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Meet the Team

Meet the Team

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation team is paving the way for Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit. Housed on a collaborative campus, we are a group of committed professionals dedicated to promoting and supporting students, faculty, staff, alumni, researchers and local entrepreneurs as they navigate the complex process of creating and growing a startup. To see a full list of Polsky Council members, click here. For general inquiries, questions, and feedback about the Polsky Center, please contact us at polsky@uchicago.edu.

We are hiring! View the job openings.      

Marketing

Micheline Pergande
Micheline Pergande

Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-702-7732

micheline@uchicago.edu

As director of marketing and communications, Micheline Pergande leads the marketing team and oversees the marketing strategy for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She focuses on defining the brand identity and delivering a consistent experience across all marketing touchpoints.

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Micheline worked in brand management at Unilever Food Solutions supporting category performance in North America for Hellmann’s, Best Foods, Country Crock, Promise, Becel, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Before that, Micheline was the senior manager of e-commerce strategy and digital marketing for Chicago-based Argo Tea where she initiated the company’s first-ever gift box packaging concept, facilitated industry-wide recognition as Nation’s Restaurant News Top 50 “2013 Breakout Brands”, managed the company’s social media engagement strategy across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Yelp, and completely overhauled the company’s e-commerce website in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season. Before her rewarding stint at Argo Tea, Micheline was named director of product marketing for Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center, the R&D hub responsible for developing next generation advertising solutions during the time when the advertising world embarked upon its digital transformation as social media, programmatic media buying, and audience targeting solutions emerged as new core competencies for agencies. Before becoming a seasoned marketer, Micheline gained technical skills as a web developer in the Bay Area, where she was born and raised. She developed database-driven web applications in PHP and MySQL for her alma mater, Saint Mary’s College of California, before moving out to Chicago in 2006 to attend graduate school.

Micheline earned a B.A. with honors in Communication from Saint Mary’s College of California, an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications with a specialization in Direct, Database and E-Commerce marketing from Northwestern University’s Medill School, and an MBA with concentrations in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and International Business from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She was awarded the Walter Dill Scott Award from Medill faculty. She also earned a Professional Certificate in Web Design from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001.

As a proud daughter of an entrepreneurial family, Micheline is passionate about the Polsky Center’s role in supporting students, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs with their entrepreneurial ambitions.  Micheline and her husband, Shaun, a Chicago Booth ’13 graduate, reside in Chicago with their daughter.

Melissa Fassbender
Melissa Fassbender

Melissa Fassbender

Assistant Director, External Relations and Science Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773.834.1134

melissa.fassbender@chicagobooth.edu

Melissa Fassbender serves as the assistant director, external relations and science communications at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is responsible for planning and managing all logistics for external brand-building opportunities and events, engaging with campus partners, media outlets, and external organizations in the entrepreneurial, science, technology, and business community.

Prior to joining Polsky, Melissa was an editor at Xconomy where she wrote about innovation in the biotech space. Before this, she held the same title at Outsourcing-Pharma, a global publication focused on drug development and clinical trials. She also was the editor of an online and print magazine dedicated to design engineering.

Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas, where she majored in literary studies and minored in communications and journalism.

Melissa is interested in old books, modern art, and coffee in any form.

Mariah Montenegro
Mariah Montenegro

Mariah Montenegro

Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-834-3026

Mariah Montenegro is an assistant director of marketing and communications at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Mariah oversees the media relations strategy as well as the content calendar for the Polsky Center. Reporters looking to connect with Polsky Center representatives or a startup founder should contact Mariah. In addition to media relations, Mariah manages the Polsky Center website and event marketing initiatives for Polsky’s global portfolio.

Prior to Polsky, Mariah worked at the Les Turner ALS Foundation where she managed event marketing for the foundation’s athletic events and annual Walk for Life, in which she developed a marketing campaign that helped secure over $1 million in donations. Before the Les Turner ALS Foundation, Mariah led media relations efforts for Michigan State University Extension, which helps grow Michigan’s economy by equipping residents with resources offered through Michigan State University.

Mariah earned a bachelor of arts in journalism from Michigan State University with concentrations in electronic news and sports reporting, and a minor in public relations. She is a proud alum of Izzone student section.

Mariah is an avid runner, having run multiple marathons and volunteers with Girls on the Run in Chicago. She is a US Masters Swimming member and has been a competitive swimmer for over two decades.

Madeline Reto
Madeline Reto

Madeline Reto

Assistant Director, Digital Marketing and Communications

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
773-834-3695

Madeline Reto is the assistant director of digital marketing and communications at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is responsible for strategically and creatively promoting events and programs through various digital channels.

Prior to joining Polsky, Madeline spent several years in marketing, public relations, and corporate event planning. She has worked for various organizations, ranging from award-winning, boutique agencies to a Fortune 500 company. Madeline earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and advertising from Central Michigan University.

After spending several years abroad in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, Madeline now resides in Oak Park with her husband and daughter. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the many neighborhoods of Chicago by foot, photography, and cooking with her family.

Jessy Tapper
Jessy Tapper

Jessy Tapper

Senior Writer and Content Manager, Marketing and Communications

Jessy Tapper Derleth, AM ’15, serves as the senior writer and content manager at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is primarily responsible for writing the Polsky Weekly 10, a weekly email newsletter that shares the most relevant and exciting news in Polsky’s ecosystem to upwards of 25,000 subscribers from around the world every Friday. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Jessy worked as a copywriter for a comprehensive marketing agency, helping to shape the voice and experiential language for a variety of household brand names, from Sour Patch Kids and Wheat Thins to United Airlines and the U.S. Army.  

Jessy earned her master’s degree in humanities from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University where she graduated cum laude with highest honors in English. 

Outside of her work with the Polsky Center, Jessy spends most of her time writing for other mediums, currently trying her hand at fiction. In her spare time, she loves reading a good (and sometimes bad) book, yoga, learning to cook, NFL RedZone, and her adorable French bulldog pup named Hank. 

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