2020 Illinois Women in Leadership Symposium
October 15, 2020
12:00 PM - 5:00 PM (CT)
Pivoting to new Possibilities
Pivoting To New Possibilities is our theme for this year’s 5th annual IL Women in Leadership symposium and a 2020 mantra. Women at every level of leadership, providing guidance in varying and unique settings have done so with clear intention, consistency and uncompromised commitment, even in uncertain times. As Reese Witherspoon so eloquently said: “Do you know any woman, in any crisis situation who has absolutely no idea what to do?” Amidst navigating through a global health crisis, healthcare disparities, racial inequity and social causes that frame our future, we continue to champion for change. Our voices count and this year our nation commemorated the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women's constitutional right to vote. This November, as we exert that right by casting our vote for the Presidential election, despite political party affiliation we celebrate a milestone of the very first female BIPOC as a VP candidate being on the ballot. Through it all, the imperative of diversity, equity and inclusion has remained at the forefront, and women’s roles as leaders have never been more vital. We’re in this together, let’s Pivot to New Possibilities!
This year’s program engages on these compelling topics: Wear Your Crown with Pride (And Help Straighten Hers), Do it for the Gram: The Power of Social Media, Curb Appeal: The Value of Intentional Design, Actually, I Did and Said that First, Keynote: Pivot to New Possibilities
This virtual event offers incredible value to our attendees: Flexible attendance allowing you to come and go as your schedule allows, Fascinating and interactive discussions addressing our corporate and cultural climate, Engaging speakers worth hearing and learning from, Reduced registration cost and to show our appreciation, each attendee will be entered to win extraordinary raffle packages to fuel well-being . We hope to see you all there!
Tammera L. Holmes has served as President & CEO Aerostar Consulting Corporation in Chicago, Illinois since 2008, and in 2016, Holmes launched her non-profit The AeroStar Avion Institute to begin opening doors for youth in a career field that for most is still very foreign. Her focus is to get more youth, African Americans, females, and other underserved and under-represented populations interested in STEM careers, particularly in the Aerospace industry. Her goal is to promote access to jobs in Aviation and Aerospace. She is an upstanding role-model and leader within the United States and the Aviation community. Her AeroStar programs are literally giving "Wings to Dreams. Tammera L. Holmes is a mother, wife, sister, daughter, an ordained minister, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and student pilot and inspiration magnet. She is proud to have experienced success personally, but her work professionally is what motivates her to move forward. Holmes’s work began as a professional aviation consulting at a global leader in airport planning. After 11 years in corporate America, Tammera knew entrepreneurship was a viable option for a double minority, in an industry that lacks representation. In 2008, she started AeroStar Consulting Corporation and became one of the only women of color in the world to own an aviation company. Her business provided inspiration through speaking engagements and aviation career exposure to youth across Chicago. From there, AeroStar moved to after school apprenticeship programs for high schoolers in 2012 with After School Matters. In 2016, she launched a non-profit, The AeroStar Avion Institute, to deliver programs to a larger audience. It expanded to K-4 exposure and 5th-8th grade aviation career exploration programs. AeroStar now offers programs, activities, events and workshops year-round for K-Career. It is the only K-Career Aviation and Aerospace and education training organization in the nation. It was created specifically to increase diversity in qualified talent for the aviation and STEM future workforce pipeline. Each year AeroStar impacts on average 700-1,000 Chicago area students with aviation/aerospace STEM events and activities. In year-round programs of rigorous aviation/aerospace curriculum, AeroStar has close to seventy high school students and over one hundred 5th-8th Graders. Tammera became the visionary behind Chicago Public School’s new $750,000 flight simulator lab at Air Force Academy High School. She also worked to assist in establishing the first Aviation Career and Technical Education (CTE) Pathway in Chicago Public Schools in nearly three decades. She has also successfully launched Aerostar’s programs for K-8 in Indiana, is developing an aviation CTE Pathway for Gary, Indiana’s Public Schools and is working to connect the state to Chicago’s robust Aviation Academic Initiative Pipeline. AeroStar and its founder, Tammera L. Holmes, have been inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame for their work in transforming aviation education, She has done a TED Talk, been featured in FORBES, received Congressional recognition for her work in STEM education, and has been invited by the Pentagon to provide aviation education expertise as a substantial case study in aviation talent pipeline development for the United States Air Force. She has collaborated with: Boeing, NASA Glenn Research Center, United Airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Chicago Department of Aviation, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, The University of Chicago, The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Northwest Indiana, Chicago Area Business Aviation Association, Lewis University, Southern Illinois University, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, The Tuskegee Airmen Chicago “DODO” Chapter and a host of other industry, academic and community stakeholder groups. AeroStar began as a vision of Holmes to simply expose more youth to aviation careers. It has grown into a movement that has changed the trajectory for thousands of minority youth in STEM and aviation… And she’s just getting started.
