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Executive Directors

Jack J. Crowe

Executive Director at Year Up Chicago

Jack Crowe brings impressive experience to Year Up Chicago from the Cristo Rey Network where he was the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. Cristo Rey Network is the largest network of urban high schools in the country enrolling exclusively low-income youth. All Cristo Rey students work in a corporate work study program, which generates over $50 million per year from over 2,000 corporations. During his five year tenure, enrollment increased from 5,000 to nearly 10,000 students across the U.S.

Prior to working at Cristo Rey Network, Jack was a General Counsel of FBOP Corporation, a $16 billion bank holding company. Before joining FBOP, Jack was a litigation partner at Winston & Strawn where he handled complex corporate disputes. He clerked for the Honorable Ilana Rovner, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Jack obtained a JD degree from Loyola University of Chicago and received a BA in English from Boston College. Following undergraduate studies, he taught at St. George’s College, a Jesuit high school in Kingston, Jamaica.

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Chicago Local Advisory Board

Christine Kessler (Chair)

Manager Director at Bank of America

Tracey Benford

Partner at Goldman Sachs

Jackie Campbell

Executive Director, Market Director at Chase Wealth Management

Kelley Conway

Managing Director at Accenture

Kelley was raised in Pittsburgh.  After graduating summa cum laude in Chemical Engineering from Bucknell University, Kelley joined Accenture to gain broad experience while building technical depth.  Subsequently Kelley joined Booz Allen Hamilton in 2002 (now Strategy&) after completing her MBA at Carnegie Mellon.  Kelley had an anything-but-typical career trajectory in consulting, spending three years on the road, then constructing internal roles to start her family (Kieran, now 11 and Kaidan, now 9), moving back to client work and an accelerated path to Partner.  Kelley has led Strategy&’s North America Women’s Network and subsequently North America diversity, regularly contributing a diversity blog to strategy+business.  Kelley serves the Financial Services industry, focusing on business transformations that span strategy, operations and technology, and is the lead of PwC’s Fit for Growth platform for FS.

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Robert DiMeo

Managing Director at DiMeo Schneider & Associates


Bob has authored and been the subject of numerous investment/retirement plan articles appearing in prominent publications including the Los Angeles Times, Crain’s Chicago Business and Pensions & Investments, and has taught courses on fiduciary responsibility and related subjects. He co-authored Asset Management for Endowments & Foundations (McGraw Hill), Designing a 401(k) Plan (Probus), The Practical Guide to Managing Nonprofit Assets (John Wiley & Sons) and Nonprofit Asset Management (John Wiley & Sons). Prior to co-founding DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C., Bob served as Vice President for Kidder, Peabody’s Institutional Consulting Group, where he chaired their 401(k) consulting effort. Bob obtained the designation of Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) from the College of Financial Planning. Bob obtained his bachelor’s degree from Bradley University. He served on the Board of Directors for the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA), is an Advisory Board and Finance Committee member for Catholic Charities of Chicago, a Board Member of the Special Olympics Illinois Foundation and served on the Governance Board for Notre Dame High School. Bob’s interests include music, working out and golf.

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Marcus Payne

Vice President of Quality, Food Safety & Continuous Improvement at Ingredion, Inc.

Marcus A. Payne, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, has been a resident of the Chicagoland community for over 30 years.  A graduate of Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management Science and a Masters in Management degree from Northeastern’s Kellogg School of Management, Payne is employed by Ingredion Incorporated, formerly known as Corn Products International, as Vice President Quality, Food Safety and Continuous Improvement, North America.  Ingredion is one of the world’s leading ingredient solutions providers serving customers in over 100 countries across 60 industries. He has been employed at Ingredion for more than 25 years and has an extensive background in manufacturing management, quality and food safety systems development and continuous improvement/lean six sigma.  Prior to joining Ingredion, he worked as a Project Manager and Team Manager at Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Co. In addition, since 2004, Payne has been an Adjunct Professor at Trinity International University where he teaches undergraduate courses in business, non-profit management and organizational leadership.


