2016 Social Impact Summit

Save the date! Friday, April 8th CAUSE will be hosting it's 4th annual Social Impact Summit. More details to come!


Katie Hilborn, founder/director

Katie Hilborn is the founder and director of Global Orphan Prevention, an international nonprofit dedicated to keeping mothers and children together through social entrepreneurship, education, and a clean birthing program.

Katie grew up in St. Charles, Illinois and spent most of her adult life in the Colorado ski town of Breckenridge. Because she lived in a seasonal environment, she had the opportunity to leave the country during the off-seasons. Since beginning to travel the globe in 2006 after she graduated from university, she always incorporated a volunteer project. Now twenty-seven countries and six continents later, she has seen first-hand how the developing world lives, and has made it her mission to change that.  Having the privilege of being American has encouraged her to use that power to help others. 

Currently, she is working on a social entrepreneurship program to help eradicate child trafficking in Nepal. By investing in cash crops (chili and cardamom farming), her hope is that these income generating activities will help empower the marginalized indigenous populations.

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Impact Investing Panel


Somya Munjal

Somya R. Munjal, CPA, MBA, MAS is the Chief Youth Servant at Youthful Savings - an education technology company that empowers the next generation with financial education and entrepreneurship training through curriculum, technology and community. 10 cents of every dollar earned is dedicated to youth investment. She's also the Managing Partner of CPA for the People, LLP and the Creative Director of Audacious Endeavors. She's a firm believer in education as an agent for change and developing the human spirit.

Eric Wasowicz

Eric Wasowicz currently is an Investor and Advisor with Channel Clarity LLC, an Advertising Technology company focused in the higher education and financial services verticals and an Investor and Advisor with NxtTeam, Inc. the largest provider of Oracle education in the United States. He is an advisor to Keyword First a Digital Marketing agency and TSI a management consulting and technology strategy company.  He also teaches entrepreneurship at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb.

In 2008 Eric founded, a discount deal of the day provider of house wares and electronics. The company was based on a business plan from the Northern Illinois University Entrepreneurship Program where he teaches applied entrepreneurship in the business school. 

From 2006 to 2007 Mr. Wasowicz was a Regional Vice President within Fujitsu Consulting, the North American consulting and services arm for the $40.6-billion Fujitsu group, with responsibility for overseeing the Central Region of the United States and a member of the US leadership team.

From 1984 to 2006 Mr. Wasowicz was a founder and Co-CEO of Greenbrier & Russel, Inc., a $55m IT Services company with over 400 employees he co-founded in 1984. He successfully sold Greenbrier & Russel to Fujitsu in February 2006.

Mr. Wasowicz is a 1980 graduate of Northern Illinois University.  He is currently on the board of advisors at Northern Illinois University's College of Business, the board of directors of Northern Illinois University Athletics, the board of directors of the Illinois Technology Association, the board of directors of the Special Leisure Services Foundation, The Northern Illinois Research Foundation board, serves as the Past Chair of The Windy City Chapter of the Young President's Organization and current board member of the World Presidents Organization’s Chicago chapter. Mr. Wasowicz received Northern Illinois University's Distinguished Young Alumni award in 1999, the Illinois High Technology Award in 2000, and is a 2001 inductee into the University of Illinois at Chicago's Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.  In 2009 he received the Business Alumnus of the Year award for Northern Illinois University.

Mr. Wasowicz has been a six time participant in the YPO Harvard Business School program which brings together CEOs from around the world to study businesses cases with Harvard professors.

Eric’s strengths are technology, business strategy, and growing small businesses.

Joe Parisi

Joe has raised over $1MM in funding, built a company from idea to 15 person team. Built both software and hardware solutions from ground up. Completed 2 nationally recognized accelerators.  Partnered with large public and private companies to move company forward as well as hired amazing people like the former COO of Jokey and former CTO of OptionsXpress.

Greg Lernihan

Greg Lernihan is an entrepreneur, impact investor and faith filled leader committed to making a positive difference in the lives of the underserved. He currently dedicates his time mentoring and financially supporting for profit entrepreneurs as well those passionately serving the nonprofit world.

Greg is the Co-founder of Convergint Technologies, an electronic security integrator. Started in a basement in 2001, Convergint currently employs over 2,200 colleagues in 60 plus offices worldwide. Convergint Technologies is now the largest privately held security integrator in the world. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Greg spent 20 years in various leadership roles at Siemens Building Technologies before leaving his last position as Senior Vice President for North America.

Active in professional and civic organizations, Greg currently serves on the boards of several local companies. In addition, Greg is a managing director member at Impact Engine, a seed investment fund at 1871 that supports for-profit businesses addressing today’s societal and environmental challenges. He also does some teaching at an entrepreneurial incubator program at Barrington High School where they invest real money into the students companies. Greg is also a partner at Social Venture Partners and is an advisor to the Center for Companies that Care where he has been involved in mentoring inner city youth for many years.

