Long gone are the days when we could watch the economy in other continents suffer while we sat immune.
Thursday, April 17th * 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
"Luck is when opportunity meets preparation" is the philosophy Keeana Barber lives by. Since the age of 15, Ms. Barber has prepared herself for the opportunity to be a successful entrepreneur. Unsure of her path to entrepreneurship, Keeana graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor's Degree in Learning & Organizational Change. Ms. Barber then honed her business acumen by working for Monar Consulting, a boutique executive consulting firm in Evanston. While she got opportunities to work with large organizations like General Mills, Chicago Sun-Times, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Keeana was still unsure of her direct path into entrepreneurship
She experienced the loss of her oldest brother, Bobby Barber, to senseless gun violence. Fueled by her desire to fulfil Bobby's vision, Keeana over took the promotional company that he had recently started in California, What's Da Bizniz.
To date, WDB Marketing has had the pleasure of serving over 500 small businesses and entrepreneurs in the metropolitan Chicagoland area. Keeana remains active in the community with her role as board member for LBD Enterprise, a South Suburban food pantry, Northwestern University Black Alumni Association, and the Matteson Business Association.
Keiana A. Barrett
Keiana A. Barrett was bom and raised in the South Shore community. As a youth she attended Bryn Mawr Elementary School (presently named Bouchet Elementary) on East 73rd Street along with participating in a wealth of youth programs at Rainbow Beach Park District. During her tenure as a member of the Jeffery Manor Girl Scout troop, Keiana developed a passion for community service along with collective work and responsibility.
As a young adult, Keiana attended Illinois State University in Bloomington, Illinois, where as a freshman she was elected President of the Black Student Union, and was nominated by the President of the University to serve on the board of community liaisons. Following an extensive slate of downstate civic engagement campaigns, she was the only African American student to be selected as an Illinois Broadcasters Association fellow, during her senior year. Post-graduation, Keiana earned a Masters in Human Services from Spertus College in Chicago, Illinois, which helped to sharpen her skills as an advocate for racial and social justice.
Keiana is a devoted Christian and loving mother of two remarkable children.
Tracey V. Bell
As a member the Diversity and Inclusion Division, Tracey V. Bell manages Supplier Diversity-Retail for the Walgreens Corporation and its Families of Companies.
With more than 20+ years of proven experience in strategic development and branding, Tracey's creates merchandising opportunities for small and minority owned businesses. With full chain responsibilities, Tracey's impression on the chain will be most evident when a brand that she helped position launches chain-wide this May. Recognized by the President of the Walgreens as one of the most pivotal initiatives in company history, the new brand is projected to gross more than $50MM for Walgreens Year 1, to become the largest African American vendor in WaF greens' 110 year history, amidst more than $25MM in traditional and digital advertising. .
With one son, Khalil, who is 16 years old, Tracey's work ethic is rooted in her uncompromising ideology to "never stop thinking and no is never an option." She is a proud member of the Apostolic Church of God and its beloved Sanctuary Choir. And though she feels there is nothing better than a warm summer night in Chicago, Alabama will always be home where all that matters is that her alma mater, the University of Alabama beats Auburn. Roll Tidel
Sonya Blakey's passion, personality, and gift in the arena of radio has opened many doors over the past 15 years in her radio career. Sonya began her radio career at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign while earning a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Sonya's extensive radio career includes:WBBM Newsradio 780 (Chicago's #1 rated news/talk radio station), Power 92, Power 106 (currently Soul 106.3), and WYCA.
Currently, Sonya Blakey is a programming manager for Chicago's #1, Stellar Award winning Gospel Station, Inspiration 1390 and on-air host for the "Joy Ride Home", weekdays 3pm-6pm. Sonya also hosts "Get Your Praise On", Sunday mornings on sister station, V103 from 8am-12n. Additionally she hosts a national radio show, "Sunday Inspirations" which airs in several stations across the country. She has made TV appearances on ABC7, TLN, WGN, and she hosts a segment called "Inspiring U" on WCIU's, "You and Me in the Morning".
Sonya is a classical vocalist and has performed in various operas including Chicago's Lyric Opera. Sonya is blessed to be the wife of Executive Pastor, Randall K. Blakey and the mother of Noel Zacharias and Destinee Faythe.
Brandy M. Boler
Brandy is honored to be a recipient of the Chicago Defender's Women of Excellence Award. Brandy M Boler is a native to Chicago's Westside, in the North Lawndale community. At an early age, Brandy's parents instilled in her a sense of hard work and excellence through community involvement and education. Brandy is an Alumnus of Providence St. Mel High School located in Chicago'sEast Garfield Park community. In 2005, Brandy earned her B.A. from Bradley University, and later earned her MBA in Human Resource Management in 2009 from University of Phoenix. Brandy joined Lawndale Christian Health Center in 2010 as an HR Generalist. She was promoted to HR Manager in 2011 and promoted again to her current role as Director of Human Resources in 2013.
Brandy is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. She is supported by great family which includes her mother, Deon M Boler, father, Shawn M Boler, and a twin brother, Brandon M Boler. Brandy's goals include continuing to provide economic resources for North Lawndale by providing jobs to the community. Her Love of God is something she likes to share at all times. God has truly blessed Brandy to be able to serve in a community that not only loves the Lord, but strives to make Lawndale an excellent place to live and work.
Deanna Kimberly Burrell
Deanna Kimberly Burrell is a proud Chicagoan and product of the Chicago Public Schools. She graduated with honors from Beasley Academic Center, Whitney Young, and received a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University in Evanston with a double major in Radio/ Television/RIm and African-American Studies.
With over 15 years of experience, Burrell (no relation to Tom Burrell) has worked on all sides of the advertising process. As the General Sales Manager at Midway Broadcasting (WVON 1690 and WRLL 1450), she is responsible for leading the sales team. As the President of her own company (Voted Most Creative Enterprises, Inc.), she has published two books, is a popular speaker and blogger, and freelance marketing/sales consultant. Burrell talents include creative writing, strategic branding, developing and presenting integrated and multi-cultural marketing campaigns, negotiating business partnerships, entrepreneurship, and delivering success for her employers and clients.
