2022 Women of Excellence Honorees

  • Walidah Tureaud
    Walidah Tureaud
  • Perri Small
    Perri Small
  • Lisa Foster
    Lisa Foster
  • April J. Morgan
    April J. Morgan
  • Allison Walker
    Allison Walker
  • Candace Green
    Candace Green
  • Chanel Coney
    Chanel Coney
  • Crystal Odom McKinney
    Crystal Odom McKinney
  • Dara Munson
    Dara Munson
  • Dr. Delece Williams
    Dr. Delece Williams
  • Dr Cheryl D Watson-Lowry
    Dr Cheryl D Watson-Lowry
  • Dr. Mica Battle
    Dr. Mica Battle
  • Gwendolyn Perry Davis
    Gwendolyn Perry Davis
  • Itiona Scott
    Itiona Scott
  • Jazmine Cooper
    Jazmine Cooper
  • Kimberly Nute Jones
    Kimberly Nute Jones
  • LaKeisha Gray Sewell
    LaKeisha Gray Sewell
  • LaTonya Seanior-Smith
    LaTonya Seanior-Smith
  • LeeAndra Khan
    LeeAndra Khan
  • Linda Swayze
    Linda Swayze
  • Monica Gordon
    Monica Gordon
  • Myra Timms Bell
    Myra Timms Bell
  • Natasha Jenkins
    Natasha Jenkins
  • Onjalique Clark Griggs
    Onjalique Clark Griggs
  • Paula McGuire – Rowe
    Paula McGuire – Rowe
  • Rani Morrison
    Rani Morrison
  • Sanina Ellison Jones
    Sanina Ellison Jones
  • Tatisa C. Joiner
    Tatisa C. Joiner
  • Dr. Theresa Dixon
    Dr. Theresa Dixon
  • Tracie Morris
    Tracie Morris
  • Verleaner R. Lane
    Verleaner R. Lane
  • Ashli Nelson
    Ashli Nelson
  • Cheresa Purnell
    Cheresa Purnell
  • Christal H. Stinson
    Christal H. Stinson
  • Cloteal LaBroi
    Cloteal LaBroi
  • Jennifer Bridgeforth-Jackson
    Jennifer Bridgeforth-Jackson
  • Lisa Moultrie
    Lisa Moultrie
  • Nathalie Loma
    Nathalie Loma
  • Nichole R. Owens
    Nichole R. Owens
  • Pongee Barnes
    Pongee Barnes
  • Tanya T. Bennett
    Tanya T. Bennett
  • Tonya Eskridge
    Tonya Eskridge
  • Wylecia Wiggs Harris
    Wylecia Wiggs Harris
  • Zena Diggs
    Zena Diggs

WOE 2022 Mixer

Congratulatory Messages

Women of Excellence News

Walidah Tureaud

Walidah Tureaud is a native of Chicago’s south side and a long-time health advocate. She treasures quality time with her husband, daughters, family and friends. She has spent twenty years working with non-profits, in various healthcare roles and serving on several advisory committees and as a board member for a youth-serving organization.

In her current role, as Manager of Community Relations with UChicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative, she leads community engagement efforts, manages a team that coordinates hundreds of health activities in partnership with community stakeholders across the south side and executes sponsorship activities for Black Women’s Expo, Bud Billiken Parade and many others. She is a grant reviewer, panel moderator, passionate community connector and more.

Walidah has been committed to improving communities since her early teens volunteering at DuSable Museum. She looks forward to creating more opportunities that reduce health disparities and collaborations focused on exposing youth to healthcare careers.

She credits her passion for health and community to a family of servant leaders from the south and enjoys dancing, gardening, traveling, live music and the arts.

Perri Small

Chicago’s veteran journalist Perri Small brings craze and insight to WVON with her morning show, “Midday Madness”! Let your coffee kick in and listen to a well-informed and opinionated personality discuss unlimited topics from national, local, political, and social issues to everyday life. After finding her purpose and living it, Small encourages her audience and guests to embrace their authentic voice without filters. Catch Perri Small sharing raw and unfiltered perspectives Monday through Friday from 9am to Noon on WVON 1690AM!

Lisa Foster

Lisa is a senior broker with @properties with over 20 years of helping fulfill the American Dream of homeownership. She specializes in residential, commercial, special use, investment properties and new developments, and she expertly helps her clients, whether buying or selling. Lisa thrives in providing old-fashioned, in-person service, and her personable nature, coupled with her commitment to getting her clients the best results with many repeat clients.

Lisa is also Certified Master of Urban Planning & Development and a Certified Residential Appraiser. She can give a breakdown on neighborhoods, schools, investment opportunities and other minute details that can help you make the best decision for you and your family. Lisa has assisted in turning many vacant lots into thriving communities.

Her success in 2021 was rewarded with the @properties Road to Rolex commendation—an indication of her sales volume exceeding $10 million within a calendar year. Featured in Chicago Agent Magazine 2021 and 2022 her stellar service in real estate and a distinct honor amongst colleagues.

April J. Morgan

April Morgan is the Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Board, the governing arm of the second largest transit agency in the United States. As Chief of Staff, April advises the Chairman and the Board on policies that impact agency operations.

With 15 years of legal and policy experience, April is known as a trusted leader and advisor who helps organizations maximize their impact.
Prior to her current role, April was lead counsel for CTA’s diversity and workforce development programs. She’s previously served as counsel for the Illinois General Assembly and the Chicago Board of Education.

A founding member and current President of the Associate Board of the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, April believes in civic engagement and giving back. April volunteers as a Girl Scout troop leader, Street Law instructor, speech judge, and serves in ministry at her church.

