Women entreupreneurs urged to influence others
They're business owners, executives and entrepreneurs, each with a unique story to tell about their own success.
But they are also role models for a future generation of women.
Eighteen local women executives were honored Thursday during the 18th Annual Influential Women in Business Awards, presented by the Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the National Association of Women Business Owners. More than 150 people who packed the Danada House Conference Center in Wheaton were inspired by the honorees' stories.
The award is given to suburban business women who share a commitment to professional excellence and their communities. Judges based their selections on the nominees' business and professional achievements and the challenges they have met in building their careers.
While their paths in life were varied, keynote speaker Diane Middlebrooks told the honorees they share a common mission -- to help inspire young women to achieve their dreams and goals.
"We are all real-life role models for young women and girls who often might think that success is measured by the number of friends they may have on Facebook ... while inside they might feel worthless," Middlebrooks, who is coordinator of the Women's Initiative at Itasca Bank & Trust Co., said. "If we don't talk about our values, views of the world, or why we enjoy our work or our causes, or what we accomplished, we rob them of a vision of what is possible in their own lives," she added. "They are listening, but we often don't realize it."
Middlebrooks, who was an Influential Women in Business honoree in 2001, noted the women should understand how they are making a difference in peoples' lives, whether its from mentoring a co-worker or just sharing a kind word or a smile.
"When things are hectic and everything seems to go wrong and you may be exhausted, knowing that you are making a difference in lives is energizing, and that energy is contagious to everyone around you."
Many of the honorees echoed Middlebrook's words, noting their achievements can influence the next generation of women entrepreneurs.
"Our job as women leaders is to inspire the next generation of women leaders," said Kathleen Henson, founder and CEO of Henson Consulting Inc. of Chicago and Wheaton.
Lisa Stamos, president of Quintessential Media Group of Barrington, added that influence can help change the trajectory of someone's life.
"I encourage all of you to look for opportunities or create opportunities to help others, particularly the up-and-comers," Stamos said. "They need our help in a big way."
Detailed profiles of the honorees will be published in a special issue of the Dec. 7 Daily Herald Business Ledger.
Presenting sponsors for the awards were B. Gunther & Company, Inc., Northern Illinois University College of Business, Itasca Bank & Trust Co. and Leaderboard Tournament Systems.
2015 Influential Women in Business Honorees• Sarah Anderson, vice president/marketing, VHT Studios, Inc., Rosemont
• Carol J. Blackwood, vice president -- retail banking, Village Bank & Trust, Arlington Heights
• Lynn Caldwell, executive director, Fine Line Creative Arts Center, St. Charles
• Martha Carney, program manager, SBDC -- College of DuPage, Lisle
• Christina Currie, owner, Christina Currie Events, Inc., Barrington
• Amy Florian, CEO, Corgenius, Hoffman Estates
• Karon Gibson, RN CCM, president, AmericaNurse, Ltd., Plainfield
• Kaili Harding, president, Schaumburg Business Association, Schaumburg
• Kathleen Henson, founder & CEO, Henson Consulting, Inc., Chicago & Wheaton
• Cindy Jaudon, president/CEO, IFS Americas, Itasca
• Amy McCormack, vice president -- finance & administration, Dominican University, River Forest
• Angelica Monroy, executive director, British Swim School, Elmhurst
• Liz Richards, executive vice president, MHEDA, Vernon Hills
• Melanie Sanntosstefano, president/founder, Vicarious Productions, Palatine
• Kimberly Shannon, president, Off-Site Business Services, Orland Park
• Lisa Stamos, president, Quintessential Media Group, Barrington
• Eleanor Sweet, CEO, Corporate Success Partners.com, Barrington
• Deborah Winkleblack, vice president, Int. Logistics & Compliance, Claire's Stores, Hoffman Estates