September 16th, 2021 - Authenticity


September 23rd, 2021 - Influence


CHIWITCON 2021 will be virtual! Please join our mailing list and we'll let you know when registration opens.


CHIWITCON™ is an inspiring gathering of technologists from Chicago and beyond. Open to all genders across all platforms and technologies, the CHIWITCON™ brings the achievements, aspirations, and career interests of inspiring individuals in technology to the forefront. Listen to exciting speakers with plenty of discussion time and enjoy a fireside chat. Stay for the fun, relaxing networking opportunity following the conference.


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Presented by 


Shivani Anand

Shivani Anand is a Sr. Principal Solution Architect at Discover, focused around providing technology and data driven solutions for Data and Analytics (DNA) organization. At Discover, she is actively involved in business-critical Data Science and Analytics initiatives which requires solutions around. Cloud technologies, Containers, CICD, Data Integration and managing sensitive data. She is an energetic leader with 20 years of experience in Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence space having an opportunity to work with multiple fortune 500 companies. She has led multiple technology forums within a company to promote the culture of learning from each other and showcasing your engineering craftsmanship. She is a big supporter of Women in Technology. She is a certified AWS Solutions Architect and a lifelong learner.

Sandra Dainora

Sandra Dainora is Chief Product Officer at Sittercity, where she oversees the Product, Trust & Safety and Customer Success teams. In her role, she’s focused on making child care finally work by building a platform that simplifies the way parents and caregivers connect and manage their relationships. She’s also called mom by a hockey-loving and shipwreck-obsessed, five-year-old. Prior to joining Sittercity, Sandra spent 5 years at Grubhub where she led the rollout of the takeout industry’s first in-restaurant tablet and Grubhub’s entry into the delivery space. Past roles have also included time at the Oprah Winfrey Network, Harpo Productions, Chicago Tribune, Discover Financial Services and A&E Television Networks. Sandra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Prajakta Yerpude

Prajakta is a part of the Cloud Data Products team at Discover Financial Services. She has been extensively working in cloud technology for over five years especially implementing a variety of data ingestion pipelines helping drive faster analytics. She has done her Masters of Science in Computer Science at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. Having published two research papers at an International Journal regarding data mining in college, right after graduation, she started hands on with data engineering and cloud technologies involving CICD, automation, data integration solutions, migration of legacy databases, and its reporting. She is passionate about solving data problems and modern technologies. She is an active supporter of Women in STEM and outside work she enjoys dancing and kettlebell weight trainings, plays a flute and does volunteer events at Chicago Cares.

Ell Marquez

Ell Marquez, advocate for Hacking Is Not A Crime and Operation Safe Escape has traveled the world for the last five years, educating security practitioners on subjects from on-prem infrastructure to the cloud and everything in between. The journey has not always been easy, however with solid community support, she's been able to continue spreading the message that, “It’s Okay to Be New.”

Katie Branch

Katie Branch is a senior manager, providing leadership for Ensono’s Mainframe Academy. Katie leads the development and enhancement of talent within the company’s mainframe sector. She holds over 18 years of leadership experience, previously working for companies including DXC Technology, HPE, and Acxiom. Katie is also a Regional Lead for Ensono’s Women Connected program, promoting the inclusion and recognition of women in IT on a local and global level. 

Katie is a first-generation college graduate. From the start, her ultimate goal in life was to find ways to give back to those that struggled to see opportunity and found the field of IT to be a fruitful avenue to accomplish this goal. Over the years, Katie has gained an increased appreciation for acknowledging unrecognized potential in others. She is eager to make a difference in the lives of aspiring and new IT professionals and believes that her current position is a perfect opportunity to make use of this passion. In her free time, Katie loves spending quality time with her family and seeking opportunities to give back to the community when possible through volunteerism to help those less fortunate, especially through mentorship of young girls and women.

Alicia Drucker

Alicia built her career in software consulting, in roles including Chief Employee Experience Officer, Project Manager, Program Manager, Consultant, DEIB Facilitator, Leadership Coach and Analyst. She’s worked across industries - financial services, healthcare, transportation, education, manufacturing, e-commerce and more.

Alicia recently transitioned to nonprofit work as the Interim Volunteer Coordinator role at Lambert House, an LGBTQ organization supporting youth. She also works with WalkShop, an executive coaching workshop and leadership conference for which participants spend a week hiking across the countryside to confront/solve shared professional concerns. Alicia moved to Spain in August 2021, and is focused on social impact, change, and adventure.