His professional and service affiliations have included: American Society of Quality, Institute of Food Technologist, Institute of Validation Technology, INROADS, Promise Keepers, Junior Achievement, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and currently serves as Vice Chairman of the IDeaL Education Foundation and Vice President of the board of directors of ToolBank, Chicago. In addition, since 2014 Payne has served on the board of Year Up Chicago. He is the founding organizer and executive sponsor of Pack/Troop 350 of the Boy Scouts of America, working with 1st through 10th graders residing in Dolton, IL and surrounding communities. He is also an active member of New Life Celebration Church of God where he enjoys mentoring young adults.


Mr. Payne has been married for 26 years to Zefferine and is the proud father of 4 children, Marcus (20), Brandon (18), Nicholas (16) and Kayla (13).

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Paul Purcell

Chairman at Baird Financial Group

Paul E. Purcell is Chairman of Baird and a member of the boards of directors of Baird Financial Group and affiliated entities, including Robert W. Baird & Co. He is also Chairman of Baird’s global private equity business, Baird Capital.

Paul joined Baird in 1994, became President & Chief Operating Officer in 1998 and President & Chief Executive Officer in 2000.  He added the title of Chairman in 2006 and served as Chairman, President & CEO until 2014.  From 2014-2015 he served as Chairman & CEO. Prior to joining Baird, Paul spent 22 years with Kidder, Peabody & Co., where he was a Managing Director and head of the Midwest Investment Banking Group.

In addition to his duties at Baird, Paul is co-chair of the board of Teach for America – Milwaukee and chair of the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business advisory council. He also serves on the Alverno College board of trustees, the Cristo Rey Network board of trustees, the Greater Milwaukee Committee board and executive committee, the United Performing Arts Fund board and the Junior Achievement of Chicago board of directors. He is a member of the board of directors of RiverFront Investment Group, LLC, a member of the board of directors of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and former vice chairman, as well as the former chairman of the board of directors at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. He also served on the boards of United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Discovery World.

Paul received an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (1971) and is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (1969). He has received a number of prestigious recognitions over the years including, more recently, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Distinguished Corporate Alumni Award (2009), Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin Business Leader of the Year for 2012, Three Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen’s Award (2013), Milwaukee Public Library Benjamin Franklin Award (2013), Midtown Educational Foundation Reach for Excellence Award (2014), Medical College of Wisconsin Warren P. Knowles Humanitarian Award (2014), United Community Center “Friends of the Hispanic Community Award” (2015), and CFA Society Milwaukee Lifetime Achievement Award (2016).

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Terrence Thompson

IT Support, Global Spend Management at AON
(Year Up Chicago Alumnus 2013)

Terrence Thompson is a Class 5 alum who graduated from Year Up Chicago in July 2013. Terrence completed his corporate internship at AON, which is where he has worked over the past 4 years of his professional career. Terrence has grown and developed his career in the field of Procurement with a focus on IT related project implementations and purchases.

This past April, Terrence took the step in his professional career and has accepted a new job offer at HUB International Limited as their newest Senior Procurement Analyst in Chicago where he is responsible for the growth and innovation of their up and coming Procurement organization. He will also aid in leading sourcing projects in the Print, Shipping and IT areas while supporting his team and the Chief Procurement Officer. Terrence will continue to hone his relationship management skills at HUB to aide in maintaining business stakeholder relationships while supporting the firm’s M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions) activities and while taking on and managing new supplier relationships.

Terrence is currently a senior at Indiana University majoring in Economics and is expected to receive his degree in 2018. Terrence is a member of The Society for Leadership and Success through the Indiana University chapter and was inducted in the spring of 2016. In parallel with pursuing his undergraduate degree, he has continued his involvement with the Year Up organization post-graduation by serving as Vice President on the Year Up Chicago Alumni Board from 2013-2015. Terrence is a passionate, ambitious and enthusiastic individual that is ready for the new opportunities that lie ahead in his educational and professional careers.

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Chicago Leadership Council

Vince Williams (Co-Chair)

Director of Membership and Business Development at The Executives Clubs of Chicago

Vince Williams is a native Chicagoan with over 20 years of sales and management experience. He is currently the Director of Membership and Business Development for The Executives’ Club of Chicago. The Club is an 107 year old membership based organization of C-level executives and high potential talent individuals throughout Chicagoland that focuses on networking, sharing best practices, leadership development and thought leadership by way of meetings, workshops, and forums. Vince was a previously an investment manager with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Vince has a BBA in Marketing from the University of North Texas and an MBA-Finance & Management from Robert Morris University – Chicago. Vince has been a mentor, speaker and supporter of Year Up Chicago since 2015 and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Leadership Council. He also sits on several non-profit boards and is a passionate fan of jazz music.

