Category Archives: News

IL 2nd in US in STEM grads!


The ITKAN 2nd Annual Business After Hours Event 2017

Valari Kendrick, ITKAN Advisory Team Member and Co-Chair, Membership Committee

Last night I attended the 2nd Annual ITKAN Business After Hours Event. What a celebration we had! During the cocktail hour we met members, sponsors, business associates, and new guests. The meeting of minds and sharing of information was phenomenal.

Pat Maher, Director of Civic Engagement for SPR Consulting, was our host for the event. He led us on a journey of ITKAN’s inception, history, and successes, and paved the way for the introduction of our Keynote Speaker.

Adam Heckman, Microsoft’s Director of Technology, and Civic Innovation for Chicago, provided us with an introduction to Jenny Lay-Flurrie.  The respect and friendship he has for Jenny was evident and set the stage beautifully for her address.

Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, graced us with her presence as Keynote Speaker. She was dynamic, frank, and entertaining. She was clear about her abilities and how they are empowering. She shed light on how she helps direct Microsoft and its products to help redefine, enhance, and strengthen the culture of diversity, with technology and accessibility being two of its main goals to “empower every person”.

The most important message I received from Jenny was “education is the core” to embracing our opportunity to change the culture for people with disabilities and their ability to mesh with the world. The light and lessons Jenny shared with us will resonate with me forever.

Adam Heckman and Microsoft’s Urban Engagement Chicago Team were then presented with the 2nd Annual Rose Stein Light from Within award for their continued dedication, support, and friendship. Adam was gracious in both his acceptance of the award and his expression of gratitude for his ITKAN friendship.

Tim Roessler, ITKAN Advisory Team Member and Co-Chair, gave us closing remarks. He likened the work, at ITKAN and our sponsors and guests, to a puzzle. A beautiful mosaic with many pieces being built to make one prolific picture: one of community, knowledge, technology, and support.  What a wonderful way to encourage guests, and praise the support of our sponsors, business associates and members of ITKAN.


Tech Month Chicago Awards

ITKAN’s September meeting was on the Tech Month Chicago calendar, and they have a Public Awards program this year. Please consider nominating people who have attended our event for a Techie Award. Here are the qualifications:


  • Have attended more than one of our events this year.
  • Have shown something original, unique, or excellent that deserves to be celebrated.
  • Are people who will appreciate encouragement and recognition.
  • Are people who don’t get recognized often.
  • Are perhaps people you don’t know well but you admire.
  • Are people who are likely to show up to our awards event on Oct. 1 to receive their ribbons in person.
  • Are not a group of your best buddies.
  • Are not your business partners or your sponsors.
  • Are not people who you can monetarily benefit from by nominating.

To nominate people:

Please send Tech Month Chicago their name, email address, and Twitter or LinkedIn Profile links. Tech Month Chicago will invite them to and recognize them at their event on October 1st.

Send your nominations to no later than Sept. 27th!

You can nominate as many people as you like.  They have 500 ribbons printed up and would like to give them all to awesome people. Please, the more the merrier!!

And lastly, please join them on Sunday Oct. 1st from 6:30-9:00 pm for our Public Awards Event. More details and RSVP. We would love for you to be there!!

Summer Vacation

We are beginning to experience more opportunities to place ITKAN members into competitive internships or full-time roles! Our next meeting will be September 14th, Val Kendrick will lead a “Meet the Candidates Night”.

Recently our full Advisory Team met to strategize on moving ITKAN into our next phase with a focus on preparing our members for the shifting technology landscape. Our Membership, Partnerships, and Knowledge Share Committees are kicking off their efforts through the summer, and as a result our next Monthly Members’ Meeting will be September’s. We will send September event invitations three weeks before the meeting.

Future Meetings

  • We are planning our 2nd Annual Business After-Hours for our October meeting at the MTC to coincide with National Disability Employment Awareness Month! Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer will give the keynote, and we will present the Rose Stein “Light from Within” Award.
  • Our November meeting will be at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. John Kennedy will introduce us to his unique Neuro-training program, Combat Brain Training. Trust us, you want to be there!

Hope to see you in September.

The Give Something Back Foundation looking for mentors

Member Hannah Thompson asked us to consider this group…

Refer a Mentor!

Hello Mentors.  We just accepted a new class of 62 scholars.  They are high school freshman from Will County and the city of Aurora.

Would you take a few minutes to consider nominating someone to become a mentor for GSB and these new students?  I always appreciate referrals for new mentors.

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can call or email me directly if they have any questions.  If they are someone you know well, just ask them to type your name in the long-answer section of the application so we know who referred them, and they can skip to the next.  The application can be found at 

Mentors should be in college or already have a bachelor’s degree.  And, as you know, mentors are asked to communicate with students once every two weeks during the school year, reply to my check-in emails and participate in a check-in call once every thee months.