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COVER STORY | iMoms, May 2016


These west suburban area iMoms are smart, sophisticated, and as tech-savvy as can be. Each has her own secret to staying on target when it comes to being up to date with the latest technology, social media, must-have apps and more. Whether they’re focusing on staying fit, organizing the kids’ schedules or building an e-business– whatever their goals may be, these iMoms are as efficient as ever and totally tech ready.

Jenn Schumaker Kill Sugar Grove, Online Resale iMom Jenn Schumaker Kill of Sugar Grove is an iMom that relies on different technologies to run her own business. Just under 2 years ago, she started up an online Facebook resale business titled, Sugar Grove Illinois Sweet Deals to sell nice name brand clothing and items for busy moms and families. “The transactions are transparent to both parties,” explains Jenn. “However, I stamp my name on the quality of the items I sell, and the trust placed in me is ultimately what has fueled Sweet Deals to become such a unique concept in this crowded Facebook space.”

Jenn lives with her husband, Paul, and her two busy children, Jack (10) and Madelyn (6). As she runs to basketball, soccer, drama and mom errands, she relies on her smartphone to work from anywhere. This connection allows her to reach her clients and customers in a timely manner.

On their off-time, you will find the Kill Family having fun with their technology, like playing games and watching funny YouTube videos. They also enjoy using Facebook and Instagram to stay connected to their family and friends near and far. However, family time is still important to them. “On a Sunday night, after family dinner, you will often find us snuggled on the couch for movie night with popcorn and treats!” –Mindy Kyle

Linda Przybylski, Elmhurst iMom GoFundMe She’s a tech savvy grandma that has learned how to navigate websites through her place of work; but, has become the queen of social media out of the pure desire to help her granddaughter. “I started my GoFundMe page July 2015 after Audrey's genetic test results detected a mutation in the MT-ND6 gene and a diagnosis of Leigh's disease a mitochondrial disorder,” Linda shares. “The GofundMe account was the best way to reach out to friends, family and neighbors who expressed interest in supporting her by allowing online donations.”

Linda, a 29 year resident of Elmhurst, didn't have a Facebook account prior to GoFundMe; but it was a requirement to establish the page, along with a minimum of 10 friends for the account to be publicly displayed. “I soon found out it wasn't hard to collect friends on Facebook, and in no time we were public,” she says. “I quickly learned to use their online support team whenever I had questions.”

$8565 has been raised to date covering medicines, equipment, and travel that is not approved by insurance. Linda is also involved with fundraising for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation and is team captain for Audrey's Crusaders in the Chicago Walkathon held last summer in Hinsdale. -Kristen Kucharski

Meg Stromberg, Aurora iMom International Although she has lived the Naperville area for the past 18 years, Meg is an iMom International as she took her passion for travel and culture to create an International Exchange program for French and Spanish students. Share America allows students to experience the American way of life by living with an American family in the west suburbs for as short as three weeks or as long as several months, through 12 different programs.

Thankful for modern day technology, Meg uses the website to educate families, complete applications, and post photos; as well as sites like to communicate easily with coordinators overseas. Apps like WhatsApp and Viper help students communicate with each other without using cell phone data plans. “When I first began coordinating, I didn’t own a computer,” Meg says. “I sent things through the U.S. Mail and made many phone calls that can now so easily be accomplished via emails and attachments.”

Technology like Facetime also allows Meg to connect with her sons and former students. “Talking on the phone is one thing; but, to see a face, an expression, a smile, or to blow a kiss is priceless.” -Kristen Kucharski

Donna Román, Chicago/Geneva iMom Teacher Prior to moving to Chicago 1 ½ years ago to work within the Chicago Public School system, Donna and her husband raised their two children in Geneva for the past 20 years. While teaching 5th grade at Mill Creek School in Geneva, Donna discovered her passion for technology integration in the classroom.

