There's a lot to see at the Chicago Auto Show, but early this week there was a lot to see before you even got into the show! ChicagonistaLive, a live-streamed monthly talk show featuring MJ Tam, Beth Rosen, Duong Sheahan, Nancy Loo, and David Grotto, set up a stage just outside the show and entertained attendees with music, dance, and Women Driving Excellence.
The day opened with Lion and Ribbon Dance performances by the St. Therese Chinese Catholic School to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The school, located in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood, has received multiple accolades including its designation as a U. S. Department of Education's National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
This was followed by the awards ceremony for Women Driving Excellence, honoring women who start, accelerate, fuel, and steer others to excellence. Emcee Anuply Singla, a 2013 honoree, introduced the recipients: Karyn Calabrese (restaurateur and author), Mary Couzin (CEO and Founder of Chicago Toy and Game), Jory DesJardins, Elisa Camahort Page and Lisa Stone (BlogHer founders), Susanna Jung (president and CEO of Price Futures Group), Sherren Leigh (CEO of Today’s Chicago Woman magazine) and Natalie Martinez (NBC Chicago reporter). As each came up to receive her award she would tell a bit about herself. It was incredible to hear Karyn's story and how her switch to a raw food diet saved her life. Mary shared how she turned playing with toys into a full-fledged career that generates jobs and income. Susanna went from a receptionist to CEO, and Natalie uses her position in the spotlight to truly help people. The most inspiring to me personally was Elisa of BlogHer. In a few short minutes she shared so many nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom that I felt like I'd taken a seminar on what, and what not, to do.
After learning about these impressive women who are changing the shape of Chicago and the world, fitness expert (and all-around amazing lady) Andrea Metcalf had us stretch, both physically and professionally. This was followed by a quick performance from the stars of the Phantom of the Opera, and then Jim and I took a look at the Nissan display. They had a full line, from their electric Leaf to their roomy (including the trunk) Altima, to a cab with light indicators telling you from which side the fares are exiting. One of our favorites was the SUV painted like a Chicago flag, but the bright red Z is what really got my motor running.
Of course, one of the highlights of the day was the filming of ChicagonistaLive! Special guests for this month's show included Valerie Beck of Chicago Chocolate Tours and 2010 Olympic athlete Nancy Swider-Peltz, Jr. Valerie shared how good chocolate is actually good for you (always a good thing to hear) and Nancy shared stories of training with, and competing against, her mom. Nancy is an impressive lady with one of the most positive attitudes you'll ever encounter. Whether she makes the 2018 Olympics are not, this lady is pure gold.
The final performance of the day was a treat from Miss Lori. She took a break from her Miss Lori's CAMPUS activities to sing songs of love and loss straight out of Broadway. And because it's Valentine's Day (and weekend), here's a gift from the lady herself, a video of her singing "Someone Like You."
Disclosure: We love the ChicagonistaLIVE! crew, so when they asked us to partner with them, Nissan, RedEye, Cars.com and The Chicago Tribune to share Women Driving Excellence with you, we said yes! It didn't hurt that we were also compensated...