top of page

Beau leverages his diverse background when leading the Breakwater team to realization of his floating island, vessel concept. Prior to starting Breakwater, Beau launched two startups, Effortless Efficiency and Heat Wrangler, both focused on increasing home-energy efficiency for homeowners throughout Chicagoland. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Beau worked for Eli Lilly & Co (NYSE: LLY) as an HVAC engineer, project manager and team leader. Originally from Plainfield, IL, Beau earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Ashvin has a wealth of experiences in both the private and public sectors, including product development, marketing, business development and client relations roles. Prior to Breakwater, he worked for Discover Financial Services and FSV Payment Systems. Most recently, Ashvin was with the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer overseeing economic and community development programs, and a $6 billion pooled investment money market for public entities. He earned a BS in Chemical Engineering and a MS in Biomedical Engineering from RHIT and an MBA from IU’s Kelley School of Business.

Liz’s experience is in private equity and real estate. Prior to Breakwater, Liz was a Vice President at Equity International where she was responsible for originating, executing and managing investments.  She began her career as an investment banking analyst in the equity capital markets group at Deutsche Bank, followed by three years at JER Parners in Washington, DC as an associate on the Latin America real estate investment team. Liz earned a BS in Economics from Princeton University, where she was the captain of the women's soccer team, and an MBA from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.

Please reload

  • LinkedIn App Icon
  • Wix Twitter page
  • LinkedIn App Icon
  • Wix Twitter page
  • LinkedIn App Icon
  • Wix Twitter page
Board of advisors

Grammy Award winning musician, writer, producer, and educator. Jimmy was a founding member of the Smashing Pumpkins and the bands highly acclaimed drummer for over 20 years. He left the organization in 2010 and brought his skills and observations related to culture, entertainment, and business to the tech community here in Chicago. He is currently the CEO/Co-Founder of LiveOne Inc. LiveOne, Inc. is an audience engagement and data analytics company focused exclusively on transforming the way live online video content is consumed and monetized around the world.

Donovan is the National Director of Local Government Relations for Walgreen Co. Prior to this position, Donovan served as the Director of Government Relations for the Illinois Restaurant Association. He has worked for SBC, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Appropriations in Political Studies from Univ. of Illinois-Springfield and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Sangamon State. 

Philip is a graduate of the Air Force Senior Enlisted Academy, Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Professional Development School and the Coast Guard Senior Leadership Course. Prior to his final station at Calumet Harbor, Philip served as Officer in Charge, CG Station Sackets Harbor, NY; Officer in Charge CG Station Alexandria Bay, NY;  and Commanding Officer, CG Station St. Inigoes, MD. He retired from the US Coast Guard in 2016 and currently serves as Deputy Sheriff in St. Mary's County, MD.

Mr. Sandoval currently serves as the National Director of Business Development for a new division of the Brunswick Corporation that is applying IoT technology to the marine industry. Aside from serving on the Wintrust Board, Lou serves on several industry boards including the National Board of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Sail America and the Recreational Boating Leadership Council (RBLC). He is on the Board of Directors for Chicago Yacht Club and their executive board where he currently serves as the Vice Commodore.

Dave has more than 20 years of strategic consulting experience with a special expertise in public affairs communications. Working at the intersection of business and politics, Dave provides effective communication and reputation management strategies to corporations, individuals and not-for-profits. He honed his strategic edge through several years in politics and government and is a frequent commentator on those issues in national and local venues. Dave is a member of the board of the Illinois channel and a founding board member of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Ethelbert currently leads e-commerce for The Boston Beer Company’s portfolio including Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard, and Twisted Tea brands. He drives e-commerce sales strategies across channels including online merchants, grocery delivery partners and wholesalers. He has more than 18 years of global commercial leadership experience having championed marketing and sales initiatives at Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Procter & Gamble and Unilever. Ethelbert is also an Adjunct Lecturer at Northwestern University where he teaches graduate courses on digital marketing, media and innovation.

Bill is an Executive Director at a financial services firm in Chicago.  He earned his MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and his BA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.  Bill is an avid sailboat racer and member of the Chicago Yacht Club.

Please reload

Friends of breakwater


Jacki is the VP of Public Affairs at Northern Trust Governor in the City Club of Chicago Area. She is also on the IBA Government Relations Board.

Seth is the Co-Founder, Technori, a company in which he helps build the best entrepreneur community in the world. Additionally, he is on the Board of Advisors for DonorPath. He is also a Co-Founder of InsuranceAgents.

John is the President of PositivEnergy Practice. He holds a Masters in Information Design and Technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Masters in English Literature from Washington University. He maintains a blog at Also, he is a former Chief Technology Officer to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Stella is the owner of Stella Black Real Property Consultants. She is also a Board Member for Neumann Family Services.

