Meet the Spring 2019 CO.STARTERS Cohort

August 13, 2019

1/24

Meet Kazim Abbot, FOUNDER of The Academic Consulting Agency, providing superior academic tutoring and college preparatory services to help students thrive and graduate debt free with the right offer on the table.

 

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Dennery, St. Lucia (Caribbean)

 

Q: What's your professional bio?

A: Imagine a trillion dollar debt crisis. Imagine leaving paradise in pursuit of the American DREAM but instead getting tied to the American DEBT. That was my story - I found myself leaving paradise for a scholarship that never materialized and forced to take on a hefty student loan. Committed to getting out of debt expeditiously, I developed a knack and skill-set for finding opportunity: scholarships, internships, and leveraged my gifts of Mathematical proficiency, mentoring and public speaking to build an organization that helps others change. I use academics and technology to help people change their lives through workshops, individualized coaching, tutoring, mentoring and speaking engagements.

 

Q: What's your motto/quote you live by?

A: Your job is what you get Trained to do, your work is what you were MADE to do.

 

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Gratitude Journal!

 

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Becoming a change agent and helping many people change their lives by helping them find opportunities!

 

Meet Tara Allbritton, FOUNDER of Ms. Tara Talks and She Got The Nerve Coaching & Consulting, providing professional speaking services dedicated to saving lives by providing life-changing talks that inspire listeners and move them toward transformation, goals and purpose.

 

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Chicago, IL

 

Q: What's your professional bio?

A: Tara Allbritton is a professional speaker who survived the challenges of low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and bullying by learning to D.A.N.C.E. - Discovering who I am, Acknowledging my power within, Never giving up, being Consistent in the process, and Expecting greatness for my life.

 

Q: What's your motto/quote you live by?

A: I live by my favorite scripture ... All things work together for the good to those who love God.

 

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Read inspirational messages.

 

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Becoming an entrepreneur.

Meet Casandra Austin-McDonald, FOUNDER of the Live Greater Institute, a personal and professional development business which guides others in living more confident and fulfilling lives as the greatest versions of themselves..

 

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Springfield, IL

 

Q: What's your professional bio?

A: After spending over 11 years working in the criminal justice field helping juvenile and adult offenders make better choices to change their lives, Casandra transitioned to the personal development field as a Speaker, Transformation Consultant, Mentor, and is the author of Unclothed: Memoir of a Naked Soul. Casandra is the founder of the Live Greater Institute, a personal and professional development business which guides others in living more confident and fulfilling lives as the greatest versions of themselves.

 

​Casandra is a bold and dynamic speaker who shares her personal story while also providing valuable content. Casandra has spoken in front of many audiences and diverse groups such as U.S. Bank, Illinois Women in Leadership (IWIL), Habits and Lifestyles LLC, The Association for Women in Communications (AWC), Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, and Pure Haven Counseling and Resource Center. Casandra continues on a path toward lifelong learning and growing by attending seminars, workshops, educating herself in the personal development field and remaining engaged in her own inner work.

 

Q: What's your motto/quote you live by?

A: It's not too late and you're not too old to live the life you've always desired.

 

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Take walks when the weather permits. If not, listen to positive content, such as a podcast.

 

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Healing and transforming my own life from the inside-out.

​Meet Dayton Burnett, FOUNDER of TRANS4ORM an online coaching service designed to deliver a world class training experience through science based programming.

 

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Springfield, IL

 

Q: What's your professional bio?

A: Trans4orm was developed to help people save time and money by leveraging technology to deliver a customized training program. No matter where you are at in your fitness journey, Trans4orm can meet you where your at and help you take steps towards improving your quality of life.

 

Q: What's your motto/quote you live by?

A: Without struggle there can be no progress.

 

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Prioritize movement + nutrition.

 

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Being voted Team Captain of my college football team.

​Meet Liz Hiler, FOUNDER of Thirsty's Taproom, a community friendly specialty beer store with midwestern craft beer on tap for growlers, pints, flights, as well as a selection of American craft bottles and cans.

 

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Springfield, IL

 

Q: What's your professional bio?

A: I am a high school history teacher by trade who taught for 7 years in the Chicago Public Schools and 3 years in North Carolina. Following my time in NC, I worked for 2 years on curriculum for a publishing company in California. I returned to Springfield to take a job with the Illinois State Board of Education. I love craft beer, and I would like to bring a community friendly craft beer taproom and bottle shop to Springfield.

 

Q: What's your motto/quote you live by?

A: Keep on movin...

 

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: I laugh a lot with my co-workers.

 

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: It's a toss up between quitting smoking 10 years ago and running the Chicago Marathon last year. I do not think I would have done one without the other.

​Meet Whitney Lewis, FOUNDER of Maison DeLaurent, offering classy, affordable clothing that wants to make young women feel the best version of themselves.

 

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Waukegan, IL

 

Q: What's your professional bio?

A: Senior at UIS studying Management Information Systems with interest in fashion, tech and traveling.

 

Q: What's your motto/quote you live by?

A: The only constant in life is change; you either adapt or get left behind.

 

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Being the first person in my family to attend college.

​Meet Thomas Phinney, FOUNDER of On The Rocks Bouldering.

 

​Meet Patrick Russell, FOUNDER of Curtain & Leaf.