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Katrina Markoff Announces Donation to WiSTEM to Support Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs

Donation Will Fund 1871’s WiSTEM Program And Connect Women Entrepreneurs to Capital, Technology, And Community; 1871 Additionally Announces Jessica Williams Named Co-Facilitator of WiSTEM

CHICAGO (OCTOBER 12, 2015) – Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, joined 1871 to announce a generous donation to WiSTEM, 1871’s first of its kind program designed to foster opportunities for women in technology. WiSTEM is part of Google for Entrepreneurs’ #40Forward initiative, and is also supported by the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, Motorola Mobility Foundation, and AT&T. The announcement followed a panel discussion focused on women entrepreneurs during the 2015 Momentum Awards Dinner VIP pre-reception.

“I’m thrilled to announce my donation to the WiSTEM program today,” said Katrina Markoff. “It is my passion to innovate through the medium of chocolate and now I want to give other women the opportunity to explore their passions. Through WiSTEM I am able to help an entire cohort of women at the cusp of achieving their dreams.”

Katrina Markoff is the founder of the luxury chocolate brand Vosges Haut-Chocolat, and created her second chocolate brand Wild Ophelia in 2011 to highlight the American craft farm movement. The chocolate draws on American regional foods, concocting bars using ingredients like beef jerky, BBQ potato chips, Hawaiian bananas and peanut butter. Wild Ophelia has evolved as a brand along side Katrina’s growing mission to inspire, empower, and help activate a movement of female entrepreneurs that will shape America’s culture, economy, and future at large. The brand represents an American road trip through chocolate investing in the power of women entrepreneurs.

“WiSTEM has been an outstanding educational experience made even better by the diverse range of established women entrepreneurs that it attracts as speakers, mentors and advocates,” said Michelle Smyth, founder of Pay Your Selfie and WiSTEM member. “It was great to hear from Katrina about her mission to inspire other women entrepreneurs, and I’m excited to continue building my business while also supporting other women entrepreneurs.”

WiSTEM is focused around three primary areas – connecting women technology entrepreneurs to capital, technology, and community. Members of the first WiSTEM cohort, who were also featured during Thursday's event, include:

Alex Buck – Co-Founder and CEO, Plumwise
Amanda Greenberg – Co-Founder and CEO, Baloonr
Annie Mohaupt – Founder and CEO, Mohop
Catherine Merritt – Founder and CEO, MUMZY
Elena Valentine – Co-Founder and CEO, Skill Scout
Holly Bellmund – Founder and CEO, Werenro Group
Julie Novack – Founder and CEO, PartySlate
Linda Zabors – Founder and CEO, Honorary Chicago
Michelle Smyth – Founder and CEO, Pay Your Selfie
Parminder Batra – Co-Founder and CEO, Sekure Trak, Inc./TraknProtect
Reva Minkoff – Founder and President, Digital4Startups and DigitalGroundUp
Rose Afriyie – Co-Founder and CEO, mRelief
Veatrice Glenn – Founder and CEO, Insightful Decisions, Inc.

Already an accomplished entrepreneur, Katrina Markoff is the recipient of numerous accolades, including being named Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40, the Bon Appétit Food Artisan of the Year Award and “The innovator in chocolate to lead the US through the next 30 years” by Food & Wine Magazine. OPEN America Express and Entrepreneur Magazine honored her as Women Entrepreneur of the Year. National Geographic named Vosges Haut-Chocolat one of the 10 Best Chocolatiers in the World. Most recently, Katrina was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People of 2015.

“Our goal in creating WiSTEM has been to produce a purposeful and long-lasting program that meets real needs and creates impactful opportunities for women,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “The involvement of Chicago’s community of women entrepreneurs has been a valuable resource for accomplishing this goal, and we are incredibly grateful for Katrina’s support.”

In addition to announcing the donation and featuring the WiSTEM companies at Thursday's event, 1871 also announced the appointment of Jessica Williams as co-facilitator of WiSTEM. Jessica will join 1871 on October 19th and will work directly with Nicole Yeary, the other co-facilitator, to lead and evolve the WiSTEM program. Jessica comes from McCormick Place, where she oversaw the team that led the connectivity for all of the shows and conferences at the facility. She also runs a successful blog focused on women in technology.

“I’m thrilled to be joining 1871 and helping to lead WiSTEM,” said Jessica Williams. “This is an exciting time for women in technology and great things are ahead. I am looking forward to getting started and helping grow some exciting companies.”

For more information about WiSTEM, visit


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