Michael Donnelly has been building and planning memorable experiences since her 7th birthday party at Leaps n’ Bounds. As CEO of Red Suede Shoes and the Founder of FWD Collective (formerly the VentureFWD Summit), she carries the same tenacity as her 7-year-old self, and leads her events, team, and client projects with the idea that “business gets done when people have fun.”
Michael has been the force behind some of the country’s most popular large-scale tech and business events, including Techweek, FUND Conference, the upcoming Fear Paradox Summit in Chicago July 27-29, and her most recent endeavor the VentureFWD (For Women & Diversity) Summit which has expanded into the FWD Collective — dedicated to professional inclusion, hosting summits internationally featuring women, P.O.C., and under-represented communities. FWD Collective events connect emerging entrepreneurs to establish business professionals by facilitating discussions on business development, venture capital, and building teams.
Additionally, Michael’s vibrant personality shines through in building creative experiences and campaigns for clients including Microsoft, Verizon, Walker Sands, and a number of Chicago’s small businesses and start-ups, as well as on camera as an affiliate partner with Entrepreneur. Through her partnership with Entrepreneur Michael creates content and reports live at national events and hosts the show ‘re_define work‘ a growing digital resource for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Michael resides in Chicago with her pup Lux, is a founding member of the extreme networking group House Akros, serves on a few local boards including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago and the mHUB Venture Board, loves to stand up paddle board, and is all about the #scrappytosavvy life.