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Past Speakers

Jon Cotay

Founder of AKIRA
Jon Davidson Cotay is a businessman, nurse, realtor, and philanthropist. After moving from his native Philippines to the U.S, at age 12, Jon received his B.S. in Nursing at the University of Illinois. He started AKIRA in 2002 with Erikka Wang and Eric Hsueh, and has since seen it grow from a single women’s boutique in Bucktown to a 17-store chain and an international website ( In 2012, Jon was named to Michigan Avenue Magazine’s list of “Chicago’s Most Noteworthy Men.” The previous year, he was honored as one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ “40 Under 40” and one of Michigan Avenue Magazine’s “Cause Celebs.”