April received her Juris Doctor from Northern Illinois University College of Law and her B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Knox College.

Allison Walker

Allison K. Walker is an accomplished business executive with proven expertise in the areas of organizational development, human resources, and finance. In 2020, Ms. Walker founded SBW Financial Services, dba Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, a full-service tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll service, and human resources consultation firm specializing in small to medium-sized businesses. During her first year in operation, Ms. Walker’s Dolton, Illinois office received the Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Rookie of the Year Award as a national top performer. Ms. Walker has over two decades of experience in leadership, consulting, and management. Prior to the establishment of SBW Financial, Ms. Walker held various positions in the for-profit and nonprofit industries, including Vice President of Operations/Human Resources, Business Consultant, and Director of Early Care and Education. Ms. Walker has earned two graduate degrees. Allison holds membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and The Links, Incorporated. She is the mother of one beautiful daughter, Ariana and is expecting her first grandbaby in December 2022.

Candace Green

Candace Green was raised on Chicago’s South Side, she is a published author, proud Business Owner and Real Estate Executive.

As Regional Asset Management Director, she oversees asset management and operations for a Real Estate firm with $1.5B assets in the company portfolio. Candace is a licensed Real Estate Broker, holding a Master of Arts in Public Relations degree and Master of Business Administration.

In addition to her corporate career, she is the Owner of N’DACE LLC, a high-end women’s retail store in Schaumburg, IL; N’DACE also provided wardrobe in FOX Television’s hit series; “The Big Leap” for Season 1.

She is a member of the Schaumburg Business Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Candace’s goal is to be a catalyst for more minorities pursuing visibility and excelling in Real Estate while providing employment opportunities in her small business.

Candace provides mentorship on entrepreneurship to offer exposure to different fields of work, improved quality of life, and opportunity, through her founding of AMHLegacy in the Spring of 2021. She is wife to Jereme and Mommy to Eden and Elise.

Chanel Coney

Chanel is Head of Marketing & External Affairs for CFI Partners (“CFIP”), a boutique credit investment firm based in Chicago. In this role, Chanel continues to build and inspire the team responsible for CFIP’s business development, investor relations, marketing, and external communications efforts.

Through leading her team in executing a multi-year strategic growth plan, Chanel is focused on cultivating institutional investors and strategic partnerships. This growth plan is driven by the firm’s unique tactical partnership with The Academy Group. The Academy is a philanthropic human capital engine focused on providing mentorship, training, internships, and permanent employment opportunities for students of color.

She is steadfast in her dedication to serving the community and held senior leadership positions in both the profit and non-profit sectors

Currently, she serves on the board of Forward Momentum and the Art Institute of Chicago’s Leadership Advisory Committee.

Chanel was awarded the 2020 Association of Fundraising Professionals 44th Annual Faces of Philanthropy’s Emerging Philanthropist Award, Crain’s Chicago Business’ 20 in their 20’s designation, and the inaugural Emerging Philanthropist Award from The League of Chicago Theatres.

Crystal Odom McKinney

Crystal Odom-McKinney is an experienced certified workforce development professional who partners with communities and businesses to expand their reach through the training and employment of job seekers. As National Director of the largest federally funded program for older adults who seek employment and training assistance as well as civic engagement, Crystal provides oversight and support to Easterseals multi state partners and territories.

With over 20 years in non-profit management and expertise in working with diverse populations, 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 the Advisory Board Vice President, for Illinois Diversity Council; Member of Chicago Jobs Council; Board Member (Region 5) for National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and is a Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP). Crystal is also an Alumni/sponsor for the American Society on Aging New Ventures in Leadership Program, Communications Chair and Building Families Together, an organization founded to support the needs of retuning citizens to reduce recidivism, Supporting sponsor of True Black Girl Magic Inc, Member of Chicago Jobs Council Front Line Focus Workforce Development Professionals Mentoring Program and Chicago Foundation for Women Cohort of the Willies Warriors Leadership Initiative; which elevates the leadership of Black women across the Chicago region, creating a pipeline and network of leaders committed to equity and justice in City.

Crystal earned her BS in Psychology, Tennessee State University and MA in Counseling Psychology, Lewis University, Romeoville, IL. Crystal is also proud veteran of the United States Armed Forces serving in Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm. Crystal resides in Chicago and is inspired daily by her husband and daughter.

Dara Munson

Dara Munson is the first African American President and CEO of Family Focus, delivering early childhood education and development, youth development and family support services to over 10,000 families and their children. Formerly CEO of Chicago Child Care Society since 2016, Dara is a native of Detroit and past President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Detroit, past COO of Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, and past Senior Director of United Way of Southeastern Michigan. She now serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Eastern Michigan University Foundation Board (her alma mater). She is also on the boards of Illinois Partners for Human Services and the International Women’s Forum-Chicago Chapter. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Chi Omega Omega Chapter and Windy City (IL) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated.

Dara is a graduate of Cass Technical High School (Detroit). She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Science Degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

Dr. Delece Williams

Joe Biden Presidential Award Winner – Dr. Delece’s 28th year leadership lies in her ability to uniquely serve needy youth; creating multi-programs for the prioritization of anti-violence, abuse and more around Chicagoland through her grass-root organization called Kidz Korna. Other components include Kidz Korna tv show which builds family connections that started in 1994. She empowers communities through giving; over 1 million in donations distributed and over 60 organizations helped. 79th and 80th and Ashland ave is now named Kidz Korna Way for the program’s impact to the city.

