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, the Founder of the Global Small Business Forum, formerly 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 70,000 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 17 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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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 & CEO of Nextrade Group, a data and AI company that helps governments and Fortune 500s solve big problems in world trade and digital development; Founder of Business for eTrade Development, a non-profit backed by leading global companies on a mission to advance ecommerce in developing nations; and Co-Founder of the new Singapore-based Digital Standards for Trade (DST) aimed to digitize international trade transactions end-to-end.

She is also Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she founded the Digital Trade program, and Adjunct Professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management, where she teaches courses on international business economics and the economics of global digital disruption.

Her 10th book is Making Trade Great Again: How Disruptive Technologies Open Opportunities for All (Stanford University Press, 2018).

She is the idea woman behind such international initiatives as eTrade for All now championed by the United Nations an RTA Exchange, a global dialogue forum on regional trade agreements led by the Inter-American Development Bank with International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development.

She has spoken extensively on trade and digitization, e.g. at Davos, World Trade Symposium, Global Trade Review, World Bank, and WTO.  She is Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  MBA, Wharton; PhD, UC San Diego.

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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 advises businesses in the areas of intellectual property, franchising, and distribution, drawing on her experience as a former business owner to provide practical, value-driven legal counsel. She represents companies in the U.S. and internationally in every stage of development.

Susan handles intellectual property prosecutions, licensing, and dispute resolution and has extensive experience in trademark law, representing clients before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. She also works with franchisors on compliance issues and serves as outside general counsel for businesses on general business matters.

Susan frequently advises companies on matters related to commerce between the U.S. and Norway. She is president of the Chicago chapter of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce and twice attended the SelectUSA Investment Summit on international trade opportunities as a member of the Norwegian delegation.

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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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Akanksha Gupta

Akanksha completed her second Masters degree in Information Technology (Analytics and IT-Marketing) from Northwestern University and graduated in December 2017. While in USA, she worked with CDW as Analytics Expert managing strategic analysis and recommendations based on data to CMO planning team. She recently won “Fifty for the Future” award bestowed by Illinois Technology Foundation.

Prior to this, she has extensive experience in IT business analysis and marketing in E-commerce, banking and logistics industry and hands on data analytics experience. She worked as an Analytics Consultant with InfoTrust llc helping clients with designing their digital analytics architecture. She has also helped clients to make informed data driven decisions for business optimization. Akanksha also has 5 years of experience with Bank of America (BOA) as Business Analyst. At BOA, she was involved in strategical product design consultation, identifying improvement areas and suggesting process enhancement, client relationship management, documentation and reporting, audit and client training.

She also worked as an event manager for a non-profit organization – International Dual Career Network (IDCN), working closely with HRs of multi-nationals, facilitating job search and career information sharing through member companies networks. With IDCN, Akanksha has build a strong network with corporate and understands the Dubai market, something she leveraged for devising the strategies for Move10X.

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Mara Hedgecoth

Mara Hedgecoth is the senior director, global marketing and communication at APCO Worldwide, a certified women-owned business. She leads the global corporate marketing and communication team and is a member of the firm’s Global Leadership Team. She sets the strategic direction and oversees all aspects of corporate communications, the development of APCO’s brand, and global marketing and business development initiatives on behalf of the company. Ms. Hedgecoth has more than 20 years of events, marketing, fundraising and consulting experience.

Prior to joining APCO, Ms. Hedgecoth worked in the hospitality industry for Visit Baltimore, Renaissance and Sheraton Hotels, and Walt Disney World. Her experience involved extensive event and hotel management; advising local businesses on marketing efforts; serving as a liaison between government agencies and businesses; and implementing innovative programs.

Ms. Hedgecoth is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society Future Leaders Experience and served as a steering committee member for Goodwill Industries’ annual Gridiron Halloween fundraiser for nearly a decade when in 2005 she was named “Good Person of the Year.” She has a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Hospitality and Tourism Management from James Madison University and a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing Management from Johns Hopkins University.

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Elizabeth (Ela) W. Baio

Ela is a partner at Nixon Peabody in Chicago. A Chicago native, she obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and her law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Ela has extensive experience working with various types of companies, from start-ups to large international companies, focusing on patent prosecution and trademark matters. Her experience includes prosecuting U.S. and foreign patent and trademark applications, clearance work, due diligence evaluations, and preparing validity and infringement opinions, to client management, licensing, domain name enforcement, and litigation matters.

Ela has participated as an intellectual property speaker and advisor for the European Innovation Academy in Turin, Italy in 2017 and in Cascais, Portugal in 2018. While there, she worked with dozens of start-ups across various industries in an “incubator” setting, advising on the importance of securing intellectual property and how to effectively do so.

She is an active member of her law firm’s pro bono committee and also serves on the board of the Notre Dame Club of Joliet.

Ela enjoys travelling, cooking, and spending time with her husband and sons (ages 8 and 10).

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Molly Bañuelos

Molly BanuelosMolly is the Business Development Officer for the Food Industry at the Québec Government Office in Chicago, where she promotes commercial growth opportunities for Québec-based food and beverage companies throughout the US Midwest region. In this role, Molly liaises with regional food retailers, distributors, and foodservice accounts to identify strategic sourcing opportunities for Québec vendors.

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Molly has been in Chicago for more than 10 years, building her career in the international trade & development space. Past roles in the industry include promoting foreign direct investment of US companies into France as part of the French government agency Business France; representing the trade office of Alberta, Canada at the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago; directing the International Trade Center at the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago; and developing custom global research engagements as part of Euromonitor International’s North American sales office in Chicago. Molly enjoys providing strategic direction on international opportunities for companies and partners, from entrepreneurial ventures to large-scale operations.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, International Business, and French from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Following graduation, she spent two years as a merchandising analyst at Target Corporation in Minneapolis, followed by a year teaching English in France, before settling in Chicago in 2008.

Molly resides in River Forest, IL with her husband and young son.

e-Mail Molly Bañuelos

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