DIGITAL EVENT JULY 20 - 25, 2020
GirlCon Chicago

At GirlCon, our number one priority is the health and safety of our attendees. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, we want to reassure our community members that we are monitoring the outbreak closely our team at GirlCon continues to consult with advisers, sponsors, and our former conference venue, Google Chicago, to ensure that we make the safest decisions moving forward.

We adapted to a virtual conference as a means to keep our attendees and organizers safe. See below for more details.

For more information on COVID-19, please refer to the CDC's official website. We will keep everyone updated through social media (@girlconchicago on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and through this website.

About us

Empowering the next generation of female leaders for our THIRD YEAR.
GirlCon is an annual Chicago-based event that is taking place in mid-July. Due to the circumstances, it will be virtual this year. GirlCon has breakout sessions from numerous companies that the attendees will have the opportunity to learn from and make connections with. We focus on how technology is a huge factor in EVERY career field, whether it be science, fashion, or anything that students are passionate about. The lack of diversity in STEM is a big issue that everyone on the GirlCon team is striving to fix. The attendees will have a chance to personally connect with companies from many different career paths and gain advice from women in both college and the workforce.
Over three years of conferences
100+ Industry Professionals
Each year, we invite incredible women to share their stories
From all over the world
Future leaders travel from across the country (and world virtually) to join in on the excitement
What's on the agenda?
More details on all sessions coming soon!
Note: Sessions are scheduled based on speaker availability and are subject to change

2020 Virtual Keynote Speakers
Hear from inspiring women to kickstart your career and gain the confidence to launch forward in tech and beyond.
René Bostic
René Bostic is the Technical Vice President of AI Applications, Worldwide IBM Cloud and Cognitive. René consults with many C-Suite executives on supply chain, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain solutions. Her speaking engagements include: the O'Reilly Software Architecture Conference (New York), Cloud Expo Europe (London), AdTech (London), Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Germany (Berlin), Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Russia (Moscow), Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Prague (Czech Republic), Armenia Blockchain Forum (Yerevan, Armenia), Blockchain Shift (Miami, Florida) and IBM Think Roadshows (USA/Canada) to name a few. Cloud Expo USA named René a faculty member for both their Cloud Expo East and Cloud Expo West Conferences. She is a member of the Internet of Things Consortium (IoTC) and the Society of Information Management (SIM). René resides in Atlanta, Georgia and enjoys family genealogy research.
Janine Sneed
Janine Sneed: WW VP of Customer Success, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software

Bold, energetic, passionate, and results driven, Janine is responsible for $3.4B+ in revenue
for Customer Success in IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software. A senior executive with a
technical foundation, Janine applies her engineering mindset to solve customer and
organizational goals. With over a decade leading high performing teams in product
management, strategy, and pre-sales technical engagements, Janine has a track record of
transforming customer and IBM businesses in digital transformation. Janine is the founder
and co-executive sponsor of GROW in IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software, an initiative to
support career growth, diversity and inclusion for the women in IBM.

Janine lives in Cary, NC with her husband Matt and sons Jaxon (9) and Maddox (7).

Nastia Liukin
Nastia Liukin: 5-Time Olympic Medalist, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Angel Investor

Nastia Liukin became part of gymnastics elite when she took home the gold medal for the All-Around event at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. After retiring from the sport at the age of 22, Nastia set out to make her mark on the gymnastics world and beyond. She began commentating with NBC, solidifying her position as one of gymnastics best analysts. She started a tech platform to empower the next generation of female athletes by connecting them to their mentors, sports psychologists, nutritionists, college recruiters, and her Olympic peers. She created and designed sold out gymnastics leotard collections. And, she founded one of the most coveted Olympic qualifying events in gymnastics, The Nastia Liukin Cup. Tapping into the loyal fan base she has cultivated over the last ten years, Nastia launched her influencer business, which has led to collaborations with world-leading brands and retailers such as Nike, Sephora, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Netflix, Visa, and more. Recently, Nastia parlayed her love for beauty and skincare into a collaboration with Volition Beauty—a celery-powered moisturizer—that is currently being sold online at Sephora and in all Sephora North America stores. This upcoming Olympic year, Nastia will head to Tokyo with NBC to commentate the women's gymnastics events throughout the games.

