Our Blog

Our Blog

skastrul's picture

What we value: Opportunities, Lives, and Bullets

i.c.stars is growing, and as we grow we often have interesting conversations about “What’s next?” Recently I was having a chat with Tasha Levy, our Chief Learning Officer, about night school. We talked about forming a partnership with a co-working space at a national level, that would open up learning and leadership opportunities for i.c.stars all over the country.

i.c.stars technology training program launches in Milwaukee with $1.6 million sponsorship from The Dohmen Company

Media Contacts:
Elizabeth Ferruelo for i.c.stars, 312-487-2208
Hale Sargent for The Dohmen Company, 414-501-5313

thomgene89's picture

i.c.stars Receives Warm Welcome at QTS Data Center Chicago

As we begin Cycle 40, i.c.stars would like to highlight a stellar engagement with sponsor QTS Data Centers. Cycle 39 was invited to tour their impressive new facility at the end of November, 2017.

thomgene89's picture

Sandee Kastrul featured on the Chicago Morning Takeover - WGCI

Listen to Sandee Kastrul, President and Co-Founder of i.c.stars, speak on the recent Wintrust event celebrating Black business leaders.

Developing the next generation of technology talent: Salesforce and i.c.stars

We are excited to announce that i.c.stars has received its largest grant ever from Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce.

Red Foundry Announces Multi-City i.c.stars Sponsorship Agreement

January 29, 2018

i.c.stars |* milwaukee is Ready to Launch!

i.c.stars Milwaukee

i.c.stars is coming to Milwaukee in 2018 and is now accepting applications!

AOL’s Co-Founder Steve Case Mentions i.c.stars in Columbus Dispatch Op-Ed

October 12, 2017

AOL’s Co-Founder Steve Case Mentions i.c.stars Columbus in Columbus Dispatch Op-Ed: Talented entrepreneurs can find a home here.

Windy City Times Features i.c.stars

November 28, 2017

The Windy City Times features i.c.stars, its president Sandee Kastrul, staff and interns.

How Chicago Tech Companies are Advancing Non-Traditional Talent

HR roundtable 2.jpeg

skastrul's picture

No Equity, No Equality, No Peace

Equity is not a new word or even a new way to describe something. I think we’ve been using the term equity for quite some time. What’s fascinating to me is we often talk about walking between worlds and how our ability to stand in different communities and to add value only gives us more power. The more worlds we can walk between, the more communities we can connect.

Alumni Interviews: Yemisi on Economic Development, Leadership & i.c.stars

Yemisi, you are Director of Finance and Economic Development at the Westside Health Authority. Tell me about your current role.

thomgene89's picture

i.c.stars featured on ABC 7's Ñ Beat - 9/24/17

September 24, 2017

i.c.stars was featured in the September 24, 2017 episode of ABC 7’s Ñ Beat, highlighting leaders in the latinx community around Chicago.

Essendant’s Director, Program Management, Shares Career Advice with i.c.stars Graduate

i.c.stars graduate Tina Rodriguez speaks to Essendant’s Director, Program Management Office, Kathleen Wittleder, about her career.

skastrul's picture

Have you hugged your white supremacist today?

Sandee: So I’m sitting here with Thom. He’s a beloved member of our i.c.stars team. He works on the development side bringing folks into the network and ensuring that our greater community feels engaged and seen. And what most folks don’t know about Thom is that he’s also a social justice dude and he has his degree in social work. So, he brings with him the perspective of what’s the bigger picture about how we’re looking at social justice in terms of the work that we do, how we embrace the future as one larger community and how we honor all our members.

i.c.stars Receives Motorola Solutions Foundation Grant for its Technology & Leadership Skills Training

Chicago—August 22, 2017 i.c.stars, technology workforce development nonprofit, today announced it has received a grant for $50,000 from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the charitable arm of Motor

skastrul's picture

The Elements of Transformation

There is a concept in workforce development that you cannot move people beyond one jump. There are typically 3 stages and you can only jump one stage at a time.

They are struggling, surviving, or thriving.

It is said, You can’t take someone from struggling to thriving. For example, If someone is struggling, you can only get them to a place of survival. If someone is surviving, you can get them to a place where they are thriving. I think this philosophy is wrong. What those categories do is limit us and say you can only do what you can see. I believe our personal power not only comes from our ability to see our future, but also to create it. Perhaps the 3 categories should be imagine, envision, architect or design, build, run, or discover, design, develop, or listen, learn, belive. Each one is a jump, a leap, a dream into action. Each word is a verb and moves us closer to our personal power. You may wonder why I have such trouble finding peace with surviving being at the center?

skastrul's picture

Snoopy Love

When I was a kid, my father could never remember that I love Hello Kitty and he thought that Hello Kitty was interchangeable with Snoopy. To me, Hello Kitty and Snoopy are opposites and it enraged me. Hello Kitty is not Snoopy. Hello Kitty is a cat with no mouth. Snoopy is a dog that doesn’t talk.

