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Proud To Be WOB: Inspirational Women Leaders, Funding Strategies and How to Become a Certified Women Owned Business

March 10 @ 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm | $50

Home / Events / Proud To Be WOB: Inspirational Women Leaders, Funding Strategies and How to Become a Certified Women Owned Business

In honor of International Women’s Day we are partnering with the Women’s Business Development Center to provide an evening filled with information and resources for female entrepreneurs! We are bringing together the Wonder Women in the Food and Beverage Industry. We will be hosting a panel of successful Women Owned Food concepts and leaders, as well as focusing on financing opportunities and becoming a certified Woman Owned Business.

The WBDC will be providing more information about becoming a certified Women Owned Business and the fantastic programs and initiatives available to female entrepreneurs. There will also be a great networking opportunity as well as delicious snacks and products highlighting the trailblazing women and emerging female entrepreneurs.

About the Panelists:

Katrina Markoff, Founder, Vosges Chocolates

Founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Katrina Markoff has been fusing spices, nuts roots, herbs and liqueurs from around the world with premium chocolate. A pioneer of the exotic chocolate movement, Markoff travels the world in search of best-in-class ingredients at the pinnacle of their taste profile. Through her chocolate creations, she seeks to harness the power of storytelling through the medium of chocolate and open minds, spirits and palates to new ideas. Markoff is the recipient of numerous accolades including Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40, the Bon Appétit Food Artisan of the Year Award, and being named “THE innovator in chocolate to lead the US through the next 30 years” by Food & Wine Magazine.

Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart, Co-Founder, Koval Distillery

Prior to opening KOVAL Distillery, one of the largest independent and woman-owned craft distilleries in the US, Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart spent over a decade as a full professor in both the United States and Germany. In 2008, she gave up tenure in hopes of a different quality of life; one that would afford an opportunity for her to work with her husband, give up commuting, and return to the city she loved: Chicago. As owner and president of KOVAL, she has spearheaded product development, distribution, and marketing, turning her family business into an international presence with availability in over 55 export markets. Sonat is also involved in a number of philanthropic organizations, was recently named Illinois Business Person of the Year by the National Small Business Association, and has also been inducted into the Disciples d’Escoffier.

Terese McDonald-Chief Candy Officer & Candy Manic, Candyality

Whether it is the memories of the penny candy counter at her childhood five & dime, the creation of the “Jelly Belly”, or perhaps the overall “magic” that is evoked by the sweetest commodity known to man, local entrepreneur, Terese McDonald is aiming to uncover your personality connections to your confections in her small chain of candy emporiums.  Terese a former Sales and Training Executive in the Prestige Beauty and Luxury goods industry had used candy profiling for years to determine an individuals “selling personality” and then used this to teach selling skills to enhance her team of over 500 point of sale associates.  Wildly successful, Terese taught the course not only to the U. S. sales team, but was asked to present the program to her company’s group of international trainers.  Candy is universal-it crosses cultures, ages, race, religion, and economic status…it speaks to everybody, and pretty much everybody loves it, as did the group of International trainers who unanimously accepted the module as a worldwide training tool. Once in awhile an opportunity comes along where one gets to write a new chapter in their life.  Terese a tried and true Chicagoan, dreamt of putting a retail store in her neighborhood, it seemed only natural what she learned from her training experience that the concept of Candyality would be just what her neighborhood and Chicago needed. Opened since 2007, Terese hopes that Candyality will become a concept as widely accepted as reading your tealeaves, tarot cards, and maybe even your zodiac sign.

Jenny Yang President, Phoenix Bean Tofu/Jenny’s Tofu

Jenny Yang is president of Phoenix Bean Tofu, which also markets under the label of Jenny’s Tofu. Phoenix Bean has been a premier supplier of tofu to the Chicagoland area for more than 30 years, and is currently expanding to a $3.7 million, 10,000 square foot facility on North Broadway in Chicago to meet booming consumer demand and compete with companies on a national scale. Phoenix Bean’s factory in the Edgewater neighborhood was one of the first local sources of fresh tofu, and began by supplying local Chinese restaurants and Asian grocers. Each batch of tofu was handcrafted daily to ensure the freshness and authenticity demanded by an immigrant community (Jenny was born and raised in Taiwan) longing for the tastes of their homeland. Phoenix Bean is now commonly found in Whole Foods Market stores, Mariano’s, and Green City Market in Chicago.



Access to Capital Panel:

Lotika Pai is the Managing Director of Access to Capital at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) in Chicago. She works with both start-up and established business owners helping them with their capital goals. She understands that access to capital is critical for small business success, especially for those in underserved markets and in low-to-moderate income communities. She manages the growth of the WBDC direct loan fund and building the organization’s capacity to place debt and equity growth capital by leveraging partnerships with the government and traditional and non-traditional financial institutions. Lotika has a diverse professional background. She is a successful entrepreneur, a former investment banker at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, a global supply chain management consultant and an engineer. She is an active mentor with the Ascend 2020 Small Business Growth program run by the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center and the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, helping create local support ecosystems for neighborhood-based inner-city small businesses in Chicago. Lotika is a 2008 graduate of Chicago Booth.



Kathy Hebert, Former Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Albertsons

A seasoned executive with more than 35 years of business, human resources and board of directors experience who enjoys working with new ventures, small business start-ups and publicly traded boards of directors. Her previous work with Albertsons and serving on various boards including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, gives Kathy the opportunity to offer practical advice and experience to solve complex, cross-functional business problems. She presents a unique approach to address a wide-variety of challenges especially in the areas of human resources, operations, merchandising and financing. 


(312) 283 - 5767


The Hatchery Chicago
135 North Kedzie Avenue
Chicago, IL 60612 United States
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