Justin Ahrens is principal and creative director at Rule29. His passion for design is rooted in his creative firm’s commitment to “making creative matter.” For more than 10 years, Ahrens has led Rule29 in its commitment to both great design and helping others think differently about the world around them. Through a collaborative approach in both strategy and design, Rule29’s culture is just as important as its work. This is particularly evident by the company’s involvement in numerous social causes, including their substantial work in Africa. Justin has also been a consistent voice for the design community as it relates to balancing life, design and business.
Mark Hattas co-founded Geneca, a $20M+ award-winning software product development firm, in 1998 as a 26-year old entrepreneur. During the past decade, Mark served as CEO, leading Geneca through 12 years of profitable growth, including consistent double digit expansion through the 2009-2010 recession. Under Mark’s leadership, Geneca earned wide recognition as one of Chicago’s most respected IT services firms and best places to work.
Richard Hill has been a consultant for businesses leaders on issues of strategy, performance enhancement, and leadership excellence since 1988. He has worked with CEO’s of over 300 organizations ranging from small, entrepreneurial startups, to established Fortune 100 companies. Additionally, He has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for YPO and EO Forums in the Chicagoland area.
Todd Kelsey, PhD, is a Chicago-based tech professional, author and educator. His research ranges from website building in multiple languages to digital story telling. He has appeared on television as a featured expert, and has written books on topics such as Social Networking, Facebook Advertising, and Google Adwords. Todd has served as a volunteer for and advisor to organizations such as One Laptop Per Child, Teachers without Borders, and the DotGreen Foundation. His recent projects involve digital archaeology, a system of helping people capture, preserve, and share their stories, especially if they are stored in antiquated technology.
A national champion in paragliding, Othar is also an expert B.A.S.E. jumper and skydiver; and as the originator of the Red Bull Air Force, he established the group's reputation and masterminded epic flying adventures. Born in 1974, Othar John Lawrence grew up in Carbondale, Colorado (the town he still calls home), where he explored just about every alpine sport. "In college, I was looking for fresh challenges, and that's when I met my nemesis, the air," he recounts. Othar made it his goal to conquer the skies, and he had the best possible teacher to get him started: his longtime friend (and now Red Bull Air Force teammate), paragliding wizard Chris Santacroce. At 34, he's still looking for new challenges. Othar’s latest objective is airplanes, having passed his private pilot exams, he's voraciously learning aerobatics. "By the time I'm an old man, I want to be accomplished at skydiving, B.A.S.E. jumping, paragliding, hang gliding, ultralights, sailplanes, airplane aerobatics, everything," Othar states. "I really do want to be a master of the air."
A self-proclaimed symphonic connoisseur and master of intrigue, he is also a writer, musician, and art historian who lives and works in Chicago. He was the frontman for the electric rock band Three Years Ghost, and regularly lectures on Art Nouveau and Weimar era Berlin cabaret. He is also the founder of Century Guild, an art gallery specializing in late 19th, early 20th century artwork with styles ranging from Art Noveau to Silent Cinema and Opera.
Jill Salzman is currently growing her third entrepreneurial venture, The Founding Moms, the world's first and only kid-friendly collective of monthly meetups for mom entrepreneurs.
A graduate of Brown University and law school after that, she started paperwork media LLC, a music management firm and her first entrepreneurial venture. (Her parents still wonder why she opted for the music business over the seductive and alluring career of a bankruptcy attorney.) She went on to create The Bumble Brand, LLC, to sell Bumble Bells, audible anklewear for the newest of human beings (she sold it in 2011.) Having built two successful companies, she launched The Founding Moms to connect mom entrepreneurs around the globe with one another.
Rick Stevens has been at Argonne since 1982, and has served as director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division and also as Acting Associate Laboratory Director for Physical, Biological and Computing Sciences. He is currently leader of Argonne's Petascale Computing Initiative, Professor of Computer Science and Senior Fellow of the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago, and Professor at the University's Physical Sciences Collegiate Division. From 2000-2004, Stevens served as Director of the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid Project and from 1997-2001 as Chief Architect for the National Computational Science Alliance.