Women in Public Leadership: Attaining Impact and Influence

Take part in the Chicago Harris Women in Public Leadership executive education program. Discover smart new ways to build your brand, make your mark, and take your place in the public sphere.

We are delighted to announce that U.N. executive Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme, will kick off Chicago Harris Women in Public Leadership program.

As Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme, Cousin leads the world’s largest humanitarian organization, with approximately 13,500 staff serving over 90 million beneficiaries in 80 countries across the world. Previously, she served as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture and head of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome. She has more than 25 years of experience in non-profit, government, and corporate leadership focusing on hunger, food, and resilience strategies.

“Today, women are seeking – and achieving – unprecedented power and influence in public life,” said Rebecca Sive, WIPL academic director and a noted author, advocate and speaker. “Ertharin Cousin knows what it takes to break through the glass ceiling, and she will provide tremendous inspiration for the women in this program.”

Women in Public Leadership is an intensive, pragmatic program that gives participants access to prominent female leaders and distinguished scholars who will offer tested strategies and firsthand advice on how to break through the glass ceiling. You will walk away with not only new skills, but also the confidence to achieve top leadership roles in government, politics, philanthropy and advocacy, to build the personal brand, power and influence you’re seeking to make the world a better place.

Through inspiring, intimate conversations with women leaders and world-class scholars, you’ll be pushed to think clearly, deeply and expansively and learn the strategies that work for building your presence and professional profile. Through candid peer-to-peer exchanges, you’ll hone your ability to wield power and weather crisis. You’ll find new, creative ways to apply your analytical abilities and assert your influence, whether at your workplace or in the wider community. And you’ll broaden and deepen your network by sharing a life-changing week with a group of other rising stars.

The five-day program’s guest speakers draw from a long list of female trailblazers who have succeeded at every level of public leadership, from the White House, to City Hall, to the University of Chicago, to executive suites of leading corporations and foundations. They include:

  • Sian Beilock, Professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Chicago and author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To.
  • Evelyn Diaz, president of Heartland Alliance, one of the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations. Evelyn served as Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services and as Deputy Chief of Staff to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and played key leadership roles in the Chicago Workforce Investment Council and the Chicago Jobs Council. Early in her career she provided individual and group counseling to domestic violence victims.
  • Linda Ginzel, Clinical Professor of Managerial Psychology, University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business.
  • Lori Healey, CEO of the Chicago-based Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, which owns and manages McCormick Place, the nation's largest convention center, and Navy Pier, Illinois' top-visited tourist destination.
  • Celinda Lake, founder and principal of Lake Partners and one of the nation's foremost experts on electing women candidates and on framing issues to women voters.
  • Connie Lindsey, executive vice president and head of corporate social responsibility and global diversity & inclusion for Northern Trust. She is the immediate past national board president of Girl Scouts of the USA.
  • Toni Preckwinkle, the first elected woman president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and chief executive of the 19th largest government in the United States.
  • Susan Sher, senior advisor to University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and leader of the University's Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum initiative. She formerly served as chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama.
  • Julia Stasch, president of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and former deputy administrator of the federal General Services Administration.
  • Paula Wolff, Trustee, University of Chicago and its Medical Center, Senior Executive, Metropolis Strategies; former president of Governors State University and Director of Policy for Illinois Governor James R. Thompson.
  • Jessica Yellen, former Chief White House correspondent for CNN and an award winning political journalist reporting for CNN, ABC News, and MSNBC. She has interviewed Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush; First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush; and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yellin has also covered issues facing women in the workplace.

Today, women are seeking – and achieving – unprecedented levels of power and influence in public life. With Women in Public Leadership, Chicago Harris offers a rigorous, relevant curriculum tailored to meet the needs of ambitious women like you who seek even greater public influence and impact.