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Launch Pad for Women Senior Leaders
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In support of the The Chicago Network's goal to inspire the next generation of women leaders, we launched this annual leadership conference in 2014. This annual conference continues to be a key pillar of our mission.

TCN members and the high potential women in their networks convene on the morning of our Women in the Forefront Luncheon for this event featuring the foremost industry and thought leaders in dynamic sessions.

Highlights from the 2016 Conference

Plenary Session

CEOs who Walk the Walk and their Women Senior Leaders

Two of the top companies for Chicago women leaders in the C-Suite and in the boardroom are CDW and Discover. At these companies, led by forward-thinking CEOs who place significant value on leadership development, women have ascended to senior management ranks with substantial P&L responsibility. Likewise, their boards reflect the philosophy that women’s inclusion results in improved decision making and ultimately, better financial performance.

At the 2016 Launch Pad conference, each company’s CEO was paired with one of his senior women leaders for a robust conversation around how they developed their leader within, valuable lessons learned as they furthered their careers and how they ensure the leadership pipeline remains strong and inclusive.

  • David W. Nelms, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Discover Financial Services
  • Diane Offereins, Executive Vice President, President – Payment Services, Discover Financial Services
  • Thomas E. Richards, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CDW
  • Christine A. Leahy, Senior Vice President, International and Chief Legal Officer, CDW Session
Breakout Sessions

Developing the Leader Within – Key Tools for Your Toolkit

In highly interactive concurrent breakout sessions, panelists shared their perspectives on navigating the career jungle gym to the top. Key topics included:

  • Navigating lateral career moves and special assignments that help, not hinder, your career
  • Graduating from a support function into a line of business functions
  • Negotiating competitive pay packages aligned with your industry
  • Engaging teams vs. being the lone wolf
  • Assessing and recovering from a career misdirection

Featured Speakers (Panel B):

Moderator: Gloria Castillo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chicago United


  • Tracey Benford, Partner, Goldman Sachs & Co.
  • Caroline Grace, Chief Executive Officer, Global Retirement & Investments, Aon Hewitt
  • Susan Hassan, Partner, Valor Equity Partners

Featured Speakers (Panel A):

Moderator: Tonise Paul, President and Chief Executive Officer, Energy BBDO


  • Sidney Dillard, Partner, Corporate Investment Banking Division, Loop Capital
  • Trish Lukasik, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, PepsiCo North America Nutrition Sales
  • Jennifer Scanlon, Executive Vice President, USG Corporation; President, International and President L&W Supply Corporation











Presenting sponsor:

Welcome Remarks from Sponsor:
From conference sponsor, Liz Connelly, Industry Head, Healthcare, Higher Education, NFP, J.P. Morgan

To view highlights from the 2015 conference, click here!