At “Breakfast,” Great Conversation (and Coffee) Flows

Deborah Conroy

By DuPage County Board Chair Deborah Conroy

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of a good breakfast. After all, many say it’s the most important meal of the day. And when you can combine a good breakfast with wide-ranging, open-minded conversations on topics relevant to the business community in DuPage County, well that’s even better. Get a bunch of smart people around a table, add caffeine, and magic happens.

Somehow, Choose DuPage has taken the magic of a good breakfast chat and scaled it up. We call these events Breakfast with the Chair, and since joining the Choose DuPage community, these AM get-togethers have been one of my favorite things we do.

For those who are unfamiliar, Breakfast with the Chair operates by a simple but ingenious formula. Each quarter, entrepreneurs, experts and community leaders from across DuPage County come together; we give them a good topic and a hearty breakfast, then let the conversations flow.

Often, there are formal presentations, but dialogue is the name of the game, and big, blue-sky ideas are more than welcome. Come with an opinion, leave with a nuanced perspective, a whole lot of facts on the topic and best practices that businesses employ concerning the topic.

Topics on the menu include anything that affects the DuPage community, from technology and sustainability to health and wellness. Since the beginning of 2023, I’ve attended three Breakfasts, and we’ve already covered Artificial Intelligence, Talent Recruitment, and Mental Health in the Workforce.  

The topics vary, but tying all of these Breakfasts together is that key ingredient: conversation. Perhaps many of us spend too much of our time in the world of Likes, Shares, and Posts. I consider these Breakfasts a welcome antidote to our social media-driven, 24-hour-news-cycle culture. Here’s a chance to slow down, think deeply, dance with bold ideas, and walk away with both a richer understanding of important issues and greater respect for other viewpoints.

In other words, these Breakfasts are old-school in the best way. They facilitate the kind of give-and-take conversations that leaders need to be having, and the fact that we host them regularly is a small testament to the distinctively collaborative atmosphere of DuPage and the Chicagoland region.

They’re also, critically, a whole lot of fun. At the end of each Breakfast, I always walk away full of fresh energy and new ideas—and hungry for more.

About the Hon. Deborah Conroy, Chair, DuPage County Board

In 2022, Deborah A. Conroy was elected as the first female Chair of the DuPage County Board. Prior to winning that election, Chair Conroy served in the Illinois State House of Representatives for ten years, beginning in 2012.

During her tenure in the General Assembly, Chair Conroy co-founded the House Democratic Women’s Caucus and served as the first Chair of the Mental Health and Addiction Committee. She advocated for expanded mental health and addiction services, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. She passed legislation expanding access to Naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.  Chair Conroy was also lead negotiator on legislation that expanded access to telehealth, and she sponsored legislation putting civics education back in high schools.  Prior to serving in the Illinois House, she was a member of the Elmhurst Community Unit District 205 School Board.

Chair Conroy is a dedicated public servant with a long history of supporting her community. She previously served on the board of the Elmhurst Children’s Assistance Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families with disabled or medically burdened children.

Chair Conroy attended York Community High School, the College of DuPage, and Columbia College. She lives in Elmhurst and has four adult sons.