2022 Illinois Women in Leadership Symposium
August 25, 2022
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (CT)
Paragon of Womanhood: Restoration, Reintegration & Reemergence
This year’s symposium will explore the ways women can reintegrate, restore and reemerge. With a renewed drive and focus on redefining womanhood, women are adapting and becoming flexible to changing tides in work structure, pay equity and interpersonal relationships. As we embark on two decades of progress, the Women in Leadership Symposium highlights the legacy of excellence and advocacy for women’s equality in workplaces and communities.
Lindsay Brady is the Vice President and General Manager overseeing the Mainstream Frozen Meals portfolio at Conagra, a business unit that delivers $2B in net sales and that has several iconic brands and platforms including Marie Callender’s and Conagra’s emerging frozen pizza platform. Prior to joining Conagra, Lindsay held several leadership roles at Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands. Lindsay started her post-MBA career at Campbell Soup Company and held varying leadership roles across multiple categories, brands and business models. In addition to working for large organizations, Lindsay has a passion for getting involved with smaller, more entrepreneurial organizations. She’s a strategic advisor for Big Idea Ventures and is on the industry board of the Hatchery, a non-profit that nurtures food entrepreneurs in Chicago. Lindsay is also an advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion and is currently the executive champion of Women’s Employee Resources group at Conagra. Lastly, Lindsay is working to make a difference for under-represented and under-privileged youth and is an advocate for three children in foster care. Lindsay received her B.S. from Cornell University and her MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. She resides in Chicago, IL.
Ishwara Glassman Chrein was announced as President of Chicago Fire Football Club on May 20, 2021. A highly accomplished business executive with close to 20 years of experience – both inside and outside of sports – Glassman Chrein oversees all aspects of the Fire’s business operations. Prior to joining the Fire, Glassman Chrein was the Head of Sports Partnerships and Business Development at Yahoo Sports / Verizon Media, where she led relationships and negotiations with the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, BetMGM, and NBC, as well as other sports leagues, broadcasters, streamers, data companies, and technology companies. While at Yahoo Sports / Verizon Media, she also oversaw gaming strategy, evaluated sports rights acquisition deals across the globe, and worked with sports technology start-ups. She began her career at McKinsey & Company and Lehman Brothers, before spending nine years at WME IMG Sports, Entertainment and Media, most recently as Senior Vice President and Global Head of Sales Operations and Strategic Planning. She graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University with a degree in economics and political science and received her Master in International Affairs (International Finance) from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Glassman Chrein was a 2020 recipient of the Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award. She is a board member of the Business of Sports School, a New York City public school with an underserved student body, and speaks frequently at conferences and universities. She is believed to be only the fourth woman in league history to serve in this role.
Aaja Corinne Magee is a Chicago-based branding strategist, messaging specialist, and speaker, helping purpose-driven entrepreneurs and corporate leaders to become the undeniable choice. She specializes in the art of communication, partnering with clients to bring synergy to their purpose and profession, raise their profile, and increase their influence, so that they are positioned to create impact on a greater scale. In this session, Personal Branding Strategist and Messaging Specialist Aaja Corinne Magee will equip leaders with branding strategies to position and leverage their value in the workplace and marketplace. Participants will walk away knowing not only how to secure their seat at the table, but also how to become a "referred and preferred" thought leader in their respective industries.
Angeles Valenciano serves as chief executive officer of the National Diversity Council (NDC), becoming the first female CEO of this major nonprofit. In this role, she will continue to advance the NDC’s mission of fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She will also focus on strengthening partnerships with businesses, academia and the community at large. Ms. Valenciano is a seasoned strategist with more than 20 years of experience in human resources, primarily focused on diversity, organizational change, and development. She was previously president of the Healthcare Diversity Council and executive vice president of the NDC. In the latter role, she oversaw the growth of several national markets, including California, Colorado and Arizona. In addition, she also served as vice president of business development for the Texas Diversity Council (TXDC), one of the NDC state councils. Ms. Valenciano was the TXDC’s first executive director with responsibility over operations and policy implementation as adopted by the Board of Directors. She directed the agendas of the regional diversity council’s advisory boards in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. Under her leadership, the annual Women in Leadership Symposium was created and is now a national and global event held in more than twelve states and several countries including England, Mexico, Canada and most recently United Arab Emirates. Formerly, Ms. Valenciano was the director of diversity and inclusion for 84 Lumber Company. She provided leadership and direction for the infrastructure, design, formulation, implementation and execution of the organization’s overall diversity strategy, which included external communications, public relations, and community engagement. She was also responsible for ensuring the efficacy of these business practices, processes, and procedures. Ms. Valenciano’s role was carried out in the company’s business expansion into Mexico and Canada. As an assistant vice president and officer at JPMorgan, she served in the capacity of leadership development consultant in Credit Card Services and Organizational Development, and consultant to Customer Services’ clients. Ms. Valenciano also managed the strategic direction and execution of organizational-wide development processes as well as diversity programs and initiatives. She served as subject matter expert on global diversity, overseeing the company’s initiatives in various countries. Active in charitable and civic affairs, Ms. Valenciano is a graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de San Luis Potosí located in the City of San Luis Potosí in Mexico with a degree in business and computer information systems. She holds a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) Certificate from University of Villanova. She has completed various leadership and professional development programs across the country and abroad. Ms. Valenciano is fluent in English and Spanish. She serves on the board of the Science, Engineering and Technology at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. She is a strong advocate and chairs several committees for people with disabilities in the workplace. She is a proud ally to the LGBT community and is active with several chambers of commerce across the country. Ms. Valenciano lives in San Antonio, TX, with her sons.
Ruben Abarca has been working in education since 2009. In his first ten years, he worked as a corporate education consultant for DeVry and DePaul Universities. Ruben helped launch more than 50 corporate partnerships with Fortune 500 companies and set up dozens of onsite cohorts with top organizations. This resulted in hundreds of students obtaining their education goals. In 2019, Ruben Abarca launched his own company CorpEdPartners, a subsidiary of Vislario Inc. Ruben's university clients included: Illinois Tech (Illinois Institute of Technology), Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and the University of Phoenix. He also partnered and collaborated with dozens of other colleges and universities. He forged strategic alliances and offered a blueprint which created value for corporations, universities and adult learners. Corporations developed upskilling and reskilling opportunities while creating talent pipelines. Adult students were prepared for in-demand 21st century careers and universities substantially increased their enrollment. Most recently Ruben co-founded Papaya Tutor a 7 day a week, online, bilingual STEM tutoring company. Papaya Tutor was created to close the ever growing STEM gap that exists in this country. Papaya focuses on helping all students, in particular those from traditionally marginalized communities. Ruben and his team have been focused on programs designed for young women and students of color. Ruben and Papaya believe that every student regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic background deserves to have the highest quality education and access to world class tutors. Ruben serves on the advisory board for The Executives' Club of Chicago and board for The Associated Colleges of Illinois. He partners with several Latino nonprofits organizations such as Prospanica, ALPFA, and the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE). He currently mentors a group of young professionals from diverse backgrounds and organizes high school STEM camps. Ruben has a passion for educating the next generation and especially for underrepresented populations. He regularly speaks to corporate and student organizations about the power of education. Prior to his work in higher education, Ruben ran several businesses and has years of corporate experience in operations, project management, business development and account management. Ruben holds a BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management. He currently lives in Palatine, Illinois with his wife and two daughters.