Delece also empowers women and girls with the annual Queens Awards Ceremony and Princesses in training workshops along with hosting senior/youth intergenerational mentoring projects called New 50. Recently Delece was licensed and ordained in ministry with a Doctorate in Theology. She’s also an Author and Entrepreneur, having a background in Show Business, worked with Oprah Winfrey, the Late Richard Pryor and more. Delece is a mother, grandmother and wife of the Celebrity DJ and co-creator of House Music, Farley Jackmaster Funk, also assisting him with his enterprise.

Dr Cheryl D Watson-Lowry

Dr. Cheryl D. Watson-Lowry is a second generation dentist, practicing Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Chicago for over 35 years. After graduating from the from the University of Illinois College of Dentistry, she joined her father, Dr. Charles E. Watson in his dental practice.

Watson and Watson Dental is currently celebrating its 60th year in business.

Dr. Watson-Lowry has a passion for advocating for patient’s oral health and the profession of dentistry. She has testified before Congress for the successful passing of the Action for Dental Health bill which affects millions of Americans. She has served as President of the Chicago Dental Society, Lincoln Dental Society, Delegate and Trustee of the Illinois State Dental Society, and Delegate to the American Dental Association. Dr. Watson-Lowry currently serves on the Council of Governmental Affairs for the American Dental Association, Illinois State Dental Society and Chicago Dental Society along with an Advisory Council for the Institute of Medicine Chicago.

Dr. Mica Battle

Dr. Mica visits Decatur Correctional Center; the visits at Decatur are part of a mentoring program for women that are linked part of a Reentry Program called Bridge to Freedom that is ran by Dr. Mica In addition, she travels to men’s prison to prepare them for reentry. She works behind bars in Cambodia and teaches leadership development at four universities in Vietnam. In addition, she is currently heading up leadership development with juveniles in Compton.

Dr. Mica currently works as grief counselor to help combat shame and guilt and as a drug counselor. Both of these components are obstacles for people behind bars. Dr. Mica’s also an author of a daily devotional and a book on shame and guilt. She’s developed a workbook on how to write a book in 90 days. Dr. Mica’s long-term goal is to help develop authors out of everyday people. Dr. Mica owns Chicago Soul Coffee House which is operated by ex-offenders that she has trained. Dr. Mica has a doctorate in Organizational Management, is married and has 3 children and five grands.

Gwendolyn Perry Davis

Gwendolyn Perry Davis is the Chief Operating Officer at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, one of the country’s largest museums dedicated to contemporary art. She provides direction and oversight for the MCA’s daily operational functions including the care of the MCA’s 3,000 object Permanent Collection, Employee Resources and Planning, maintenance of over 300,000 square feet of physical plant, and the museum’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program. Gwendolyn is also leading the planning, design, and construction of a new MCA campus.
Gwendolyn joined the MCA in 2011 and previously led the MCA’s Development Department. As a member of the senior leadership team, she plays a key cross-functional role in strategizing, managing, and leading initiatives to help achieve the MCA’s five-year strategic plan, NEXT.

Prior to her transition to the arts, Gwendolyn was a Senior Director at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the Director of Regional Development at Marquette University. She is a graduate of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.

She is a board member of the Poetry Foundation and Sarah Lawrence College. In addition, she was named one of Chicago’s Top Black Women of Impact in 2018 and 2021 by Better Chicago and one of Crain’s Chicago Business 2021 Notable Black Leaders and Executives.

Itiona Scott

Itiona was raised on the South Side of Chicago, where she learned the value of hard work. As a child, Itiona followed her mother around the kitchen, and they became best friends. Unfortunately, Itiona lost her best friend, to undiagnosed heart disease, when Itiona was only 15 years old.

Itiona’s mother last words, to her, were “Make something of yourself.” Ever since then, she’s been on a mission to do just that. She completed high school a year early to pursue an education as Licensed Occupational Therapist. She quickly started her own practice to impact the special needs population and now serve as director for the largest special needs day program service here in Chicago. After much demand from co-workers after bringing product to work events, she wanted to make an impact to give others what she felt her mom didn’t have education and meal options to prevent heart disease related ailments. she created Essie Marie’s in memory of her mother. Now she has the first black female owned Dressing Manufacturing Company and sells her product across the nation.

Itiona family recipes are now heart healthy and uses her platform to education others about the dangers of heart disease related ailments. In her spare time, she enjoys’ s spending time with her amazing husband Jeffrey, 2 children Monica and Jeffrey and golden doodles pup’s Genesis and Noah.

Jazmine Cooper

Jazmine Cooper started dancing at the age of 6. However, she was not studio trained she was self-taught. She studied dance at Columbia College Chicago and experienced her first real technique training in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, and Hip-Hop. She began teaching dance in 2011 in 7 different elementary schools all spread throughout Chicago and fell in love. She loved it because this was her way to connect with the students. She empowered the youth through dance. Jazmine enjoys the passion, freedom and positive outlet that dance provides. She aims to make her students feel confident, motivated and inspired. She currently teaches dance at CICS Wrightwood. Her energy and passion while teaching at Wrightwood has landed her to go viral three times. Ellen DeGeneres flew her out and surprised her with R&B singer Ciara. She was recognized for her hard work as a dance teacher and also a single mom. In addition to teaching at Wrightwood she is opening a dance studio where she will continue to share her passion for dance with students who will impact our future.

Kimberly Nute Jones

Kimberly brings more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry to her role as Vice President and Financial Planning Director at Morgan Stanley. Prior to rejoining Morgan Stanley, Kimberly was an Associate Financial Planner in the Executive Financial Management Group at Goldman Sachs Ayco.

