President & CEO

President & CEO

The Chicago Network

Chicago, IL   |   October 21, 2019

About The Chicago Network

The Chicago Network (‘TCN’ or ‘the Network’) is the premier organization of Chicago’s most influential women leaders. Members of the Network are leaders at the forefront of the city’s business, professional, cultural, nonprofit and educational communities. TCN creates empowering relationships for women leaders that enable its members to increase their impact on their organizations and the community at large. The Network connects leaders for personal and professional growth, advances Chicago’s business and philanthropic communities, and inspires and supports the next generation.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019, the Network consists of over 500 of the city’s most senior women leaders across all sectors. Corporate executives, entrepreneurs, leaders at professional and financial service firms, heads of cultural institutions, universities and major law firms, scientists, musicians, architects and chefs, join to support each other and also look toward the horizon with a focus on the city’s future with women leaders. TCN empowers women to lead.

Each year, The Network hosts the Women in the Forefront Luncheon, one of Chicago’s most impactful leadership events of the year, where the country’s most influential women share professional and personal experiences with an audience of thousands.

This year, TCN launched the Equity Principles and Pledge. By signing the Equity Pledge, companies and organizations commit to working toward achieving gender equity in leadership roles by 2030. As the organization of Chicago’s most influential women leaders, TCN is well positioned to be leading the effort for gender equity in leadership across Chicago.

The Network is intentional about bringing its purpose to life and creating opportunities for members to connect with and mentor early-career women in the following ways:

  • Partnering with area universities and hosting day-long leadership exposures at TCN member organizations as part of the Future Leaders Program.
  • Holding ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions, allowing aspiring leaders to gain insights and lessons learned from TCN members.
  • Providing invaluable career development programming for younger career women through its TCN Ignite series.
  • Hosting periodic Women in STEM programs featuring women in STEM who share professional expertise and life experiences with young women interested in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • In partnership with the Executives’ Club of Chicago, the Executive Women’s Mentorship Initiative pairs 25 mentees with TCN mentors annually.

In 2020, as part of a planned succession to Kate Bensen, who has led the Network for ten years, TCN will welcome its third leader.

For more information on the Network, please visit

The Opportunity

TCN is seeking an ambitious, talented and visionary leader to chart its future course and take the organization to new heights in this next chapter, building on the strong track record and successes of the last 40 years.

The President & CEO is responsible for the overall strategic, operational, financial and managerial responsibility for TCN and reports to the Board of Directors.

As a strategic thought leader, the President & CEO will provide innovative leadership to grow and guide the organization’s relevance and impact in its next chapter in partnership with the Board of Directors.

The President & CEO will represent TCN to its membership and in the broader business and civic communities, consistently projecting the organization’s value proposition. This executive will develop strong, trust-based relationships with members. Importantly, this leader will be an essential connector for the members of the organization, fostering relationships, partnerships and support between all members. The President & CEO will develop and implement innovative ways to bring diverse constituents together resulting in meaningful, sought-after experiences and connections. This leader will actively and strategically seek out partnerships and build coalitions to advance the mission and strategic priorities. The President & CEO will steward relationships with the Board of Directors, partners and all community stakeholders, champion the TCN brand, and engage the community in new and exciting ways to increase brand awareness and impact. In collaboration with the Board, she will determine programmatic direction, carefully evaluate opportunities for new programs and ensure satisfaction with current programs.

A substantial amount of this role is ambassadorship and development initiatives, including spreading the word about TCN’s work and impact, meeting with and cultivating a diverse range of supporters, attending professional and social events where new advocates can be found and being a spokesperson at a variety of events.

This executive will lead and manage a cohesive three-member team and promote a diverse, inclusive, creative, entrepreneurial and results-focused organizational culture. In addition to the team, this leader will leverage outside PR and Communications professionals.

Candidate Profile

The successful President & CEO will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:

Strategic and Visionary Leadership

The President & CEO will be a strategic, energetic and influential leader who is able to develop and articulate a vision for the Network’s next chapter, in collaboration with the Board. This executive will naturally inspire the membership, Board and staff and will push the organization and programs forward in a collaborative manner. This leader is innovative in thinking about out how people will connect in the future, creating appropriate forums to build relationships amongst members. The President & CEO will recognize the uniqueness of TCN’s place in the landscape of Chicago and proactively seek out opportunities to influence fellow and future women leaders.

A Relationship Builder and Ambassador

The President & CEO will bring a proven record of success building relationships and be a natural ambassador. This leader is energetic, creative, ambitious and experienced in establishing strong working relationships in furtherance of an organization’s mission. This executive will be adept at engaging a broad constituency including up-and-coming leaders, small business leaders, and leaders from the Fortune 100. Key attributes are strong ‘people skills’, a sophisticated personal presence and gravitas with outstanding communication and an ability to engage at the highest levels. A natural connector, the President & CEO believes deeply in building and nurturing a robust network of relationships to foster collaboration within the Network and advance TCN’s mission. The President & CEO will be confident yet humble, ambitious to accomplish great outcomes while exuding a style of servant leadership. The President & CEO is entrepreneurial when thinking about how to best engage the next generation of women leadership by utilizing technology or other creative means. This leader will be a strong verbal and written communicator capable of leveraging multiple media and social platforms to advance the organization’s mission and articulate its value proposition to a wide range of constituents.

A Passion for the Mission

The next President & CEO brings a sincere passion for the mission of the Network and an understanding of how fostering women’s partnership and collaboration can enhance women leaders, as well as a community as a whole. This executive is a strong, collaborative, low ego leader with a dedication to the mission and the ability to build a sense of shared purpose throughout the organization. The President & CEO will be confident yet humble, leading by example and having a clear understanding of the role of CEO and President as a ‘servant leader’ to the membership. The ideal candidate is an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

A Skilled Leader  

The President & CEO will be experienced in managing staff, operations and finances, and be dedicated to serving as a hands-on leader. This executive will have the ability to set clear priorities, delegate and guide investment in people and systems. The President & CEO has organizational and problem-solving skills which support and enable sound decision-making and empower others to contribute to the overall success of an organization. This leader will have an abiding commitment to a diverse and inclusive team environment, guiding team members’ growth and development. They will provide a productive work environment that matches the skill set and abilities of staff members as well as professional growth opportunities that result in team cohesion and camaraderie. This executive understands and implements best nonprofit management practices and planning, ensuring that overall day-to-day operations are aligned with strategic goals.


Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Alison Ranney (TCN Member), Cheryl Stevens, Domino Gehred-O’Connell and Alison Salisbury are leading the engagement.

To make recommendations or to express interest in the role, please email All nominations, inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.