2019 Influential Women in Business honorees
Vice President of Practices and Talent, Paradigm Technology, Chicago
Nominated by Nicola Minton
Over Ann Bernerich's 16 years, her role at Paradigm Technology in Chicago has evolved from divisional start-up and expansion approach, within a designated geography, to the eventual shift towards functional and core competency leadership across the enterprise.
Now she works in a bigger role in support of practice group leaders and overall workforce.
However, the most impactful role she currently plays in the community is donating her time to organizations she cares about. For the last three years, she has been a member of A Giving Heart Foundation, an organization which funds research to save the lives of children born with Congenital or Structural Heart Disease.
This past summer she drove efforts to put on their annual golf tournament and fundraiser, which raised $80,000 for the foundation.
Executive director, St. Mary's Services, Palatine
Nominated by Staff and Bret Locascio from the board at St. Mary's Services, Judith Gregetto of Shiel Center
After working as a nurse in Chicago and suburban hospitals and teaching nursing at the University of St. Francis,
Joanne Bratta was the school nurse at Rolling Meadows High School and coordinator for the Teen Parenting Program in District 214 for 22 years.
For the past seven years as executive director for St. Mary's Services, she realized that additional services were needed to be offered in order to serve additional people. Relationships has been central in Bratta's philosophy. She partners with and assists other local nonprofits, schools, and agencies such as Shelter, Inc., Wings, Lifespan and more.
Bratta feels if you help women in the most vulnerable time in their lives, then the benefits shower over our next generation of children.
Director of human resources, Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, Oak Brook
Nominated by Marie Lazzara with JJR Marketing
Sarah Brown is a professional with more than 10 years of human resource management experience. She has notable experience in strategic human resource planning, performance management, staffing and retention, federal and state law compliance, employee benefits, compensation and payroll, training and development and more. Her experience spans both city and suburban markets at luxury and lifestyle hotels.
Brown's ability to strengthen the link between people and strategy, as well as manage, motivate and retain talent, is invaluable as Oak Brook Hills continues to develop human resources services and the administrative infrastructure necessary to support the long-term success and growth of the portfolio.
Among her management qualities is her deep commitment to working in a collaborative, transparent and inclusive manner, which allows her to build lasting relationships with team members, property leaders, and owners alike.
President and founder, 15Be, Park Ridge
Nominated by Diane Middlebrooks from Itasca Bank & Trust Company
For the past 12 years, Kyra Cavanaugh has helped leaders and professionals rethink work and their relationship with work.
In 2007, she founded Life Meets Work, a workforce consulting business, where she successfully growing it into a multi-million dollar organization, by improving the workplace of many Fortune 1,000 companies and training thousands of leaders.
In 2018, she sold Life Meets Work and founded 15Be, a learning experiences company. 15Be trains managers and individuals to be present and mindful, to shine a light for others, and to be a spark for each person they touch.
They say, as professionals we give up a large portion of ourselves, who we are and what matters to us, in order to make a living. But the better we get at reclaiming those intentions, the greater happiness we find in our daily lives.
Lawyer and founder, Clancy & Associates, Ltd., Lisle
Nominated by Jeanne Buddingh from Buddingh & Associates, Inc.
Katie Clancy's work as a special needs planning attorney evolved from her early background in Estate Planning Law, as she began to represent families who had loved ones with special needs. After becoming a mom to a child with special needs in 2009, she decided to devote her legal career to empowering families in the special needs community. She does this by guiding parents through the decisions faced as their child grows and reaches certain milestone years and life events, and offering options to address each challenge along the way.
Clancy has built a robust network with other professionals in the special needs community so she can connect her clients to the other unique resources they need without delay. Her approach to Special Needs Planning is forward-thinking, all-encompassing, and always with a parent's perspective and deep compassion.
Tara R. Devine
Tara R. Devine
Partner and attorney, Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., Waukegan
Nominated by Marcie Mangan
Tara Devine joined the firm in 2004 and became the firm's first female partner in 2011. In 2018, she was promoted to managing partner of the firm's Lake County office. In her new leadership role, Devine has served as a mentor to all attorneys and staff who work with her.
What sets Devine apart is how she empowers those around her. She embodies the qualities of a true role model and serves as an inspiration for current and future generations of attorneys. Her work ethic is second to none; she often spends significant time outside of the office with her clients to fully understand the impact their injury has on their day-to-day life.
In addition, she has fought for legislative change to protect the elderly and was a staunch supporter of Public Act 099-034, which allows cameras in rooms to act as a deterrent of elder abuse. Over the past year, she has obtained more than $1.5 million on behalf of her nursing home clients.
Senior vice president of treasury management, Signature Bank, Rosemont
Nominated by Julie Simon
Anne Doligale is a Certified Treasury Professional at Signature Bank, headquartered in Rosemont. As the banking technology lead at Signature, she works with customers to understand their needs and help them develop innovative solutions to transform their systems from antiquated to automated, in a hassle-free, seamless manner.
With a strong interest in fintech, Doligale believes that innovation in payments can transform the overall customer experience in banking. She recently spearheaded the product development of an automated payables platform to help middle-market businesses streamline their payments anytime and anywhere with a fully integrated payables platform.
