Archives: Leaders

Suzanne Yoon

Founder & Managing Partner / Kinzie Capital Partners, LLC

Suzanne Yoon is a recognized private equity investment executive with nearly 25 years of experience investing in and advising middle market companies. Throughout her career she has led, sourced and closed over $3B of middle market deals and advised on global restructurings totaling over $10B in asset value.

Suzanne currently serves as Founder and Managing Partner of Kinzie Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. She launched Kinzie in 2017 as part of her long-standing vision to advance the use of technology, data analytics and innovation to help companies unlock value. In 2020, Kinzie was recognized by Private Equity Women Investor Network (PEWIN) as the North American Female Founded Firm of the Year. Prior to Kinzie, Suzanne held executive positions with Versa Capital Management, CIT Group and LaSalle Bank/ABN AMRO.

As an active member of the business and civic communities and a champion for diversity initiatives, she serves on several private company and philanthropic boards including as Board Chair of the National Philanthropic Trust, a $25B donor advised fund, HFS Chicago Scholars and the Chicago Public Library Foundation. She also serves on the Steering Committees for PEWIN and the Women’s Association of Venture & Equity. Suzanne has earned extensive professional accolades from many organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, Mergers & Acquisitions and Chicago United.

A Chicago native, Suzanne lives in the city with her husband and three children. She earned her B.A. in Economics from the University of Iowa and is an Executive Scholar of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Karen Sauder

President / Google, Inc.

As President of Global Client and Agency Solutions at Google, Karen Sauder leads a diverse organization of sales, marketing, product and go to market specialists working with Google’s largest customers. This +50B business is at the center of the evolving digital landscape of rapid consumer change, new privacy expectations and the largest shift of digitization in a generation. She also oversees Google’s expanding presence in the Midwest as site leader for Chicago engaging in community development, policy leadership and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. She graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri with continuing executive education at Harvard Business School and Northwestern University. Karen currently lives near Chicago, IL with her husband and two sons. In her spare time she enjoys tennis, golf and fly fishing.

E. Scott Santi

Chairman & CEO / Illinois Tool Works Inc.

E. Scott Santi is Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Illinois Tool Works Inc.

Mr. Santi joined ITW in 1983 and has spent his entire career with the company. He was elected Executive Vice President in 2004 and named Vice Chairman in 2008. He became the Company’s Chief Executive Officer in 2012 and was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2015.

Mr. Santi is a member of the Board of Directors of W.W. Grainger (NYSE: GWW), the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Commercial Club of Chicago, Junior Achievement of Chicago, and Big Shoulders Fund. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Northwestern University, the Ravinia Festival Association, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Rush University Medical Center.

Mr. Santi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois and received a Master’s of Business Administration from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Lisa Wardell

Chairman & CEO / Adtalem Global Education

Lisa W. Wardell is chairman and CEO of Adtalem Global Education. Adtalem Global Education Inc. (NYSE: ATGE; member S&P MidCap 400 Index) is a leading workforce solutions provider and the parent organization of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, Becker Professional Education, Chamberlain University, EduPristine, OnCourse Learning, Ross University School of Medicine and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Wardell was appointed chairman of the board in 2019. She has been president and CEO since 2016 and has been a member of Adtalem’s board of directors since 2008. She is the only African American female chairman and CEO in the S&P 400 Index. During her tenure, Wardell has overseen the strategic repositioning of Adtalem’s portfolio, successfully acquiring and integrating companies in Adtalem’s financial services vertical, and leading turnarounds and divestitures of Adtalem’s non-core assets.

Under her leadership, gender and ethnic diversity has increased at the Adtalem board to 67%, and within Adtalem’s senior leadership to 75%. Wardell has also led the higher education sector in implementing new standards in transparency and financial literacy, and in cultivating quality partnerships to fill critical global workforce needs. Her strategic and mission-focused leadership positions Adtalem’s global community for sustainable success.

