Small Changes, Big Results—Getting Your Body Ready For Beach Season

NMAG0515_SmallFeature_iStock_000010012489_Full_800pxWith summer around the corner, there are some last-minute steps you can take now to get your body ready for the beach. Of course we want to strive for a strong, healthy body year-round, but just the thought of sporting your swimsuit may motivate you enough to finally say goodbye to those stubborn 5–10 pounds. A handful of small changes can add up to big rewards when it comes to revealing your new bikini-ready body.

Shop Smart

Cruise the perimeter of the grocery store. Load up on colorful fruits and veggies instead of pre-packaged, processed foods, which have been chemically processed and made solely from refined ingredients and artificial substances. Most processed foods are low in nutrients. It takes less energy to eat and digest them.

Snack Smart

Hungry or not, we tend to snack at every chance we get. Studies show that we are a nation of constant snackers. Snacks can definitely be part of a well-balanced diet. The key is to choose the right snacks at the right time. Nutritionists recommend that you track your snacking pattern. For example, if your usual daily snack contains around 200 calories, try slashing that in half. Do this once a day and you will cut 700 calories per week.

Don’t Drink Calories

From frozen coffee concoctions, to juices and sodas, research shows that these drinks provide lots of calories but little beneficial nutrients. Other empty-calorie choices are alcoholic drinks. A couple of beers one night, a glass of wine the next, and a few cocktails on the weekend all contribute to your spare tire. Laced with sugar and sweet liqueur, just one margarita may contain as many calories (500–600) as your meal. The actual count will vary by recipe. As a comparison, a McDonald’s Big Mac contains 530 calories.

Group of people at the gymTweak your fitness routine

When it comes to fitness training, perhaps the tricky part is finding the time. Experts say consistency is the key to knocking off those stubborn pounds. “Commit 20 minutes a day, 4 to 6 days a week to physical activity. ‘Superset’ your training to give you more work in less time. For example, work one muscle group and while that muscle group is resting, work an entirely different muscle group,” said J.R. Niklos, director of Sports Performance Acceleration Naperville. “Always prioritize mechanics in any movement you do. This will ensure you are working the right way to get the right results and stay injury free,” said Niklos.

Even if regular workouts are part of your lifestyle, stepping up your game a little each time can burn just enough extra calories to rid yourself of extra weight. Tack on an extra mile to your jog, take the longer bike route, or add several laps to your swim. “If you want to see progress, there must be progression.,“ said Niklos. There are two different ways to increase your cardio—intensity (faster pace) and volume (longer distance). “One month focus on increasing the volume and then the next month focus on increasing the intensity. Every fourth week, I suggest a ‘deload’ week to allow for recovery. That is where you cut the volume or intensity in half for the week before you wish to switch to the next phase,” said Niklos. Adding weights to your training can also have a significant impact. Resistance training works wonders on your metabolism. Muscle torches calories, boosting your resting metabolic rate.

Little boy and his father cookingDon’t get stuck in a rut with the same old workout routine. Boredom can lead to skipping workouts and even throwing in the towel altogether. Discover new classes at the gym or take your training outdoors and go hiking or biking. This way you’ll stay on track and even train muscle groups that you may not have used in other workout routines. “Make lifestyle changes. Often we get motivated to lose weight and go on a binge of insane workouts and fad diets, only to end up burned out, frustrated, and potentially injured. The difference in extraordinary and ordinary is just the ‘extra’. Do a little extra every day and only make changes that you know you can handle for the rest of your life,” said Niklos.

Burning extra calories throughout the day, above and beyond what you’re already doing, can also help blast away those unwanted pounds.

Body Contouring Technology

Even with exercise and a proper diet, some people still have stubborn belly fat. New technology called UltraShape can help eliminate the stubborn fat that defies your best efforts. It works best for someone who is within 10 percent of their normal healthy body weight. UltraShape uses ultrasonic energy to destroy fat cells and improve body shape and contour. There are only a handful of practices in the Chicago area that offer this new technology. “I spent a significant amount of time following new technology in our field and evaluating this for not only safety, but for good patient outcomes,” said Dr. Bryan Rubach, director of the Center for Cosmetic and Laser Surgery located in Naperville. “For me to adopt new technology, it must provide a benefit over existing procedures. By far one of the most exciting developments in the last four years is nonsurgical body contouring. These technologies work and they do not require surgery with its associated risks,” said Rubach.

NMAG0515_SmallFeature_iStock_000017779448_Large_800pxUltraShape, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in November 2014, is a nonsurgical, painless, no downtime technology. “When you compare this to surgical management such as liposuction, the benefits become apparent. Liposuction is an invasive surgical procedure that clearly has significant risks, significant post-surgical pain, and significant recovery. UltraShape has none of the risks associated with a surgical procedure,” said Dr. Rubach. Side effects could include a small blister at the treatment site. Typical treatment protocol is three sessions two weeks apart with optimal results in about 90 days following the last treatment.