Kimberly is very involved in her community. She currently serves on the Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Advisory Committee, Chartering Chapter Co-organizer, and Chair of the Economic Empowerment Committee of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Chicago Metropolitan Chapter, National Coalition of 100 Black Women National Finance and Economic Empowerment Committees and Go Fish NFP.

Kimberly earned her bachelors degree in Financial Counseling and Planning from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and her masters degree in Education with distinction from Saint Xavier University in Chicago. She completed the Certified Financial Planner Certification Program through Northwestern University. Kimberly is a wife and mother of two University of Missouri- Columbia college graduates. In her spare time, Kimberly enjoys genealogical research, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

LaKeisha Gray Sewell

La’Keisha Gray-Sewell is a writer and digital strategist by trade; and nationally recognized girls advocate by life assignment. In 2011, she founded Girls Like Me Project, Inc; a girl’s serving organization. In 2018 she self-published Move Beyond the Block; part memoir/part women’s history which is on its third print edition.

A native Chicagoan, La’Keisha has been named as a Salvation Army Hero; Chicago Defender’s 40 Under 40 to Watch in 2012; recognized amongst Trumpet Magazine’s Movers and Shakers Under 40 as well as Organization of the Year by the Tau Psi Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority, Inc. She was featured in Ebony Magazine and on the Steve Harvey Television Show, Moms Rising Radio, WVON, WAOK-CBS 1450AM, The Final Call, CUNY News, and Citizen Chicago Newspaper. Most recently, the Chicago Foundation for Women awarded La’Keisha and Girls Like Me Project the Rev. Willie T. Barrow Emerging Leader Impact Award.

La’Keisha is a graduate of the 2020 Chicago Peace Fellows and was instrumental in developing its Funder’s Pledge, a pathway to anti-racist philanthropy in Chicago.

LaTonya Seanior-Smith

LaTonya Seanior-Smith is the Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging with Blues Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), a national association of 34 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross Blue Shield companies. The Association owns and manages the BCBS trademarks and names in more than 170 countries around the world. At BCBSA, LaTonya leads the corporate DEIB Initiative and change management strategies to create an inclusive and equitable culture that furthers the corporate vision to be the national leader in advancing well-being and health equity.

With over 20 years of experience, LaTonya is a well-respected thought leader with deep knowledge and commitment to equity in all places and spaces. As an agent of change, she has a proven track record of inspiring and driving C-Suite leaders to embed inclusive strategies across the organization and drive measurable impact.

LaTonya believes strongly in giving back to the community. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Jack & Jill of America, and Top Ladies of Distinction. LaTonya resides in Chicago with her Husband Frank and beautiful daughter, Nyla.

LeeAndra Khan

LeeAndra Khan currently serves as the Executive Director of EPIC Academy. She is working to redesign and innovate the school experience for students of color to ultimately improve student outcomes. LeeAndra is a 2019 Chicago Urban League/University of Chicago Booth School of Business Impact Fellow and a 2021 Community Leaders for Change Fellow. LeeAndra has been a guest author for the Chicago Reporter Magazine and Education Post writing about equity, and other issues we face in education. She is a frequent guest on panels and podcasts and is a dynamic keynote speaker.

LeeAndra has been the CEO of a multi-school charter network. She also worked in Chicago Public Schools for 10 years as a principal, assistant principal, and teacher. Before beginning her journey into education, she spent 10 years as a Civil Engineer in some of Chicago’s largest firms. LeeAndra is a board member for Link Unlimited Scholars, Kids First Chicago, and an Associate Board member of Chicago Scholars. She is also serving on the Advisory Council for Chicago State University’s College of Education.

Linda Swayze

Linda, a native of Chicago, attended Simeon Vocational High School. Linda completed her Bachelor’s in Communication Arts at Loyola University and recently completed her master’s degree in March of 2019 at DePaul University. Linda joined The Joffrey’s Teaching Artist staff in 2008, promoted to program supervisor in 2015 and served as Interim Director of Community Engagement in 2019. Linda was promoted to Director of Community Engagement in 2020.

Linda has worked on many dance projects with students from across the Chicago land area that participated in the Joffrey Ballet’s Community Engagement Program. The students participated in the half time show of Chicago Bulls, performances at the Auditorium Theatre, Pritzker Theatre in Millennium Park, and Navy Pier.

Formal ballet training began for Ms. Swayze with Walter Camryn and Bentley Stone along with studying with Larry Long at Ruth Page before moving to New York to dance with The Dance Theatre of Harlem where she was a member for seventeen years.

While with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, she travelled extensively domestically and internationally. Ms. Swayze participated in the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, travelled as part of a cultural exchange program to perform in the Soviet Union at the St. Petersburg and Kirov Theatres, and performed in the television ballet production of DTH’s “Creole Giselle” aired on PBS.

DTH’s varied repertory allowed Ms. Swayze to dance classical and contemporary works in principal and soloist roles. After leaving DTH she returned to Chicago and taught at Homer Bryant’s Multi-Cultural Dance Center along with teaching dance in numerous Chicago Public Schools.

Presently Linda is working with the Joffrey Ballet in the Community Engagement Department along with serving on the panel for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Joffrey Ballet. Ms. Swayze is committed to dance education while assisting schools in providing high quality arts to the students.

Monica Gordon

Currently, Monica Gordon is the Director of Government Affairs for Chicago State University. She has a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University and a master of arts degree in Communications and Training from Governors State University. She is elected to serve as a trustee on the Prairie State College board. Prior to that, Monica served as Executive Director for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. Over her tenure, they awarded over $100,000 in scholarships to college students.

