Gunner Branson has over 20 years experience in commercial real estate, professional services sales, product innovation and marketing. As President & CEO of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM), an association of companies engaged in the real estate investment management business in the United States, he leads the discussion on the future of real estate. Before joining NAREIM in 2011, Gunner worked for over 25 years in commercial real estate, sales, strategy, product innovation and marketing. In addition to holding leadership roles at companies such as GE Capital Real Estate and Heller Financial, as a consultant he worked with companies such as Jones Lang LaSalle, Wells Fargo and Fidelity to develop new markets and new products.
Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, John Coyle became a member of the famed Wolverine Sports Club and began a lifelong love affair with both cycling and speed skating. His cycling career led to performances at the highest levels of the sport, competing in over 1500 bike races over a 30+ year racing career, including a top ten finish in the world cycling championships. John also spent a decade on the national speed skating team, competing in 9 world championships, winning 3 world medals, and winning a silver medal in short-track speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
John’s corporate resume proves equally riveting: his strategic consulting career included clients Goldman Sachs and Enron. Following a two-day debrief by the FBI in the wake of the Enron meltdown, John joined U.S. Cellular® to lead a highly successful multi-year customer experience strategy. Discovering his passion for innovation and transformative change, John recently joined Maddock Douglas where he helps catapult services, products and ideas to market across a diverse portfolio of innovative companies.
Coyle graduated from Stanford University’s D-school with a degree in product design and an MBA from Kellogg. He serves as head coach for local area Speed Skating Clubs, and as an expert commentator for NBC Olympics every four years.
Rhon is founder and CEO of Nervana, a digital design and touch menu technology company. His career has been focused on helping visionaries launch new companies and products, and re-imagine new innovations for every day challenges. He has worked with a range of companies including Hard Rock Hotel, Cisco Systems, Razorfish, Oracle, Hilton, Hyatt, Ford, General Electric and WebMD, among others.
Prior to founding Nervana, he was recognized by the Chicago Innovation Awards for the creation of TouchLife. He also was a major contributor to one of the most successful startup exits in Silicon Valley by helping Securent from startup to $100MM exit to Cisco Systems.
Rhon is an active speaker and panelist on the issues of innovation and startup strategy. He was recently recognized in Chicago’s first hard-back book on innovation called “Innovating Chicago Style” as a featured case study selected among the top 100 best companies in Chicago.
Rhon graduated from Northern Illinois’s Computer Science Program, is member of TEDxMidwest Conference, TEDxNaperville Conference, a Northwestern Kellogg School of Business Innovation Participant, a winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards, a member of the Illinois Technology Association, and serves on the Rasmussen Advisory Board.
Formed in Chicago in 2006, Estesombelo has developed a unique mixture of solemn silence and spacious intonations formalized into disintegrative, prolific textures. From their interests in ambient/drone music and the work of 20th – 21st century composers, Estesombelo has honed their aesthetic of experimental drone while expanding the confines of repetition and variation.
Throughout their history of live performance, Estesombelo has worked with visual artists to incorporate ethereal images to complement their discordant mixture of diatonicism conveyed with erosive and increasingly abrasive feedback.
Dan’s research focuses on the interface between particle physics and cosmology. Particle physics explores the fundamental nature of energy and matter, while cosmology is the science of the universe itself, including its composition, history and evolution. Some of the areas of this field that he has worked on include dark matter, supersymmetry, high-energy neutrinos, extra dimensions, and ultra-high energy cosmic rays.
Dan authored Nature’s Blueprint: Supersymmetry and the Search for a Unified Theory of Matter and Force, Dark Cosmos: In Search of Our Universe’s Missing Mass and Energy, and coauthored Distinguishing Between Dark Matter and Pulsar Origins of the ATIC Electron Spectrum With Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes, Pulsars as the Sources of High Energy Cosmic Ray Positrons, High Energy Positrons From Annihilating Dark Matter, Deducing the nature of dark matter from direct and indirect detection experiments in the absence of collider signatures of new physics, and The New DAMA Dark-Matter Window and Energetic-Neutrino Searches.
Dan was the David Schramm Fellow at Fermilab and Postdoc at the University of Oxford. He completed his Ph.D in physics at the University of Wisconsin in 2003.
