For the second year in a row, the Propel program traveled to New York City, where The Garage has built relationships with notable alumni and some of the best known companies in the world.
Our group of eight student ambassadors, women entrepreneurs representing McCormick, Medill, SESP, Weinberg, and the School of Communication, was joined by Hayes Ferguson, Associate Director of The Garage; Elisa Mitchell, Assistant Director of Finance and Operations at The Garage; and Lilia Kogan, Propel Program Manager and longtime mentor at The Garage.
We started the trip off with an amazing tour of the New York Stock Exchange. Inside, the walls were decorated with pop art hundred dollar bills, bears, and bulls. It was a capitalist’s heaven! From the trading floor, we saw hospitality services company Ashford Inc. ring the opening bell and television personality Jim Cramer shoot Squawk on the Street. We even chatted with Stacey Cunningham – the first female President of the NYSE in its 200+ year history. She encouraged us to work toward returning to the NYSE when our own companies are IPO ready!
After a starstruck morning, we walked to the 9/11 Memorial and paid our respects to the victims and brave heroes from that day. From there, we walked to Spotify’s New York based offices in one of the new World Trade Center buildings. We met with Lauren Siegal Wurgaft, the music streaming company’s Senior Manager of Social Impact. We toured the eleven-story office space, which includes an arcade room, a crafts room, a meditation room, a sleeping room, a movie theater, a snack room…and the list goes on!
Next, we Ubered to Soho to spend the afternoon with Stephanie March, School of Communication ’96. You may know her from her time on Law & Order Special Victims Unit; she’s also an entrepreneur building her bespoke cosmetics brand, SheSpoke.
Stephanie shared her journey starting the brand, including successes and failures, and stressed the importance of pivoting. SheSpoke is a makeup bar where customers can make personalized lipsticks and highlighters. We also got to personalize our own lip glosses and lipsticks.
That evening, we met up at Jane Restaurant for a delicious dinner. We were joined by Katherine and Steve Elms, MBA ’92 and Heather and Andrew Zuckerman, Weinberg ’91, who have generously funded Propel, as well as other alums who have supported the program by sharing their experiences as professional women: Erica Futterman, Medill ’06, Deputy Director of Newsroom Strategy Operations at the New York Times; Melanie Greifer, Weinberg ’93, renowned gastroenterologist; Linnea Perelli-Minetti, Weinberg ’09, Platform Product Lead at Square Capital; and Bethany Crystal, Medill ’09, General Manager, USV Network at Union Square Ventures.
Students talked one on one with the alums and learned about their career journeys. This was such an impactful evening. The opportunity to find out that not all careers are as linear as they seem encouraged us to pursue our own passions – wherever they may take us. We then headed back to the Wall Street Inn, where we slept very soundly after having such a fun-packed day.
The next morning, we made our way to the Northwestern NY offices at Rockefeller Plaza to meet with alumnae for a roundtable discussion: Lauren Bradley, Weinberg ’07, Equities COO at Cantor Fitzgerald; Elise Densborn, Kellogg ’14, COO at Splendid Spoon; and Kathryn Haydon, Weinberg ’99, Founder of Sparkitivity. We listened in depth to each alum as they shared their life stories and career experiences. Afterward, we explored the city and networked with friends.
Now that we’re back in Evanston, it’s our turn to give back, by recruiting entrepreneurial-minded women students on campus to apply for Propel. In addition to being eligible to participate in next year’s Propel trip, those accepted into the program are included in networking events and can receive up to $1,000 to work on their ventures. Learn more here.