Sodium Surplus—The Health Hazards of a High-Sodium Diet

NMAG0515_Health_iStock_000015376182_Large_800pxIf you’re like most people, you’re getting far more sodium in your diet than is recommended and that could lead to serious health issues. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports that nine in 10 Americans take in more salt than they need on a daily basis. They recommend limiting your intake to one teaspoon or less per day.

Salt Consumption

Your body needs some sodium chloride (salt) for a number of reasons. The right amount can help balance fluids in your body, maintain electrolyte balance, and is an important part of proper muscle and nerve function. Your kidneys keep track of sodium amounts stored in your body. When levels are low, your kidneys keep the sodium. But when levels are too high, your kidneys get rid of the excess in urine. If levels get out of hand, sodium can build up in your blood, creating serious health problems. Diabetics, people over age 50, those with high blood pressure, and African Americans are at the highest risk for developing health problems related to salt consumption. “Our food supply is super saturated with salt and we take in significantly more than we need. Compared to the recommended 1,500-2,000mg per day, the average American consumes anywhere between 3,500-4,000mg per day,” said Melanie Betz, registered dietician, Rush University Medical Center.

Health Hazards

Too much salt causes blood vessels to constrict. This can be dangerous because the heart needs to work extra hard to pump blood throughout the body. This can lead to numerous health issues such as hypertension. “High blood pressure is very dangerous. It puts unnecessary strain on your heart. This then increases your risk for blood vessel damage, heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and even dementia,” said Betz. Excessive amounts of salt are particularly hard on both the nervous system and the circulatory system. It can also disrupt the delicate balance of the lymph system. High amounts of salt in the diet can also create water retention, causing excessive swelling. Even PMS, headaches, anxiety, and depression have all been linked to a sodium overload. Sodium and potassium have opposite effects on your heart. High potassium intake can relax your blood vessels. This process will, in turn, excrete the extra sodium resulting in a decrease in your blood pressure. We need far more amounts of potassium than sodium every day. But according to experts, the American diet is the opposite.

How Much is Too Much?

It’s difficult to know if you’re eating too much salt. You might think you have a low sodium diet because you don’t add any salt to your food on your plate. Approximately 80 percent of the salt in our diet already exists in our food. “Although avoiding the salt shaker is a good start, there is likely quite a bit of hidden salt in your food already,” said Betz. “The only way to tell how much salt you are consuming is to read nutrition labels for sodium content. Some general tips for keeping salt low in your diet is to avoid processed food or foods with sauces and seasoning already added. Focus on eating lots of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Avoid or rinse canned food. When eating out, choose items prepared as simply as possible to avoid extra salt, or share an entrée to cut the salt in half and also help keep calories in check,” said Betz.

Healthy Salt Alternatives

According to Betz, you can replace the salt shaker with natural seasoning options. For example, experiment with new flavors by adding dried or fresh spices and herbs to your food. Use salt-free seasoning blends such as Mrs. Dash. Add lemon or lime juice to fish, meats, or salads. Try a growing variety of flavored vinegars such as balsamic, cider or rice wine.

Wounded Warrior Project—Honoring and Empowering America’s Heroes

Sgt. Alberto Lopez, Outreach Coordinator

When Sgt. Alberto Lopez was released from the U.S. Marine Corps., he returned home as a wounded warrior. He had suffered two injuries during his service between 1999 and 2008, including a deviated spinal cord injury. He knew his next step was education, spending more time with his wife and young family, and finding a civilian job. So when a representative from the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) reached out to him and offered help, he politely declined. “I didn’t think the organization was for me, but I wanted to do what I could to help my brothers and sisters in arms,” said Lopez. He began volunteering for the organization and grew to love and respect their mission: to honor and empower wounded warriors. Lopez completed school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and then took his first job outside the military as the WWP outreach coordinator for four states, including Illinois.

Healing The Wounds

The Wounded Warrior Project® is a non-profit, nationwide veteran outreach program for service men and women in need of assistance as they transition into civilian life. The organization is in its 11th year and currently serves more than 60,000 service men and women nationwide with about 5,600 warriors in Lopez’s region. Servicemen and women in WWP have both visual injuries (amputations, burns, etc.) and non-visual (mental health, hidden scars, and rehabilitative injuries). WWP programs comprehensively address the warrior’s needs related to mind, body, economic empowerment and community engagement. From help with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), to adaptive sports and rehabilitation, to job-seeking assistance or assistance with government benefits, the WWP is available to qualified service personnel and their families.