Monica has been a public servant for over 2 decades serving on various nonprofit boards championing better outcomes for our youth and working families. Monica is the Bloom Township Committeemen. Monica is the democratic nominee for Cook County Commissioner. Her priorities are connecting residents to Cook County healthcare and social services; creating good-paying jobs and economic development in the 5th District; seeking holistic solutions to violence and crime; and investing in infrastructure improvements.

Myra Timms Bell

Myra Timms-Bell is the owner and founder of 3M’s Logistics Corporation & “CEO in a Box.” Her professional career began as an Elementary Education Teacher (M. Ed) gaining more than 14+ years of experience. Licensed and certified in leadership and literacy, she’s had the opportunity to work with the most vivacious, intelligent and creative young leaders of this generation.

3M’s Logistics Corporation is a complete transportation and dispatching company. It hires, trains, and educates youth and young adults in various Trades and Apprenticeships. As a Momprenuer, Myra runs and maintains her business as well as the business of her family from the comfort of her own home.

As a result of being an established thought leader, passionate educator, and youth activist, Myra developed her “CEO in a Box” curriculum. “CEO in a Box” is a sustainable tool that teaches youth the pathway to entrepreneurship, ownership, and stewardship. Mrs. Timms-Bell has always put her students/mentees needs first. Striving to inspire them to lead and live their best lives, challenging them to conquer their fears and achieve their personal as well as business goals. She aspires to open 3M’s Logistics Trade and Training Center.

Natasha Jenkins

Ms. Jenkins is the Labor Relations Manager & Arbitration Counsel for United Airlines, Inc., where she serves as lead counsel in grievance proceedings, mediations, and arbitrations. Ms. Jenkins is also the President of the Cook County Bar Association (CCBA), the youngest woman and only the 19th woman to be elected as president in the organization’s history. Founded in 1914, the CCBA is the oldest local association of African American lawyers and judges in the nation.

Prior to joining United, Ms. Jenkins served as General Counsel of Teamsters Local 700 and was a Senior Attorney for the Chicago Transit Authority, where she handled complex labor and employment matters. Previously, she served as Labor & Employment Counsel for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, representing over 20 Illinois state agencies in labor arbitrations. Ms. Jenkins is also a former Assistant Attorney General, where she practiced civil litigation and criminal prosecution.

In 2012, Ms. Jenkins received her J.D. from UIC School of Law and in 2007 she received a B.A. from Hamilton College while interning for U.S. Congressman Bobby L. Rush.

Onjalique Clark Griggs

Onjalique Clark Griggs is a Healthcare sales and marketing professional with 20 years of experience, and a passion for improving and saving lives.  Her role as the Territory Manager for NorthShore University HealthSystem at ZOLL Medical in Cardiac Management Solutions, affords her this opportunity.  She earned a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University where her love of science was nurtured.

Charity and philanthropy are core values for Onjalique that know no boundaries.  She is part of a global Alliance of Women who donate birthing buckets to deprived health centers in Sierra Leone; water boreholes to communities in Ghana; and children’s books, shoes, and school scholarships to that region.

As a thirty-six-year member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Onjalique has held leadership positions in her local chapter, served on Regional and International committees, and been a mentor.  She is a past recipient of Central Region’s, “Outstanding Soror of the Year” Award and a Charter member of Chi Omega Omega.

Onjalique’s greatest joys are her community service projects and creating positive impacts on the lives of others, both near and far…

Paula McGuire – Rowe

Paula McGuire – Rowe leads the Community Engagement team at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a member of Feeding America. Paula is responsible for identifying and building new partnerships with community organizations to address the root causes of hunger and provide nutritious food for people in need across Cook County. She has built community partnerships to promote external resources and cultivate grassroots relationships.

Paula is a Jack and Jill of America Incorporated member, serving as the Windy City Chapter Treasurer and Mid-Western Regional Teen Advisor. She is also a member of the Top Ladies of Distinction, Midway Chicago Chapter, and has served as Mentor, Chair of Community Partnerships, and Membership. She is a Board member of Traffick Free, a nonprofit organization raising awareness against human trafficking.

Paula holds a Bachelor of Science from National Louis University in Chicago and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona.

Outside of her career and professional memberships, Paula and her husband Anthony enjoy traveling and spending free time with their children, Skylar and Simone.

Rani Morrison

As someone who raised a child with multiple chronic illnesses and personally experienced discrimination
in healthcare, Rani Morrison understands the challenges of navigating complex healthcare systems as
both a patient and caregiver. As a result of her own experiences, her over 20-year career has been
dedicated to improving access and equity in healthcare for all. Ms. Morrison currently serves as the first
Chief Diversity and Community Health Equity Officer at UI Health, charged with leading the health
system’s formal efforts towards improving diversity, inclusion, and health equity internally and
externally in the communities the system serves.

Ms. Morrison also serves in leadership positions in various organizations such as—President, Alpha
Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; Alpha Beta Delta Omega Chapter; Parliamentarian, Jack and Jill of
America, Western Cook County Chapter; and Lifetime Member of the Southern University Alumni
Federation, Chicago Chapter. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Health Executives Forum, The Guest House, and Carole Robertson Center for Learning. Ms. Morrison resides in Oak Park with her daughters, nephew, and partner.

Sanina Ellison Jones

Sanina Ellison Jones graduated with a B.A in Business Management from Robert Morris
University and is a mother of 4 and a wife.