Bridget Altenburg joined National Able Network in September 2013 as Chief Operating Officer and was appointed President & CEO in April 2018. Ms. Altenburg’s 18-year career includes experience in the non-profit and for-profit sectors as well as military service. Ms. Altenburg came to National Able Network from Chicago Cares, where she served as the Executive Director for almost three years. During her tenure at Chicago Cares, she helped revitalize the organization’s programs, finances and staff. Prior to her work with Chicago Cares, Bridget directed the development, marketing and communications for the Academy for Urban School Leadership, Chicago’s only teacher training and school turnaround organization, which was recognized by President Obama as a national model for education reform. Prior to her transition to the non-profit sector, Bridget worked on the executive staff at Bally Total Fitness to strengthen the company prior to its sale to Harbinger Capital. Ms. Altenburg began her career as an engineer officer in the US Army. In her first assignment, she deployed from Hanau, Germany with 34 soldiers to Bosnia to conduct engineering operations pursuant to with the Dayton Peace Accords of 1995. She returned to Bosnia the following year and was deployed a third time to Albania to support the air war in Kosovo in 1999. Ms. Altenburg earned a BS in Russian and French and MBA from Columbia Business School in New York. She has served on the boards of The Pritzker Military Museum and Library, Illinois Joining Forces, Allied Airlift, West Point Women, Senator Duckworth’s Service Academy Nomination Board, and was appointed by President Obama to the United States Military Academy at West Point Board of Visitors.
Angela Ashley is the President/CEO for Stavins Talent, leveraging Sales and Marketing expertise to continue the organizations legacy. The Talent Agency has a 35-year history in the Chicagoland area with a roster of over 400 professional Talent in Industrial voice-over, on-camera, print and live trade shows. Angela is a seasoned executive with 27 years of proven leadership with global distribution, global manufacturing, and private-owned manufacturing. companies. Led teams from 5 people to 30 people. She has an In-depth experience selling to national and regional chains, on-site/noncommercial, cruise lines, retail, convenience stores/channels, club stores, private label, retail foodservice, working with broad-line distributors, specialty distribution, and brokers. Angela has a top-to-top strategic partnership with customers to gain insights into their key priorities and pain points to ensure alignment with the company’s strategic goals. She successfully executes the three-tier approach of Sales bringing customer insights to the organization and partnering internally with Marketing on the consumer trends 3-5 years. She partners with R&D to develop innovative products to proactively present to the customer that will meet their customer’s needs with a speed to market strategy “easy button”.
Melina Barona (she/her) serves on Conagra Brands’ DEI leadership team and is head of employee resource groups. Along with her role at Conagra Brands, she has held progressive leadership roles in the DEIB and talent acquisition space for over 20 years. Melina began her career in broadcast journalism, working with Frontline News in London and an ABC affiliate in the US. During the early years of her career, she was based in the Czech Republic and Ukraine. Melina has held leadership roles at Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, on KPMG’s national diversity recruiting team, and in the tech industry. Melina is a Certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR), holds an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University, a certificate in HR from Northwestern University, and is a Fulbright Scholar. She is also a graduate of The Second City Conservatory Program. She is a founding member of Las Tinas, a Chicago-based Latinx improv group. Las Tinas performs improvised telenovelas, and has performed at The Second City, The Laugh Factory, The Annoyance, The Comedy Clubhouse, and other comedy venues. The mission of Las Tinas is to create space for Latinx women in comedy while providing much-needed humor to people of all communities. Originally from Medellin, Colombia, Melina now resides in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Brandon Beck oversees the Global Talent function for Brunswick Corporation, the world’s Marine Industry leader. Brandon focuses on building tools and processes that support the company’s growth initiatives and ensures there is a robust pipeline of Talent to help foster career development and growth. Brandon has been instrumental in expanding Brunswick’s Leadership Development Programs which introduces a spectrum of diverse and talented college graduates to accelerated leadership positions. He has invested a substantial amount of time in developing his own professional skill sets recently becoming a Certified Diversity Professional to go along with his SPHR certification and his SHRM-SCP designation. Brandon has played a key role in Brunswick’s Diversity transformation leading the Attraction and Recruitment pillar of the company’s TIDE (Together, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity) council. TIDE has accelerated Brunswick’s energy and cultural transformation around Diversity and Inclusion and continues to expand its participation throughout the organization. These efforts have contributed to Brunswick’s recent recognitions as: • 2021 Forbes “America’s Best Employer for Veteran’s” list for second consecutive year • Forbes Best Employers for Women - 2021 • 2022 Forbes America's Best Employers for Diversity – third consecutive year Brandon holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Tri-State University as well as an MBA from Indiana Institute of Technology where he double majored in Human Resources Management and Business.
Kevin Chan Bradley is the Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion, and Community for HUB International. Joining the organization in 2021, he is responsible for crafting the company’s overarching D&I strategy and providing coaching and consultation to ensure the execution of the strategy on all levels or the organization and is a member of the Enterprise Leadership Group. Mr. Bradley is a seasoned Diversity & Inclusion practitioner with over 30 years in Human Resources. He has been a recruiter, business partner, EEO/AA Compliance leader and D&I leader. Bradley has worked in various industries including manufacturing, aerospace, fast food, and financial services. Throughout his career, he has had the developed D&I strategies that includes building ERGs from the ground up, introducing D&I curriculum, and establishing external community partnerships. At times has managed both the diversity and compliance functions simultaneously, which has allowed him to leverage compliance initiatives to enhance diversity strategies. Bradley has always created collaborative internal coalitions with key internal leaders and stakeholders to create, establish and grow D&I strategies. His philosophical approach is that diversity & inclusion is part of every leader and employee’s jobs. He is often asked to speak at events on the topic of diversity as a business driver and has received recognition for his work in advocating for diverse communities. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Access Living, a nationally renowned disability advocacy organization and locally with the Parents’ Alliance Employment Project. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Philharmonic. He has been asked to serve on the Chicago advisory committees for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and is on the DEI Advisory Committee for his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Mr. Bradley earned his BA from Northeastern Illinois University and his MS from Villanova University
Tammy Butts is a Complex Executive Vice President and Branch Manager for Equitable Advisors, LLC in Chicago, Illinois with more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. Tammy built a successful practice providing financial planning strategies and guidance to families and business owners. In 2005, she was promoted to Divisional Vice President. In that role, she hired and developed a successful, diverse team of financial professionals. Recognized for her success, she received several management awards. In 2009 she was promoted to Divisional Executive Vice President managing the Illinois Branch managing over 200 advisors and staff. Leadership/Awards: Sept 14, 2022 will become Equitable’s 1st female Old Guard President in its 117 year history Previous Board member of: GAMA (now FINSECA); American College Foundation; and NAIFA. Numerous EQ awards including 5 President’s Trophies ranking in Top 10 Nationally “POWER 50 WOMEN ILLINOIS” IL Women’s Conference 3/28/19--National Diversity Council Profiles in Diversity Journal as a “WOMAN WORTH WATCHING” in 2010 Media: Quoted in numerous financial articles for Chicago Tribune, Barron’s, and other publications Interviewed on TV and Radio including Fox News and CLTV News Education: BBA Finance Texas Christian University American College ChFC and CLU
N’Gai Cobb has been in the healthcare industry since the late 90s and has worked for managed care companies, providers, vendors, and healthcare associations ranging from Fortune 100 companies to startups. He has performed consulting for medical groups and payers alike. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bradley University in Biology, A master’s in microbiology/Immunology from Southern Illinois University, a Master’s in Public Health Administration from Northern Illinois and is certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt. He is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves. He has started several businesses servicing the healthcare arena in document management, telemedicine and Cinyur in 2021, which focuses on using artificial intelligence to manage provider directories for payers and large health systems. He and his wife also own real-estate throughout the Chicagoland area. Has been married for 23 years with two kids, a daughter in high school and a son in college.