Prior to her current position with Adtalem, Wardell was executive vice president and chief operating officer for The RLJ Companies. As COO, Wardell was responsible for managing The RLJ Companies portfolio, including strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, business strategy, operations and finance. Prior to joining The RLJ Companies, Wardell was a principal at Katalyst Venture Partners, a private equity firm that invested in start-up technology companies, and a senior consultant for Accenture in the organization’s communications and technology strategic services practice.

Wardell earned her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and her law degree from Stanford Law School. She earned her MBA in finance and entrepreneurial management from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Wardell serves on the boards of American Express (NYSE: AXP), a Fortune 100 company, Lowe’s Home Improvement (NYSE: LOW), a Fortune 50 company, and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Inc. She is also the vice chair, executive committee of The Business Council, and is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion and the Fortune CEO Initiative. Additionally, Lisa has been featured on CNBC as well as in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Business Insider, Cheddar and other publications.

Sandra Cordova Micek

President & CEO / WTTW|WFMT

Sandra Cordova Micek is President & CEO of WTTW|WFMT, Chicago’s PBS station and classical music radio station. She has over 30 years of management experience in media and marketing. Prior to WTTW|WFMT, Micek was the SVP of Global Brands at Hyatt where she oversaw marketing for 15 brands, and co‐led the diversity resource group, Latinos at Hyatt. Micek has also held senior management roles at USA TODAY/Gannett, NBC Universal, Turner Broadcasting, and Yahoo and was a management consultant in the strategy practice at Accenture in San Francisco and London. Micek is the Advisory Board chair of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and where she created a scholarship for Latinas, and she is on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees. Micek also serves on the Boards of PBS, Kartemquin Films, Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Community Trust and the Economic Club of Chicago. She was the McCormick Foundation Fellow in Leadership Greater Chicago’s Daniel Burnham Program, and holds an MBA from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania where she was the Ford Motor Company Scholar. Micek is a member of The Commercial Club, and the Association of Latino Professionals for America.

Dorri McWhorter

President & CEO / YMCA Metropolitan Chicago

Dorri McWhorter became President and CEO of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago in August 2021. Prior to joining the YMCA, Dorri served for 8 years as the CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago transforming the organization from a traditional social service organization to 21st Century social enterprise. Increasing impact and organizational sustainability, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s operating budget quadrupled. The organization has been an active contributor to many critical initiatives across the region, and under Dorri’s leadership, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago expanded its service footprint to 10 new locations, completed seven mergers and acquisitions, implemented paid family leave and developed a retirement plan to include retirement options for thousands of childcare providers and small business owners. Dorri led the effort to develop an exchange traded fund (ETF) for women’s empowerment (NYSE: WOMN) in partnership with Impact Shares, which is the first non-profit investment advisor to develop an ETF product. Dorri is a 2019 Inductee in the Chicago Innovation Hall of Fame.

Dorri prides herself on being a socially-conscious business leader and is committed to creating an inclusive marketplace by leveraging a cross-sector approach of engaging business, civic and community partners. Dorri serves on the Board of Directors for Lifeway Foods, William Blair Funds and Skyway Concession Company (Chicago Skyway). Dorri is also active in the accounting profession and serves on the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council and having served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and a past Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Illinois CPA Society. Dorri serves as Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the First Women’s Bank (in development). Dorri received a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lake Forest College.

Lisa Madigan

Partner / Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Lisa Madigan is a litigation partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Her practice focuses on state and federal level investigations and regulatory work, internal investigations, crisis management and litigatio

Lisa Madigan is a litigation partner in the Chicago office, with a broad practice focused on state and federal level investigations and regulatory work, internal investigations, crisis management and litigation. She has more than 25 years of experience handling a range of issues including consumer protection, data security and privacy, health care, the environment, and sexual assault and harassment. 

Lisa joined Kirkland in 2019 after a distinguished career in public service. She was the first female Attorney General in Illinois and held the post for 16 years, becoming the longest serving Attorney General in the state’s history. 

Recognized for her integrity, Lisa established a national reputation as an influential advocate and reformer during her tenure as Attorney General. She professionalized the office, increased enforcement, and generated more than $14 billion for the state, including nearly $4 billion for Illinois homeowners, communities, and pension funds to recover from financial fraud and discriminatory lending at the heart of the mortgage crisis. 

