Building Women Influence Chicago

And why we are joining forces with ITA

Kelly Stickel | CEO, Remodista | Co-Chair

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

In December of 2015, fifty women were honored by the Chicago Business Journal, with the Women of Influence award. The award was for women who were innovative in business, but also spent and equal amount of time cultivating other women leaders. I was and honored nominee and was thrilled to see the support from colleagues that came to celebrate empowering women. It was a powerful group — including executives from KPMG, Accenture, PEPSI, Linkedin, IBM, Salesforce, Bluewolf, Jones Lang LaSalle, Bank of America, Motorola, CDW, PWC, UI Labs, and the Chicago Urban League.

As I was onstage for the panel, with a group of fabulous women, before a crowd of 450 people at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, talking about getting women to the top, I realized: It was time to launch an organization for the Windy City that focused on helping more women get to the C-Suite, become President, GM, CEO, and serve on Public Advisory Boards.

With a group of peers, we used purpose to attract members with similar goals, and held our inaugural event back in April 2016 at CloudCraze headquarters. The goal was to to define a program that cultivated women leaders in enterprise, start-up and not-for-profit technology organizations. Our goal was to connect community and increase female leadership at the top across all verticals in Chicago.

Early on, I reached out to the ITA and started collaborating with Julia Knouse, now CEO of the ITA. After partnering for the past eighteen months, we agreed to formally pull the program into the ITA. There we a lot of other women with similar thinking, so an advisory board of like-minded leaders was born!

As we head into 2018, we are focused on three key areas (1) the pre-workforce to enable and support getting more women into technology field through mentorship, education, STEM; (2) in workforce to define best practices on: maternity leave, negotiation skills, equity, education for men and women; and (3) lastly, we will focus on (3) positions of influence to help baseline and promote the number of Chicago women leaders to the C-Suite, become President, GM, CEO, and serve on Public Advisory Board

A special thank you to the ITA, CloudCraze, CDW, Avionos, and Remodista for sponsoring the build of this program. It has been inspiring to see all of the women and men, who have come together to help define a program that will be valuable for our community over the next decade. This is an exciting opportunity for corporations to get involved, and help us cultivate women leaders in Chicago, as well as, improve the offerings that attract women leaders to live and build their businesses or careers in our awesome city!

Kelly Stickel is the CEO of Remodista and Co-Chair of the Women Influence Chicago Initiative, powered by the Illinois Technology Center.