Her contemporary women's novel, Single Girl Summer, was profiled in numerous media outlets including the Chicago Defender, Jet Magazine, Uptown Magazine, NBC5 and many more.
Toiya M. Butler-White
Toiya M. Butler-White is from Southern California and grew up in the exclusive section of Los Angeles, View Park. She is a graduate of Crenshaw High School, The University of Maryland (B.A.) and Northeastern Illinois University (M.A.). While in college, she interned for Congressman Mervyn Dymally and Congressman Augustus Hawkins, on Capitol Hill. Toiya has over 15 years of human resources experience with an emphasis on recruitment and staffing. She has held many senior and leadership positions and has worked for various consulting and corporate entities. She is currently employed at Pactiv as a Talent Acquisition Advisor. Toiya is also an adjunct professor at the University of Phoenix and teaches undergraduate human resources classes.
Toiya is a very socially conscious individual and is involved in many philanthropic endeavors. She is a board member of the Martin Luther King Boys and Girls Club, A Red-hot committee member for the Primo Center, a member of the South Suburban Chapter of the Links Incorporated and a volunteer for Ronald McDonald Charities. Toiya is also affiliated with The Society of Human Resources Management, The Human Resources Association of Chicago and is the Vice President of External and Community Affairs for The National Association of African Americans in Human Resources, Chicago Chapter. Toiya is married and resides in the South Suburbs with her husband, Oddie White.
Dr. Gisele M. Casanova
Dr. Giselé M. Casanova is the 28th Central Regional Director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. The Central Region covers the following territories: Wisconsin; Illinois; Indiana; Kentucky; St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Minnesota; North Dakota; and South Dakota.
Dr. Casanova is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Purdue University Calumet (Hammond, IN) where she has taught numerous courses including Introduction to Psychology, Child Abuse and Neglect, Abnormal Psychology, and she supervises interns in the Behavioral Sciences Department.
Her dedication to ensuring that students of color graduate from college and go on to pursue post-Baccalaureate studies is evident in her work with Purdue's Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. For 20 years, Dr. Casanova has supported the program and served as a research Mentor to countless students. In this role, she has guided students to successfully develop, implement, present and publish their research. She has also assisted her students with navigating the graduate school application process. Additionally, she has served as the Director of Ethnic Studies Program (2000-2005) at Purdue University Calumet. Dr. Casanova received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University, and both a Master of Arts degree and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Northern Illinois University. She is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Illinois.
Delmarie L. Cobb
The Publicity Works is a Chicago-based public affairs, political consulting and media relations firm, owned and operated by veteran journalist, Delmarie Cobb. She was also the president of Deleco Communications Inc., a television production company, which produced the award-winning, nationally televised newsmagazine program, STREET LIFE.
Cobb has been a practicing journalist for more than two decades. She started as a television news reporter working for network affiliates in various markets throughout the country. Upon returning to Chicago, she became a radio talk show host, a television producer, and a columnist-writing social and political opinion pieces for N'DIGO
Cobb began her media duties for political campaigns in 1988 as national traveling press secretary to presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. Most recently, she worked as a surrogate speaker for New York Senator Hillary Clinton's historic presidential bid. In 2000, she served as Illinois State Director for presidential candidate Bill Bradley. Cobb brings to a project her knowledge of the media; the respect of her peers; and her experience in hard news reporting and politics. It is these attributes, which also make her invaluable to her corporate and non-profit clients in developing public policy, strategic planning, crisis management, community outreach and printed materials.
Tarrah Cooper is the Press Secretary for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Cooper, a Chicago native, began working with Rahm Emanuel in 2010 as the Deputy Press Secretary of his Mayoral campaign where she served as a primary spokesperson and helped to craft, manage and communicate his strategic vision and priorities for Chicago during a pivotal time in the City.
Before returning to Chicago, Cooper worked in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington D.C. where she helped to manage the Department's messaging, priorities and actions for numerous national incidents including the H1N1 epidemic, the December 25th and Times Square attempted bombings, the Haitian earthquake and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Prior to that Cooper worked on the Obama-Biden Presidential Campaign in Florida, a state that played a vital role in President Obama's victory in the election. There she recruited, trained and managed community leaders and volunteers who actively worked to mobilize the community and increase voter contact. Also. Cooper was responsible for the execution of numerous community events, which successfully enhanced the campaign's visibility and community involvement throughout the region.
Brenda Camille Davis
Brenda Camille Davis has utilized her education and corporate experience to do what she was born to do: serve others. Outside of being the mother of two young adults, this empty nester fills that gap by making a difference and paying it forward.
Brenda is an Executive Steering Committee Board Member, Chairperson of Volunteer Recruitment and Engagement, and past Chapter Co-Chairperson of DuPage County NAACP ACT-SO (Afro-Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics). Using her leadership and technology experience, she assists in guiding the direction of a program that impacts the lives of academic and talent gifted high school students from DuPage, Will, Kane, Kendall counties and parts of Cook County each year.
Brenda has used her skills to serve the community by volunteering in areas most passionate to her heart such as health, financial literacy, poverty, and youth education. Her volunteer work includes The American Cancer Society, Naperville Church of Christ Service Ministry, DuPage County NAACP, Young Visionary Institute (YVI) College Preparatory Program, Sisters Offering Support (SOS) investment Club and The Quad County Urban League.
Saran Dunmore is a highly energetic fitness expert! She is a personal trainer and lifestyle coach providing individual and corporate training consultations in-person and via Skype.
Saran is a Fit Club Coach for NBC 5-Chicago, giving tips on the most current health & fitness topics. She recently joined the Chicago White Sox for their "Impact Fitness" initiative, providing pre-game fitness tips. Saran was a trainer on MTV's highly rated program, "I Used To Be Fat", from 2009 to 2012, which is currently airing internationally.
Saran is a dynamic motivational speaker, having delivered numerous speaking engagements including the Keynote Address for the 2014 Chicago Women's Conference and Expo. Saran has hosted a myriad of events including the Chicago Music Awards in 2009 & 2010. She has been a passionate and engaged panelist, discussing health-related topics for various organizations.