Desireé Dent founded Dejanae Events LLC, an award-winning wedding & event planning company over 22 years ago. She and the DE Team have since produced hundreds of weddings employing her knowledge and research to assist couples with their special day while maintaining their specialized budget. Desireé obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and English from DePaul University in 1995. Since working for a large, accredited university and mid-sized law firm in downtown Chicago, Desireé has managed dozens of corporate events and assisted with sizeable client functions both in and out of state. She received her certification in Bridal Consulting & Event Planning in 2003 from the Professional Career Development Institute and from Lovegevity Wedding Planning Institute in 2007. Additionally, Desireé is the Instructor of Triton College College's Wedding Planning Certification course hosted in conjunction with The Wedding Planning Institute, a division of Lovegevity, Inc. She is recognized as a "wedding industry professional" and "academic leader" in the latest textbook edition of "Professional Wedding Planning - How To Start A Wedding & Event Planning Business" used in the Certification course. She has spoken on stages nationwide addressing the wedding & event planning industry. And in September 2021, Desireé appeared on CNBC's The News with Shepard Smith as an expert discussing "Covid Weddings". Desireé’s greatest achievement is authoring, WEDology Notebook: For The Budget-Chic Bride, released on March 1, 2011, and creating a series of seminars and educational materials for aspiring wedding and event planners called the “WEDology toolKIT”. Desireé was 1 of 3 Co-Hosts of the web series called, “The Wedding Planners” from 2012-2013! Dejanae Events LLC is named “Best of Weddings by The Knot” for the 11th year and in their Hall of Fame of vendors. And just recently, Desireé was appointed as a Wedding Pro Educator for The Knot WeddingWire Worldwide. She is one of 38 nationwide.
With a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Chicago in Economics and Statistics and a career in finance for 6+ years, owner Teresa Ging left her finance position to attend Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie program in Paris. When she returned to Chicago she set out to pursue a dream to open a cupcake boutique and spent eight months testing cupcake recipes. In October 2007, Ging launched the catering and delivery side of the business with 20+ flavors in the Sugar Bliss cupcake collection. In January 2009, Teresa Ging opened Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique at 115 N Wabash in the Downtown Chicago Loop and in July 2016, she opened Sugar Bliss Patisserie at the Palmer House Hilton at 122 S Wabash. In addition, she has received numerous awards since opening Sugar Bliss including Enterprising Women of the Year Award in 2019, Rising Star Award from the Women's Business Development Center in 2011, and Best New Business from the City Treasurer's Office/City of Chicago in 2010, as well as has been invited by President Obama to attend the signing of the White House Council on Women & Girls.
Kimberly L. Harris-Mooring is a highly experienced Human Resources leader providing strategic leadership to management in solving complex issues around engagement, performance and organizational development. Currently, she is the Senior Vice President, People & Culture at Rise Interactive where she oversees Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, DEI and Learning & Development. She is passionate about the critical role that HR plays and believes that employees are the “special sauce” within an organization. Previously, she was the Chief Administrative Officer for the Cook County Assessor's Office where she focused on overall strategic direction and developing processes that drove operational excellence. Prior to that, Harris-Mooring led HR Programs for First Midwest Bank as the Vice President of HR Project Management and Strategic Program Management where she provided strategic guidance on several mergers and acquisitions. Kimberly holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an HR concentration from Keller Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University. She has also earned both the Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) certification designation as well as the SHRM-SCP designation. In addition, she has earned the Organization Development Certified Professional (ODCP) designation. Kimberly is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and provides service to the community in areas of women’s health and wellness and financial literacy. She served on the Board for Chicago SHRM, as the Orientation Chair for many years.
Martha Jimenez is a Client Success Executive professional at Actalent, a services and talent solutions company. Her focus is supporting and managing a large portfolio of enterprise global accounts within the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industries. Previously, Martha worked as an Implementation Project Manager for Aerotek, a staffing and recruiting firm. She started her professional career as a Recruiter, and over the last decade has been promoted to support the organization in various roles. She decided it was time for a new challenge/career change in 2022 and entered the world of business development with Actalent. Martha is proud to serve on the Actalent BIPOC ERG Board to drive and execute companywide initiatives in this space to foster an inclusive culture.
Veronica is the Director of Global Supplier Diversity in Global Procurement/Procurement Center of Excellence at ADM, a global leader in nutrition and agricultural origination and processing. Her passion for Supplier Diversity started when she was hired by one of the largest Hispanic-owned minority businesses in Illinois to design, develop and implement their Supplier Diversity program. She not only exceeded their expectations but helped create a strong brand for that MBE. When she came on board at ADM, Veronica was instrumental in revamping ADM’s Supplier Diversity Program. She identified key stakeholders and Supplier Diversity champions within each purchasing arm of ADM, who then served as advocates for Supplier Diversity across ADM. Together, they were able to educate ADM colleagues about the value of utilizing diverse suppliers to form a robust supply chain pipeline. Veronica was instrumental in establishing relationships with ADM’s sales teams, which helped increase Tier 2 reporting with key customers. She essentially is the liaison between ADM’s procurement teams and the diverse supplier community, both nationally and globally. As part of the program, she also insists on supplier development and capacity-building. Veronica works on staying on top of industry trends, which she then tries to incorporate into the forefront of ADM’s business strategy. This has led to ADM’s procurement teams implementing Supplier Diversity goals as part of their contracts. She is working to start ADM’s Tier 2 program as well as expand the program’s footprint globally. Veronica serves on the Food & Beverage industry groups both at The Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). She is a past board member of the Mississippi Valley Boys & Girls Club; the Wisconsin, Iowa, Central Illinois Minority Supplier Development Council; the Chicago Minority Business Development Council and Integration team member for the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council. Veronica also serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Chapter of the National Diversity Council. She recently has become the Board Chair of the North Central Minority Supplier Development Council (NCMSDC), an affiliate of the NMSDC Veronica received her B.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Communications and an M.S. in Leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a passionate reader, an avid traveler and a strong mentor for the youth in her community. In her down time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Key Recognitions: 2020 recognized by MBE Magazine as a Supplier Diversity All-Star 2019 received Inaugural Chairman’s Award at ADM for her work with Supplier Diversity and D&I 2018 recognized by DiversityPlus Magazine as a Top 30 Champion of Diversity 2016 recognized by DiversityPlus Magazine as a Top 25 Woman Impacting Diversity 2015 recognized by WE USA Magazine as a Top 100 Leader in Supplier Diversity Leader
Amy is a licensed clinical social worker with extensive experience working in mental health, trauma and burnout. Amy studied at Northwestern University and The University of Chicago before moving to Dublin, Ireland, to begin her career in mental health. She then supported parents and staff in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Lurie Children's Hospital, before joining Urban Wellness in 2019. As a clinician, Amy specializes in burnout, grief and trauma, and compassion fatigue. Amy is a certified perinatal mental health specialist. As your workplace wellbeing consultant, my role is to create space for you, collectively, to breathe, slow down, and be attentive to what’s happening in your minds, your work and your lives. I help implement and sustain wellbeing initiatives, deliver ongoing education and support the overall vision of mental health at work. Together we will identify your strengths and build your collective capacity for resilience.
