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M is for a million mothers and the million things they gave us!

May 12, 2017 Dear Friends and Colleagues, Happy Mother's Day! Hello and welcome to the fourth edition of the Jane Network News. This month we celebrate Mothers and we have some exciting news and updates for you. Enjoy this edition and happy reading!

In the coming months, you will read about life as an “Eventor”, our past, present and future clients. Catch up with me and many of my former students and join us for some professional and social networking.

M is for a Million Mothers and the Million things they gave us! The Month of May is dedicated to mothers and most of us have or honor the memory of our mothers, might be a mother, know an expectant mother, have a mother-in-law, and we know that none of us could exist without a mother! Mothers are the reason we are all here! And in case you missed the local promotion on the Chicago CTA bus signs, Whistler’s Mother is back at the Art Institute!

Left to right: Peg Zwecker, Jane Canepa, and Bill Zwecker

Carson Pirie Scott and Celebrity Journalists

This year I celebrate my 40th year in business as The Eventors. After graduation from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I began a career at Carson Pirie Scott & Co., as a Management Trainee and after a year I transitioned into the Special Events & Public Relations Department. My boss was a wonderful mother and mentor, the late Judie Janney. She led our department with diplomacy, grace and style and allowed us to learn the events & public relations ropes. As the Public Relations Assistant I was able to meet members of the press to pitch our news stories. One of the very first people I was fortunate enough to meet was Peg Zwecker, the mother of columnist Bill Zwecker. Bill naturally followed in his mother’s footsteps as a Columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, and an Entertainment Reporter for Fox32 News in Chicago. Peg was the best and one of the early pioneers in “celeb journalism” with her columns in the Chicago Daily News and then the Chicago Sun-Times. Elegant, sophisticated and a great writer, Peg was a good friend, mentor and a great mother! She lived to be 100 and I was happy to keep connected with her through her many years. Check out Bill’s Entertainment column at

Y-Me Race

In the mid-1990’s I was the Race Organizer for the Y-Me Race Against Breast Cancer, which drew over 15,000 runners and walkers to the lakefront to draw attention to a disease that affects everyone. I lost my older sister Mary Anne to this dreaded disease in 1988. She was only 43 and the mother of three young children. It was an honor to coordinate the event and foster the growth of the event. The 1995 Y-Me race garnered a great deal of positive press through our efforts to “Paint the Town Pink” – turning all of the tops of the Chicago loop buildings pink in color in honor of the breast cancer awareness. My associate Linda Soich reminded me that Dennis Rodman, the bad boy Chicago Bull had someone in his life that was touched by breast cancer. We sent a letter to one of his late night haunts and asked if he might do the cause an honor by dyeing his hair pink. He came out onto the basketball court in the Boston Garden Arena with a beautiful head of pink hair! Thank you Dennis! Today the walk does not exist in the same form but I have joined forces with the 24th Annual Cancer Survivor Celebration & Walk which will take place on Sunday, June 4 in Grant Park ( My connection for the past two years is because of one of my former Columbia College students, Debbie Exner, a mother and cancer survivor.

Team Exner at the Celebration Walk Debbie Exner

As a 1996 Graduate of Columbia College, Debbie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing Communication and a concentration in Public Relations. Debbie really enjoyed the special events class and was impressed with all of the city events and culture introduced in class. She landed an internship with the Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE) and that led to the start of her career at the Chicago Public Library managing events. Debbie met her husband, Daniel Gill in 2003 during a Cubs game in Wrigleyville. The couple relocated to Boston and Debbie had a stint at the Hilton and then spent three years at the Boston Public Library as their Event and Programming Manager. Daughter Alexandria (Ali) was born in 2008 and they moved back to Chicago and she started “Ali, Inc.” working and caring for her daughter full-time. Debbie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Her mother, Judy, also had the disease and she passed away last year. With such a terrifying diagnosis and family history, Debbie was scared of the outcome and is grateful to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treating the disease and saving her life. With a new look on life, Debbie is ready to give back. Being a part of the Lurie Cancer Walk has given her and her family that opportunity. Team Exner/Gill will be at the starting line, helping to raise funds and awareness for this dreaded disease. Advancements have been made but the work towards a cure is never done! Coincidentally a good friend from Columbia College days has joined Debbie in friendship and in the fight, Genae Robinson. To make a donation to Debbie's Team Page, please visit https://cancer.northwestern.ed u/walk/fundraising/mypage.cfm? kwofrid=FTQEOT2.