For the past 30 years Maria has worked extensively in three sectors: retail, consumer packaged goods, and telecommunications. In 2005 Maria joined the community investment team at Comcast where she helps to implement and manage programs that deliver social and business value to their nonprofit organizations and communities. Comcast is a company known for achieving social impact through innovative employee engagement, solid community partnerships and CSR initiatives that include foundation grant giving, scholarships, volunteer opportunities and sponsorships of local community events. As the Regional External Affairs Manager, she helps to identify corporate giving opportunities for Comcast’s core focus areas of youth leadership, volunteerism, digital literacy, and work force development. Having been born and raised in Chicago’s Pilsen community, it has brought her back full circle and has allowed her to bring much needed resources to that community as well as to other incredible Chicago area nonprofits. Her favorite quote is “if you don’t have a seat at the table, bring your own chair”. She currently serves as the Chairwoman for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Chicago Chapter, Telemundo Chicago’s Action Board, Women’s Business Development Center’s Advisory Council, and the DePaul Art Museum Board of Directors. She is a co-author of Today’s Inspired Latinas Volume V, Today’s Inspired Leader Volume II and Hispanic Stars Rising, A New Face of Power Inaugural Edition. Maria has served as a panelist, moderator, and MC for numerous events and as a speaker for Latina Talks (New York Times & Chicago). She has received numerous award acknowledgements; Negocios Now 2019 Who’s Who Hispanic Chicago, 2019 Aurora Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’ Hispanic Catalyst Champion, YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, People with Disabilities Champion Award from Seguin Services, Corporate Visionary award from El Valor, 2020 Hispanic Style Latina of Influence, 2020 Today’s Inspired Latina’s Woman of the Year Award and Founder & CEO of Inspiration for the #LovePurse project. She also received a 2009 proclamation of Maria Castro day in the City of Aurora (second largest city in Illinois).
Louise Cloutier has been helping women claim their powerful voices for nearly 40 years. As a Gender Justice Coach she works on a variety of issues, including: verbal abuse, workplace discrimination (especially in male-dominated professions), unequal pay, imposter syndrome and perfectionism, gender-based shame, verbal microaggressions, sexual harassment, excessive apologizing and other self-deprecating habits, reclaiming dignity and boundaries after sexual assault and domestic violence. She offers private sessions, workshops and presentations on all these topics.
Jeni works to expand corporate board diversification through her work with BoardReady clients, TalentVault members, and strategic partners. Prior to joining BoardReady, Jeni served as the Chief Strategist at UK Power Reserve. Mrs. Elam has served as Director of Partner Solutions team at Global Impact, where she worked with Fortune 500 companies and international non-profits in emerging markets. Jeni holds a global MBA from Hult, as well as a BA from the University of Puget Sound. Jeni currently serves on the board of Mary’s Place and Global Impact UK, and has worked across four continents in international strategic planning.