According to the organization’s website, WWPconcentrates on post-911 veterans and service members who have suffered physical or mental wounds and injuries from military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East. All WWP programs and events are free to the participants since the service men and women have already paid their dues by serving their country.

“I tell them it’s not about what we can give you. We are grateful for your service and you’ve earned this. We want to make sure you have everything you need,” Lopez said.

More Than Care and Comfort

The organization got its start with a Backpack Program for wounded service members in trauma centers and hospitals. As part of the program, a new backpack is left bedside filled with care and comfort items including clothing and calling cards. Now, once home, wounded warriors have access to services, programs, volunteers and liaisons, like Lopez, who actively plan engaging, inclusive events for warriors and their families, like an afternoon at the DuPage Children’s Museum, or a golf clinic with Freedom Golf Association, an organization that brings the joy of golf to those with special needs. Lopez is currently working on an event with iFly, an indoor skydiving organization, and possibilities with Ribfest and Last Fling.

Lopez remembers a recent emotional moment he encountered at the Field Museum in Chicago. A warrior came up to him with tears in his eyes, thanking Lopez for planning the event. The warrior had just met a fellow serviceman at the event and discovered they had a mutual acquaintance who had been killed in action. He never would have met the man or known what happened to his friend without WWP. “I just hugged him,” said Lopez. “It’s that battle buddy mentality, they can talk to me when they need someone to talk to.”

Lopez has earned many thanks from the warriors he has worked with but feels he is the one who owes the most thanks. “I just keep thanking them in every email and in every conversation. They’ve earned it.”

For more information about the Wounded Warriors project, visit

Photo by Robyn Sheldon

Corner Pocket—Barrel + Rye

NMAG0515_TableForTwo_Barrell and Rye-093_800px

Cozy is a double-edged sword in the restaurant business. While many diners prefer the cocooning intimacy afforded by a small, tightly packed room to the cacophony and booming echoes of a warehouse setting, the trade-off—if all is well in the kitchen—can be interminable weekend waits for those scarce available seats. Plant your buzzy hole in the wall on a highly visible and heavily trafficked downtown corner and the problem only multiplies.

NMAG0515_TableForTwo_Barrell and Rye-020_800pxBut the “problem” as it relates to the glorified elbow hallway of Barrel + Rye on Geneva’s pedestrian-choked Third Avenue is certainly only applicable in the best sense of the term. While the moniker suggests folks who know their way around the customer-facing side of a bar, it’s another pair of concepts that proves they’ve done their economics homework as well—supply + demand. By our count, there were maybe 50 chairs to be had (including the 20 lining the bar), all of them full on a chilly and sleepy Sunday night, which is perhaps why our waitress recommended an early arrival on Fridays and Saturdays to avoid the routine 90- to 120-minute waits. Two thoughts: (1) yikes; (2) totally worth it.

Coming Through the Rye

NMAG0515_TableForTwo_Barrell and Rye-069_800pxThe upside of this scarcity, of course, is a very warm and inclusive atmosphere for those lucky enough to secure a coveted spot at one of the handful of tables lining the windows and softly lit by a variety of vintage Edison filament bulbs. Those bulbs aren’t the only things striving for a homey retro vibe, with the manually typeset food and drink menus—hole-punched and mounted on separate clipboards—also lending an air of conspicuous yesteryear to the proceedings.

NMAG0515_TableForTwo_Barrell and Rye-059_800pxWhat isn’t small is the selection on the drink menu in particular, where the massive slate of available scotches, bourbons and ryes reads like an alcohol-soaked novella or a wino’s Christmas list, with plenty of craft beers, wines and not-kidding-around cocktails to round things out. On the food side, the net isn’t cast quite as wide, with the focus mainly on sandwiches, burgers and salads. That may sound boring on paper, but in practice it is anything but.

Lock, Stock and Barrel

We started with a shareable plate of cheese curds, a deep fired Badger State staple here rendered lighter and creamier by the brie at their molten cores, served alongside a peppery apricot jam. From there we diverged to opposite corners of the menu. My companion opting for the greenery of a large chopped salad stocked with grilled chicken, pancetta, scallions, pasta, feta cheese, chopped romaine, red pepper, avocado and tortilla strips in a light vinaigrette.

NMAG0515_TableForTwo_Barrell and Rye-022_800pxMeanwhile, I headed straight for the precipice of utter indecision among the many tempting sandwich descriptions. On the verge of pulling the trigger on a pork burger with bacon and barbecue aioli, unless I switched to the four-cheese grilled cheese with avocado, I pivoted suddenly to the Southern—a gorgeous brioche bun barely able to contain its contents of spiced fried chicken, smoked gouda and a fried egg, with just a splash of maple syrup to complete the indulgence. I also staved off another tough decision by answering an “or” question with a “yes” and getting both the crispy batter fries and decadent baked mac and cheese as side items.

