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updated: 2/3/2014 1:38 PM

Area leaders invited to Chicago "Lessons in Leading" conference Feb. 20

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  • NIU Executive Leadership Forum

    NIU Executive Leadership Forum
    Northern Illinois University

Paul Palian

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker will join business leaders Thursday, Feb. 20, at the NIU Executive Leadership Forum conference to share leadership practices and discuss gaining ground in a global economy and achieving competitive positioning.

The conference, called "Lessons in Leading Today," is open to the public and will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Mid-America Club in the Aon Building, 200 E. Randolph Drive in Chicago. Baker will be available to meet guests at the cocktail reception, which begins at 5 p.m.

The keynote speaker at the conference is Dennis Chookaszian, the retired chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance Companies who has served on the board of directors for 11 publicly traded corporations.

A panel discussion on leadership practices will be presented by Rita Athas, retired president of World Business Chicago, and Jerry Roper, retired president and CEO of Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

Jeffrey Yordon, founder of Sagent Pharmaceuticals, will share his expertise on competitive positioning. His company was rated No. 1 on Crain's 2013 Fast Fifty list of Chicago's fastest growing companies.

The event is free for Executive Leadership Forum members and $50 for nonmembers. To register for the conference or learn more, visit

The Executive Leadership Forum -- an NIU Alumni Association group -- holds events throughout the year to bring business leaders of diverse backgrounds together for discussions and networking.

President Baker's plan for student career success through recruitment, mentoring, internships and networking includes a dramatic expansion of internships and matching students with alumni mentors to ensure that every graduate is employed within six months of graduation.

Baker's experience includes eight years as provost and executive vice president of the University of Idaho and 24 years in the Washington State University system. While at Washington State, he was an award-winning professor of business, led the Office of Undergraduate Education and served as vice provost for academic affairs.