When Bonita Richter of Palatine was honored recently as the only one in Illinois to receive the 2011 State Star, an honor bestowed by America's Small Business Development Center Network, the judges probably didn't know she lacked something. A bachelor's degree.
Yet the director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Harper College did something most haven't. She went directly for the MBA. Not only that, she graduated as class valedictorian at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.
While it was a hard road to travel, "It was definitely worth it," Richter said.
Richter's business experience actually started when her family owned and worked at Troutman Industries Inc. in Redding, Pa. Richter already had an associate degree in business and was on her way to earning a bachelor's degree at Penn State University. She was just 21 credits shy. Around the same time, she married and later moved to the Chicago area. As in most families, time slipped by and finally she decided to return to school. This time, she was encouraged by her husband to go straight for the MBA.
After some grueling interviews at Lake Forest, her previous business and life experiences were allowed. She also took a test for those lacking a bachelor's degree and was accepted into the MBA program. She graduated as valedictorian in 2007.
Now, she has been providing advice, guidance and resources to small business owners and entrepreneurs who come to Harper. Last year alone, she delivered about 1,300 hours of one-on-one advice to about 350 clients and led 42 training events for more than 700 attendees. She also helped many create a disaster plan to keep their businesses running in case of an emergency.
"It's important for them to have a plan in place," Richter said.
Doing the White House huddle
Greg Brown, CEO of Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions, last Friday attended the long-awaited White House visit by the 1985 Super Bowl champs, the Chicago Bears. Brown is friends with Jim Morrissey, who was a rookie linebacker that year from Michigan State University. Morrissey's son, Mike, and Brown's son, Troy, played high school basketball together at Stevenson High School. Brown also is friends with former Coach Mike Ditka and has strong ties to President Obama, having served on various business-related committees at the White House. You also may have seen Brown appear with Ditka in the recent season finale of the TV show, "Entourage." Brown shows up with Ditka and others to provide some motivation to the show's workers. ... Speaking of workers, those at Motorola Solutions were recently treated to a presentation on teamwork by Mike Mullane, a retired astronaut who served on Discovery and Atlantis space shuttle missions.
Attention chocoholics: go ahead, drool
Geneva-based All Chocolate Kitchen chef Alain Roby offered some of his chocolate creations during an interview by ABC 7 Food Reporter Steve Dolinsky. The "Hungry Hound" segment will air Oct. 28. Roby and his wife, Esther, demonstrated "blown sugar," a process much like blowing glass but Roby formed shapes that looked like glass pumpkins entirely made of sugar. They also prepared their signature dish, The Avalanche, with 3 pints of gelato. If that wasn't enough, they featured some pumpkin pie, Oreo crusted Key Lime pie, truffles and ... are you hungry yet? Sons Jonathan and Adrian Roby also were on hand with the staff to help create those works of art. They displayed them, along with life-size chocolate sculptures in the shape of an astronaut and hockey player.
New West Coast crew
Naperville resident Chuck Allen, chief executive officer of Crowe Horwath LLP, just inked a deal to have the 16 partners and 100 other professionals of Perry-Smith LLP come on board. Now he'll be traveling more to San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., to check on his new crew. Crowe Horwath has offices in Oak Brook.
Michelle Movitz of Buffalo Grove is the new president of Computer Systems Institute's Gurnee campus. CSI moved to the larger Gurnee location earlier this year and doubled its capacity to 500 students. ... Matthew J. Miller of Oak Brook and managing director at Mesirow Financial is joining forces with investment manager Patrick G. Gibbs of Oak Park have set up offices in Oak Brook and Chicago to advise affluent clients on retirement and other investments. ... Stephen Cerrone, human resources vice president at Downers Grove-based Sara Lee, was among the executives and dignitaries last week at the private Chicago home of TMK IPSCO Chairman Piotr Galitzine. They welcomed Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Invanovich Kislyak.
Jeff Gordman, president and CEO of Gordmans Inc., an apparel and home fashions retailer, and Alese Campbell, executive director of the GLMV Chamber of Commerce, were on hand for the grand opening of the latest Gordmans store that opened last week on Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills. ... Mike Kluber, president of Kluber Inc., along with Britta McKenna, former executive director of Batavia MainStreet, were on hand for the opening of the office for Kluber Architects and Engineers on Shumway Drive in Batavia. ... Mike Cleary of Naperville has been named a certified aging-in-place specialist from the National Association of Home Builders. He owns Downers Grove-based Home Mobility Solutions, which helps to make homes more accessible for the physically disabled and the elderly.
John Schmitt, CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce was in Washington, D.C. last week participating in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Commerce Committee of 100. The peers discuss ways to promote economic growth. ... Nancy Wiersum becomes the new chief marketing and business officer of the Robert Crown Center for Health education in Hinsdale. Wiersum spent the last six years as community development director for Naperville Community TV Channel 17 in Naperville. ... Real estate professional Kay Phillips of Mundelein joined Re/Max Experts in Buffalo Grove. She was the 2010 Rookie of the Year at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
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