Sated almost completely by my Dixie breakfast on a bun, I nevertheless managed to find a small pocket of available space for a few bites of chocolate stout brownie with caramel bourbon sauce, thus transforming myself into the gastro equivalent of Barrel + Rye’s business model—warmly filled to capacity.

Barrel + Rye
477 S. 3rd Street Geneva


Photo by Greg Shapps

Business Profile | Ralph Strozza

Ralph Strozza, CEO of Interpro Translation Solutions, for Naperville Magazine

Lisle-based Interpro Translation Solutions is a multi-language translation service that started out translating software and documents for companies and has now expanded to include e-commerce, websites, and mobile apps. Naperville Magazine spoke with founder and CEO Ralph Strozza about the company’s growing demand in a rapidly evolving global marketplace.

Interpro recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary. Since founding the company in 1995, what has been the biggest change your company has seen?  

I would have to say that advances in technology—and especially the Internet—have constituted the biggest overall change that we’ve seen since starting business in March 1995. More than ever, people are using their mobile devices to search the web, which has brought more traffic to our app localization services. Due to the increase in technology use, the demand for a translation company that can truly customize its services to reflect the needs of its client base has similarly increased, whether those needs are for e-commerce localization, e-learning localization, dynamic website localization, or something else.

How has technology changed the way you do business?

We now have instantaneous, worldwide communications as well as a global platform for doing business, which we call the Internet. Whereas in 1995, communications were still primarily telephone and faxed based, we have replaced that with email, Skype messaging, and of course the whole array of social network outlets that allow us to interact and share information almost anywhere in the world. That information can consist of pictures, video, and practically any type of content that you can imagine. I remember very early on how excited we got when we were able to electronically send a document to one of our translators working off-site, saving us a trip to the post office and the time lag it usually took before he would receive our diskette containing the file to be translated. Fast forward to 2015: sending and receiving information now occur immediately—it’s nothing to get excited about. 

Where do you see your biggest opportunity for growth?

Because of what has transpired over the past 20 years, we are no longer limited geographically to any one region of the world. We can reach anyone, anywhere, at any time by posting a message on our website, tweeting about something we would like to bring to our followers’ attention, or emailing a newsletter with information we want to share with our clients, partners, and prospects. What this all means is that instead of having to pound the pavement in the tri-state area, or the Midwest, we now view our target audience as anyone in the world who is connected to the Internet. That’s a much larger potential customer base, and creates a much larger potential for revenue growth. We just need to continue to try and focus on our “sweet spots” and stay on task.

How has this global marketplace impacted your business model?

From the services delivery perspective, it means that we have real-time access and communication with all of our translators, editors, and proofreaders who are working in the target language geographies. Obviously the global marketplace hasn’t eliminated time zones, but for at least part of each day (sometimes staying at the office late or arriving early) we are in one-on-one communication with the majority of our teams. From the marketing and sales perspective, we—like most companies with a web presence—are globally visible. A company in Beijing can search for “Mandarin e-learning localization services” and find us among the results. Before the global marketplace was a reality, this type of exposure was almost impossible to achieve. We now have access to anywhere in the world where we would like to market and sell our services. Of course, this means that we have to truly think globally and we spend a lot of time and effort on keeping our multilingual website current and relevant for our target audience.

Is there one particular language that is in more demand for your translation services than other languages?

If you figured that Spanish would be the number one language in terms of volumes of words translated, you would be right. However, if you thought that Chinese would be a close second, you’d be wrong! For the past two years, English to Spanish translation has accounted for 14 percent of our total project volume. The second highest language by volume is Russian (9.6 percent), followed by German (9.3 percent) and then Chinese and French (both 8 percent). These numbers reflect only the projects we work on for our clients. 

What motivates you to start your day?

I know it sounds like a cliché, but it happens to be the truth: I absolutely love what I do. Interpro enables me to combine my passion for foreign languages and cultures, technology, and entrepreneurship on a daily basis. I love the challenges of solving problems for our clients, and our worldwide network of linguistic resources means that I’ve got close friends on six continents. I am so thankful I’m not stuck in a position where I have to watch the clock slowly tick away the minutes of the day. 

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my family and Tyson, our black Lab. I really enjoy working in the yard and tending to our garden. Being Italian, that of course means tomatoes, Melrose peppers, basil, eggplant, parsley, and rosemary. For our Mexican friends we always throw in some habaneros and jalapeños as well. We barbecue a lot when the weather is nice, and like to relax with some adult beverages, good food, and good friends on the deck. During Bears season, the games take priority over everything else! My needs are actually quite simple, so after a long workweek, sometimes just a nice dinner followed by reading or watching an old movie does the trick.