Cecilia Muñoz
Cecilia Muñoz is Vice President for Public Interest Technology and Local Initiatives at New America. Prior to joining New America in 2017, she served for eight years on President Obama's senior staff, first as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs followed by five years as Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
Before working in government, she was Senior Vice President at the National Council of La Raza (now UNIDOS US), the nation's largest Hispanic policy and advocacy organization, where she served for 20 years.
Muñoz is also a Senior Fellow at Results for America, a nonprofit that advances the use of data and evidence in policy making. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000 for her work on immigration and civil rights, and serves on the Boards of the Open Society, MacArthur and Kresge Foundations, as well as the nonprofit Protect Democracy Project.
She is the author of More than Ready: Be Strong and Be you....and other lessons for women of color on the rise.
2020 Breakout Session Bios
See Above for Dates/Time for Each!
Tech + Law: Leslee Cohen, Hershman Cohen LLC.
In this session, we will talk about the different types of lawyers that represent technology companies and what they do for those companies on a day-to-day basis. We will focus on what it is like to represent a tech startup from its earliest stages (i.e. an idea in someone's imagination) through its funding rounds, hiring of employees and advisors, growth and ultimate sale or public offering. We will also talk about success strategies for women lawyers and the issues that women lawyers encounter during their careers.
Tech + Art: Catching A Wave
We are creating a series of fused/cast glass waves in which we are exploring the aesthetics and complexity of ocean waves, the juxtaposition of a frozen moment and the progression of sea-level rise, as well as addressing issues of ocean conservation. The waves are exact replicas of real waves caught in a precise moment of time with the photogrammetric and high-speed imaging processes conducted with scientific collaborators in the UNC Coastal Studies Institute's wave tank and imaging facility. We use the resulting digital output to print 3D models of the waves which are then used as patterns for the glass molds; this technology has never been used on a moving, reflective or a transparent subject before.
Tech + Sports/Fitness: Renata Merino
From the investor perspective, Renata will discuss her sports tech investment thesis and where she sees the future of sports and sports technology. From her 20+ years of sports and fitness experience working at Reebok and Life Fitness in new product development and innovation, to her 30 years as a 3 season athlete, to her founder experience and advisory work with entrepreneurs in the fitness and sports tech arena in addition to working with pro athletes and angel investors who invest in sports tech, Renata will bring firsthand knowledge of where she envisions the future of sports tech as a venture capital investor.

Tech + Blockchain: Blockchain Institute
This session explores the purpose and use cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in an interactive and easily relatable way. Using concrete, real-world examples, we'll learn how blockchains function, their purpose, and how the technology is set to impact our everyday lives.
Tech + Health Diagnostics: TeleHealth Robotics
Our global community faces a healthcare access crisis: many patients can't get the right medical service at the right time provided by a professional with the right skills in a safe, convenient location at a reasonable cost. The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to exacerbate this issue. In this session, Sarah Doherty, Co-Founder and CTO of TeleHealthRobotics, will discuss how advances in telemedicine, including the use of software, hardware, IoT technology, AI and Robotics, can be leveraged to help eliminate this access crisis by enabling widespread, efficient and cost-effective medical care.
Tech + Nuclear Development/Forensics: Girl Security
In this session, Girl Security will cover the threat of nuclear weapons. This breakout will focus on the role of information analysis and communication in understanding the potential risk of nuclear weapons escalation between countries.
Tech + Activism: Teal Media
What's the most pressing and important social change issue you want to address TODAY? In this workshop, Teal Media will guide you through a digital activism framework so that you can feel empowered to make the change you want to see in the world both during and after our session.
Tech+ Sports Analytics: White Sox

