Women honored for their success, influence on others

Nineteen suburban women executives were recognized Thursday evening for not only being successful in their careers but also for being an inspiration to others.

The honorees were feted at the 2013 Influential Women in Business awards presented by the Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership the National Association of Women Business Owners-Chicago Area Chapter and the Women's Innovation Network. About 160 people attended the ceremony at the Danada House in Wheaton.

For the past 16 years, The Influential Women in Business award program has recognized outstanding women executives who excel in business, civic and personal arenas. The honorees' business are located or have a major presence in the Daily Herald Business Ledger's coverage area that includes suburban Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties. The common thread during the evening was influence — not only in recognizing those who influenced the honorees to achieve their success, but also as a challenge to the honorees to be an influence for future generations of women.

Lori Hinson, president of NAWBO-Chicago, said women business owners are making an impact the area. Chicago has more than 300,000 women business owners, who account for 40 percent of private-owned firms. One in five of those firms has revenues of over $1 million, she added.

“Together we can continue to improve the landscape for women business owners. Together we can find inspiration, uncover new opportunities, and make an impact to achieve new successes,” Hinson said.

Valerie Beck, president of Women's Innovation Network, added influential business women set their path to success.

“The best way to predict the future is to create the future,” Beck said.

Many of the honorees spoke of the people who influenced them to take the course they did. Alissa Adler, principal of Podolsky/Circle CORFAC International in Riverwoods, reflected on how the mother of a college friend who worked in commercial real estate provided the guidance for her to follow a similar career.

“There are so many small things we do every day that you don't realize you are influencing other people, especially young people,” she said. “So I encourage a lot of the people here to just think about that and try to bring other women into this room and make them as successful as we've been.”

Other honorees reflected on how they an example for others.

“I was a young girl who was supposed to be a statistic, but now serve as a cup of hope to other young women in our community,” said Gwendolyn Young, executive director of Seed of Hope Foundation in Oak Brook. “I share with them my life and teach them those critical life skills to help them be the next women honorees standing before you.”

Detailed profiles of the honorees will be featured in the Dec. 9 issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger.

The 2014 Influential Women in Business program was sponsored by Northern Illinois University College of Business, B. Gunther & Co., Tasty Catering and LeaderBoard of Chicago West.

  At left, Valerie Beck, president of the WomenÂ’s Innovation Network, and, at right, Lori Hilson, president of NAWBO - Chicago, speak at the Daily Herald Business Ledger Influential Women in Business awards in Wheaton Thursday. Mark Black/
  At left, Angela Adkins, executive director of NAMI DuPage in Wheaton, and, at right, Simara Campbell Twohill, chief human resources officer for Lasalle Network in Oak Brook, accept Daily Herald Business Ledger Influential Women in Business awards on Thursday. Mark Black/
  Simara Campbell Twohill, Chief Human Resources Officer for Lasalle Network in Oak Brook accepts her Daily Herald Business Ledger Influential Women in Business award during a ceremony at Danada House in Wheaton, Thursday. Mark Black/

2014 Influential Women in Business

• Angela Adkins, executive director, NAMI DuPage, Wheaton

• Alissa Adler, principal, Podolsky/Circle CORFAC International, Riverwoods

• Mia Allen, vice president, Rose Pallet, Bridgeview

• Renee Blank, senior vice president, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Chicago

• Kelly Brannon Pronek, director of corporate communications, Sasser Family Holdings, Schaumburg

• Simara Campbell Twohill, chief human resources officer, Lasalle Network, Oak Brook

• Katie Conrad, publisher, Coffee News, Plainfield

• Tracey Crawford, executive director, Northwest Special Recreation Association, Rolling Meadows

• Jodie Diegel, founder, executive director, Mane in Heaven, Palatine.

• Mary Erlain, president, Peak Development Strategies, Naperville

• Diane Frisch, senior vice president, human resources, Ingredion Inc., Westchester

Ÿ Susan Jania, Corporate Logistics Director, Diamond Envelope Corp., Aurora

• Kate Kimmerle, president, Sales & Product Solutions Inc., Northbrook.

• Hongxia (Mary) Ma, director, Illinois SBDC International Trade Center, GSU, University Park

• Julie Proscia, partner, Smith Amundsen, St. Charles

• Mary Ann Rose, president, Tamar Productions Inc., Chicago

• Emily Smith, vice president, Chicagoland Commercial Real Estate, Palatine

• Pamela Stella, director of corporate & community relations, Illinois Institute of Technology, Wheaton

• Gwendolyn Young, executive director, Seed of Hope Foundation, Oak Brook

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.