Photo by Mike Hudson

Credit Worthy?—Teaching Teens About Spending and Spending Limits

Young man buying music on internet with tabletAccording to the Federal Reserve’s latest statistics, credit card debt accounts for the third largest portion of household debt among adults, behind mortgages and student loans, respectively. With more than 75 percent of teens shopping online today, the next generation is poised to be in the same position as their parents financially, if not worse.

But, you can do something to help your kids learn about money and avoid the credit trap.

Start Young

Often parents won’t talk to their kids about money because they don’t have a full understanding of their own financial situation or it embarrasses them. Teaching children how to use money as a tool is one of the most important lessons to ensure their future success and independence.

While you don’t have to share everything right away, you can start with the basics as early as age five, says Edward Jones Financial Advisor, David Erickson. “Help them understand how much money they have to spend versus how much something they want costs and let them start to make choices.”
As kids get to the age of 10 or 11, you can get into more in-depth discussions, such as what debt is and why you may not want to pay for something right away. The tween years are when Erickson recommends starting to talk about interest and how to make it work for you. This paves the way for responsible credit card usage.

Explain the Limits of Credit

Credit cards hold a natural mystique for teens. Not only are they convenient and easy to carry, credit cards allow teens to believe they have more money to spend than they actually do. “Credit cards give kids no connection to money and no concept of how much things truly cost,” Erickson points out. “If a teenager has money in his wallet, he knows when he’s spent all of it. A credit card can seem like endless money and cause that teen to spend more.”

Teach Responsibility Slowly

Completely disallowing credit cards isn’t realistic. But teaching your kids how to use them by following a progressive model suggested by credit card comparison website, CreditDonkey® ( can arm your teen with the knowledge and experience they will need to use credit cards responsibly:

Step 1: Have your teen use cash for purchases to understand what things cost.

Step 2: Prepaid debit cards are a great way to teach spending limits with the experience of using a credit card.

Step 3: ATM/Debit cards require kids to track their money and experience the consequence of spending too much.

Step 4: Co-sign your teen’s credit card and review bills monthly to teach them about minimum payments and rolling interest.

Step 5: Once you’ve graduated to secured/unsecured credit cards, your teen should understand how to use them responsibly.

Reinforce Accountability

Look for ways to teach accountability. Take the school lunch system, for example. Instead of blindly adding funds to your child’s account whenever they are depleted, either send cash or review with your child how much they spent on lunches and extra snacks. Help them understand the connection between the amount you calculate for their lunches and how much they’re spending.

Another method Erickson suggests is to have kids work for their money. Determine a set of chores or activities that are separate from those associated with allowance and offer them to your child when she asks for money. Not only will it make you feel better about giving her that $20, it will also allow your child to experience the feeling of spending the money she just worked for and may make a difference in how she spends it.

Talented Teens—Three Naperville-Area Teens Compete in the Spotlight


The music starts, the lights go up, and you’re teetering onto a stage wearingnothing but a swimsuit and heels. All eyes are upon you, but you don’t mind at all. In fact, you’re hoping every eye in the room is focused on you, not the dozens of other girls walking in front and behind you. Focus is the most important, for without it, how are you going to be best in show?

Pageants have received a bad rap ever since making sure your makeup was perfect as you prepared your husband’s dinner went out of style. But ask girls today who are currently competing in teen competitions and with a giddy laugh, and a flick of the pony tail, they’ll insist competing is not only giving them the time of their lives, but is more relevant today than ever. Meet three young women from the Naperville-area who are taking the stage, developing important life lessons, and fulfilling a dream along the way.


NMAG0515_LargeFeature_Ellie McGee_800pxEllie McGee

Age:16 | Hometown: Naperville | School: Naperville North

Current Title: Miss Illinois Teen America

It was first-time luck for Naperville high school junior Ellie McGee who took top honors in Miss Illinois Teen America last year. She entered the world of pageantry at the suggestion of Bri Zan Couture owner Sue Cerulli.

“I had worked with Sue to find dresses for dances and she said she thought I had the look and personality for the pageant world,” McGee said. “I thought it would be great fun. My mom said ‘you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,’ so I applied.”

“People think it’s all about how you look but this is about how you represent yourself,” she said. “It’s about your platform (the Ronald McDonald Family Room) and self-confidence. In half a year I feel like I have gained so much confidence and got to meet so many new people.”

In July, McGee will compete for International Junior Miss after winning the International Junior Miss Illinois Teen title in March. She’s already preparing with her pageant coach.