Megan has spent her career leading organizations and programs dedicated to bringing innovation to the nonprofit sector and to improving social service support for women and families living in poverty and at risk. She has served as Executive Director for the Taproot Foundation and earlier for the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Chief Development Officer for Chicago’s Deborah’s Place and Program Director for organizations including the Howard Area Community Center, Methodist Youth Services and the Heartland Alliance.
Megan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a BA in Public Policy and American Civilization from Brown University, a master’s degree from University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. A frequent panelist and presenter at conferences, Megan most recently presented a session introducing Benevolent at the Independent Sector conference, on a panel about achieving scale at Kellogg’s Innovating Social Change Conference, at the Axelson Symposium presenting a new approach to service enterprise for nonprofits, and on a panel about corporate commitments to skilled volunteerism at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service.
Nicholas J. Percoco is an ethical computer hacker who, at the age of six, constructed his first computer program. In his youth, he began navigating Bulletin Board Systems and performing ethical hacking exercises for Chicago companies. By 2005, he had formed the world-renowned information security research organization known as Trustwave SpiderLabs. Today, he leads Trustwave’s global team of nearly 100 security experts in IT ethical hacking, incident investigations, and security research spread across six continents.
Nicholas is a high profile speaker on security breaches and IT security trends. In 2010 and 2011, he revealed mobile security flaws in both the Apple iPhone and Google Android platforms at DEF CON, the world’s largest underground hacking conference. The Department of Homeland Security and Interpol tap Nicholas’s expert advice regardingcybercriminal activity, and he is one of the founders of THOTCON, an annual hacking and security conference in Chicago.
Nicholas serves as a leading subject matter expert on hacking trends for MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a Redbird alum and a Chicago native.
Dr. John Principe
Dr. John Principe’s educational foundations were obtained at St. Rene Goupil Grammar School, St. Laurence High School and subsequently Loyola University of Chicago where he graduated, Summa Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Obtaining his medical degree in 1984, he received numerous teaching awards at RushUniversityand the Universityof Illinois. Board Certified in Internal Medicine and dedicated to the compassionate and practical care of patients, he contributes to society on both local and national levels through WellBeingMD®, his private practice in Palos Heights, Illinois.
Faced with professional discontent and personal medical problems, Dr. John Principe, at age 50, was on course for ill health and disability. In 2008, he attended Harvard’s Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives continuing medical education course and was so impacted by its creator, Dr. David Eisenberg, that he created his own practice based on a revolutionary approach towards medicine.
Innovative book entrepreneur Dominique Raccah is the founder of Sourcebooks, where she serves as publisher and CEO. She is fascinated by the transformation of the book and wonders whether digital books might well be changing everything.
Jeannie Walters is the founder of 360Connext, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience: customer engagement, employee engagement and connections like social media.
Walters started her career consulting to some of the most prestigious institutions in education, the arts and healthcare to help them launch or improve their fundraising efforts. She later joined Vox, a customer experience consulting firm, and became President and partner by the time she left 12 years later, when she founded 360Connext. Walters has worked with a wide range of organizations, including universities and prep schools, banks and credit unions, technology companies, some of the largest financial services companies in the world and countless entrepreneurs. She now speaks on topics including employee engagement, social media and communications in corporate environments.
Walters lives outside of Chicago with her husband Mike and their two young sons. As such, her current hobbies include Thomas the Train and Elmo.
Raised on an organic farm in rural Ohio, Bronwyn Weaver’s roots run deep in family-centered communities with a life-long interest in naturally grown food. After spending several years in Antigua, opening a grade school and providing consulting to major corporations, Bronwyn returned to the life she knew as a child. In 2002, she and her family moved to the Fox Valley area where she again took up beekeeping, launching Bron’s Bee Company and, later, Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn, Illinois. Here, she and her staff work the farm, growing vegetables all four seasons utilizing an innovative system of moveable greenhouses. A commercial kitchen on-site produces a wide range of value-added local foods. Her produce and honey are found in Whole Foods, Fruitful Yield, and on the menus of Chicago’s top chefs.
For the past five years, her farm has been a gathering place for many different celebrations, all centering around the local food experience: weddings, farm dinners, crop mobs, corporate team building events and farmer’s markets. Bronwyn serves on the Board of Directors for FamilyFarmed.org and is the official beekeeper of Morton Arboretum.