My childhood self was like, Why couldn’t he see me? Why couldn’t he see that these were two completely different things? He would come home all excited and say, “Look what I’ve got for you,” and sure enough it was a Snoopy, an effing Snoopy! I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but come on SNOOPY?!?!!

Executives from Grainger, TTX, and EC-United Join i.c.stars Board of Directors

Chicago—July 12, 2017 Technology workforce development nonprofit i.c.stars announced the addition of three directors to its board: Wheeler Coleman, chief executive officer and executive partner of EC

Banking CIO Says Community Service Key to Leadership

June 30, 2017 The PrivateBank’s chief information officer discusses his engagement with i.c.stars and its value for leaders, in an interview with The Enterprisers Project.
skastrul's picture

Leaders and Celebrities - There is a Difference

I attend Congress Woman Jan Schakowsky’s Power Luncheon every year as a guest of a dear friend and former board member Lynne Baker. The number of engaged leaders from across the state at the luncheon is notable. The first time I attended was years ago when Barack Obama was running for State Senator. I believe that pink is the color of friendship, I also believe that it is difficult not to be nice when wearing it. So I in the spirit of friendship am wearing my bright pink jacket.

Unfortunately I was running late for the event and they had already started the welcome. The luncheon is being held in this great big hall in the hotel, with great big doors. Just as I run in, the doors close, people turn to look and there I am, standing there in my pink jacket.

skastrul's picture

Leaders - Claim Your People Now!

What community do you claim?
Does it claim you?
When will we be able to claim each other?

Our current cycle recently lost a member, he was let go from the cohort. Resiliency is a key characteristic our interns and alumni share. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. i.c.stars is tough. The American Psychological Association offers 10 ways to build resilience and the number one suggestion is to “Make Connections.”

Amanda Hogan's picture

Bruce Jones, WW VP at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Talks CxO Disrupt, Big Data and i.c.stars

i.c.stars is hosting its second annual CxO Disrupt: The Evolution of the C-Suite Wednesday evening, June 14th at Chicago’s new innovation lab mHub. This year’s event will focus on the convergence of data and marketing, and the unique challenges and opportunities CIOs and CMOs face in the shifting marketplace. We are excited about our speaker line-up this year. Bruce Jones, VP at HPE Vertica and keynote event speaker, sat for an interview to share a glimpse of his presentation on how technology is making big data more flexible.

skastrul's picture

i.c.stars Selected for Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Grant

Three-Year Program Will Advance Efforts to Support Diverse Entrepreneurs

Blue Sky Innovation writes that i.c.stars among Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship cohort

June 2, 2017

i.c.stars was selected by Blackstone Charitable Foundation to receive grant to support programming for minority entrepreneurs across Chicago.

thomgene89's picture

Chicago Ideas profiles i.c.stars recruiter and alumnus: Rico Bryant, like many formerly incarcerated people, isn't defined by

Rico Bryant is the Recruitment Manager of i.c.stars, a technology-based workforce development program assisting low-income adults.

skastrul's picture

To Capitalize is to Expand the Future

We just hosted our 16th annual Capitalize on Illinois event. Historically Capitalize has been focused on technology executives, what’s on their minds and how they see the future of their enterprises. We would discuss what they foresee coming down the pike, what they’re excited about, and what the challenges may be. This year, the theme for all of our events is Expand the Future and I think that’s a really powerful statement. Especially in the context of this event. When we say, “Capitalize on Illinois, Expand the Future,” it really is a call to action, and this year Capitalize was about immigration and how it impacts the way we conduct business.

So if you connect those three dots, capitalize on local - Illinois, expand the future opportunities, and immigration, we’ve got three pieces of a much larger puzzle that really pushes us into a global perspective.

skastrul's picture

Speaking about Women...

March was an incredible and remarkable women’s history month. Of all the things I could say about this past month, I would say there were two things that stood out the most.

The first thing that struck me is that I had a lot of speaking engagements that were focused on women. In fact, there were many events celebrating women, which is great; I hope that momentum continues throughout the year and not just a month.

i.c.stars Partners with Chicago Ideas for Roundtable on Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

February 22, 2017

i.c.stars partnered with Chicago Ideas on a roundtable discsussion on hiring formerly incarcerated individuals.

A Measurable Impact

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