Sanina holds an active Real Estate license and is the CEO and Executive Managing broker of Re-CHRG Inc. a Real Estate Brokerage that focuses on community development, residential real estate, commercial real estate, receivership, design and property management. Licensed in IL & FL, Re-CHRG has a passion for people and is committed to the community. While her
background is in finance, real estate and design, her heart is in service, advocacy and activism. Sanina is most proud to be a REALTIST. Sanina served as the 2017- 2019 President of the
Realtist Women’s Council, the local Chapter of the Women’s Council of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.

Sanina currently serves as President Elect for The Dearborn Realtist Board, an African American Real Estate Trade Association. She is passionate about increasing wealth in the Black
Community through home ownership and business enterprise.

Service, Advocacy and Excellence sum up Sanina Ellison Jones

Tatisa C. Joiner

Tatisa C. Joiner is a devoted wife, loving mother, a 19-year breast cancer survivor, community leader and activist. Her love of life and strong spiritual base has allowed her to rise above the challenges. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 at the young age of 36. She has been married 26 years to Charles E. Joiner, a Chicago Fire Fighter. They are raising their 20-year-old son, Chase, who is a Junior at Tuskegee University. She is the founder of The Tatisa C. Joiner Foundation established in 2008.
Tatisa joyously and passionately encourages others through her public speaking and her not-for-profit Foundation. She assists breast cancer survivors in their physical, emotional and mental journey to wellness as she fills the gap by becoming a bridge between pre-breast cancer life and life as a breast cancer survivor.
Another health challenge surfaced for Tatisa Joiner 10 years ago. She received a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. This additional health challenge did not stop Tatisa from continuing to celebrate LIFE.
She is the founder of The Tatisa C. Joiner Foundation established in 2008; the 2014 recipient of the Mountain Movers State of the Cancer Union Award presented by UIC and The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center; the 2015 BIBO (Beauty In Beauty Out) Award Recipient; the 2017 recipient of the Community Treasures Award presented by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Dr. Theresa Dixon

Dr. Theresa Dixon is the CEO and Executive Director of The Gloria J. Taylor Foundation(GJTF) whose mission is: “Preparing our Future for the Future” The philosophy behind this foundation is: “Rooted in community pride and educational success, The Gloria J. Taylor Foundation provides our communities with a nurturing environment that serves to foster a determined spirit that lives beyond a dream, Through collective efforts, we inspire our neighbors with the responsibility of building safe and positive communities. We empower the voices of our children and harness the wisdom of our past to reach our common goal of a bright future.”

Dr. Dixon has successful been awarded several grants from the US Department of Education totaling over 4.5 million dollars to provide pre-college programs to 7 schools in the southland. Students in the GJTF programs have the opportunity to be properly prepared for post-secondary academia as well as opportunities to explore various colleges and universities across the country.

Dr. Dixon has been member of Bethlehem Temple Church for over 45 years. Her favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13.

Tracie Morris

Tracie Morris is the U.S. Chief Human Resources and Diversity and Inclusion Officer for BMO. She oversees the strategic and operational governance for the U.S. Human Resources division, providing oversight for the execution for the Banks corporate groups by overseeing and coordinating human resources related matters as they pertain to U.S. regulatory agencies, and U.S. mergers and acquisitions. Tracie leads the U.S. focus on Diversity and Inclusion at BMO and is accountable for understanding the U.S. market and developing BMO’s response from policy to execution. Tracie has a leadership role with the HR Committee of BMO’s Board of Directors, the Benefits Investment Committee and chairs the U.S. Compensation Oversight Committee and U.S. Benefits Administration Committee.

Prior to her current role, Tracie was a 17-year veteran of Exelon, with experience leading organizational and cultural transformations, driving workforce planning, talent acquisition, leadership development, succession planning and training programs.

Tracie serves on the board of directors for Leadership Greater Chicago, Black Ensemble Theatre, Junior Achievement of Chicago and Business Leadership Council. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for North Central College.

Verleaner R. Lane

Verleaner R. Lane, MA. Project Director for Project Child is a Visiting Project Specialist contracted employee within the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Verleaner has over 32 years of child welfare experience, working with children and families. Cook County Health established Project CHILD in 2019 to better understand and address infant deaths due to unsafe sleep conditions, or from abuse or neglect. Verleaner along with her colleague, Dr. Daniel Riggins did an op for the Daily Herald Using Data to Advance Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.

Verleaner is the author of “Why Didn’t He See the Beauty in Me?” Verleaner is a chartering member and currently the President of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. Will County Black Diamond Chapter a national professional and humanitarian organization with 100% retainment. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Xi Nu Omega Chapter. She is a member of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois Board of Directors. She is also, a member of National Council of Negro Women Chicago Central Chapter.

Ashli Nelson

Ashli Nelson serves as the Global Director of Government Affairs and Social Impact for McDonald’s Corporation. In this role, Ashli leads legislative and community relations strategy to ensure that Government Relations, Communications, and Diversity & Inclusion are respectively aligned to protect and promote the McDonald’s brand to external organizations, federal, state, and local elected officials.

For the past 15 years, Ashli has worked in an array of civil service positions around the nation. Prior to joining McDonald’s Corporation, Ashli spent nine years in the Chicago Mayor’s office where she served as a senior advisor to Mayor Emanuel and Mayor Daley in the areas of crisis management, strategy, and public engagement.

Throughout her time in the Mayor’s office, Ashli served as a volunteer National White House Advance Associate responsible for coordinating event logistics for former President Barack Obama and First Lady Obama.

Ashli is a proud graduate of Fisk University and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Ashli is a native of the South Side of Chicago and currently resides in the South Shore community with her husband.

