President & CEO

President & CEO

Chicago United

Chicago, IL   |   November 25, 2019

About Chicago United

Chicago United has a vision of transforming the Chicago region into the most inclusive business ecosystem in the nation.

For more than 50 years, Chicago United has advanced social justice through economic justice. Serving as a beacon of inclusion and progress during times of both unparalleled opportunity and historic inequality, Chicago United engages the top publicly and privately held corporations in leading talent management and inclusive diversity practices.

Chicago United was founded with the mission to achieve parity in economic opportunity for people of color by advancing multiracial leadership in corporate governance, executive level management, and business diversity. This path to parity is marked by four key tenets: Creating Opportunities, Fighting Racism, Challenging Bias, and Advancing Equity.

Chicago United is advancing an environment where racially diverse CEOs and executive level management can share common experiences to promote diversity and inclusion. Chicago United supports its membership in delivering best practices for diversity practitioners and building relationships among leaders who share common values.

Chicago United has achieved tremendous impact by adopting a holistic view towards developing sustainable diversity. Chicago United focuses on three key interrelated areas of multiracial leadership:

  • Corporate Leadership: Launched in 2019, the Corporate Inclusion Institute is an innovative program that expands organizational capacity for inclusion through the development and retention of critical talent. This unique learning and development platform supports young diverse talent while developing the cultural fluency of mid- to senior-level managers. The Institute differentiates organizations by changing corporate culture and breaking down barriers to inclusion and diversity.
  • Business Partnerships: Through the Five Forward Initiative, Chicago United has helped increase the number of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) of scale and enhanced job creation in communities of color.
  • Corporate Governance: Since 2003, Chicago United’s Business Leaders of Color (BLC) publication has identified 420 diverse executives who are qualified and ready to step into corporate board directorships. Since the publication’s inception, more than 300 corporate board directorships have been held by BLCs.

By forging ahead in these strategic areas, Chicago United has played a pioneering role in advancing Chicago’s reputation as a leader in the fight for economic parity among individuals and communities of color.

Chicago United rose out of the ashes of the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Formed in the Chicago of 1968, Chicago United was born of the social disconnection of that devastating year. In the words of Dr. King, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Chicago United speaks that language.

Since its founding, Chicago United has maintained the dialogue among multiracial senior leadership driving corporate and minority-owned businesses, civic and non-profit leadership in the common goal of creating a stronger social and economic climate for individuals of all races.

Chicago United has advanced under the leadership of Gloria Castillo, who has served as President & CEO since 2003. Under Castillo’s leadership, the organization has amplified diverse voices in the business community and beyond, helping position Chicago for sustainable success in the global business environment.

Looking ahead, Chicago United remains focused on changing the composition of boardrooms and teams in Chicago and well beyond, providing executives with support and resources to build ladders for others, and ensuring BLCs become the expectation and not the exception.

With a bold vision for the future, Chicago United is poised to set the “gold-standard” among organizations delivering on the promise of economic opportunity for all.

For more information on Chicago United, please visit

The President & CEO Opportunity

Chicago United seeks a compelling and proven strategic leader who will direct the organization through a transformative period in its history. This is a remarkable opportunity for an outstanding leader to join a well-regarded organization and lead a group of passionate and diverse group of stakeholders in important efforts to transform the landscape of corporate opportunities provided to individuals of color, which will in turn transform the corporate landscape and communities of color within the region.

The President and CEO (“CEO”) will set the vision and strategic direction for Chicago United in this next chapter. The CEO will spearhead the development and implementation of strategies to assure the continued operational and financial health of the organization as it evolves to a scale enabling even greater impact. This leader will report to, and partner with, the board of Directors.

Inspired by a genuine passion for the mission, the CEO will be a highly visible member of the community, representing Chicago United to partner corporations, civic leaders and other key stakeholders throughout Chicago and beyond.

This leader will embody Chicago United’s unwavering commitment to supporting leaders of color and will promote the organization, accelerating its impact, resource development and brand recognition. The role provides leadership and oversight of the organization’s operations, culture, values, talent and financial performance.