Cherita Ellens is the CEO of Women Employed. A native Chicagoan, and longtime advocate for Chicago women, youth and families, Cherita brings a unique perspective, and a wealth of experience in organizational development, nonprofit financial management, marketing and communications, and employment policy and related strategies to her role. As CEO of Women Employed, Cherita leads an organization that for the past four decades has been dedicated to establishing equity for women in the workforce through policy change, expanded access to educational opportunities, and advocating for fair and inclusive workplaces. From paid sick time, to fair scheduling, to protection from workplace harassment, Women Employed has been at the forefront of proposing and enacting policy to improve the economic status and security for women, empowering them to support themselves and their families. Prior to joining Women Employed, Cherita led business operations and communications for Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a public-private partnership that works to close the access gap by matching businesses that have unmet hiring needs with qualified, unemployed and underemployed job seekers. She has also served as the VP of Marketing and Membership for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, and later as the Executive Director of the South Side and Wabash YMCAs. From this, she has first-hand experience of the challenges facing so many Chicagoans, the impact on Chicago’s south and west side neighborhoods, and the ways that businesses and nonprofits can partner together to lift up our city. Cherita holds an executive MBA from The University of Norte Dame, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Communications from Illinois State University. She is also a proud mom of a college aged daughter attending Vanderbilt University, and a graduate of the Kenwood Academy.
Celia García has been a talent promoter for 30 years. Her vision has been present in more than 40 bilingual personal and business development programs in favor of underserved communities. Her extensive professional career includes being the founder and CEO of the Job Skills Institute, which offers private consulting, on-site and online bilingual training facilitation, business training, and work with and for the community, Latina entrepreneurship and empowerment initiatives. Celia García is the founder and executive director of the Latin Business Institute, a non-profit and civil organization dedicated to economic development through job skills and business training since 1997. Ms. García is also the creator of MujerValiente ™, a series of publications and virtual trainings for women on empowerment, and recently launched Tu Fuerza Latina ™, a podcast in Spanish on professional development to support Spanish-speaking communities with job transition training and development opportunities Post-COVID. Her current focus is in using her proven process to transition people from employment to entrepreneurship using their existing skills and experience to multiply their income.
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.
Thaddeus Harrell is a labor and employment attorney who protects employer's interests. He advises employers on all aspects of the employment relationship, spanning from hire through termination, disability considerations, misclassification issues, employee misconduct and other disciplinary matters. His practice includes representing employers in litigation matters, including the defense of claims arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Thaddeus also serves as the co-leader of Hinshaw's Black Attorney Affinity Network (BAAN).
Aneesa Muthana is a hands-on leader with extensive experience in almost every aspect of a production environment. Her company, Pioneer Service is proud to be manufacturing components for ventilators, portable oxygen concentrators, lab equipment and many other products being used on the frontlines in the battle to defeat the COVID 19 virus. Aneesa is known for both her business acumen and for leading-from-the-heart in everything she participates in. Outside of the shop, Aneesa devotes herself to outreach efforts for the industry. She speaks at keynote events, where she delivers her message of hard work, humility, and accepting men as partners instead of rivals. She still makes time for faith, friends, family, and her grandchildren, who are the light of her world.
Tricia M. Pride represents clients in labor and employment litigation. Leveraging more than 15 years of experience, she primarily handles workplace and professional sports injury disputes, including claims involving wage and hour issues, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), and 132(a) discrimination and serious and willful claims. A portion of her practice is also committed to immigration law, which she added to assist clients with the area's ever-changing legal landscape. Tricia is also an integral part of Hinshaw's diversity efforts. In addition to serving as co-leader of Hinshaw's Black Attorney Affinity Network, she was appointed to the firm's Diversity Committee. Selected as a 2020 Fellow for the Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity (LCLD), Tricia is also now a member of Hinshaw's LCLD Planning Committee.