“I am more excited about it than anything,” McGee said. “I’m going to work extremely hard to win this title.”

“The judges are looking for someone who is not stick thin, but who is healthy and exercises,” she said. “A lot of people don’t understand what goes into it because it is so foreign to them. It’s not so big in the North but all my friends and my family are very supportive.”

NMAG0515_LargeFeature_GraceE1952_800pxGrace Etzkorn

Age: 18 | Hometown: Lisle | School: Benet Academy

Current Title: Miss Illinois Outstanding Teen

For someone who has been performing as a singer her whole life, pageants seemed like a logical next step for Grace Etzkorn, a girl who loves to perform.

“I was watching Miss America in 2013 and I said to my mom, ‘I could do that.’ I thought it would be a fun life experience,” said Etzkorn. “It’s been really exciting.”

Miss America’s Outstanding Teen is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarship funding for young women. The national competition rewards the talent, communication skills, community service, and academic achievement of young women between the ages of 13 and 17. It began in 1921 and is held in Atlantic City every year.

“The organization promotes strong women who are not just beautiful, but intelligent and talented too,” Etzkorn explained. “There’s a large misconception about pageants but it’s all about who you are as a person. It encourages women to embrace those qualities.”

‘Those qualities’ for Etzkorn include speaking to schools about drug abuse resistance. She’s been a strong supporter of D.A.R.E America after the loss of her uncle. As to future competitions, Miss Illinois Outstanding Teen says she’ll wait and see.

“I’m a senior in high school and then I’ll be a freshman in college, so I’m taking it one step at a time,” she said.

NMAG0515_LargeFeature_riesner_800pxMegan Riesner

Age: 19 | Hometown: Plainfield | School: University of Louisville, Kentucky

Current Title: Miss Illinois Teen USA

It’s been absolutely life changing, a dream come true,” says Megan Riesner, who is preparing to represent Illinois at the Miss Teen USA finals at Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas in August. To win the Illinois title, Riesner competed against 90 other girls in swimsuit, evening gown, and interview categories.

“Modeling is something I have always desired, I loved America’s Next Top Model and my mom and dad supported me,” she said. “I believe if I don’t work towards this, then someone else will.”

If she win this competition, Riesner could be eligible to enter the Miss USA and Miss Universe competitions since this pageant is part of the Donald Trump Empire.

“They are looking for the whole package. They want an all-American intelligent girl next door to represent the state and the whole country,” said Riesner.

Taking part in pageants also gives her a platform for her favorite charity, pediatric cancer. Riesner has a cousin who suffered from it when she was three years old, so for Riesner, it’s something not only important, but personal too.

“We are not required to do events, just volunteerism which is something I grew up with,” she said.

Riesner says one of the best things she learned from competing is the confidence it has given her. 

“My motto is if I have prepared myself I have nothing to worry about,” she said. “I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had. I don’t think about the other girls as competition, I’ve become friends with them and I know I can learn from them. It’s all about women empowering one another and I really love it.”  


Deborah Rickert—Someone You Should Know

NMAG0515_SYSK_nm deborah rickert 1_800pxWhat was your inspiration to start Operation Support Our Troops-America (OSOT-A)?

After the attacks of September 11 and two of my sons joining the military, I became very aware of the local families, like myself, who were suddenly going through all of this uncertainty and fear. I wanted to provide a place where people could come together and support each other while also providing support for our troops that were already deployed into dangerous areas. I honestly had no idea at the time it would turn into what it has, but I had a lot of people who believed in me along the way and that continued to inspire me as well.

OSOT-A is now one of the largest volunteer-based military support organization in the country. How do you manage and coordinate everything?

There is no way I could manage and coordinate everything! I have been blessed with an amazing team of dedicated volunteers—some who put in 30 to 40 hours a week—and they really help to keep things running and our mission growing. I think I am more of a visionary and, in fact, my team often teases me about how the details of it all makes me a little crazy!

You’ve been honored by numerous community groups, including the Rotary Club of Chicago, for your continued commitment to helping others. What is your proudest accomplishment so far?

Well I think Rockin’ for the Troops would be close to the top of that list. Creating a partnership with Gary Sinise and an event that has raised over 2 million dollars and supported many other organizations besides ours is something that has taken a huge team effort. So I am not only proud of the event that continues to be a day that brings a lot of joy and goodness, but also of the team that puts it on.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would probably find a way to stress a little less about things. Looking back, so many of the things that you worry about (like whether or not it will rain on the day of Rockin’ for the Troops!) really are out of your control and don’t happen anyway. So, I would fret a lot less about the outcome, trust in the process, and live in the moment.

