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Inspiring Stories from the North Side

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 North Side’s rising stars below.

Madalyn Manzeck

Fashion was never a career option for me, it was purely a hobby. I started sewing when I was 16 because I wanted to make my own prom dress for Junior Prom. My sewing instructor, Nichole Schneider, was the one who told me that if fashion was my passion it could become my career. I applied to design schools and was accepted to Parsons in NYC. Read more>>

Jiayan “Jenny” Shi

The combination of criminal justice, cross-cultural experience and race made this case sensational and unique. Having been accompanying with the family for over five months, I realized how desperate and hopeless they were in this unfamiliar country, and how hard it was to find their daughter. After I graduated from Medill, I continued working on this project and decided to pursue my career as a documentary filmmaker and video journalist. Read more>>

Barbara Gardzina

My adventure with photography started when I was six years old. My grandfather bought me my first camera. I was taking pictures of everything and everyone. My family was sick of me at some point ☺. I could develop my pictures for free because my grandmother worked in a laboratory, so sky was a limit. I was really lucky! Read more>>

Lauren Geleerd of ReEvent Productions

The name RelEvent Productions has a story. I love business names that play on words and when I really thought about the common theme that ran through all my events, I realized all of my clients shared a common theme. Whether they were a non-profit that needed to entice people to donate more, a family celebrating a milestone occasion, or an organization trying to capture more brand awareness–each strived to host a relevant event. Read more>>

Alex Rubin and Alex Tkaczuk of New Roots Solutions

We started in 2015. We weren’t 100% sure how to run a business or how everything was going to play out, but we knew that we could recruit faster and better than the companies in the marketplace. Despite being naive, we hit the ground running. We promised to clients that we would be their best recruiting partner from the beginning and haven’t looked back. Read more>>

Curtis Flagg

I started my journey in Decatur, Illinois. From a small town in Illinois to the big city of Chicago, my journey has many twists and turns. I moved to Chicago in early 2009. I worked for a particle physics and accelerator laboratory, Fermilab, for a year before they shut down the program I was working for. Lost in the sauce, I was searching for a true purpose in the big city. I started working odds and end jobs in retail, ultimately joining on with the Chicago Tribune’s blog site, ChicagoNow. I give that platform so much credit because they were one of the true, original power blog sites in Chicago and the world. Read more>>

Dana Kaye

I received my BA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. During my final year there, I began freelancing, mostly writing book reviews and Arts and Entertainment features. I loved it. I loved showcasing work by authors and artists who wouldn’t receive exposure otherwise. I wrote for a couple years, but in 2008, I started to see the writing on the wall. Magazines were folding, newspapers were filing for bankruptcy, and it was seeming harder and harder to make a living as a freelancer. Read more>>

Barbara Gardzina

My adventure with photography started when I was six years old. My grandfather bought me my first camera. I was taking pictures of everything and everyone. My family was sick of me at some point ☺. I could develop my pictures for free because my grandmother worked in a laboratory, so sky was a limit. I was really lucky! Read more>>

Michael Finnegan

I was made in Hawaii and raised on the Chesapeake Bay and Oahu. I’ve lived and worked in Seattle, Washington and on Deer Isle, Maine. My studio is a short walk to Lake Michigan. This connection to water, light, and color influence my work. Also, a big chunk of my being is music. A typical 70’s kid with a passion for Hendrix and the electric guitar brought me to Berklee College of Music. There, I realized that I don’t listen to music as much as I see it. I hear color. It’s physical to me. Sound is something I can touch. I spent my early professional life as a stair builder and carpenter. Read more>>

Mary Beth Barrett-Newman

I’m a strong believer in the saying that “when a door closes, a window opens.” My window opened when the executive benefit consulting firm I had been with for more than 20 years was sold and even though I was a partner in the firm, my position was eliminated. Rather than jumping right back into what I had been doing previously, I decided to use this opportunity to think strategically about the next step in my career. It was 2009, the economy was tanking, my industry was consolidating and I was not interested in working for a competitor. So, what was next? Read more>>

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