Saran is the author of 'The Wagon Has Wheels', a fitness-inspired motivational book, complete with workout routines, to help you get back on track. She has also created two fitness dvd's; Fitness Party and Juba Step.
Saran is married with 2 lovely cats.
Chaz Ebert, who heads the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, is CEO of several Ebert Company multimedia enterprises.
She also hosts the annual film festival known as Ebertfest at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. The Constitutional Rights Foundation once named Ebert Lawyer of the Year during her days as a civil rights attorney. Today, her civic and community passions include an interest in programs for children and families with an emphasis on education and the arts. To that end, she established scholarships at Crane High School and her alma mater, DePaul University, College of Law, and serves on the boards of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, After School Matters, the Tree of Life Board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Honorary Board for Family Focus. A resident of Chicago, Mrs. Ebert is a Life Trustee of the Art Institute.
Cathe R. Evans Williams
Joliet native. Attorney Cathe R. Evans Williams is admitted to practice law as a member of the Illinois Bar, General Bar of the United States District Court for Northern District of Illinois, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Attorney Evans Williams entered the private practice of law in Chicago, Illinois in 1996. She practices in the areas of family law. alternative dispute resolution, estate planning, real estate, business formation, probate, family mediation, bankruptcy, collaborative law, foreclosure help, and general counsel work for profit and not for profit corporations.
She is a certified family mediator and certified collaborative law attorney. She is also a current member of the South Suburban Bar Association, Black Bar Association of Will County, Will County Bar Association, and Covenant United Church of Christ Legal Council Ministry.
She is a member and founder of The Woman's Team. The Woman's Team consists of three licensed professionals who help women make smart relationship decisions. The Woman's Team also helps women learn to mitigate the effects of the emotional rollercoaster a divorce can create in a woman's life. She is a published author of "Divorce for Ladies, Not for Losers: A Women's Guide For a Healthy Not Harmful Journey" and publishing soon a book regarding divorce for men.
She is happily married to her husband, Daniel Williams, CPA of twelve (12) years.
Gladys Fortune is a native of Chicago, IL. She is married to Percy Fortune and they recently celebrated 30 years of marriage. Together they have six adult children. She is a proud mother and grandmother. She is a distinguished graduate of DuSable High School and a member of the DuSable Alumni committee and a participant of the Robert Taylor Homes Reunion committee. She continued her studies at Harold Washington College. She is a member of the RED HAT SOCIETY and attends Apostolic Church of God. God has a hand in everything she does. She cares for others, enjoys shopping, and traveling on long vacations.
Her stellar career for over the past 29 years at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Company has been in the Operations Department. Where she helped to work on efficiencies such as the training and development of the team on WMS scanning compliance, efficient operation of downstream control, and the monitoring of the process and ensuring the necessary changes to meet the needs of production. She has won the Prestigious Director's Award in 1999, M & D Team Excellence Awards in 1997 & 2009.
Gladys' motto is "Work to live, do not live to Work
Frantzie Bourdeau-Griffin is an accredited designer, maintaining an adequate schedule to ensure personal attention to every detail.
She believes in creating sophisticated and intimate environments. Frantzie organizes a team of professionals to work together to create distinctive designs, which are tailored to.the lifestyle and desires of each residential or commercial client. She also works closely with the client in manifesting unique designs and architectural details to modernize their home, business or office.
Her established relationships with exceptional contractors allow her to efficiently administrate the entire construction and furnishing process.
Known for her gracious and amiable manner, Frantzie has over twenty successful years of experience. She established her award-winning firm in 1991 in Florida. Since then, she has developed long-term, trusting relationships with her clients the world over. A graduate of the Art institute of Fort Lauderdale and Bauder College, Frantzie's built a solid design firm catering to a loyal following of residential and commercial clients. Her creations range from the Classic, Traditional Mediterranean look to Bold Contemporary design and often include a delicate mixture of styles to create drama and excitement.
Felicia Fortenberry, a Chicago native, is a Midwest Director for Hearst Publishing's O, The Oprah Magazine. Her love of the media industry began as a communications student at the University of Illinois-Urbana. Upon graduation, Felicia was part of a small group recruited for Leo Burnett's well renowned Media Training Program.
A 20 year publishing executive, she's currently responsible for corporate advertising in the Midwest for Hearst's widely successful 0, The Oprah Magazine where's she's been for the past 11 years. Prior to. Felicia served on the launch team for Rosie Magazine and was National Director for The Source Magazine (NY). She's especially proud of working directly with founding legends in publishing, John H. Johnson-Johnson Publishing, Edward Lewis and Clarence Smith-Essence Communications.
Felicia continues to advocate for diversity in the advertising industry. She's an active member of Mosaic Alumni and Friends Association (MAFA), the Chicago Media Association(CMA) and serves on the U of I College of Media Leadership Council as Communications Chair. She loves to share her experiences with others and often travels back to her alma mater to promote careers in advertising. Felicia especially enjoys mentoring young women as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and Link Unlimited sponsor. She's happily married to George R. E. Dunmore.
Doris J. Green
Reverend Doris J. Green, B.A., CADC. CCHP, has worked with the incarcerated population for over 31 years. In her current position. Director of Correctional Health & Community Affairs at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago she develops and implements innovative strategies to assist highly impacted communities respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She is the founder of Men & Women in Prison Ministries/Universal House of Refuge Canter. She has been selected as a speaker at numerous conferences throughout the country, most recently the American Academy of Religion - Baltimore MD, November, 2013.
In 2004 Reverend Green was appointed to the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, Institutional Review Board as the Prisoners Representative. In 2006, she successfully launched the Faith Responds to AIDS (FRA) committee a broad interfaith coalition of Chicago land leaders', organizations and faith communities in a committed and effective response to stop HIV/AIDS. On August 18, 2007 while in Benin, West Africa Rev. Green was appointed Ambassador for World Peace by the Universal Peace Foundation and the Interreligious & international Federation for World Peace. In 2010 Rev. Green was appointed Commissioner for the Illinois Torture, Inquiry and Relief Commission. In 2011 she was selected to join NAACP'sNational HIV Faith & Social Justice Advisory Board in Washington D.C.
