Meet Jaclyn Unger Experienced Financial Professional

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Meet Jaclyn Unger | Experienced Financial Professional at AXA Advisors LLC

Rebecca Martin (Organizer of Chicago Women Rising): Hi Jaclyn, thank you for sharing your story. First, I’d love to start with your background. Where did you grow up? What were you passionate about as a child/teenager and what shaped you to your present career?

Jaclyn Unger: Hi Rebecca, thanks again for having me on the blog! I grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. As a child I was passionate about sports and art – I had a very creative side, and sports brought out my competitive side, but also helped me to learn about teamwork.

As I got older, I became more interested in finance and investing as my father was an accountant for almost 30 years and taught me a lot about the importance of saving for future. He had me invest in my first stock when I was 12 (with some of my babysitting money), and I was fascinated with watching how it performed in the market.

RM: Can you walk me through what drove you to be a financial professional, where did you go to school, what job/life experiences brought you to your career?

JU: My original career path was to earn my business degree at Illinois State University for Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship, and upon graduate earn a second degree in Interior Design. My plans changed, however, when the market crashed in 2008 (I had 1 year of undergrad remaining) realizing that few people would have interest in redesigning their home when they just lost a large amount of their nest egg and now had different priorities.

Throughout my college career I had developed an additional interest in insurance (aside from investing and interior design), so after the correction, I decided to look for an internship to continuing expanding my knowledge on the topic. I “politely persisted” for an internship with one of the top life insurance producers in the country, and from there I fell in love with the industry and declared myself a “life insurance nerd,” a nickname I still use today that provide my clients with a smile and a laugh. After completing the internship, I began my pre-licensing courses for insurance and investments, and shortly after graduation, I obtained my licenses.

I was offered a position at State Farm a month after graduation. I sold various types of insurance and investments, but was deemed the “life insurance specialist” in my office. It was a great first job that provided me with a ton of experience, however after about a year I decided that in order to be more fulfilled in my career, I wanted to move over to financial advisement.

I’ve been an advisor for almost 9 years, and have been lucky enough to have some excellent mentors along the way who have made me fall more in love with this business and have continued to expand my knowledge base and excitement for this industry.

RM: What is your passion behind what you do? Where do see it taking you?

JU: I am extremely passionate about helping my clients achieve their goals. I always refer to my client relationships as partnerships. It’s very important that they understand this isn’t a one way street, but that we are a team working together towards helping them achieve their goals.

I hope to see my passion taking me to the next level in my career. I would love to continue building out my team and the opportunity to mentor other women in the business.

RM: Beyond the day to day, what gets you going, what are you passionate about?

JU: What gets me going is waking up to a different day every day. One of the reasons I left my very first job is because I didn’t enjoy sitting behind a desk from 9-5. I get excited to continuously meet new people, make connections, and help others reach their goals.

Over the past couple years, my boss and I have been working to lead the industry in educating and empowering women in finance. Being a female in an industry full of men, and working with a majority of female clients, I’ve become extremely passionate about spreading the word of our initiative not only in Illinois but across the country. We’ve been hosting quarterly happy hour events, as well as company lunch and learns, and teaming up with other great female professionals to provide education and resources on various topics to our attendees.

It gives me a sense of accomplishment to get such positive feedback from our guests that have attended, but also appreciate their suggestions on how to improve our initiative.

RM: What are your favorite things to do in Chicago? How do you feel Chicago fits in to your career and your life?

JU: My favorite things to do in Chicago are trying new restaurants – I love to eat and it seems there’s a new restaurant that pops up every week. My list continues to grow, so I’m hoping I’ll eventually get to all of them. I also enjoy exploring the city – despite living here since birth, I find there’s always something new to see or do.

Chicago fits into my career and life because it is fast paced and very diverse. I have a hard time getting myself to slow down at times, and feel I’ve met many like-minded young professionals in the same boat. They’ve fueled me to make my goals bigger and work harder to achieve success. I’ve also enjoyed getting the opportunity to meet people that have moved here from across the country as well those that have moved internationally. Chicago is a very friendly place, and I’ve found it to be easier to meet and socialize with people which has helped me to expand my network and make some great connections.

RM: Thank you for sharing your story, and where can people find you?