Join the Tech + Sports Analytics session to learn how the Chicago White Sox make data-driven decisions in the Baseball Operations and Marketing departments. We will discuss how baseball teams leverage new technology to help players improve their game and explore how dynamic pricing allows sports teams to set ticket prices based on market demand. This session will feature White Sox Baseball Operations Analyst Emily Blady and the White Sox Director of Ticket Strategy Liz Milla.
Tech + Building Smart Cities: GET Cities Chicago
Elle Ramel is the Chicago Director for GET Cities (Gender Equality in Tech), an effort pioneered by SecondMuse and powered by Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda Gates Company. Prior to this position, she was the Director of Development at Farpoint Development to project manage the redevelopment of the Michael Reese Hospital site in Chicago. Additionally, she led strategic partnerships at City Tech Collaborative, the smart city lab of Chicago, and an Economic Policy Associate in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office at the City of Chicago. She completed her bachelor's at Yale University in Urban Studies and a master's degree at Cambridge University in Land Economics/Town Planning. She also co-founded City Open Workshop- a bi-montly forum designed to bring architects and planners to assist communities with design capabilities.
Tech + Music Production: Amy Wozniak
In my session you'll learn how to create really cool music using Python code. Not musically talented? No problem! Neither am I, and I've been able to come up with some really fun songs. Don't know Python? Also, not a problem! We start with the basics. Hope to see you in my session!

Tech + BioSecurity/Pandemics: Dr. Suzet McKinney, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
"Leadership in Times of Crisis and Uncertainty"
Dr. Suzet McKinney will discuss her role as CEO/Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District, as well as her experience as a public health professional. She will talk specifically about many of the emergencies and disasters that she's been involved in, how technology plays a role in emergency response, and her experience leading people and organizations through crises and times of uncertainty.
Tech + Quantum Computing: IBM
For more than four years, IBM has enabled more than 100,000 people around the globe to access quantum computers for learning, research, and tackling new problems. While still early, it is just a matter of time until people start using these devices to solve certain problems better than they can today with a classical computer. In this session Anamita Guha and Dr. Kayla Lee will discuss this radically different approach to computing built on the laws of quantum mechanics, and the roadmap for mainstream adoption of this new technology to solve the world's problems. Attendees will get access to a technical hands-on introduction to building your first application with Qiskit, an open-source quantum computing framework for leveraging today's quantum processors in research, education, and business.
Tech + Finance: Kriti Sarav
You may not know but almost all of you use FINTECH in your day to day lives. Join us in this session to understand the basics of FINTECH, discuss the qualities of FINTECH, and meet some fantastic women in FINTECH!
Tech + Artificial Intelligence Theory: IBM
Thinking like a human! This session will prepare you for an AI powered future. We will discuss AI Theory - the basics of Artificial Intelligence, competing in strategic game systems (DeepBlue, IBM Watson and Go), self-driving cars, ethics and interpreting complex data. This is a session you do not want to miss!

Tech + Web Design/UX: IBM
There are lots of resources and tools on the internet that teach us how to do web design and programming. However, not all tools are created equal and not all designs are good. This session will introduce you to what good user interface design is, and how we can do that properly. We will have a basic web application that demonstrates the use of a flow-based programming model, after which you will get to roll up your sleeves and get some hands-on experience creating a Node-RED starter application on the IBM Cloud. Find out how unintimidated it can be for you to start your journey on becoming a Web Designer and Developer on the Cloud!