Now working in a technology leadership position, Donna is making decisions regarding technology not only within Chicago Public Schools, but also has a voice on a national level.

“My favorite online tool for the classroom is Kidblog for classroom writing. Students can share their work within the same school or around the world,” Donna says. She also loves the free opportunities Google Apps for Education offers; but, it was her participation in an online global collaboration project called A Week in the Life, that changed the way she taught forever.

“It was a pilot project with schools in India, China, the Czech Republic, New York, Dubai, and Mill Creek School in Geneva,” Donna says. “We worked collaboratively to compare our lives using online tools.

“When you are in a classroom of students while they are working with kids around the world, they are just human beings working together, and are comfortable navigating culture, language and differences.” -Kristen Kucharski

Michelle Crowe, Hinsdale Online Publishing iMom

Michelle Crowe partly grew up in Hinsdale, so when she arrived back with her family in 2010 after moving to multiple cities across the country, it felt nice to be back home. A professional writer by trade, Michelle once wrote for the Chicago Tribune and the Houston Chronicle before moving to San Francisco to write editorial for Banana Republic. Currently, she has found her niche as a founding partner and style editor of the online publication, Classic Chicago Magazine. “It’s been really exciting to be a part of a start-up,” says Michelle. “I love writing in my own style again.”

Classic Chicago is published digitally, and Michelle also runs their Facebook account, shares Twitter duties, and writes a blog, so for this iMom, current technology is vital for running her business. She finds it just as essential while running her family. Her son, Jeffrey (8) is involved in multiple sports while she juggles church, charity and PTO activities. She really depends on iCal to run her family calendar, keep track of games, meetings and other commitments.

Michelle is also thrilled that fun technology like YouTube can help her share snippets of past favorite shows with her son. “We can look them up and laugh together,” she explains. “Jeffrey likes shooting videos now, and would love to have his own YouTube channel.” -Mindy Kyle

Sue Becker, Downers Grove Organized iMom As a child, Sue loved cleaning the house and keeping her room neat. In high school and college, class notes were well-laid out and she used a calendar to plan assignments. As she moved to the corporate world and began working at a Fortune 500 company, the managers held a ‘Clean Off Your Desk Day’.

“I was puzzled. I didn’t understand why this special day was necessary, since my desk was always clean,” Sue says. That day, she discovered her true passion and proceeded to open her own business Piles to Smiles in 2000.

Although Sue has lived in Downers Grove for the past 28 years, she is able to help her clients anywhere in the world thanks to modern day technology. “I use Skype or GoToMeeting and have also taught classes via WebEx,” Sue says. She also loves sites like Evernote, Remember The Milk, and Trello to create and organize lists, notes, and reminders; as well as Outlook and Google calendar to access and share her calendar from anywhere. Other hot sites are SugarSync to back up files and photos and Genius Scanlets to snap a picture of a document and convert it to a PDF.

Mother of two grown boys, this Organized iMom has it all together! -Kristen Kucharski

Ally Pancottine

Naperville Do-It-All iMom When Naperville resident Ally Pancottine was a child, she enjoyed taking things like clocks and radios apart and learning how they worked. Any time new technology would come out, she was always first to find out what it was and how it worked.

Her love for technology has never wavered as she uses her iPhone to organize her life and activities for her two children, Angelina (16) and Ferris (9). She has used her intuitive sense of how technology can make a difference to assist many in the senior community.

“I enjoy helping my senior friends with technology,” Ally says. “From understanding how it can help them, to setting up devices to be accessible and easier to use so they can manage their finances, play games, read, and most importantly, stay connected with family and friends.”

Technology has also helped her manage her second home in northern Illinois with advances like Nest thermostats to control the heat and air via an app as well as ConnectSense outlets to control and monitor power usage. Ally’s favorite device is Ring, a doorbell which creates home security by allowing video communication with the person at the door via your iPhone.

iProducts have helped this iMom stay connected here, there, and everywhere! -Kristen Kucharski