Three prominent leaders address issues of working women at Benedictine summit

September 20, 2013

Lisle, Illinois ~ Mary Formosa, Maureen O’Brien and Geneace Williams, Ph.D., are the featured speakers of the 2013 Greater Chicago Women’s Leadership Summit presented by the College of Business and the Office of Community Development at Benedictine University at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, October 4 on the second floor of the Krasa Student Center.

The leadership summit is a regional conference that addresses the issues of working women and features nationally recognized female executive leaders who speak on topics such as financial literacy, work/life balance, culture and innovative leadership.

O’Brien made a strong impression at her first job out of college – selling building products to contractors in the Chicago area. People were intrigued by her choice to work in a field dominated by men.

After the birth of her first child, O’Brien launched her own exterior remodeling company, O’Brien & Son Inc., which has remained in business for 27 years.

Today, O’Brien is a sought-after business speaker and author who is considered an expert in sales and negotiating skills, leadership development, strategy and personal branding.

She has been honored as “One of the Most Influential Women in Business” by the Business Ledger in partnership with the National Association of Women Business Owners Area Chapter, the “Humanitarian of the Year” by the National Speakers Association-Illinois, and as “One of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Illinois” by the National Diversity Council.

In 2009, O’Brien launched the Global Women’s Leadership Forum®, a Women’s Business Enterprise National Council-certified organization which focuses on women’s business resource groups, leadership development, and helping women to develop and demonstrate their full potential within Fortune 500 Companies.

Formosa, the vice president of human resources for Navistar’s Global Truck and Engine Group, Quality Procurement and Safety, is responsible for developing and implementing human resource strategies that align with the group’s overall business strategy.

Before joining Navistar in 2008, Formosa worked for the Tribune Company, a Chicago-based multimedia company with more than 50 business units and 23,000 employees. During her 20-year career with Tribune, she held a variety of senior-level positions in human resources, including leading the company’s corporate human resources, employee relations, recruitment and diversity functions.

Formosa has a strong background in employee and labor relations, organizational effectiveness, leadership development, performance management, compensation and benefits, recruitment, training and development, and dealing with acquisitions and divestitures.

She also owned her own consulting business, where she focused on human resources assessments, improving employee engagement, leadership coaching and developing policies and procedures.

Formosa is actively involved with many professional organizations, including the National Latino Education Institute, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Empowering Women Network, which she serves on as a board member. She has been a speaker at the Diversity Solutions Best Practices and Empowering Women Network conferences, among others.

Williams is the managing director of Our Living World (OLW) Communications Inc., a boutique consulting firm specializing in the advancement of forward-thinking leaders and the organizations they serve through a strategic approach.

She is a trusted advisor offering innovative leadership counsel, and has a long history of leading change and managing conflict and crises. Today, she adds value by helping leaders drive results in their business, business goals and leadership acumen.

Prior to consulting, Williams enjoyed a distinguished 20-year career as an attorney, business advisor and counselor. She was previously responsible for a national litigation practice for the McDonald’s Corporation, where she advised senior company leadership on numerous matters.

Williams is the author of “Leadership DASH: Breaking Through the Finish Line,” an award-winning and insightful work that gets at the heart of how people become leaders of influence. Having spoken in diverse venues around the world, Williams’ strategies for leadership have positively influenced many.

As a minister, Williams is passionate about the issues that affect women and the underserved. She serves on the board of directors for the Northern Illinois Food Bank and is a member of Leadership Illinois Class of 2013. In 2011, she received a National Power Ambassador Award for her work with the American Heart Association’s “Power to End Stroke” campaign.

The summit will be emceed by Barb Dwyer, a community activist, inspiration speaker, executive coach and author.

The summit begins with registration and a continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m., and continues with speakers and lunch until 1:30 p.m. Early bird registration is $30 per person or $240 for table of eight. After September 25, registration is $40 per person or $320 for table of eight. Expo tables are $250. Table sponsorship opportunities are available.

The event is sponsored by Nicor Gas, Navistar and Brennan & Brosnan LLC.

Visit or call the College of Business at (630) 829-6206 to register.


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.


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Gary Kohn
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(630) 829-6095