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The Change-makers: 5 people who inspire, energize and educate

Over the past few weeks we’ve had the honor of connecting with so many of the city’s most talented and inspiring entrepreneurs, artists, and community leaders. Their stories fill us with a sense of joy, they inspire, energize and educate us. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the community favorites from last month.

Nicole Wood

Nicole cold-called, networked and hustled her way into a a prestigious management consulting job right out of college.  By most standards, she had “made it.” Unfortunately, she soon realized, like many of her peers who had spent their lives doing all of the “right things,” that they would never be fulfilled with the paths they were on, paths society had always told them were the dream.  She left consulting and founded a career and leadership coaching company that helps professionals transition into careers that are more meaningful.  Read her full story here >>

Shon Chase

Shon went to school for Fashion Merchandising and always had a creative spark, but due to various circumstances she found herself working in a much more traditional industry: real estate.  She’s an MBA and has a solid business and professional foundation, one that she has been able to draw on to further her true passion – helping and empowering women.  She’s the Vice President of the Chicago Chapter of Women by Choice and a board member within Friends in the City Foundation and a part of the 40 Under 40 Women’s Professional League. Read here full story here >>

Barb Bailey

Barb’s story both brought us to tears and filled us with perspective and joy.  She was found in a cardboard box inside the front door of the Tally Ho Apartment building in Wheeling, WV. The Medical Examiner determined her age to be a week to 10 days old.  While she doesn’t know exactly what happened, she says “the one thing I do know for sure is how much she loved me. She kept me for a week to 10 days before leaving me at the Tally Ho… She must have been very young and not allowed to keep her baby. So she put me someplace she knew I’d be safe and found and taken care of.” Her story became headline news in Wheeling and she was adopted by a wonderful couple days before the state was going to send her to an orphanage.  She went on to build an amazing career in the music industry, but her story reminds us of how important it is try to understand the circumstances of others and to live our lives with love in our hearts.  Read her story here >>

Coleen Otero

Coleen leads two incredible organizations: Your Beauty Xpert and The CEO Chick Network.  With the Beauty Xpert she has been able to help countless women launch their brands and she’s worked with trailblazers like Sheri Shepherd from the View and was the lead hairstylist at the Black Girls Rock campaign featuring Queen Latifah. CEO Chicks is a business and social network  providing women with business training and relationship building opportunities.   Read her full story here >>

Starlenie Vondora

Starlenie’s story is one of incredible strength, resilience and courage.  She met her birth parents for the first time in second grade, but through a series of unexplained twists and turns she was moved to Chicago. Rather than allow others to control her story, she is taking control by sharing her story, building a business and writing a book – Things I Never Said.  Read her story here >>

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