Comer Education Campus is anchored by Gary Comer Youth Center, Gary Comer Middle School, and Gary Comer College Prep.

2021 Virtual Career Day


Paths Forward

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We are thrilled to continue our tradition of hosting career day. A virtual event expands the opportunity to engage professionals from a variety of fields and from all over the country. We are pleased to feature careers in engineering, science, coding and technology, media and journalism, social activism and art. 300 youth who are currently enrolled in the Summer Employment Program will attend sessions with their selected panelists via Zoom. Due to the nature of the virtual event, the event is by invitation only. 

Questions? 

For more event information, please contact Michele Lacy, Development Associate via email or call 773.358.4075.

Event Details

  • Thursday, July 29, 2021
  • 2:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Youth Registration Here.

Thank you to our Sponsors

2021 Panelists

Panelist registration in progress: please check back for updates.

Brian Boche

Partner Enablement Manager, Amazon Web Services

Brian has been in the tech industry for the past 20 years in a multitude of roles including network engineer, sales engineering leader and now as a partner enablement manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS) where he works to enable and train future purveyors in the evolving world of cloud computing. His true passion lies in leading an allyship program at Amazon and has built a growing community in which we are delivering monthly events, an allyship bingo card with 25 actions men can start taking today as well as fireside chats and panel discussions with business leaders to showcase the importance of this newer ID&E culture and investment at Amazon especially around allyship. Brian's passion comes from the desire to remove the misogyny that exists in our lives and at work all while removing the hurdles that women must overcome to achieve parity in regard to equal pay for equal work, opportunity to leadership positions, and a work environment free of micro-aggressions, "mansplaining" and the like. He is excited to share his personal examples of allyship, how and why to become an ally, and his experience in planning, building, and leading an allyship program.


Brian Coleman

M.D., South Palm Orthopedics

1985--Graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine 1991--Finished my Orthopedic Residency at Howard University 1992--Completed of Fellowship in Foot and Ankle from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas 1992--Private practice in NW Indiana 2011--Moved to Florida and joined South Palm Orthopedics 2020--Co-owner at JFI Medical, LLC.--the only minority-owned company in the U.S. that distributes Covid-19 tests and vaccines


Ransley Denton

Sr. Software Validation Engineer, CQA (ASQ), AbbVie Inc.

I am a Senior Software Quality/Validation Engineer, and Certified Quality Auditor with over 20 years of experience and diverse background in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Tracy Gray Fields

Senior Quality Engineer, Abbvie

Tracy attended Northwestern University where she majored in chemical engineering with a biomedical emphasis. She started her career in the environmental field at Ecology and Environment, Inc. in Chicago where she led multi-functional on-site teams for investigation of potentially hazardous waste sites. She dreamed of working in the medical industry and ultimately landed a position with Baxter as a Process Engineer in Miami, FL. The experience she gained at Baxter helped her launch her long career within the biotech, diagnostic, pharmaceutical and medical device industries for companies like Raytheon, Abbott and Abbvie in various roles such as process engineering, project engineering, packaging engineering and quality engineering. Currently she is a senior quality engineer at Abbvie where she is responsible for providing assurance that validation and qualification activities are performed according to national and international requirements within the R&D environment.

Leslie Hairston

5th Ward Alderman, City of Chicago

Leslie Hairston won her sixth term as alderman of Chicago's 5th Ward in the 2019 municipal election. Winning her first election against an incumbent in 1999, she currently is the longest-serving alderman to represent the diverse South Side ward-surpassing her political mentor Leon Despres. A politician and attorney, the Chicago native is a fierce community advocate with deep roots in the South Shore and Hyde Park neighborhoods. Hairston sits on three city council committees. She is vice-chair of Finance and a member of Budget & Government Operations and Aviation. She also chairs the council's Women's Caucus and Black Caucus subcommittee on Business and is a member of the Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Coalition. It is her experience as an attorney that has helped to shape her attention to detail. A gift Hairston will need more than ever as she seeks to balance the construction of the Obama Presidential Center and the potential gentrification of the 5th Ward that could threaten the displacement of longtime residents. In 2016, she introduced an ordinance calling for the creation of an Independent Citizen Police Monitor—a creditable civilian agency to investigate police shootings, use of force, domestic violence, bias and coercion. Hairston has a long history of balancing infrastructure improvements, business development, and initiatives to enhance ward residents' safety, security and quality of life. She was integral in the construction of the Sophy Hotel in Hyde Park, Solstice on the Park and the long-awaited Local Market Grocery Store in the 71 stand Jeffery Mall. Hairston also joined other aldermen to demand a more diverse workforce on the recent $8.5 billion O'Hare International Airport expansion passed by the City Council in 2018. Hairston oversees many notable cultural and natural assets, including the lakefront, Jackson Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the University of Chicago. She takes particular pride in developing new institutions through partnerships between the community, business and government-such as preserving and refurbishing the South Shore Cultural Center and culinary school, or working closely with Gary Comer's family to create the Comer Education Center, which includes a youth center, a middle- and high-school in Greater Grand Crossing, Hairston's reputation for principled positions extends beyond her ward-which is known for its history of independent, progressive politics. She was among the handful of aldermen who did not support the sale or lease of such city assets as parking meters. She also voted against speed cameras and fought ordinances that disproportionately burdened lakefront condominiums with requirements for sprinkler systems and façade improvements. In 2008, she accepted the challenge to live on $21 in food stamps for a week, leading her to sponsor city legislation expanding use of the Link card to purchase fresh produce. A strong litigator, Hairston previously served as assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois and staff attorney and special prosecutor for the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, where she argued before the Illinois State Supreme Court. An active member of the Illinois State Bar Association, she serves on its Real Estate Law section council. Hairston is heavily involved in professional, legal, and social service activities, such as the Illinois State Bar, Cook County Barand Black Women Lawyers associations, Loyola Law School Diversity Council, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. She is proud of her work with youth-based initiatives, which reflects her mother's career as a CPS teacher and principal for 43 years. Hairston's father was an entrepreneur, who was one of the first black McDonald's owners on the city's South Side. He also owned the Avenue Lounge in Woodlawn.