JU: My website
and on Linkedin:

Meet Dr. Ashley Neuman

Relief Care Chiropractic - Dr. Ashley Neumann - Chicago

Meet Dr. Ashley Neuman | Chiropractor and Science Geek

Rebecca (Organizer of Chicago Women Rising): Hi Ashley, thank you for sharing your story. First, I’d love to start with your background. Where did you grow up? What were you passionate about as a child/teenager and what shaped you to your present career?

Ashley: Thank you! I’m super excited to be part of this group!

I grew up in Wisconsin in a smaller town.  As a teenager I was very active in sports – I played basketball, softball, soccer, figure skated and played women’s hockey as well.  When I was a senior in high school playing soccer I had a collision with another player and had a lot of hip and lower back pain afterwards.  My mom decided it was time for me to go see her chiropractor, so nervously I went with her and got my first adjustment and, as cliche as it is, the rest is history! I spent time hanging out in my chiropractors office asking him questions and learning more about how spinal alignment effects the rest of the body because it helps your nervous system to function at its peak.  It was all fascinating to me as I was already a nerd and loved all things science!

Rebecca: I read a bit about how you got in to your profession on your practice’s (Relief Care Chiropractic, L.L.C.) website, but would love to hear what drove you to be a doctor in this field, what it was like for you in medical school, and your transition to working at a practice to having your own.

Ashley: My personal experience with chiropractic really drove me to pursue it as a passion and career.  After high school I got my undergraduate degree in psychology at Marquette University, which I think pairs very well with chiropractic as there is such a strong mind and body connection when it comes to pain, especially in the chronic realm, so a lot of cross over there.  After undergrad I went to chiropractic school in St. Louis, which was another 3.5 years of nerding out on science.  After graduation I knew I wanted to be a little closer to family so I took an awesome opportunity to work as an associate for 5 years in a practice here in Chicago that I eventually took over and rebranded into Relief Care Chiropractic about 3 years ago now.

Rebecca: What is your vision for Relief Care Chiropractic? Where do you see the practice going?

Ashley: Owning my own practice has been both amazing and scary at the same time!  I love being able to help people every single day!  Currently I utilize chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapy to help my patients get better. I have advanced training in treating pregnant moms and lots of children too.  I see a number of little ones with autism and have seen some pretty great results when restoring nervous system function with adjustments and nutritional support.

I am also working on completing a secondary functional medicine specialty that really dives deep into nutrition and can help with more systemic type diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.  It also helps pinpoint through the use of blood work and other lab testing any food allergies or sensitivities that can cause inflammation in the body and leads to a number of different symptoms and diseases as well.  So much of our health is reflected by our nutrition! So I am very excited to work on more of these types of cases. I’m always trying to learn as much as I can to help my patients as much as I can!

Rebecca: Beyond the day to day, what gets you going, what are you passionate about?

Ashley: I’m lucky in the sense that my day to day is what I am passionate about.  I literally get to come to work everyday and help people function better.  Living the dream over here!

Rebecca: What are your favorite things to do in Chicago? How do you feel Chicago fits in to your career and your life?

Ashley: I remember coming to Chicago as a kid on mini vacations and being so excited to see the skyline as we drove into the city, moving here was just as thrilling! My first drive into the city with my car loaded down with all my stuff is something I probably won’t ever forget!  Now, 8 years later I still get a little awe struck when I come home if I’ve been out of the city for awhile.  I love all the entertainment there is here – we live in a city where we can literally do something different every single day!  I’m a huge fan of Second City (go if you haven’t been!) and I love all the restaurants! Being in the West Loop there is food for days! I love it!

Rebecca: Thank you Ashley for sharing your story. Where can people find more about your business and the opportunities you offer in your practice.

Ashley: First of all, I’d love to offer all the women/members in Chicago Women Rising a free chiropractic consultation. Contact me at to take advantage of this offer. Find out more about my practice and our offerings at 



Patients of Ashley’s, the man is the father of the baby, she was only 23 hours old getting her nervous system checked for the first time, this patient experience was very special to Ashley.


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Dr. Ashley Neuman offered Relief Care Chiropractic for one of Chicago Women Rising’s meetups, it was a success! Thank you Ashley!

Meet Rebecca Martin | Founder and Head Organizer of Chicago Women Rising

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A Personal Piece by Rebecca Martin

I seek inspiration like it’s my job, through daily quotes, the pictures I take, the books I read, and the films I watch. I figure if I continue to seek inspiration I will be able to truly understand myself and life. But usually you find the most inspiration by looking within, embracing all of you, and not just the parts that seem to be your best.

