Bettina Chang

Journalist / Co-founder of City Bureau
“Maslow’s Pyramid, Fake News and the Future of Journalism”

Bettina Chang is cofounder and editorial director at City Bureau, a nonprofit civic journalism lab based on Chicago’s South Side. Previously she was executive digital editor at Chicago magazine; she also edited at DNAinfo Chicago and Pacific Standard magazine.

As a writer she’s covered bail reform, Illinois’ budget catastrophe and Sporty the Dog. As an editor and mentor she’s helped build a community of BIPOC journalists and allies, and is an advocate for racial equity and representation in newsrooms. In 2015, Bettina cofounded City Bureau to repair harmful local news coverage of people of color, envisioning journalism as a tool for change rather than an extractive practice. The organization’s mission is to bring communities together in a collaborative spirit to produce a new kind of media that is impactful, equitable and responsive to the public. City Bureau has since won awards for Best Startup, Best In-Depth Reporting, Best Education Reporting and the ONA Gather Award for Engaged Journalism. In 2019 the four cofounders of City Bureau received the Rising Star Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Bettina is a proud Taiwanese American and native of the Chicago suburbs. She now lives in Chicago with her partner Darryl and their large-headed dog Wolly. Her star sign is “former camp counselor” and she loves all soups.

John Morris Russell

Conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
“The Politicization of Music”

A master of American musical style, John Morris Russell has devoted himself to redefining the American orchestral experience. In his tenth year as conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the wide-range and diversity of his work as a conductor, collaborator and educator continues to reinvigorate the musical scene throughout Cincinnati and across the continent.

As Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, Mr. Russell leads the classical subscription series as well as the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition; he also serves as Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, following in the footsteps of Marvin Hamlisch and Doc Severinsen. As a guest conductor, JMR has worked with many of the most distinguished orchestras in North America.

With the Cincinnati Pops, Mr. Russell leads performances at historic Music Hall, concerts throughout the region, as well as domestic and international tours–including Florida in 2014 and China/Taiwan in 2017. He returned to China in January of 2019 to conduct concerts with the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra. His visionary leadership at The Pops created the “American Originals Project” which has garnered both critical and popular acclaim in two landmark recordings: American Originals (the music of Stephen Foster) and American Originals 1918 (a tribute to the dawn of the jazz age) for which he was awarded a GRAMMY Nomination for “Best Classical Compendium”. In 2020 the American Originals Project continued with King Records and the Cincinnati Sound with Late Night with David Letterman musical director, Paul Shaffer, celebrating the beginnings of Bluegrass, Country, Rockabilly, Soul and Funk immortalized in recordings produced in the Queen City. Mr. Russell has contributed six albums to the recorded legacy of The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, including the latest, Voyage, in 2019. In 2016 Mr. Russell, The Pops, and CET Public Television began its online American Soundscapes video series, which has surpassed one million views on YouTube. JMR is also instrumental in the continuing development the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s wildly successful Classical Roots initiative, which he helped create nearly two decades ago to celebrate African American musical traditions. He still leads concerts on the Lollipops Family Series that he first conducted in 1995 as Assistant Conductor of the CSO and Pops.

Mr. Russell’s recent collaborations around the world include Aretha Franklin, Emanuel Ax, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, Garrick Ohlsson, Rhiannon Giddens, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jon Kimura Parker, Ann Hampton Callaway, Michael McDonald, Cynthia Erivo, Cho-Liang Lin, Sutton Foster, George Takei, Megan Hilty, Ranky-Tanky, Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Over the Rhine, Katharine McPhee, Brian Wilson, and Leslie Odom, Jr. As a guest conductor, Mr. Russell has worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, New York Pops, and the National Symphony of Washington, D.C.  He frequently conducts Canadian orchestras including Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, and has led the orchestras of Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Dallas, Milwaukee, the Minnesota Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Colorado Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and New York City Ballet. He regularly leads the National Orchestral Institute and Festival in College Park, Maryland, one of the nation’s premiere training orchestras. Mr. Russell has also conducted important new works with Cincinnati Opera, including its first production of Hans Krasa’s Brundebar in 2000, and in 2019, the world premiere of Blind Injustice, based on the book by Mark Godsey, which will be released on CD later this year.