Cheresa Purnell

Cheresa “Reese” LaFrances Purnell is a Social Entrepreneur with more than 20 years of expertise in creating and implementing programming for organizations. She currently works as the Founder/CEO of the Black Women Professionals League (BWPL) and is the Owner/Principal Consultant at the King Maker Concierge. Ms. Purnell also serves as a Board Member for the FireHouse Community Art Center and Steering Committee Member for the Coalition on Urban Girls.

The majority of her career has been in the nonprofit sector and has afforded her the opportunity to facilitate evidence-based SEL curricula to empower thousands of teen girls. In 2015, she founded The Black Women Professionals League (BWPL). Since its inception, BWPL has honored and inducted 200 influential women leaders through their 40 Under 40 Award Ceremony. They have also served over 500 young women ages 18-24 through their college completion and workforce development initiatives.

In the Fall of 2020, she used the knowledge and skills she’d gained to empower girls and women to build a company, The King Maker Concierge (KMC) that specifically supports Black businessmen.

Christal H. Stinson

Christal H. Stinson is the Regional Development Director of UNCF-Chicago where she is responsible for fundraising, strategic partnerships, scholarship/program development, and special events. Her work in these areas extends across the Midwest to Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minneapolis and Missouri. She is most inspired by the many UNCF Scholars and Alumni she meets who share their success and achievements-made possible through generous investments in their futures. An experienced nonprofit executive, her prior roles have focused on the health and human services and economic development sectors. She is a graduate of DePaul University’s College of Law and has a Master of Science in Education and Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Hampton University.

A native of Virginia, Christal and her husband live in Chicago and are the proud parents of twin sons. Stinson is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. , Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and serves on the board of the African American Legacy Fund of The Chicago Community Trust. She is a baseball mom, an avid gardener, sports fan and entrepreneur.

Cloteal LaBroi

Cloteal LaBroi is the Regional Head of Government & External Affairs for the Midwest and Mid-America for Starbucks Coffee Company. Cloteal is responsible for engaging with elected officials, policy influencers, experts, and community and business leaders on issues of importance to the business, brand, and policy agenda. Previously, she served as public works director for the City of Gary, Indiana under the leadership of former Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. In her former role as public works director, Cloteal was responsible for civil infrastructure, buildings, and contracts while concurrently serving as the city’s liaison for civic and business engagement.

Cloteal graduated from Tennessee State University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. Cloteal holds a JD from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphrey School of Law.
In 2016, Cloteal was selected as “Top 20 Under 40 Business Professionals” by the Northwest Indiana Times, and she was recognized in 2014 as an “Indiana Democratic Emerging Leader.”
Cloteal was born and raised in Gary, IN. Cloteal is an active member with The Links, Incorporated, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Jennifer Bridgeforth-Jackson

Jennifer is a best-selling author, leadership consultant, and motivational speaker. She creates strategic empowerment and development programming for individuals, entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies, and colleges across the country through the lifestyle and consultancy wellness brand she founded in 2010, The Phoenix Group. With over 15 years of corporate experience in sales management, marketing, and training, she produces content on effective promotion, sales strategy, and development. Jennifer specializes in creating business and personal relationships that last through a comprehensive approach that starts with discovering your true voice. Through her website, JenniferBridgeforth.com, her motto is simple – find your voice, change your life. As an artist and the best-selling author of “Wisdom in Pieces”, she contributes to the community in many arenas, especially through her work as Arts and Letters Committee Co-Chair for the Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is a communications graduate from Bradley University and an Ascend Business alumna of Northwestern University with several awards, designations, and acknowledgments from diverse businesses and clients that include Harpo Studios, Procter and Gamble, United Airlines, and University of Chicago.

Lisa Moultrie

Lisa Moultrie is dedicated to ensuring underserved Black and Brown youth and families have brighter futures through greater access to educational and economic opportunities. Currently, she is Executive Director of the Chicago Center for Arts and Technology, a five-year old organization that provides youth arts and adult workforce training programs. She leads a team of eighteen full-time staff, develops, manages, and raises a budget of over $3M, and provides the strategic direction for organizational growth and capacity building.

Lisa was Director of Programs at Get IN Chicago, an affiliate of The Chicago Community Trust. She directed nearly $40 million to nonprofits to help communities hardest hit by poverty and gun violence. As a consultant, she worked with civic leaders to establish the Chicago High School for the Arts.

A fierce advocate for women and girls, Lisa is a member of the South Side Giving Circle through the Chicago Foundation for Women. And, she is a proud mother of her daughter, Amira.

Ms. Moultrie has a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a M.A. in Education from the University of Chicago.

Nathalie Loma

Nathalie Loma was born in 1987 in the beautiful country of Cameroon. Sadly, two months after her birth, Nathalie’s father passed away. The sudden passing of Nathalie’s father created financial hardships for Nathalie and her mother. To make ends meet, Nathalie’s mother taught herself to sew and became a seamstress and dressmaker specializing in African fabric and special event clothing.

Nathalie grew up watching her mother making beautiful clothes for others while providing for her family. She watched and learned from her Mother and fell in love with fashion. As she stated in her last interview,” I remember seeing my Mom look at fabric and asked it what it wanted; it was as if she knew the garment would speak back to her. This is something I have cherished and incorporated in my work as a designer”.

Nathalie moved to the USA in 2006, to study Journalism and Broadcasting. After graduating she hosted red carpet events, fashion shows and worked as a fashion writer. She quickly realized her love for fashion was imbedded in her DNA and as much as she loved broadcasting and journalism, fashion was pulling her in every direction.