This blog we’re showcasing women, who I’m inspired from, and so happy to get to know. And my plan is to show we’re not one dimensional, we are composed of different facets that make us, us. We’re not a headline, we’re an ellipsis, because we’re never finished, always evolving and discovering.

With that said, for my personal piece, I thought I’d break up the bits that are driving me today, and the excitement for the possibilities to come, in hopes that it can inspire myself and those who read this blog.


The birth of Chicago Women Rising came from my conversations with my female friends and clients. With my friends there seemed to be this anxiety, that I shared, about what was missing in our lives. Usually revolved around a balance of our love life, professional life, and health. Professionally I felt strong, but alone at the same time. I had my work days full of meetings with clients and working on creative projects, dream come true you’d say. But outside the day to day, couldn’t quite figure out what to do with myself. I’ve been fortunate to have women co-workers and clients foster and inspire my career. I wanted more of that, outside of the work place, kind of a marry between what I shared with my friends and my co-workers/clients. I realized there was a need there to create a meetup for professional women to support one another in our passions, professional lives, and emotionally. We’ve met a few times now, and it’s so exciting to see this group come in to fruition. I can already see the relationships and support systems that are starting to grow. There is excitement in this evolvement.


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There are parts of my life I’ve closed recently, and it feels natural. Sometimes you have to close doors to make room for open ones. Because those doors are closed, I don’t feel the need to write about them. This piece on me is the essence of where I am today and I’m looking forward and basking in the new and possibility. I do not try to compartmentalize my past, I’ve learned that’s a dangerous thing to do, but when you come to an end of a journey that you feel has naturally come to an end, you recognize the value that it brought you, and you move on.


Regarding journeys and moving on, there are two trips I took that inspire me to keep moving on . . .  and that I can keep evolving . . . and that there is power in the ellipsis . . .


Sundance was a bucket list trip for me. In 2015 I decided it was time to make it happen. I spent a couple months researching, carefully planning, and then it happened. Even now I go back to my blog about Sundance to remember the memories, the lessons I learned, and continue to be inspired to seize the moments.

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Sundance 2016

It is important to let yourself be rediscovered, you’re never finished.

This journey helped me realize that my life is not in a box, I can leave that box anytime, and my life is not spelled out, there are still many letters and boxes to discover that encapsulate me, and I should never limit myself because of this.

Take care of yourself so you can continue to have adventures.

I have a tattoo of a sail boat on my inner wrist that I forget about, but the reason why I have it is to remind myself that life is an adventure. I realized during this trip is that adventures aren’t always about being extreme, yes I wanted to see at least 6 films, but I only saw 4, but I got to do other things like hang out in a cafe, go to an art exhibit, see Charlie Kaufman talk, ride the bus with a bunch of locals, and then another bus ride with the filmmakers heading to the awards ceremony to see who won for each competition.

To immerse myself in the full experience I’d like to remember to take care of my body and rest because I can then fully enjoy myself, and that’s what I did here, everything was balanced, and if something didn’t happen that I planned, I let it go, looked at it like an adventure, rather then a mis-step. I allowed myself to open up to the unplanned. This is something I can take back with me.


Last year I was fortunate to go to London and Dublin. Five takeaways from my trip:

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(1) You can handle so much more then you give yourself credit for. (2) True friendships are the gems in our lives that bring more meaning to our heartbeats, invest. (3) When you feel lonely, it’s ok, not every moment has to be full, what’s empty now can give us empathy later. (4) Don’t just discover what’s around you, take a moment and discover within. (5) Celebrate joy, it’s everywhere, remember we have one life, and humanity is precious, everywhere