Tech + Cybersecurity: IBM
Cyber Security threats are all around us. Bring you phone, laptop or tablet to this session and we are going to go through looking at cyber security threats around the globe and how to determine what's happening. As a GirlCon attendee you will have access to these resources after you leave this event. Red, Yellow or Orange pick you the threat level and we will investigate together. This session explores the purpose and use cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in an interactive and easily relatable way. Using concrete, real-world examples, we'll learn how blockchains function, their purpose, and how the technology is set to impact our everyday lives.
Tech + Travel: Expedia
Expedia Group will take you on a journey of how we use HTML and CSS to build accessible websites. We will show you how to modify HTML and CSS to change the look and feel of a website.
Tech + Analytics in Artificial Intelligence: IBM
Artificial Intelligence is all around us and is a part of our daily activities. The applications of AI are endless - so much that it sounds like science fiction. However, AI is not magic, and there are several building blocks that are necessary to make it a reality. Join us to learn what is under the covers of AI applications like virtual assistants, social media feeds, online ads, and more. We will leave you with several resources that you can use to learn more and get hands-on experience on your own.
Tech + Journalism: Maira Khwaja, The Invisible Institute
In this session, we will explore what ideas we care about for political and social change, and discuss which kinds of careers and work can approach these issues. Maira Khwaja, Director of Engagement at the Invisible Institute, works at the intersection of technology, legal strategy, youth development, and journalism to investigate police misconduct and criminal justice. At the University of Chicago, she founded the Women in Public Service Program.

2020 Professional Development Sessions
Funding and Growing A Startup: Renata Merino
As a serial entrepreneur, Renata will discuss what is takes to be an entrepreneur,. From identifying a problem, to finding a solution, to validating if people will pay for the solution, to selling, acquiring customers, marketing, pricing and more. Learn about how to launch a business and what it takes to grow an idea, develop a team and pitch to investors to grow and scale your business.
Leadership and Emotional Intelligence : Cheryl O'Donoghue
Learn more about your Ei "superpowers" and receive fun, easy-to-do tips to instantly raise your emotional intelligence, gain greater confidence and crush your goals. Cheryl will share with you three top superpowers that will help turbocharge your academic and career success from her new book—How to Be an Emotionally Intelligent Leader. PLUS, Ariana Goldstein, GirlCon CORE team member and the focus for Chapter 20 in the book, will reveal a couple of her favorite tips to level up your Ei and step into your own girl power! Be the first to get the inside scoop on author Cheryl O'Donoghue's exciting new book—How to Be an Emotionally Intelligent Leader. In this highly interactive session, you will receive tips you can put into action immediately to raise your emotional intelligence, gain greater confidence, and crush your career and academic goals!
Interview Preparation: IBM
What do tech companies want to know about you? This session will address what to expect within the talent acquisition process, as well as interview questions and how best to respond for automated and live interviews. Staci and Tatiana will guide you through a mock interview and answer your pressing questions to help you shine when you're in the interview spotlight!
Elevator Pitching: Pitching a Product & Pitching Yourself: IBM
Life is made up of moments, but luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Sometimes we only get one chance to catch a big break. Join us to learn how to make each moment a successful one— whether you are pitching a product or pitching yourself. Guest speakers Ashley and Abigail will share their best tips and tricks, guide you through your own pitch, and offer the opportunity to pitch before the group!
Resume Building: IBM
In this session, we will be empowering attendees to create professional resumes that highlight their skillsets, demonstrate personality through different resume styles, and introduce tools to make designing your resume simple and easy. Guest speakers Melissa and Clarissa are IBMers with diverse backgrounds, many versions of their resumes, and can't wait to share fun tips and tricks on bringing the professionalism to paper!
LinkedIn Workshop: Shaily Hakimian
Want to get a job, make a great impression on a university, or snag that super cool internship? You have to stand out and show them you are the one they didn't know they needed. These places will look you up online. Are you ready? Learn how you can shine long before you even get the chance to interview by learning the ins and outs of LinkedIn as a tool to wow them.
Women in the Industry Roundtable: ISACA
Are mentors and sponsors important in your career? Why? What's the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? How do you choose them? Or, do you choose them? How do you make the best of a mentor/ sponsor relationship? Our experienced panelists will address all these questions and provide additional insights which you will find valuable to apply in your personal and professional life.
Understanding Culture in Business: Expedia
Join Expedia Group to learn why understanding culture in business is so important for today's global economy. We will guide you in an activity to discover why it takes a team of unique individuals to create technology products within companies like ours.
Those are our professional development sessions for our 2020 conference! Check our schedule above for the dates and times.
GirlCon 2020 Sponsors

