About This Event

We invite you to join us for this interactive breakfast for Women in Technology. We are featuring great women in tech to give their insight on how they reached their level of success, advice on navigating the workplace, and how we can help the next generation of women in tech.

Join us for lightning talks by a handful of amazing women in the Chicago tech scene and take a deeper dive into the issues women face in the tech industry and find solutions to how we can rise above the obstacles and thrive in this growing field.

  • Breakfast + Mingling 7:30am-8:00am
  • Lightning Talks 8:00am-8:45am
  • Connecting + Sharing 8:45am-9:30am

Please note that by RSVPing for this event you are agreeing to receive communications from event partners.

About the Speakers

L'Oreal Thompson Payton Photo

Director of Communications,

As an award-winning writer, public speaker, communications executive and mentor, L’Oreal Payton’s personal passion for youth empowerment and quest to serve as a voice for the underrepresented has shaped every facet of her fast-rising career. 

In her role as Director of Communications for OneGoal, a national college access and success organization, Payton works internally with educators and externally with top-tier media to raise awareness about the continuing “college degree divide” and demonstrate OneGoal’s efficacy in solving for the problem.

The Baltimore native joins OneGoal after two years with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, where she was quickly promoted from Media Relations Manager to Director of External Affairs. One of the secrets to Payton’s success is her decade of experience as a decorated journalist.

Payton draws creativity and content development skills from roles within notable outlets including the Baltimore Sun Media Group, where she won awards from the state’s press association before moving to Chicago to join the team at the iconic JET magazine. At JET, Payton worked directly with the publication’s Editorial Director to translate the brand’s storied print presence into a strong digital platform by attracting and retaining a network of talented online contributors while balancing social media strategy and execution. 

Payton continues to make her mark on the media landscape as a go-to writer for a range of outlets: the teen-focused Sesi magazine, HelloGiggles, and Brit + Co, just to name a few. She also shares vital career and networking tips via other platforms, both as a frequent podcast guest and as a panelist for experiential initiatives such as SheSays Chicago, General Assembly, and Glappitnova (aka the Chicago answer to SXSW). 

A respected social media influencer and author-on-the-rise, her blog ( and accompanying newsletter offer inspirational advice and job opportunities to a growing number of subscribers and followers. This communications dynamo further distinguishes herself through numerous philanthropic efforts, having volunteered for mentorship-focused Polished Pebbles, GirlForward and Step Up.

A graduate of Loyola University Maryland, she has been recognized for her diverse accomplishments by respected organizations such as Global Girls Inc., which presented her the Girl Power award in 2017. She also earned a coveted spot on Mater Mea’s “18 Black Women We Think Are Phenomenal” list alongside such standouts as Emmy-winning filmmaker Lena Waithe.



Colleen Egan Photo

Director of People, Culture and Endless Possibilities,
Clarity Partners, LLC

Colleen started her career as a Nurse, but became frustrated with the slow adoption of technology in healthcare. She had an opportunity to become the operations leader at a public digital agency and that experience became the foundation for the rest of her career. 

She founded and served as the Chief Operating Officer for the award winning design and technology company Two Hundred Twelve Degrees | 212° with offices in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. 212’s diverse client list included Orbitz, McDonalds, Nike and pro bono clients like Zula USA. She went on to become the Chief Operating Officer and SVP of Production of Zula USA in Los Angeles, CA where she led the company and the production of the Emmy nominated PBS series The Zula Patrol, which was the first 3D CGI pre-school series on television. 

Returning to Chicago in 2006, she was introduced to Akoo USA and became their VP and Chief Operating Officer. She led the design, deployment and support of the largest DOOH network in the country. The proprietary tech platform was awarded patents across the world, was voted one of the best companies to work at by Adverting Age Magazine and a Rising Star Finalist by the Illinois Technology Association (ITA). 

In 2012, as a Principal Consultant with her own company Tiger Puppet Studios, she focused her work on Chicago tech start-ups working for clients that included StageBloc, Built In, ThinkCERCA and Catalytic. In 2013, Colleen was selected to participate in StartupBus North America, where her team created the healthcare app MyBestRx. She became its CEO and was selected as a Tech Cocktail hottest startup. 

In 2017, she became the Director of People, Culture and Endless Possibilities at Clarity Partners, a management and technology consulting firms that specializes in public sector work. Clarity has been recognized as an INC 5000 fastest growing company for six years in a row, a Crain’s Fast 50 for the last two years and a Chicago Tribune “Best Places To Work” company. Clarity has also won numerous awards for their work, diversity and commitment to community. 

Colleen was an ITA CityLIGHTS Prominent Woman in Tech Finalist in 2017, serves on several company advisory boards and sits on numerous non- profit boards and committees including Little Kids Rock, Women’s Sports Foundation, and Chicago United.

Karianne Wardell Photo


Karianne Wardell is a Chicago-based marketing consultant, meeting facilitator, and presenter with 15 years of brand leadership experience in the creative industry.

Over the course of her career, Karianne has led branding, digital marketing, advertising strategy and execution for some of the world's biggest brands including State Farm, Hewlett-Packard, and GE. She facilitated consumer marketing campaigns as a Vice President, Digital at Weber Shandwick, a global communications firm and in 2017, launched Lofti to help small business owners navigate the complex world of branding.

In her inaugural year with Lofti, Karianne coached over 100 small business leaders through private consulting and facilitated branding workshops in London and throughout the U.S

Jeanne Reidy Photo

Senior Vice President of Strategy & Engagement,

Deena McKay Photo

Agile Business Analyst, Highland Solutions | Founder, Black Tech Unplugged

Deena McKay is the founder and host of the podcast, Black Tech Unplugged. Black Tech Unplugged is a podcast that highlights Blacks who innovate and work in the tech industry. Deena started Black Tech Unplugged as a way for Blacks to see people who looked like them in the tech. She also wanted to share tips and advice for those trying to get into the industry. 

Additionally, Deena works as an IT Consultant in Chicago, IL. In her role she assists clients in creating customer relationship management (CRM) systems that matches the organization’s objectives.


About Our Partners



EvolveHer is a creative workspace designed for women to connect, collaborate & curate a life they love. EvolveHer not only provides a beautiful workspace but also offers a robust schedule of custom programming to support its community of women in all aspects of life (business development, wellness, and connections). The 5,000 square foot River North loft was intentionally designed to inspire creativity and serves as a unique space to host off-sites, private events, and trainings.


The Mom Project


The Mom Project is the career destination for moms. Through our digital marketplace and community we connect professionally accomplished women with world-class companies for rewarding employment opportunities. The Mom Project is changing the way women work and redefining career structures by providing women with real work opportunities that are in balance with their personal goals. This evolution will keep more talented, professionally accomplished women in the workforce.


ChickTech Chicago


ChickTech Chicago is a chapter of ChickTech, a national non-profit organization committed to increasing the number of girls and women in technology while improving the culture of the industry itself. From local conferences to hands-on workshops to mentoring, we create an inclusive community for girls and women that increases their sense of belonging, interest, and self-confidence in technology and engineering.





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