Full Name: Susan Jablonski
Role: Vice President of Marketing
How long have you been a Board Member for the Magnificent Mile Association? I have been a Board Member for the past two years, an active volunteer for more than 15 years, and a former marketing manager with the Association when known as GNMAA.
What inspires you most about your current role within your company?
Being part of a cutting-edge Insurtech company with a management team that continually strives for new innovations and ideas is exhilarating. This progressive-minded team has put the customer first in everything we do, which drives us to find new ways to solve old problems. We have established ourselves as one of the unique emerging technology innovators thanks to our ability to carve out a unique auto claims customer experience niche. We embody a sense of grit and determination by launching our business during a global pandemic and positioning it for rapid growth and success.
What does serving in this volunteer leadership capacity mean to you, particularly as a woman in your field?
I am honored to take on this exciting role. A sense of urgency and accountability fill my mind when thinking about the groundwork needed to address short- and long-term goals. I am confident that if we keep our shared purpose in mind, we can re-establish and re-imagine a more magnificent experience throughout the neighborhood while addressing the most pressing issues of safety, economic vitality, and mobility.
As a woman in my field, I look to other women in leadership roles who share their time with organizations and create a positive impact. We all have a role to play in giving back and paying it forward. Taking a pro-active collaborative, open-minded, and forward-looking approach brings out the best in people and the ideas they bring to the table. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I genuinely believe it is an exciting time to be a part of a transformation that will positively impact future generations.
Do you have a favorite memory of The Magnificent Mile that you can share with us?
I have many unforgettable memories, so I will focus on three big ones – saying 'I do,' lighting a million lights, and calling Chicago home.
My husband, Mark, and I were married at Spiaggia more than 20 years ago. We captured our favorite picture in the flowering medians. It was magical celebrating with friends and family and overlooking Oak Street Beach.
My second favorite memory has become a long-standing tradition for three decades. Volunteering for The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival with family and friends is my favorite time to see thousands of smiling faces and kick off the holiday season and a million twinkling lights along North Michigan Avenue.
And finally, I was employed by the Association as the marketing manager when I first moved to Chicago from Ann Arbor—it was the best introduction to this world-class city by attending galas, welcoming new businesses, and hosting major events along The Magnificent Mile. There's a shared sense of pride you carry inside, knowing that you have a responsibility to do something to improve it for generations to come.
What advice do you have for young women starting their careers, particularly in your current industry?
My advice to young people, particularly young women, is to focus on what you do well and think about what you aspire to become. Read as much as possible. You can never have too many books. No matter the work you end up doing, be a good human who is kind, empathetic, and understanding. When it comes to figuring out your future, I suggest you write down your short-term goals, create a vision board, journal your thoughts, join a group with similar interests, and go. Surround yourself with those who will help you understand what it takes to get to the next level. Ask questions. Above all else, have confidence in yourself, knowing that this is part of a journey where your name and your word will help carry you along your path.
What is your favorite Chicago pastime?
The beauty of living in the most beautiful city in the country is that we can enjoy so many things at a moment's notice. You'll always see me rooting for my hometown teams, especially the Cubs, Blackhawks, and Bears. I love spontaneity, so it doesn't matter what season we're in because there's always something to do, from enjoying the theatre to a farmer's market, art fairs, festivals, concerts, and events. The lakefront is my favorite place to be. If there is a garden center or flower shop, I'm there.
What is your biggest hope for The Magnificent Mile district in the next year, five years, or beyond?
My immediate hope for The Magnificent Mile is to roll out a giant welcome mat for people to come back downtown. I'd love to see people rekindle their spark and love for Chicago and reconnect.
Undoubtedly, the first step in addressing how we create a safer, more enjoyable experience will emerge from lessons learned morphed into action. Shared accountability with leaders and organizations throughout the city to leverage resources and share knowledge. All powered by Midwestern hospitality – and a work ethic unlike any other that offers a helping hand and a golden heart.
Over the next year, my biggest hope is to learn more about what type of technology we can offer that addresses the needs of people while experiencing the district. We need to do a better job of understanding what exactly that means and the best way to deliver it. Ideally, it should provide a digital experience that integrates safety alerts, a 3D map, unique offers and events,
the ability to share experiences in multiple languages in real-time and for those with special needs. In essence, something broad in scope, branded for the district and personalized in nature.
Over the next five years, I am confident that this district can deliver a blueprint for success that can be modeled for municipalities to mirror when developing a more sustainable, economic, and thriving area where people live, work, shop, dine, play, and stay. We have the canvas. We have the experience. We need to include the best and brightest who care enough to play a role where the tulips bloom, bridges connect, people gather, and the shoreline sparkles--our home sweet home, Chicago.
We will emerge stronger and better than ever before.