Join us for SAIC's second annual Corporate Partners Luncheon to hear a panel of successful entrepreneurs discuss how creative thinking and new workplace models have promoted diversity among Chicago's corporate and social innovation leaders. The event will highlight how SAIC's interdisciplinary curriculum and programs empower students to identify new ways to promote economic development and address social issues. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with SAIC’s corporate and civic partners as well as students and alumni who represent the impact of these innovative programs.

The Role of Art & Design in Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Opening Remarks

 Elissa Tenny, President of SAIC, and Paul Steinberg, Motorola Solutions’ Chief Technology Officer

Panel Members

Neal Sales-Griffin, CEO, CodeNow; Cofounder, The Starter League
George Aye, Adjunct Professor of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects, SAIC; Cofounder and Principal, Greater Good Studio
Terri Lonier (panel moderator), Dean of Career and Professional Experience (CAPX), SAIC
Charles Adler, Cofounder and former Head of Design at Kickstarter, Founder of Lost Arts 

Innovation & Entrepreneurship at SAIC

Motorola Solutions + SAIC–Since 2006, Motorola Solutions Foundation has sponsored the GFRY Studio, a course where students collaborate with external partners in hands-on design projects that promote social good. In 2017, Motorola Solutions Foundation sponsored the Safety In Numbers project at SAIC’s off-campus classroom space in North Lawndale, where SAIC and Chicago public high school students worked collaboratively to design sensors to collect data about their environments reflecting various interpretations of safety. More information is available here.

CAPX—Career and Professional Experience (CAPX) helps students and alumni gain the self-knowledge, experience, skills, and confidence needed to develop unique, creatively satisfying career paths. CAPX provides one-on-one advising, group workshops, and numerous professional networking opportunities. More information is available here.

Milan External Partnerships course—For a decade, SAIC students have exhibited work in Milan, Italy during Milan Design Week. This yearlong course in SAIC’s Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects program gives students the opportunity to make design experiments come to life as real products. More information is available here.

MakeWork Challenge –SAIC students and alumni are eligible to compete for a spot in the MakeWork Challenge, which awards up to $10,000 in start-up funding for entrepreneurial projects. The challenge is an extension of the MakeWork Council, a group of artists, designers, and entrepreneurs at SAIC working to further economic and cultural development in Chicago. More information is available here.

Panelist Bios


Paul Steinberg, CFO, Motorola Solutions –Paul Steinberg joined Motorola in 1992 and is presently Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Motorola Solutions. Prior to being appointed CTO, Steinberg was chief architect for Integrated Command and Control and Private Broadband Solutions for public safety systems. Steinberg serves on technical advisory boards for multiple companies that supply products and technologies into the networking industry and is also a member of the Federal Communications Commission Technical Advisory Council as well as the Emergency Response Interoperability Center - Public Safety Advisory Committee. Steinberg who is a member of Motorola Solutions’ Science Advisory Board Associates, was recognized with the Motorola Dan Noble Fellow award in 2004 and was named a Motorola Fellow in 2006. He also holds several US patents.


Neal Sales-Griffin left a position as founder-in-residence at a venture capital firm in 2010 to fulfill a three-part desire: solve problems, make things, and have fun doing it. His company was the first to work in the 1871 Chicago incubator space, and one year later Sales-Griffin launched The Starter League with his partner Mike McGee, one of the first coding boot camps, with the goal of helping people solve problems through technology and code. Since The Starter League's launch in 2011 up until its acquisition by Fullstack Academy in March 2016, over 1,500 students learned tech and entrepreneurship skills through the program. Today as CEO of CodeNow, Sales-Griffin is bringing that philosophy to a new audience: middle school and high school students. The nonprofit hosts coding workshops for students from low-income backgrounds. Sales-Griffin is also co-chair of SAIC’s MakeWork Council.

George Aye is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at SAIC, where he teaches social innovation. He is deeply committed to using human-centered design to help the lives of people in need and, as such, cofounded and is Principal at Greater Good Studio. Previously, he spent 7 years at global innovation firm IDEO before being hired as the first human-centered designer at the Chicago Transit Authority. Since founding the studio, he has worked across multiple social issues, including autism, criminal justice, education, public health, and healthcare. With cofounder, Sara Cantor Aye, Aye was awarded the TED Prize in 2012 and listed among the world’s leading social innovators in the Public Interest Design 100 list. The studio’s work has been published in two leading books for the field: Public Interest Design Practice Guidebook (2015) and Leap Dialogues: Career Pathways in Design for Social Innovation (2016).

Terri Lonier is Dean of SAIC’s Career and Professional Experience (CAPX) office. With a background as a studio artist and as an entrepreneur, she enjoys working with students interested in developing a creative practice or entrepreneurial venture. In addition to a studio practice, Lonier’s experience includes: curator of exhibitions at the Kohler Arts Center; consultant to tech firms such as Apple, Microsoft, and IBM; faculty member in studio art, arts management, and entrepreneurship; advisor to dozens of startups; and director of a nationally ranked university entrepreneurship center. She is the author of five books on self-employment, and received her PhD from New York University.

Charles Adler is a social entrepreneur, Cofounder and former Head of Design at Kickstarter, and Founder of Lost Arts. Kickstarter revolutionized how creative projects are funded globally. Lost arts, a new experiment in the future of creative work, aims to drive innovation through open support of creativity. In 2013, Charles was named as one of Forbes magazine's “Twelve Most Disruptive Names in Business.”



McKenzie Thompson is an artist and entrepreneur based in Chicago. Following her graduation from SAIC (MFA '14), she and now husband Jason Guo (BFA '14) co-founded Maybe Sunday, Inc. What began as a clothing line and concept shop expanded during the next two years to become a nexus for Chicago's contemporary artists, designers, and musicians, serving as a haven, catalyst, and propagator for the city's growing multidisciplinary art scene. McKenzie led Maybe Sunday‌ to facilitate a range of creative services and goods, and encouraged fellow artists to embrace entrepreneurialism as a pathway to sustainable creative practice. In 2017, Maybe Sunday‌ shifted its focus to the Internet. We now sell a full range of apparel and lifestyle items to customers in 70 countries, and we continue to expand our reach to bring creative products to consumers around the globe. McKenzie is originally from Highlands, NC, and received her BA in 2009 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Journalism and Mass Communication. At SAIC, she concentrated in Visual Communication Design and Sculpture. McKenzie continues to make and exhibit personal works. She considers her art practice to reflect a total art philosophy, where she views everything from physical objects to social interactions to business decisions through the lens of art.


Interesed in learning more about how to become a corporate partner at SAIC?
Please contact Cheryl Russell, Executive Director of Corporate, Foundation, Government, & Civic Relations at crussell2@saic.edu or 312.499.4187.