With the passion to become a designer Nathalie rented a small workroom and spent every working moment designing and sewing her line. Nathalie looks forward to every opportunity to create the perfect garment for each client.

Nichole R. Owens

Nichole R. Owens has been in the utility industry for more than 20 years. She has held various positions throughout her career at ComEd in Marketing, Quality Assessment/Assurance, Emergency Response (in Chicago and Philadelphia) including the Office of the President and COO. She transitioned to the Manager, of Technical Services in Engineering where she had responsibilities for Distribution Mapping and Records, Quality Assurance and Control, Regulatory Performance & Reporting and Distribution Work Strategy. She acquired Construction and Operational experience as the Manager of Chicago Electric Operations where she led a team of nearly 100 employees responsible for the safe & productive execution of emergency response, system configuration, construction & maintenance of the electrical grid including ComEd’s smart grid and grid modernization programs. She is currently the VP of Customer Channels responsible for extensive technology investments into web-based and digital platforms including social media channels, facilitate one of the largest utility financial advocacy portfolios and help shape the future direction of ComEd’s premier customer experience journey.

Nichole has served on the board of directors as President of St. Agatha Family Empowerment (S.A.F.E.). She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Northern Illinois Better Business Bureau (Executive Committee) as well as Chicago United (Executive Committee). 2019 Chicago United Business Leader of Color.

Pongee Barnes

Born and raised on the south-side of Chicago, I am a political science graduate of Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. I embarked on my real estate career as a college student in 2005 at the age of 20, purchasing my first condo in Chicago. After buying in the 2008 real estate crash. I was able to endure and purchase flips and rentals. I am passionate about real estate, but most importantly inspiring women and African Americans to invest in real estate.

This passion birthed my first book “Real Estate & Chill“ which was released in February 2018. I have added the title author to my two sons Benjamin 12, and Franklin 9. Together, we have created a series of children’s books, Little Owners focusing on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and community leadership. We have written a total of 13 books in the series and recently became a Chicago Public School vendor. I enjoy raising my two sons in Chicago with my husband.

Tanya T. Bennett

Tanya T. Bennett is on a mission to serve her community while helping others create lifelong memories. After more than 25 years in nursing, she channeled her entrepreneurial spirit and started her own event planning business. Her passion to be amongst the best led her to become a Certified Wedding Planner and member of the Association of Bridal Consultants. Since her company’s inception, she’s collaborated with other businesses to feed the homeless, conduct food, clothing, and toy drives as well as established two scholarships.

Tanya is an active member of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. holding charter membership status and previous UNCF Chairperson (Will County Black Diamond) and previous Corresponding Secretary and Technology Chairperson (Houston). She is also a founding member of Kenwood Alumni Network (currently serving as Vice President), member of Order of the Eastern Stars and contributed to several different charities and organizations, including Chicago Cares, UNCF, and NCNW.

Tanya holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Informatics from University of Phoenix.

During her spare time, Tanya loves dancing and to travel.

Tonya Eskridge

Tonya Eskridge graduated with a B.A. Degree in Criminal Justice, from Chicago State University and is a 22-year veteran of the Matteson Police Department.

Tonya Eskridge became the first and only African American female at the department, in 1999, and maintained that status until the most recent hiring of two African American female officers in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

She served as a Patrol Officer, Tactical Officer and Field Training Officer, prior to her appointment as the first and only female to ever serve as a Detective in the Criminal Investigations Division. Tonya Eskridge has continued her detective position for 19 years and has received a multitude of accommodations and meritorious awards in the law enforcement field.

She is an active member of the Cook County South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and formerly a member of the Cook County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Tonya Eskridge is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, serving through the Joliet Area South Suburban Alumnae Chapter and her inherent and diligent dedication to service will continue to be a lifetime commitment.

Wylecia Wiggs Harris

Harris has led AHIMA since 2018, positioning it as a global leader and the leading voice for health information. She is a transformational leader, widely recognized for her ability to turnaround and lead significant organizational change by diversifying revenue streams, fostering strategic partnerships, and cultivating exceptional talent.

Prior to AHIMA, Harris was CEO at the League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters Education Fund. She also served as Chief Operating Officer of the American Nurses Association, executive director of the Center for American Nurses, and executive director of the Maryland-based Sister to Sister Foundation. Harris also has served as senior vice president and executive director at the American Heart Association.

Harris holds a PhD in organizational development from Capella University; a master of management degree from Northwestern University; and both a bachelor and honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Wittenberg University.

She was named to Modern Healthcare’s 2021 Top Diversity Leaders list, as well as one of the 10 Diversity Leaders to Watch and in 2022 made their Top Women Leaders list.

Zena Diggs

Zena Diggs is the Midwest Market Executive at Bank of America, responsible for leading a team of client managers, overseeing an $11.5BN loan portfolio, and delivering full banking services to commercial real estate clients located in the Midwest.

Zena joined Bank of America’s Global Corporate Banking division in 2004 where she was responsible for providing debt solutions to public real estate companies. Most recently, Zena worked in the Commercial Real Estate division as a Senior Client Manager. In that role, she was responsible for advising real estate private equity investors, developers, REITs, and other clients on capital needs and delivering debt, treasury, derivatives, FX, private placements and investment banking solutions.

Before joining Bank of America, Zena worked as an Equity Research Associate at Citigroup in Stamford, Connecticut and as an Auditor with Deloitte & Touche in New York City.

She holds the National Association of Securities Dealers Series 7, 63, and 24 licenses, and serves on the board of the Metropolitan Planning Council, the board of the Real Estate Lenders Association, the GMA board of the Brookfield Zoo, and an active member of the Urban Land Institute.