Karen Gordon

Karen Gordon is the owner of J. Gordon Designs and Karen Gordon Hair Loss Solutions. She has been a licensed cosmetologist for 40 years and is a Hair Color Specialist and Certified Trichologist, WTS. 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 Presidents Scholarship Committee, Education Committee and Salon Owner Committee. She is a four-time recipient of the Presidents Scholarship Award, five-time winning photographer of the Stars Competition (now the ABS Global Image Awards) and has been co-director of six of CC’s Photo Trend Releases. Karen lectures across the country on business development and hair loss/trichology. She is also a member of the American Hair Loss Council and serves on the Board of Directors 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 36 years and a salon owner since 1998. She is the owner of Salon Lorrene in Palatine, IL. Lorrene received her BA in Marketing from Roosevelt University’s Marketing program. She partners with CATIF Charity, an organization that benefits women in need and the Women’s Center at the Jesse Brown VA supporting an annual baby shower for over 40 veterans since 2013. She is a member of Cosmetologist Chicago and has worked on several committees, including the Scholarship Committee and Sunset Committee which helps keep our licensing updated. She serves on the Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce as Vice President and is a member of Intercoiffure America/Canada.


Chris Damolaris

Chris Damolaris started in the beauty industry when he was 23, with his first job at Brian Michael Salon. In 1993, Chris bought the Brian Michael Company and grew the Brian Michael salon in Wheaton, IL to 25 employees. By 2002, he opened two more salons in Naperville with more than 100 employees. In 2004, Chris purchased the three Frank Gironda Salon & Spas, and 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. No stranger to growth and innovation, 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 four Chicagoland 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. Zano is a family owned operation with 150 employees that Denise runs with her sons. She is the owner and partner of Pivot Point Academy where she runs cosmetology, esthetics and barber programs. Pivot Point Academy offers CIDESCO Certificate programs. Denise represents the professional salon industry as a Board member of IDFPR.


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 who flexes his fashion muscle to establish an ever-changing vogue in beauty trend innovation for hair, skin, brow and makeup services.
As Senior Vice President of Salon Services & Trend for Ulta Beauty, Nick sets the course for salon services and education at over 1200 locations. Together with his first-of-its-kind Ulta Beauty Pro Team of elite-brand celebrity hairstylists/educators, he translates trends into the cuts, colors and styles that form the backbone of Ulta Beauty seasonal salon offerings.
As Artistic Director and celebrity stylist for L’ORÉAL’s Matrix, Nick is a platform artist and spokesperson at industry venues and trade shows. His multiple nominations/wins at the North American Hair Styling Awards (NAHA) are widely acclaimed and published. His trend advice and editorial work has appeared on covers of countless trade and consumer magazines and on most major broadcast networks. Nick recently launched Curious Brushes, a line of beauty tools quickly becoming an industry game-changer in blow-outs.
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 is the owner of three Vanis Salons and Day Spas in Schererville, Valparaiso and Crown Point, Indiana. 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. Chris and his salons are involved with local and regional non-for-profit organizations, offering gift certificates and hairdressing services for fashion shows and events. He has owned his salons for 35 years and Vanis Salons and Day Spas have been locally rated as the #1 salon in NW Indiana for 25-years in a row. He is the president of the Towle Theater for performing arts in Hammond, IN, and is a past president of South Shore Arts in Munster, IN, where he has sponsored events and speaking engagements. Chris spent time behind the chair for 30 years and still teaches weekly in his apprenticeship program.


Mireya Villarreal

Mireya Villarreal
 is a hairstylist with 20+ years of experience behind the chair, a beauty entrepreneur, product developer, creator of patented and innovative salon tools, motivator and brand owner with global sales in 30+ countries. Mireya started her "Empower Your Life" campaign to be able to deliver her story of success and failures to motivate others. Most importantly, she shares her failures and how she built herself back up after wanting to give up. In a fast-paced world where all the pictures of everyday life seem perfect on social media, she seeks to inspire others by showing them the true behind the scenes experiences of an entrepreneur, mom and wife. As an active board member of Cosmetologists Chicago, Mireya volunteers her time to help grow America's Beauty Show and help future salon professionals fulfill their dreams of entering the beauty industry through the Thrive! Scholarship Foundation.