Leading Women Executives improves and sustains advancement for women by addressing three critical elements for success: organizational support, leadership skill building, and ongoing networking.

About the Program

  • Participants join Leading Women Executives through a CEO and senior executive nomination and selection process that builds a balanced class with a common level of achievement.
  • Per session, 10-13 sponsor companies each select 3 or 4 female professionals to create a cohort of 30-40 women.
  • The curriculum for the four, 2-day modules focuses on gender and leadership, and is presented by renowned academics.
  • Company CEOs and other, top executives participate as guest speakers, delivering business insights and practical strategies.
  • Sessions are highly interactive, providing the opportunity to share like experiences and problem-solving methodologies.
  • Throughout the program, participants work with an advocate selected from their organization to share insights and receive developmental feedback.

Leadership Team

Cheryl Francis is a Director of three corporate boards: Aon Corporation, Morningstar, and HNI Corporation. Cheryl was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of R.R. Donnelley and Sons Co. from 1995 to 2000. She oversaw all financial functions, including mergers and acquisitions, of this $5 billion print services company. Under her leadership, all major management processes were revised and aligned with value-based metrics; the business portfolio and capital structure were revamped; and shared services were introduced to increase transaction processing efficiency. Earlier in her career, Cheryl was Treasurer of FMC Corporation – its first woman officer – and an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Cheryl received a BS Degree from Cornell University and MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Sheila Penrose is a director of McDonald’s Corp. and JLL Inc., where she serves as Chairman of the Board. Sheila was the first woman on Northern Trust Corporation’s Management Committee, as President of Corporate and Institutional Services. She represented Northern Trust with the investor community, oversaw several acquisitions, and drove the bank’s global expansion. In the UK, Sheila was Economic Advisor at the British Treasury and Economics Lecturer at Central London Polytechnic. Sheila is a Trustee of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Rush University Medical Center, and Museum of Science and Industry, among other organizations. She received an economics degree and graduate diploma in education from University of Birmingham, England; a master’s degree from the London School of Economics; and attended the Executive Program at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she later served on the Advisory Board. Sheila is a founding member of the 30% Club in the US, which advances women on corporate boards; an advisor on Gender Parity at the World Economic Forum (Davos); and served on the Advisory Board of Catalyst, the leading research organization on women in corporate roles.

Daniella Levitt, Executive Director, is responsible for the program’s strategic direction and development, curriculum and program delivery, as well as marketing and growth. Growing up in South Africa served as inspiration for Daniella’s drive around transformational change, and her belief that without taking significant risks, one does not achieve significant change for oneself or for others. Prior to joining Leading Women Executives, Daniella founded two companies — Ovation Global Strategies, which assists corporations with transformational change initiatives, inter-generational leadership and talent strategies, and risk strategies for organizational talent growth and innovation; and Daniella Levitt Enterprises, which focuses on development and advancement of women in the workplace. She is the author of Ready, Set…RISK! – a book about positive strategies and tactics for women to turn career risk into opportunity. Daniella speaks regularly about these and other related topics to corporations and at conferences. She was a Senior Vice President at Aon Consulting and a Senior Manager at Deloitte Consulting following the start of her career at Andersen Consulting in South Africa. Daniella is a member of the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago. She currently serves as a Board member of Access Community Health Network and the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Academic Advisors & Facilitators

bio-photo150x170_ashford Susan Ashford is a Michael and Susan Jandernoa Professor of Management and Organization at Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

bio-photo150x170_casciaro Tiziana Casciaro is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Holder of the Professorship in Leadership Development at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

Dr. Peter T. Coleman is Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University where he holds a joint-appointment at Teachers College and The Earth Institute. Dr. Coleman directs the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (MD-ICCCR) and the Institute for Psychological Science and Practice (IPSP) at Teachers College, and is Executive Director of Columbia University’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4).

Robin Ely is a Warren Alpert Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Deborah M. Kolb, lead academic advisor to Leading Women Executives, is Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Professor for Women in Leadership (Emerita) at Simmons School of Management. Professor Kolb is an authority on gender issues in negotiation, and how women can mediate conditions for their own success as they contribute to the effectiveness of their organization. She received her BA from Vassar College and MBA from the University of Colorado and PhD from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

bio-photo150x170_noumair Debra A. Noumair is a Professor of Psychology and Education and Director of Executive Education Programs in Change and Consultation in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Columbia University.

Executive Speakers

65 CEOs and C-Suite executives have joined the program to share their leadership insights and experiences since Leading Women Executives’ inception.

About Corporate Leadership Center

The program is offered through the Corporate Leadership Center (CLC), a nonprofit established in 2002 to augment and accelerate the development of corporate leaders and advance business leadership practices. CLC was founded in 2002 by Cheryl Francis and Sheila Penrose, whose experience and insight in executive management, board governance and business education roles prompted their decision to launch the Center. Cheryl and Sheila are actively engaged with program participants as advisors, strategists, and role models.

In launching Leading Women Executives, CLC is drawing on the success of its initial program, CEO Perspectives – a collaborative business-academic forum that focuses on the agenda of today’s CEO.

Corporate Leadership Center   CEO Perspectives

Not only was the program a great development opportunity in and of itself through its content, facilitators and networking; it created a platform for Exelon to leverage additional focus on development and growth of our female executives. By sending women to the LWE program, Exelon has a cadre of women executives who are equipped to further our ability to increase the presence of women in key leadership roles.”

– Amy Best, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Exelon Corporation

As women progress throughout their careers and as they stretch to meet their goals and aspirations they must develop new skills, talents and traits.”

– Pat Hemingway Hall, Retired CEO, Health Care Service Corp/Blue Cross Blue Shield