Woodlands alumna and C-Suite guest speaker Vanessa Ruiz '01 shares the importance of having strong role models of female leadership. Ms. Ruiz serves as Creative Director for WoltersKluwer Health and spoke to our students as a part of our "Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite" speaker series.
Inspiring female leadership
“Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite” is an educational event series that provides an opportunity for school-aged girls across Chicagoland to engage in dialogue with leading professionals and with one another. Featured speakers include CEOs and executives who share their success stories – as well as the failures that helped shape their professional development – to inspire achievement, build confidence and embolden girls to forge pathways to excellence.
The speaker series covers a vast range of topics aimed at preparation and empowerment, including insights, experiences and lessons learned that allow each student to reflect on her interests and discover potential career pathways. Featuring presenters that hold a variety of executive-level positions, the conversations encourage students to explore opportunities for global leadership in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math, business and beyond.
In addition to the Woodlands students and invited-guests only events, the series includes annual programming open to the public.
Lauren Bean Buitta is founder and CEO of Girl Security, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization building equitable pathways in national security for girls, women, and gender minorities. Lauren began her career in national security in Chicago, IL in 2003 as a policy analyst with the National Strategy Forum, where she specialized in national security law.
Named American Banker’s "most powerful woman in finance," Mary Callahan Erdoes '85 has led the investment management and private banking arm of JPMorgan Chase for the last decade. She sits on the JPMorgan Chase's Operating Committee, and serves on the boards of the U.S.-China Business Council, the Robin Hood Foundation of New York City and Georgetown University.
The Honorable Elaine Duke was the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from April 10, 2017 to April 15, 2018. She also served as the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security from July 31, 2017 to December 6, 2017.
Vanessa Ruiz '01 is currently a Creative Director at Wolters Kluwer Clinical Effectiveness, creating engaging experiences to help patients understand their health. Vanessa is the driving force behind Street Anatomy, a blog that aggregates works that explore the intersection of art and medical illustration.
Eric Smith is chief operating officer of Fifth Third Bank (Chicago), which includes more than $9.7 billion in assets. He is responsible for the growth and strategic alignment of our Commercial, Wealth & Asset Management and Consumer businesses to deliver distinctive value to our customers and community impact in the region.
Connie Capone is Chief Financial Officer at SpotHero. In this role, she oversees the company’s financial functions as it enters its next phase of growth, and brings extensive experience from her previous roles in operations, consulting and venture capital. Prior to SpotHero, Connie served as the CFO and Chief Administrative Officer at GeoDigital, an Atlanta-based high tech software company.
Charlotte Kremer M.D., MBA is currently the executive vice president and head of Medical Affairs for Astellas Pharma Inc. In this role, Kremer provides leadership for the Medical Affairs organization globally. She joined Astellas in 2012 with 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.
Patricia Besser, Managing Director, is responsible for leading teams in Chicago focused on the wealthiest families in the world. Ms. Besser joined Bank of America’s private wealth group in 2001 following over 20 years in corporate finance and investment banking with several other U.S. and international financial firms.
Kathleen Williams is the Global Program Director at Capgemini. She is responsible for managing the delivery, customer satisfaction and sales across all of Capgemini’s service lines including consulting, systems integration, application management, and business process outsourcing.