Rhea A. Henderson
Rhea A. Henderson is the Executive Director of the RH School of Performing Arts LLC. She is the wife of Mr. Heath D. Henderson and the mother of a 19-year-old sophomore at Howard University. She is a member of New Life Covenant Church. She is a graduate of Chicago State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Information Management. She is a member of the UDMA (United Dance Merchants of America), Chicago Women's Entrepreneur Network, and The BOSS Network. She is a graduated founding member of Jack & Jill of America Lakeshore Chapter, where she held the office of Vice-President and Teen Advisor. Rhea's 25 year sisterhood in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. is near and dear to her heart.
Rhea's dance training includes ballet, modem, tap and jazz dance at Sadie Bruce dance studio, Mayfair Academy, Whitney M. Young High School and the Joel Hall Dance Center. She was also a Chicago Luv-A-Bull from 1990-1992.
As the owner of the RH School of School of Performing Arts for the past 6 years, Rhea and her team have partnered with over 10 reputable businesses, employed over 10 staff members, provided paid opportunities for over 25 budding models and dancers and provided over $30,000.00 in scholarships and gifts to high school students for college.
Bonita M. Herring
Bonita Marie Herring has served her community locally, regionally and nationally. She embraced the importance of service in her early years and made an ultimate commitment to servant leadership, becoming the 23rd national president of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc in July 2012.
Herring brings over 40 years of experience to her position and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a MA in Communications and Training from Governors State University
Networking and actively participating in the community is just one of the ways that Herring has prdvided years of service. In addition to sorority commitments, she has served on the board of the Southeast Chamber of Commerce and she has held the office of vice president of membership for the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners in earlier years. Currently, she serves as vice president of membership for the Chicago State University Chapter of Toastmasters International and is a member of St. Ailbe Church where she serves in the usher ministry and on the Sisters in Spirit Praise Team.
Herring is a committed servant leader who knows the importance of encouraging young people.
They say there are often hints of who someone will be as early as childhood. That is certainly the case with Sibyl Holloway, who founded SIB'S Breakfast Club in 2008 with the sole purpose of supporting African American business and enterprise through social and non-social networking.
A native Chicagoan, Holloway comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her father owned several businesses in which she worked from age 12. She observed how each business near her fathers' store and restaurant helped each other, and understood early that black-owned businesses were often each other's only support system.
Educated at HBCU Texas Southern University, Holloway supported herself through college by teaching tap, an unexpected benefit from years of forced dance and piano lessons growing up. Comfortable in academic environments, some 15 years of her career have been spent in the education field, 10 of which with the Career Education Corporation.
Shelia C. Morgan
Shelia C. Morgan serves as President and CEO of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc. (Chicago MSDC), formerly the Chicago Minority Business Development Council (CMBDC), a nationally recognized organization dedicated to championing the interest of minority-owned businesses through partnering with major corporations and host of the Chicago Business Opportunity Fair (CBOF) a minority business show in existence for over 40 years. She brings a wealth of knowledge and familiarity to ChicagoMSDC, as she has a 20-year relationship with the Council.
Prior to joining Chicago MSDC, Shelia was Associate Director of Supplier Diversity for Kraft Foods, Inc., a 42 billion dollar market leader and the 2nd largest food manufacturer in the world.
Before joining Kraft, Shelia was the Executive Director of the Chicago Minority Business Opportunity Committee (MBOC) an organization funded by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), U.S. Department of Commerce an agency whose mission and long-range goal is to increase opportunities for minority entrepreneurs to obtain additional capital, management skills and market penetration. Under Shelia's leadership, the MBOC was instrumental in delivering over 200 million dollars in contracting opportunities to minority entrepreneurs.
As OCHIN's Vice President of Government and Public Affairs. Ruby Haughton-Pitts is responsible for government relations, public and media relations, and advocacy. She develops and implements OCHIN's 18-state external engagement strategy and is the key interface with federal, state, and local officials, regulatory agencies, advocacy groups, industry partners, and the media. Ruby has over 20 years of experience as a political and strategic communications professional in financial services, healthcare, and nonprofit environments. She and her husband, Thomas Pitts, MD, are the parents of three adult children. They are members of Apostolic Faith Church and residents of Chicago's Historic Bronzeville Neighborhood.
For more than a decade, she has been committed to improving communities by addressing social determinants of health related to improving community infrastructure. She also served on both the Oregon and the Illinois the AARP Advisory Councils. Her professional and volunteer efforts have always included and supported community advocacy. She is grateful for her current employer OCHIN, Inc., a nonprofit health information technology organization, and she supports its goal "to provide solutions that promote access to quality, affordable healthcare for all." In her work life or as a volunteer, it has always been Ruby's pleasure to support those whose professional or personal missions involve serving others.
Heather Ireland Robinson
Heather was born and raised on Chicago's south side and is the Executive Director of the Beverly Arts Center. Most recently, she served as Director of the historic South Side Community Art Center in the Bronzeville neighborhood. There, she was instrumental in rebranding the 73 year-old center and increasing its visibility and growing opportunities for local and national artists.
With a nearly 20-year career in our culturally rich city, Heather's experiences have included programming and management with some of the Chicago's foremost institutions including After School Matters, Gallery 37, The Chicago Park District, Marwen, The Jazz Institute, Marriott Bridges and the Quad Communities Development Corporation. She believes that the arts enrich and add joy to our lives and that they are a basic human right and an intrinsic human need.
Heather holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from DePaul University. She includes the Goodman, Redmoon, MPAACT, Pegasus Players and NBC's ER among her acting credits.
Dons J. House
It was Dorothy Leavell a friend and employer who labeled Doris "Ms. Get Her Done!" There was no way for Leavell to know that was the sentiment other friends and former employers use to explain their relationship with the Newark, N.J. transplant.