Jim is the President of the Illinois Association of Realtors. Additionally, he is the VP Luxury Home Sales at Baird & Warner. Also, he is the President-Emeritus at Midwest Eye-Banks.

Tod is the Director of Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC). Also, he is the Systems Engineer at Electric Boat. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Northwestern University.

Ann is an author and urban planner. She is the founder of The Neptune Foundation, Inc. She is also the founder of The Floating Lady; a free, public pool in New York City.

Larry is the President of Bremont North America. He has served as the Sr. Vice President of Retail of Tourneau, the President of Georg Jensen USA Inc., the Retail Director of Bulgari, and has been responsible for Operations at Caldor. He holds a BS degree in Pre-Law and History from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Emilia DiMenco was named president and chief executive officer of a prominent not-for-profit organization in 2013. Emilia joined this organzation as chief operating officer in July 2010 after completing a 30-year career as an executive vice president of BMO Harris N.A. Emilia had P&L responsibility for 80% of her career and managed budgets in excess of $200 million with revenues multiples greater. Her responsibility included leadership and management for 600 commercial banking employees.

Proven and accomplished marketing executive with over 17 years of well rounded, integrated marketing experience in advertising, promotion, public relations, product innovation, facility/operations management, and sports and brand marketing from the agency, brand and property perspectives. Industry respected marketer known for building and developing deep and impactful, “win-win” relationships by leveraging industry knowledge with exceptional interpersonal and communication skills. A poised leader with a proven track record of identifying and developing talent.

Tim is the CMO/Owner of Walter E. Smithe + Furniture Design. Also, he the author of You Dream It. You Build It.

Keven was the founder and CEO of Chiasso, an award-winning cataloger and national specialty gift store chain that she launched in 1985. While Keven was CEO and chief merchant, Chiasso registered record mall sales per square foot and same store annual sales increases well above national averages. In addition, Keven’s creative flair in merchandise selection, marketing, graphics and store design resulted in numerous awards for the company and considerable media attention including an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey TV Show. 

Nik is the Industry Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Illinois Institute of Technology Business Development. He is the founder of private companies and two non-profit entities as well as supports several startup business efforts in the science & high tech community. He is able to combine business and technical knowledge with experience in owning and operating companies to create successful businesses.

Todd is the CEO of The Bunker and Co-founder of Flank 5 Academy. He is a Navy veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom aboard USS BUNKER HILL (CG-52), and has held senior leadership roles in the public and private sectors. He holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. 

Glenn originally hails from New York City, and came to Chicago in 1980 with the Palm Restaurant. Also, he worked for The Palm for 12 years; opened the Chicago Ruth's Chris Steak House in 1992 and was later promoted to Vice President of Operations for the largest Ruth's Chris Steakhouse franchise group. He went out on his own with brother Richard de Castro and opened Keefer's Restaurant in Chicago's River North neighborhood in 2001.

Raaja Nemani was a backpacker just passing through and Aaron Firestein was an artist helping bring the work of street artists to larger audiences in Argentina. The two quickly became friends and before parting ways, Aaron drew an original design on a pair of blank canvas sneakers for Raaja. As Raaja traveled across six continents, his new shoes sparked conversations with people from all over the world. Witnessing the power of art firsthand, Raaja asked Aaron to join him in building a brand committed to collaborating with artists. Fast forward to today, BucketFeet is a brand that tells artist stories, one product at a time.

Desmond Clark is a former American football tight end who has played in the National Football League. Some of those NFL teams include the Denver Broncos, the Miami Dolphins, and the Chicago Bears. He also done charity work with the 88 Ways Youth Organization, where he is the President & Executive Director. Lastly, he is the President of the NFL Alumni Chicago.

With a Bachelor's Degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rich was able to utilize his financial knowledge to be selected as one of the advisors to represent Northwestern Mutual in their partnership with over 15 different sports teams within the NCAA. He can be seen on the 19th second of this clip which received over 500M+ impressions worldwide with over 50M+ viewers during the Rose Bowl and subsequent NCAA football/basketball games. 

Joshua is a talented and creative project manager who can turn ideas into reality. Whether it be a river rehabilitation project or a global startup festival, his passion and work ethic translate into positive results. He has proved this through his work as a Env. Scientist at the Shedd Aquarium, and his work as a Project Manager at F50. 

Sharon was responsible for setting up the retail operations at East Bank Club in Chicago. She retired as the Retail Manager for East Bank Club and now advises retail-related businesses.

