Our Board of Directors


Karen Gordon

Karen Gordon is the owner of J. Gordon Designs. She has been a licensed cosmetologist for 35 years and is also a Hair Color Specialist. Karen has a Master’s Degree in Applied Business from De Paul University. She is an active member of Cosmetologists Chicago. She serves on many committees, including the Scholarship Committee and Education Committee. She is a four-time recipient of the Presidents Scholarship Award, four-time winning photographer of the Stars Competition and is the co-director of CC’s Photo Trend Release. Karen lectures on business development, hair loss and is also a member of Intercoiffure America/Canada.


Robert Passage

Robert Passage, Chairman, CEO and Global Ambassador for Pivot Point International, has dedicated his career to improving the image of the cosmetology profession and cosmetology education. A member of the board of directors of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) since 1995 and past-president of the Illinois Association of Cosmetology Schools (IACS), Robert continues involvement in these organizations on behalf of Pivot Point. His involvement with Cosmetologists Chicago (CC) and the Advisory Council on Cosmetology Relations and Education (ACCRED), along with maintaining his own cosmetology and cosmetology teacher’s licenses, give him a thorough understanding of the educational needs of cosmetology students and professionals alike. But it is the time Robert spends with beauty students, on global trips and in the classroom, that is the most rewarding for this dedicated Pivot Point officer.


Lorrene Conino

Lorrene Conino has been a cosmetologist for more than 31 years and a salon owner for 16. She is the owner of Salon Lorrene in Palatine, IL. Lorrene received her BA in Marketing from Roosevelt University’s Marketing program and currently works with students in the Master’s program providing internships in marketing and business. She is Vice President of CATIF Charity, an organization that benefits women in need and the Women’s Center at the Jesse Brown VA. She has been a member of Cosmetologist Chicago since 1983 and has worked on the Sunset Committee. She is also a member of Intercoiffure America/Canada.



Chris Damolaris

Chris Damolaris started in the beauty industry when he was 23 years old. While attending beauty school, his first job was with Brian Michal Salons where he launched his career by sweeping, shampooing clients and assisting senior stylists. Once he graduated, he began mentoring with Brian Michael McGrath.Chris assisted Brian for a year and a half, at which point he earned his own chair. Three years later, in 1993, an opportunity arose for Chris to buy the Brian Michael Company. At the time there was one Brian Michael salon in Wheaton with 25 employees. By 2002, Chris had opened two additional salons in Naperville with more than 100 employees.

Chris has always conducted business in a professional manner with respect for other salon owners. In 2004, Chris was approached by Frank Gironda with an opportunity to purchase the three Frank Gironda Salon & Spas. In 2005 Chris acquired the company and merged his Brian Michael employees into the Frank Gironda Salon locations. Today Chris is the owner of the Frank Gironda Salon & Spas, one of the western suburb’s largest salon and spa chains, with 150 employees. In 2009, Chris invented the Color Tracking Systems. As a salon owner, he recognized the universal issue with hair color waste and developed the Color Tracking System to measure and monitor the use of developer. Color Tracking Systems has units in salons throughout the United States

Immediate Past-President

Larry Silvestri

Larry Silvestri, Senior Vice President and COO for Chicago-based Mario Tricoci Hair Salons & Day Spas, is a seasoned business owner and operator with more than 30 years of experience in overall salon operations including management, business development, training and education, sales and marketing, product and services, and design and construction. Larry is highly recognized for his pragmatic and simplistic approach in achieving goals and delivering results. He is a visionary operator, focused on continued business growth through the reinvestment and strengthening of the brand. Silvestri owned and operated a multi-unit salon group before joining Mario Tricoci in 1997 to help grow and expand the Mario Tricoci Salons & Day Spas brand.


Denise Provenzano

Denise Provenzano is the founder and president of Zano Salons. The first Zano Salon opened in 1985 and currently, there are five suburban locations with a flagship salon in downtown Naperville. Denise continues to direct the company’s education and artistic efforts, as well as its community relations and marketing activities. In 1992, when Zano University opened, Denise focused her efforts on education at all levels for her employees.


Kathy Jager

Kathy Jager is a motivational industry writer, educator, and keynote speaker. In her book, As The Chair Turns, Tips & Snips for a Promising Future…the ESSENTIALS, she unveils the secrets to her success by sharing information on marketing, networking, personal and professional development, and practical skills that define success. Her focus is on helping professionals develop, master and remain committed to the beauty industry by providing valuable leadership and interpersonal skills that go beyond the beauty school program. She offers timeless tips that support the beauty industry and prepares professionals for real-world interactions, and discoveries on what it takes to be successful for today’s cosmetologist. She is a living example of creating a lifetime career and wants to help you get prepared for the journey.


