Elementary Principal, Author, Speaker
Allyson Apsey is an elementary principal, author, and national speaker who is passionate about students and staff, and leads others through their strengths. Despite the fact that she never wanted to set foot in a school again after high school graduation, there is nowhere else she’d rather spend her days than in classrooms. In fact, she doesn’t even have a chair at her desk because she is moving around the school all day long. The challenges and delights of being a principal fill her days with joy and Allyson enjoys nothing more than helping others be the very best they can be. Allyson is a mom to two wonderful sons and is celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary with her husband Jim this year. Allyson fully embraces the roller coaster of life, knowing that each up and down can help us get closer to the person we want to be if we look for serendipity in everything we experience.
Chief Diversity Consultant, Leadership & Transformational Change Speaker, Principal Attorney
Ashley Kirkwood epitomizes the title "revolutionary lawyer" due to her untraditional path into law, her commitment to civil rights and her innovative path to becoming an attorney entrepreneur. After negotiating her way to a $287,000 a year salary at a large Chicago law firm, making her the highest paid attorney of her rank, Ashley left it all to be a full-time entrepreneur. Now, Ashley runs her own company, Mobile General Counsel P.C., where she helps entrepreneurs launch legally compliant businesses. Ashley works hard to exude confidence in everything that she does, but before experiencing success in her legal career, Ashley was a struggling student. She went from graduating undergrad with a 2.1 GPA to graduating top of her class from Northwestern University School of Law. Her academic trials to triumph story is detailed in her book, The Law School Hustle. If you need a little motivation to get through the week, check out her podcast, The Currency of Confidence!
Incarceration Reentry Specialist
A former Leader of the Vice Lords in the 60’s and 70’s, and once a death row inmate, Benny Lee has risen to become the epitome of a lifestyle change from street hustling, gang affiliation and prison culture, to receive his associate’s degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse at Kennedy King College (Chicago), both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northeastern Illinois University, where he’s now an adjunct professor in the Justice Studies department. He’s currently the founder and CEO of the National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated (NAEFI), a community-based organization serving the formerly incarcerated living in the State of Illinois.
Entrepreneur, Social Media Strategist, Influencer
Bobbi Baehne is the President of Think Big Go Local, a boutique digital marketing firm specializing in social media, web design and messenger bot creation. She is passionate about supporting and serving businesses that need an edge over their competitors and a solid strategy for capturing the attention of their desired audience. Bobbi spends a great deal of time giving back to her community by sitting on multiple Boards of Directors, Commissions and committees and will be serving on City Council this May. She is a McHenry County College Distinguished Graduate and was honored in 2018 a McHenry County Woman of Distinction. She is an adjunct professor teaching Social Media Marketing at McHenry County College and an IncubatorEDU coach at McHenry High School. Her greatest joy is spending time with family including her 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren.
High School Student & Athlete
Supreme Commander at The Freak Factory
David Rendall. Randall. Randell. Rendell. Reynolds. Whatever. No one knows how to pronounce his last name. David is a standup comedian with a doctorate in management. He’s a class clown turned leadership professor, who went from disrupting classes to teaching classes. After being criticized and punished his whole life for being hyperactive, he now channels his frantic energy to compete in Ironman triathlons and ultramarathons. He wears more pink than the average middle-aged man. Well, actually, he wears more pink than an eight year old princess.
Storyteller Extraordinaire, Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur, author and TEDx speaker Denise W. Barreto is a prominent 21st Century voice on leadership and storytelling. Whether she’s executing in her role as a business strategist and managing partner of Relationships Matter Now, LLC or behind the camera in her newest roles as an executive producer and co-founder of Serqet Productions and Media, LLC, Denise is always challenging the status quo and building new, more inclusive narratives and environments across government, nonprofit, corporate and soon-to-be Hollywood entities. At Relationships Matter Now, LLC, primarily delivering strategic planning facilitation,
organizational and leader development and inclusion and diversity strategy, Denise and her firm has quickly become a go-to resource for non-profit and government agencies and businesses of all sizes who want to better leverage their relationships to grow their bottom line.