Doris has distinguished herself professionally both in the newspaper and public sector industries. In both arenas she has opted to play key support roles that help organizations flourish, generally exceed goals and positively positioned them before all who interact with that particular organization. She currently enjoys a top administrative role at the Chicago Crusader, the city's oldest African-American-owned weekly newspaper.
A Midwest Mayor Doris worked with often marveled that while she could easily head several of the department's in that city's operations, she chose a behind-the-scene role in the Mayors Office that always resulted in whatever department she was in meeting all of its goals.
Doris enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling and is always on a perennial hunt for the next great restaurant. Doris said her work brings a great deal of joy to her days, although she readily attests her proudest moments and greatest joy is being a grandparent, the youngest Chase and Brooke are twins and the most recent additions. Doris also is is grandmother to six grandchildren. She resides in the city of Chicago with her husband Michael and rescue dog Foxy.
Dr. Stacy L. Henderson
Dr. Stacy L. Henderson is a Savannah, Georgia native and the mother of two children: KeiSha and William. She is a highly decorated retired Naval Officer with over 20 years of military service. The Certified Professional Coach and International Best-Selling Author has publications in more than 30 countries in various language translations-two are in the White House Library. Her seminar topics include: Overcoming Trauma and Pain; Self-Empowerment; Women as Leaders; Enhancing Your Professional Image; Building Your Brand; and Teen Etiquette. Trained by the Professional Woman Network (PWN), she is a Certified Youth Trainer, Wellness Consultant and Diversity Consultant. She is the CEO of Dr. Stacy L. Henderson & Associates Coaching and Consulting, LLC.
Victim-VICTORIOUS!: Crossing the Bridge from Pain to Purpose, is a Survivor Journal which chronicles her trauma and triumph over childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence while serving in the military. It also contains resources to help those in harmful relationships safely seek assistance and transition to healthier environments. She works with service agencies to develop awareness and prevention campaigns and is featured in several Domestic Violence and anti-bullying PSAs.
Robin Jackson, proud owner of a local Bronzeville State Farm Insurance and Financial Services agency, has over 20 years of marketing, product management, and sales experience related to the wireless/telecommunication industry. Prior to opening her State Farm agency. Robin spent 11 years with NAVTEQ Corporation, a Nokia subsidiary, working closely with developers worldwide to promote the creation of location-based service apps for wireless devices. During this time, she worked alongside senior management to manage new product launches, organize global sales meetings, and create a global contest sponsored by global Fortune 100 companies with a prize pool over $2 million annually for five years.
With a strong entrepreneur background, she has served as partner with a start-up inventionconsulting firm where she managed operations, assisted inventors with specific industry research, and pitched products to QVC and Sèars. She has also owned additional
A native Chicagoan, she graduated from DePaul University with a BA in Liberal Arts. Robin has one son, Austin.
The namesake of her mother, Gloria Jenkins, and oldest daughter of Ernie Jenkins, Gloria "Corene" Jenkins Harvey divided her time as an urban youth between the south and west sides of Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Jones Metropolitan High School in Chicago June of 1996. Determined to refine her considerable talent for communicating and connecting with others, Jenkins Harvey attended Chicago State University, earning a degree in psychology in May 2005.
As a member of the Family Case Management staff for the Westside Association for Community Action (WACA), Jenkins Harvey worked in support of families on the Southside of Chicago. Currently, Jenkins Harvey serves as the Executive Director of the Westside Association for Community Action (WACA). She is a member of Board of Directors for ETA Creative Arts Foundation and was a recent recipient of Lakeside Bank's "Women Who Make A Difference Award." When asked what she is most thankful for, she always references the opportunity to perpetuate her family's legacy of service for the benefit of her community and the people she serves.
Rea Johnson, President of CREA Construction, is an innovative green builder with over 10 years of experience in engineering and all facets of the construction industry. As the leader and founder of the company, she is responsible for financial planning, contract acquisition and building the ideal team. Her focus as a general contractor and subcontractor (self-performing Carpentry Services) is to empower and inspire her team to reach and exceed their skills while warranting professional results. Also, her passion is to produce green communities one block at a time through sustainable building practices and retrofitting commercial institutions. CREA Construction is Licensed, Bonded. Insured and WBE/MBE/ DBE/8(a) Certified.
Rea is a native of Chicago and attained her MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, 1998, her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, 1996 and her BS in Mathematics, Magna cum Laude, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA, 1996. Her recent award was attained from the Chicago Association of Realtors as a Good Neighbor Award Recipient, May 2009. She is currently active in the Builder's Association of Chicago, chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America.
For more than 20 years, Jocquelline has devoted her career to the social and public service industry. She attributes her passion for "service" to her late mom, who was certified in Addiction Counseling, and worked and volunteered at numerous assistant living facilities in the Chicagoland. She has one son who is currently a junior in college.
Jocquelline began her career in "service" during her undergraduate years at Northeastern Illinois University as a Program Assistant to the Guidance Counselors of Project Success. She interned at WTTW Channel 11 as a Research Assistant for a one-hour documentary, Record Row: Cradle of Rhythm & Blues.
In 1995, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, with a Minor in History. After college, she worked for Introspect Youth Services, as a Program Counselor; assisting high school students with college placement. She worked as a Case Manager for Austin Group Home for boys for three years, and began employment at Marcy-Newberry Association, Inc. (MNA) as an Early Head Start Coordinator; and also, later became the Alvin D. Sims Scholarship Program (ADS) Coordinator. ADS is a privately funded academic program that assist elementary students of low income families with the cost of tuition.
Donna Miller is proud to say she is truly an original Chicago woman with both sides of her family having strong roots to the Chicago area going back directly to her great-grandparents. She spent most of her youth being raised in Chicago and attended Ogden Elementary and Lane Technical High Schools. Donna earned her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Howard University. She is married to Dr. David E. Miller and is the mother of two boys Daniel (10) and Donovan (8) and resides in Lynwood.
Donna Miller has over 20 years experience in the biotech, pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. Throughout her career she has made a difference to improve the lives of many individuals by creating collaborations based on her corporate experience, professional organizations and community involvement.
