I have practiced law and developed real estate in Chicago for half of my life. But that is only what I did “9 to 5.” What made me better at my profession—and as a human being getting through each day—was realizing my thirst for learning and doing. I practiced yoga intensely, I travelled the world with my wife and my family, I learned to paint and made a home studio, and I developed a passion for cooking. I would not have called myself the most passionate student when I was in school, but in my adult life I have read with a thirst for knowledge—everything from the most meaty fiction, fascinating nonfiction, and magazines.
My family is what makes me who I am today. I was married to the most amazing woman for half of my life. We raised 3 incredible children in Chicago, a culturally vibrant and livable city with people of good midwestern values. When my bride died of ovarian cancer after 26 years of marriage I got in touch with real pain. I immediately reevaluated my life’s work. I had talked for years about whether my chosen career path gave me real fulfillment. I am now the executive director of a non-profit organization created in Amy’s name, the AKR Yellow Umbrella Foundation. I am fueled by its mission to provide programs that encourage child literacy and funding for early detection of ovarian cancer. My future is a blank space waiting to be filled.
Brian Abrahams is the Senior Vice-President for Financial Resource Development for the Jewish Federations of North America. In this role he is responsible for working with the 148 Jewish Federations in North America to strengthen their communities and maximize their total fundraising.
Brian’s career has woven between technology and not-for-profit.
In the private sector Brian worked in communications, government relations, marketing, and sales management roles with a number of technology companies and start-ups.
In the philanthropic arena, Brian worked for the national United Jewish Appeal, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, the United Jewish Communities and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Brian was a long time board member of a Chicago Jewish day school, as well as the founding board member of a new synagogue in Chicago. He also helped found the Charita-Ball which raised millions for cancer research. He has three children, lives in the Chicago area and his proudest career moment was teaching Amy that there was such a thing as a Lollipop Tree.
Wendy Abrams is an environmentalist and social activist.
In 2006, Wendy founded Cool Globes, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of climate change. (Amy KR was a founding board member of Cool Globes.) The Cool Globes exhibition launched in Chicago in 2007, and has since been translated into 9 languages, and displayed on 4 continents.
Wendy helped establish the Abrams Environmental Litigation Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School. She serves on the Center for American Progress (c4), the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund. She is a Trustee for Waterkeeper Alliance, and on the board of WTTW, Chicago’s PBS affiliate.
Wendy is a Principal of Medline Industries, Inc. and oversees Medline’s e-commerce apparel business.
Wendy lives in Highland Park, IL with her husband, Jimmy. Her greatest accomplishment in life has been raising four inspiring children: David, Emily, Katie and Jake.
Dave Eggers is the author of a number of books for adults and young people, including The Circle, The Monk of Mokha, and Her Right Foot. He is the cofounder of 826 National, a network of nonprofit writing and tutoring centers for underserved youth, and is founder of ScholarMatch, a nonprofit that increases access to college for low-income high school students.
ANN WOLK KROUSE
ANN WOLK KROUSE
Ann Krouse attended the University of Miami in Florida. Since then, she has been involved in several organizations. She was the Vice President of ECI (retired 2001). She was Chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Risa K Lambert Luncheon in 2001, the Major Gifts Chair of Chicago’s JUF in 2003 and 2004, and Legacy of Light Founder of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Her greatest accomplishment is being Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s mother and the mother of Beth, Joe, and Katie, and grandmother to her 10 grandchildren.
Paul C. Krouse currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida. After receiving his BA in Communications from University of Illinois, he served in the Illinois National Guard for 12 years. Paul worked as a copywriter for newspapers and advertisers before founding Educational Communications, Inc. There he created and published noteworthy guides including Who’s Who Among American High School Students, and funded over 3 million dollars in college scholarships. Since 1999, he has been involved in various community activities, as a Founder of Legacy of Life from USHMM and JUF, serving on the JUF board, working with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Holocaust Educational Foundation. He is currently the founder and president of the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club Men’s Club. Paul is equally proud of his 4 children (including Amy Krouse Rosenthal) and 10 grandchildren.