I’ll admit I still get down about what’s lacking in my life, but also am grateful for what and who’s been in my life. It’s ok, I’ve learned to feel these different emotions. It’s ok not to be full energy and on cloud 9 all the time. I’d like to give a shout out to some people in my life that really have kept me inspired and hopeful . . . my family, my college friends, Jason Leon (and his husband Steve Dobbins), Noelle Nightingale and Kendal Webb. My childhood best friend Amy Marek, my Chicago/International friends Ana Souza, Susanne Weber, Willeke Ensink, Franziska Blum, Ray Ren, Flavia Lelis, and Becca Covey. Lisa Petrik, in her own category :). Fabiola Auxila too. Alan and Brittany Rosenbloom, also too. Ellen Seagraves, best pal at TASIS. My film group/podcast buddies, Jeff Broitman, Lisa Stran, Brian Thompson, Shay Filer, Srujana Kuna, Julie Tuohy, Armando Maggi, Christopher Grace, Collin Souter, Al Kwiatkowski, Brad Strauss, Angela Shershin, Dave Clingerman, Meara Brady, Jenn White, Hobin Lee, Gari Hart, Ian Mason, Jessica Schanberg, Emily Riemer, and Kate Rackow! The new friends who are now my CWR organizers, Laura Kunzie, Christine Sellin, and Erin Wolgamott. And the women who have inspired me in my career, Catherine Sanders Reach, Dana Zivkovich, Elaine Wyder-Harshman, Kristen Sonday, and Michelle Silverthorn. That’s where I leave you, and I’m very excited about the journey ahead. Can’t wait to share more stories about women. Stay tuned . . .


Meet Lisa Petrik; Top Residential Broker with Jameson Sotheby’s in Chicago

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Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Petrik.

Lisa is a born entrepreneur with a passion for success. With a longstanding love of real estate, and a love for the city’s diverse culture and amazing architecture, she joined the industry after spending fourteen years running and managing a successful newspaper publication where she sharpened her skills as an entrepreneur and a master negotiator.

Never afraid of a challenge, she loves meeting new people as well as discovering great homes. She upholds the highest standards of service and believes in the efficient use of time to streamline the often intricate real estate process. She is known to exceed her clients’ expectations, every time. “I thrive on education and relieving my clients of their fears. I like to keep things fun. This industry shouldn’t be boring or stressful.”

With a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Elmhurst College, an associates degree in air traffic control from Lewis University and a certification in psychotherapy, she is in tune with what it takes to achieve her goals. Years ago Lisa was hypnotized to work through an eating disorder she developed while modeling. Once relieved of her disorder, she became certified so she could give back by helping others.

Lisa has extensive knowledge of the city and is involved in the River North Business Association as the secretary of the executive board and co-chair of the planning and advocacy committee. She is also a development committee member of the River North Residents Association as well as a board member of River North Clean Streets. She enthusiastically showcases all that her city has to offer in every opportunity she can. Wether it’s explaining the history of how Streeterville was built or pointing out the hidden gems like Gilda’s Club in River North, Artopolis in Greek Town, the dog park hidden among the skyscrapers in River East, the list goes on….

Energetic, resourceful, and motivated, she has a successful track record in many aspects of Chicago’s real estate industry.  This intelligent, motivated, self-starter always takes the full initiative in all that she does. “I am always focusing on the moment of now. Every day, in every way, I want to be a better version of myself. Not only for me but for the overall good of those in my life.”

Has it been a smooth road?
It wasn’t. Family life was difficult. Learning psychotherapy helped her learn manifestation, the law of attraction and the practice of calming thoughts with mediation and your internal vibration. Lisa states her growth over the last five years has “been an incredible journey and I am so proud of seeing and believing in myself. The growth I’ve achieved is literally life changing and I feel so blessed. I wish nothing more then to pay it forward and inspire and lead others.”

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Lisa is a residential real estate agent with Jameson Sotheby’s. She specializes in the downtown market but has knowledge of the suburbs after living within them for 30 years. She is known for being honest, hardworking, helpful, driven, (you can read her reviews here

Honesty is the best policy. There have been times she has boldly told a client even though they loved a property she didn’t feel it was the best for them. What sets her apart is her passion to help others. She enjoys making others smile and helping them grow to feeling their best. In the process of house hunting, she’s helped her clients make career transition decisions, relationship changes, self-esteem improvements – she is more than a broker. She works to ensure the next place you call “home” enriches your life in more than just a bigger bedroom.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
“I do feel Chicago is a great place, the people are incredible! You can be as busy as you choose as we have some many areas and various paces of life here.”

Contact Info:


Meet Becca: Artistic Scholar, Traveler, and Londoner

profileRebecca Martin, organizer of Chicago Women Rising, interviews Becca C., Associate Director of Student Life at UChicago Booth School of Business. Becca’s life has many layers; her past, her travel experiences, her education, and her love of the arts. See interview below.

Rebecca: Hi Becca, thanks for doing this interview, how do you think we should start? I was going to ask you about your passions, but I feel we should get some background first. Please share.