Student, Swim Instructor
Dylan started swimming competitively at the age of four, for the McHenry Marlins Swim team. He would go on to become a captain on the McHenry High School swim team for both his Junior and Senior seasons. For the past two summers Dylan has worked as a swim lesson instructor for McHenry Parks and Recreation. He finds great joy in teaching kids the sport he loves so much. After Joining National Honors Society, a service based organization, Dylan found a new passion for serving his community. Just recently Dylan combined his two passions of service and swimming and he started a new program called Sunday Swim Lessons. Dylan hopes this will allow more kids, that would not have had the chance otherwise, to get into the sport of swimming.
High School Teacher
Howie Perlow is the father of two, husband of one, and a happy dog owner. Since 1999 he has taught Social Studies and English at McHenry Community High School. Over nearly 20 years, Howie has watched thousands of young people come and go. And those who achieve their wildest dreams, those for whom there are no boundaries, are those who see open doors.
Artist, Author, Professional Speaker
Jason Kotecki is a professional reminder-er and permission granter who moonlights as an artist, author and speaker. He works with organizations to beat burnout and become more innovative by breaking rules that don’t exist. Jason enjoys Star Wars, soft t-shirts, and brand new tubes of paint. He and his wife Kim have made it their mission in life to help people break free from Adultitis to build better lives, businesses and teams.
Author, Nonprofit Fund Development
Jordan Debbink is an author and nonprofit consultant residing in Grayslake, Illinois. He brings a decade of experience in the fund development field to his role in fundraising to Pioneer Center for Human Services, a local nonprofit serving McHenry County. His experiences in the past include being the president of Music Matters Inc. and the youngest crisis pregnancy center executive director in Wisconsin. In his spare time, Debbink is an avid volunteer on many nonprofit boards, a musician at heart and a writer on nonprofit best practices, millennials in the workplace and the importance of mental health support.
Faith & Personal Development, Speaker, Author, Encourager
Matt Ham is an accomplished speaker, author, and small business owner. In 2013, he began writing about the challenges and adventures as a father to four small children while learning how to navigate the tension between faith, family, and career. His first book, Redefine Rich: A New Perspective on the Good Life, was released in January 2015 and provides a shift in how we view wealth and our pursuit of it. With clients ranging from the corporate community, to non-profit organizations and the faith community, Matt connects with audiences about bridging the gaps between who we are, what we do, and the purpose we long for—encouraging a more holistic, full life. In 2016, along with partner Kevin Adams, Matt helped found the YouPrint Corporation, an entrepreneurial, kingdom-minded, socially responsible organization whose mission is to help individuals live the life of impact they were created for. Matt and his wife, Liz, live in Wilmington, North Carolina with their four children.
Husband, Father, Brother, Son, Friend
Michael McGann broke his spine in early 2015, which left him unable to walk for 8 months. It also left him with an Injury that will find him fighting everyday against a permanent disability and chronic lifetime pain. Although his life has changed forever... he is glad to announce that he is truly “Blessed” to have had this happen to him; sometimes it is the things we perceive as the worst issues that become the best parts of our life. He would love to share how he not only learned to walk again but found the mental and physical strength to overcome odds and lose over 170 lbs. Then, by some Miracle, he beat the Renal Cancer he had also been diagnosed with, and along the way was permanently changed into a better person - shifting his mental outlook into a truly wonderful way of thinking to help overcome life’s challenges!
Cybersecurity, Cyberwarfare, Cyberterrorism, Technology, Compliance
An expert in cybersecurity and network infrastructure, Nick Espinosa has consulted with clients ranging from small businesses up to the Fortune 100 level. Nick founded Windy City Networks, Inc in 1998 at age 19 and was acquired by BSSi2 LLC in 2013 where he is their CIO. In 2015 Security Fanatics, a Cybersecurity/Cyberwarfare outfit dedicated to designing custom Cyberdefense strategies for medium to enterprise corporations, was launched. A nationally recognized speaker, member of the Forbes Technology Council, TEDx Speaker, regular columnist for Forbes, award winning co-author of the bestselling book "Easy Prey," host of "The Deep Dive" nationally syndicated radio show, Nick is known as an industry thought leader and sought after for his advice on the future of technology and how it will impact every day businesses and consumers.