Free CIE Events

Work for Yourself@50+ Series

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Center for Gerontology are proud to be the only organization in the state of Illinois to be awarded one of the generous grants to host a series of the AARP Foundation’s Work for Yourself@50+℠ free workshops.

AARP Foundation’s Work for Yourself@50+ workshops help adults age 50+ gain the knowledge, support, and resources they need to make informed decisions and take the right first steps toward successful self-employment. The 90-minute, free workshops walk participants through the Work for Yourself@50+ toolkit and connect them with local resources to help them reach their goals.

The decision to start a business can be both exciting and daunting. Work for Yourself@50+ breaks the choices down for older adults in an approachable way through five steps:

  • A careful consideration of the potential and perils of working for yourself;
  • Exercises to help develop the self-employment idea;
  • A realistic overview of what it takes to pursue a self-employment opportunity;
  • Guidance to help avoid pitfalls and scams; and
  • Ways to find trustworthy support and services.

To learn more about Work for Yourself@ 50+, please visit, or contact the AARP Foundation at 888-339-5617 to register for the one of the upcoming free CUC-hosted workshops.

 Work for Yourself@50+ is made possible through a grant from The Hartford.


Entrepreneur Speaker Series – Fall, 2017

September 21, 2017

Stephen Brooks

Stephen Brooks
CEO and Founder 
“The Pop Up Expert”

Author of 3 books: How to be Successful in Shopping Malls, Make an Exhibition of Yourself, and The Secrets of the Wealth Accelerators

“Why Retail Is Not Dead Yet”
When everyone says retail is dying, it takes an entrepreneur like Stephen Brooks to show them how to make retail thrive. Stephen explains how he helps local and global companies launch, survive and revive their retail operations. His talk includes high energy and entertaining insights about every aspect of growing a business from start-up to sale, including turnaround to success.

Stephen has started, grown and sold several businesses in the retail management space over the course of his 35-year career working in the retail and shopping center industry, specifically in generating revenue in shopping centers around third-party activity: production demonstrations, kiosk operations, photo booths and short-term pop-up retail businesses. His clients include T-Mobile, Arabian Oud and Virgin Media. 

October 19, 2017

Karen Wolters

Karen Wolters
Board Director, Chairperson, CEO and Founder of multiple businesses

“American Born, Globally Grown”
Why can’t you be an entrepreneur? Is that enough in life? What is it that builds an entrepreneur? Karen shares her journey from nurse to head of Asian manufacturing for a global corporation, to serial entrepreneur and national entrepreneurship education champion.

Founder of the Wolters Group International (a $40 million supplier to the Pampered Chef)
Co-Founder of Cooktek (inventor of induction cooking technology)
Founder and Co-Chairman of Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship
Board Director of Wolters-Althoff Investments

November 16, 2017

Andrew Park

Andrew Park
President, PB Industries, Inc.

“Taking Over the Helm”
Becoming the second-generation president in a business founded by your immigrant father is challenging to say the least. Tripling that business in revenue, number of locations and number of employees in just over a decade, is indeed amazing. Andrew shares the story of his journey and his insights about how to successfully take over the helm in a family owned, entrepreneurial business.

Andrew Park, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology was the President of two other companies, United Logistics Services, Inc. and Solex America, Inc., before becoming President of the business founded by his father, PB Industries, Inc. PB Industries Inc. is an intermodal carrier and leading provider of transportation, logistics and related services, to global corporations. PBI is headquartered in Elk Grove Village, IL and has branches in Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis and Savannah.