Becca: Well to start I’m British, but I’ve been living in Chicago for the last four years, and have been in the U.S. for the last five years. How I got to Chicago, the story probably begins when I graduated from University of Brighton in 2009. At that time I was a poor college student, like lots of people in college are! I’ve always loved to travel and I’ve always been attracted to experiencing new cultures and visiting different countries. Around that time in college, I had a lot of friends who had taken ‘gap years’ – in the UK it’s quite common between high school and university to take a gap year where you backpack and travel around the world with like minded people. I didn’t manage to do that before I went to college, but knew it was something I wanted to do afterwards. At school I was fortunate to receive a grant each year of £1000. It wasn’t very much, but instead of spending the money I saved up for three years, so by the end of college I had £3,000. And immediately after I graduated I started working a retail job at this little boutique clothing shop – it was so boring, but I had this goal of going traveling, specifically to backpack Southeast Asia, so I just endured!

I had a Swedish friend who I had met through my other part time retail job, who was sort of bored with life and wanted to travel too. So we started to meet up and look at maps of the countries we wanted to visit, and pull together a loose agenda and research flights. Then when my lease was up on my room in a student house – looking back this was one of the craziest things I’ve done, mainly because I would never do it now haha, I crashed on a friend’s sofa for about 4 months. The house I stayed in was a huge student style house, and there were about 8 other people living there, some couples, and mostly boys. So that summer was kind of crazy and looking back I can’t believe I did that, because I had no personal space and all my belongings were in the hallway, but I just had this goal of saving money so I could travel! I wasn’t paying rent to stay there, and I’m really grateful to those people for putting up with me because I was able to save all the money I was earning. So it was a bit wild, but it got me to where I needed to go!

So in October of ’09, I went with my friend to India for a month,

Rebecca: Wow . . . was that great?

Becca: Yes it was very cool! India’s like . . . I would say India and South Korea are the two places I’ve been to where they are so different from any other place I’ve experienced. Kind of like the “Upside Down World”! I found backpacking India terrifying and exhausting at times, but also so liberating and exciting. The culture is so ancient, rich, and interesting. For me it was a crazy experience because I was backpacking and sort of exposed to the elements of the country, so to speak. I think if you travel to India on vacation and stay at a nice hotel, it could be a totally different experience. By backpacking you’re doing things like taking the public buses and trains with the local people, eating from street markets, and being in the hustle and bustle by moving around a lot. Not that a tourist can ever really understand what it’s like to be a local, but I think backpacking does allow you to feel a little more connected to the country you’re visiting.

Then we went on to travel Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia.


Rebecca: How long did that take?

Becca: We were away about 4 months in total. I really, really love Southeast Asia! I’ve always been attracted to traveling that part of the world, and I was really interested in the culture and history of the countries in that region, so it wasn’t surprising that I enjoyed the trip! I definitely caught the travel bug and I just wanted it to continue forever. Traveling opens you up to this huge world, there’s so much more to life then just working and spending money on products. I was just thinking I never want this to end, and I want to see as much of the world as possible!

I did think about extending my trip, but in Cambodia I met a girl from Brighton and she had just finished a year of teaching English in South Korea. I had heard about people doing that, but I had never considered it seriously before then. But I thought, well this could be way to keep traveling and experiencing different cultures, but also a way to make money doing it!


When I graduated in ’09 the recession had just hit and having a media degree, I did feel it was going to be really hard to get a job in that industry.  And with the idea of teaching English, I thought well, I could go and teach, be able to travel but still save some money, and then I would come back home to London and have some savings to use while I found a job and established myself back home.

After backpacking I retreated to Nova Scotia, Canada for a month where my mum and step-dad were living at the time, for a soft transition back to “reality”. And while I was there I completed my second language English teaching training online. At that time in my life I was definitely a bit of a nomad – I was traveling all around and staying with different friends and family members. But eventually I got accepted into the Korean EPIK program (for guest English teachers) and left for Seoul in August 2010.

So I got to Korea and in my first week I met Ryan, and we started dating a week or two after meeting during the orientation program for new teachers! Ryan is from Oklahoma City . . .  and it’s so funny to think about now and I’ve said this to a lot friends, that I almost didn’t go to Korea because I had been single for a really long time, and I really wanted to have someone special in my life. I was getting a bit sad about it all, and I almost didn’t go because of course I didn’t think I’d meet anyone in Korea. And then I met Ryan right away, so yeah . . .  it showed me that things happen when I least expect it! And with meeting Ryan the whole direction of my life changed, and after Korea we ended up living in Denver, Melbourne, and Oklahoma City before finally settling in Chicago.

