Event Replay: Windy City Tech Connect

Nov 06, 2023 | 11:30 PM UTC | Chicago, Illinois
Join Discover and industry partners Red Hat, Pluralsight, Avanade, and 1871 for an intimate engagement with the diverse Chicago tech community.
Discover Technology Staff
November 06, 2023

Watch the replay of our Windy City Tech Connect where Discover and industry partners Red Hat, Pluralsight, Avanade, and 1871 for an intimate engagement with the diverse Chicago tech community. We will discuss tech topics such as Kubernetes, cloud, and DevOps, chat about DE&I in tech, and give you opportunities to connect with other Chicago technologists.

Build your network, learn from experts, enjoy apps and drinks, and explore career paths to help you advance in the tech space.

During this event you will:

  • Hear from key technology leaders in the Chicago area
  • Listen to a panel talking about how to be a DE&I ally
  • Visit breakout booths to learn more about the topics, career opportunities, and more

Event details

  • Date: November 6, 2023
  • Time: 5:30-8:00 pm, CT
  • Location: 1871 - Independent Innovation Hub - 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1212, Chicago, IL 60654


Priyanka Sharma, Executive Director, Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)

Image of Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka is the Executive Director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) which serves as the vendor-neutral home for 100+ of the fastest-growing open source projects, including Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Envoy. She is also a co-creator of the Inclusive Naming Initiative whose mission is to promote and facilitate replacing harmful and exclusionary language in information technology.

She was a founding team member of the OpenTracing standard and has contributed to other open source projects such as Jaeger, Vitess, and GitLab. Priyanka is a long time champion of and advisor to startups in cutting-edge technology spaces and serves as an Advisor at HeavyBit Industries, an accelerator and fund for developer and enterprise companies.

Drew Firment, Chief Cloud Strategist, Pluralsight

Image of Drew Firment

As the Chief Cloud Strategist at Pluralsight, Drew works closely with business and technology leaders to accelerate cloud adoption by migrating talent to the cloud. Drew was previously Director of Cloud Engineering at Capital One leading enterprise cloud operations within their Cloud Center of Excellence focused on migrating the early adopters of Amazon Web Services (AWS) into production.

Drew founded Capital One's cloud engineering college that drove a large-scale talent transformation, and earned a patent for measuring cloud adoption and maturity. He is recognized by Amazon as an AWS Community Hero for his ongoing efforts to build inclusive and sustainable learning communities.

Jen Fissel, Director of Specialist Sales, Red Hat

Image of Jenn Fissel

Jen joined Red Hat in 2007, specializing in field-focused marketing, go to market strategy, and sales excellence + execution. Jen was brought on as a part of the Global Events team, taking leadership roles as Red Hat’s portfolio expanded from Linux to Middleware to Cloud, and then to Containerization. She expanded her capabilities to focus on Field Marketing, leading strategy and go-to-market across Red Hat’s Central Region, reaching 500+ customers.

After being exposed to the importance of a customer-first mindset, Jen moved into sales as an Enterprise Account Executive in 2017, over achieving her annual numbers 4 years in a row, and 10 quarters in a row, leading to Presidents Club in 2020. She now leads Red Hat’s N Central Enterprise Sales Specialist team, driving adoption and expansion of Red Hat’s emerging technologies through a focus on customer value.

Jason Strle, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Discover

Image of Jason Strle

Jason Strle has over 20 years of technology experience in the financial services industry. He currently serves as the CIO at Discover. His most recent role was at Wells Fargo, as EVP & Group CIO of Enterprise Functions Technology and prior roles as divisional CIO of Consumer Banking, Payments, and Digital. In addition to his CIO roles, he also led a broad technology remediation effort to meet next generation standards of secure coding, vulnerability management, identity and access management and fraud prevention and detection. Prior to his experience at Wells Fargo, Jason spent almost 13 years with JP Morgan Chase in roles of increasing scope, culminating as CIO, Consumer Banking, Business Banking and Auto Finance. Jason has led large scale transformation and modernization of critical banking platforms in addition to changing the way business value is delivered with agile and product centric practices.

Angel Diaz, Vice President of Technology Capabilities and Innovation, Discover

Image of Jenn Fissel

Dr. Angel Diaz is vice president of technology capabilities and innovation at Discover Financial Services. Angel is passionate about helping self-empowered engineering teams drive success through digital transformation. An industry thought leader in connecting developers through code, content and community, Angel is an open source pioneer and one of its biggest proponents. Prior to Discover, Angel served as the Global Director of Engineering for Technology at EY. He also held multiple roles in his 22-year tenure with IBM, including Vice President of Developer Technology.

Meet the DE&I panelists

Panel moderator: Alysha-Aubrey Bursey, Sr. Director of Affinity Programs at 1871

Image of Alysha-Aubrey Bursey

Alysha-Aubrey is a dedicated advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations and communities. She has a track record of creating inclusive communities by fostering dialogue, encouraging collaboration, and ensuring that voices from all backgrounds are heard and valued. As the Senior Director of Affinity Programs at 1871, she works to inspire, equip, and support all founders and leaders to lead with courage and strength.