Antonette N. Smith was appointed Executive Director of Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization in September 2017. JTB’s mission is to encourage students of color and from other underrepresented groups to pursue career and leadership opportunities in the law. Ms. Smith has over 20 years of experience working in legal association management, diversity, equity & inclusion, and youth mentoring. Most recently she served as the Associate Director of Educational Programs for the American Bar Association Section of Real Property Trust & Estate Law. While there she successfully organized and executed several Community Outreach Programs with over 50 national and local minority bar associations. These programs were successful in providing not only free continuing legal education to minority lawyers so that they could in turn better serve their communities, but they also created long-lasting relationships between the bar associations and their members. Ms. Smith developed & managed the Section’s in-house eLearning program tripling program production and revenue in under 2 years. She has also served as a Diversity & Inclusion speaker to incoming law students at New York Law School and speaker on multiple panels about the importance of pipeline programming in the legal profession and Judicial Clerkships to one’s professional career. In 2008 while serving as Schiff Hardin LLP’s Manager of Professional Development and Diversity for the firm’s nine offices, Ms. Smith had her first contact with JTB. She credits that single day of working with students in the Chicago Summer Legal Institute as igniting her “JTB Spark.” That interaction was the catalyst for her increased involvement in youth mentoring in Chicago, the work of which she is the proudest. Ms. Smith’s expert project management skills and work in the legal community coupled with passion and proven commitment to youth mentoring positions her perfectly to lead JTB into the next 25 years.
L’Oreal Thompson Payton is a freelance writer, editor and public speaker who is dedicated to educating, encouraging and elevating Black women and girls. Her work has been featured in print and online publications such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, SELF, Shondaland, Well + Good and ZORA, just to name a few. She is also the director of communications at OneGoal, a national college access and success organization. A highly sought-after public speaker, L’Oreal shares vital personal and professional advice via other platforms as a frequent podcast guest and panelist for career-centric events, as well as her weekly newsletter, which offers inspirational advice and job opportunities to a growing number of subscribers and followers at LTintheCity.com. When she’s not busy writing -- which, to be fair, isn’t often -- L’Oreal enjoys reading, dancing, and binge-watching Beyoncé videos on Instagram. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Jeff, and her ever-growing collection of books, plants and coffee mugs. Subscribe to her newsletter at LTintheCity.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @LTintheCity.
Vincent Williams is the 5th President and Chief Executive Officer for the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council. Created in Chicago, and at 52 years old, The ChicagoMSDC is the premier organization for the development of minority businesses and works succinctly with the National Minority Supplier Development Council. The organization is responsible for certifying, advocating, developing and connecting minority businesses with major buying organizations and operates within the Northwest Indiana MSDC, MBDA Business Center - Chicago, MBDA Business Center - St. Louis, Chicago MBDA Export Center, Discover Africa program and Illinois Tollway Technical Center. His prior position as Vice President of Economic Empowerment and the Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago involved facilitating and coordinating the services of the Illinois SBDC and its initiatives of encouraging economic development while creating, identifying and cultivating strategic partnerships within the communities around Chicagoland. As the Director of the IL SBDC and a small business owner himself, he also provides subject matter expertise, resources, programs and one-on-one advising to aid small business owners and entrepreneurs seeking to start, scale/grow or retire their business. He was recently named by Black Enterprise Magazine in January 2020 as a “BE Modern Man.” He also was nominated to Diversity MBA Magazine’s 2018 Elite List of Top 100 Emerging Executive Leaders Under the age of 50, is a native South-Sider and comes from a family of entrepreneurs. He received a dual MBA in Finance and Management at The Morris Graduate School of Management in Chicago and holds a Non-Profit Executive Leadership Certification from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.
Cheryl Hillman is a Human Resource Talent Acquisition Strategist. Cheryl has over twenty years of experience in Human Resources as a talent acquisition leader. She believes in the power of positive thinking and thrives on all types of challenges especially those involving processes improvements, system implementations, cost reductions, and managing large scale projects and teams. Cheryl has successfully transformed four recruiting functions to optimize business processes; but, throughout her career, she has managed global recruiting teams in Asia, Europe, and Mexico.
