Amie Marks loves it when a woman asks her a question.
One asked the Lake Forest resident, “What’s fracking?”
Another query: “What are GMOs?”
A man with a pen and a pad of paper and an empty stomach has all kinds of questions for Marks, as we settle into a booth at Egg Harbor Café in Lake Forest on a morning in late July. Her signal to me, without uttering a word, is an eager What do you want to know?
A colleague of mine had told me about Marks’ group, Women in the Know, which she founded in 2013. Local women, ages 35-80, meet periodically at The Lake Forest Club on Westmoreland Road for discussions and lectures. It provides a platform for women to speak openly about world issues, current events and timely topics.
My first question for Marks, a registered principal and an independent financial advisor with Raymond James Financial Services since 2002: “What should I know about Women in the Know?”
“One of my good friends [Phil Cole] in my industry handed me this idea of women gathering to learn from one another and to share perspectives, and I started it as a perk for my clients,” says the 46-year-old Marks, a 1989 Lake Forest High School graduate who majored in business, economics and studio art at Lake Forest College and worked as a grain analyst in the research department at the Chicago Board of Trade in her early 20s. “But it changed and became something bigger; our numbers grew each year, and I sensed the women, depending on the topic, became more and more determined and inspired to work with solutions in mind after our get-togethers.
“Women,” she adds, “are making more decisions, leading more countries, running more companies. We love to talk, but we’re doing more than that. We’re also doers.”
The doers stuffed more than 300 backpacks with school supplies for students at a community picnic held at Foss Park Golf Course in North Chicago on July 22. Women in the Know also partnered with a Waukegan-based organization, Furthering the Lives of Young (FLY), to identify talented and passionate high school students who have limited resources but boundless potential to shine in college.
“We’ve stepped in and helped the students apply to colleges,” Marks says shortly after ordering coffee, two eggs over medium and a fruit cup. “Our organization … it’s evolving. I’m most proud of our commitment to action, not just discussion. Retired women in our community want to do something and become busy again, and they’re getting those opportunities with Women in the Know.”
On the organization’s website, at the top of the “About Amie” page, is a quote by Marks. The words truly capture the essence of the group: “One woman may have knowledge, strength and success … many women together can move mountains.”
Women in the Know put together a three-part fall series in 2014 and entitled it “Tackling the Matter of Teenage Mental Health and Suicide.” Each session at The Lake Forest Club was packed. Women in the Know held a summer forum on the 2016 Election last summer and congregated a couple of times (April 28 and June 2) for something lighter and liberating — “Spring Cleaning!! A Cleansing of Our Spaces, Our Minds and Our Souls”.
Marks met her future husband, Tom, at a charity event hosted by Providence-St. Mel School in Chicago. She was 23. Residents of Lake Forest since 2006, Amie and Tom celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary is Aug. 19. They have a 10-year-old son, T.J., who lobbied his mother, in the living room, before receiving the OK to play competitive hockey. He has also played lacrosse, sailed and golfed.
“He’s a happy, involved kid who has great passion for everything,” says Marks, who played softball and tennis in high school and kept busy with commitments to the student council, yearbook and student newspaper at LFHS. “I love to hang out with my son in my free time, and I love to play tennis.”
Her favorite exchanges off the court at LFC were the communicative ones with Dr. Carolyn Tuttle, currently a professor of economics and the chair of the Economic, Business and Finance Department at the college.
“An incredible teacher, an incredible motivator,” says Marks, who has created charcoal portraits of children and has a jewelry line in which the pieces are sold out of a boutique in Colorado. “I still stay in touch with her. I remember telling her, “I want to work at the Chicago Board of Trade after college.’ I was interested in futures, in options, and I always looked forward to doing research. I can’t say enough good things about Lake Forest College. It’s a fantastic school with amazing professors.”
As we take the final bites of our breakfasts, Marks is as energetic as she was in our first minute together.
The coffee, I sense, has little to do with her steady vim.
“I’m a classic extrovert,” Marks admits. “I gain energy from other people.
“I fill up when I’m around people.”
For more information about Marks’ group, please visit womenintheknowforum.com.