Founder and president
Rightsize Facility, Naperville
Nominated by: Rob Kubiak, Wurkwel Ventures
Mason Awtry is an executive leader focused on strategy, process, accountability and results.
He coaches countless members of the operating companies within the portfolio of companies he operates on an ongoing basis. In recent events he has been regularly hosting and sponsoring virtual webinars and brainstorming sessions and assists companies, including his own internal workforce, in preparing for the transition back to work post-pandemic.
Awtry is always focused on unique business combinations with foundations in environmental responsibility, adaptive reuse, and culture changing initiatives.
Karen J. Ayala
DuPage County Health Department, Wheaton
Nominated by: Irene O'Neill
Karen Ayala's health career began in 1998 and has since worked in direct service, mid-level supervision and senior level leadership positions throughout her public health experiences.
Given the current pandemic, she has taken COVID-19 by the horns by sending company-wide emails, keeping the staff and community up to date in department efforts to combat the pandemic.
Ayala is known to be a compassionate, empathic leader, both in DCHD and within the entire community.
McHenry Country Mental Health Board, Crystal Lake
Nominated by: Sue Dobbe-Leahy, Dobbe Marketing & PR Inc.
In the six years Scott Block has led the McHenry County Mental Health Board he has improved communications, formed coalitions, coordinated events and mobilized resources in the county to be more effective and accessible.
He continues bringing people together to understand and accept the importance of mental health support in local and nearby communities.
Block is a trailblazer and a change agent who works tirelessly to strengthen public and private mental health support.
TransTech IT Staffing, Itasca
Nominated by Karen Goldner, Women's Business Development Center
Mary Davenport's story focuses on perseverance. Growing up in a family with eight kids on Chicago's south side has taught her early on to fight to make her mark.
Today, she continues that mentality as a woman in the workforce.
Early in her career, she mortgaged her home to buy and run a struggling IT business in 2002, while raising two small kids which was a great testament to what she can do when the stakes are high.
Davenport couldn't have done this without her team of gifted and ambitious teammates who helped her build a thriving, successful business.
Chairman and CEO
National Van Lines, Bridgeview
Nominated by Gerry Clark
Starting with the company 25 years ago, Tim Helenthal is CEO and chairman of National Holding Co., the parent company of Broadview-based interstate-mover National Van Lines and National Forwarding Co.
He assumed this position in January 2020, after serving seven years as the company's president and COO.
Helenthal focuses on developing his leaders, and champions an employee team dedicated to maintaining the reputation of a trusted company that values its customers.
President and owner
Rieke Office Interiors, Elgin
Nominated by Marie Lazzara of JJR Marketing and Natalie Kaplan
Melissa Kehl is a CPA who began her legacy at Rieke 22 years ago as the company's CFO.
Because of her accounting background, she has a thorough and extensive knowledge of every aspect of the business as seen through a financial lens.
She believes in the "Go Giver Principles" in business and enjoys mentoring other managers and owners, whether helping them with their office environments or just lending an ear and advice on many aspects of their business.
Richards Graphic Communications, Inc., Bellwood
Nominated by Karen Goldner, Women's Business Development Center
Mary Lawrence is a hard-working and passionate advocate for women in business. She has led her family's business for 15 years, worked in the industry for over 20 years, and is the third generation to run the company which she has been president since 2005.
Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, she is the second woman in the family to run the business, and today, works alongside her brothers, nephews, daughter and sister-in-law. The 95-year-old company is an industry leader in offering web-to-print portals, digital printing, direct mail and logistics.
President and chief marketing officer
Plum Grove Inc., Hoffman Estates
Nominated by Peter Lineal
Kara Lineal is a data-driven marketing strategist with a focus on consumer insights, marketing technology, and business intelligence. She has a proven track record developing brand-building marketing campaigns, catapulting e-commerce success, and delivering award-winning product launches.
At present, more than 150,000 signs have been downloaded in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, India, Singapore, New Zealand, and over 100 other countries.
Most recently, Lineal spearheaded and initiative to provide COVID-19 safety and information signage, creating over 100 designs, many of them custom.
ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons, Skokie
Nominated by Marie Lazzara of JJR Marketing
Nasutsa Mabwa and her husband have dedicated themselves to providing high quality cleaning and restoration services done by its highly trained staff and technicians that are licensed, bonded, and insured.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the couple saw an important need to help clients who wanted these services, so they can continue their business operations. With guidance and support from ServiceMaster Corporate, the couple expanded their business to include COVID-19 services. Where she listens to the client's needs, reassures them, and assists them.
Founder and CEO
Second Life Mac, Skokie
Nominated by Mara Conklin, Clarus Communications
Scott Pauga founded Second Life Mac as he noticed that the demand for refurbished Apple devices was huge and growing. He especially saw the opportunity to work with schools as a solution to recoup the value in their pre-owned Apple devices.
With Covid-19 interrupting most schools, Pauga worked to develop the Touchless Trade-in system, a turnkey, streamlined process and app that enables everyone to maintain social distancing and quickly return devices to be sanitized and resold, so schools can purchase new devices.