Nick Stenson

Nick Stenson is an international beauty expert and celebrity stylist, he advises a wide range of celebrity clients, film directors, theatre touring companies, network news programs and the elite of New York’s Fashion Week. He routinely flexes his fashion muscle to establish an ever-changing vogue in beauty trend innovation for both hair and skin. As the Vice President, Salon Services and Trend for ULTA Beauty, Nick has the privilege of setting the course for salon and services directly through trend development, as well as for training and advising stylists at over 950 salons and stores across the country. Nick oversees the seasonal, on-trend cut, color and styling offerings available at Ulta Beauty. This vision begins when Nick, together with his hand-selected, elite Ulta Beauty Pro Team, a team of five hairstylists representing some of the most elite brands in the beauty industry, pioneer the trends for Ulta Beauty. Nick and his in-house Ulta Beauty Design Team then translate the trends into seasonal, cut, color and styling offerings before ensuring that over 100 Ulta Beauty Artistic Educators are equipped with the necessary technical training to take those trends to the hands of thousands of Ulta stylists in stores across the country. Nick plays a key role in the development of the Salon & Services strategy that continues to take Ulta Beauty to the next level in hair, beauty and skincare offerings. Nick works to elevate branding and to explore synergies between Ulta’s skincare, haircare and cosmetic groups to help deliver all things beauty, all in one place. Nick’s experience as a former multi-unit salon owner and as the former senior creative director for a chain of 859 salons with 10,000 stylists nationwide at a major national retailer, contributes to the beauty industry arsenal Nick brings to bear at Ulta Beauty. As Artistic Director and celebrity stylist for Matrix, an L’ORÉAL brand, Nick serves as a platform artist and spokesperson to some of the world’s best stylists at national venues such as Matrix Imagination, Destination Premiere, America’s Beauty Show and other industry trade shows. His video education series has taught techniques to thousands of stylists online. His multiple nominations for the influential North American Hair Styling Awards (NAHA) have been widely acclaimed and published. As a beauty expert and color specialist, Nick has hand-developed some of the industry’s most popular trends using prestigious hair color portfolios for Matrix Professional Haircare and Color. Nick’s color trend advice can be found in his own column in each issue of The Colorist magazine. As the former Editor-in-Chief of a hair trend magazine, Nick is well-versed in setting seasonal trends and motivating stylists nationwide to explore the newest varieties of cut, color and style technique. Nick’s editorial work has appeared on the covers of Modern Salon, American Salon, Beauty Launchpad and Matrix Magazine and in issues of Woman’s Day, Vogue, Bride, Redbook, InStyle, Teen Vogue, US Weekly, OK, and People magazines. Nick has been featured in stories on NBC and CBS News and can be found regularly on media outlets including Good Morning America, The Today Show, and The Wendy Williams Show. Nick has hosted an ongoing television series that featured the latest hair and color trends and spotlighted artists from around the globe. Nick Stenson is passionate to leave his mark as a respected professional voice and face of the industry, one known for challenging the world to recognize the beautiful.


Chris Valavanis

Chris Valavanis has always been fascinated by the effect a simple haircut can have on a person, and how it can change the way someone looks and feels. That fascination is what drove him to start cutting hair himself, then to open a salon, then two more, all while teaching others the art of the above-mentioned transformation.

Valavanis is the man behind the Vanis Salon empire, with salons in Schererville, Valparaiso and Crown Point. When he opened the first Vanis 31 years ago, Valavanis says he “had no ambitions of growth, none, zero. I just wanted a little four-chair salon with a few people who had the same passion for service and the craft that I did.” But he did things differently than at most other salons. He started the first salon apprenticeship in Northwest Indiana, developed an education fund so stylists could learn in other settings, and provided health insurance for his employees, the first of any salon in the area.


Mireya Villarreal

Mireya Villarreal
 Mireya Villarreal is a creator. She has a passionate vision for a style that was founded in her mother’s hair salon as a stylist at an early age, but inspired by the birth of her daughter, transitioned into headbands and has expanded to a full line of accessories, cosmetics and salon essentials offered through Pink Pewter. Mireya’s goal is a personal commitment to complete your look.

Today, Mireya remains the driver behind Pink Pewter designs. Her inspiration grows from personal experience. She travels the globe and works with the world’s biggest influencers of fashion in New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Paris. She and those that she associates with and has partnered with represent a network of people that literally invent style and establish the basis for trend.