As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra between 2001-2012, JMR fostered a decade of unprecedented artistic growth and invigorated musical life in the Windsor-Essex region of Canada. He conducted over forty world premieres with the WSO, many of which were presented on seventeen national broadcasts for CBC Radio 2, and the orchestra’s first nationally televised production for the CBC series “Opening Night”. His recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra earned Mr. Russell and the WSO its first Juno nomination for “Best Children’s Album” in 2008.  A two-time recipient of Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Arts, as well as the Ontario Arts Council’s Vida Peene Award for Artistic Excellence, Mr. Russell also received the Herb Gray Harmony Award by the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County, and became the first recipient of the Arts Leadership Award by the Windsor Endowment for the Arts. In 2011 the University of Windsor awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Law degree and the following year was named the WSO’s first Conductor Laureate.

John Morris Russell is widely considered one of North America’s leaders in orchestral educational programming. From 1997 to 2009 he helped develop and conducted the LinkUP! educational concert series at Carnegie Hall, the oldest and most celebrated series of its kind, created by Walter Damrosch in 1891 and made famous by Leonard Bernstein. The Sound Discoveries series Mr. Russell developed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1997 remains a leading model for educational concerts across the country. In Windsor, he created the Peanut Butter n’ Jam series for young children, Family Jamboree and the One Community—One Symphony project with dozens of local high school performing ensembles. He also spearheaded the creation of The Windsor-Essex Youth Choir and the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra. In Hilton Head, Mr. Russell began the HHSO Music Bridges program, engaging thousands of school children from Bluffton to Hilton Head Island in ensemble visits and full orchestra concerts, while integrating the musical culture of Gullah and Lowcountry traditions into presentations and programming. Over the last decade in Cincinnati, Mr. Russell is often seen conducting school ensembles throughout the region and leads Educators Conducting Workshops with the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Concert Orchestra to help hone the skills of area band and orchestra directors.

The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra has enjoyed unprecedented artistic growth under John Morris Russell’s leadership since 2011; concert attendance has blossomed and the orchestra has doubled its number of concerts.  Mr. Russell leads the orchestra in eight masterwork subscription concerts annually, and as with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, he continues to reveal his deep passion for Classical and early Romantic orchestral literature.  Under his guidance the HHSO has sparked collaborations with regional ensembles and performers that continue to widen the reach of the orchestra, including Hilton Head Dance Theatre, Charleston Southern University, the Savannah Children’s Choir, Georgia Southern University and Claflin University.

John Morris Russell earned degrees from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and Williams College in Massachusetts, and has studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, and the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Hancock, Maine.

PJ Caposey

Author / Educator
“Education Evolution”

PJ Caposey is a dynamic speaker and a transformational leader and educator. PJ began his career as an award-winning teacher in the inner-city of Chicago and has subsequently led significant change in every administrative post he has held. PJ became a principal at the tender age of 28 and within three years was able to lead a small-town/rural school historically achieving near the bottom of its county to multiple national recognitions.

After four years, PJ moved to his current district, Meridian CUSD 223, as superintendent and has led a similar turnaround leading to multiple national recognitions for multiple different efforts.

PJ is a sought after keynote presenter, consultant, and provider of professional development and has recently keynoted several national conferences specializing in time management, the tyranny of the status quo, school culture, continuous improvement, social media, and teacher evaluation.

PJ has written 7 books for various publishers and his work has been published online for sites such as ASCD, Edutopia, and the Huffington Post. He works in the Education Department of two universities and in a myriad of capacities with the Illinois Principal’s Association including Principal Coach and author of the first complete stack of MicroCredentials offered in Illinois.

Greg Geffrard

Educator / Actor / Spoken Word Artist
“Pangea Poem: Hope in the Face of Fear”

Greg Geffrard is an educator, actor, and spoken word artist. He has been dedicated to decolonizing spaces of art creation and has championed those willing to engage in the immediate conversation about what equity looks like within our institutions since moving to Chicago in 2012. He has been a teacher with  Steppenwolf since 2015 and a Sexual Assault Prevention Educator since 2016.