Rebecca: I do have a question based on everything you’ve said . . .  I’m curious, during this time, what did you find working as a teacher that you were passionate about? Did you start discovering things about yourself?


Becca: I think if I’d had a choice, and if there had been the option say, of being a teacher, or some kind of admin assistant, or something else, I don’t think I would have picked teacher! I do love kids and I was teaching elementary school children, but I know my personality isn’t naturally suited to leading a class everyday and was very tiring for me. I’m an introvert, and teaching is a kind of performance, which I found quite draining. By the end of my post, I had at least learned that about myself, and while I really liked the environment and the kids were adorable, I knew teaching wasn’t the right role for me in the future.

Having said that I loved my experience, I had a great year working with those kids, and I learned a lot about my capabilities by challenging myself to do something that doesn’t come naturally. I used to hate doing presentations in front of a class, and as a kid I was super shy and always just wanted to blend into the crowd and not stand out. And without even realizing it, my experience in Korea really helped me to grow and become more confident. It challenged me to put myself out there and to be comfortable being very visible in the Korean culture. My assigned schools were in a really rural part of the country – Gangwon-do province. I was very visible to the locals, yet very isolated from other Westerners out there. I’ve said this a lot to friends, but it was an incredible experience, but not one I’d want to repeat, which is probably the best way to feel about a past experience! If I had known what I know now, I don’t think I would have done it! But at the time, I had no clue what to expect, which was probably for the best.

Rebecca: So in terms of home, like you were pretty scattered before you went to Korea, do you feel that you’ve found some kind of home . . .  I know people are sometimes home, like Ryan is probably home, your cat . . .  I mean you always like to travel, do you ever have the feeling of going to a “home”?

Becca: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think my concept of home has changed as things in my life have changed. Obviously now I would say home is where my husband and my cat are, but that is something that has only come about in the past 3 or 4 years since we moved to Chicago and built a life here. I am the home! Growing up I was a military brat so there was a lot of moving around the UK and different countries in Europe, but I definitely think of England as my true home, where I’m from, even though I’ve lived overseas for 7 years now. I say my home city is London because my family are from London and my brother currently lives there, and it’s my favorite city in the world.


Rebecca: Home is where the heart is . . .

Becca: Exactly. Whenever I go back to London, I get this feeling that I don’t with other cities, where I’m just like, I’m in love with this city, and I get quite emotional about it! It’s such an amazing place, and I don’t have that feeling with other cities. That feeling I have about London has remained constant, and has developed more as I’ve spent time away. It’s weird because I’ve lived in Chicago for four years, but I don’t think of myself as a Chicagoan. I really, really like the city, but I’m not “in love” with it. And being here almost 5 years, I don’t think that’s likely to change.

Rebecca: So when we were thinking about home, I feel sometimes to really understand home is to really understand yourself a little bit more. I know there are different parts of your life that I’d love to hear about, like what you’re doing in Chicago, you’re going to school at Northwestern, working at UChicago,  you’re passionate about travel, you had a travel blog for awhile . . .

Becca: I’m working at UChicago now at the Business School, and I’m a student adviser. I manage various school-wide events and advise 27 groups – social groups, career focused groups, and affinity groups, and I’m their institutional contact. Being in an adviser role really suits me because I like to help people.

For undergrad I went to school for media and communications, and I assumed I’d go in to production of some kind. I had interned at a production house, so before I went traveling that was my goal – I’d save some money, travel, and then come back and get in the film production industry. But it didn’t really pan out that way! I think I’ve always had lots of different interests. I’ve been interested in media, film, and television, but then also fine art and photography. Anything to do with art galleries and museums, non-profit arts organizations like that – I’d love to work for a museum, art gallery, or art school in the future.

I got into higher ed because I used to be on tumblr and I got connected with a girl who lives in New York and works at NYU, and I thought to myself that seems really cool, I’d like to work at a University. I remember speaking with my Mother-in-law and telling her I think I’m going to apply to work at a University, in an administrative role. I was happy to start in an entry-level position, I just liked the idea of working at an educational institution. Upon reflection, this path makes a lot of sense. I love school! Growing up I loved school so much. I’ve always liked learning and enjoyed different subjects, especially history, art, and english.

