College of Business > About > Centers & Institutes > Women in Entrepreneurship Institute > Board Members

Women in Entrepreneurship Institute Board

Composed ​of leading entrepreneurs, business leaders and influencers, the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute board supports WEI through funding, strategic planning, and advancing WEI's academic, research, start-up incubation and public policy initiatives.

  • Patricia Aluisi

    Patricia Aluisi

    EVP & Chief Operating Officer, MB Real Estate

    "Resources like the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute, established by women for women, are so important because the fight for full gender equality must start with empowerment. Despite women constituting more leadership roles than ever before, we are still vastly underrepresented at the highest level, particularly in business ownership. I’m proud to be part of a group of influencers who can assist other women at all levels of their careers and serve as an example of how far we can climb with the right support."

  • Barbara Best

    Barbara Best

    Co-Founder, Capital Strategies Investment Group

    "My work and life in general is focused on supporting the personal, professional and financial success of women and to help all women live more empowered and fulfilled lives. I am excited and committed to offering resources and support to help WEI’s women entrepreneurs thrive."

  • JinJa Birkenbeuel

    JinJa Birkenbeuel

    CEO, Birk Creative | Creator & Co-host, The Honest Field Guide | Publisher,

    "The institute is important to me because my successful career has been supported by women who speak up, speak out and speak loud by their words and deeds."

  • Monika Black

    Monika Black

    Co-founder & Chief Strategist, TandemSpring

    "With their being so few female CEOs, the gender pay gap, and other social issues that women are confronting in corporate America, it is critical that the next generation of female leaders be fueled forward today. Supporting female founders gives women the opportunity to be in the driver's seat from the beginning. It is no longer about joining the table at the Good Ol' boys club, it is about building a new table altogether, one truly grounded in inclusion."

  • Carol Bramson

    Carol Bramson

    Founder & CEO, Side by Side

    "The Women in Entrepreneurship Institute is important to me in its promise to provide true support, funding and guidance to women founders as they pursue areas of passion and a safe haven for ideas and meaningful assistance, providing new possibilities for the entrepreneur and a chance for her to pay it forward in the future."

  • Terri Brax

    Terri Brax

    Founder & CEO, TeacherCare, Inc. and Women Tech Founders

    "I believe the research-based approach the institute is leading will make an impactful difference for female business owners. I'm honored to be a part of this dynamic board and excited to be working with dedicated and visionary leaders to increase the success of women in entrepreneurship."

  • Carole Crawford

    Carole Crawford

    Founder & CEO, Platinum Commercial Holdings

    "In all my years in business, and in all the different industries and areas of this country where I’ve worked, women still are lagging behind in pay and many opportunities — sad to say after all these decades. There is a lot of positive change but I hope that my involvement with the institute can prepare other women coming into the entrepreneurial space to get a leg up on the competition and do their best."

  • Raquel Crayton

    Raquel Graham Crayton

    Founder & CEO, Roq Innovation

    "I am excited to be a part of the institute because the world of entrepreneurship can be a very tough place to navigate. It can be very lonely and since women are under-represented in this area for a myriad of reasons, I am honored to contribute to creating a vehicle where women can learn and thrive. Entrepreneurship is often lonely, especially in the beginning as a business finds its way. The institute will provide a place where resources, advice, dedication and passion will be available in constant and consistent supply."

  • Kristi Dula

    Kristi Dula

    Network Relations, Pritzker Group Venture Capital

    "Access to all facets of an ecosystem is key when building businesses, and it is our responsibility as a community to assist with connecting our brightest entrepreneurs with the resources necessary for their success. I could not be more excited to work alongside such incredible women in business to ensure the advancement of others."

  • Colleen Egan

    Colleen Egan

    Director of People, Culture & Endless Possibilities, Clarity Partners, LLC

    "The institute represents the mission of my life's work for diversity, equity and investing in the economic empowerment of women. I am a strong believer in endless opportunities and the power of YES for myself and those around me, but the entrepreneurial journey is not an easy one. Having access to information, opportunity, a business network, funding and a lifelong resource supports that journey — its the foundation of success. I am so proud to be a part of this impactful journey."

  • Dima Elissa

    Dima Elissa

    CEO & Founder, VisMed3D | Co-founder,

    "It is incumbent on each of us, as women of innovation, to inspire and ignite. We do this by sharing our authentic journey. By showing that we can overcome adversity with grace and confidence. We can then pave the walkway of opportunity so that our legacy shines on future female leaders in our wake."

  • Chantal Forster

    Chantal Forster (MA ‘98)

    Executive Director, Technology Affinity Group

    "We've all seen the data: our society and our economy benefit when a broad range of people is actively leading and innovating. Now is the time to leverage this opportunity by understanding how to best equip female entrepreneurs and then evolve the innovation space nationwide."

