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Kapos: How Ivanka Trump teamed up with a Chicago jeweler

Ivanka Trump with Jerry Bern, owner of Marshall Pierce & Co. | Provided photo

Ivanka Trump has her own business connection to Chicago, separate from her father Donald Trump‘s Trump International Hotel & Tower.

She sells her jewelry line through Marshall Pierce & Co. at the north end of the Mag Mile. It’s the only independent jewelry store in Chicago to sell the high-end collection.

The business relationship came about through the efforts of Marshall Pierce owner Jerry Bern, who remembers watching construction of Trump Tower. Bern had a store at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, which offered a clear view of the level-by-level progress as the high-rise went up.

Bern knew Ivanka Trump was a style maven with an up-and-coming jewelry line, so he set out to get her jewelry in his store.

He wrote to her office, went to visit her representatives in New York and by coincidence, he says, bumped into her once as she walked through O’Hare International Airport.

Ivanka Trump visited Chicago often in those days as she helped with the tower’s design; she’s been credited, for example, with the elegant wine presentation in Sixteen restaurant.

Bern was impressed that she wasn’t surrounded by “people” when she got off the plane that day. She was even pulling her own luggage, he says.

His persistence worked, and in 2010 Trump teamed with Marshall Pierce to showcase her sophisticated diamond rings, necklaces and onyx earrings.

“Her jewelry is a great fit for our customers,” says Bern, whose family has been running Marshall Pierce for 48 years. His father, a watchmaker, bought the store from the original owner, Pierce, who opened the store in 1898.

For decades, it was located in the Heyworth Building in the jewelry district. It opened a second shop at Michigan and Wacker about 10 years ago, and then last year consolidated both stores into one location at Michigan and Oak.

Ivanka Trump is scheduled to attend a cocktail party Wednesday in Chicago to raise money for her billionaire father’s presidential campaign.

Bern doesn’t expect she’ll stop by the store. “She has before,” he says. “But she’s busy these days.”

Will there be pop at Preckwinkle’s fundraiser?

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
Toni Preckwinkle
Sun-Times file photo

Supporters of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will gather Sept. 29 for the “Women for Toni” political fundraiser.

Tickets range from $100 to $5,000; checks can be made out to “Preckwinkle for President.”

I wonder if soft drinks will be on the menu given Preckwinkle’s mulling a tax on the sugary drinks? This old-school Democratic crowd may prefer something more old-school, anyway. How about an Old Fashioned?

Among organizers are Roula Alakiotou, Family Focus founder Bernice Weissbourd and Christy Webber Landscapes owner Christy Webber.

Deborah Quazzo’s impact on education

Deborah Quazzo | Shia Kapos for the Sun-Times
Deborah Quazzo | Shia Kapos for the Sun-Times

Deborah Quazzo stepped down from Chicago Public Schools a few years ago, but she hasn’t left the education space.

This week, she’ll be honored by the Golden Apple Foundation, which mentors college students going into teaching and trains current teachers. The group was founded by retired businessman Mike Koldyke. Quazzo will receive the inaugural impact award for her work, which spans beyond Chicago.

She’s managing partner of GSV Acceleration, a venture capital fund that invests in entrepreneurs and companies focused on education. It recently teamed up, for example, with a firm that uses Angry Bird-like graphics to teach math. Quazzo calls it “stealth learning.”

Her company also puts on a wonky talkfest in California for entrepreneurs and education leaders. Khan Academy founder Sal Khan, billionaire Bill Gates and Common, the hip-hop artist who runs Common Ground Foundation, have all taken part.

In Chicago, Quazzo, an avid Soul Cycler and theater-goer, works behind the scenes in funding charter schools and other nonprofits. She’s also helped raise funds to help care for Tavon Tanner, the 10-year-old shot while standing on his front porch last summer. “We don’t want him to be forgotten,” she says.

A former rugby player says board work can be brutal

Chanel Coney | Provided photo
Chanel Coney | Provided photo

Chanel Coney played rugby for Princeton University — a cakewalk, she says, compared with the hard work required to lead a nonprofit board.

That, Coney says, is “a full-court press, full-energy type of commitment every day,” especially for a small organization like Congo Square Theatre, which just a few years ago was drowning in debt.

Coney, a business development associate at GCM Grosvenor financial company, is board chair of Congo Square and has helped turn the theater around financially.

On Wednesday it will honor Hollywood actor and Chicago native Harry Lennix (co-star of “The Blacklist”) and Laysha Ward, an executive vice president at Target and graduate of the University of Chicago.

Coney is a familiar name in town. Her father is Les Coney, the Mesirow Financial executive who serves on numerous cultural boards and was a founding board member of Congo Square Theatre. He’s shared insights with his daughter, but she’s been the force behind Congo Square’s transformation.

Along with starting an annual gala last year, the younger Coney beefed up the board from four to 15 members. With a nearly $40,000 debt erased, there’s a renewed emphasis now on the craft of staging plays.

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.