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2015 Chicago Regional Summit

Date: Oct 2, 2015
Location: The Drake Hotel, Chicago

Register 2015-10-02 09:00:00 2015-10-02 18:00:00 America/Merida 2015 Chicago Regional Summit Save the Date! Join today's leading global experts to discover the latest strategies for breaking the cycle of poverty, transforming lives and strengthening families and communities around the world. The Drake Hotel, Chicago OpportunityInternational_100215_89d9c0b
Oct 2 2015

Please join us in Chicago for our 2015 Regional Summit, hosted by the Board of Governors!



Join today's leading global experts and discover the latest strategies for breaking the cycle of poverty, transforming lives and strengthening families and communities around the world. Read their biographies below.

  • Nathan Byrd, Head of Education, Opportunity International
  • Vicki Escarra, Global CEO, Opportunity International
  • Bob Lupton, Author, "Toxic Charity" and newly-released "Charity Detox"
  • Douglas Conant, Chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute at Northwestern University, and former CEO and President of the Campbell Soup Company
  • John Magnay, Head of Agriculture, Opportunity International

Hear from our clients and officers in the field.

  • Faith Komukyeya, Relationship Supervisor, Opportunity Uganda
  • Joyce Nawaguma, School Proprietor, Opportunity Uganda



SCHEDULE (Subject to Change)

8:00 am        Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:30 am        Introduction to Opportunity International

If you’re a first time attendee or would like to learn more about Opportunity, this is the session for you.

8:30 am        Prayer Gathering

Join Rev. Laura Truax, Senior Pastor LaSalle Street Church, for an inspirational start to the day with prayer and reflection. We also invite you to use this time to greet old friends, meet new ones, and visit over coffee.

9:00 am        Morning Plenary

Invocation / Pastor Shannon Kershner, Fourth Presbyterian Church

Keynote/ Global CEO Vicki Escarra will share Opportunity’s vision for the future of our work to alleviate extreme poverty.

Keynote / Bob Lupton: Impact of An Effective Charity  -  In his book Toxic Charity, Bob Lupton reveals the truth about modern charity programs and notes Opportunity International’s effective work with the poor. In his new book, Charity Detox, he asks the question: What does charity look like if we measure it by its ability to alleviate poverty and needs? Bob knows Opportunity well and his message on making charity transformative is relevant, inspiring and challenging.  

10:30 am      Break

11:00 am      Breakout Sessions

Education / Featuring Nathan Byrd, Head of Education Finance, Opportunity International

Agriculture / Featuring John Magnay, Head of Agriculture, Opportunity International, with Espoir Segura, who will share the story of increased production for 35,000 rural clients in Rwanda.

11:50 am      Lunch

Keynote/ Douglas Conant: "Leadership that Works."  -  Douglas Conant is a New York Times bestselling author with over 35 years of leadership experience at world-class global companies. He is Chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute at Northwestern University and widely recognized for his visionary changes as CEO and President of the Campbell Soup Company.

1:00 pm        Breakout Sessions

Education / Featuring Nathan Byrd, Head of Education Finance, Opportunity International

A Conversation: What’s Next for Opportunity? / An open dialogue with Opportunity leaders to explore anticipated priorities and strategies to carry out Opportunity’s mission, vision, and motivation.

1:50 pm        Break

2:15 pm        Afternoon Plenary

Community-Led Development and Value Chains in Nicaragua / Helping farmers move up the value chain to maximize share of wealth creation

Innovations in Asia / With 3.1 million loan clients in Asia, including 2.2 million in India alone, Opportunity is focused on innovation and microfinance services in Asia. The need is great where, in South Asia, 75% of the people are living below $2.50 per day.   

Education and Entrepreneurs / Making a difference in Uganda - Opportunity International U.S. President David Simms will lead a conversation with a loan officer and client, a Uganda school proprietor, to learn firsthand how OI is creating and sustaining jobs while empowering people living in extreme poverty and improving education for children in Uganda.

3:45 pm        Closing Reception  -  Join us for continued conversation over hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before you depart!

Throughout the day, be sure to stop by the exhibit tables to:

  • Check out (and purchase!) handmade client products from around the world
  • Learn how to talk to others about Opportunity’s work
  • Obtain information about Planned Giving & the Whittaker Society
  • See Opportunity in action and learn about Insight Trips!



The Drake Hotel
140 East Walton Place
Chicago, IL

A limited number of rooms have been reserved at a group rate of $249 per night, plus tax and service charges. Make your reservations online or by calling 800-55-DRAKE (Group Code: OPI). Rooms reserved after September 11, 2015 will be subject to availability and price increase.