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Michael Spector (Co-Chair)

Michael Spector previously worked as an Investment Analyst at Castle Creek Arbitrage in Chicago, Scoggin Capital in New York City and Messner & Smith Investment Management in San Diego. Michael also worked at a start-up technology company and as an Investment Banking Analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Michael earned a BBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In late 2011, Michael co-founded Year Up Chicago’s Leadership Council and currently serves as the Co-Chair.


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Darnell Barnes (Alumni)

Pat Boquist

Retired, formerly at United Airlines

Pat Boquist is a recent retiree from United Airlines. Pat’s 40 year career allowed her to become a strong leader of teams whose purpose was to create an overall excellent travel experience for the United customers. Pat became involved with Year Up in August 2017 when United joined as a corporate partner and played an integral part in forming the positive relationship for the first cohort hosted at Willis Tower. In 2018, she was awarded Year Up’s Volunteer of the Year Award. Pat strongly believes in Year Up’s mission and is very excited to be involved in and support many of the organization’s initiatives.

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Matthew Braun

Principal Security Consultant at NCC Group

Matthew Braun is a Principal Security Consultant at NCC Group, a global cybersecurity risk and consulting firm. For the past 8 years at NCC Matthew has worked to secure clients, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 enterprises, against cybersecurity threats. In addition to review and testing of software, network, and IoT and automotive systems, Matthew has presented research at security conferences and coordinated public disclosure of vulnerabilities. In roles prior to starting at Matasano Security (later acquired by NCC Group), Matthew, administered systems for a defense and aerospace manufacturer, performed financial analysis for a pension fund investment advisory firm, and reviewed systems and software as a defense contractor. In his free time, Matthew enjoys cooking and sailboat racing. Matthew earned a B.A. in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis and a M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Chicago.

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Charles Brownrigg IV

Vice President Operations Manager at JPMorgan Chase

Experienced banking, defense, business, and information technology operations / organizational management professional with 20+ years of expertise in environmental and financial regulatory industries specializing in knowledge management applications. Strong negotiation skills developed in executive level customer service. An enthusiastic leader committed to coaching and developing employees, mentees, and community to achieve their potential.

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Brian Budzicz

Assistant Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at Zurich

Brian Budzicz is an Assistant Vice President and Assistant General Counsel in Zurich North America’s Corporate Law department, where he provides legal support to Zurich’s U.S. businesses with a focus on insurance regulatory matters. He is a member of the company’s Pro Bono Committee, which enables Zurich attorneys and staff to provide free legal services to clients who are unable to afford an attorney. Prior to joining Zurich, Budzicz was an attorney for Aon, Allstate, and a Chicago law firm. Brian has a law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. He has served as a volunteer and mentor for Year Up Chicago since 2015.

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Jason Burriss

Financial Advisor and Retirement Benefits Consultant at Merrill Lynch

As a Financial Advisor and Retirement Benefits Consultant for Merrill Lynch, Jason works with business owners and corporations to create customized strategies tailored to fit their goals. He helps companies with a variety of retirement plans, including: 401(k), 403(b), Deferred Compensation, Cash Balance, Profit Sharing and Defined Benefit plans. Jason holds the FINRA Series 7 & 66 registrations and has earned the Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) designation, and the Certified 401(k) Professional (C(k)P®), designation from the Retirement Advisor University in collaboration with the UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education.

Jason earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He volunteers through the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University’s Compass Mentor and Alumni Leader programs, where he provides guidance to college students on their professional development, and promotes involvement in the Chicago market. Additionally, Jason serves as mentor for Year Up.

Jason lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, originally from the Philadelphia area. His hobbies include: ice hockey, golf, and travel.

