Chicago Ideas Week is almost upon us! This wonderful week where ideas, innovation and collaboration flow freely is one of our favorite times of the year at Catalyst Ranch. But, with over 200 speakers and events you can’t possibly attend everything there is to see. To guide you through the week we’ve asked our staff for a little help. Check out Lauren Smith’s favorite CIW picks below! 

Lauren’s Picks!

Celebrating creative and innovative ideas is right up our alley so naturally, Catalyst Ranch is very excited for Chicago Ideas Week. Hundreds of the world’s brightest thought leaders are coming together October 14 – 20 to inspire, connect and activate the city of Chicago and beyond. It’s going to be hard to choose which events to attend with so many excellent presenters and locations. If you’re looking for a suggestion, we’ve pulled together a list of 5 picks that piqued our curiosity. As of writing this post, tickets are still available, but going fast!!

1. Greater Chicago Food Depository: Producemobile234

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
7:30AM – 11:30AM

Get a glimpse into one of Chicago’s most prominent and impactful charities. The Greater Chicago Food Depository makes an impact every day by distributing food to a network of 650 programs across Cook County. The Producemobile delivers fruit and vegetables to more than 40 sites monthly. See the program in action, lend a hand and learn more about hunger in Chicago.   Hosted By: Kate Maehr, Executive Director and CEO

2. Leo Burnett: Where the Wind Blows Next. Using Design to Inspire Change in Chicago.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
12:00PM – 2:00PM

Leo Burnett’s Department of Design has created a series of books titled “Where the Wind Blows.” With the help of the CIW community, Leo will publish the fourth edition. Experience the passionate design process firsthand while creating a piece to challenge Chicago and inspire change.   Hosted By: Alisa Wolfson, SVP Design Director of Leo Burnett Department of Design

3. Storytellers: The Written Word

Presented by Starcom MediaVest Group

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
4:00PM – 5:30PM

Behind every story that captures our hearts and minds, there’s another waiting to be told. CIW brings together a talented group of authors to share the personal anecdotes and experiences that inspired some of their greatest work.



Ann Leary, Author


Ryan Knighton, Writer


Donnie Eichar, Author


Terry McMillan, Author

4. Gensler: Designing a Place that Works

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
2:30PM – 5:30PM

Work is no longer just a place – it’s a growing set of choices around where, how, who and when work most efficiently happens. But how is this explosion of choices affecting the future of your

[work]place? Join Gensler strategists, designers and data junkies as they unpack their most recent workplace research. Expect the unexpected and co-create the spaces, connections and ideas that align with these new ways of working.  Hosted by: Seth Unger, Emcee Extraodinaire

5. Ounce of Prevention: Inspiring What’s Possible: Creating the Next Generation of Big Thinkers

Saturday, October 19, 2013
10:30AM – 12:00PM


To ignite big ideas, the Ounce of Prevention Fund believes in starting small — and early. That’s how the Ounce helps young children become the innovators needed to change the world. Participants will see how early experiences shape the circuitry of children’s developing brains and become fuel for creativity and ideas.   Hosted By: Chaunda Roseborough-Smith, Vice President of Communications


Sound off below! What are the CIW events that you’re most looking forward to? Check out a full schedule of events here!