Jalyn Henderson

Visual Storyteller, NBCLX - NBCUniversal

I'm a bridge-builder. My unique ability to unite people of all races, backgrounds, ethnicities, identities, and interests has proven to be my strongest asset as a journalist. I believe that all people have value - so do their stories. As a Visual Storyteller at NBC LX, I push the envelope of modern-day storytelling. Every day, I tell the stories of Chicagoans by forming connections, remaining balanced, and going in-depth. When I'm not working, you can find me trying new foods with friends, volunteering in the community with my sorority sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated or mentoring students of color at my Alma Mater, the University of Missouri, M-I-Z!

Gail Hutchison

Senior Educator, Museum of Science and Industry

Gail Hutchison is a dynamic wellness leader, STEM educator, professional development trainer, Yogi and inventor. Her personal mission is to inspire all people to reach their full potential by providing encouragement, tools, and education required to succeed. Gail has two decades of experience practicing yoga and meditation and has been teaching yoga for the past 15 years in spaces as diverse as a Baptist church and the American Dental Association. Gail is the lead yoga instructor for Strength Through Stillness and organization developed to help people find and maintain peace in their lives and is also the lead Social Emotional Learning and Meditation instructor for Breathe for Change - an organization that recruits and trains educators to become wellness champions and trained Yoga Teachers. Gail is currently an educator at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago developing curriculum and trainings for STEM educators. Gail has combined her passion for science and wellness to invent and patent The Joy Mat, a tool that combines a yoga mat, yoga strap, and a smaller thicker supplement mat that used to cushion body parts and enhance yoga, dance, and Pilates practice. Gail is continuing to engage in remote meditation and yoga teaching online through our time of physical distancing on Zoom.

Kyle Jordan-DeDeaux

Meteorologist, Pattern Energy

Kyle Jordan-DeDeaux was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He received his Bachelor of Science in Atmospheric Science with a minor in communications from Purdue University in 2018. Outside of meteorology, Kyle loves to serve his community and educate others whenever he can. Kyle hopes to have a fulfilling career using his meteorology knowledge to better serve the renewable energy sector.

Philina King

General Counsel, The Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Philina King is a licensed attorney who has practiced law for almost 20 years.  She has spent the majority of her career working for various municipal and state agencies.  In addition to being an attorney, Philina has also held various c-level and executive positions at various levels of government.  Throughout her career, Philina has worked with various executives, stakeholders and constituents to develop policies, legislation, processes and strategies in addition to providing legal advice and guidance.  Philina has a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor from University of Illinois College of Law.

Gerald Lewis

Market President, BMO Harris Bank

I have worked in the banking/financial services industry for over 20 years, but earlier on in my career I did spend quite a bit of time in aviation, working as a banker by day and pilot by night as a flight instructor. I also served in the military as a former fighter pilot in the Washington D.C. Air National Guard. I do spend quite a bit of time in my free time giving back to the community. I currently serve on three non-profit Boards- Chicago Scholars, Storycatchers Theatre and the DuPage Foundation. I have a passion for career and professional development and mentorship of our Black and Brown youth.

Ashanti Madlock Henderson

Attorney/Mediator, Madlock Henderson LLC

Ashanti Madlock Henderson is the principal of Madlock Henderson LLC and Evanston Mediation Center. She is an experienced litigator who practices in Cook and the surrounding counties. Prior to concentrating her practice to family law, Attorney Henderson handled commercial litigation, civil rights, employment, and family law matters. She mediates divorce, parenting, family, and business disputes. Ashanti was born and raised in Maywood, Illinois. She has a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from Northwestern University and a law degree from The George Washington University Law School. She currently lives in Evanston with her husband and 2 children.

Khalilah Gates-Hills

Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician, Northwestern Medicine

I am a Chicago native. Born and raised on the Westside of Chicago. I attended Providence St. Mel high school. After college, I attending Loyola Stritch for Medical School and Residency. I completed my fellowship training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Northwestern where I have been faculty since. I spent the first several years of my career as an NIH Funded basic science researcher. Over the last 3 years, I have transitioned to medical education and now serve as an Assistant Dean of Education. As a critical care physician, I have been in the battleground of the COVID pandemic.

