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(WEBINAR) Forging the Gap Between Educational Institutions and Industry: Future of Work in a Rapidly Evolving Workplace and Advancing Technological Innovation Environment

The rise of AI and Automation is changing the work landscape as we know it. As technology advances, the modern worker, along with their education and skillsets, will need to adapt to stay employable. In the current COVID-19 environment, one question stands out: will the pandemic lead to an acceleration or deceleration in the race towards automation? And further, is our education system incompatible with rapidly changing industries and necessary training to support the evolving modern worker?

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  • Karin M. Norington-Reaves, Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership


  • Craig Freedman, Chief Executive Officer, Freedman Seating
  • Juan Salgado, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago
  • Betsy Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer, 1871

Speaker Biographies 


Karin M. Norington-Reaves, Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership 

Karin M. Norington-Reaves is a lifelong public servant with more than 25 years of experience in education, law, advocacy, community and workforce development. In 2012, Karin became the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) upon her appointment by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

As CEO and change agent, she led the merger and restructuring of three diverse workforce systems into what is now the nation’s most extensive workforce system managed by a non-profit administrative agency. Karin leads The Partnership’s mission to ensure that “every person has the skills to build a career and every business has the talent it needs to compete in a global economy.”

She oversees the administration of federal, state and philanthropic funds and the creation of effective programs that assure alignment between the skills demanded by a changing economy and those offered by the region’s labor force. She also works to generate both private and public funding to expand the services available throughout Chicagoland. In her tenure, The Partnership has raised nearly $50 million in diverse funds, including a $10.9 million grant awarded by the Walmart Foundation—the most significant gift in the history of the foundation.

A recognized thought leader on the national stage, Karin has served as a keynote speaker, panelist and presenter at a host of conferences, and convenings. Similarly, delegations from Korea, China, and Great Britain have sought to learn from her leadership and organizational experience.

Karin’s civic engagement extends to numerous organizations. She serves as a member of the Cook County Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), the Board of Advisors for LISC Chicago, the Board of Directors of the Chicago Lighthouse, and the Board of Thrive Chicago. She also spent eight years as a mentor/sponsor for LINK Unlimited.

Karin has received local and national awards for her outstanding professional and community-driven accomplishments. Karin’s recognitions include: the 2016 Excellence in Public Service award by the Civic Federation of Chicago and the Motorola Solutions Foundation; the 2017 Woman of Excellence award from the Chicago Defender; 2018 The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future Giver award from the National Retail Federation Foundation; and 2018 Outstanding Achievement in Workforce & Labor award from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs.

Before The Partnership, Karin served as Director of Cook County Works; Deputy Director of the Office of Urban Assistance for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Chief of Staff for the City of Chicago’s 20th Ward. Karin spent eight years as a litigator for the U.S. Department of Justice, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General and the Citizens Utility Board in the fields of mental health law, education, contracts, and public utility consumer protection. She is a former adjunct law professor at Loyola University’s Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy. Karin began her career as a Teach For America Corps member in Compton, California.

A Chicago native, Karin holds a J.D. from Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas, Texas and a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She is also the proud mother of a blended family of four children.


Craig Freedman, Chief Executive Officer, Freedman Seating Company

Through Craig’s leadership and commitment to the company’s mission and core values, Freedman Seating (“FSC’) has grown to become an industry leader providing seating solutions to the bus, rail, marine and light truck industries. Located on Chicago’s West Side in the West Humboldt/Austin neighborhoods, FSC is proud of its over 750 employees. Craig maintains a strong presence in the community and is passionate about providing opportunity to its underserved residents. He is especially active in helping young people train in manufacturing disciplines, participating on advisory committees, and supporting shadowing and internship programs for area high schools. Craig is dedicated to keeping Chicago’s manufacturing industry alive and vibrant by partnering with Jane Addams Resource Corporation and being on the boards of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future and Manufacturing Renaissance. Craig had the honor to serve on the Manufacturing Council of the Department of Commerce where he joined the workforce development committee. After graduating from Northwestern University in 1988 with a BA in Economics, Craig Freedman worked as an analyst with Morgan-Stanley before pursuing his MBA from Harvard University. In 1992, Craig returned to Chicago to focus on strategic planning and operations at Freedman Seating, where he would eventually become President then CEO.

Juan Salgado, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago

Chancellor Juan Salgado has focused his more than 20-year career on improving education and economic opportunities for residents in low-income communities.

As Chancellor, he oversees Chicago’s community college system, serving more than 77,000 students across seven colleges.

From 2001 to 2017, he served as CEO of Instituto del Progreso Latino, where he worked to empower residents of Chicago’s Southwest Side through education, citizenship, and skill-building programs that led to sustainable employment and economic stability.

Chancellor Salgado is a community college graduate himself, earning an associate degree from Moraine Valley Community College, prior to earning a Bachelors degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, and a Masters degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chancellor Salgado has been nationally recognized for his work, including as a 2015 MacArthur Fellow.  Among his civic commitments, he serves as a board member of the Obama Foundation.

Betsy Ziegler, CEO, 1871

Elizabeth “Betsy” Ziegler is the first female CEO of 1871, now the Number 1 ranked private business incubator in the world.

Previous to 1871 Betsy was the Chief Innovation Officer at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, one of the Top 5 ranked business schools in the world, where she was responsible for portfolio innovation as well as integrating technology into the Kellogg educational experience. She also served as Associate Dean of degree programs and Dean of students.

Prior to Kellogg, Betsy served as a Principal in McKinsey & Company’s Chicago office where she led the firm’s Life Insurance Operations and Technology practice, and co-led its Financial Institutions Operations and Technology practice. Ziegler holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and received a B.A. in economics from The Ohio State University, where she graduated with distinction.

Event Details
08. 05. 2020
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm