ChiWitCon 2017



“Overall, it was an amazing conference and I was beyond happy that I had the opportunity to attend! Already looking forward to the next one! Great job by everyone involved!”

“Thanks for putting on such an inspiring event! Loved it!”

“Loved the giveaways, there were very nice. ample ways to network. overall it was an excellent conference.”

“It would be great to have these every 6 months. Great reminders, new tips, and was very inspiring! Highly recommend attending with at least one other woman from your office so that you can bring ideas back and compare notes.”

“Great job! Thanks to all of you who worked on the planning and execution. Certainly no easy task but be assured it was a valuable experience for many.”

“I think there was an excellent mix of panels and keynotes. There was plenty (if not too much!) food, audience support, and a friendly audience with engaging presenters. Nailed it!”

“Fantastic day; kuddos to the team. What a huge impact you are making on the Chicago Women in Tech community. Very impressed with all aspects, including an engaging audience. Thanks to those few brave men who attended, as well”

“I really enjoyed the conference and learned a great deal. I really enjoyed how welcoming it felt. I was one of the few male attendees, but I didn’t feel out of place or outcasted. ”

“Can’t wait for next year!!!”

*Excerpts from anonymous feedback survey sent to conference attendees

Speakers – 2017

Amanda Lannert

Chief Executive Officer

The Jellyvision Lab

Amanda Lannert is the Chief Executive Officer of The Jellyvision Lab and has been a key figure in driving the company since its founding in 2001. Under Amanda’s leadership, Jellyvision has become one of Chicago’s fastest growing tech companies, adding about 100 employees a year while remaining cash flow positive.  The company has grown to serve hundreds of mostly Fortune 1000 clients with interactive communication solutions for desktop, mobile, and emerging platforms via the company’s digital agency work and ALEX, the most helpful employee decision support platform on the planet (  In 2016, nearly 14 million employees and $91 billion dollars’ worth of premium decisions were entrusted to ALEX.   Meanwhile, the company has been recognized as the Best Software Company and Best Culture by the Moxies, the 2015 Lighthouse winner by the ITA, a top 10 best place to work in Chicago by The Chicago Tribune and the #1 place for millennials to work in Chicago according to Crain’s.

Prior to joining The Jellyvision Lab, Amanda managed global brands for Kellogg’s while at Leo Burnett, where she developed strategies and implemented campaigns for Pop-Tarts and Nutri-Grain bars, in addition to spending two years in a new business and new brand development think tank. She attended Haverford College and Edinburgh University.

Amanda was named CEO of the Year at the Moxie Awards in 2014 and 2015, Woman in Tech in 2016, and was recognized as 2016’s Industry Champion by the Illinois Technology Association, and she has been profiled in the Chicago Tribune and Crain’s. She is also active in Chicago’s startup community, having served on the advisory boards of 1871 and Starter League, a board member of NowSecure and JB Training Solutions, and as a member of ChicagoNEXT, an organization dedicated to driving growth and opportunity in the Chicago business community.  She also serves as “Super Mentor” for Chicago incubators Impact Engine and TechStars, where she was also named Mentor of the Year. Mrs. Lannert is quick to laugh and enjoys a good cupcake.

Shafiq Shariff

SVP, Consumer Product


Shafiq Shariff is a seasoned product leader who thrives on launching v1 products that capture differentiated value.  He is currently the SVP of the Consumer Product at ShopRunner.  He started his career as a software engineer at Trilogy Software (configuration systems), before leading products at Microsoft (commerce platform) and Medio (a mobile search startup).  He then led product teams at Pelago (a local, social discovery startup) and at Groupon for over 6 years building a wide range of marketplace products from local supply optimization to the Goods marketplace.  He makes his home in Chicago -- when not running or hanging out with the family, he can be found sailing on the blue gem that is Lake Michigan.

Yan-Jiun (YJ) Chen

Senior Software Engineer

Bloomberg LP

Yan-Jiun (YJ) Chen is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg L.P. working on Instant Bloomberg, an instant messaging application. She is an active mentor for other women (and men) in her organization and leads the outreach effort for Bloomberg Women in Technology (BWIT). Partnering with non-profit partners and Bloomberg Philanthropy, BWIT's outreach aims to inspire the next generation of young women to study and pursue careers in STEM. Prior to her career in tech, she was a theoretical physicist and has a Ph.D. from Cornell University. Throughout her days as a physicist, and then a software engineer, she has recognized the importance of building a network and making most of the valuable opportunities to do so. She is excited to share her experience with the attendees at Chicago Women in Tech.