NATHAN BYRD is Head of Education Finance for Opportunity International and is responsible for developing education-related finance tools for schools and families, forming strategic partnerships in the education sector and expanding Opportunity’s Education Finance offerings. Before joining Opportunity International, Byrd was Deputy Director of Operations for the International Rescue Committee in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was responsible for a budget of $21.5 million. Byrd previously served as Vice President of Strategic Development for Covenant House, a children-focused organization. Byrd holds a master’s in global management from Thunderbird School of Global Management, an M.B.A. from Indiana University and a bachelor’s in Spanish and English from Saint Louis University.

VICKI ESCARRA is the Global CEO of Opportunity International, leading the organization's efforts to empower people to work their way out of poverty. She has led several major initiatives to create a long-term strategic plan, restructure the organization's worldwide operations to unite eight international offices under one global banner, streamline operations and increase global revenue to expand Opportunity’s work. Escarra has also strengthened corporate partnerships as part of the organization’s plan to create 20 million jobs by 2020, impacting 100 million people through life-changing loans, savings programs and other services and training. Escarra began her career at Delta Air Lines, where she rose to Chief Marketing Officer and was one of the highest-ranking women in the aviation industry, overseeing $15 billion inrevenue and leading a workforce of 52,000. She also served as CEO of Feeding America, where she quadrupled the revenue and doubled the number of people the organization serves.

BOB LUPTON has invested the past 43 years in inner-city Atlanta. He left abudding business career to work with delinquent urban youth. Lupton andhis family sold their suburban home and moved into the inner-city, wherethey have lived and served as neighbors among those in need. His life’s work has been the rebuilding of urban neighborhoods where families canflourish and children can grow into healthy adults. Bob is a communitydeveloper, an entrepreneur who brings together communities of resourcewith communities of need. Through FCS Urban Ministriesa non-profit organization that he foundedhe has developed three mixed-income subdivisions, organized two multiracial congregations, started a number of businesses, created housing for hundreds of families and initiated a wide range of human services in his community. Bob is on the board of Opportunity International Nicaragua and is the author of six books, including the best-selling Toxic Charity. He has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Georgia.

DOUGLAS R. CONANT is a best-selling author and keynote speaker with over 35 years of leadership experience at world-class global companies. In 2011, he founded Conant Leadership, a community of people dedicated to improving the quality of leadership in the 21st century. He also serves as Chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute at Northwestern University and as Chairman of Avon Products. From 2001 to 2011, Conant served as CEO and President of the Campbell Soup Company, where he transformed the global leadership team, reconfigured the portfolio, cut costs and made integral strategic investments. Conant’s mission to achieve superior employee engagement levels was a crucial contributor to the company’s success. The company was also celebrated as a leader in social responsibility and ethical leadership, and Conant remains actively involved with many nonprofits and advocacy programs. Conant earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his M.B.A. from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

JOHN MAGNAY is the Head of Agriculture Finance at Opportunity International and is responsible for developing agriculture-related finance tools for farmers, forming strategic partnerships along agricultural value chains and expanding Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance offerings across Africa. Before joining Opportunity International, Magnay developed successful businesses supporting the agricultural sector as an input supplierand processing equipment provider, as well as a regional food processor and grain trader. He also served as a private consultant for USAID, the United Nations World Food Programme and the World Bank, advising on agribusiness and output market development across Africa. Magnay graduated from the University of London’s Wye College in 1977 and has lived and worked in Uganda ever since.

FAITH KOMUKYEYA is the Relationship Supervisor with Opportunity Bank, Uganda, and is responsible for overseeing the growth and quality of group financial development. Since joining Opportunity, Komukyeya has held a number of executive positions in which she has been able to guide clients to create healthier financial lifestyles, overcome challenges and seek brighter futures. Komukyeya holds a bachelor’s degreein commerce from Makerere University in Uganda.

JOYCE NAWAGUMA is the founder and proprietor of the Batanda Junior School in Kampala, Uganda. Nawaguma was a mother of six and a teacher who dreamed of starting a school as a way to give back to her community. In 2001, she started with just six students in her living room; today she has a formal school with a student body of 400. Since taking out her first loan from Opportunity International three years ago, Nawaguma has completed the lunchroom, built on-site housing for teachers and purchased a van to pick up children who could not otherwise get to school. She employs 23 staff members at the school.

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