September 30, 2022

Leading in Color Newsletter

September 2022

September 2022

Inclusive Coalitions

During a recent installment of our CEO Roundtable Series, I had the pleasure to interview our host Natalie Brown, the new CEO of CU Member Company Mesirow Financial, and talk about the work Mesirow is doing around diversity, equity and inclusion.

We unpacked Mesirow’s Six-Point Commitment to DE&I—Converse, Diversify, Engage, Align, Champion, and Participate—as well as the firm’s three DE&I priority areas: workforce, suppliers and industry. We talked about the establishment of the firm’s Diversity Council and how they hold themselves accountable throughout the organization through metrics and measurement. 

A key takeaway for me from this Roundtable is the continuing theme that driving inclusion within an organization starts at the top and we make the best decisions when we give voice to and empower underrepresented voices that must be at the table. 

You have heard me speak often about building inclusive coalitions. When we work collectively to build those coalitions and engage everyone in transparent and sometimes uncomfortable dialogue, what comes out of these conversations are pathways toward creating true, lasting impact. It is that impact that will transform cultures and create equity. 

This is how we drive the work of Chicago United. 


Corporate Inclusion Institute - Enrollment Now Open

Enrollment Now Open!
Corporate Inclusion Institute: Cohort VI

Chicago United’s Corporate Inclusion Institute is a nine-month talent development program using a multi-disciplinary approach to bring together four professionals from various levels of an organization into an “Inclusion Cluster.” Equally effective in small- to medium-size firms as well as large corporations, over 250 participants have completed the program to date, having benefitted from the workshops and resources around inclusive leadership competencies.

CII-Cohort VI is now open for registration, and Chicago United will begin a series of informational sessions in October. CU member organizations and companies are encouraged to contact Doris Salomon, Vice President of Programs and Initiatives, at, to schedule a session and learn how to enroll team members. Please share this opportunity with your network.

Chicago United Bridge Awards Celebration - The Power of Inclusion Presented By BMO Harris Bank

Chicago United’s 2022 Bridge Awards Celebration 

On Wednesday, November 16, Chicago United will host the highly anticipated 2022 Bridge Awards Celebration, presented by BMO Harris Bank. This year’s theme is: “The Power of Inclusion.” 

A highlight of the celebration, Chicago United will present the 2022 Chicago Bridge Award to PwC, led by Laura Thonn, Chicago Office Managing Partner. Additionally, CU is excited to introduce two new awards: The BLC President’s Award, presented to a Chicago United Business Leader of Color, and The CU Impact Award, honoring a small to mid-sized Chicago United Member Company or Minority Business Enterprise.

Join the Bridge Awards Celebration on November 16! Please contact Gail Arrigo, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Operations, at or 312.977.3066 to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
Chicago United BLC Reception Speakers

Chicago United Holds BLC Reception

On Thursday, September 15, Chicago United welcomed Business Leaders of Color, Board Members and CEO Council Members to the 2022 Business Leaders of Color Reception: Hot Topics in Corporate Governance. Hosted by Deloitte, a Chicago United Member Company, the program offered an evening of networking highlighted by an insightful panel discussion. Moderated by Kathy Scherer, Managing Partner of Deloitte and a CU Board Member, panelists Janet Foutty, Executive Chair of The Board of Deloitte U.S., Luis Nieto, Jr., President of Nieto Advisory, LLC, and Andrea Zopp, Managing Partner, Cleveland Avenue, assessed board preparedness and the challenges of corporate board governance during the discussion.

Chicago United President and CEO Tiffany Hamel Johnson received the Women in Economic Development and Civic Leadership Award from the Walker’s Legacy Foundation. The award recognizes women in business deemed champions of policy and programs to advance economic development, entrepreneurship ecosystems, and job opportunities within their respective communities.

Chicago United Board Member and 2019 BLC George Burciaga was honored by Francis Suarez, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, for "achieving real human and social impact for our cities and families across the country."

Crain’s Chicago Business’ list of 100 Best Places to Work included two Chicago United Member Companies: Spaulding Ridge (ranked #2) and Mesirow (ranked #99).

Latino Leaders magazine recognized two Chicago United Business Leaders of Color during the recent Maestros Award Ceremony. Rebecca Martinez O’Mara, Independent Board Director and a 2019 BLC, was named Maestro of Entrepreneurship and 2021 BLC Samara Mejia Hernandez, Founding Partner and Managing Director, Chingona Ventures, was named Maestro of Ultimate Drive. 

Chicago United Leaders Council Member Leslie Minier, Corporate Partner and Chief Diversity Partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP, a Chicago United Member Company, was featured in Crain’s Chicago Business’ Notable Women in Law 2022.

The following programs are open only to employees of Chicago United Member Companies. Please click here to view our Community Calendar for additional details and registration links.

Mid-Level Manager Series: "What's Trust Got To Do With It? Managing Intercultural Conflict."

Hosted by Wintrust, a Chicago United Member Company

Presented by: Andrés T. Tapia, Senior Client Partner, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategist, Korn Ferry

October 6, 2022 | 9:00 - 11:00 AM

9700 West Higgins Road, Rosemont, IL

Attend if you are: 

  • A CII Corporate Guide
  • An Employee Resource Group Leader
  • An Employee of Member Companies

Minority Business Partnerships: Moving To Tier 1

Hosted by: People’s Gas, a Chicago United
Member Company

Presented by: Danielle Bly, Vice President of Supplier Diversity, WEC Energy Group; Frederick d'Escoto, Corporate Vice President & Operations Specialist, d'Escoto, Inc.; and Edwin Tumlos Assistant Commissioner, City of Chicago BACP

October 18, 2022 | 11:00AM – 12:00PM

This is a Virtual Event

Attend if you are:

  • A Minority Business Enterprise
  • A MBP Committed Corporation
  • A Minority-owned Business

CEO Roundtable Series

Hosted by: BMO Harris Bank, a Chicago United
Member Company

Presented by: David Casper, U.S Chief Executive Officer, BMO Harris Bank and Darrel Hackett, BMO Wealth Management U.S., BMO Harris Bank and Chicago United Board Member

October 26, 2022 | 9:00 - 10:30AM

320 South Canal St., Chicago, IL

Attend if you are:

This program is open to Chicago United CEO Council Members only
300 East Randolph Street, Suite 40.200, Chicago, IL 60601-5075
312-977-3060 •