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  • The Value of Investing In Your Community

The Value of Investing In Your Community

  • 14 Sep 2022
  • 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • The Hatchery Chicago, 135 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60612, United States


Registration is closed

 Investing in your community is essential.  When a business becomes a part of the community, everyone wins through economic development, job creation, and engagement.  At this event, you’ll hear how business leaders are investing  in their local neighborhoods and cities, seeing business results, and making a better and more inclusive Chicago.  

Join the members of The Hatchery Chicago and Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network at The Hatchery’s state of the art facility in the East Garfield Park, to engage in the conversation and enjoy lunch featuring delicious samples from local community businesses and entrepreneurs. 


11 - 11:10am  Welcome and Opening Comments

11:15am - 11:55am  How Companies Make a Difference

12pm - 12:40pm  How Nonprofits Help Link Industry and Communities

12:45pm - 1:25pm  Entrepreneurs: The Heart of the Community”

1:25pm - 2pm   Networking


Angela Taylor, Wellness Coordinator, Garfield Park Community Council

Angela manages the 32-member Garfield Park Garden Network and the Garfield Park Neighborhood Market and leads other wellness related projects. Each summer, Angela works with up to ten local youth through the Youth Garden Corps, a paid internship working in Garfield Park Gardens.

PANEL:  How Companies Make a Difference

Jeffrey Allen, Director in the Economic Equity Advisory Group (EEAG), BMO Harris Bank

Tasked with lending to minority owned businesses, Jeff advises middle market firms on lending strategies, treasury opportunities, and enhancing overall performance by facilitating specific client needs throughout the Bank.

Andy Dratt, EVP and Chief Commercial OfficerImbibe

Andy has over 20 years of experience in the flavor and ingredient industry, working with and developing products for some of the largest companies in the food industry. I joined Imbibe eight years ago and have led the company to become one of the leading beverage development resources for CPG, QSR and private label brand owners.

Anitra Farmer, Director, Human ResourcesKellogg's Away From Home

Anitra leads the Away From Home team through her thought leadership and coaching focused on implementing & enhancing organizational design & effectiveness, diversity & inclusion initiatives, and career development opportunities.  She has experience with merging a strategic & operational perspective to HR matters for over 20 years in the healthcare, retail, and foodservice industries. 

Brittany L. Hughes, AVP Commercial Relationship Manager, Fifth Third Bank

Brittany serves as an Assistant Vice President of Commercial Lending for Fifth Third Bank Chicago. As a lender with nearly 8 years of industry experience, Brittany is dedicated to building relationships and providing personalized financial solutions to closely held middle-market businesses and non-profit organizations. Brittany also serves as the Co-Chair for Fifth Third Chicago’ African American Business Resource Group. As Co-Chair, Brittany aims to attract and retain African American talent by promoting an inclusive and equitable work environment.

Karleen Kordas, Senior Sustainability AnalystSynergy Flavors

Utilizing a background in supply chain and product management, Karleen collaborates with global colleagues to expand the local sustainability efforts for sites in the United States and Brazil. She effectively leads strategic initiatives aimed at driving community engagement and charitable giving, improving environmental footprint, and sourcing responsibly. In addition, she directs a U.S. based Green Team that facilitates volunteer programs, executes value added projects, and promotes sustainable change within the organization. 

PANEL:  How Nonprofits Help Link Industry and Communities

Amy Laboy, Vice President of Programs and Community Partnerships, Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD)

Amy is responsible for developing community programs, supporting and engaging partners, and overseeing workforce development.  She has over 20 years of non-profit experience specifically in program design and implementation, community engagement, training, capacity building and fundraising. Prior to joining the Food Depository, she worked in disability services developing programming to promote skill-building and community engagement for adults with disabilities.

Alan Reed, Executive Director, Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network and Bigger Table

Alan is the Executive Director of the Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network, a startup, nonprofit organization that brings industry players together, provides a forum for collaboration and support, and better connects the 4,500 companies in the industry across Chicagoland to drive innovation and growth in the region.  The group leverages the power of the food & beverage industry in Chicagoland to grow the industry, and the local economy. 

Mary Fran Riley, Director of Community Relationships, Allies for Community Business

Since joining A4CB in 2006, Mary Fran has held roles of Vice President of Development, Senior Vice President of External Affairs, and now Director of Community Relationships where she works to develop and nurture relationships in the communities A4CB serves. Mary Fran has spent her entire career in the community development field. She leads A4CB’s community engagement efforts for The Hatchery food and beverage incubator that A4CB developed in one of Chicago’s high-need neighborhoods. Mary Fran holds a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from St. Mary of the Woods College.

Natalie Shmulik, Chief Strategy & Incubation Officer, ICNC / The Hatchery Chicago

Natalie is one of the industry's leading resources for everything food business related. She has a wide range of experience working with supermarkets, culinary publications, consumer packaged goods companies, and food service establishments.  Natalie has gained a unique perspective on the industry and what it takes to launch and grow a successful business. She is best known for her unparalleled perspectives on branding, marketing, and trend forecasting. 

Nedra Sims Fears, Executive Director, Greater Chatham Initiative (GCI)

Nedra is an economic development expert who specializes in strategic planning, financial modeling, community development financing, and program management.  

During the last recession Nedra was a business development internal consultant with First Children’s Finance.  She improved the operations of 45 early care and education centers managed by universities, public school systems, and private owners. Nedra has participated in many housing and economic development workshops and has been quoted in a variety of publications.

PANEL:  Entrepreneurs:  The Heart of the Community

Camille Kerr, Consultant, ChiFresh Kitchen

Camille is a consultant and entrepreneur working to build a democratic economy in service to US social justice movements including organizations advancing Black liberation, immigrant rights, food justice, and the US labor movement. She specializes in cooperative start-up development, managing complex worker-centered initiatives, as well as  policy advocacy and drafting.

In partnership with Chicago organizers, Camille helped found ChiFresh Kitchen, a worker cooperative food service contracting business which is owned and determined primarily by formerly incarcerated folks living in the south & west sides of Chicago.

Taylor and Maya Mason, Founders & OwnersTaylor's Tacos Chicago

Launched in 2018, what started as a fun way to bring friends together has blossomed into a pop-up catering company that specializes in authentic street style tacos with a whole lot of soul! They moved into their own private commercial kitchen where they have grown their business tremendously. Taylor and Maya have curated and conducted over 1500 catering events to date. They opened their event space called T A Y LO R E D in March 2022 and are opening a brick and mortar catering kitchen/restaurant space!

Taj Savage, CEO, CTRL Kitchen

CTRL Kitchen company is one of the newest catering companies in the Chicagoland catering world.  Chef Jamy and Chef Taj have over 20 years of experience. Driven by passion and helping others their goal is to leave all guests with an unforgettable dining in food experience.

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