Our Team


ALEC PETERS – Con Chairman

A 2004 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award winner and one of the top collectors of Star Trek screen-used props and costumes (his Star Trek Prop & Costume Blog has over 4,000 unique visitors a month), Alec has been able to marry his passion with his work.

An attorney by training, Alec graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law, coached men’s volleyball at USC, and the USA National Team and has since started 4 companies, AMG, a sports management company, Auctionworks and Screaming Sports, two technology companies, and most recently Propworx, which started after Alec attended the 2006 Christie’s Star Trek auction and got hooked on collecting screen used props & costumes. When Battlestar Galactica was coming to a close, he contacted his friend Richard Hatch, Tom Zarek on the show (and the original Apollo) and Richard put him in touch with the right people at NBC/Universal. The rest is Battlestar history. Propworx is now the # 1 source for studio prop & costume auctions.

Alec collects Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica props & costumes, which are his main passions currently. Alec has been collecting comics on and off since he was six. He is a huge Captain America fan, watched Star Trek when it was first on TV, rules at Warhammer 40,000 and drives his dream car, a bright red 2001 Lotus Esprit. Alec isn’t quite sure what he wants to do when he grows up.

 


ALENA VAN ARENDONK – Director of Programming

Alena was born at a young age and began playing dress-up shortly afterward. It was the natural outcome of this early-manifesting tendency that she should grow up to co-found competitive cosplay group “…And Sewing Is Half The Battle!” She and her group have won around 30 awards in cosplay competitions, but the bulk of her time at conventions is spent teaching costuming panels, running workshops, and helping new cosplayers leap forward into the wonderful world of costume creation. At Anime World Chicago, Alena serves as director of Live Events and Panel Programming, as well as the Masquerade and all cosplay events.

 


BRENT WARREN – Director of Operations

Brent Warren, a Chicago native, works in the Information Technology field as a network consultant, but has been leading a not-so-secret life as a fan-based convention organizer. For over 17 years, he has worked with Chicago-area science fiction and fantasy literary conventions such as Capricon, Duckon, and Windycon, where he worked in various positions for 12 years from 1994 to 2006. In addition, he has been instrumental in organizing and growing the popular anime convention Anime Central (ACen) since its inception in 1997, having served as Director of Hospitality, Hotel Liaison and Chief of Staff, among other positions, as well as on the Midwest Animation Promotion Society (MAPS) board, ACen’s parent organization. Brent became an anime fan at the age of 3 upon seeing Speed Racer (Mach Go Go Go) and remembers when anime was still in its “secret club” stages. Besides being an anime fan, Brent is the biggest Dr. Who fan he knows, and can tell you trivia ranging from alien race names and traits to the various TARDIS incarnations to which companions appeared when. He even learned how to tie a bow tie properly because, you know, bow ties are cool. Even his recent wedding was Dr. Who themed. He also likes Star Wars, Star Trek (yup, he’s a fandom-crosser), Transformers, board, video & card games.

 


DAMARIS “Mystique” DEGEN – Director of Website and Online Marketing

Damaris Degen is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors Degree in Graphic Design and is also a member of the UCF Golden Key Club National Honors Society. She has over 15 years experience in both the graphic arts and multimedia industry and currently serves as an adjunct instructor at Valencia College East campus. She teaches digital illustrations and graphic design. Damaris is also a moderator at flashgoddess.com, an on-line community that specifically targets female Flash Designers and artists. She is also a proud mother of twin boys, Ethan and Justin Degen, to whom occupies most of her time with hugs and laughter. Damaris’ hobbies and special interests includes cosplay, traveling, painting, conventions, weight lifting, sky diving, racquetball, Warhammer 40k, and Sci Fi TV shows and movies.

 


JERAHMY HARKINS – Director of Promotions and Special Events

Born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago, Jerahmy always had a close attachments to videos games and cartoons. Upon becoming a young teenager his love and craving for both exploded as he began the slow tiresom journey to become a true otaku. He spends most of his time working as a sales and development manager for an electronics recycling company now, but in his free time is often found playing Heroes of Newerth, Aion, WoW, Dota, and other fast paced pvp MMOs. Some of his favorite animes include Trigun, Sailor Moon, Record of Lodoss War, and Tegami Bachi. Other favored actives are spending long hours reading Forgotten Realms novels and drinking hand crafted beers. All time favorite quote, “Never argue with an idiot. First they drag you down to their level, than proceed to beat you with years of experience.”

 


MARK DELLA-CROCE – Director of Gaming

Gaming has been a part of Mark’s life from a young age, whether in the form of designing video games with his Legos or “joining” his parent’s D&D group by pick pocketing their wallets. Now that he’s all grown up, Mark spends his time alternating between multiple gaming groups, costuming with his friends as a part of “…And Sewing Is Half The Battle!“, running, scuba diving, and getting out and seeing the world. In his spare time, he holds down a programmer/analyst day job, eats, and every once in a while, sleeps.

 


ELIZABETH “Honor” HERRERA – Director of Registration

Honor is currently a full time student at the University of South Florida where she is pursuing a degree in biomedical sciences. Her future plans are to apply to Physician Assistant school and to further explore and develop her skills in the media/entertainment field. She has been attending conventions for years and has assisted in event planning, promotions and networking. Her warm and outgoing personality, make her very approachable. Honor has cosplayed as Laura Croft, an Ironette from the movie Iron Man 2, a Slave Leia, and Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2. And when not running around in costume or on campus, some of her strong interests are photography, piano, writing, traveling and physical fitness. She has attended Dragon*Con, Mega*Con, Metro*Con, and San Diego Comic Con.

 


RIC “Jaster” BASS – Director of Security

Jaster has worked as convention security since 2005, and has overseen many facets of the inner workings of conventions. His skills include working well with the wonderfully diverse personalities involved in running the conventions, Hotel Security, EMT/medical services, the local police departments assigned to the convention. His experience also includes working closely with the convention guests (our stars) on the “walk of fame,” and as personal escort/security. Jaster enjoys being able to provide his problem solving skills, and being part of the team that makes the weekend an event.

 


ERICA BERGLUND- Director of Video Programming

Erica Berglund is so excited to be joining the AnimeWorld Expos team this year! Like, seriously, SO EXCITED, guys. Erica was introduced to this anime thing only a few short years ago, but quickly latched on to the conventions, cosplay, and awkardly-explaining-to-my-family-what-I-did-last-weekend aspects of the fandom. In the “normal” world, she works at a web video company as an administrative assistant; outside that, she volunteers on the communications team at her church and as assistant director of a local Renaissance madrigal group. Erica received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and now lives in Saint Paul, MN, not far from where she grew up. When she has spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and plotting ways to kill the PCs in the roleplaying game she runs. She has particular passion for AMVs, megane characters, and eating sushi with chopsticks.

 


EMILIA BLASER – Artist

Emilia is a graduate of Indiana University with degrees in chemistry and East Asian Languages and Cultures. Because she just can’t get enough of school, she is currently studying dentistry and hopes to graduate in 2014. (Anybody want some fillings?) You might have seen her at other conventions in the Midwest doing promotional work for AnimeWorld Chicago. In addition to helping spread the word about Anime World Expos, Emilia also helps out with the cosplay department and does artwork for AWC.

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