Meet the Team

Meet the Team

We are a 60-person professional staff dedicated to supporting all University of Chicago students, faculty, staff, alumni, and outside small business owners in navigating the complex process of creating and growing a startup or bringing their idea to market. We also serve as an important gateway for industry partners, helping them access new research and technologies from the University of Chicago.

Marketing and Communications

Marketing and Communications

Micheline Pergande

Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

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Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.7732
E: micheline@uchicago.edu

Micheline Pergande is a results-driven marketing executive with a strong track record of helping companies—spanning Fortune 500, startup, CPG, food and beverage, retail, e-commerce, and higher education—create breakout brands and connect the dots to achieve the impossible. She leads the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation marketing and communications function and oversees a team of marketing professionals supporting all units across Polsky. Micheline serves on the University of Chicago’s Key Communicators group and works closely with senior leadership on various strategic marketing initiatives. As Director of Marketing and Communications for the Polsky Center, she focuses on defining the Polsky brand and delivering impactful communications and campaigns to engage all of Polsky’s key stakeholders.

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 reported into the CEO/President and was named Director of Product Marketing for Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center, the R&D hub responsible for developing next generation advertising solutions. She serves on the global leadership team during the time when the advertising world embarked upon its digital transformation as social media, programmatic media buying, and audience targeting solutions emerged and needed to quickly become 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.

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

Associate Director, Media Relations and External Communications

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Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

Associate Director, Media Relations and External Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
P: 312.286.0060
E: Alexia.Elejalde-Ruiz@chicagobooth.edu

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz is associate director of media relations and external communications at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. She leads all media relations for the Polsky Center and develops successful external communication strategies to generate local, national, and global coverage of the Polsky Center and its leadership in venture creation, science innovation, technology commercialization, partnership development, and supporting South Side small businesses.

Alexia came to Polsky after a 20-year career as a journalist. Most recently she was a business reporter at the Chicago Tribune covering the food industry and employment issues, beats that found her traversing peach farms in downstate Illinois and automated manufacturing plants in the northwest suburbs to tell the human stories behind the data and trends. Prior to joining the business desk, Alexia was a features reporter for the Tribune’s lifestyle section and for RedEye. Alexia got her start in journalism covering crime for the City News Service and suburban news for the Daily Herald, plus had early stints at WGN Radio and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

A native of Washington, D.C., Alexia received her bachelor of art’s degree in international relations from Brown University. She currently lives in Logan Square with her husband and their dog, Kaya, whose walks take up an inordinate amount of her free time.

For media inquiries, please contact Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz at 312.286.0060 or alexia.elejalde-ruiz@chicagobooth.edu.

Melissa Fassbender

Melissa Fassbender

Assistant Director, External Relations and Science Communications

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Melissa Fassbender

Assistant Director, External Relations and Science Communications

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

Madeline Reto

Madeline Reto

Assistant Director, Digital Marketing and Communications

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Madeline Reto

Assistant Director, Digital Marketing and Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.3695
E: madelinereto@uchicago.edu

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, AM ’15

Jessy Tapper, AM ’15

Senior Writer and Content Manager, Marketing and Communications

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Jessy Tapper, AM ’15

Senior Writer and Content Manager, Marketing and Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: jtapper@uchicago.edu

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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