Salma Kamni-Amos Alonzo Stagg High School
Hadley Shalowitz-Deerfield High School
Stephanie Schwartz-Deerfield High School
Mary Catherine Hanafee LaPlante-Prospect High School
Shayna Weinstein-Vernon Hills High School
Cynthia Luna-Marie Sklodowska Curie Metropolitan High School
Tenzin Kunsang-William Jones College Preparatory High School
Ria Bawiskar-Naperville North High School
Grace Steele-DIsney II Magnet
Alayna Nguyen-Naperville North High School
Jordyn Jaffe-Highland Park High School
Swara Shroff-Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Sarah Goldstein-Highland Park High School
Helen Zhao-Neuqua Valley High School
Justina Chua-Vernon Hills High School
Tia Hawthorne-Lane Tech College Prep
Yamilett Estrada-Reyes-Lane Tech College Prep
Ximena Castillo-Carl Sandburg High School
Sydney Holubow-Deerfield High School
Meghan Joshi-Lake Forest High School
Demetrius Isaac-Highland Park High School
Gloria Huang-Carol Martin Gatton Academy Of Mathematics and Science
Nuha Mohammed-Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Isabella Marrone-Highland Park High School
Laylani Wilson-East Leyden High School
Srinidhi Senapathi-Adlai E. Stevenson High

Sophia Zhuang - Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Estrella Popoca - Proviso Math and Science Academy
Andrea Gonzalez - Suncoast Community High School
Hina Matsumoto - Deerfield High School
Kayla Drumke - Deerfield High School
DaiGianna Williams - Lane Technical College Prep High School
Ambassador Team

Mia Strolia - Carl Sandburg High School
Kavya Puranam - Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Ella Kaplan- Highland Park High School
Kaitlyn Ravury-Glenbrook South High School
Jordyn Novick-Highland Park High School
Surabhi Gangadkar - Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Riddhi Bhagwat - Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Fay Lin- Lane Tech
Maddie Kwon- Vernon Hills High School
Jordana Hozman- Deerfield High School
Isa Dominguez- Highland Park High School
Madelyn Bergman- Midland High School
Lauren Ravury- Glenbrook South High School
Pilar Pena- St. Augustine High School
College Ambassadors

Molly Graton - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Andre Anthony - Illinois Tech
Beth Vogg - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Grace Fisher - University of Kansas
Nour Shihadeh - Governors State University
Monica Para - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Emma Hollinger - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michelle Ramirez - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Josie Page - Cornell College
Carolina Cassel Durr - University of Delaware
Thank you to everyone who helped make GirlCon 2018 + 2019 possible. We couldn't have done it without you.
If you're interested in being a sponsor for GirlCon, please check out our sponsorship prospectus.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is GirlCon Chicago changing in response to COVID-19?
We have moved from our usual in-person conference to a fully online format! Be sure to check the Instagram and website for updates on registration, the conference platform, and more.
How much is GirlCon?
GirlCon is FREE! We want this event to be open for anyone to attend, and hopefully impact girls of all backgrounds all across the country!
When is this event is taking place and how can I sign up?
The conference has transitioned to a week-long event from July 20-25th, 2020 with sessions and keynotes spread across those dates. See the schedule above for more specific details. Registration is open!
What should I bring to online sessions?
Just your smiley face and a positive attitude! You will need a device and internet connection to access the sessions, and maybe a notepad to write down all the amazing new things you learn.
Do I need any previous experience with coding or technology for this event?
No experience is required - GirlCon is for everyone.
Who can come to this event?
Though this event is aimed at anyone who identifies as female/non-binary, anyone is able to attend GirlCon, regardless of gender! The conference is primarily aimed towards 8th - 12th grade students. You do not have to live in/near Chicago to register, even international students are welcome!
What if the sessions I want to attend are full?
Still register! You are not required to register for any sessions on the Eventbrite, however you do have to be signed up to receive recordings of the sessions after the conference!
Have another question?
Please email us at girlconchicago@gmail.com!
GirlCon Chicago
You are a #ForceOfNature!
e-mail: girlconchicago@gmail.com