The CEO will work proactively with the board and staff to fundraise for Chicago United and strategically lead the organization into its next chapter, inspiring engagement among Chicago United’s membership, individual and corporate donors, partners, champions and other members of the business, political and civic community.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Strategy and Vision: Develop the long-term strategy and vision for Chicago United initiatives and programs, as well as the action plans required to achieve the strategy. Set and communicate organizational priorities and appropriately allocate human, financial and operational resources to achieve those priorities.
  • Leadership: Serve as the spokesperson for Chicago United with national media, key audiences, companies and industry groups. Maintain the Chicago United’s positive and highly visible image as the leader in business and civic community.
  • Board and Stakeholder Communications: Work closely with the board and staff to develop and implement the strategic plan, as well as integrate volunteer activities to achieve Chicago United’s mission. Inform the board of matters that may significantly impact the organization and promptly refer to the Chairman any issues that may require board action.
  • Financial Performance: Achieve Chicago United’s annual impact and revenue objectives. Grow resource development to enhance and expand programs and reach. Develop and gain board approval for the organization’s strategic plan and operating budget.
  • Operations Support and Execution: Establish Chicago United’s marketing strategy and key priorities to drive the organization’s achievement of those objectives. Support the organization’s efforts to engage the corporate community through direct “C-level” contact with critical members, partners, and prospects as appropriate. Assure technology resources are in place to support execution.
  • Development Efforts: Cultivate relationships with current and prospective donors and board Members. Actively engage and energize external stakeholders to garner new opportunities for partnerships. Work proactively with the board and staff to fundraise for Chicago United.
  • Organizational Talent Planning: Continuously refine Chicago United’s organizational strategy and structure to ensure that they have the right strategy and talent in place to achieve objectives. Regularly assess key management roles and talent to ensure that Chicago United has the right people in the right roles, with an active succession plan. Maintain a culture of integrity and fairness.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:

Strategic and Visionary Leader

The President & CEO will be a strategic leader who, with the board and staff, will define Chicago United’s identity in the next chapter in an evolving field that is experiencing rapid change and growth. An effective “big picture” strategist and leader, the CEO will take a consultative approach to evolve the vision of the organization for the future while celebrating the history of its positive impact. The ability to think entrepreneurially will be critical for the organization to reach its full potential. The CEO must also have the capacity to serve as a thought leader, build strategic initiatives and advance an advocacy agenda. The CEO will have demonstrated the ability to respectfully push the boundaries of Chicago United’s work and influence and challenge the perspective of others to encourage mindful risk taking, innovation and proactivity, while being fiscally responsible.

An ‘Ambassador’ for Chicago United

The CEO will be the public face of Chicago United and serve as its ‘ambassador’ to the membership, media, policymakers, funders and other stakeholders. The CEO will be a charismatic, credible, high-energy executive or respected thought leader with dynamic communication skills. The successful candidate will have an executive and genuine presence, dynamic communication skills and will be able to eloquently promote and convey Chicago United’s mission to a diverse range of constituents to generate support and inspire action. As the lead spokesperson and chief fundraiser for Chicago United, the CEO will inspire trust and confidence from industry leaders. The CEO will also excel at working in partnership with the board and leadership teams at member companies to enhance existing partnerships and develop new strategies, building out Chicago United’s brand equity and reputation in the field.

A Leader with Business Acumen

The CEO will be a proven leader and strong manager who understands the importance of effective operational and financial administration. This leader is a facilitator of staff and board teamwork and provides clear expectations and accountability measures for department deliverables. The CEO will ensure that each of Chicago United’s programs, lines of business and strategic partnerships are operating as “one Chicago United,” universally aligned with the organization’s mission and vision. The CEO will be skilled at guiding the board and staff to achieve Chicago United’s goals and focus on the strategic levers to drive the organization in the right areas. The CEO will have the ability to make decisions swiftly and set priorities, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results. A tactical leader, the CEO will have a strong business orientation, an ability to use metrics to drive business decisions and the prudence needed to communicate Chicago United’s impact and success with rigor.

Leading with Influence and Relationship Builder

The CEO will have the ability to inspire the membership, staff, board and other champions of Chicago United to achieve new heights for the organization. The CEO will have an inspirational approach to building collaboration and buy-in and generating support from stakeholders. The CEO will be a charismatic leader who can establish rapport and open communication with all constituents. The CEO will strengthen and retain an empowered team that will implement the course of action for achieving the vision. An engaging and supportive leader, the CEO will have a track record of motivating and inspiring others to achieve impact through creativity, teamwork and by leveraging individual strengths to meet organizational goals.

A Passion for the Mission

Fully embracing the mission of Chicago United, the CEO will be a bold thinker and will have a laser focus and unwavering commitment to achieve the goals of the organization. The CEO’s eye will consistently focus on the future and how to best adapt and grow Chicago United in this changing field. The successful candidate will be an empathic and charismatic leader who treats others with respect.


Alison Ranney, Chartise Clark and Alison Salisbury of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To make recommendations or to express interest in the role, please email All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients.

Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with clients on mission-driven search, including nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

Koya is an equal opportunity employer fully committed to creating an environment and team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, styles, and experiences. We encourage all to express interest as we believe a diversity of voices leads to better discussions, decisions and outcomes for everyone.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit