Sandee Kastrul is the president and cofounder of i.c.stars. Founded in 1999 i.c.stars provides opportunities to break the cycle of poverty that limits inner-city youth. Through training in technology, in leadership and in business skills i.c.stars prepares change-driven, inner city future leaders to develop skills in business and technology for high-level careers in information technology (IT) and community leadership. As a speaker, Sandee is an engaging and inspiring storyteller drawing the connections between creativity, innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. As the founder of a non-profit and social enterprise Sandee discusses the powerful result of optimism and raising the standards for our communities with a unique perspective on Capitalism and Civil Rights.
Sandee has been working in education and transformation for over 2 decades. Her career in education has included focused work on cross-curricular integration strategies, diversity training and curriculum development. She worked as a teacher and consultant from early childhood classrooms through adult education affording her a wide perspective in effective project based learning techniques, leadership development, reverse mentoring and asset based pedagogy. Some career highlights include implementing a professional development program with Harold Washington College Career Center, designing a comprehensive science and civics interactive program for Jobs for Youth, developing and facilitating diversity trainings and cross cultural curriculum strategies for the Illinois Resource Center, the Merrillville School Corporation and creating artist in residency programs and training artists to work in classrooms for several performing arts organizations in Chicago.
Ms. Kastrul proudly serves on the board of Directors for PAVE, (Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment) North Branch Works, and Las Caras Lindas. Sandee received the NFBDPA(National Forum Black Public Administrators) Community Service Award in 2012 BDPA (Black Data Processors Association) leadership award in 2009, and the BDPA Spirit award in 2004.
CEO Jim Alvarez founded AuctionsByCellular in May, 2011. He and his team managed 57 charity events that year and grew it almost ten-fold 18 months later to manage 500 events. Forty-two months later, and now ABC has helped over 2,000 nonprofits in 44 U.S. markets raise over $140 million from silent auctions and donations, including the American Heart Association, Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Cubs Charities.
After graduating from Indiana University, this entrepreneur fashioned a ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset.
In 2004 as a trader playing softball at night after the markets closed, a hamstring injury led Alvarez to invent the HammY golf putter. Three years later the HammY won a LPGA tournament by Natalie Gulbis, globally ranked 58th in putting, who moved to #3 using this game-changing putter.
Never sitting still for long, Alvarez bought two Sprint® stores in 2006, grew this investment to seven in two years, earned top dealer status and profitably sold them. Then he started a tanning business that led to him becoming partner in L.A. Tan, one of the largest privately held tanning salon chains in the nation with 180 locations.
In 2010 Alvarez founded the Amhurst Asylum. This former “psychiatric hospital” won best new haunted house by HauntedHouseChicago.com that year. In 2012, it was voted #3 ‘Official Haunted House Chicago Top 13’ from 118 haunts in the Midwest.
His team is now intent on a similarly successful path for AuctionsByCellular being just as freaky fast. A decade later, Alvarez is reminded of repeated success starting businesses in multiple industries.
Alvarez met his wife in the 4th grade and they were married in 2001. They have two small boys; Jax (4), and Asher (1). In his free time, Alvarez enjoys being a member of the Golfweek Rating Panel, and loves hitting the links as often as possible.
Holly Copeland currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Technology (EIT), housed within the Il Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. The management of EIT involves the direct oversight of 20+ staff and a $144 million portfolio that provides technical assistance & financial support for Illinois’ innovation ecosystem. Holly has made a concerted effort to make strategic investments that target the inclusion of women, girls, and communities of color in the innovation space. Additionally, Holly is also an advisory board member for the Il Institute of Technology IPRO program, where she has provided guidance, mentoring & advice.
Prior to her current tenure with the State of Illinois, Holly was the CEO of a privately held, boutique consulting firm, President of the Il Inaugural Committee, Governor Quinn’s Chief Operating Officer, & Director of Development for a statewide non-profit organization.
Holly has a Master’s Degree from Washington University in St. Louis in International Affairs/International Political Economy, a Master’s Degree from UofI in Public Administration & an undergrad from UofI in Business Administration. She was a YWCA Woman of Excellence nominee, is an active volunteer at her local Food Pantry, & the proud mother of two curious & creative daughters.
Andrea Sreshta is a current student in Chicago Booth’s Full-Time MBA Program and co-founder of LuminAID Lab, a company dedicated to innovative renewable energy solutions for humanitarian aid. The company’s first product, the LuminAID light is a low-cost, portable solar light designed for use in disaster relief situations as well as for the commercial camping market. The LuminAID light has been sold to individuals in more than 25 different countries around the world, and outreach projects with NGO partners have put more than 8000 donated lights on-the-ground in more than 15 countries including Haiti, India, Laos and the Philippines. LuminAID has been named an Up And Comer by the Chicago Innovation Awards, awarded the 100k Early Stage Prize in 2013 through the Clean Energy Trust in Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy, and was named the winner of Booth’s John Edwardson Social New Venture Challenge in 2012. Andrea and her business partner, Anna Stork, were also named Toyota Mothers of Invention at the 2014 Women in the World Summit. Sreshta previously worked in and studied design and architecture. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Master’s in Architecture from Columbia University prior to attending Booth.