Brandon Jones, (he/him/his) CDP is Manager for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging at Comcast where he has worked for close to 16 years. Brandon started his journey with Comcast as a Communications Technician in the city of Chicago where his career would continue to grow progressively on the technical operations field. From there, he transitioned to Customer Experience where is led the deployment of the cultural and employee transformation platform of the Net Promoter System. Here, he was afforded the opportunity to lead Comcast's Black Employee Network ERG and serve on the board for Comcast's Unidos ERG serving its Latinx community. Those two opportunities led to an expanded role into the DEI space. More recently, he was afforded the opportunity to move full-time into the DEI space where he now dedicates his days to crafting inclusive programming at Comcast that celebrates and examines the multiple and intersectional dimensions of employees' identities. Brandon has been involved with the ILDC since 2020, and he currently acts as a newly minted board member.
Melissa created Big Buzz Idea Group in November 2004 so Chicagoland nonprofits would have an honest outsourcing partner to bring their largest projects to life. After raising more than $6 million dollars for clients through successful events, Melissa expanded the company services to provide management, marketing, event and consulting services for nonprofits and associations so that charitable organizations can run more effectively and create a greater impact. With 32 years of corporate and nonprofit experience, she has launched and executed large fundraisers, conceived several innovative and lucrative new programs, coordinated a variety of dinners/awards functions and organized numerous conferences/workshops. Her largest project to date is Ribfest Chicago, where she was responsible for every facet of the event including festival promotion, sponsorship development, entertainment booking and vendor management. Having begun with 5,000 attendees, the event grew to 70,000 people annually and was featured on Food Network’s “Eating America” with Anthony Anderson. Melissa is a member and serves as the Executive Director of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Chicago Area Chapter. Awards and accomplishments include the Woman of Influence by The Chicago Business Journal; the NAWBO Chicago Presidential Award of Excellence; Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Graduate; Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women Magazine; and Influential Women in Business Award by the Daily Herald Business Ledger; Melissa graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. Her program emphasis was public relations and event planning.
Troy joined IDEX in July 2021 as the Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and reports directly to IDEX CEO and President Eric Ashleman. In this role, Troy leads IDEX’s global DEI strategy delivery as well as its DEI Center of Excellence. Troy joined IDEX from Chicago-based U.S. Cellular, where he served as the Head of Diversity & Inclusion. At U.S. Cellular he increased diversity of the workforce – particularly in leadership – and led campaigns to increase awareness of bias in the workplace and in hiring, helping build a culture of inclusive leadership. His previous Human Resources experiences have included roles at Ingredion Inc., Pactiv, Johnson Controls, Abbott Laboratories, Sara Lee Corporation and United Airlines. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Troy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, followed by a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. He began his career as a high school social worker and an education consultant. Troy and his wife live in suburban Chicago with their two daughters. He enjoys writing music, playing piano, and singing.
Nathalie Cordeiro Nunes is the Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer for Sinai Chicago. With more than 10 years of experience in DEI, she is responsible for aligning Sinai Health System’s growth, business strategy and organizational goals, and design and implement a DEI strategy to foster an agile, engaged, innovative and inclusive organization that develops approximately 4,000 leaders and caregivers to perform their best, while supporting our patients and community. Prior to Sinai Chicago she was responsible for the design, implementation and execution of diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, initiatives and corporate partnerships that supported business goals and values at United Airlines. Nathalie is fluent in English, German, Portuguese and Spanish. At age 16, she was accepted to attend the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the top University in her field (Nutrition Science) at that time in Brazil. After graduating from university she went on to earn a Medical Board Health Management Certificate in Berlin, Germany and a Diversity & Inclusion Professionals Certificate from Cornell University’s IRL School in New York City. She is actually pursuing her Executive MBA from the Fundacao Getulio Vargas in Brazil and just received her Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Certificate from the University of South Florida. Nathalie doesn’t just work in DEI. She takes knowing world cultures as her hobby as well, as seen in her blog, “Explore Fun Travel” (explorefuntravel.com) and her Instagram @explorefuntravel. “I have visited 40+ countries, and most of them multiple times,” she says. “Travel is my passion. Nothing makes me happier than to share my experiences and give my best recommendations to my family and friends. I want everyone to enjoy traveling as much as I do.” Nathalie is a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Diversity Council. She is also a member of the Board of the Urban Jazz Dance Company, a platform for professional Deaf and other abled artists based in the Bay Area.
With over 30 years of experience, Rodney Patterson is one of the nation’s most effective and engaging diversity and inclusion facilitators. Mr. Patterson’s numerous corporate roles include his former position as Corporate Diversity Officer for CoBank and Diversity Resource to Farm Credit System’s four largest Banks. Previously, Mr. Patterson served as President of Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago, IL, and Director of Inclusion and Talent Management at the executive search firm, Hudson Highland. Mr. Patterson was the former Assistant to the Vice President for Multicultural Development and Director of Racial Ethnic Student Affairs for Michigan State University. He served in a similar capacity at the University of Vermont. Mr. Patterson has had the privilege of serving as a consultant and facilitator for training and development for several Fortune 500, 100, and 50 organizations, governmental, non-profit, and social services agencies. Mr. Patterson has served as a consultant with many large, multinational corporate clients, including General Mills, Bank of America ,and Mercer. Mr. Patterson has also worked with professional sports franchises, the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets on diversity matters. His consulting services with professional sports organizations ranged from working with the team’s ownership and executive management to coaches, staff, and the professional athletes themselves. Mr. Patterson serves on the Board of Directors at Madonna University, the Agriculture Futures of America, and the Denver Seminary.