She is a champion of women in technology and is active in several women's networking groups in the Chicago area.
Founder and CEO, Navigate Transformation and The Culture of Trust, Buffalo Grove
Nominated by Marie Lazzara with JJR Marketing
Judy Foley is the founder and CEO of Navigate Transformation, a Buffalo Grove-based professional services firm specializing in transformation, strategy, leadership and change management. With global expertise spanning over two decades, Navigate Transformation works collaboratively with C-level and senior leaders to develop strategy and mitigate risks associated with growth and improved productivity.
Foley is also the founder and CEO of The Culture of Trust, a collaborative organizational program designed to help businesses and individuals create a lasting culture of change, with a focus on building diverse, inclusive and exceptional work cultures through coaching, consulting, training, and speaking.
Vice president, recruiting, LaSalle Network, Chicago
Nominated by Heather Youkhana
Devan Hines is vice president, recruiting at LaSalle Network, a staffing, recruiting and culture firm. She began her career at LaSalle Network in 2012 as a project manager, earning six promotions over her tenure, and has helped thousands of job seekers find careers and hundreds of hiring companies find top talent.
As a female leader at LaSalle, Hines has mentored many young women at LaSalle Network to help them achieve their full potential. This year alone under her mentorship, seven of her direct reports were promoted into leadership positions and two of her direct reports were given oversight of additional groups within LaSalle.
If you ask these women, they would undoubtedly say Hines played a role in their development and success.
Partner, Wipfli LLP, Lincolnshire
Nominated by Lisa Chester
With her work in growing Wipfli offices and her dedicated community service, Arlene Levin has influenced many accountants and women in business.
As senior partner in Wipfli LLP's small business services group and the Chicago region lead for Wipfli's Business Advisory Services, Levin balances her strong leadership skills with success-building client services. Throughout her 34-year career, she has provided compassionate client service to closely-held business owners and their families, building many long-term multi-generational relationships and working collaboratively with clients' professional advisory teams.
Director, High Conflict Mediation Institute, Plainfield
Nominated by Dr. Charles Polcaster, Associates in Professional Counseling
For approximately 10 years, Whitney McDaniel has counseled hundreds of children suffering from anxiety and depression as a result of post-divorce conflicts.
Her patients often were struggling with a parent seeking to reconnect and establish a relationship after years of separation. Ultimately, parents return to the family courts for resolution. McDaniel recognized the critical need to increase mental health awareness, so she has committed herself as an advocate and voice for these children; but in order to do this, she realized that she needed additional formal training.
Her first step was to enroll in a Northwestern University program, and in 2016 received her certification as a mediator through their Mediation-High Conflict Disputes and Divorce program. Later that year, she received her Certificate in Parent Coordination through the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
With this training, McDaniel began to collaborate with attorneys and forensic experts to reach the court system and is helping to change the way the courts deal with the difficult but important dilemma of high conflict families.
Owner and founder, Dollar and Sense Bookkeeping, Batavia
Nominated by Shirley Mott, Batavia Chamber of Commerce
Jessica McGrail has been the owner of Dollar & Sense Bookkeeping since August of 2009, after the unexpected loss of her mother. Having worked under her mom for so many years, she gained the experience, knowledge and work hard to grow the business over the last 10 years and make it what it is today.
Their mission, help small businesses and families succeed and grow through their financials so that our communities can succeed and grow through their small businesses and families
McGrail is very involved in the business community, serving her second year as the chairperson of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce board of directors, among many other professional and community organizations.
Partner at Wipfli LLP, Lincolnshire
Nominated by Lisa Chester
Sara Mikuta leads the risk advisory services team for Wipfli's financial institutions practice and co-leads the firm's Chicago market financial institutions practice. To guide her team, she brings over 40 years of experience focused solely on financial institutions.
In addition, Mikuta is passionately involved in paving the way for tomorrow's CPAs. She is president of the board of directors for the Illinois CPA Society's CPA Endowment Fund of Illinois. Funded solely by voluntary donations, the fund annually awards approximately $200,000 in scholarships and outreach programs to more than 170 accounting students across the state.
These programs are geared toward attracting students to the CPA profession and supporting students who alone cannot keep up with the rising costs of the educational requirements necessary to become a CPA.
Cherilyn G. Murer
Cherilyn G. Murer
President and CEO, CGM Advisory Group, Chicago
Nominated by Chris Ruys from Chris Ruys Communications
Cherilyn Murer's entrepreneurial career began in the mid-1980's when she coupled a law degree with operational experience at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to launch Murer Consultants.
During her time at Murer Consultants, Congress began passing significant health care legislation, including the Healthcare Quality Improvement Act of 1986 and laws related to Medicare, Medicaid and HIPPA laws, Murer recognized that health care institutions would need help complying with the new laws.
An active voice in the advancement of quality, cost-effective health care for 35 years, Murer sold her consulting business, which was widely considered to be one of the nation's first, legal-based healthcare consulting firms. Shortly after, she started CGM Advisory Group where they work with clients to navigate the complex issues facing health care and higher education.
