on the table: join the conversation

Please Note the Special Date:

Monday, May 12, 2014


Program: 8:00 a.m.
Adjourn:   9:30 a.m.

Join the CR Group and Cheryl Hughes as we joins The Chicago Community Trust, and 10,000 neighbors throughout our region on one day, Monday, May 12, in conversations about Chicago’s challenges, its strengths, its identity.

The Chicago Community Trust is marking its 99th anniversary with a community-wide, meal-time conversation, On The Table, about our collective future, and the CR Group is joining in that community-wide conversation.

We invite you to join us as we join thousands of others to generate new ideas, spark partnerships, and shape a public agenda to build and sustain strong, safe, and dynamic communities.

Please Note: The format for this meeting will not include the usual half-hour networking.  The meeting will start at 8:00 a.m. and conclude at 9:30 a.m.  Seating is limited to 50 participants, and priority will be given to CR Group Member respresentatives and their guests.


Morningstar, Inc.
22 West Washington Street
Chicago, IL  60602

Mark Konkol

Pulitzer-Prize-Winning writer, Narrator of the CNN series Chicagoland, Writer-at-Large at DNAinfo Chicago

Mark Konkol lives on the South Side. He is a White Sox fan. He has a dog, cat and a Wikipedia page.

The writer-at-large for DNAinfo.com Chicago plays bad guitar, drinks good rum and enjoys long motorcycle rides to the beach.

He once was forced to trade his jeans for loaner fat-lady club pants to get in the Union League Club.

Konkol grew up in South Holland and graduated from Thornwood High School, which he likes to boast is where he struck out future Major League All-Star Cornelius “Cliff” Floyd in batting practice.

Konkol also tells people that for two years he was the starting left guard on the Culver-Stockton College football team. That didn’t last. He graduated from Western Illinois University.

For the last 13 years, Konkol has written about Chicago, all of it. He’s covered Chicago City Hall, transportation, county government and courts, city neighborhoods and White Sox 2005 World Series run from a fan’s perspective.

Most recently, Konkol was the Writer at Large for the Chicago Sun-Times where he teamed up with his pals Frank Main and John J. Kim to produce a series of stories about “Why they won’t stop shooting in Chicago” that was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.

After that, Konkol’s mom said he was a pretty good reporter. Just to be safe, Konkol checked it out on Twitter. This is what he found: “@CharlesThomas7: Nobody covers Chicago’s ‘hood like Mark Konkol @konkolskorner.”

The neighborhoods, all of them; that’s where Konkol’s most comfortable writing about guys he’ll never forget including Bernard, the homeless guy in River North. And that “Grandpa Joe” character, who ended a confrontation with Mike Royko by saying, “You’ll never be Studs. You’ll never be Algren.”

And you don’t have to say it, Konkol already knows he’ll never be Royko.

He’s fine with that — Royko was never on Twitter.

Fun fact: At the final Sun-Times vs. Tribune flag football game in 2004, Konkol ran over a Trib reporter, who got really mad at him. Years later, at the urging of Chris “The Watchdog” Fusco, Konkol apologized to the Trib guy at a Christmas party even though Konkol really did nothing wrong. When a fat guy’s running as fast as he can, get out of the way. That’s just common sense.

Leslie Kendrigan Meredith

Executive Vice President and Group Account Director, Leo Burnett USA

Leslie Kendrigan Meredith leads teams for clients h.h. gregg and United Healthcare, and also spearheads the Social Purpose initiative at advertising powerhouse Leo Burnett.  In her nine years at the agency, she’s grown business for clients like Kelloggs, Steelcase, Nintendo, Novartis and Walgreens, winning awards for both effectiveness and creativity along the way.

Prior to joining Leo Burnett, Leslie spent 18 years as a client-side marketer (11 of them in Europe) for x-ray equipment maker Summit Industries, SmithKline Beecham and Heineken.  With broad experience and deep expertise across the marketing spectrum, she brings shrewd perspective and a drive for greatness to her clients.

Outside of the agency, Leslie helps run a school garden and teaches kids how to grow and cook “real” food.  A former triathlete, her competitiveness these days is limited to Words with Friends, neighborhood corn hole tournaments and board games with her teenaged daughter.


Justine Nagan

Executive Director, Kartemquin Films

Since 2008, Justine has led Kartemquin Films as their Executive Director as well as being an Executive Producer on each new film. She is responsible, in concert with the Board of Directors, for creating and implementing the strategic vision for Kartemquin. Justine successfully transitioned to the ED role in a historic founder-led organization, and has made major strides in building a foundation for long-term sustainability.

With Kartemquin, she also directed Typeface, an award-winning documentary on American typography and graphic design and the doc short Sacred Transformations. Formerly she worked as the organization’s Director of Communications & Distribution and as the Associate Producer on Kartemquin’s Peabody-Award winning documentary Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita, which was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens in early 2008. She is currently Executive Producing several Kartemquin films at the busiest time in their history, most recently completing The Interrupters, directed by Steve James, which won the 2012 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. Prior to these projects, she helped Kartemquin to develop the series The Learning Chronicles while earning her Master’s Degree in the Humanities with an emphasis on Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago. Other Chicago experience includes teaching at the Hyde Park Art Center, as well as working as a Theatre Manager at the Cadillac Palace and Thorne Auditorium for the Chicago International Film Festival and as a summer Fellow for The HistoryMakers, an African-American video oral-history archive.

