Junior Economic Club Guest Speakers


Julia Haried is the founder of Maker Girl, which is a for-purpose organization founded at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Julia's team of undergraduate and graduate students have a mission to encourage young girls to become leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. With a vision to have girls live and dream as unstoppable forces that say yes to challenges of the future, Julia's team hosts 3D printing sessions for young girls all across the country to design and print their own creation.

Jim Heininger, founder of Dixon|James, is an award-winning brand communications and business strategist with 30 years of agency and corporate experience creating business value for Fortune 500 companies to start ups and non-profit organizations. He is valued as an energized brand engineer who is focused on driving market visibility, leading communications to achieve business objectives, and the ability to lead internal and external stakeholders to generate superior results in complex and dynamic environments. 

Stu Grubbs is a Chicago entrepreneur and the co-founder of Lightstream, a live streaming studio in a browser that empowers anyone to share their passion, talent and creativity with the world. In 2014, Stu left his position as head of global marketing for Steelseries. That year he founded Distilld, a mobile app for the whisky lovers, and Infiniscene (now Lightstream). Lightstream would go on to secure huge partnerships, be accepted into Techstars, raise a seed round from Chicago's leading investors, and be named one of Chicago's top startups to watch.

Nancy Stokey is the Frederick Henry Prince Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. She earned her BA in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and got her PhD from Harvard University. She has published significant research in the areas of economic growth and development. She is a world renowned Economist.



Mary Lee Schneider is the President and CEO of SG360 a $300 Million provider of integrated direct marketing solutions for retailers, advertising agencies, financial services companies, insurers, and telecommunication providers. Prior to her role at SG360, Mary Lee was President and CEO of Follett Corporation, a $2.6 Billion privately held company that is the leading provider in education technology. Schneider has been featured in Bloomberg, The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Business for her work with Follett, SG360 and RR Donnelley. 

Michael Walsh was the founder and managing partner of Kilkenny Capital Management. Specializing in biotechnology stocks, Kilkenny Capital managed over $150 million of assets. Before starting his career, Mr. Walsh attended Harvard University as an undergrad and received his MBA from Harvard as well. Walsh was a finance analyst, a Director of Corporate Development and Research Analyst before founding Kilkenny Capital in 1994.


Kurt Summers is the City Treasurer of Chicago since 2014. He began his career at McKinsey & Company, a preeminent global strategy-consulting firm. Most recently, he served as a Senior Vice President at Grosvenor Capital Management and a member of the Office of the Chairman. Now he is the steward of the City's $7 Billion dollar investment portfolio and is responsible for maintaining records and accounts of the City's finances while ensuring transparency and accountability for all transactions.


Tim Geannopulos is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer for Neurensic. Neurensic helps businesses and organizations stay competitive by connecting cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies with actual decision-making power. Before starting Neurensic, Tim was the Executive Vice President of Global Sales at Trading Technologies. Tim and his company have been featured in Chicago Business and Business Wire. Additionally, Tim serves on the Advisory board of the Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and holds a law degree from Northwestern.


Ian Solomon is the VP of Global Engagement at the University of Chicago. In this role, he supports a growing number of international programs and partnerships, overseas centers and campuses,  and global education opportunities.  Before joining the University, Solomon was an associate dean at Yale Law School before transitioning to government. He worked as senior advisor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and also served as legislative counsel to Senator Barack Obama before becoming United States Executive Director to the World Bank. 

Alden Richards, currently a lecturer at Yale and a special advisor to the entrepreneurship programs within Brown's School of Engineering. Mr. Richards has a vast degree of experience in risk management, insurance, and strategic investment. In 1991 he founded a startup risk management and strategic consulting company to the space industry called Space Machine Advisors. Starting with an initial $100,000, he led the company to annual revenue of $150 million five years later, closing a remarkable $4 billion deal with PanAmSat in 1998.

Austan D. Goolsbee is an American economist and the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Goolsbee formerly served as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, the youngest member of President Barack Obama's presidential cabinet. Goolsbee is also a strategic partner at 32 Advisors, leading their Economic Intelligence Practice. The Junior Economic Club is eager to hear from Goolsbee and learn from his extensive experience and knowledge in economics and economic policy development. 

Seth Kravitz is the co-founder and CEO of Technori, an organization which provides a monthly showcase of Chicago's most innovative emerging startups. In addition, Kravitz has spent the last decade founding and selling tech startups. In 2004 at the age of 21, Kravitz co-founded InsuranceAgents.com, which later ranked #24 on the 2009 Inc. 5000 and #68 on the 2010 Inc. 5000. As CEO, Kravitz led the company to $12 million dollars in revenue by 2008. Kravitz was selected as one of Crain's 40 under 40 in 2013 and Under30CEO's top 100 entrepreneurs in the U.S. 

William A. Strauss is the senior economist and economic advisor in the economic research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which he joined in 1982. Strauss' responsibilities at the Fed include assessing the current state of the Midwest economy and the manufacturing sector for use in monetary policy. He coordinates the Bank's Economic and Automotive Outlook Symposiums, and assembles the monthly Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index. Strauss has unmatched experience and knowledge in the world of economic policy. 

Emerson Spartz is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Spartz Inc, one of the largest and fastest growing digital media publishers. Spartz Inc generates around 160 million page views per month across 18 websites, including OMG Facts, Gives Me Hope, and Dose. Spartz is one of the world's leading experts on internet virality, undergoing copious research in an effort to bring the process down to a science. He is also a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of MuggleNet, the #1 Harry Potter website in the world, generating 50 million page views per month.  


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