Terri J. Sanders, MPH, is an award-winning marketing, branding, and communications expert with more than 20 years of experience. As a Managing Director for Kivvit, she works across industries in brand development and positioning, marketing strategy, strategic and crisis communications, consumer research, and audience development. Prior to joining Kivvit, Terri served as the chief marketing and communications officer for HIMSS, where she was responsible for global management of its brands as well as marketing, communications, design, and UI/UX. Before that, she worked in communications and branding at The Chartis Group, and previously Terri served as director of corporate brand and strategy at AIM Specialty Health. Terri holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She also holds a Master of Health Management and Policy from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Terri has certifications in Multi-Channel Integrated Marketing Communications, Advertising and Public Relations Essentials, Social Media and Professional Business Writing from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. A long-standing advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, Terri has served as the Chairperson for two national diversity councils and is a Chartering Member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Chicago Metropolitan Chapter. Terri resides in Chicago with her husband and two morkies, Starsky and Hutch.
As President of SINGH + Associates, Harvind is the powerful force behind the company driving it to success. When Harvind joined SINGH + Associates in 1999, she brought with her a passion for communication and a wide array of project management and business development competencies gained in her 10-year career as a television and radio writer and producer. Harvind has been instrumental in developing the firm’s corporate structure and integrating effective management practices, policies, and procedures. In April 2019, Harvind succeeded her father to become President of SINGH. She directs the strategic vision for the firm and manages all aspects of SINGH’s operations with a strong emphasis on company culture while facilitating growth. Harvind has spearheaded SINGH’s growth as Prime consultant in the public transportation market, expanding the firm’s presence throughout the Midwest, all while integrating effective management practices throughout all operations. She played an integral role in SINGH’s achievement as the 2017 “Best Engineering Firm to Work For” in the “Small Firm” category from the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers. She is also a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program. Harvind is a strong advocate for bolstering diversity within the industry as evidenced by her appointment to the State of Illinois Diversity Task Force on Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, Minority Business Enterprises, and Women Business Enterprises. She is actively engaged with organizations across the country including serving on the Board of Directors for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA) Planning & Design (P&D) Division Board of Directors, and as a board member of the Asian American Construction Enterprises (AACE). When she’s not at work you will find her cheering on her two beautiful daughters at their gymnastics and figure skating competitions or enjoying an evening of reading, hiking, or knitting. She is proud of her native roots and speaks Punjabi fluently.
Cathy Traczek is Senior Director of Executive Customer Relations for the Big South, Greater Chicago Region (GCR) and Heartland Regions of Comcast. In this role Cathy is responsible for the oversight of the executive escalation teams for these three Regions, focusing on improving customer satisfaction, escalation volume reduction, and process improvement for the organization as a whole. In Cathy’s almost 27 years of leadership experience at Comcast, her time has been spent in Customer Care and Technical Operations. Cathy started in Customer Care in 1995 and then returned to Customer Care in 2012, after spending nine years working in Technical Operations leadership—with a key accomplishment of leading the city of Chicago, the first transition from analog to digital in the country. In one role in Technical Operations, Cathy led the Work Force Operations/CommOps teams, which included, Dispatch, Quota, Routing, ATS, and Escalations. Before Cathy’s current role as Senior Director of Executive Customer Relations, she led the Woodridge, IL Video Repair Call Center in the Greater Chicago Region (GCR) for one year and filled in as interim Vice-President for Customer Care for the GCR Region for ten months. Cathy is passionate about women in leadership and diversity advocacy, and this shows in her volunteer work in the cable industry and in the Chicago community. Cathy is in her fifth year on the Board of Directors for the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, where she works passionately on the mission to eliminate racism and empower women. Cathy is in her ninth year as Executive Sponsor for the Women’s Employee Resource Group in the Greater Chicago Region of Comcast. Cathy was President of the Chicago Chapter of Women in Cable and Telecommunications (WICT) in 2010 and 2011, after serving as Vice-President and Mentoring Chair—and she continues to actively volunteer with the current board. Cathy was the winner of the 2005 Bernice Coe Award, from Oxygen, Multi-channel News and WICT. The award was established to recognize women with exceptional leadership and mentoring skills. Cathy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from DePaul University, is a graduate of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute, Class XVI, and is a 2015 graduate of Comcast’s Executive Leadership Forum (ELF). Cathy and her husband, John have a son, Zach and daughter-in-law, Rachael. Cathy and John live in Bolingbrook, Illinois. They enjoy spending time at Chicago restaurants, at Chicago sporting events, and at “the lake”—Lake Michigan and Simonton Lake in Elkhart, IN.
Ashlen Williams, NOMA, AIA, is a licensed architect with a passion for design and more succinctly the possibilities of its role in the development of diverse, sustainable, and equitable communities. She believes that the practice of architecture is an honor that is continually made better as the voices of this profession become more diverse, inclusive, and reflective of the neighborhoods we serve. Her portfolio includes master planning and architectural projects including hospitality, pre-k-12 education, multi-family residential, corporate office, and LEED project management. She currently serves as the 2022-2023 President of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects and is a Director on the AIA-Chicago Board.
James S. Williams Jr. serves as the Vice-President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Urban Health Initiative at the University of Chicago Medicine. He provides strategic vision and leadership in the design and implementation of the system-wide Equity Plan supporting One UChicago Medicine’s aim to create a seamless and equitable healthcare delivery system spanning the Hyde Park, Ingalls, off-sites, Northwest Indiana and future campuses. James is responsible for collaborating on initiatives aimed at reducing disparities, building critical consciousness, enhancing cultural responsiveness, strengthening health literacy and creating an equitable organization supporting improvements in workforce, climate, patient quality and community health metrics across all One UChicago Medicine campuses. James serves as the system-wide thought leader on equity-related matters to effect equitable policy and practice change and provides coaching, subject matter expertise and consultation to senior leadership. He represents UChicago Medicine’s equity philosophy, approach, efforts and outcomes externally with partner organizations within the community and at key external events to positively impact the organization's visibility, image and relationship with its surrounding community. James leads efforts to integrate equity into the system-wide E4 Leadership Infrastructure in collaboration with executive leadership of quality, operational excellence, strategy, human resources, marketing and communications, patient care services, etc., to equip the organization to meet the needs of our diverse patient populations and community. He and his team helped to develop the UCM Disaster Recovery efforts in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences to advance the Resilience-Based Framework addressing the needs of UCM team members while enabling the delivery of Trauma-Informed Care. Under his leadership, the Workforce Resiliency and Empowerment Program (WREP) was developed as a community-based trauma informed workforce development program funded by AT&T. James has contributed countless improvements in diversity, equity and inclusion within UCM for the past 22 years, beginning with leading UCM’s efforts to grow its footprint in Business Diversity by developing relationships that have led to increasing UCM’s spending with Minority and Women Business Enterprises. Prior to his equity work, James managed in Revenue Cycle, Admission Services, Transplant Services and Supply Chain. His professional career began at a law firm that had Chicagoland area hospitals as clients. James is a lifelong Southside of Chicago resident who is married to his wife, Jewel, and has 3 adult daughters. He earned his master’s degree in Leadership with a focus on Equitable Organizational Change from DePaul University.