Veronica Johnson is a Supplier Diversity lead in the Procurement Center of Excellence Business Unit at ADM, a Fortune 40 global leader in human and animal nutrition and the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company. ADM’s purpose is to unlock the power of nature to provide access to nutrition worldwide. Veronica is responsible for finding and developing diverse, minority-owned, veteran-owned, woman-owned suppliers to fill vender opportunities. She also coaches and mentors diverse suppliers on how to do business with ADM. She was previously responsible for the development, design, implementation and management of the Supplier Diversity program for the largest Hispanic Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) in Illinois. She took that role after a successful 25-year career as an Executive Assistant. Veronica was recognized in 2019 by North Central Minority Supplier Development Council as Advocate of the Year, Impact Award, and ADM received the Corporation of the Year Award. She was also recognized in 2018 by Diversity Plus Magazine as a Top 30 Champion of Diversity; 2016 by Diversity Plus Magazine as a Top 25 Woman in Power Impacting Diversity and in 2015 by WE USA Magazine as a Top 100 Leader in Supplier Diversity. She is a past board member of the Mississippi Valley Boys & Girls Club, the Wisconsin, Iowa and Central Illinois Minority Supplier Development Council, the Chicago Minority Business Development Council, and an Integration team member for the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council. Veronica currently serves as Board Member, Executive Committee Member, Secretary and Chair of the Human Resource Committee for the North Central Minority Supplier Development Council and as Board Member for the Illinois Chapter of the National Women’s Diversity Council. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Communications and a Master’s degree in Leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.
Crystal Odom-McKinney is an experienced certified workforce development professional who partners with local and national nonprofits, community partners and businesses to grow their businesses through the training and employment of job seekers. With over 20 years in non-profit management and expertise in working with special populations (youth, veterans, disability, older adults), Crystal knows what truly drives community collaborations. How well you connect with the heart-beating people you’re trying to help and communicate your understanding to those stakeholders is vital in making the match! Crystal serves as Vice President for Illinois Diversity Council; Member of Chicago Jobs Council; Communications Director on the Board of Directors for Building Families Together, Inc., Board Member (Region 5) for National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and is a Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP). She also a partner/mentor of the American Society on Aging/New Ventures in Leadership Program and Chicago Jobs Council Front Line Focus Workforce Development Professionals Mentoring Program. Crystal holds a Master of Art in Counseling Psychology, Lewis University, Romeoville, IL; and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Tennessee State University. Crystal is also a veteran of United States Army.
Brian Rhinehart is an event & exhibits professional in the retail/wholesale industries with over 5 years of experience. He graduated from DePaul University with a BA in Communication & Media Studies and is also certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) with the International Association of Events & Exhibitions (IAEE). He’s a passionate advocate & leader in inclusion & diversity both at True Value Company and beyond where since 2017 he has held positions at True Value Company as Lead for the Events & Community Outreach Committee as well as Co-Chair for the Inclusion & Diversity Council. In 2020 he joined the Illinois Diversity Council and took a spot as Councilmember on the Activities & Events Committee. I&D means the world to him and is a vital part of his work every single day in everything he does.
Tarah Smith is an events marketing professional at a mid-size law firm in the city of Chicago. She coordinates conferences and seminars to help attorneys showcase their expertise as well as develop relationships. She is especially fond of planning events that highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in the legal industry.
Sophie started her career with 5 years in the scuba industry. Finished her Master’s in Aeronautical Science and Aviation Management upon arrival in Chicago 5 years ago. Spent two years as a realtor but is now pursuing her true calling as a Change Agent for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She has been involved with the ILDC for 4 years, and serves as the Co-Chair of the Membership Committee, along with extensive involvement with event planning. Headed both years of their LGBTQIA Roundtable, providing business resources about the best practices for being respectful and understanding to this ever-expanding community. Brings her passion and dedication to her role as a Delivery Lead for EX3 Labs, taking her clients dreams and turning them into reality.
|12:00pm||Welcome to the Illinois Diversity Council – Run of Show|
|12:15 – 1:00 pm||Wear Your Crown with Pride (And Help Straighten Hers) – Guest Gifting|
|1:15 – 2:00 pm||Do it for the Gram: The Power of Social Media – Guest Gifting|
|2:15 -2:45 pm||Keynote: Pivoting to new Possibilities|
|3:00 – 3:45 pm||Curb Appeal: The Value of Intentional Design – Guest Gifting|
|4:00 – 4:45 pm||Actually, I Did and Said that First – Guest Gifting|
We want to pour into your wellbeing; mind, body and spirit! Each registered attendee upon entering the Zoom room for each session throughout the virtual symposium will be entered into a raffle to win an extraordinary gift (valued at $100 or higher).
$3 Transaction Fee Will Be Added