President and CEO, Proceed Innovation, Schaumburg
Nominated by Kari-Ann Ryan, Midwest Moving & Storage
Jasmine Panayotov was born and raised in Bulgaria, Eastern Europe, where she completed her undergraduate studies and master's degree in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Bulgaria. In 1992, Jasmine moved to the United States and finished her schooling with a master's degree in Computer Science from Loyola University.
Her professional career began as an IT consultant and project manager at United Airlines, supporting a critical business application used in the six major United hubs. In 2000, she transitioned to the digital marketing, web design and online advertising industry. In her new role, Panayotov designed online products and managed SEO/SEM teams to support small and mid-sized businesses with online marketing.
During the recession of 2008, she purchased the business for which she worked and today, she continues to grow the online marketing agency with the help of her team. People have said she is a powerhouse boss with a generosity like no other.
President, Identity Dental Marketing, Bloomingdale
Fueled by her drive for personal and professional growth, Grace Rizza started her dental marketing agency ten years ago with the intention of helping businesses reach the next level of professional fulfilment. Today, the company has helped to propel over 1,000 businesses to new tiers of success.
In her tenure as a business owner, Rizza has authored countless industry-specific articles, podcasts, and blogs, and currently leads a team of over 15. Whether connecting with an audience of 20 or 20,000, Grace Rizza will educate, empower, and entertain.
Greater Chicago Region vice president of finance, Comcast, Schaumburg
Nominated by John Crowley, Comcast
Peggy Sarason is vice president of finance for Comcast's Greater Chicago Region, which is one of the company's largest regions and serves nearly 2.9 million customers. In her role, Sarason leads a team of 190 employees, who are responsible for overseeing and managing the regions financial and business operations. Her tenure at Comcast spans 18 years where she has been recognized as a top leader, creating strong employee engagement and delivering results.
A mark of a great leader is that his or her commitment doesn't stop at the door: Sarason serves on the board of the West Suburban United Way, where she provides ongoing leadership, expertise and support for this impactful community-based organization.
President, Direct Steel, Crystal Lake
Nominated by Karen Goldner, Women's Business Development Center
Rosemary Swierk is owner of Direct Steel, a commercial general contractor, construction manager, and owner's representative, that serves corporate, private and government customers since she founded the company in 2008.
Swierk has been a true advocate for women-owned businesses, particularly in construction. Her company has been a certified Women's Business Enterprise by the Women's Business Development Center since 2010. She is an active volunteer and participant in our activities and services and has been recognized with many awards. In 2018, she represented small businesses at a national summit in Washington, D.C.
She has also serves as a state of Illinois appointed board member to the Small Business Development Center and as a board member for the not-for-profit Nuts Bolts and Thingamajigs, with a mission to create awareness to careers in manufacturing.
President and CEO, Naper Settlement, Naperville
Nominated by Marie Lazzara, JJR Marketing
Macarena Tamayo-Calabrese, also known as Rena, is the president and CEO of Naper Settlement, a nationally accredited museum in Northern Illinois. She is a lawyer with more than 27 years of experience in private practice, not-for-profit and association management.
She has held very important positions during her career and is a well-connected international player by creating law mediation programs for entire countries such as Mexico. Rena was also part of a worldwide initiative to bring attention to human trafficking. One of her roles was bringing signage and posters to all the airports around the world. She is also one of the few Latinas who became an executive director of the National Association of Women Lawyers.
She is a consummate advocate for improving the condition of human kind, whether it is through legal reform or cultural and educational institutions, like the museum she now leads.
Executive director, Giving DuPage, Wheaton
Nominated by Paul Feith, Paul Gregory Media
Shefali Trivedi is the executive director of Giving DuPage, also known as the DuPage County Volunteer Center. Her nonprofit experience includes working for one of the largest food banks in the country, Greater Chicago Food Depository, as well as a small environmental education center. Her service career extended to government as she worked on countywide environmental initiatives in DuPage County.
During her tenure, Trivedi has increased volunteer engagement, generating an average of two to four volunteer connections every day via their Volunteer Portal site. In 2017, Giving DuPage launched Do GOOD DuPage, the largest service project in DuPage County history, with a goal to engage 150,000 people to do a few good things to improve their community.
There is not a civic or non-profit leader in DuPage County who doesn't know Trivedi, or has been touched by her devotion to the community and volunteerism in the county.
Director of marketing and tourism, Downers Grove Economic Development Corp
Nominated by Michael Cassa
Lisa Wentzell began her career working for the Boy Scouts of America, later spending 15 years in economic development and tourism before becoming the director of marketing and tourism of the Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation in 2011. In this position, she is responsible for marketing Downers Grove to attract businesses and visitors.
Wentzell is an active member of her community. She has been a volunteer coach for the Oswegoland Park District's soccer, floor hockey, and baseball programs as well as a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 336. She is a member of the Oswego Economic Development Commission and has previously served on the Oswego Cultural Arts Commission. She is also a volunteer for the largest community event in Downers Grove: GroveFest.