Kristina M. Wynne is the Owner and Founder of The Wynners Club LLC, a small business development consulting company that offers small business coaching, education/training and professional writing. Her devotion to small business started almost 20 years ago when she began working for her family’s company, 200 Pharmacy Inc. at 16 as a licensed pharmacy technician. As an adult, Kristina worked for her family’s business for 8 years. She ultimately thrived in the position of Director of Business Development. In this position, she initialized her experience in the procurement sector. First working to get her family’s business certified with the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council and thereafter attending conferences, matching opportunities and pre-bid meetings to establish the company’s reputability and brand in the government contracting industry, specifically within healthcare systems. Kristina was successful in acquiring several small contracts with hospitals like Rush, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois and health care organizations like Advocate. In 2017 she transitioned from the family business to take on an opportunity with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program (10KSB), where her true passion was revealed, helping small businesses grow. This is where her foundation in outreach and small business education/training was established. Kristina was brought on as the outreach Director, charged with recruiting more minority and women owned business who qualified for the program. In just one year Kristina increased the minority participation from 18% to 32% and 35/65 men/women split to 40/60. Given these results she was promoted to Outreach and Alumni Director for the program and became responsible for supporting scholars once they graduated with general advising and connections to small business resources. After working with the Goldman Sachs program for 3 years Kristina made the decision to fully step into entrepreneurship and consulting for public and private organizations that support small businesses by offering coaching support in areas such as: MBE/WBE Certification Technical Assistance, Business Development, and Business Plan and Pitch Deck Creation. In December of 2020, Kristina was brought on as business advisor with the IL Small Business Development Center Network and in September 2021 as a business consultant for the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council. In these roles she has created and facilitated small business workshops/trainings, organized small business networking events, and offer one-on-one business advising.
Tanjia M. Coleman, Ph.D., has more than 18 years of experience working as a senior-level human resources and organization development professional in non-profit and Fortune 100 companies, including Microsoft, Starbucks, Tribune Company, Whirlpool, Sears, and Motorola. Currently, Coleman is the President of Reimagine Organization Development, Inc., where she provides clients with various organizational solutions focused on culture, leadership development, diversity, equity & inclusion. She is also the Founder of the Executive Women of Command Leadership Acceleration program. In addition, she holds a faculty position with the Loyola University Quinlan School of Business and National Louis University. She is a founding member of the Loyola University Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leadership Institute Certification Program. Previously, Coleman served as the Chief Human Resources Officer at the Y.W.C.A. Metropolitan Chicago, which for over 140 years has been the oldest and largest women's organization in the region, with a mission to eliminate racism and empower women. Coleman introduced cultural transformation and talent management initiatives as an instrument of business transformation that is advancing strategy and operational outcomes at the Y.W.C.A. Metropolitan Chicago. In the C.H.R.O. role, Coleman was responsible for ensuring the people, and cultural infrastructure met the high demand of the communities the programs served. Before her role at the Y.W.C.A., Coleman was the Senior Director, Human Resources, at KinderCare Education, responsible for 20,000 employees and 1,700 locations. Due to her leadership, KinderCare Education went from one of the most disengaged companies to being on Gallup's Top 37 companies to work. Coleman's contributions earned her the 2019 Visionary Award with Benedictine University. This award is given to distinguished alumni who have positively moved their industry and professions forward and are also committed to philanthropic endeavors. Coleman was the most junior of the recipients, with the three in this category graduating on average 40 years before Coleman. Coleman has earned several awards throughout her professional career, including the Commencement Speaking award, Professional Recognition of Integrity, Dedication and Excellence Legacy of Service, You Are A Star, Human Resources Newcomer of the Year Awards, and being named a 2020 H.R. Influencer. Coleman completed her dissertation to earn her Ph.D. in Organization Development in January 2016 from Benedictine University. In 2014 she received "The Best Student Paper Award" at the Academy of Management - I.S.E.O.R. conference in Lyon, France. She received the Best Paper Collaboration award from the Academy of Management in August 2016. She has completed research papers, presented, and served as a reviewer and discussant at the Midwest Academy of Management, Southwest Academy of Management, Western Sciences Decision Institute, and the International Socio-Economic Institute of Firms and Organizations. Her work was further recognized and published in the Recherches en Sciences de Gestion 2015 publication. Coleman also holds a Master of Science degree in Industrial and Employee Relations from Loyola University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from DePaul University. In 2018, Coleman's titled chapter: Role Modeling as an Alternative to Mentoring for Career Development Outcomes in Organizations was included in the 2018 volume of Leadership and Role Modeling: Understanding Workplace Dynamics published by Palgrave Macmillan. In 2019, Coleman authored the Who Are We Journal? A Diversity & Inclusion Journal was created to foster an understanding and appreciation for exploring differing experiences and beliefs. Coleman is active in several human resources and organization development organizations, including the Academy of Management, Human Resources Management Association of Chicago, Society of Human Resources Management, and the Organization Development Network. Coleman holds various leadership development certifications, including Benchmarks 360, Forte Communication, Behavioral-IQ, Intercultural Development Inventory (I.D.I.), DiSC, Strengths Finders, Servant, and Situational Leadership. Coleman profoundly believes in the importance of philanthropic work. She is affiliated with several organizations: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the K.I.N.D. fund (UNICEF), Imerman Angels, Y.W.C.A., and Feed My Starving Children. In addition, she serves on the Advisory Board of the L.E.A.D.S. (Leadership, Empowerment, Action, Development, and Service) program at Benedictine University and the Loyola University Chicago Quinlan Graduate Dean's Board of Advisors. Most recently, she was a guest on Fox News Chicago discussing women and leadership and is a recipient of the Crain's Chicago Business Award as one of the 2021 most notable D.E. . Executives. Coleman also has a bi-weekly podcast called The Executive Women of Command, "The Commanders," where she provides leadership, strategy, and business guidance. Coleman is often requested to speak at corporations, professional associations, and networking events showcasing her diversity, inclusion, equity, human resources, and organizational and leadership development expertise.
Sherri Dublin (she/her) is responsible for enhancing workforce engagement and strengthening the culture in line with Ingredion’s purpose, values, and business strategy. Sherri is responsible for the global operating philosophy, as well the design and execution programs to promote diversity and equity, and cultivating a culture of inclusion, building talent acquisition and internal communication strategies and programs. Prior to joining Ingredion, Sherri served as the head of global diversity, inclusion, and corporate social responsibility at CDK Global, where she was responsible for strategic initiatives including engagement, and creating strategies to recruit, develop and retain a diverse workforce, as well as enabling social impact in the community aligned to the business and diversity mission. Before CDK, Sherri held various positions leading inclusion and diversity, leadership development, and leadership development at Nielsen. Recognized as a Top Diversity Officer in 2021, Sherri is a thought leader, and has shared her passion in several articles, books, and has been a featured speaker and panelist over the years. Sherri is the Vice President and Secretary of Fox Valley Hands of Hope, and is a member of the executive committee and board. She is also a board member of the Illinois Manufacturers Association Education Foundation. Sherri graduated from Baruch College (City University of New York), with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Corporate Communications. She holds several certifications, including the Hay Group, ECI Certification for Leadership Coaching; the Mager Instructional Design method; and Myers-Briggs (MBTI).