What motivates you to keep going everyday?

I have faced serious burnout probably three or four times over the years. I think it is important to take a step back when you get to that point and regain your perspective. My husband Bill is one of my greatest sources of strength and encouragement and he helps me to keep it all in perspective. Also, knowing what our service members go through everyday in performing their job makes you think twice about whining too much!

What advice do you have for others looking to give back to their community?

There are a lot of great organizations out there that can use your talents and may even see skills in you that you didn’t even know you possessed. You don’t necessarily need to start an organization to make a huge impact. Decide what matters to you and find a way to affect change in that area. Everyone has the ability to make the world a little better place. It would sure be nice if we all tried.

Photo by Robyn Sheldon

A New Name in Luxury | 2015 Kia K900


If you’re currently driving a Lexus, Infiniti, or Acura, could a Kia be in your future? The company that has made its name, and more than doubled its sales, by building solid, stylish, and well-priced cars and SUVs certainly thinks so. Witness the all-new 2015 Kia K900, a full-on luxury sedan with a 420-horsepower V8 and just about every feature you might find on a German or Japanese competitor.

With a starting price in the mid-$50,000 range, the K900 is a relative bargain compared to, say, a Mercedes E-Class or a BMW 5-series with the same power. But the K900 is not inexpensive by any measure, and that’s Kia’s point: This car might be a value, but it is also valuable. It’s worth noting, too, that Lexus was in the same place when Toyota decided that the world needed another luxury nameplate.

NMAG0515_FortheRoad_9495_2014_SEMA_High_Performance_K900_800pxSmooth and surprisingly fast, the K900 delivers on the promise of the classic rear-wheel-drive V8 luxury sedan formula. You won’t get to indulge your racing fantasies behind this steering wheel, which is definitely tuned for comfort, not competition. But you will find a virtually unparalleled level of isolation from the road. This is an exceptionally quiet car, and along with the aural seclusion, it makes the road’s imperfections virtually disappear.

The K900’s well executed cabin does its part, as well. The cockpit is the picture of modern luxury, the seats are comfortable—well, maybe not the middle seat in the back—and there is more than enough head and leg room all around. Like the K900’s sharply designed exterior, the interior design takes some of the best cues from other luxury cars. The result is a soothing cocoon.  

NMAG0515_FortheRoad_7639_2015_K900 (1)_800pxFor all its enticing qualities, the K900 suffers from some of the same afflictions as other large, powerful, rear-wheel-drive sedans. But don’t worry, solutions are readily at hand.

First, there is the seasonal issue of the K900’s rather lackluster performance in snowy weather. Winter may feel like a distant memory, but the snow will be falling again before the year is out. Swap the K900’s standard 19-inch all-season tires with a set of Bridgestone Blizzaks next fall and you’ll be ready to go.

Second, there is the K900’s thirst. At an EPA-estimated 15 miles per gallon in city traffic comparable to other V8 luxury cars, you’ll be filling up fairly frequently. The solution here will require a bit more space in the garage: Buy one of Kia’s truly outstanding Soul EV plug-in electric cars for days when you don’t need quite as much luxury. With a range of about 93 miles and driving characteristics so similar to a gas-powered Soul that you’ll rarely notice you’re driving an electric, the Soul EV will balance out your K900’s gas consumption quite nicely.

The 2015 Kia K900 starts at $54,500 for the Premium trim and bumps up to $59,500 for the Luxury trim. Both models share the smooth V8 and a lengthy list of standard features. The Luxury edition gets LED lights and a host of significant safety equipment, including a blind-spot detection system and rear cross-traffic detection, as well as the option to add the full luxury kit, from self-closing doors and heads-up display to quilted leather seats. As with all luxury vehicles, the options have a tendency to add up. Pick the VIP Plus package and you’ll add $8,000 to the sticker.

As of press time, Kia was teasing a “King James” edition honoring its spokesman, NBA superstar LeBron James. There was no word on price, but assume you’ll be paying a bit more for the custom job.

Photo courtesy of ©2015 Kia Motors America, Inc.

Business Briefs | May 2015


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Photo courtesy of Vickie Deppe

Naperville resident Vickie Deppe has been named a 2015 fellow for the Illinois Lincoln Excellence in Public Service Series, a leadership program that trains and mentors up-and-coming Republican women in Illinois. Deppe is one of five women selected statewide to participate in the Illinois Lincoln Series this year. By participating in the Lincoln Series, fellows are able to build, in a matter of months, political acumen and relationships that would take years to acquire in a conventional setting. Deppe holds a B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an M.A. from Wheaton College. She began her career in the software industry, and has been active in the nonprofit community for 20 years. She currently serves as a board member of the Fox Valley Orchestra in Aurora and as secretary for KidsMatter in Naperville. She is also the Illinois Legislative Liaison for the Convention of States Project. Deppe will be joining a network of over 200 women who have participated in the Illinois Lincoln Series program. Graduates have gone on to achieve elected office, public service careers in state and federal government, and campaign management positions.

