Wednesday, February 14, 2024 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Emerging Leaders Fireside Chat with Ashli Nelson

The Fireside Chat Series provides an exclusive opportunity for Emerging Leaders to learn from savvy business professionals; sharing tips, lessons learned, insights to the industry, and some personal mantras. Each quarter a young professional will lead the interview with an experienced Chicago business leader.

Emerging Leaders Chicago engages and develops the next generation of Chicagoland business leaders. For young professionals, it builds relationships, cultivates skills and talent, and creates an inclusive community of future leaders.

Ashli Nelson

Head of Franchisee Sourcing and Recruitment | McDonald’s USA

Ashli Nelson serves as the Head of Franchisee Sourcing and Recruitment for McDonald’s USA. In this role, Ashli is the external face of McDonald’s to future franchisee candidates. Through external engagements, Ashli leads strategic sourcing and recruitment, and leads the strategy of identifying and establishing innovative sourcing and recruitment methods.

For the past 17 years, Ashli has worked in an array of government and civil service positions around the nation. She joined the McDonald’s brand in January 2019 to lead US Government Relations, Community Engagement, and Public Affairs for North America tasked with engaging with all elected officials, community groups, and McDonald’s Owner/Operators to drive legislation and improve brand reputation.

Prior to joining McDonald’s Corporation, Ashli spent nine years in the Chicago Mayor’s office where she served as a senior advisor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Mayor Daley in the areas of crisis management, strategy, public engagement, and public affairs. Throughout her time in the Mayor’s office, Ashli served as a volunteer National White House Advance Associate responsible for coordinating events and logistics for former President Barack Obama and First Lady Obama.

Ashli’s commitment to civic engagement is evident in her continued volunteer work and board appointments. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and proud board member of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Ashli is a native of the South Side of Chicago and currently resides in the South Shore neighborhood with her husband.


Jessica Cipolla

Strategy Analyst, Innovation | Aon

Experienced in strategic business development, operational enhancement, and financial analysis, Jessica Cipolla is a strategy analyst at Aon Growth Ventures where she drives business strategies and scales innovative opportunities. Formally, she was with bp in roles spanning investment analysis, global business management, and was a part of a leadership development program. Jessica brings enterprise in decision-making, process improvement, and project coordination.

Outside the corporate realm, Jessica actively is involved with her community through her membership of the Junior League of Chicago and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Emerging Leaders Council. She also serves on the executive committee for the Children’s Research Fund Junior Board, dedicated to supporting medical research through fundraising initiatives.

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