Sabina Gebczyk is a passionate advocate for creating equitable systems and processes in all stages of the employee life cycle thus creating more inclusive organizations where employees feel valued and heard. Her dedication to creating more equitable spaces is a deeply personal calling. She currently serves as a Global Director of Talent, Organizational Development and Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging & Equity (DIB&E) at Griffith Foods. Prior to joining Griffith Foods, Sabina served as Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Lead at Ingredion. She is responsible for leading the design, development, and execution of Ingredion's global DEI initiative, and ensuring alignment with the business goals and objectives. Sabina had over six years of People & DEI experience and over seven years of government and non-profit work experience in international fundraising, refugee resettlement, housing, and global development. Sabina was born and raised in Poland and immigrated to the U.S. on her own when she was eighteen to seek better education opportunities. Sabina holds M.S. in Peace Operations from George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government and B.A. in International Relations from Webster University. She serves on the board of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE).
Monica Guillory, recently joined as Senior Vice President, People and Culture with Surestaff. She is also Founder & CEO of Back Pocket WisdomTM, and continues her work to improve the experiences of people at work. Monica has devoted her career to enabling people to grow and thrive personally, while meeting business objectives. She advocates for more joy at work and firmly believes, employees tend to meet organizational goals to the extent they feel included and their needs are met. Executives and employees alike seek Monica’s counsel and practical expertise to address complex workplace challenges across differences, leadership levels and cultures. Monica’s expertise and evolving practical and thought leadership in Human Resources, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Emotional Intelligence equip her to coach leader and help organizations create HR/DEI strategies that are relevant and deliver measurable, sustainable results. An executive with a successful reputation for leading functional HR, and Corporate DEI/EEO/AAP compliance teams, Monica has proven success in change management, leadership development, culture transformation, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), ERGs/Inclusion Councils, executive coaching, employee relations, talent acquisition, mentoring, emotional intelligence and program management.
Jasmine E. Guy is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CCS Fundraising and is the President of NAAAHR Chicago. Hailing from the Windy City, Jasmine has pursued a high-profile career in diversity, equity, and inclusion, with extensive experience in higher education, local government, professional services, membership services, fundraising, and communications. After spending seven years at the University of Chicago, Jasmine moved to the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, and most recently to Major, Lindsey & Africa/Allegis Partners, where she served as its Director of DE&I /Corporate Social Responsibility. Jasmine is a beacon of light and provides hope, strategic direction, and vision to many civic organizations and boards. She is a staunch advocate for safe communities, equality, social justice, employment and housing security, and educational access and opportunity. As a natural leader, she noticed that communities are suffering and are no longer safely anchored to solid principles. Concerned that Chicago communities are beginning to drift without a clearly defined road map, Jasmine answered her calling through community activism. Guy is committed to bringing lasting, personal change to underserved populations. A high-profile civic leader and sought-after speaker on DEI, social justice, access and opportunity, Jasmine was recently recognized as Top 50 Women Leaders of Illinois (2022), Business Elite’s 40 Under 40 (2022), and one of Chicago’s most influential and inclusive leaders as she was selected as one of only fifty Chicago United – 2021 Business Leaders of Color. She has also received Chicago Defender’s Women of Excellence award (2021), Chicago Scholars’ 35 Under 35 Making a Difference in Chicago award (2018), and the Sister Margaret Traxler Humanitarian award from Margaret’s Village (2017) for her civic engagement work. Jasmine serves on the Board of Directors of Margaret’s Village, a transitional shelter for women and families; President of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources, Chicago Chapter; a member of the Jackson Park Advisory Council, and the Immediate Past President of the Women’s Board of the Chicago Urban League. Jasmine is an alumna of Spelman College and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Locally, Dr. Tanesha D. House, has assisted community members, including returning citizens with increasing their earnings potential via innovative financial education and workforce initiatives that guide them in advancing socially, professionally and economically. As a community leader in Chicago, where she was born and raised on the westside, Tanesha also galvanized community stakeholders in planning, developing and executing an award-winning comprehensive Quality of Life Plan for the North Lawndale Community. Universally, having had diverse experiences in a variety of sectors, corporate, academia, non-profit, and local government, Tanesha is recognized as a transformational leader, organizer, speaker, educator, author, consultant and coach. Tanesha’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to establish a consulting practice, public speaking business and leadership development enterprise that trains, develops and coaches individuals at various organizations and companies. Additionally, she founded a non-profit educational program to train, mentor and coach, primarily marginalized young adults with life skills and business acumen to be productive global citizens in society. She also pioneered a Women’s Institute for Global Leadership and created a masters degree in leadership for women, to include a myriad of professional development programs for a liberal arts university in Illinois. To form a recorded leadership legacy of women in the community, Tanesha established a Westside Women Unite movement, via a local non-profit, to organize sustainable community and economic development through legacy ownership led by women. Not long ago, she was elected to represent the UNA-USA on the United Nations Women 63rd Commission on the Status of Women. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. She furthered her education by obtaining a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in human resources from Keller Graduate School of Management and achieved her Doctorate in Higher Education and Organizational Change at Benedictine University. Most recently she completed a Certificate of Leadership for Faith and Education, Building Faith and Education Partnerships for Equity, Justice & Student at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Tanesha is very people oriented and possesses great optimism for community and economic development locally and globally. She is often described as a change optimizer, natural community organizer, encourager, and conscientious, as well as, proficient in her professions with an uncanny ability to connect with individuals from various social stratums — diplomats to disadvantaged.
Kesha Ivory-Darnell has assisted thousands of workers in obtaining their desired job during her 25-year career in Talent Acquisition and Recruiting. At the start of her career, a mentor advised her that she would love being a recruiter or she would absolutely hate it- there would be no middle ground. Kesha not only loved recruiting, but she also quickly discovered that this work would be more than just her career. In it, she found her true passions, gifts, and life’s work. She began her career as a staffing agency recruiter, where she spent over ten years working with boutique sized to Fortune 500-level organizations to find and place talent from entry-level to the C Suite. Kesha led recruitment teams and helped launch Accounting & Finance staffing divisions for two staffing agencies. Having hired across all levels and industries, Kesha earned a reputation as a trusted partner to her clients and candidates. She was often assisting workers multiple times throughout their careers to land the exact right role for them. One of her clients eventually recruited her to be a Human Resources Business Partner/Recruitment Lead. She spent over ten years honing her skills in the various disciplines in Human Resources, ultimately serving as Assistant Vice President, Human Resources. In 2015, to have more control of her schedule for time with family, Kesha made the difficult decision to take a step away from the work she loved in favor of becoming an independent consultant and career coach. She recruited and coached individuals through career transitions before being hired by one of her corporate clients as a Recruiter Manager/Human Resources Business Partner. Currently, she serves as Manager -Talent Programs at IAA, Inc., where she manages strategic partnerships that support talent attraction to IAA. Her work focuses on engagement and relationship management with educational institutions, overseeing internship programs, building relationships with community partners and workforce development organizations, and DEI strategic sourcing strategy. Kesha studied at Northern Illinois and Lewis Universities and has extensive training in strategic planning and diversity sourcing, resume writing, interview techniques, people management, performance management, and other Human Resources areas. In addition, Kesha is a wife and mother of two college students. In her time away from work, she is an avid traveler who loves spending time with friends and family.
