Spotlighting Black Innovation – 1871’s Celebration of Black History Month

02/23/2023 | 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm CST | Hybrid
  • Corporate
  • Early Stage
  • Growth Stage

Join us virtually or in person for networking and a panel celebrating Black Innovation, to help mark Black History Month.

Register Below



5:00 PM


Lisa Laws, COO of 1871

Lisa Laws is the Chief Operating Officer at 1871, responsible for day-to-day operations, building employee alignment, and creating critical organizational targets. Gifted in operational leadership and collaborative work, Lisa’s Engineering and Project Management background in the Private sector and Operations, Community Engagement, and Policy in the Public sector has given Lisa a unique skill set to manage cross-functional teams to create and execute strategic priorities successfully. Lisa earned dual undergraduate degrees in Physics from Xavier University of Louisiana and Civil Engineering from Tulane University, a graduate certificate in Infrastructure Engineering and Management from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Black Innovation Panel

5:05 -5:45 PM


Shelly Wilson – Founder & CEO, Sports On The Lips At an early age, sports were always a part of the conversation. Shelly and her father built a sacred bond that made sports the building blocks of their relationship. Growing up, Shelly wasn’t a five-star athlete, BUT she was competitive, smart, and had a very high sports IQ. She attributes this to her father. Their time together included basketball games, baseball games, and even fishing!  Fast forward years later, that passion for sports that Shelly and her father shared surfaced and shaped Shelly’s career in the sports industry. NASCAR is a family-friendly sport. It is also the career path Shelly chose so that she could be close to sports. While working for NASCAR, Shelly noticed disparities in the number of women, especially African American women, who were involved in the sports industry.  From this realization, Sports On The Lips was born. Sports On The Lips mission is to connect underserved women to female mentorship in the sports industry, thus pushing a narrative that will build a strong pipeline of women who will enter the sports industry. We must lean on those who forged the way, to provide an opportunity for those who look to follow in their footsteps.

Isaac Chadri – Co-Founder, DawaTek I am a scientist, entrepreneur, dancer, and cook born and raised in Kenya and now living in Chicago. I’m the Co-founder and CEO of Dawatek, a medical device company building a portable device that can diagnose infectious and chronic diseases in five minutes using lasers and machine learning. I started this journey to create advanced medical devices that are better, more cost-effective than current devices on the market, and easily accessible to anyone regardless of their location, so that no one else suffers due to lack of access to technology the way my family did in Kenya. I joined the mHUB Landis Fellowship because I was interested in how the program caters to those who love to learn new skills and want a foothold within the hardware contracting space. I’m excited to learn some mechanical and electrical engineering as well as 3D printing so that I can build more medical devices by hand. My desire to create medical devices manifested while designing Physical Chemistry lab protocols for research as an undergraduate student at Grinnell College, where I graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s in general chemistry and was a Graduate-Student-At-Large (GSAL) at University of Chicago. In my free time I love to cook and DJ. I’m also a Latin/afro beats instructor, performer, and team director at Latin Rhythms Dance Academy.

Blair Matthews – Co-Founder & COO, Zuri Fertility Born and raised on the South side of Chicago, Blair and his wife experienced first-hand the struggles of getting pregnant. During their experience, he recognized a need for services to help other couples struggling to get pregnant. His understanding of the problem inspired him to empower others through leadership to deliver results. Yet, before this idea and founding Zuri Fertility, he received his BA from Howard University in Washington, DC, where he met his wife Jasmine (a physician assistant). He earned his MPA from Columbia University in New York and his JD from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, where he focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, and negotiations. While at Northwestern, he shared his story and idea in class to help couples earlier in their fertility journey, and he met his now co-founder and began working on a solution. As a Father, Founder, and Leader, Blair has the experience, passion, and skills to bring Zuri to couples and is excited to change the infertility narrative. “My passion drives me to help couples on the fertility journey, and I strive to help bring clarity to their questions, answers to their concerns, and give them hope for a brighter future.” – Blair.


5:45 -6:30 PM