and philanthropic leadership includes the board of directors for the Chicago Center for Arts and Technology, 1871 (Technology Business Accelerator), Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Civic Consulting Alliance, Civic Federation, and Forefront. She is also a member of the Illinois Charitable Trust Board. Dorri received a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a master of business administration degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lake Forest College.

LIGHTNING TALK

Jasmine Shells

Co-Founder & CEO, Five to Nine

Biography

Jasmine is the Co-Founder & CEO of Five to Nine – a virtual event management and evaluation software for program leaders at companies. A few of Five to Nine’s customers include DoorDash, MasterClass, and Verizon Media, among others.

Jasmine was recently named Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for enterprise technology, a Google for Startups Recipient, and a US Department of State Fellow for teaching entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Jasmine graduated from the University of Notre Dame and is pursuing her MBA at the University of Chicago where she was named an Entrepreneurial Scholar.

Jasmine served on Notre Dame’s Black Alumni Board, is a P33 Chicago Advisor, and teaches entrepreneurship to companies, universities and non-profits globally. She’s been featured in Vice, Forbes, Business Insider, TEDx, Black Enterprise, Yahoo Finance, and Marketwatch.

PANELISTS

Reem Jaghlit, Moderator

Head of DEI, ActiveCampaign

Biography

Reem Jaghlit is the Head of DEI 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.

Garry Cooper, Jr., PhD

Co-Founder & CEO, Rheaply

Biography

Dr. Garry Cooper is the Co-founder and CEO of Rheaply, whose vision is to make all the physical resources in the world discoverable and easily transferable. Dr. Cooper also currently serves on the Board of Directors of P33 Chicago and 1871, and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. Prior to Rheaply, Dr. Cooper worked on supply chain and performance improvement for the enterprise at Ernst & Young. As a result of his work, Dr. Cooper has been named a Crain’s 40 under 40 in 2020 and Scholar at Google for Entrepreneurs. Dr. Cooper has published in high-impact, peer-reviewed international journals and holds a US patent. Dr. Cooper holds a PhD from Northwestern University, Certificate in Management from the Kellogg School of Management, BS & BA from Indiana University.

Mpho Komanyane

Program Delivery Manager, AHEAD

Biography

Mpho Komanyane is the Chair of the Diversity Equity & Inclusion Council and is concurrently serves as the Strategic Lead of the RISE (Race Inclusion for Success and Equity) Employee Resource Group (ERG) at AHEAD. In both roles, Mpho purposefully facilitates strategic guidance and discussions to promote inclusive practices in every facet of the business. She has developed business cases to highlight progressive needs, implementations and discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. Her approach to diversity and inclusion seeks to create a safe space for dialogue where conversations can thrive, and individuals can be their authentic self.

Her interest and passion for fairness, representation and equality began early on in her life, with parents who presented opportunities that helped her learn and understand the complexities of ethnocentric beliefs/behaviors. Fast forward to college, graduate school and a career in IT and the pendulum swung
even more for a black woman with an African name, as few and few people looked or sounded like her. During this time Mpho decided to volunteer with and join inner city groups such as the Boys and Girls Club of America, after school church programs, black professional organizations to learn more and
mentor inner city youth. These experiences became the catalyst for an internal change journey and to help lead the charge in fostering a more diverse and inclusive culture within every organization am a part of.

Prior to joining AHEAD Mpho spend years as a consultant leading professional services organizations through organizational change management in a variety of ways ranging from strategic services, software transformations and mergers and acquisitions. Her responsibilities ranged from people leadership, strategy, communication, innovation, vendor management, project management, business analysis, quality assurance across multiple fortune 1000 companies.

Lynessa Rico, PhD

Director, MS in Design Thinking & Entrepreneurship and BS in Management programs, National Louis University

Biography

Dr. Lynessa Rico is a seasoned strategic leader bringing over 25 years of experience in identifying and impacting business growth opportunities and maximizing profits in retail firms and higher education institutions.

Lynessa is the Director of the Master’s of Science in Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship and Bachelor’s of Science in Management programs at National Louis University where she is leading the university’s efforts to further education in women’s entrepreneurship to close the gender gap and funding gap. She also leads workshops focused on women’s entrepreneurship and the value and application of design thinking within entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Leslie Vickrey

CEO & Founder, ClearEdge Marketing

Biography

Leslie Vickrey is a marketing expert and business advisor who began her career with McDonald’s Corporation and found a niche in technology and talent as the head of marketing for Spherion’s technology division. She founded ClearEdge Marketing in 2006, which is now a go-to, fully integrated marketing agency for talent and technology firms. 

Leslie’s impact in the HR, tech and marketing communities far exceeds her day-to-day work as CEO. Passionate about the importance of diversity, Leslie is a frequent speaker on the topic and even co-founded ARA, an organization that seeks to attract, retain and advance women in technology – 6,000 people strong.

She is part of the Women Business Collaborative Staffing Leadership Council; member of ASA’s Women in Leadership Council; is on the Board of Directors for Chicago Innovation; was recognized as one of 100 of Chicago’s most compelling innovators and entrepreneurs; is part of the UIC Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame; and was named one of the Enterprising Women of the Year. Leslie is a contributor to industry publications such as Recruiting Daily and Entrepreneur, a frequent industry speaker and host of an executive women in recruitment podcast, TheEdge.

“Being a member of YWLS has helped me develop into the woman I am today. YWLS pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, made me feel like I belonged to something bigger than myself, and created an everlasting sisterhood.” Keshawna Blumenberg, ChiTech’20

MEET YWLS

The Young Women’s Leadership Society is training, inspiring and supporting the next generation of tech and entrepreneurship leaders and thinkers. Get to know the club in this video, exhibited at the 7th Annual Little Black Dress Night.

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Contact Tiara Wheatley for sponsorship opportunities at twheatley@chicagotechacademy.org