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Photo of Dawn Hartman courtesy of Naper Settlement

Naper Settlement has appointed Dawn Hartman as the new director of marketing. With more than 14 years of experience in marketing and graphic design, Hartman most recently served as superintendent of marketing and communications for the Fox Valley Park District, headquartered in Aurora. As a key member of Naper Settlement’s management team, Hartman will be responsible for developing and implementing a marketing and communications strategy. She will help build, manage, and integrate the organization’s brand and all aspects of marketing communications and social media in order to raise awareness of the organization. In addition, she will be responsible for securing financial resources through sponsorship and events, which support the organization’s programs and services. 

Photo of Ami Dean courtesy DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau

Ami Dean has joined the staff of the DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) as sales manager for the corporate, fraternal and Chicago associations markets. Dean’s focus is on showcasing DuPage County as a preferred destination and helping these groups to plan and successfully conduct their meetings and events. She reports to Lisa Landers, director of sales, and works closely with the rest of the DuPage CVB sales team. Prior to joining the DuPage CVB, Dean worked in Peoria, as a senior sales executive for The Rally Point Meeting & Conference Center and later as a sales executive at the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette hotel for Marriott International and the First Hospitality Group, Inc. She holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix. 

Mark London joined G&D Integrated as vice president of sales and marketing in January to oversee the strategic direction and execution of all sales and marketing initiatives. Prior to joining G&D, London was the vice president of sales at Livingston International where he launched Livingston’s sales program in the U.S. and grew both the sales force and revenue significantly in just three years. He was previously in leadership positions with Purolator USA and DHL Express, and was a President’s Award winner at both companies. 

Susan Jania has been promoted to corporate logistics director at Aurora-based Diamond Envelope. Jania drives business results by understanding customer needs, finding cost savings amongst the plant operations while delivering high quality products. Jania is currently in the Executive MBA program at Notre Dame University and holds a BS degree in Supply Chain and Information Systems from The Pennsylvania State University. Diamond Envelope Corporation is a leading manufacturer of envelopes and direct marketing materials in the nation and is owned and operated for over 30 years in the far western suburbs of Chicago.

Sikich Logo 2012 BlackSikich LLP, based in Naperville, recently named Tom Krehbiel as the partner-in-charge of CPA services firm-wide. Krehbiel, a CPA and certified information systems auditor, previously served as the partner-in-charge of CPA services at the firm’s Springfield office and as that office’s partner-in-charge. Krehbiel will work with CPA partners across the firm to standardize processes and procedures for areas that include billing, project management, client and staff communication and staffing and resource allocation. In addition, Krehbiel will assist partners in the development and implementation of firm-wide best practices.

New Business

Rendering courtesy Naperville Park District

The Naperville Park District broke ground on the Fort Hill Activity Center in April. The new facility, at the corner of Fort Hill Drive and Quincy Avenue in Naperville, will provide year-round active recreation space as a one-stop shop for families, children, adults, teens and seniors. The Center will include gymnasium space for basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, and other activities, an indoor walking/running track, multi-purpose rooms, fitness space, an indoor playground, and a café. The Center will be located adjacent to Players Indoor Sports Center and the City of Naperville’s Recycling Center. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2016.

Bolingbrook-based, the largest online consignment marketplace for baby, kids, and maternity clothing and accessories, is expanding into women’s apparel, shoes, and accessories. The launch into women’s apparel positions the company as a category leader in buying and selling pre-owned fashion online. 

Sportsman park Photo courtesy of Naperville Park District

Sportsman’s Park has reopened for trapshooting. The facility is located on West Street, just north of the Community Garden Plots and across from Knoch Park. Sportsman’s Park had been closed since mid-June for site remediation work and park improvements. Contractors will continue working on landscape restoration and backfilling of the parking lot and sidewalks. However, work at the site has progressed to the point where the facility is able to reopen for shooting. Regular trapshooting hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.


My Chef Catering has once again won the most prestigious online wedding awards in the catering industry. For the fourth year in a row, The Knot, awarded My Chef Catering the 2015 Best of Weddings award. They are the only caterer in the Western Suburbs to receive this recognition. The award is based on high satisfaction levels in post wedding surveys of the brides, grooms and their families for food quality and presentation, room ambience, and event service. My Chef Catering is a full service catering and event planning company, that has been creating memorable weddings for more than 25 years in the Western Suburbs.