Dr. Lengyel is a clinically active gynecologic oncologist who is board certified in general gynecology and gynecologic oncology. He attended medical school at the University of Munich and went to the University of Munich, UCSF, and Stanford for postgraduate clinical training. In 2003, Dr. Lengyel joined the faculty of the University of Chicago. Since that time he has established a clinical practice specializing in radical debulking surgery for ovarian cancer and a translational research laboratory focused on understanding ovarian cancer biology. Recently, his group elucidated how adipocyte/cancer cell interactions promote ovarian cancer metastasis through the metabolic reprogramming of tumor cells. They have also shown that mesothelial cells play a critical role in ovarian cancer metastasis. The laboratory uses high-throughput screening technology to find novel drugs for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Dr. Lengyel has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, including contributions to Nature, Nature Medicine, Cancer Discovery, JCI, Oncogene, JBC, and Cancer Research. He is also the author of the chapter on ovarian cancer in the current edition of Principles and Practice of Gynecologic Oncology, the standard textbook of the specialty. Dr. Lengyel holds several NIH grants and several other grants from private foundations. He is an ad hoc member of NIH study sections.
Dr. Lengyel is the Arthur L. and Lee G. Herbst Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is the Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago.
Maria Modugno is a life-long lover of books. A children’s book editor, she has worked in a number of cities—New York, San Diego, and Boston—and is now back in New York editing picture book at Penguin Random House. Along the way, Maria met Amy and has edited many of Amy’s award winning and bestselling titles. Maria lives in New York City, in a small apartment filled to the brim with all kinds of books.
Marc Platt’s producing career spans film, theatre and television and his projects have garnered a combined 31 Oscar nominations, 18 Tony nominations, 24 Golden Globe nominations and 29 Emmy nominations, and have grossed over $5 billion worldwide.
Among his films are La La Land which broke the all-time record for Golden Globe Awards winning seven including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and tied the record for the most Oscar nominations in history with 14, winning six. Platt’s other films include The Girl on the Train, Bridge of Spies which earned six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Into the Woods, Drive, Rachel Getting Married, Legally Blonde, Wanted, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Disney’s upcoming Mary Poppins Returns. In theatre Platt produced the blockbuster Wicked, which celebrates its 15th anniversary on Broadway this year, as well as The Band’s Visit, War Paint, Indecent, Oh, Hello on Broadway, If/Then, Three Days of Rain, and Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands. In television Platt received the Emmy Award for executive producing Grease Live! and the Emmy and Golden Globe awards for HBO’s Empire Falls. He has been president of production for three movie studios--Orion, TriStar and Universal.
Amy Rennert, founder and President of The Amy Rennert Agency, specializes in books that matter. She has developed a reputation for a passionate commitment to agency writers and illustrators. Amy's authors include Jimmy Buffett, Rick Hanson, Michael Krasny, Tom Lichtenheld, Eric Litwin, Patti LuPone, Diana Nyad, Jacqueline Winspear, and Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk. Dozens of agency books have been New York Times and national bestsellers.
It was an honor and a joy for Amy to represent Amy Krouse Rosenthal for nearly twenty years. Amy R also represents Amy KR’s daughter Paris Rosenthal who co-authored the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Girl with her mother.
Before agenting, Amy Rennert was an award-winning journalist and former editor in chief of two national magazines. She has long served on the Authors Committee for the annual National Kidney Foundation Authors Luncheon and she was on the faculty of the Stanford Publishing Course.
Amy also enjoys time on the courts and and at the tables. She and her Golden Gate Park tennis team are 2015 National champions in the 18 and over division and she once finished 28th in the World Series of Poker Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship event.
Amy and her longtime partner Louise Kollenbaum were one of nearly 4000 same sex couples to marry at San Francisco’s City Hall in 2004. Those marriages were all soon annulled. They returned to City Hall ten years later to marry again. This one remains legal.
Amy Rosenberg is an award-winning journalist, producer, and media advisor. She began her career in broadcast journalism as a producer for NBC News and ABC News. Amy founded and runs AJR Media, a Silicon Valley-based consulting firm that provides strategy and targeted media for some of today's most compelling voices: political talk shows for Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, The Women's Conference for Maria Shriver, and digital media and content for leading technology and venture capital firms including Alibaba, Survey Monkey, Accel and Aspect Ventures. Amy attended Tufts University (with Amy Krouse Rosenthal.) She lives in Palo Alto with her husband and two children.
As Head of Conferences, Kelly Stoetzel's work is focused on TED's conference experiences, beginning with strategic oversight of speaker programs and extending to the Fellows program, attendee community and conference programming as a whole. She has been at TED for fourteen years, and previously oversaw speaker curation efforts, assembling speaker programs and working with speakers to develop their talks. Kelly also serves as a member of TED’s strategic leadership team.
Before TED, she was the Director of Mixed Greens, a contemporary art gallery with the goal of making contemporary art more accessible, which is still deeply important to her.
Kelly serves on the DELS Committee at the National Academy of Sciences, the advisory board of Quantified Communications, and as a mentor through the Fortis Future Leaders Foundation.