Nathan Jones

Packaging Development Manager, Bel Brands USA

Greetings! I'm Nathan Jones, a Packaging Development Manager at Bel Brands USA and graduate of the Michigan State University School of Packaging. I get to design the packaging for consumer products, in particular, my company makes cheese, Mini Babybel, The Laughing Cow and many others! Packaging is a unique and exciting field to work in! Particularly, I love that there are so many industries in which you can work, food packaging, medical packaging, cosmetics, electronics, and much more. I'm always looking to share with others more about the field as its not very well known, yet packaging is something we all touch everyday! I'm very passionate about it, in particular, packaging recycling and learning more about packaging materials, there are lots!

Lesline Amedee-Jones

Commercialization Specialist, Bel Brands USA

I went to SEMO to major in journalism, but returned to Chicago to attend Loyola Univ. for my 2nd year. I started working as a secretary for General Finance in Evanston and didn't return to college. I continued working as a secretary; administrative secretary at various companies. At Kraft, I was able to move from the administrative role to coordinator, operations specialist, change agent and then project manager for the food service division.

Chanelle Lacy

Associate Director & Programming Manager, Kavi Gupta

Chanelle Lacy is a curator, cultural connector, and intuitive healer. Drawn to art from an early age, Chanelle recognized the transformative power that creativity and expression can have on the human spirit and how art can be a vehicle for liberation. She also knew from an early age that her purpose was to help and uplift those around her with her unique vision. Acting on these inner knowings, she studied fine art and art history in college and jumped headfirst into the art world after graduating with her sights set on advocating for the amplification of diverse and underrepresented voices within the commercial art ecosystem. Chanelle is currently serving as the Associate Director and Programming Manager for Kavi Gupta art gallery in Chicago where she curates ambitious exhibitions that bring together unique and transcendent artists, combined with thought-provoking programming and activations. Chanelle is also a certified Reiki practitioner where she uses her intuitive gifts to hold space for others to heal and embark on the path of self-discovery while serving as a transmitter of divine guidance. Her ultimate goal is to manifest a realm in which art and spirituality are in constant conversation. She graduated from Columbia College with a BA in fine arts and minor in Art history.

Charles Olivier

Global Finance Operations Manager, Google

In 2011, I started a job that would change the way I saw the world. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would never simply be “an accountant” again. Beginning my career working for President Barack Obama instilled a sense of responsibility to my community. It developed the need to always give back even through my work - to make sure the baton would always be passed not only through my family but also through our communities. From working with President Obama to working as Deputy Finance Director for the Hilary Clinton Campaign to the youngest and first African American Chief Finance Officer for the Democratic National Committee I have lived my life focused on giving back to my community through public service. My passion is my commitment to integrity, character and my community. My current work has shifted me to working with Google Finance and proving that I am Googly to execute my role with pride and integrity.

Tiffany Smith 

Journalist/World Traveler/Mentor The Love of Food & Travel

Tiffany D. Smith is a journalist, mentor and world traveler from Chicago, IL. She has spent the last 17 years working in live TV News and recently launched The Love of Food & Travel LLC after receiving her first passport stamp in 2015. The mission of her business is to educate, encourage and inspire kids who grew up in underserved areas like her to see the world. She wrote a children's book titled "Msomaji's Magic Carpet" this year that is about a little girl from Chicago's South Side who uses her baby blanket to travel to other parts of the world because her parents can't afford to take her on a trip. She is a Chicago Public Schools volunteer and has worked as a travel contributor for XONecole, BlackDoctor.org, The Chicago Defender, Fodors Travel and Thought Catalog.

Mike Skvasik

Account Manager, Amazon Web Services

Mike Skvasik is an Amazon Web Services Account Manager who works with Amazon customers to help them realize the full value of the Cloud. Prior to Amazon Mike worked at Google and Salesforce where he held similar roles. Before his career in Technology Mike taught high school mathematics for 7 years in Brooklyn, NY. He is a native of Ohio and now resides in Texas.

Alysia Terrell

R&D Quality Systems Manager, Abbvie

I manage the computer systems that record the Quality information about our products as they are being created, developed, and tested. I am responsible for maintaining and updating the system as needed. I also train employees around the world how to use the systems. I received my Bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan with a major in Industrial and Operations Engineering. Then I received my Master's degree from Eastern Michigan University with a major in Engineering Management. My favorite subjects in elementary, middle school, and high school were definitely math and science. I knew I wanted to be an engineer when I did my first internship at Ford Motor Company while I was in high school.


Lancer Wright

Senior State Corridors Analyst, Amtrak

Hello, I am born and raised from the South Side of Chicago. Currently for Amtrak, I am a Senior State Corridor Analyst with responsibility for evaluating expenditures, completing analysis and forecasts for State Supported train service. In addition, I have completed both an MBA and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.


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