Left to right: Genae Robinson and Debbie Exner Genae Robinson

Genae graduated from Columbia College in 1993. She has been with the Chicago Public Library as an Events Manager for 17 years. Genae coordinates weddings, corporate & not-for-profit events, supervises set-ups and organizes logistics. She is a valuable liaison between clients, venue, and vendors. Genae began her career as a Public Relations Representative in December 1999, and that’s when she and Debbie met. They started work on the same day & shared the same office space. According to Genae, “Debbie and I have established such a great friendship & sisterhood. We have experienced many milestones together from losing loved ones, to Debbie getting married, having a child, and relocating to Boston. Through the years our friendship has withstood the test of time. In fact, it has drawn us closer.” Genae is involved in the walk as a supporter for Team Exner. Her mom was also diagnosed with Breast Cancer at age 65 and she just recently passed away. Being part of the walk is an opportunity to raise awareness & celebrate survivors that have successfully kicked cancer’s behind.

Mom on a mission - Alexandra Eidenberg

Alexandra Eidenberg is a Columbia College Special Events alumni student who took the ball and ran! A mother of twin girls, a young son and one on the way, Alexandra is a Mom on a mission! Alexandra ran for US Congress while pregnant with twins! Although she lost the election, it did not deter her. Alexandra founded an organization called Mom+Baby, a 501c4, that gets women involved in the legislative process and fights for the rights of women and children. When Alexandra is not helping women get involved in our community she is busy helping people access and understand insurance. She co-founded and is President of The Insurance People where they do all your favorite boring stuff. Her personal specialty is employee benefits and individual health insurance. We held a Mid-semester Jammin with Jane for MOM+BABY in October of 2016 and continue to advocate for them. Alexandra has joined the Columbia College Alumni Organization and besides having the events class in her background, she and I share a bond in that her grandfather, Mike Alexandroff who was the President of Columbia College when I began teaching.

Jammin with Jane

In my 25.2 years at Columbia College I have taught many students and through them have met their mothers and grandmothers. We have had such a positive response to our “Jammin with Jane” events and the most recent one on Sunday, April 30 at the House of Blues was no different. The support of these events by friends, family and mothers is a wonderful tribute to the students and how hard they work. Visit to learn more. Our “Jammin with Jane” that was held last year on May 5, 2016 was a particularly special jam as it brought us into the lives of Oksana Leseiko, the aunt of my student Alexa Tufenkjian. Lexi is a junior at Columbia College and currently holds an internship working on social media and branding strategies. Lexi's aunt, Oksana is an ovarian cancer survivor and because she could not have children of her own, she chose to adopt. She adopted 35 orphanages through a nonprofit group: The St. Nicholas Orphanage Fund located all over the Ukraine. Her personal goal is to provide humanitarian aid, general medicine, school supplies, and basic needs such as clothing, shoes and supplies to these forgotten, orphaned and abandoned children. Oksana has been on this mission for over 10 years. My students were able to raise the level of awareness for this mission and to learn about the conditions that these children, teens and young adults live in. We were able to collect clothing, school supplies and raise funds for the organization. It is my personal goal to keep connected with anyone that has been the beneficiary of our “Jam events”. I think about Oksana and her mission often and tell everyone I know to help support these efforts. In honor of Mother’s Day I urge you to look at their Facebook page and contact Oksana at

May is For Mothers!

There are a million moms in the world and a million and one ways to help one! Celebrate the 31 days of May by reaching out to a mother. Take time to think of something that would be nice for a mother. We know it is the hardest job in the world. Give them all some love!

Join us for a complimentary wine tasting!

Social Media Social Hour!

We're socializing and social media'ing at Kiki's Bistro on Wednesday, May 31 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Bring your smile and business cards for networking. Dinner and drink specials will be offered. RSVP to or call 312.217.JANE (5263). Kiki's Bistro 900 N. Franklin Street Chicago, IL 60610 312.335.5454

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Jane E. Canepa President, The Eventors, Inc. 312.217.JANE (5263)

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