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Lee Charles

Hospitality & Events Team at William Blair

Lee Charles is part of the hospitality & events team at William Blair; a global investment banking & asset management company. Lee is responsible for managing logistics & communications in order to produce high level client conference and events. He prides himself on being able to provide an exceptional level of service and really transforming events into an experience, and he truly passionate about perfecting even the most minute details to service the most prestigious clients. Lee work closely with the William Blair Community Engagement team, and is excited to bring new ideas and connections to Year Up. Lee graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in communications and a minor in sociology. He is originally from Naperville, Illinois, has played competitive tennis for most of his life and is an avid weight lifter.

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Kathryn Charleston

Lead Solutions Engineer, Salesforce Cloud at Salesforce

Kathryn Charleston has worked as an innovative marketing professional with over 15+ years of experience in developing, implementing and launching effective digital and omni-channel campaigns. Her proficiency in CRM and Marketing and passionate approach toward collaboration, team-centered action and service has led to her current role as Lead Solution Engineer for Salesforce.

Her experience includes community and professional networks, non-for-profits and community organizations such as the United Way, Chicago Urban League, INROADs, Year-Up and major sport teams. Additionally, she has been very active with mentoring, recruiting, coaching, speaking engagements at elementary schools, youth and teen groups at church and community organizations. Kathryn has volunteered for Hashtag Lunchbag, providing lunches and everyday essential product bags to the Homeless and regularly provides support for organizations that promote STEM education to diverse students. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business from University of Illinois and earned numerous certifications in Marketing and Technology.

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Amanda Dunnavant (Alumni)

Purchasing Analyst at Leo Burnett USA

Cole Fischer

Business Development Consultant at Audience Group and Bottomline Concepts

Cole has over a decade of sales and business development experience helping early to mid-stage advertising technology companies increase their exposure and revenue in the Central Region with Fortune 1000 clients and their agency partners. Cole is currently providing business development consultation for both Audience Group and Bottomline Concepts. He was actively involved with the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA) for 8 years helping to secure major advertising company sponsors while managing a team of 9 delegating and providing oversight when needed to ensure they were meeting their target goals. As the VP, Sponsorship, he had secured the most revenue in the history of CIMA in one year. Cole is very excited to further his involvement with Year Up to continue to break the socioeconomic barriers and to help build more leaders who can make a significant positive impact in an organization and their community.

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Trista Hannan

Account Executive at Workday

Trista Hannan is passionate about helping people solve problems they didn’t realize they had in ways they never imagined possible. That passion has fueled a 20+ year career in enterprise sales with some of the world’s most admired companies. It has also motivated her commitment to supporting the mission of Year Up Chicago through participation on the Leadership Council. Currently, Trista is an account executive at Workday, where she helps large enterprise customers become more agile to withstand disruptive pressures by improving how they manage their financial and human capital. Workday is a proud supporter of Year Up. Previously, she helped a Chicago-founded technology start-up devise it’s go-to-market strategy, and prior to that had an 18-year career at Morningstar, including serving as the company’s youngest and first-ever woman Global Head of Sales. Trista has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in Finance and Organizational and Managerial Behavior, and a BA from the University of Michigan.

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Mark Karhoff

Founder at Ten Count Consulting, LLC

Mark Karhoff is a Management Consultant in the supply chain industry and Founder of Ten Count Consulting, LLC. TCC provides clients guidance with project management, process improvement, supply chain IT solutions, DSCSA, Blockchain and other services. Mark has over 20 years of experience in supply chain operations and systems. He has worked with over 30 clients and successfully completed over 40 projects in countries around the world.

Mark is married (Brenda) and resides in Chicago. He has been a mentor with Year Up since 2014 and on the Leadership Council since 2017.

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Marci LaRouech

Vice President of Customer Success at Arrow Payments

Marci LaRouech is the Vice President of Customer Success at Arrow Payments. She has been involved with YearUp Chicago since 2016 as a volunteer, mentor, donor and is proud to be on the Leadership Council. Marci has held leadership positions at Rippleshot and Peanut Butter in Chicago and ProService Hawaii in Honolulu. In 2014 she was awarded with the Pacific Business News “Women Who Mean Business Women to Watch” award. She also serves on the advisory board for FinTex’s FinTech Women. She holds a BA from North Park University and enjoys long walks with her dog, Pippin.

