Laurel Delaney

LJD20152Laurel J. Delaney is founder and president of Chicago-based, a management consulting company that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses go global. The United States Small Business Administration has recognized Ms. Delaney as a world-renowned global small business expert by naming her the Illinois Exporter of the Year. She is the author of Start and Run a Profitable Exporting Business, Exporting:  The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably (2013; 2nd edition 2016) published by Apress Media, and most recently Exporting Essentials:  Selling Products and Services to the World Successfully (2014) also published by Apress Media. In addition, she has written numerous articles that have appeared in international and scholarly publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Conference Board.

She is the creator of The Global Small Business Blog, which is ranked No. 1 in the world for entrepreneurs and small businesses interested in going global, serves as the Import & Export Expert, is a charter member and a board member by appointment of the World Entrepreneurship Forum, and is a member of the International Council for Small Business.  She also serves as the Chicago Chapter Chair for the Women Presidents’ Organization.

Ms. Delaney’s passion for going global goes back to 1985 when she first started her business. Since then, she has devoted more than 60,000 hours of work in the area–from consulting to writing to teaching.

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Laura Fairman

team_lauraFairmanLaura Fairman is the Founder and Lead Designer of Blue Canvas, a web and graphic design consultancy. For 14 years Laura has enabled small and mid-size businesses to have confidence in all facets of their online and printed marketing. Laura is motivated by the unique challenges independently owned businesses face and takes pride in building long-term working relationships with her clients.

Laura received a Bachelor of Science degree from Vanderbilt University in 1999. She majored in Art and double-minored in Music and European Studies.

Laura lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters.

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Patti Ross

Patti Ross 2016Patricia Ross is President and Founder of Patricia Ross & Associates, Inc. (2009 – present), a consulting company that provides one-on-one coaching to individuals who are interested in building key business relationships and strengthening their leadership skills. She helps clients create and implement a strategy for successful career growth.

Ms. Ross was formerly Market Executive – Global Women’s Market for IBM Corporation (March 1974 – March 2009) where she led the women’s global business initiative and helped cracked open new market channels for IBM.

Her IBM experience and extensive background in technical services, business development, personnel, marketing, sales, customer service, communications and management are some of key business areas that she offers her clients.

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Nancy Stachnik

NancyHeadShot2.20.16While working her way through Mundelein College as a bank teller, Nancy discovered she had a knack for numbers. This led to a long and rewarding career as a community banker in Chicago. A seasoned veteran of the rollicking financial M&A activity of the 1980’s and 90’s, she believes her sense of humor, resilience and internal fortitude (learned while growing up on Chicago’s Northwest side) kept her landing on her feet. Nancy lives in the Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago with an interesting-looking dog named Blue. She usually has a home-repair project in process and her garden is her “health club.” A voracious reader, she also enjoys drawing and painting, and recently completed portraits of her grand-nieces.

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Kati Suominen

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 3.11.24 PMDr. Kati Suominen is Founder and CEO of both the equity crowdfunding platform TradeUp Capital Fund and the trade research firm Nextrade Group, LLC. She is also Adjunct Professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management and Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

She previously served as Fellow at the German Marshall Fund and Trade Economist at the Inter-American Development Bank. She has published over 80 articles and 9 books, and is now authoring her 10th, Globalization 4.0: How Disruptive Technologies Reshape Business and Policy in the Hyperconnected World. She has provided commentary in such media as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, BBC, CSPAN, CNN, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Politico, USA Today, Time, Economist Intelligence Unit, and U.S. News and World Report.

Dr. Suominen chairs a global expert group on regional trade agreements for the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development and World Economic Forum, and is the idea woman of, a new dialogue forum on trade agreements. She also serves on global expert committees on global value chains and on digital trade.

Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (MBA) and University of California, San Diego (PhD), she is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and American Assembly’s Next Generation Fellow. She serves on the advisory boards of trade-related groups, New Markets Lab, Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global, and National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade.

Her blog Globalization 4.0 is at:  //

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Chantal Wittman Meier

ChantalWittman2016BChantal Wittman Meier is Vice President International Trade Banking, MB Financial Bank. She is charged with international trade service sales as well as business associated with short and medium term trade finance products used by MB Financial Bank. MB Financial Bank has a national footprint but a Midwest history.

A seasoned trade finance professional, Chantal began her international career with the Foreign Credit Insurance Association (FCIA) which later merged into the Export Import Bank of the U.S. (Eximbank). Much of her history has been spent working with small and medium sized exporters, assisting them in navigating risk mitigation and credit tools designed to support their export growth. Prior to joining MB Financial Bank in 2014, Chantal had worked for LaSalle National Bank, London Forfaiting plc and First American Bank in international sales and management roles.

Chantal has been on the Board of the Illinois District Export Council since 1996. She is a member of the International Trade Club of Greater Chicago, the Association of International Credit and Trade Finance Professionals, the Wisconsin ICE Group and BAFT.

Chantal is a graduate of Clemson University and has a MBA in International Business from DePaul University. Her favorite career title was that of “Ambassador of Goodwill” as a Rotary Scholar in Mons, Belgium.

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Susan Meyer

Susan Meyer is Counsel for Nixon Peabody LLP, a global 100 law firm with 700 lawyers in 13 offices around the US, and concentrates her practice in intellectual property, franchise, and corporate law.

As a former business owner and manager, Susan provides practical, value-driven legal counsel. She helps established companies as well as start-ups focus on and manage their growth. Susan has worked in house in the IP department at Sara Lee, been the principal in her own law firm, and is now with Nixon Peabody.

Susan has extensive experience with intellectual property prosecutions, licensing, and dispute resolution, with a particular focus on trademark law.

In addition to litigating trademark matters, she represents clients before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Susan manages the international IP portfolios for several of her clients and particularly enjoys helping them strategize and manage for success.

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Genevra Knight

genevra-knightGenevra is a Partner at Porte Brown with more than seventeen years of experience providing tax consulting and accounting services to individuals and closely held businesses. She is the partner-in-charge of the paperless audit process and the firm’s quality control procedures.

Genevra is one of the leaders of Porte Brown’s Audit, Not-for-Profit, and Construction Practice Groups.  Her expertise covers:  Federal & State Income Tax Preparation; Preparation of Financial Statements; Compilations & Reviews of Financial Statements; Certified Audit; Not-for-Profit Trade Associations; Not-for-Profit Charitable Organizations; Not-for-Profit Yellowbook, OMB, and HUD Auditing; and Construction Industry Services

She has a B.S. in Accounting, Bradley University and is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional.

Her professional and civic involvement entails:  Board Member of Schaumburg Business Association; Federation of Women Contractors; Member of Illinois CPA Society Audit & Assurance Committee; and Member of AICPA.

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