Who We Are

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

Teens and adults, peers and experts, working with you to bring your ideas to life.

Our Purpose


Teen Innovators is a peer community experience where students ages 11-16 practice creative and innovative thinking through flexible mentoring and leadership classes that are led by teens for teens. TI Students learn to think strategically, solve big world problems and lead their peers with confidence. TI Students and Peer Mentors grow alongside each other and learn life skills that provide a foundation for success as a purpose-driven leader of tomorrow.

Our Founder

As a corporate warrior, serial entrepreneur, and mother of two boys, founder Christine Hutchison understands the importance of instilling creativity in children. Her inspiration for Teen Innovators was sparked after bringing her two young teens boys with her to visit the Chicago technology startup spaces of 1871 and The Chicago Connectory located at The Merchandise Mart. 


Exposing the boys to the innovative startup world inspired them to see an example of what they might become one day.  With the help of a few teachers, Christine developed platforms that will enable future leaders to harness the power of learning from accomplished older teens who recently walked in the young teens' shoes, that support both their inevitable failures and impended successes and dreams.


Our Staff

Tara Pendleton

Manager of Curriculum and Training

Tara is a Business Teacher and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) adviser at Normal Community High School.  Her educational ideal is to support youth as they pursue their own passions and achieve their personal excellence – whatever shape that may take.

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Evan Trad

Program Outreach Coordinator

Evan Trad teaches diverse learners in Chicago. Outside of teaching he has a passion for entrepreneurship where he has built and ran several successful businesses. He loves to read, cook, travel and spend time with his two dogs. 

Laura Cianci

Development and Engagement Director

Laura Cianci, the executive director of Jobs For Dyslexics, Inc. (JFD), has a wide range of experience as a journalist, business columnist and marketing business strategist. Along with her stewardship of JFD, Ms. Cianci was program/project coordinator and communications manager for the Changing Children’s World Foundation in Geneva, IL. Based upon her extensive knowledge of the business community and her knowledge of law, which she acquired at DePaul Law School in Chicago, Ms. Cianci produced educational videos and written material for the museum community, including the Field Museum of Chicago and corporate compliance programs for Chicago area healthcare organizations, including Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, Inc.

Our Mentors

Teen Innovator Peer Mentors are hand-picked by our staff with the highest expectations based on recommendations, past mentorship experience, and passion for helping young teens.  Our peer mentors begin their mentorship journey with a dedicated training program and regularly participate in additional training opportunities, all coordinated by certified teachers.

Sabine R.

Sabine R.

Freshman at Purdue | Studies Engineering | Loves to code & work out

Zayra J.

Zayra J.

College Freshman | Studies Neurobiology | Loves Baking & Running

Ethan S.

Ethan S.

Sophomore at Fashion Inst. of Technology | Graphics & Art | Music

Kate B.

Kate B.

Sophomore at Northwestern | Computer Science & Biology | Loves baking

Clark P.

Clark P.

Senior in HS | Loves Math | Plays Baseball, Golf & Video Games

Sebastian W.

Sebastian W.

Sophomore in HS | STEM, Math, Science & Music | Collects Comic Books

Meet more of our mentors!