Before moving to Chicago, she produced promotional spots for Public Television, directed the post-production department for a small media firm and worked for various other companies ranging from M&C Saatchi in Sydney, Australia to Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know? on National Public Radio. Justine received her Bachelor’s Degree in Film and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and has been a distinguished young alum: featured in 2012 in their “Forward under 40” list and in 2010, as recipient of the Ralph O. Nafziger award for “distinguished achievement by an alumnus within 10 years of graduation.” She was selected to join the 2012 Leadership Greater Chicago class of fellows and in 2013 was named a “40 under 40” leader by the national New Leaders Council. Additionally, Justine was one of three Chicago-area nonprofit executive directors to be awarded the 2013 Harvard Business School Club of Chicago Fellowship.

She is an active volunteer in the community for such organizations as The Glass Slipper Project, the Hyde Park Art Center and WTTW. She is currently on the Advisory Board for Midwest Independent Film Festival, has served on the IFP Chicago Board, as the staff representative on Kartemquin’s Board of Directors, as an elected member of the Badger Herald Newspaper’s Board, and has acted on several other civic and community committees.

Phillip Koch

Producer, CNN Series Chicagoland,  Screenwriter, Producer, Director, Writer, Line Producer, Unit Production Manager at Film Police

PHILLIP KOCH is an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer. He is one of the producers of CNN’s “Chicagoland,” an eight hour documentary series Executive Produced by Robert Redford. Phillip’s credits include “The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord & Conflict,” (writer/director/producer) broadcast nationally on PBS, “Betaville,” (Porchlight Entertainment/Questar) (producer) starring John Astin, Lou Rawls, Tim Kazurinsky and Judge Reinhold; “Night of The Lawyers,” (writer/director/producer) (Film Police) a sci-fi comedy starring Tom Towles, Ron Dean, Penelope Milford, Kate Walsh and Tony Mockus, Jr.; “Pink Nights” (writer/director/producer) (Twentieth Century Fox & MGM/UA), a romantic comedy starring Kevin Anderson, Tom Towles and Ron Dean; “Medusa Challenger,” (producer) (Film Police) starring Joe Mantegna & Jack Wallace, an award-winning short in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the American Film Institute.  Mr. Koch produced a series of educational films on health issues that were distributed nationally.  Mr. Koch is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Independent Feature Project.  His films have won numerous awards including a Chicago Emmy Award.  Mr. Koch has taught screenwriting at the Chicago Dramatists Workshop and has written for Cinefantastique Magazine, Descant, Pro Video Review, Trial Diplomacy Journal and Cimarron Review.

Mr. Koch has appeared on panel discussions at the St. Louis Film Festival, The Gene Siskel Film Center, and the American Society of Picture Professionals.  Mr. Koch has been a judge at the Illinois Screenwriting Competition and the Chicago Youth Community Film Festival.

Alison Cuddy

Program Director at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Alison Cuddy is Program Director at the Chicago Humanities Festival.  Previously she was a journalist, whose work has appeared on NPR and the BBC.  Most recently she spent nearly more than ten years at WBEZ, Chicago Public Media, where she was the arts and culture reporter and host of the award-winning daily program Eight Forty-Eight.  Alison also served as the senior producer of Chicago Matters, the year-long series examining various topics of broad interest to the region.  Currently, she co-hosts Strange Brews, a podcast about the culture of craft beer.

Prior to 2001, Alison worked in the Immigration Department of ThoughtWorks, Inc. in Chicago, and was an adjunct professor at DePaul University as well as a teaching fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.  She holds an M.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.F.A. in Cinema Studies from Concordia University in Montréal.


storytelling: documentary film & corporate responsibility

Please Note the Special Date:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Reception: 8:00 a.m.
Program:   8:30 a.m.
Adjourn:   9:30 a.m.


Alison Cuddy, Co-Host and Co-Producer of Strange Brews and the arts and culture reporter at WBEZ 91.5 FM Chicago Public Media. Previously she was host of Eight Forty-Eight.


Justine Nagan, Executive Director, Kartemquin Films. She was the Executive Producer of The Interrupters, which won the 2012 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.

Phillip Koch, Producer, CNN Series Chicagoland, Producer, Director, Writer, Line Producer, Unit Production Manager at Film Police

Leslie Kendrigan Meredith, Executive Vice President and Group Account Director, Leo Burnett USA

Mark Konkol, Pulitzer-Prize-Winning writer, Narrator, CNN series Chicagoland,  Writer-at-Large at DNAinfo Chicago

The panel will explore the current landscape of documentary film and video media as it intersects with the broad range of issues corporate responsibility programs seek to address.

To what extent might this medium effectively communicate corporate messages and brand positioning?  Besides the more typical role of video messaging in corporate communications, public relations, or annual reports, how do independent films or more far-reaching video projects bolster corporate endeavors?  Of equal note, to what extent might there be conflicts or positions at cross-purposes?

What are the challenges and pitfalls inherent in sponsorship or funding such projects from the filmmakers’ perspective to the viewpoint of the C-suite in the corporation?

How has the medium adapted to messaging?  The panel will share clips of their work  — from a 4 minute PSA video launched by a global brand (such as, the Mean Stinks anti-bullying campaign for Secret) to the 8-hour-long documentary on multiple aspects of life in Chicago over the course of a summer (“Chicagoland” on CNN, which is proudly sponsored by our own CR Group corporate member Allstate.)

The CR Group suggests you invite colleagues from corporate teams involved with communications, social media, and video production who might be interested in this discussion.  Simply include their names as your guests in your RSVP.  This event is by invitation only, so simply sharing/forwarding the invitation will not secure a seat for your guests.  Space is limited – Members and Members’ guests will be given priority.

We will be meeting in the perfect venue for this event – Theater 1 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  Bring your popcorn and your questions!


Gene Siskel Film Center
Theater 1
164 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60601