Greg holds a bachelor’s of science degree in business management from Purdue University. Greg is married and has been blessed with three children and one grandson.

Working In Developing Countries Panel

Rich Johnson

Rich Johnson is the Cofounder and CEO of Spark Ventures, an international nonprofit investing in sustainable solutions to lift communities out of poverty. Through Rich’s leadership, Spark Ventures has raised over $4M to-date to fund partners and projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America piloting their thesis of business driven philanthropy. Inspired to start Spark after a 2006 trip to Zambia, Rich and Spark Ventures are championing the concept of impact travel, hosting more than 350 travelers from across the country on life-changing trips to experience and engage their work in person.


Nancy Economou, founder/president

Nancy Economou is the founder and president of Watts of Love, which was founded in 2012 following a business trip to the Philippines where she first discovered the drastic need for safe and renewable lighting. As a mother of five boys, Nancy was compelled to equip vulnerable families to help raise them out of a continuous cycle of poverty. Nancy has made it her mission to deliver light and love to the poorest of the poor worldwide. Prior to forming Watts of Love, Nancy sold high-end jewelry at Cartier Jewelers in Chicago. Nancy is an active member of her church, as well as an advocate for raising families out of poverty around the world.


Kurt Thurmaier

Kurt Thurmaier received his B.A. and M.P.P.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. from the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He held assistant and associate professor positions at the University of Kansas before becoming MPA director at Iowa State University, 2002-2005. His research and teaching interests include budgetary decision making at the local and state levels in the U.S. and other countries, comparative public administration (especially fiscal decentralization),and intergovernmental relations (especially interlocal collaboration). His most recent work has focused on city-county consolidations and interlocal agreements among cities and counties, especially fiscal accountability in public management networks. He leads a month-long study abroad course for graduate and undergraduate students to Musoma, Tanzania every other year to study the role of NGOs in developing countries. He and has served as a consultant and researcher with ICMA, HIID, and several local governments.


Moira Hardek

Moira Hardek is the President and CEO of Galvanize Labs, Inc.  Moira founded Galvanize Labs in early 2013.  Galvanize Labs is a hybrid education and gaming company focusing on teaching technology as a subject, instead of merely a collection of topics.  Galvanize Labs has produced the browser-based, technology education video game series, Taken Charge, that submerges players in a captivating story while teaching them the building blocks need for quality technology education,  Taken Charge is also the FIRST and ONLY video game to ever receive the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Seal of Alignment, validating both the games’ technology curriculum and its teaching effectiveness.

Moira’s journey has always involved both technology and entrepreneurship.   In 2007 Moira created and piloted a program known as Geek Squad Summer Academy.  Summer Academy was a hands-on technology education summer camp for kids, with a particular emphasis on young women.  Hardek ran the program until she stepped down after the 2012 tour.  During that time she ran over 150 camps, graduated over 15,000 students (ages 10-16, 65% of which were girls), had over 3,000 Best Buy/Geek Squad employees participate and partnered with over 100 Non-Profit Youth Development Organizations.  She also had her program participate in the White House's Joining Forces Initiative and brought Summer Academy to the children of military families on-base at Miramar, Camp Pendleton, Norfolk, and Fort Leavenworth. \

Moira attended Miami University (Ohio), where she studied Systems Analysis.  She chose her hometown, Chicago, IL to base Galvanize Labs.  Moira is an avid gamer, enjoys SCUBA diving, adventure traveling with her teammates and any local activity involving her Great Dane.

Moira, and her co-founders at Galvanize Labs, were thrilled bring Taken Charge into the Ed Tech arena in 2014.  The goal of widening the opening of the funnel of tech talent continues to be ultimate goal.


Stephen Lingle

Stephen Lingle joined PDT’s electrical engineering team in 2008, where he currently manages a variety of product development programs in the consumer, medical and defense sectors. He brings 15+ years of experience in designing and managing hardware architectures, embedded devices, and user interface subsystems. Lingle holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in digital design from Northern Illinois University.

Abby Ross

Abby is a co-founder of ThinkCERCA, an education technology company that helps students with reading, writing and critical thinking skills across subjects. Since starting ThinkCERCA 3 years ago with Eileen Murphy, a former Chicago Public School educator, they have grown their free platform to over 20% of schools in the US and over 132 countries and growth the enterprise subscription version to over 200 districts, including Chicago Public Schools, New York Department of Education, Oakland Unified, St Louis Public Schools, and School District of Philadelphia. Before joining ThinkCERCA, Abby was a Managing Partner at Blueye, a web design and development company, and was the VP of Product and Business Development at Where I've Been, the first social travel Facebook app, which was acquired by Expedia in 2009.