Eighteen suburban women executives were treated like rock stars for their achievements during the 19th Annual Influential Women in Business Awards, hosted by the Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the National Association of Women Business Owners -- Chicago Area Chapter.
More than 130 people attended the event at Northern Illinois University's Naperville campus Wednesday evening to celebrate the honorees.
2016 Influential Women in Business honorees• Linda Alberty, president/founder, Cultivate Excellence, Lisle
• Paula Amenta, community relations director, Elgin Community College
• Luisa Buehler, president, The Hire Solution, Oakbrook Terrace
• Kara Cermak, president, Rowell Inc., Elgin
• Carol Gieske, president/CEO, Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce
• Hanan Hafez, president, Events with Style, Lake Zurich
• Julie Heneghan, president and founder, The Steely Group, Oak Brook
• Amy Hughes, managing director, Bank of America, Chicago
• Suzy Kogen Friedman, president, KZF Development Inc., Northbrook
• Charlotte Neault, senior vice president, Barrington Bank & Trust Co.
• Gabriela Reyna, owner, Ponce Reyna Agency, Aurora
• Gabriela Rodil, owner, Gabriela Rodil LLC, Oak Park
• Dee Rossi, vice president, CTL Global, Northlake
• Melinda Tejada, vice president, Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove
• Andrea Volff, partner, VK Sustainable Concepts, Schaumburg
• Shauna Weatherspoon, president, Weatherspoon & Associates, Naperville
• Kathy Xuan, founder and CEO, PARC Corp., Romeoville
The awards are presented to women executives who excel in business, civic and personal arenas. The honorees' businesses must be located or have a major presence in the Business Ledger's primary editorial coverage area of suburban Chicago. Honorees were nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of Daily Herald Business Ledger staff members.
Likening the honorees to rock stars, Management Association President & CEO Mary Lynn Fayoumi outlined a number of qualities that mark people of influence. Those qualities range from seizing opportunities to being resilient and optimistic, but Fayoumi stressed the abilities to being passionate with what you do, as well as being yourself.
"There are lots of different ways you can have influence," she said. "And a lot of times, your personal style and your experiences, or the people that you have been mentored by, influence how you influence others."
Many of the honorees reflected on those who influenced them, attributing friends, family and faith to their individual success.
"We are influenced by those we love, those we respect, those we admire and trust," said Luisa Buehler, president of the Hire Solution of Oakbrook Terrace. "And we reflect that influence through everything we think, say and do."
Linda Alberty, president/founder of Cultivate Excellence in Lisle, spoke of "the excellence on the inside."
"Even those things that make us all so different, these are the things that make us excellent," Alberty said.
Shauna Weatherspoon, president and CEO of Weatherspoon and Associates in Naperville, closed with an African proverb.
"When you educate a man, you educate an individual. But when you educate a woman, you educate a nation," she said.
Detailed profiles of the honorees will be is a special section of the Dec. 12 issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger. This year's awards are sponsored by Northern Illinois University College of Business; B. Gunther & Co.; the Management Association and Focus Capital Advisors.