Leslie Vickrey (Fireside Chat - Moderator)

CEO & Founder

ClearEdge Marketing

After a short stint in Colorado post college graduation pursuing a career as a ski bum, Leslie Vickrey began her professional career in marketing for well-known companies such as McDonald’s Corporation and Junior Achievement. However, one taste of working for a technology company and Leslie quickly found her niche. As CEO of ClearEdge Marketing, Leslie is focused on making a difference in the Chicago tech community by raising awareness of the smart and wonderful companies headquartered here.

Leslie’s passion for creating meaningful connections extends beyond ClearEdge. In 2013, Leslie Co-Founded ARA, a group dedicated to attracting, retaining and advancing women in tech. She’s also on the Board of Directors for i.c.stars and the Chicago Innovation Awards, and was recognized by The Blue Sky Vault, Blue Network, featuring 100 of Chicago’s most compelling innovators and entrepreneurs, was inducted into the UIC Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, was named one of the 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year and was part of Chicago Inno’s inaugural 50 on Fire.

Erica H. Geil (Fireside Chat - Panelist)

Vice President, Global Engineering Operations


Erica Geil is the Vice President of Global Engineering Operations at Groupon, reporting directly to the Chief Product Officer. Erica joined Groupon in 2010 and in the last seven years she has acquired cross-functional teams with over 200 staff in 15 countries. She now manages a diverse, global team that includes both technical and operational staff members focusing on cross-functional efforts driving excellence at Groupon. With Erica’s collaboration, her teams are responsible for executing large-scale deals domestically and internationally, as well as overseeing the integration of all technical platforms that Groupon operates worldwide. Erica’s teams include the product, engineering and support staff, internal product support group called Application Operations, Connection Engineering, Tech PMO, Global IT and the Global Consumer Fraud & Payment Ops team. Erica also spends time mentoring young employees as they navigate the tech field and the corporate world.

Erica was a founding member and Co-Chair of the Women at Groupon Employee Resource Group. Women at Groupon focuses on engaging, developing and attracting top female talent through various programs and initiatives. Erica created the first formal mentoring program as part of Women at Groupon which is now being replicated across the company.

Prior to Groupon, Erica was a partner at Eight Bit Studios and focused on startup technology projects including custom websites and mobile apps. She also spent time working for agencies doing brand and technology projects for clients including Motorola, Sears, and Oprah.

Jamila Parham (Fireside Chat - Panelist)

Senior IT Project Manager

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

Jamila Parham is a Senior IT Project Manager at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). She leads both application development and operational improvement efforts for the Program Management and Technology division. Jamila leads software, infrastructure and network initiatives ranging from server upgrades, disaster recovery, bus fleet operations, and data security. Prior to joining CTA, Jamila served as a Project Manager for a BMC Software Premier Partner Consulting Firm servicing Fortune 500 organizations and more. 

 Jamila is currently the Events and Volunteer Lead for the Black Girls Code Chicago Chapter.  She is very active in Chicago’s Tech Community as a diversity and inclusion champion. Jamila is the leader and cultivator of the #TechUnicornMovement which focuses on uplifting and providing opportunities to minorities and women by educating, breaking down barriers and providing access to resources. Jamila received a Bachelor of Science from DePaul University in Computer Graphics and Motion Design. She holds a Master of Information Systems Management from Keller Graduate School. In 2016, Jamila was featured as one of Verizon's ten brilliant men and women breaking stereotypes in their professions. She was also featured by The Root as one of ten women of color you should know changing the face of technology. Ms. Parham spends her free time attending Comic Con Conventions, traveling the world and checking out the latest video games and superhero movies. She enjoys any desserts with cookie dough in it!

Saira Harcus (Fireside Chat - Panelist)

Global Practice Leader of Service Operations in Cybersecurity

Aon Service Corporation

As the Global Cyber Business Operations Leader for Aon, Saira is committed to delivering the highest quality of service while also reducing risk and streamlining user security services for the global organization.

Saira has been a part of the IT field for over 17 years tapping into various areas of the technology arena. She began her career graduating from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Technology in 1997.

Over the course of her career, Saira has aligned her career to various aspects of the technology arena and life-cycle process starting out as a Systems analyst at The Revere Group (NTT Data) primarily focused on PeopleSoft Financials implementations and development within the ERP space. She then moved to a technology services function internally at Frankel Marketing Agency (Now a part of the Publicis Groupe global organization) from 1999-2003. Saira then moved to a Senior Systems Analyst role at Hewitt Associates in 2004 partaking in fortune 500 implementations for the Hewitt Associates Outsourcing practice. During her time in this role, she also completed her Master’s Degree in Information Systems Management graduating from DePaul University in March of 2005. In 2006, she moved into an IT Delivery Management role overseeing two major client services focused on the daily and project services within the technology space. Managing a team of 15 colleagues across both clients, Saira partook in key initiatives in order to further streamline existing services and identify areas to reduce overall cost.

In 2008 Saira moved her career into the security space taking over a global role overseeing all user application access for the global Aon Hewitt organization tied to internal and external client access. Within that role Saira was a key player to implement a self-service Identity Management solution providing self-service capabilities saving the organization over $500K annually in addition to meeting all organizational audit controls.

In 2017 Saira moved to lead the Cybersecurity Service Operations function for the Aon global organization focused on standardizing User Access and Compliance functions for Cyber. She is currently creating and moving forward on efforts to further define the global operational model ensuring that global corporate framework policies and standards are kept intact. In addition, she manages a team of Systems analysts that are the liaison between the global business and the Cyber Technology teams taking business needs or concerns and converting those into requirements to either update or enhance the existing suite of Identity, AD or SSO services. Saira will continue to move forward in this space continually looking for opportunities to further secure, streamline and improve the end user experience in order to ensure business needs are met.

Trish Lukasik (Fireside Chat - Panelist)

Chief Operating Officer


Trish Lukasik is Chief Operating Officer at SpotHero. As COO, Trish’s priority is accelerating the growth of both the B2C and B2B sides of SpotHero's parking marketplace with a focus on sales, marketing, and customer care. Lukasik comes to SpotHero from a distinguished two-decade tenure within the consumer packaged goods industry, most recently at PepsiCo. There, Trish served at the Chief Customer Officer for a $10 billion brand portfolio including Gatorade, Tropicana, Naked Juice, IZZE sparkling beverages and Quaker Foods and Snacks. Prior to PepsiCo, Lukasik also worked in finance roles at Procter and Gamble and The Coca-Cola Company.

Trish serves on the board of Sargento Foods and is active in The Chicago Network, The Executives’ Club of Chicago, The Committee of 200, The Economic Club of Chicago and is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. She earned a B.S. in Finance and Economics at Miami University, where she was a Presidential Scholar, and holds an MBA from the Goizueta Business School of Emory University.


John Higginson

Chief Technology Officer

Enova International

John Higginson is CTO for Chicago-based Enova International, a publicly-traded Financial Technology company that’s extended $20B in credit to customers across the globe. John joined Enova as Chief Technology Officer in 2014. Previously, he served as CTO of Wheels, Inc., where he managed a team of 150 technology professionals and led the development of Wheels’ comprehensive suite of Web applications. He has also worked at FTD Companies, Inc., and Applied Systems, Inc. John holds a BA from Northern Illinois University and an MS in Information Technology and Privacy Law from the John Marshall Law School. Outside of work, he serves as an MBA Executive Advisory Board member at Lewis University.

Elizabeth Wypasek

Marketing Director


Elizabeth Wypasek is the Marketing Director for TopstepTrader. Elizabeth has 12 years of marketing experience ranging from startups, nonprofits, and her own firm to Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, Ubisoft, P&G, Burberry, and Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas. Elizabeth received her BA and MBA from DePaul University in Entrepreneurship and Integrated Marketing Communications and currently advises aspirational entrepreneurs in launching their endeavors as well as serves as a brand ambassador for the Lydia Smith Sickle Cell Foundation.

Ideyanna Clark

Director of Finance


Ideyanna Clark is a wife, a mother and the Director of Finance for TopstepTrader. She has her degree from the in Economics and Political Science from University of Central Florida and earned her MBA with a concentration in Finance from Florida Tech. Ideyanna has had the pleasure of being in finance for nearly 20 years. She is fortunate to have realized the purpose for her career through her work with startup companies. The pleasure of seeing a seed flourish into a thriving business is what drives Ideyanna to continue working with startup and midstage companies. She thrives in the constant change and unlimited possibilities.

​Preya Patel

Business Analyst/Project Manager


Preya Patel proudly serves as the Business Analyst/Project Manager at TopstepTrader. She earned her B.A. in Risk Management at the University of Georgia and spent the early part of her professional career at Accenture and E&Y’s Financial group working with Fortune 500 clients on technology strategies and implementation. After 5 years of consulting experience, she had the opportunity to join the startup world and hasn't looked back ever since. She found herself fulfilled in an environment were she can constantly learn something new and create impactful digital experiences. Currently, she gravitates towards opportunities where she is able to apply her critical thinking skills in areas of product development and user based learnings.

Priya Mathew

VP of Product & Design

eSpark Learning

Priya is the VP of Product & Design at eSpark Learning. eSpark is an educational technology company providing learning software in math, reading and writing for students in grades PK-8. For the past two years, Priya has led the product and design teams at eSpark to bring more creativity and critical thinking in the classroom using the power of technology. eSpark's two products, eSpark and Frontier, now serve over 100,000 students across the country. Prior to eSpark, Priya worked at Google on the Google Apps team which focused on making creativity and collaboration easy to do at work. A glutton for learning, she graduated from Dev Bootcamp and received a dual degree an MBA and Masters in Engineering Management from Northwestern with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and design.


Sponsors – 2017