Bernadette Smith is Founder and CEO of the Equality Institute and an award-winning author. She is frequently requested as a keynote speaker to help promote an inclusive work environment and celebrate diversity. She has presented to a variety of audiences, including CEOs, leadership teams, human resource and diversity leaders, sales and marketing professionals and more. Because of her insight and impact as a change agent, she has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, the Washington Post, and Fast Company. Her media exposure includes appearing on CNN, the Today Show, the BBC, and National Public Radio. In 2018 and 2019. Bernadette has been named one of Chicago’s Notable LGBTQ Executives by Crain’s Chicago Business. She has also been selected as one of the Top 25 Women in Meetings by Meetings and Conventions magazine. Bernadette’s fourth book, Inclusive 360, was published this Fall.
Sha-Narah Bratt is an accomplished workforce solutions partner to civil engineering and environmental services firms in Illinois. She is determined to provide the best consultative support and service possible. As a Practice Lead, she’s focused on guiding her team toward reaching their professional goals and providing mentorship to colleagues across the country. In addition to her primary responsibilities, Sha-Narah has led Actalent Illinois’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee since 2018, receiving three awards since for leading successful fundraising campaigns for local organizations.
Cherie Price is a multi-facetted professional with an extensive career in leadership roles in health care management beginning at the University of Chicago Medical Center where she supervised Health Information Management. Her expertise lies within communications, change management, process improvement, operational efficiency and social determinants of health to combat health disparities. She has dedicated 25 years of tenure to Elevance Health (formerly Anthem, Inc.), and currently holds the role of Operations Director for their Value Based Solutions Programs. She contributes to improving the health of humanity by delivering high performance health systems that embody; quality, access, efficiency, equity and healthy lives. Cherie’s responsibilities elevate the importance of whole health and advances health care beyond the roots of traditional health insurance. In 2010, Cherie embarked upon a new passion and proficiency that intersected healthcare with diversity, equity and inclusion. She was appointed by her company’s President to Co-Chair an organizational Diversity Council that spanned across their national footprint. Shortly thereafter, in 2012 the Chief Diversity Officer formed a corporate partnership with the newly established Illinois Diversity Council (ILDC) and Cherie joined the non for profit as a volunteer Activities and Events Chair. In the fall of 2016, Cherie became a Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) and stepped into the role of Council President after a unanimous Board of Directors vote. In her role as Council President, Cherie has strategically lead with the National Diversity Council’s core mission, vision and values. Over the last ten years since the Councils inception, Cherie has expanded the ILDC brand as the state’s premier resource for diversity best practices and leadership development and grown the partnership profile exponentially within corporate suites, educational seats and community streets. The business model and value proposition delivers both qualitative and quantifiable results which fundamentally impacts collaboration, innovation, sustainability and profitability. Her reputation as a strategic subject matter expert also includes that of an educator, resource creator and network connector; ultimately fostering cultures of belonging where all are welcomed, valued, heard and supported. Cherie has a thirst for learning and knowledge, as reflected in three higher education degrees; Business Administration, Healthcare Management and a Master’s in Communications with an emphasis is Business Leadership from Northwestern University. She holds numerous professional certifications including Interior Design, Change Management, Six Sigma (pending) and the DiversityFIRST Certified Diversity Professional designation. Cherie is an avid world traveler, inquisitively in love with people, extremely family oriented (aspiring to be the best Auntie ever!) and passionate about artistic creativity. She has resolved to her life’s’ purpose of giving of herself to encourage, empower and elevate others.
Deanna Shoss (she/her) is Vice President of Marketing for Executive Diversity Services. She’s also the founder and CEO of Intercultural Talk, Inc., where she provides digital and real-life marketing and strategy through a keen intercultural, intergenerational lens. From getting a dinosaur through security at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to supervising the McDonald’s PR account, to leading the League of Chicago Theaters and heading marketing for Jewish Child & Family Services, Deanna likes executing big, exciting projects and using the current tech, tools and trends in marketing to get others’ voices heard. She is the host of the Intercultural Spark weekly Livestream. Her book, Where Two Worlds Meet: A Guide to Connecting with Your Teenage Grandchildren (with co-author Jerry Witkovsky), takes an intergenerational approach and tactics to deepen the grandparent-grandchild connection. Learn more at interculturaltalk.com
Sophie brings more than 12 years of customer and client facing experience to the EX3 Labs project delivery team. Her strengths of empathy, communication, organization and relationship management have served her well in her role as a delivery lead. Sophie’s skills have enabled her to play a critical role in the successful delivery of more than a dozen digital projects. In addition to ensuring projects cross the finish line, Sophie specializes in program development and management. Sophie’s ability to navigate complex project environments and relationships with empathy has allowed her to quickly develop trust and understanding with clients. She employs these skills as a Design Thinker, designing and facilitating workshops for clients across many industries including Construction, Healthcare, and Diverse Talent Acquisition. Her experience spans across numerous industries from Aviation, Tourism, Education, Customer Service, Retail to even Real Estate. Throughout her career, Sophie has placed her values of empathy and equity at the forefront of any role she takes on. She continues to employ these values in her every interaction at EX3 Labs.
Farlita is a dynamic operations leader and an Inclusion Institute Certified Diversity practitioner with fifteen years of experience in healthcare and consulting. Farlita has guided cross-functional teams to transformative success throughout her career. She has also advised, strategized, and implemented internal and external Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives and programs. Farlita received her Bachelor of Arts from Union College in Schenectady, New York. Currently, she is the Administrative Services Lead at The Boston Consulting Group, managing a 40-person executive and administrative services team. She also possesses a role as an Advisory Board member for the Illinois Diversity Council.
|9:00-10:00 am||Opening, Run of Show and Breakfast|
|10:00-11:00 am||Concurrent Break Out Session I|
|11:00 am- Noon||Concurrent Break Out Session II|
|Noon – 1:00 pm||Break and FUNraiser Raffle|
|1:00 – 2:00 pm||Lunch, Keynote and Awards Ceremony|
|2:00 – 3:00 pm||Leadership Level Up: How to Be Recession-Proof|
|3:00 – 4:00 pm||Concurrent Break Out Session III|
|4:00 – 5:00 pm||Concurrent Break Out Session IV|
- Session II:
- R.E.S.P.E.C.T Womanhood: Reemergence Of Women In Society and Life
- Behind The Mask: Vulnerability Within Leadership Roles
- Session III:
- More Than A Woman: Intersectionality Within Identity
- Here At Your Service: Expectations Of Civic Responsibilities
$3 Transaction Fee Will Be Added