And so it really started to make sense to me – hey I really feel passionate about education. I remember being in college and seeing people working at the library, and thinking I’d love to work in a place where you’re surrounded by knowledge and learning! Professors and students are showing their work through the papers they’re writing and the experiments in the labs they’re working on, and I think that’s what attracted me to academia. I’m more on the administrative side of things, I’m not faculty, but the whole atmosphere at the University I really enjoy.

Rebecca: From what you’ve just said your passions have changed. Like what you’re passionate about now is different than what you were passionate about in college. What drives you right now?

Becca: Yeah, I mean in college, I could be passionate about media, but I didn’t have any real life experience actually working in media! You can be passionate about something, but you don’t really know the day to day operations and how the industry works yet. I feel that I’ll always be passionate about the arts, photography, and film though, I love film . . .

Rebecca: That’s how we bonded.

Becca: Yeah! And also film theory, and I hope in the future film will be a bigger part of my life. I should mention that I went back to school part time to get my masters these last three years, so that’s kept me busy. When I started it I was working at Northwestern, and I got the great opportunity of tuition discount to study there. So I thought why not take advantage of this opportunity? I’m finally writing my thesis now.

Rebecca: What’s your thesis about?

Becca: Mid-Century Countercultures and the Appropriation of Asian Religion.

Rebecca: Wow.

Becca: Specifically Hinduism and Buddhism. The period I’m looking at is the Beat Generation of the 1950s, and the evolution into the Hippies of the 1960s, and how both movements appropriated Asian religion for their specific cultural and political agendas.

Rebecca: Interesting.

Becca: Yeah, I love this topic. It’s actually an accumulation of a lot of my interests in one thesis. I’ve always been interested in the mid-century in general, and Eastern Religions. So through this thesis I’ve really had the time to explore many passions, including my favorite author Jack Kerouac.

Rebecca: That’s awesome. Now I wanted to segue, I’m curious for our meetup Chicago Women Rising, since you’ve had a lot of different experiences. What you would tell women who are just getting out of college, or are still trying to figure things out with their career, what kind of wisdom could you share with them?

Becca: I think what I’ve learned with both my personal life and my professional life is that I’m exactly where I need to be. And I definitely have found that when I have faith about my situation, things tend to work out better then I would have expected. And to follow the passion and excitement, and not the fear. Most of the time I have no problem with that, because the fear of staying home and not doing anything exciting with my life, is more intense, than say, the fear of moving to Asia by myself.

So, follow your passion, and things might not turn out how you plan. But as long as you’re trying to do things which excite you, I don’t think you can go wrong. And also take your time – you have all the time in the world to work for the rest of your life 40 + hours a week! There is no rush.

Rebecca: Yeah, take that time . . .

Becca: Yeah, take that time to pursue your interests and the things you get excited about, to find your passions. Also, your passions may not turn out to be what you thought they were, or they might change, or end. And that’s totally okay! But if you stay curious and interested in the things around you something else is bound to come along.

Rebecca: Last question, I find myself surprising myself sometimes, I’m like, that will never happen, or I could never do this, but then I actually do it, so I’m curious, have you surprised yourself lately, what is something you’ve recently overcome that you are proud of yourself about?

Becca: I think I’ve found that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay in the present, I often end up looking back on things and being amazed at what I’ve achieved or the experiences I’ve had. Even being in grad school now, I’m like wow, if I had known all the work that it was going to be, would I have even started grad school in the first place? . . . Probably, but that’s because I’m a sucker for pain. I just try not to get too overwhelmed by the big picture, and continue to take small actions towards a bigger goal, and often I’m amazed at what happens.

How the collaboration experience turns passion in to progression


See pictures above (Top L-R, Catherine Sanders Reach (Law Practice Management and Technology Director at The Chicago Bar Association), Amani Smathers (Legal Technologies at Davis, Wright,Tremain), Ivy Grey (author of American Legal Style for PerfectIt, and is a Senior Attorney at Griffin Hamersky LLP), Dana Zivkovich, Attorney and Partner at Zivkovich Law Group) / Bottom L-R, Michelle Silverthorn (‎Diversity and Education Director – ‎Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism), Irene Mo (Recent Law School Graduate, and Attorney), Jennifer Ramovs (Director of Practice Management at Affinity Consulting Group), and Elaine Wyder-Harshman ( ‎Founding Partner – ‎The Lens Legal Group LLC) ).