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Allison Porterfield

Applications Systems Manager at Northwestern University

Allison Porterfield has worked in the information technology field for over 20 years primarily focusing on centralized system administration including Human Resource, Finance and Supply Chain Systems. She is currently an Applications Systems Manager at Northwestern University where she supports the centralized Financial, Facilities and Research Administrations systems. Allison has a Bachelor’s of Music in Harp Performance from Northwestern University and an MBA from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Her interests include music, golf and volunteering.  Allison has been a Year Up Guest Speaker and Mentor since 2018.

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Tracy Robinson

Recruiter at Accenture

Tracy Robinson has lived in Chicago for over 30 years so she calls it home now. She currently works at Accenture as a recruiter helping to find and recruit diverse talent to the organization through partnerships and events. Previously she worked at Amtrak for over twenty years in marketing where she was responsible for local marketing efforts for the Midwest and Southeast regions. Tracy’s professional mission statement is to inspire hope in others both personally and professionally. She is originally from Michigan and has both a MBA and a Bachelor’s in Engineering from the University of Michigan. She got involved in 2018 with Year Up when she walked into the offices for a meeting and felt like she was right at home.

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Connor Sea

Senior Consultant at Healthscape Advisors

Claire Shingler

Executive Director at Women’s March Chicago

Claire is a high impact leader whose personal core values are built around connecting people, collaborative leadership, and supporting women. Claire cares deeply about building community and acting locally. She is a skilled career coach and mentor. Claire developed these skills through a successful tech and management career and many years spent in community organizing and supporting non-profits. Most recently Claire worked as the first Executive Director for Women’s March Chicago.

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Eric Shirey

JPMorgan Chase

Christopher Thomas

Senior Technical Search Consultant at Advanced Resources, LLC

Chris Thomas is a former Marine, with 15+ years of entrepreneurial and leadership experience. He’s a proud father of a 6 year old son and an elder brother to 8. As Senior Technical Search Consultant for a highly respected and results-driven staffing firm, he focuses on the placement of Information Security folks nationally. He considers himself a recruiter by day, mentor for life, and when it’s all said and done, wants to be remembered for his strong work ethic, passion for life, helping others, and one that gets the job done with no excuses.

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L. Denise Turner

Senior Director of Operations & Analytics at YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

L. Denise Turner has focused her career on working within organizations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. She is currently the Senior Director of Operations & Analytics at the YMCA of Metro Chicago, where she supports both day-to-day management and strategic initiatives for the for the Y’s youth development programs. Previously, Denise held performance management and finance roles at several local government agencies, including the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Transit Authority.

Denise received an undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Iowa and a MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is a founding member of Year Up Chicago’s Leadership Council and a regular volunteer at Life Changers International Church.

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Matthew Tyler

Managing Director at CIBC

Matthew Tyler is a Managing Director and Commercial Group Manager within CIBC’s Healthcare Division. In this role he oversees the delivery of commercial lending and banking services to the owners and operators of independent, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing facilities throughout the United States. Matthew held a similar role with The PrivateBank & Trust Company before it was acquired by CIBC in 2017. During his fourteen year tenure at PrivateBank he also held positions in accounting, finance, and risk management. Matthew received his M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and his B.A. from Coe College. He has been involved with Year Up since 2016, joining the Leadership Council in 2018, and also provides classroom instruction for Chicago-based non-profits which support financial literacy. Matthew and his wife are the proud parents of three daughters.

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Jessica Vargas

Senior Manager & Talent Acquisition at Horizon Pharma

Jessica Vargas is a Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition at Horizon Pharma, where she leads a team to efficiently support the acquisition of high quality Leadership & Professional talent within the organization. Jessica previously worked at Fresenius- Kabi in various roles including leading their intern and co-op program and recruiting high caliber talent. Jessica is also involved with Diversity & Inclusion recruitment and holds a leadership role within Horizon’s Hispanic Business Resource Group.

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Joe Weber

Assistant Account Executive at Zeno

Joe Weber is an assistant account executive based out of Zeno Group’s Chicago office, working on public relations campaigns for pharmaceutical, medical device and healthcare service companies. Joe has experience providing communications support for leading organizations in the healthcare and corporate space—supporting clients with public affairs, corporate affairs, media relations and disease awareness and education efforts. Before joining Zeno, he has previous experience interning with FleishmanHillard’s public affairs practice group.

Joe graduated with honors from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN with a degree in journalism.

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