LeRoi Catlin, Jr., Senior Manager, Chatham Business Technology Community Outreach at Discover

Image of Leroi Catlin, Jr.

LeRoi Catlin Jr is Senior Manager of the Chatham Business Technology Community Outreach at Discover with experience in IT Project Management, Non-Profit, Fleet Management and Real Estate in the Chicagoland and Milwaukee, WI area. LeRoi was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S in Computer Information Systems. Post graduation LeRoi spent 5 years with Discover Financial Services company as a Business Technology Project Manager and Release Coordinator before pursuing the entrepreneur eco-system and becoming a community leader with his accomplishments in the non-profit, real estate and transportation industries.

In 2018, LeRoi was featured by Blavity as “5 Chicago Changemakers to Keep an Eye on” for his achievements with his previous non-profit Fresh Vision Group. In addition to his philanthropic work, LeRoi also received acknowledgement in 2022 by the American Institute of Real Estate Professionals as the “10 Best Real Estate Agents for Client Satisfaction in Illinois” as well by Essence Magazine for building a Six-Figure Freight Trucking Business during the pandemic while providing jobs for minorities who were displaced by layoffs directly related to the pandemic. Currently while trailblazing the DE&I space at Discover, LeRoi has an intentional mission to close the equity and wealth gap in Black and Brown communities. With a focus on relationship building and strategic partnerships, LeRoi takes a “Thinking Outside the Box” approach to handling many of life’s obstacles. Some of LeRoi’s passions consist of traveling, business, new tech gadgets, community and family.

Jeff Osuji, CEO, Eventnoire

Image of Jeffrey Osuji

Jeff Osuji is the CEO of Eventnoire, the premiere marketplace for events celebrating the culture. He earned his undergraduate degree in Chemistry and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign where he started an event production company with his cofounder. After years of producing events across the country, Osuji co-founded Eventnoire to connect culture enthusiasts to spaces and places that embrace Black culture, diversity, authenticity. Eventnoire’s recognitions include winning the Mountain Dew Real Change Opportunity Fund Competition, 1871’s BLK Tech Pitch Competition, and the People’s Choice Awards at Techrise Chicago’s pitch competition. Osuji has been featured in Forbes, Essence, Afrotech, ABC7, and BizBash and has built a following as a successful "eventrepreneur".

Osuji has served as President of the Illinois Black Alumni Network and as Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) at 1871. He is also an angel investor as well as a proud father and husband who lives by the motto, "To become truly great, one must stand with people, not above them."

Zaan Pirani, Program Manager at Financial Health Network

Image of Zaan Pirani

Zaan serves as Program Manager at the Financial Health Network, specializing in Financial Services Solutions. He spearheads the U.S. financial health dialogue, focusing on crafting inclusive products for both traditional and fintech institutions. Zaan collaborates to implement and assess financial health strategies, while also paving the way for next-gen digital solutions like crypto and AI-powered solutions. His work bridges institutional gaps and champions financial inclusion for underserved communities.

Mina Rabideaux, Global ERG Program Director, Avanade

Image of Mina Rabideaux

Mina is an influential, inclusive leader at Avanade, highly skilled at the design and execution of comprehensive business and people strategies that align with organizational goals and prioritize impact. Mina has honed her skills through extensive experience in leadership roles with management consulting and technology firms. Outside of work she is extremely active in our local community and with organizations supporting women and minorities.

She is a Chicago chapter lead for Latinas in Tech and the Chairwoman of HACE Chicago. Last week, she was named as a 30 Under 30 rising leader by the Hispanic Executive.

Dominique Wilson, Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships, University of Illinois; Co-Founder of RiseKit

Image of Dominique Wilson

Dominique Wilson is a global development professional with over 15 years of experiences in community development and economic development initiatives. He supports NGO's and for-profit companies to create sustainable, scaliable initiatives. In addition, he identifies investors & donors to grow start-up's and community projects throughout the globe.

Currently, Dominique is the Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships for University of Illinois’s Discovery Partners Institute (DPI). where he supports the partnership development to enable career pathways for diverse talent. Additionally, Dominique supported the growth of RiseKit as the Co-Founder & Strategic Advisor to the CEO RiseKit, is an economic mobility Software which connects millions of people to jobs and non-profit resources. Dominique helped RiseKit reach over $40,000 MRR, while bringing in key stakeholders and partners nationwide.

Dominique has worked on programs in partnership with the World Bank, USAID, Harvard School of Public Health, and a host of others. As an entrepreneur he owns and operates a professional consulting business supporting institutions in the US and Africa. He is also on the board of tech software development firm, Simba Technology Revolutions LLC, which works with talent across the African diaspora to support small-mid-size businesses.

In-addition, Dominique is an early stage investor focused in real estate and assets which generate residual income. As a gentleman who grew up on Chicago’s West side, Dominique’s passion resides in elevating communities.


Logos of Discover, Red Hat, Pluralsight, and 1871


Logos of Latinas in Tech, DPI & Blacks in Tech