Judith Sol-Dyess

Judith is a strategy consultant working with software development consultancies to improve delivery and operations. She also works with code academies and individuals on a variety of Agile workshops and services. 

Judith shares her 20+ years of project management experience as an instructor for Code Platoon in Chicago and CodeOp in Barcelona. She also served as a board member for Black Diamond Charities, serving US Veterans. 

You can read more about Judith in

'Tine Zekis

Christine ('Tine) Zekis is an educator-turned-developer working as a Software Engineer in Chicago. She champions Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in tech, while delivering clean, well-tested code. She enjoys mentoring and sponsoring other career changers, especially those who are underrepresented in the industry. In her spare time...just kidding: 'Tine has a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old, and no spare time.


Kim Blight

Kim Blight leads Product Operations at ActiveCampaign. She’s passionate about product teams and advocating for women in tech and parents in the workforce. When not hanging out with her family, she can be found writing or watching the NBA.


Her Agenda
Product Craft

Ally Bubb

Ally Bubb combines enthusiasm, honesty, and authenticity into her work as an executive career coach and speaker, teaching people to tell compelling career stories to wow employers because when people genuinely love what they do, our workplaces, homes, and world are transformed. She is passionate about fixing the leak in the technology pipeline by equipping women and non-binary individuals to leverage their distinctive strengths in leadership creating more equity at all levels. She is the bestselling author of Success Authentically and Change Authentically. Ally earned a B.S. in Management of Information Systems from Michigan Technological University and a M.B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is an entrepreneur, coach, keynote speaker, blogger, educator, and author as well as a nature-lover, cat cuddler, and parent to two spirited kids.

Work Authentically is reinventing the world of work by teaching people to leverage their unique style, approach, and way of being through presentations, workshops, and individual and group coaching.

Contact Information:
Ally Bubb's LinkedIn
Work Authentically LinkedIn
Work Authentically Instagram

Jenn Donahue

Jenn Donahue PhD is a civil engineer and US Navy Captain who works on large scale, high profile geotechnical projects. Over her 25-year military career, Jenn has built a bridge across the Euphrates River in the midst of the Iraq war, commanded an 800-personnel Battalion in Afghanistan, and constructed combat outposts in the middle of deserts filled with insurgents. Jenn has led earthquake and tsunami reconnaissance missions in places like Samoa and Japan; designed the seismic plans for a bridge over the Panama Canal; and built roads in the coldest climes of Ketchikan. Along the way she mentored scores of young leaders and facing down bullies in her own command structure. Today Jenn runs JL Donahue Engineering. She also lectures at UC Berkeley and UCLA. Jenn is working on her first book, Go Do Great Things: Ditch Your Camouflage and Become a Genuine Leader.

Contact Information:


Kirsten Ramos

President / Elevate Performance Solutions, Inc.
Co-CEO / femmebought

For nearly 15 years, Kirsten Ramos has motivated individuals to look within themselves to work more effectively with others.

Kirsten’s background includes leading learning and development activities for smaller, post start-up organizations all the way to Fortune 500 companies. She is passionate about helping people communicate more confidently, especially women. She continues to partner with organizations developing empathetic leaders that recognize the need to change within their companies.

Kirsten is a proud graduate of the University of Iowa – go Hawkeyes! She is certified in administering several communication and behavioral assessments including, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment ® (MBTI), EverythingDiSC ® , and FourSight ® Mindset creativity assessment. She has a Synchronous Learning Delivery certificate from the American Society for Training & Development (ATD) and has significant experience creating and delivering virtual learning to meet the demands of the global workforce.

Fun facts about Kirsten:

  • Enjoys wine tasting and loves talking about inexpensive wine that tastes delicious.
  • She fosters kittens and has two resident cats, a dog and a guinea pig. A husband and a daughter join her in the chaos.
  • Loves a good Netflix series.
  • Hails from Iowa, but knew since she was 13 years old she would live in Chicago.
  • Her Myers-Briggs type is ENFP, DiSC profile is “i” and FourSight mindset is Driver.

Contact her to discuss personalized coaching, presentation skills, management training needs, individual contributor training, corporate-wide learning initiatives, early career program development and management, for short and long-term contract durations – in live and virtual formats.

