March 15, 2022

Leading in Color Newsletter

March 2022

We’ve Come A Long Way Baby … But We Still Have A Long Way To Go!

This is personal for me. As I watched the first African American woman’s nomination to the Supreme Court and the subsequent hearings, I could relate to what Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was going through. Nearly every woman, person of color or other that wants to be represented at the proverbial “table” can understand her experience, feel her experience, as she sat at that table being judged about whether she “belongs” there. Judge Brown was experiencing what we are all too familiar with—her skills and education questioned, her abilities and experience suspected.

But she still persevered... As we all have been trained to do...

As a woman and a person of color, I know the glass can be half full of opportunity and half empty with others’ biases and fears. Only when we shine a light and meet those biases and fears head-on, have allies that call them out as unacceptable and demand we have a seat at the table, will we see true change. When this becomes the norm, someone watching a similar moment like Judge Brown’s will be comfortable knowing they can be seated without question, and it won’t have to be labeled “Historic.”

This month let’s elevate awareness of the talent, creativity, and business acumen of women and reemphasize our dedication to equitable representation. Thank you, March, for bringing not only the first sights of Spring but Women’s History Month because honors are consistently due to all women and allies who, as I intonate, “Work in Excellence!” 

Join Us for CU’s 2022 Annual Meeting: The Movement Continues

Chicago United’s 2022 Annual Meeting: The Movement Continues, takes place virtually Wednesday, March 30, beginning at 8:00 AM. Uniting colleagues accountable for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within their organizations, this year’s program features the election of the 2022-2023 Board of Directors, the installation of Elected Officers, and an in-depth overview of our 2022 Programs. Learn More >

Chicago United Receives Grant From Surdna Foundation

Chicago United is honored to receive a $100,000 general operating grant from Surdna Foundation. The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States – communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies and thriving cultures. Thanks to this generous support, CU’s initiatives and programs will have greater reach and deeper impact, ultimately propelling the Chicago region into the most inclusive business ecosystem in the nation.

Minority Women-owned Businesses 

Devika Singh, Chicago United’s Research & Evaluation Fellow, has assessed the economic contributions of minority women-owned businesses in the United States. Her findings reveal the power of these businesses and the work remaining to achieve a more equitable landscape:

  • The average size of loans received by businesswomen in the U.S. is $5,000 lower than the average loan size received by businessmen. These numbers are substantially lower for businesses owned by women of color.
  • Of the 11.6 million women-owned firms, ~64% were started by women of color in 2019. 
  • 5.4 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S. 
  • These firms employ 2.1 million people and generate $361 billion in revenues annually.

Board Chairman John C. Robak, Chairman & CEO of Greeley and Hansen, and Board Member Manika M. Turnbull, Ph.D., Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, were named to Leadership Greater Chicago’s 2022 cohort of The Daniel Burnham Fellowship. 

Board Member Cristy Garcia-Thomas, Chief External Affairs Officer, Advocate Aurora Health, served on the judging panel for the Milwaukee Business Journal’s 2022 Diversity in Business awards.

Board Members Andrea Sáenz, Chief Operating Officer, The Chicago Community Trust, and Katherine M. Scherer, Vice-Chair, Central Region Marketplace Leader and Managing Partner, Chicago Office, Deloitte, and Chicago United President and CEO Tiffany Hamel Johnson participated in Chicago Scholar’s Life and Lead interview series focused on mentoring young female scholars towards professional careers.

Chicago State Foundation, the chief fundraising partner of Chicago State University, appointed CEO Council Member Erin Inman, PE from Primera Engineers, to its Board of Directors.

2021 BLC Nickol Hackett, Chief Investment Officer and Treasurer at the Joyce Foundation, is one of 10 women named to Better magazine’s 2022 Black Women of Impact list.

CU Members Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Maurice Smith, President and CEO of Health Care Service Corporation, were named to Crain’s Chicago Business’ Notable Executives of Color in Healthcare. CU Advocate Donna Thompson of Access Community Health Network was also noted in the report.

Chicago United Member Company Abbott is an official participant in the Five Forward™ program. We look forward to working with you!

An easy-to-use Community Calendar with details and registration links is live on our website. Please click here to view.

CEO Roundtable Series

Hosted by Carrie Styer, General Manager,
Slalom Chicago


March 29, 2022 | 8:00 - 9:30 AM


Annual Meeting


March 30, 2022 | 8:00 - 9:30 AM


NEW! Emerging Leader Series

A Guide to Advancing Your Career

Presented by: Tracie Morris, U.S. Chief Human Resources and Diversity and Inclusion Officer, BMO Financial Group

April 5, 2022 | 1:00-2:00 PM


Diversity Officer Roundtable

Hosted by: Emeka Igwilo, Chief Data Officer and VP Operations Support, Nicor Gas

March 29, 2022 | 8:30-10:00 AM

Naperville, Illinois   

300 East Randolph Street, Suite 40.200, Chicago, IL 60601-5075
312-977-3060 •