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Downtown’s Rising Stars

The heart of our mission at VoyageChicago is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Chicago’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out Downtown’s rising stars below.

Courtney McGovern

A week before my 16th birthday I stood on stage in the entertainment center of a nursing home with a message to share at Hope’s in Style, a fashion show fundraiser my twin sister and I started. My knees were buckling, I was wearing a navy and blue striped dress from Forever 21, and I pleaded through tears for our community to stand with me, for one little girl and her family in Guatemala City. Read more>>

Alex Sinvare

By the time we immigrated to the US from Greece, we were equipped to handle anything! Alex has extensive sales experience, ranging from the famous Monastiraki Market in Athens, to the luxury cruise ship market on Santorini, and we felt our approach was unique to what we were seeing in Chicago. So- Chicago Rocks was born! Read more>>

Aimée Laberge

I’m from Quebec City, where my ancestor, Robert Laberge, arrived from France in 1658 and built a house that still stands in the parish of l’Ange-Gardien. Although my family has been deeply rooted by the St-Lawrence River for fourteen generations, I always wanted to leave! I think it’s called wanderlust? I moved about 12 times in ten years as an adult, with stopovers in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and London, England before landing in Chicago and starting to work as director of programs at the Alliance francaise. Read more>>

Keisha Howard

After discovering that a considerable part of the industry’s consumer and professional demographics were not being represented, Keisha created Sugar Gamers. It began as a women’s advocacy and networking group for consumers and professionals, but eventually blossomed into an organization that advocated for all demographics who were under served or not being represented. Read more>>

Mike O’Donnell

Over the past two decades Mike O’Donnell has been entertaining audiences with his magic, watching his childhood hobby transform into an obsession before evolving into a professional career. Growing up in the small town of Kennewick, WA, gave Mike ample time to master his trade prior to attending Western Washington University, where a good magician never had to worry about rounding up beer money. Read more>>

Teresa Peek

Originally from Ohio, I’ve just celebrated my 18-year anniversary of living in Chicago. Much of my career has been as a meeting & convention planner. That career provided me opportunity to travel, often taking photos any chance I had, and meeting people from around the world. Read more>>

Giulia Sindler

I never thought I would be running Kamehachi, but it really came as a kind of calling. I am proud and honored to be part of a legacy of three generations of women in my family who have cultivated a concept that endures 50 years later. My grandmother started Kamehachi in Chicago in 1967 and pioneered the first sushi bar restaurant. Read more>>

Sarah McDonald

I have been making art since I can remember, but I don’t think I’ve really considered myself an artist until recently. I have been a photographer for about 5 years give or take. I started when I was young just walking around taking photos of nature and self portraits–– basically the only thing that’s changed from then is that I feel more comfortable taking photos of other people now instead of myself. Read more>>

Genevieve Lauren Burruss

When I was 4 I got a little blue Kodak 110 film camera and I immediately fell in love with it. I wore it around my neck like a necklace and I begged my parents for film instead of candy. I even took it to my preschool and kindergarten classes and took pictures of kids doing their coloring and posing for me. Read more>>

Brian Pennington

Pepper spray is a dependable, effective self-defense tool, yet researched told us the majority of women don’t carry one. We surveyed thousands of women to find out why more women don’t carry a pepper spray. After surveying, there was a clear Top 5 reason why. Read more>>

Kaben Clauson

Social media is a great place for a vacation photo or an update on a new member of the family. It’s a horrible place to post opinions with any honesty or frequency. This problem became crystal clear for us around the time leading up to the 2016 election. Read more>>

Jay Fuller

CraftYours Consulting consists of my partners Brian Gehrisch and John Caron, along with myself. The two of them lead all things beverage, while I manage business operations. We started two years ago (2016) doing 1 cocktail class a month at Four Star Lounge in Lincoln Park. Read more>>

Erin Diehl

I was involved with sketch comedy and theater my entire life and these activities continue to fulfill me today. I moved to Chicago in 2005 after graduating from Clemson University to pursue a hosting career. Over the span of two years, I was cast in a leading role in an Off-Broadway show, toured the country hosting youth-focused shows and emceed events for major brands nationwide. Read more>>

LaShaun Jackson

It all started in 2002, when I was working as a consultant for a company called the Blue Gargoyle. My job was to work with the administration of their alternative school called Bronzeville Academic Center. My task was to help the school get more organized, as it was on probation and possibly going to be shut down. Read more>>

Josephine Del Rio

I have been interested in crafting and sewing since I was a young girl. I even sewed a few of my maternity clothes. I would put together my children’s Halloween costumes, as well as any costumes for their school performances. When my oldest grandchild was born, there were so many new amazing new items for babies and once I took a closer look how they were made, I realized I could make them myself. Read more>>

Beth Swanson

I was grew up in Deerfield, IL., located on the North Shore of Chicago. I wasn’t a little girl who dreamed of designing and never attended school for fashion. Having spent over 20 years in marketing and advertising, I found myself needing a new purpose at 42, after having lost both my parents. Read more>>

Michelle Cox-Vergara

I started my photography business in 2011 with excitement, ready for success. In my business at that time I was photographing not only weddings but also events (small and large) and portraits. Over the course of the next few years, after photographing dozens of weddings, I found that wedding photography is my passion and proceeded to make a change in my business direction, focusing more on that. Read more>>

Drew and Danny

DANNY: This is how I remember it. We were at a cookout, I was chewing a mouthful of food when Drew turned to me and said, “hey buddy, wanna start a podcast?” I swallowed, took a sip of my beverage and said, “sure, man, let’s do it.” We didn’t figure out what the podcast would be about or what we’d call it until a few days later but the seed was planted. Read more>>

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