WFFC Chicago Presents: Breaking the Glass Ceiling – The Power of Vulnerability in the Workplace

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Though often mistaken for weakness, vulnerability in the workplace is being raised as the root of authentic leadership and meaningful connection. Vulnerability has joined the established attributes of successful teamwork, problem-solving and effective communication in the list of essential leadership skills.

During this interactive session, you’ll discover the powerful tool of vulnerability through the shared personal experiences from our diverse panel of Flavor & Fragrance Leaders:

Beth McCarthy-Smith
Founder/CEO SIMPLICITY Cold-Pressed Juice & Cocktails

Tomeka Epps
Associate Director of Quality & Food Safety at Synergy Flavors

Julie Heine
President & CCO at Kalsec, Inc.

Michael O’Neil
CEO at Flavor Producers

The speakers will break the glass ceiling on the perception of vulnerability by sharing how being able to reveal the breadth of our human experience has been tied to enhanced feelings of self-worth, increased creativity and innovation, and deeper relationships, all of which benefit us both professionally and personally.

Hear from them how connecting decision-making skills with the use of inclusiveness, empathy, and emotional intelligence has been integral to their success.

A welcome reception with bubbly will follow the keynote presentations. Come ready with your questions, as a discussion panel with our keynote speakers will follow. We will end the night with networking and heavy hors d’oeuvres. A cash bar will also be available.

 Meet the Guest Speakers


Guest Speaker
Beth McCarthy Smith
Founder & CEO of SIMPLICITY Holistic Health

After years of miscarriages, 6 IUIs, 9 IVF attempts with two additional with a surrogate, and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on drug cycles, surgeries, and western medicine- Beth turned to a holistic approach with colon hydrotherapy and
LIVE cold-pressed juice. 

Beth started SIMPLICITY Holistic Health in 2011 with colon hydrotherapy and soon started bringing in gallons of cold-pressed juice for clients. She then developed a line of SIMPLICITY Cold-Pressed Juice to serve her clients, yoga and barre studios, and grocery and retail locations.

Guest Speaker
Tomeka Epps
Associate Director of Quality and Food Safety at Synergy Flavors

Mrs. Tomeka Epps is an Associate Director of Quality and Food Safety at Synergy Flavors, Inc. Tomeka is an accomplished Quality Assurance professional with over 20 years of experience in leadership excellence within the consumer food and beverage industry. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology/Chemistry from Alabama A & M University and a Masters of Science Degree in Product Development from McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University.

Read Tomeka’s Full Bio


Guest Speaker
Julie Heine
President & CCO at Kalsec, Inc.

Julie Heine is the President and Chief Commercial Officer at Kalsec, a private and sustainable ingredient manufacturer to the Savory Foods and Brewed Beverages markets through a focus on Taste & Sensory Solutions, Natural Colors, Food Protection, and Brewing Solutions. Julie’s career at Kalsec has centered on building global, high-performing, and diverse commercial teams, which have been key to the company’s sales growth streak spanning the more than 25 consecutive years Julie has been with the company.  With her recent promotion to President in October 2022, Julie expands her responsibilities to lead Research and Development, a team that uniquely reflects the culture of diversity, innovation, and creativity for which Kalsec is recognized. 

Read Julie’s Full Bio


Guest Speaker
Michael O’Neill
C.E.O. of Flavor Producers LLC

Michael is the C.E.O. of Flavor Producers LLC, Flavor Producers crafts and inspires new taste experiences with natural, organic, and plant-based flavors and extracts. Flavor Producers partners with our Customers in creating great tasting Food, Beverage, and Nutritional Supplement Products, grown from a West Coast foundation to a national footprint today.

Michael has worked in the global food, beverage, and pharma business for almost 30 years, being based in North America and Europe and traveling extensively in APAC. He is passionate about the positive impact nutrition can have on our lives and developing great-tasting products with our Partners to meet this goal.

Read Michaels Full Bio


Thank you to our Sponsors!

Date February 28, 2023

Time 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm

LocationHybrid - Virtual via Zoom
Venuti's Banquets
2251 W Lake St.
Addison, IL 60101

Virtual: Link will be provided upon registration.

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Admission Cost

WFFC Members & Subscribers $60
Non-Members & Guests $70
WFFC Members & Subscribers Virtual Attendees $30
Non Members & Guests Virtual Attendees $40