10 women impacting the tech startup scene (and more!) in Chicago

The media has had a bright light on technology and where women are advancing– here at Ms.Tech we focus on opportunity and potential.  Where should we be 10 years from now and how do we get there?  The same way you and everyone else does. By showing up, teaming up, zeroing in, jumping in, working your a$$ off, and never giving up (a positive attitude doesn’t hurt either).

Example, Co-CEO at dough.com , Kristi Ross. I follow the women in Chicago and their traction by way of Mattermark… and Kristi was  just killing it, week after week… I was so impressed at the number of mobile downloads, to the interactions I would have with people from her team.  After moderating a panel with Kristi and learning more about her journey with fundraising, she has been someone I can look to for insight and support.  Then, a couple weeks ago Kristi shows her leadership city-wide… a blog post by dough –  After being awarded the Women in Tech award at the Moxie Awards by Built in Chicago, being named the Prominent Woman in Tech at the ITA’s 15th Annual CityLIGHTS Awards, featured in Women 2.0,  named to the Tech 50 list by Crain’s Chicago, and honored as an Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young… She wanted to shine a light on the great contributions from other female CEOs and founders in Chicago by naming ten women paving the way, bringing more awareness, and leaving a lasting impact.

We couldn’t agree more with the selection — all women doing incredible things in Chicago. Many of them are leaders and huge supporters of our work. Thank you for including our founders, Kristi– we are honored and we want to carry this forward!

Please meet ten more women in technology leaving a lasting impact here in Chicago.

Dorri McWhorter#1 DORRI MCWHORTER  

Chief Executive Officer at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

Dorri is a socially-conscious international business leader dedicated to improving the world by leveraging experience from corporate and social change sectors.  From the moment we met Dorri and learning the opportunities to help the women she works with in Chicago, working toward progress with projects like ‘Creating IL Talent’, we knew she was someone we would stand by and support.  


Say hi @chicCPA   |  LinkedIn  |   YWCA Chicago

jen-meyer#2 JEN MYER

Designer, Developer and founder of Code & Cupcakes 

Encouraging mothers and daughters to join a  supportive learning atmosphere over cupcakes, Jen leads the Code & Cupcakes workshop with a team of volunteers. As a Chicago-based web designer/developer who founded the Columbus, Ohio chapter of Girl Develop It in 2011 and now teaches and advises the Chicago GDI chapter. She also has been teaching her daughter to create on the web for two years.  I met Jen when a group of us pulled together to make tech in Chicago more diverse with Diversitech312 and now seeing her wonderful work with Code & Cupcakes, I hope to see it grow into other communities — She is someone we stand by and support.

Say hi @antiheroine  |  LinkedIn  |   Code & Cupcakes

angelica-ross#3 ANGELICA ROSS

Founding Executive Director / CEO at TransTech

Angelica Ross is the founder and Executive Director/CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises. Angelica’s passion for education, building business and community is at the heart of her work helping companies and individuals develop their brand identity. Angelica believes making brands aware of their impact on society and social causes empowers them to create change. Angelica shares her voice and her impact with Educational Speaking Events & Workshops for LGBTQQIA with a focus on the most marginalized communities.  Angelica is one of the most impressive leaders here in Chicago, doing some of the hardest work, making big impact all around us – She is someone we stand by and support.  

Say hi @missrosslive  |  LinkedIn  |  TransTech


Chief Connector and Builder at CommunityConnective

Heidi lives at the intersection of nonprofits and technology.  Utilizing technology as an important tool that can help organizations work more efficiently and effectively toward their mission, which is critical to NGO success.  She creates resources, including conferences and online documents, that provide access to free or low cost, high quality technology tools and learning opportunities for nonprofits.  We have had the pleasure of knowing Heidi for years… Quite frankly, she held the most important role as the very first follower in Ms.Tech’s facebook group which we attest to our growth, and attended our very first meetup and she’s the most passionate and enthusiastic connector we know! – She is someone we stand by and support.


Co-Founders of ARA

Leslie and Megan are entrepreneurs running their own companies and Jane is an executive who help source tech talent.  Together, in addition to their busy lives they organize ARA, Attract, Retain, and Advance women in technology by cultivating and nurturing relationships via mentorship and events/programs, thereby building strong female leaders to support and influence the IT community.  After a wonderful conversation with these Leslie and Megan, they not only introduced us to other incredible leaders in tech, but they have championed our mission and together we have become affinity partners.  All three of these women and ARA, we stand by and support.  

Say hi @ARAmentors  |  ARA


President at i.c.starsSandee Kastrul

Sandee is the president of i.c.stars, a project-based learning and full immersion teaching program that provides an opportunity for change-driven, future leaders to develop skills in business and technology. Her bio starts out with… “I believe that the definition of leadership is making opportunities for others.”  THIS is the epitome of this whole thing.  Sandee, forever a student, she believes in the reciprocity of education and that as educators we are both teacher and student. When Megann shared with us the ‘one-word’ mission statement exercise from one of our mastermind lunches, she credited Sandee.  Leading leaders and cultivating future leadership – heck yes!  She is someone we stand by and support her.  


Say hi @SandeeKastrul  |  LinkedIn  |   i.c.stars


Abril VelaWhere does one begin when sharing the incredible things such a young woman has done and just graduating high school this past year… during which she still found time to give back and attend tech conferences across the U.S.   Abril is the founder of Chi-Girls Computing.  She has done an apprenticeship at 8th Light before she graduated high school, she was a Summer Tech Camp Instructor for Chicago Public Schools and a National Crowdfunding Coach Piggybackr.  We met Abril at the Chicago Community Trust during an On The Table event last spring and we were blown away by her drive and ambition.  Nothing stands in her way – she is a woman in tech and we stand by and support her.


Say hi @ChiGirlsComp  |  LinkedIn  |   Chi-Girls Computing. 


Jessica George

Founder & Publisher of Felix Magazine, Hasana, Inc.

Jessica is the founder and publisher of Felix Magazine, Hasana Inc, which is a commerce-driven, online and pop-up retailing initiative. 100% of the net proceeds directly benefits The Apareció Foundation. The foundation is a registered, nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity that raises funds for educational grants and programs for low-income, high potential women in public high schools. Every Penny. Every Dollar. Benefiting Education.  Right now she is working on their initiative to pull together 100 Women in Stem. I love what Jessica is doing and I can only imagine the challenge of running three companies that all lead to such incredible impact.  – She is someone we stand by and support.



Say hi @Aparecio  |  LinkedIn  |  Aparecio

2 Comments on “10 women impacting the tech startup scene (and more!) in Chicago”

  1. so many more to add. Chicago has a wealth of female tech talent, and female mentors. If you are a women and you are sick of the bro culture of other places, come to Chicago and startup your company.

  2. so many more to add. Chicago has a wealth of female tech talent, and female mentors. If you are a women and you are sick of the bro culture of other places, come to Chicago and startup your company.

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