At the Illinois Institute of Technology, Donna's key goals are to support small business development in Chicago in general (with a particular focus on the South Side communities around IIT), and provide critical support for the technology-focused entrepreneurial aspirations of IIT’s students, alumni, faculty and staff. She has the ability to collaborate with and be a support system in a strong group of key business and non-profit leaders. Her focus will be on creating and retaining jobs, helping clients access capital and provide much needed goods and services locally, nationally and globally.

With [Best of], Tony has created an award-winning idea that is now a business working hard to bring the best educational content from across targeted industries to benefit business professionals. His pilot network is dedicated to the BtoB Events Industry. Tony's Healthcare Leadership and Supply Chain are very recently launched and several networks in other industry sectors are in development.

Jonny is a cancer survivor who founded Imerman Angels, a non-profit organization that connects a cancer fighter with someone who has fought and survived the same cancer. At 26 years old in 2001, Jonny was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  After doctors surgically removed one of his testicles, he did five months of chemotherapy and became cancer-free.  But almost a year later, four tumors popped up again near his spine.  After another surgery, an 11-inch incision, and three months of recovery, Jonny was back in remission. During his cancer fight, he realized what needed to change in the cancer world. 

Greg is the General Manager of Groupon Live, a joint venture between Groupon and Live Nation Entertainment. Before Groupon, Greg served as the COO of The Point, SVP of A|X at MediaBank, VP of Corporate & Business Development at MediaBank, VP of Sales & Marketing at Cleversafe, and VP of Marketing and Business Development at AOL Music Now. He earned his B.A. in History from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana and his J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

Barry has founded and run small businesses for more than 20 years. After successfully selling his last operating business, Barry has branched out into a number of entrepreneurship-related activities.  He founded an angel investor group, an angel fund, and is a former advisory member of the board of the Angel Capital Education Foundation.  Barry has authored four books - “You Need to Be A Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business” and “Bounce! Failure, Resiliency and the Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success” among them - and is a nationally recognized speaker on small business.

Becky is a veteran of high-profile political and public policy campaigns. She was a top adviser to public-sector executives at both Chicago's City Hall and the Illinois Office of the Governor lending her expertise to build stakeholder support for large public/private developments. Becky also held top positions on local, state and national political campaigns, including National Director of Women for Obama on the 2008 Obama for President campaign and most recently as Chairman and CEO of Chicago Forward, a Super PAC that raised over $5 million to support the re-election of Mayor Rahm Emanuel during the 2015 election. 

As spokesperson and brand manager for Illinois tourism, Jen oversaw a $62-million budget and led the overall PR, marketing and advertising efforts for Enjoy Illinois both domestically and abroad. She introduced the groundbreaking #MiniAbe campaign that galvanized the Illinois tourism industry, led to back-to-back years of record breaking visitor numbers, and earned two AdWeek "Ad of the Day" nods as well as the 2014 Tourism Mercury Award Winner for Best Social Marketing Campaign and 2015 Tourism Mercury Award Winner for Best Television Advertising Campaign.

George has been interested in limousine services since 1978 when he started his career as a forklifts salesperson. In 1985, he purchased American Limousine Services and grew it into the largest limousine company in the U.S. He retired in 2005, but that didn’t last long. His former employees did not like the leadership that had replaced Jacobs at American Limo, and a second suitor for American Limo asked if he would raise money and create a new company — Windy City Limousine & Bus LLC.

William "Bill" Kane is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group in ShepardMullin's Chicago office, where he provides advice regarding regulatory, corporate governance and media/entertainment issues. He has significant experience representing clients in need of emergency injunctive relief for trade secret theft and unfair business competition. Bill's commercial litigation experience is as noteworthy as it is varied. He aims to always bring a creative approach to a legal dispute for each client's advantage.

Anthony is the Area Vice President on the HUB International Midwest team. He has more than 8 years of experience in the insurance industry, with a particular focus on preparing customized asset protection programs for high-net-worth individuals, and family offices. Currently, Mr. Hernandez is President and founder of Three Gentlemen foundation, Board Member for Teen Living Programs, a Board Member for Orchard Village, and a member of the Asian Real Estate Association of America.

Darren Tristano is Chief Insights Officer at Technomic, a leading consulting firm in the food and beverage industries. Since 1993, Darren has served as President, CFO and EVP leading the development and growth of Technomic’s Information Services division, while also serving in a strategic capacity directing multiple aspects of Technomic’s ongoing operations. Darren regularly contributes to Forbes, The Washington Post, and other national news outlets.

Please reload

Breakwater Chicago, Blog
Breakwater Chicago, Press, Media
Breakwater Chicago, Blog
bottom of page