He has partnered with Chicago Inclusion Project, Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Old Town School Of Folk Music, and Chicago Arts Partnership in Education to facilitate challenging conversations, create curriculum and formulate initiatives to aid in the creation of brave spaces for art to be cultivated. He is currently creating Antiracist workshops with the Poetry Center and an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago.  His work broadly speaking focuses on the empowerment of historically dehumanized populations and being self generators of radical joy.

Karen Teitelbaum

President and CEO of Sinai Health System
“Community-Based Innovation For Health: STAT”

An experienced executive, Karen has spent her career in leadership positions with some of the most industry-challenged healthcare delivery organizations.  With experience in business development, strategy, turnaround, and community development, Karen is a nationally recognized leader focused on ensuring corporate viability and growth in the health services arena, while building community assets.

Since 2014, Karen has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sinai Health System, Chicago’s largest private healthcare system serving vulnerable communities, with a service area of 1.5 million Chicagoans.  She drove a successful turnaround of financial, philanthropic, and operational performance. Results to date include a year-over-year improvement in the bottom line, taking the organization from a loss of $42 million to a profit of $6.5 million, improved EBIDA from a negative $14.8 million to a positive $30.3 million and increased philanthropic giving from $2.3 million annually to $10.9 million.  During this time, she has recruited, retained, and developed an extremely high-performing, diverse executive team of nationally recognized professionals.

From 2007-2014, Karen served as the Executive Vice President/Chief Operating officer at Sinai, overseeing the successful acquisition and integration into the System of a private hospital and the enhancement of quality/safety initiatives, resulting in both national and state recognition, and an emphasis on performance turnaround.

Karen is an influential participant in state and national legislative policy-making agendas, having provided testimony on proposed legislation to representatives of both the State Senate and Congress.  She has formed strategic relationships with non-healthcare partners, including a major academic institution and a real estate development firm, in order to train the next generation of professionals and create assets in urban areas suffering from decades of disinvestment.

Karen’s became an entrepreneur early in her career.  After purchasing the rehabilitation services firm in which she held a leadership role, she grew the company over the next four years into the largest of its kind in metropolitan Chicago before selling it to a publicly traded firm, now known as NovaCare.  Following the sale of her company, Karen held increasingly responsible positions in nonprofit and for-profit companies, including a global life-sciences corporation.

Karen serves on a variety of civic, state, and national boards, including those of America’s Essential Hospitals (Chair, Equity Task Force), the Chicago-Cook County Innovation Workforce Development Board as a mayoral appointee, and the University of Illinois at Chicago MHA Advisory Board.  She is a member of the Chicago Network and has served on both the Planning and the Healthcare Sector Nominating Committees, the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Economic Club of Chicago, and Kellogg Executive Women’s Network.

Karen’s numerous awards and recognition include being named “One of 10 Business Leaders to Watch in 2020” by the Chicago Tribune, twice named to the “Notable Women in Chicago Healthcare” list by Crain’s Chicago Business, awarded the Weizmann Institute of Science “Women of Science” award, and has been a recipient of the National Medical Fellowship “Leadership in Healthcare” award.   She is a frequently requested national speaker, world traveler, avid bicyclist, and cook.

Quentin Fulks

Political Strategist
“Let’s Lock Arms: Your Vote, Our Voice”

Quentin Fulks is a top political strategist in Illinois, currently serving as the Chairman and Executive Director of Vote Yes For Fairness, a ballot initiative committee leading the fight to pass the Fair Tax in Illinois. He is also the President and Executive Director of Think Big Illinois, a 501c(4) dedicated to passing progressive policies in Illinois, as well as the Senior Political Advisor to Governor Pritzker, managing all political outreach both nationally and in state.

After graduating first in his class with a Masters in political science at American University in 2015, Fulks worked in top positions at several national political organizations. In his role as Pritzker’s Deputy Campaign Manager during his successful gubernatorial campaign, Fulks was responsible for directly managing a $171 million budget and a staff of over 250 employees statewide.

Fulks is a South Georgia native and has proudly called Chicago home for over three years. In his free time, he enjoys walking his 5 year old lab Lincoln around their Lincoln Park neighborhood.”