Lisa had more than 150 bills signed into law while Attorney General. Under her leadership, the Consumer Protection Division established a national reputation for safeguarding consumers from financial fraud and discrimination. She also served as a lead negotiator in the National Mortgage Settlement with some of the nation’s largest banks. 

She has made protecting children and women from violence a priority, and reformed the Illinois criminal justice system to prevent and respond to sexual assault and domestic violence including requiring response standards on college campuses and hospital emergency rooms. She also worked to effect important systemic reform of the Chicago Police Department. Lisa was the first Illinois Attorney General in over 25 years to personally argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Illinois v. Caballes, in which the Supreme Court upheld the ability of law enforcement to detect the presence of illegal drugs during traffic stops. 

On the national level, Lisa has frequently testified before Congress and federal commissions and served in appointed roles with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of State. 

Prior to her election as Illinois Attorney General, Lisa served as an Illinois State Senator, a litigator, an assistant dean, and volunteer teacher in South Africa during apartheid. 

Koula Berlin

President / Fund Solutions, LLC (an HFR Company)

Koula Berlin spent fifteen years as an executive at HFR Asset Management, LLC and Fund Solutions, LLC as Managing Director and President.  She spearheaded the growth and management of the $4.5 billion hedge fund platform and was responsible for all aspects of the company’s operations, including front office (operations, risk, and treasury), middle office (securities pricing, processing and settlement, cash and asset reconciliation, and margin/collateral management), and back office (portfolio accounting, daily NAV’s, fund accounting, audit, tax reporting, daily P & L, compliance and risk reporting).  Koula has a passion for building high impact teams that work together to drive international success.  In addition, she managed all the financials and operations for all the HFR companies and the CEO’s family office.   Her team successfully oversaw the launch of over 500 hedge funds, and multiple FOF’s with platforms in Bermuda and Ireland. 

Prior to HFR, she held leadership roles at Fortune Brands, Inc and Moore Business Forms.

She has served on the Board of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Lake County, Il.

Mrs. Berlin has an MBA from Lake Forest School of Management and a B.S. from Loyola University.

Bridget C. Coughlin, PhD

President & CEO / John G. Shedd Aquarium

Bridget C. Coughlin, Ph.D., was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Shedd Aquarium in 2016. Under her leadership, Shedd has welcomed nearly 10 million aquarium guests, diverted over 21,000 pounds of plastic from lakes and rivers, and published more than 100 research papers. A nature lover and scientist both at heart and by training, Dr. Coughlin is passionate about animal life in oceans, rivers and lakes. Her commitment to Shedd’s Mission of sparking compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world extends well beyond the walls of Shedd Aquarium.  

Dr. Coughlin serves on the boards of mindSpark Learning in Denver, the Alaska SeaLife Center and the Latin School of Chicago. Dr. Coughlin is also a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Chicago Network, and the Chicago Club.  

Before joining Shedd, Dr. Coughlin served as vice president of strategic partnerships and programs and adjunct curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) where her work won international awards and was written in two Harvard School of Business case studies. Her history also includes five years with the National Academy of Sciences, where she served as managing editor of the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She has also led research teams funded by the National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. She holds a Bachelor of arts from Knox College and a Doctorate in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa. 

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @sheddaquaceo. 

Tom Firestine

Principal / Calculated Risk Advisors, LLC

Tom is the cofounder and principal at Calculated Risk Advisors, a boutique professional liability insurance broker based in Chicago. He also holds operating positions at Nameless Ventures (early stage investments), Percipient (legal tech) and Calculated Risk Analytics (actuarial consulting). Prior to starting his entrepreneurial journey he held positions in the insurance industry at CNA, Marsh and OneBeacon.

In addition to a number of insurance and tech industry designations Tom earned a BSBA in Finance from The Ohio State University and a MBA in Finance, Econometrics & Statistics from the University of Chicago. He is involved in several Midwestern tech accelerators, chairs the risk management committee of the Boy Scouts of America Pathway to Adventure Council and is a doting father to his two young girls.


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