President and CEO
Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce
Nominated by Ian Holzhauer, Nagle, Obarski & Holzhauer PC
Kaylin Risvold is a dynamic leader who has revitalized a century-old organization despite significant headwinds from COVID, an economic recession, and other local challenges. As a 32-year old CEO taking the helm of an organization with many long-standing habits, she hasn't been afraid to rethink the Chamber's way of doing business.
She is widely respected in the Naperville Business community, serving as an advocate to government officials, a resource for business leaders looking for answers, and as an excellent leader to her staff.
Founder and CEO
Rytech LLC, La Grange
Nominated by Susan Reardon, Suite Spotte LLC
Launched in 2012, Steve Ryan has strategically lead the company's growth to a thriving seven figure, award winning firm, offering custom digital marketing solutions nationwide.
Ryan's relationship-first manner and savvy approach to marketing, has made him a popular speaker at conferences across the country. His expertise is recognized within his industry evidenced by the publication of many articles he's authored and is often quoted in high profile national publications on specific topics relating to digital marketing trends.
Kinzie Real Estate Group, Vernon Hills
Nominated by Traci Failla, Taylor Johnson PR
In the nine years since Kinzie Real Estate Group launched, Steve Spinell has led the general construction company to significant growth, especially its work in Chicago's suburban multifamily market.
In the last seven years, Kinzie Real Estate Group has completed roughly $350 million in construction activity.
A veteran of the construction industry for more than 30 years, Spinell has been focusing not only on Kinzie's expansion in terms of number and scope of projects, but also on diversification, a strategy he credits for the company's growth.
Under Spinell's leadership, Kinzie has found a niche as one of the most reliable contractors and strategic partners for developers who are delivering Class A rental properties with unsurpassed amenities in prime suburban locations.
Owner and director of community engagement
Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, Elgin
Nominated by Pat Szpekowski, PR Strategies & Communications, Inc.
In partnership with her husband, Daniel, Joy Symonds handles day-to-day operations at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, with a special focus on family services, marketing and community engagement.
In January of this year, she coordinated the public funeral for an Unclaimed Veteran from Elgin, John James Murphy - which accrued local and national news coverage. This turned out to be an incredible event for our Elgin community to show their love for veterans and come together.
Following that public funeral, Symonds launched a volunteer community group dedicated to honoring veterans, called Operation LOVE (Love Our Veterans Elgin). The Facebook group has 329 members from across Chicagoland who are dedicated to serving Elgin veterans.
PR Strategies & Communications, Inc., Elgin
Nominated by: Joy Symonds from Symonds-Madison Funeral Home
Pat Szpekowski is president of PR Strategies & Communications, Inc. in Elgin, a full-service advertising and public relations firm she founded in 1987. The company provides expertise for a variety of businesses in professional writing, creative graphic design, media relations, review, and placement, and candid event photography.
An active community volunteer, she presently is the Community Leadership Board chair of the Amita Health Saint Joseph Hospital-Elgin for the past seven years.
In addition, Szpekowski has provided hundreds of pro-bono press releases to local, regional and national media regarding information activities and recognitions of many area non-profits.
President and CEO
Crafts Technology, Elk Grove Village
Nominated by Lisa Behning, Red Caffeine
Throughout Jeff Taylor's career, he has always had a focus on developing, inventing, manufacturing, promoting and deploying engineered solutions at end-users and OEMs.
These endeavors ultimately led to his current role as president and CEO of one of the oldest continuously operating tooling technology companies of its kind in the United States: Crafts Technology.
Taylor has been a champion on cultivating an employee ownership system throughout Crafts Technology. By leveraging and cultivating this culture, he has helped Crafts Technology double in size within five years of the ESOP being established.
Chief marketing officer
Nominated by David Davenport
Starting a career with aspirations of being a radio star, quickly led to Michael Viso realizing developing a brand was as important as developing an opinion.
Morphing into a strategist has been incredibly rewarding for Viso, but the full enjoyment wasn't fulfilled until coming to MotherG.
As a leader, he knew the impact COVID was about to have and accurately assessed what was about to happen a couple of weeks prior to lockdown. Pivoting to help guide their clients through their transition from their offices to a work from home model helped engage a new base of organizations they had not engaged with.
Pilot Services Inc., Oswego
Nominated by Kylie Knur, JJR Marketing
Kimberly Warren is the president and CEO of Pilot Services, Inc. and Crosswind Cloud Solutions. She is also an experienced, serial entrepreneur in the telecommunications and IT/networking sectors.
At Pilot Services, Warren encourages her team to continuously look for ways to add value to client relationships. Most recently, Pilot expanded its service offering to include solutions to help businesses get back to work through thermographic imaging and Ultraviolet light decontamination.
In addition to core business functions, Warren is a leader in helping women-owned businesses get funding and grow equity. She works with several angel groups and provides direct funding options.
Chief financial officer
Rose Pest Solutions, Northfield
Nominated by Norman Roth, Roth Sales Enhancers
Daniel Yunez was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He developed a strong work ethic through watching his parents manage multiple successful medical clinics, and through experience as a golf caddie.
Yunez has played a major role in the growth of Rose Pest Solutions, doubling revenue now with branches in 5 states.
Through collaborating efforts, he enlisted the help of several departments to create processes to reduce service labor and material usage, improve maintenance and safety for employees on the road, establish an efficient call center, and contribute more to the community.