Donna is currently the Director of Multi Cultural Markets with the American Heart Association. The mission of the AHA is: Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. This position combines her passion, professional experience and altruistic values. Donna previously worked for healthcare companies that include Glaxo, Genentech and United Healthcare.
Success in today's marketplace is often defined by ones ability to create something new while simultaneously paying homage to elements that are classic. While this is certainly no easy task, Chrishon Lampley's journey has allowed her to embody this paradox that she has woven into a beautiful tapestry that has become her burgeoning brand.
Chrishon Lampley is a vintner, radio personality, creator and partner of the lifestyle wine brand Love Cork Screw that launched 6 varietals in the 4th quarter of 2013. Since its inception, the LCS brand has acquired 33 locations (recently adding Mariano's) and is growing rapidly. Much of the expansion has been attributed to being in the industry for over 14 years, which has'given her the opportunity to develop a keen awareness of what people enjoy and what the market is missing. A large portion of this knowledge was garnered from the several years she owned a popular art lounge in Chicago'sSouth Loop neighborhood.
Being in the public eye bestows Chrishon with much attention and influence that she uses to mentor young women and budding entrepreneurs whom can benefit from her pitfalls and successes. She gives her time and resources greatly to nonprofit organizations and is an avid member and supporter of the Chicago Urban League and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Latrice Mosley-Smith is currently the program chair of the School of Justice Department at an institution located in the Chicago loop. In this position, she incorporates a wide range of skills, which includes active learning and "hands on training". Latrice also encourages her faculty and students to "give back to the community whenever there is an opportunity." It is noted that through her efforts, Latrice was awarded the Community Service Award-Excellence in Education.
Prior to embarking in the field of higher education, Latrice was employed as an investigator with the federal government for 12 years. She took a leap of faith in March 2009, and resigned from the aforementioned position to pursue her dream of being an educator and an entrepreneur. In December 2009, Latrice and her husband Ervin Smith launched a unique adult ice cream novelty created specifically for married couples. The new business was thriving and grabbing the attention of Southtown Star Newspaper, Ndigo Magazine, Rolling Out Magazine, and Chicago Defender Newspaper.
Latrice is the mother of one daughter, Ashlyn and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Incorporated.
The mother of eight children, "Ms. Diane" has the children refer to her, is a 26 year resident of the Roseland community on the far south side of Chicago. She founded the award winning and internationally recognized organization Kids Off The Block, Inc. (KOB) in her home in July of 2003. Ms. Latiker was given this vision through her mother Evangelist Ruth Jackson. Ms. Jackson, saw that the youth in the neighborhood liked and respected her daughter. Looking at the children that were always at her home, Ms. Diane saw health professionals, doctors, lawyers, professional musicians, professional sports figures, politicians, and actresses, and the list goes on. Ms. Diane believed that she could make a difference in the community, and in the many youth that she came in contact with daily. She became encouraged and opened up her home to get these young people off the streets and involved in programs that would benefit them for the rest of their lives. The organization celebrated 10 years of service to children/youth, teens and young adults in the city of Chicago, IL. KOB started out with ten neighborhood kids, and now has impacted thousands of lives through love, compassion, nurturing and respect.
Dr. Kimako Patterson
Dr. Kimako Patterson is the Superintendent of Prairie+liHs Elementary School District 144. She has been in the field of education for more than 20 years. She has been a teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction, and an Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology.
Dr. Patterson has been with Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144 for 12 years. After an extensive nationwide search, she was selected as the new Superintendent of Schools for Prairie-Hills District 144 on July 1, 2011. As Superintendent, she oversees a budget of $34 million dollars with 325 employees.
Dr. Patterson has a Bachelor's degree in English Education, along with a Master's degree in Educational Leadership, and a Doctorate in Education from National Louis University. Currently she sits on the advisory board for Trinity Christian College, and the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of Illinois. She is also a member of the Illinois Autism Task Force along with various other local, state and national education organizations.
Dr. Patterson has been married to Jonathan Patterson for 20 years and they have 3 wonderful children.
Dr. Jerrilyn Pearson
Dr. Jerrilyn Pearson is the Statewide Chief Nursing Officer for the Department of Children and Family Services where she supervises 15 Registered Professional Nurses statewide whose primary function is to provide consultation for children with special health care needs throughout the state of Illinois. Dr. Pearson developed the Statewide Centralized Nursing Referral process currently in use providing a consistent framework for responses from nursing personnel to requests for consultations from child welfare workers. Jerrilyn has also been instrumental in establishing the Bridging the Gap and Nursing Resource meetings which have open the lines of communication between internal and external health care professionals caring for children with special health care needs. Dr. Pearson has served as a member of the Governors Healthcare Workforce: Health Initiative Scope of Practice work group; collaborated with the Office of the Inspector General in policy development activities.
Dr. Pearson is a native of Chicago Illinois, holding a Bachelors and Masters in Nursing as well as a Doctorate in Higher Education (nursing focus). Dr. Pearson espouses her greatest accomplishment as being a daughter to her own Woman of Excellence, her mother - Alice J. Washington; also mother to Tanya Nichole Pearson-Myles and grandmother to her grandson her heart Jordan.
Pat E. Perkins, CPCC
Known as the "Career Advancement Mentor," Pat E. Perkins coaches hundreds of clients across the United States and abroad to live a life with Purpose, Empowerment and Prosperity now versus later. She is a sought-after leadership expert; certified life coach and inspirational speaker who mentors emerging and experienced leaders to transform their mindset, unleash their confidence, take consistent action and create sustainable results doing what they love.
After 20 years in corporate management overseeing $1 - $100 million dollars projects and programs with such billion dollar firms as Sara Lee and Aon Corporation, Pat chose to powerfully complete her career and launch a personal and professional development firm focused on helping emerging leaders advance faster, smarter and with a lot less effort.
Pat is the creator of The Leader's Toolkit(TM), a stepby-step career advancement system which she uses to teach her clients how to powerfully move from independent contributor, under-utilized/performing employee or over-worked manager to powerfully high-performing leader. She speaks on Leadership, Communication, Career Transition and Work-life Balance.
