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All talks will be held remotely via Zoom and begin at noon. Registration is required for each event. 

Series Moderator: Maryam Saleh, Executive Director, Kaplan Institute

Conversations with Chicago’s Female Leaders in Technology and Innovation

In partnership with World Business Chicago’s ThinkChicago program and Women in Bio’s 3.8 Initiative, the Women Disruptors Series at Illinois Tech’s Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship celebrates women leaders in Chicago’s tech and innovation ecosystem.

The Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship serves as the university’s hub for students to explore technology entrepreneurship and innovative ventures. Held throughout Women’s History Month 2021, the Women Disruptors Series underscores the Kaplan Institute’s commitment to elevating a diverse range of voices in the tech space.

Keynote Speaker Schedule

Each guest speaker will discuss her unique and personal career journey, the successes and challenges she has experienced, and why Chicago has the highest concentration of women entrepreneurs in the country (Inc.). A question and answer session will follow each talk.

  • Wednesday, March 10: Carla Robinson, CEO and Co-Founder, Canary Telehealth
  • Wednesday, March 17: Caralynn Nowinski Collens, CEO and Co-Founder, Dimension Inx
  • Wednesday, March 24: Desiree Vargas-Wrigley, Vice President and Executive Director of Tech/Rise, P33 Chicago
  • Wednesday, March 31: Colleen Egan, President and CEO, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition | Session Moderated by Katherine Davis, Associate Editor, Chicago Business Journal and Chicago Inno

Keynote Speaker Biographies

Carla Robinson
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Canary Telehealth

Putting Quality Health Care within Reach
Carla Robinson leads Canary Telehealth, a telehealth services company working with payers and providers to improve access to care for underserved populations, to help close gaps in care, and to reduce health care disparities. Her firm provides works extensively in population health and chronic condition management, providing services such as diabetic retinopathy screening, remote monitoring, digital self-management training, electronically structured behavioral health assessments, and health risk screening. An ex-McKinsey & Company consultant, prior to forming Canary Telehealth, she worked in management consulting for 16 years with various firms serving some of the world’s largest organizations. She has worked extensively with health care clients in areas such as medical devices, wellness, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and nanobiotechnology. Robinson received a Bachelor of Business Administration with honors from Howard University and a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Caralynn Nowinski Collens
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Dimension Inx

On the Frontier of Medicine
Caralynn Nowinski Collens heads Dimension Inx, an emerging leader in biofabrication, whose 3D-Painting Materials Design and Manufacturing System offers the versatility, manufacturability, and affordability necessary for widespread adoption of tissue-engineered regenerative medical products. Nowinski Collens previously was the co-founder and chief executive officer of UI LABS, a first-of-its-kind technology organization focused on the digital future of industries, which she built from concept in late 2011 through launch in 2014, raising $200 million-plus in investment and ultimately spinning out two business units as independent entities (MxD Digital Manufacturing Institute and City Tech Collaborative) in 2019. After starting her first company while a joint medical/business student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she spent her early career in venture capital and corporate finance, primarily focused on technology-based university spin-outs. She earned her B.S. with honors from Northwestern University.

Desiree Vargas-Wrigley
Vice President and Executive Director of Tech/Rise
P33 Chicago

Creating a Tech Talent Pipeline
Desiree Vargas-Wrigley, a Latinx serial entrepreneur, is vice president of P33, a privately held nonprofit focused on making the Chicago-area region an inclusive global tech leader. She heads P33’s Tech/Rise initiative, which is working to provide funding and support for Black and Latinx tech founders. Her companies include Pearachute, which connects parents and children with family activities in their towns. Prior to launching Pearachute, she co-founded GiveForward, the world’s leading crowd-giving platform for people facing a major life event. She began her career at the Kauffman Foundation as a specialist in entrepreneurship and then at Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors. Vargas-Wrigley has been named to Inc.’s 30 Under 30 and Crain’s Chicago Business’s 40 Under 40. She was named as one of Parents magazine’s Most Inspiring Moms and as one of Forbes magazine’s Women to Watch. Vargas-Wrigley also has appeared on Shark Tank, closing one of the largest deals on the show to date. She is a graduate of Yale University.

Colleen Egan
President and Chief Executive Officer
Illinois Science and Technology Coalition

Empowering Women and the Illinois Tech Sector
Colleen Egan is the first woman CEO of the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition and its institute, which support the innovation economy of Illinois through data, advocacy and policy, programming, support initiatives, and STEM education. She began her career as an oncology nurse before becoming a health care administrator and the founder of a health care startup. She was the operations leader at the public digital agency LEAP before co-founding and serving as the chief operating officer for the technology company Two Hundred Twelve Degrees | 212°. Egan was the COO and senior vice president of production for Zula USA and the executive vice president and COO of Akoo USA. She founded Tiger Puppet Studios, a consulting company focused on Chicago tech and startups, and later became a director at Clarity Partners, a management and technology consulting firm. Egan is a founding member of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Institute at DePaul University. She received her education at Little Company of Mary Hospital School of Nursing and Lewis University.

Presented By

Women In Bio Logo; World Business Chicago Logo; Think Chicago Logo