Keynote speaker Watchen Nyanue, a vice president with the WNBA Chicago Sky, challenged attendees at Friday's 21st annual Influential Women in Business Awards ceremony to step up, tell their truth and serve as role models for other women.
Nyanue, with more than 12 years of executive experience, talked about women who told her the truth and helped her achieve goals. She urges other women to "pull back the curtains" and share tips and advice about how they succeeded.
2018 Influential Women in Business honorees• Susan Beth, COO, NRD Capital Management LLC, Downers Grove
• Andrea Biwer, executive director, Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce, Des Plaines
• Terri Brax, co-founder and CEO, Women Tech Founders, Schaumburg
• Erin Brooks, executive director, Township High School District 214 Education Foundation, Arlington Heights
• Julie Chavez, senior vice president, market manager, Bank of America, Chicago
• Michelle Damico, founder and CEO, Michelle Damico Communications, Lincolnshire
• Linda S. Fine, co-chair of estate planning and estate settlement departments, Kelleher & Buckley, LLC, North Barrington
• Jennifer L. Friedland, member and managing partner, Momkus LLC, Lisle
• Lisa Gilbert, president, Schaumburg Business Association, Schaumburg
• Dr. Anuja Gupta, general partner, Aman Living LLC, Frankfort
• Noreen Heron, president, Heron Agency, Chicago
• Sue Kramer Harrawood, founder, Peace of Mind Virtual Assistance, Orland Park
• Jean LaVallie, founder and CEO, Women Entrepreneurs Secrets of Success
• Laura Newman, city administrator, Batavia
• Diane Nyhammer, vice president of educational affairs, Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove
• Danielle Ozer, executive vice president, brokerage services, Benefits Solutions Group of TandemHR, Westchester
• Adria Meehan Siewert, vice president, financial adviser, Wealth Enhancement Group, Itasca
• Jean Theis, executive vice president and COO, Andigo Credit Union, Schaumburg
• Amy M. Toepper, founder and CEO, AMT Law LLC and Legal in A Box Inc., Naperville
• Catherine Tojaga, president and owner, CT Mechanical, Addison
"No one knows the challenges that women face but us," she told about 200 people at the luncheon held by the Daily Herald Business Ledger and its sponsoring partners. Twenty women leaders were honored at the recognition event at Belvedere Banquets, 1170 W. Devon Ave. in Elk Grove Village.
Nyanue, who spoke with humor, works in marketing partnerships for the Chicago Sky. The 5-foot-tall woman from Liberia, now living in Chicago, joked that she never played basketball herself. But she said, "the work I'm doing now will determine if your daughters, your nieces, your sisters have a place in professional sports in this world, if they so choose."
The Influential Women in Business Awards are presented to outstanding women executives who excel in the business, civic and personal arenas. The honoree's business must be located in or have a major presence in the Business Ledger's primary editorial coverage area of suburban Chicago. Those considered for the awards were nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of Daily Herald Business Ledger executives.
As the business leaders were honored, many of them spoke up and told their "truth" or tip about how they became successful. "My parents always said, the harder you work -- the luckier you get," said Jean LaVallie of Women Entrepreneurs Secrets of Success.
And Susan Beth of NRD Capital Management said, "As women of influence, we need to take the time to use our voices on behalf of those who can't or those who don't. We need to use that influence to speak as loud as we can to try to promote others of all colors, shapes, sizes and genders."
The awards were presented in partnership with the National Association of Women Business Owners -- Chicago Area Chapter. This year's awards are sponsored by B. Gunther & Company Inc. and Focus Capital Advisors.
Honorees will be profiled in a special issue of the Business Ledger to be published Dec. 17.