She's a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) from The Coaches Training Institute, a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and holds an honors Master's degree.
Tonya Scott, CHA
Tonya Scott serves as the 1st black female General Manager for the Kimpton national hotel chain. As General Manager for Chicago'sHotel Burnham, Tonya oversees the daily operations and sales and marketing of the 122-room boutique hotel. She is responsible for maintaining a Chicago historic landmark - the '1 st steel framed' skyscraper in the world designed by renowned architect Daniel Burnham! Tonya has been extremely successful in establishing and continuing the Hotel Burnham's world classed standards of excellence, and reputation for personalized service (Hotel Burnham attained Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants' 2013 Customer Satisfaction rating of 95.9 - #1 of the 60 Kimpton hotels around the country - scoring the #1 position!).
Tonya is a native Chicagoan, presently residing in the South Loop. As a lifelong resident, she has witnessed firsthand the growth and redevelopment of Chicago and believes it will positively impact current and future investors.! Tonya consistently participates in philanthropic and charitable activities such as Dress For Success, Adopt a School, etc. in giving back to her community.
Yafawn Smith is Government and Community Affairs Manager for Comcast. Bom and reared in the city of Chicago, Smith's geographical roots range from the West side of Chicago, to the South side where she currently resides in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
Her career goals have included helping drive her company's business by nurturing a favorable regulatory environment, while also creating opportunities that provide visibility through strategic partnerships with community leaders. Ms. Smith states that she is fortunate to have a career that connects her to politics and community day-to-day-the two things that she enjoys most. Among her duties are to serve as catalyst for helping the community through Comcast sponsored events, which are conceived to positively impact society.
Smith credits her parents, Keith and Olintha Smith for much of her upbringing and her success, as well as her support system which included four dynamic grandparents. "I've always attributed most of my success to them," she says. "Their positive examples have kept me striving to always do better and improve; to realize that my circumstances do not define who I am." Ms. Smith is the mother of two sons. Thank you to The Chicago Defender for selecting me as a 2014 Woman of Excellence," she concludes, "for me it symbolizes that hard work doesn't go un-noticed."
Tamatha Smith is a Manager for the Retail Markets Think Blue team with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Tamatha holds a B.A. from The University of Illinois at Chicago and earned her M.B.A. from The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management concentrating in Organizational Behavior.
Before joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois in 2006, Tamatha worked in the healthcare industry for over 15 years. She also served in the U.S Army for ten years as a Field Medical Specialist and Non-Commissioned officer, with the 108th Medical Battalion of IL. She was drawn to her previous position as a Community Relations Specialist at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of IL because it gave her the opportunity to provide a much needed service to underserved populations in the communities in which she resides. While with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Tamatha has conducted or participated in over 1,200 learning lectures, health fairs and informational help desks to assist community members and leaders in understanding their health insurance options and to connect them with vital community resources to resolve their complex issues.
Commissioner Kari K. Steele was elected November 6,2012 to her first term as a Commissioner at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).
Commissioner Steele Is currently serving as the Chairman for the Budget and Employment Committee and the Information Tectwiology Committee. She also is the Vice Chairman for the Monitoring and Research and the Stormwater Management Committee.
Commissioner Steele is a chemist, an environmentalist and a community leader. She has more than 11 years of experience working as a chemist. She has worked at both the Jardine Water Purification Plant (as a water chemist) and the MWRD (as a water sampler and lab technician). This background makes Commissioner Steele uniquely qualified to disc usa and analyze proposed operational changes and operational efficien-icies.
Commissioner Steele is a member of Illinois Women's Institute of Leadership; member of 8th Ward Women'sAuxiliary Council; member of the Sierra Club; member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; member of the South Shore International College Prep High School Advisory Board Committee, past member of the Young Democrats of America; past member of Society of Cosmetic Chemists, past Chairman of the 6th Ward Young Democrats; and past Chairman and Treasurer of the Young Democrats of Cook County.
Dr. Lynette D. Stokes-Wilson, Ed.D.
Having worked in public service for over 18 years, Lynette Stokes-Wilson has served as an advocate of youth in the child welfare system, taught elementary education, and worked for equal rights organizations. Prior to being named Vice President of Academic Services at South Suburban College in June 2013, she spent 11 years at the City Colleges of Chicago improving the quality of education by promoting pedagogical and anagogical techniques and strategies that support academic excellence for all students.
During her seven-year tenure with Ada S. McKinley Foster Care, Dr. Stokes-Wilson prepared over 200 families to receive a foster home license, authored the training curriculum for more than 500 families and developed multifaceted workshops to assist nearly 200 children with the transition into independent living. In that role, she managed a team of 10 licensing representatives and recruitment specialists.
Dr. Stokes-Wilson is the 2005 recipient of Roosevelt University's Most Outstanding Dissertation of the Year and a 2009 recipient of the Kathy Osterman Award for Outstanding Supervisor given to public service employees in the City of Chicago. Lastly, after having grown up in the child welfare system Dr. Stokes-Wilson understands the value of giving back to the community and as such remains an advocate for children and families through her contributions to scholarship programs and support of toy, clothing and food drives.
Tragil Wade was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and obtained her primary education through Chicago Public Schools. Growing with an extended family, she often served in the capacity of a caregiver to her siblings. It is through these experiences that she discovered a passion for nurturing, equipping and educating youth. Those very same occurrences also heightened Tragil's awareness of the importance of literacy and equal access to educational and life changing opportunities.
In 1995, Tragil relocated to San Diego, CA where she graduated from Crawford High School. She went on to pursue her desire to impact the lives of young children and teens, by earning a teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education, at San Diego City College.
She returned to her hometown of Chicago where she gained employment at Community High School District 218. It is here that she instructed children 3 to 17 years of age. In 2005, she earned her Bachelor's Degree from Chicago State University. In 2006, Tragil Wade became the Executive Director of Wade's World Foundation. Through her work with Wade's World Foundation, Tragil is not only able to fulfill her life's purposes of educating and empowering youth but is also able to significantly advance the lives of the youth and families around the globe.