Contact Information:
773-306-3036 (mobile)




  1. 09:00 AM - Breakfast

    Come grab a coffee and your favorite breakfast snack to join us for our CHIWITCON morning kickoff! Share a little about yourself, meet a new person, and get into the CHIWITCON spirit before we dive into some fantastic talks on Day 1.

  2. 09:45 AM - Opening Remarks
  3. 10:00 AM - Morning Keynote

    Speaker: Kirsten Ramos

    Showing Up as Your Perfectly Imperfect Self: We will discuss how to show up as your imperfect self in a world that expects perfection in all we do.

  4. 10:30 AM - Q&A for Morning Keynote
  5. 10:45 AM - Break Time
  6. 11:00 AM - Moderated Breakouts

    Speakers: Alicia Drucker & Judith Sol-Dyess

    Making Big Changes (and Finding the Support to do it with Confidence): Former colleagues Alicia & Judith will share their inspiration, journey and tips that lead them to move their families and work —  from the US to Europe.


    Speaker: Sandra Dainora

    How to turn being a working mother into a superpower: The past 18+ months have thrown working mothers into the spotlight, Sandra will talk about how working mothers can make a child care plan, use technology to execute that plan and leverage their experience as moms to excel in the workplace and at home.

  7. 11:30 AM - Break Time
  8. 11:35 AM - General Talk 1

    Speaker: Ally Bubb

    Stand Out in a Sea of Blandness: Forget the Unicorn Cactus Sloths and finally learn the secret of compelling career stories to stand out from the crowd, wow prospective employers, and land the job of your dreams!

  9. 12:00 PM - Q&A for General Talk 1
  10. 12:15 PM - Lunch Break for Networking
  11. 12:35 PM - General Talk 2

    Speaker: Jenn Donahue

    Take off your Camouflage – Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and “Tokenism” to Just be Yourself: If you feel like you have to wear “camouflage” to fit in at work or in other social settings, learn how to evaluate and begin removing  it to be your genuine self.

  12. 01:00 PM - Q&A for General Talk 2
  13. 01:15 PM - Moderated Breakouts

    Speaker: Melissa Jurkoic

    Why a Diverse Team is Crucial to Startup Success: Details coming soon


    Speaker: Ell Marquez

    How Hackers Saved My Life: I’m a hacker, and I am an impostor, and so are you, and that’s why we will succeed in this field despite any walls built to stop us, even the ones we create ourselves.


    Speaker: Katie Branch

    Redesigning Tech Conferences with Women in Mind: According to research from Ensono, women of color makeup only 8% of tech conference keynotes. Ensono Senior Manager of Information Technology Katie Branch will discuss her personal experiences as a woman of color in the tech industry, as well as data from Ensono’s 2020 “Speak Up” research report that uncovers how companies can improve diversity, equity and inclusion – internally and at tech conferences.

  14. 01:45 PM - Closing Remarks
  1. 12:15 PM - Opening Remarks
  2. 12:30 PM - Morning Keynote

    Speaker: ‘Tine Zekis

    Imposter Systems – The Structures that Induce the Syndrome: We’ve spent countless hours coping with the impact Imposter Syndrome has on individuals; let’s zoom out and address the structural causes.

  3. 01:00 PM - Q&A for Morning Keynote
  4. 01:15 PM - Break Time
  5. 01:30 PM - Moderated Breakouts

    Speaker: Dana Scheider

    The Joy of Docs, or, Technical Writing for Developers and Engineers: Details coming soon


    Speaker: Kim Blight

    Are you ready for Product Operations?: You’ll learn more about the world of product operations and how to get started in the role, from someone who has done it a few times in their career.


    Speakers: Prajakta Yerpude & Shivani Anand

    Cloud Data Journey – Story of adopting cloud technology and modernization of data pipeline: Focus on the 4Cs in this journey – Cloud, Changing mindsets, Collaboration, Continuous learning.

  6. 02:00 PM - Break Time
  7. 02:10 PM - General Talk 1

    Speaker: Lynn Catalano

    Learn to read the room, identify toxic relationships and rise above the chaos: Details coming soon

  8. 02:35 PM - Q&A for General Talk 1
  9. 02:50 PM - Lunch Break for Networking
  10. 03:20 PM - ARA Panel
  11. 04:20 PM - Closing Remarks
  12. 04:30 PM - Happy Hour

    Come celebrate the closing of what’s sure to have been a great CHIWITCON 2021 with some drinks and a mini trivia for anyone interested! Hope to see you there!



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