By Rebecca Martin

Women in Legal Technology section in the June issue of Chicago Lawyer Magazine. My first endeavor in coordinating a collaboration with inspirational, diverse and professional women. The result, a fascinating section and piece about women and diversity in technology. See section here


Before I started my position with the Chicago legal community a year ago, I was very involved with the Chicago film community. This is where the desire began to bring women together in a professional industry and create something bigger then ourselves. It was apparent to me that diverse/women in film were being underrepresented on the screen, and behind the screen. Although recently I’ve been seeing a surge of progress. I am passionate about promoting the women who are making strides in this industry. Below are two I’m actively following:

Meet Alicia Malone

Alicia Malone

Alicia Malone is a film reporter, host, writer and self-confessed movie geek. She has let’s say my dream job, something I love about Alicia is that she’s taking her film loving presence and bringing female filmmakers and women in film in history in the forefront, with her book “Backwards and in Heels”, her TEDX talk, and through her social media. Love what she’s doing, and can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next.

Meet Ava Duvernay


Can’t wait until Ava’s film “A Wrinkle in Time” premieres! In the meantime Ava Duvernay is inspirational through all of her work “Selma”, “13th”, and “Queen Sugar”. Like Alicia, she is passionate about what she does, and the message she shares. She’s conscious of the social injustices around us, and uses her film skills to communicate these injustices. Ava is also a force in the social media world: twitter and instagram. She is a powerforce for inspiring women, and I will continue to retweet and “love” everything she posts.

In conclusion, I can’t wait to watch how Chicago Women Rising will grow and innovate. I already have stories lined up for this blog, so stay tuned!

Meet Laura: Certified Professional Coach!

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By Laura Kunzie

When my mom found out she was pregnant with me, she thought the doctor was joking. At 48 years old, she had scheduled the appointment to talk about the “change of life.” Given her age (and the fact that it was 1989) doctors strongly advised her NOT to go through with the pregnancy. It was a high-risk pregnancy. Doctors told her that even if I did survive, there was a high chance that I would have mental or physical disabilities.

The delivery was near fatal. An emergency C-Section that left both me and my mother fighting for life. All odds were against us. After an incredible team of doctors fought for us — and we fought for ourselves — we made it. To this day, her OBGYN contributes our survival to her belief in a higher power.

Every time my parents repeat this story, I am reminded that I am here for a reason. I am a fighter. There is a reason I survided all of that, and I have to find it. I have to find my life purpose.

I have always had this burning passion in side of me, “I am here for a reason… I am here for a reason…”The hardest part about this though, is that I didn’t always know this reason. Even though I had it in side of me all along, I didn’t actually know what it was. We all have the answers to what we truly want, and how to get there, so the problem isn’t find the answers. It’s figuring out what the heck is getting in our way to listening to them.

We each have our own internal GPS, but how can we listen to it if there are a million other voices drowning it out, telling you where you should be going. As Glennon Doyle says, “You cant ask others for directions to places they have ever been,” and nor should you listen to those who think they know where you should be going.

So back to this burning passion. It nagged me for a long time, it was my GPS inside of me saying, hey! I’m here! Go this way! But I ignored it. After college I did what I thought you did, I got a great job with a 401K, Insurance, and other company perks. I hated it. And so I continued to change jobs and companies every 12 months searching for what had been inside of me the entire time.

5 years of this and I just couldn’t take it anymore…

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There I was — in my fifth job in five years. I felt empty. I had worked for the best companies in retail, climbing the corporate ladder. But every time I joined a new company and thought, “this is going to be THE ONE this time,”  it never was. After the newness and luster of the jobs wore off, I would find myself saying over and over,

“I can’t keep doing this.”

“In my gut I know I am here for a greater purpose, this is not it.”

“I just want to help people.” 

After working with an amazing coach and my therapist (if you don’t have one of these I would highly recommend it, who are your champions that will help you through the tough questions?), I realized one common thread throughout my career — I was the go-to, the one person who everyone came to when they needed support and advice, or wanted encouragement in stepping out of their comfort zone to get what they really wanted in life. In essence, I had been helping others for years, and didn’t realize it!

After doing a lot of research, some good old fashioned soul searching, and really getting everyone else’s voices out of my head, I was finally able to hear my own internal GPS. Your purpose, your passion is to start your own company, and help others to find their purpose.

After a year of working hard to get my coaching certification, I am so excited to be helping women find their life purpose through my coaching company, Mark Your Dash.

I am on this earth to live out my purpose by helping others find theirs. I am awesome!

To find about more about finding your purpose visit

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