Laura S. Washington
Laura S. Washington is a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and political analyst for ABC 7, Chicago'sABC-owned station. Washington brings more than two decades of experience as a non-profit professional and multi-media journalist. From 2003 to 2009 she served as the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University.
Washington also served as the longtime editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter. a nationally recognized investigative monthly specializing in racial issues and urban affairs.
Her column has been published by the Chicago Sun-Times since 2001. She has been a commentator on National Public Radio and has also written a column for the Chicago Tribune. Washington was deputy press secretary to Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor and an investigative producer for CBS-2/Chicago, correspondent for "Chicago Tonight" on WTTW-TV, and op-ed columnist at the Chicago Tribune.
Washington earned her Bachelor's and Master's in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she has also taught and lectured.
For Melanie Whaley, faith, family, and fortitude are the three factors that have allowed sustainability for over three decades in the fashion business. Hardworking parents with an entrepreneurial spirit, inclusive of a janitorial service, restaurant, and apparel store catapulted Melanie into the world of business after losing her college portfolio in a flood. With the decline of her family's clothing store, it was a progressive move for Melanie to grab the opportunity to open a small accessories shop on the southeast side after her dad found the perfect location.
Coaching, supporting, and fashionably representing, her mother was with her every step of the way. Business proved to be challenging causing Melanie to enter the workforce at the Chicago Board of Education. In 2007, Melanie got the burning desire to return to her greatest passion, entrepreneurship; forming Essential Elements-Chicago, Ltd, opening a beautiful location at 1640 E. 87th Street. Family support, faithful customers, and a dependency on God's guidance, Essential Elements-Chicago has become the "go to" spot for fashion savvy women. Melanie has used Essential Elements as a platform to support initiatives such as an annual "Breast Cancer Awareness Day", donating a portion of the day's proceeds to research, and "Denim for Denim Day" contributing new and gently used jeans to a local women's shelter.
Lisa G. Williams
Lisa G. Williams, the first in her father's family to become an attorney, has translated her fierce passion for equality and fairness into a career of advocating for diversity and combating discrimination. After working as a civil rights attorney in the private sector, Lisa became an Assistant Attorney General in Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan'sCivil Rights Bureau. While there, among other duties, she organized and participated in numerous events designed to inform community members of their legal rights and to promote diversity awareness.
In 2010, she joined the Illinois Tollway - where she currently works for role models Executive Director Kristi Lafleur and Board Chair Paula Wolff - investigating allegations of discrimination; assisting employees, job applicants, and customers with disabilities; and striving to improve the representation of people of color and women in the Tollway's workforce.
Through the work of Lisa and her staff, the Tollway has (a) increased access to jobs through widespread outreach to communities of color, (b) implemented safeguards to its hiring and selection process that ensure fairness for everyone, and (c) created a more inclusive internal environment which includes celebrating a variety of holiday traditions, honoring different cultural leaders, and providing a new Nursing Mothers Privacy Room for female staff returning from maternity leave.
Shari S. Wilson
Shari S. Wilson is President and CEO of Balton Corporation, a 30 year old national and international wholesale distribution company, located on Chicago's south side. Balton holds certifications as a MBE, WBE, DBE and ACDBE. Shari, a native Chicagoan, has been married for 26 years and is the mother of 4 children. She began her career in business working in management and operations prior to taking over the helm at Balton in 2005. Since becoming president, Balton has experienced a 700% increase in growth in the business. This growth includes, becoming a distributor for three major food service companies and being a supplier for all of the Chicago Public Schools, many charter schools, the City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Park Districts and several major universities.
Additionally, Shari has created Balton's own line of disposable products with a green infusion, named ASPIRE. This line includes environmentally green products and was inspired by her father and mentor, Sam Patch, who was one of the founders of Balton Corporation.
Under Shari's leadership, Balton has received many peer accolades such as Chartwell's Vendor of the Year Award for 7 of 8 years. Shari is a member of President Obama's Presidential Partners and Operation PUSH Trade Bureau. She has also participated in Local School Council's Principal Selection Committee and volunteers to read to children at local schools.
Melody Winston is a woman of distinction and passion with a heart to empower others. For more than a decade she has managed and facilitated commercial properties as well as owned and operated a construction company of her own as a licensed general contractor.
Melody is the eldest daughter of Ms. Carolyn Williams and Dr. William S. Winston, founder and pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a multicultural, non-denominational church with more than 20,000 members located in Forest Park, Illinois.
She is the Executive Director of Corporate Property Asset Management for Living Word Christian Center and the Director of Real Estate and Construction for the Forest Park Plaza Mall in Forest Park, Illinois and Washington Plaza Mall, in Tuskegee, Alabama, in which she oversees, 650,000 square feet of retail space which include national tenants: Pizza Hut. Ashley Stewart, Kmart and Taco Bell.
After all of the demands and responsibilities of business life, this mother of four still finds time to dedicate to her family life. Her positive energy, tenacity and drive impact the lives of many people and will serve as an outstanding legacy into the future.
Karen A. Yarbrough
Recorder of Deeds Karen A. Yarbrough is a full time administrator, overseeing a $12 million budget and nearly 180 employees, the 2nd largest Recorder's office in the United States.
She has a BA in Business Management from Chicago State University and an M.A. in Inner City Studies from Northeastern Illinois University. She has served on numerous boards and has received many prestigious awards highlighting her advocacy, community service and legislative work.
Previously, Karen served 12 years as State Representative for the 7th District, which included Chicago's west-side and western suburbs. As an Assistant Majority Leader in the Illinois House, Karen's legislative themes were public health, public safety, and social justice. She has worked to increase assistance for those incarcerated, and funding for programs that provide a "Second Chance." In 2007, Karen successfully fought the tobacco lobby as the chief sponsor of "Smoke Free Illinois," making Illinois the first Midwestern state to go "smoke-free." She's taken on powerful real estate interests In her pursuit of legislation that prohibits landlords from refusing to rent to those on subsidies.
Karen and her husband, Henderson, have a blended family of six and share twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.