  • Laura Gale

    Laura Gale

    President, Crossmedia451, Inc.

    "I have long been interested in seeing women build businesses and become leaders. My experience taught me that the best thing a woman can do is become her own boss, and own or start a business. I regularly coach and mentor women in business, and seeing women become successful is very important to me and, in my opinion, to the business landscape in general."

  • Jill Hebert

    Jill (Hebert) White

    Founder & CEO, Matrex Exhibits

    "Woman have an effective leadership style, creating healthier business environments and better returns. Then why are we only 3 percent of the Fortune 500 CEO’s and only 5 percent of the executives? The answer is this: women generally exercise caution and need to fully understand their position and have confidence before stepping forward. Therefore women need mentorship and role models more so than men and we at the institute are here to provide it."

  • Sandy Hogan

    Sandy Hogan

    Senior Vice President & General Manager of Americas, HERE Technologies

    "Authenticity and collaboration are so critical for successful leadership – and we have an incredible opportunity to leverage the power of the amazing diverse talent and backgrounds to share, learn and grow. "

  • Kate Kimmerle

    Kate Kimmerle

    President & CEO, Revolution Beauty USA

    "As an entrepreneur and the founder and owner of a women-owned business, it’s an honor to participate as a member of the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute. I hope my story inspires others to be creative, brave and to always do what they love."

  • Carolyn Leonard

    Carolyn Leonard (BUS ‘64)

    CEO & Co-founder, DyMynd Angels

    "At DyMynd Angels we are creating a world in which women can invest in women. It's vitally important to me to be a part of the ecosystem supporting female entrepreneurs  and founders to have equal access to capital,  mentors and education. It is my way of  investing in the next generation of founders. Collectively we can be the change in the Midwest and set the standard for the rest of the country."

  • Dorri McWhorter

    Dorri McWhorter

    CEO, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

    "WEI has the opportunity to advance women’s entrepreneurship. Given the under-representation of women’s access to capital and other areas of entrepreneurship, I want to support help change the landscape to see women entrepreneurs thrive."

  • Valerie O'Donnell

    Valerie O'Donnell

    CEO, President, Progressive Industries, Inc.

    "Serving on the Women in Entrepreneurship committee is a blessing — this is my chance to honor, encourage, mentor and challenge young women in a space that is slowly creeping open. I can offer time, resources, experience, and present my scars of proof of the journey with an honest dialog of shared experiences — hopefully, they can be more prepared than I was."

  • Kristi Piehl

    Kristi Piehl

    CEO, Media Minefield

    "Before I started a company, I was a TV news reporter trained to ask questions. This one still has me stumped: why aren't women-owned businesses growing at the same rate as those launched by men? This organization is a chance for us to own our messaging as female executives, understand the data and rewrite the story for future female business leaders."

  • Diana Rodriguez

    Diana Rodriguez

    Partner, ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba

    "I believe that it is necessary to close the gender gap in male-dominated industries. By leaving women out, we are excluding a generation of innovators and problem solvers who will change the world. There is nothing that women cannot achieve given the opportunity to compete. When women succeed they bring other women with them."

  • Shelley Rosen

    Shelley Rosen

    Founder, Luxe Bloom

    "A lifetime of breaking barriers for new generations is now before us and the timing is perfect with a focus on the unique style of women entrepreneurs. As a founding board member, I hope to help make the business dreams of many young women come to fruition."

  • Robin Ross

    Robin Ross

    Executive Director, Doctoroff Business Leadership Program | University of Chicago Law School

    "I believe the institute's multi-pronged and integrative approach provides much-needed research, resources and training and will empower women to tap into the capital and confidence they need to build remarkable and sustainable businesses. I am thrilled to be a part of this ground-breaking initiative and looking forward to moving the needle for women entrepreneurs."

  • Genevieve Thiers

    Genevieve Thiers


    "My whole life has been building teams around women, first around handling kids and now around handling politics and gaining power. This initiative is right up my alley!"

  • Deb Venable

    Deb Venable

    Director of Business Development, Errand Solutions

    "My passion has always been to help people, especially eager, bright and brave young women. As a business owner for over 25 years, I know first-hand the struggles of running a business as a woman. While men have just as many struggles, there are unique situations woman face. I want to help them face those struggles with a powerful and supportive team behind them. Helping launch the first Women in Entrepreneurship Institute is the first step."

  • Tracey Wik

    Tracey Wik

    Managing Director, GrowthPlay

    "I am committed to transforming the world of work for my daughter, who is 11. I have been the beneficiary of opportunities created by women who came before me and who have shattered the glass ceiling or fallen off the glass cliff. Being part of WEI is my way of creating a different future for all women in the workplace globally. I could not be more excited to be a part of such an extraordinary platform."