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They heard from experts on issues such as the global economy, international diplomacy, energy, and the environment. In addition to meeting regularly as a class, they worked on individual projects with Council experts to examine key global challenges.

This cohort of leaders from around Chicago was chosen by an independent selection committee from a highly competitive pool of applicants.

Learn more about the Emerging Leaders Program.

Class of 2012

Sonya Anderson

Vice President, National Affairs
Ounce of Prevention Fund

Sonya supports the development of early childhood education programs and policies for the Ounce of Prevention Fund. She previously worked for the Oprah Winfrey Foundations, overseeing their domestic and international work in education. She earned a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. in international affairs from the University of Ghana, and an Ed.M. and an Ed.D. from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

Paul Bauerschmidt

Executive Director
OTC Products

Paul Bauerschmidt leads new growth initiatives in OTC markets, as Executive Director, OTC Products, at the CME Group, owner of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Paul joined CME Group in 2002 and has held leadership positions in Corporate Development and Technology. Prior to joining CME Group, Paul served as a member of technical staff at Oracle and Intel. Paul earned a B.S.E. in computer engineering from the University of Michigan, and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University.

Craig Bennett

Vice President, Associate General Counsel
Recycled Energy Development, LLC

Craig is one of eight Executive Committee members responsible for managing the strategic direction of Recycled Energy Development, LLC an independent power producer that acquires, develops, owns and operates industrial cogeneration & waste heat/gas recovery projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the cost of steam and electricity for host companies. Craig is also a Brigadier General, serves as the Commander of the New Hampshire Army National Guard and is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received a B.S. in business administration from Bryant University, a J.D. from Widener University School of Law, and a M.S.S. from the U.S. Army War College.

Daniel Bryant

Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Sheridan Road Financial

Daniel is the chief executive officer of Sheridan Road Financial, an investment consulting and management company that services middle market companies and their executives. The company is one of the largest advisors of corporate retirement plans in the country, with offices in Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis. Prior to founding Sheridan Road, Daniel was a senior investment banker at a number of investment banks, including Robertson Stephens in San Francisco and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in Chicago and worked in corporate finance for Sam Zell’s The Equity Group. He is a member of the board of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a founding member of the Council on Africa at the Field Museum as well as a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). He earned a B.A. in government from Dartmouth College and a M.M. in accounting and finance from the Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Jason S. Carter

Associate General Counsel & Head Legal Latin America
Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.

At Novartis Consumer Health, Jason provides strategic counseling and advises the consumer health division with respect to a broad range of domestic and international matters, including corporate governance, business development, sales and marketing compliance issues, and government affairs strategies, and represents the company before federal regulatory authorities. A seasoned counselor to regulated industry, he previously served as counsel to several Fortune 500 companies, including Baxter International, Inc. While in law school, he studied in Singapore and China and was an Advanced Opportunity Fellow, earning a full-tuition merit-based academic fellowship. He earned his B.A. from Temple University with honors and his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School.

Joyce Coffee

Vice President, Business + Social Purpose

At Edelman, Joyce provides strategic sustainability counsel to Midwest companies. Previously, she directed the Chicago Climate Action Plan and managed environmental codes and water and air resources in the City of Chicago Department of Environment. She has worked as an urban environmental consultant with the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership. She was a founding board member of the Alliance for Water Efficiency and a Great Lakes delegate to the Brookings International Young Leaders Climate Change Summit. She was awarded the Henry Luce Fund Scholarship to study at the University of Hanoi in Vietnam and received a dual B.S. degree in biology and environmental studies from Tufts University and a M.C.P. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Eliot Dam

Director of Product Management

Eliot is responsible for Nokia's local search and small business service strategy worldwide. Prior to that role, he led Chicago based NAVTEQ's mapping and navigation content business throughout Latin America and delivered the company's first pedestrian and public transit data products. Eliot has been working in wireless and Internet technology in Chicago since 1996 during which time he launched and grew a global wireless networking and services business, ultimately sold for over $US50M. His work with NAVTEQ was also an important factor in its 2007 acquisition by Nokia for $US8.1B. Eliot earned a B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Kenyon College in Ohio and a M.B.A. with a concentration in marketing and strategy from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Gillian Darlow

Civic Consulting Alliance

At the Civic Consulting Alliance, Gillian has led numerous economic growth initiatives for the city, managed Governor Quinn’s Taxpayer Action Board and Mayor Daley’s 21st Century Commission, and led the creation of a green business strategy for the Chicago Department of Environment. Previously, she has worked for the Redmoon Theater, the Field Museum, and the International Development Exchange, in addition to serving as an independent consultant to many nonprofits and foundations, including the MacArthur Foundation. She earned a B.A. in psychology from Harvard University and did her graduate work at Stanford University, earning an M.A. from the School of Education and an M.B.A. from the Graduate School of Business.

J. P. Fairbank

Cofounder and Managing Director
Sigvion Capital

J. P. is the cofounder of three companies working on medical innovations. He cofounded Sigvion Capital, a life sciences venture capital fund, in 2004. He also serves as the president and chairman of Nymirum, which uses RNA technology in the search for cures to genetic-related diseases. He earned a B.A. in political science and economics from Connecticut College and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, where he focused in private equity and international finance.

Scott Fehlan

Senior Counsel
Department of Law, City of Chicago

Scott has served the City of Chicago since 2004, advising on finance and economic development programs. Previously, he worked for Shefsky & Froelich, Universal Access Global Holdings, Kirkland & Ellis, and Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. He is an associate board member of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the president and founder of Public Pride Alliance, and a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. He obtained a B.A. in government and chemistry from Oberlin College with high honors, was a Rotary scholar at Trinity College in Dublin, and earned a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was the business editor of The Yale Journal of International Law.

Mark Hoyt

Vice President, Chief Financial Officer - International

Mark is currently driving Groupon's overseas market-leading growth. Prior to this position, he was the Vice President of International Finance for CareerBuilder and he worked for Motorola in over 25 countries while based in London. He is a member of the board of the Field Museum's President’s Leadership Council and was honored as a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow in 2007. He graduated with a B.S. in accountancy from Miami University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago’s Booth Graduate School of Business.

Lila Leff

Founder and Chief Partnership Development Officer
Umoja Student Development Corporation

In 1997, Lila founded Umoja Student Development Corporation, which uses a school community partnership model she developed to work with Chicago’s most challenged high schools. Previously, she cofounded and directed Illinois’ first federally funded School-to-Work Initiative, EDGE/UP, to assist high poverty students to succeed in high school and effectively transition to post secondary training and education. She was a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow in 2001 and currently serves on the steering committee of the Consortium on Chicago School Research. She graduated with high honors from the State University of New York with a B.A. in liberal studies and a focus in English, theater, and psychology. In 2008, Lila was nominated and received a full scholarship from the HBS Club of Chicago to attend Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management course.

Eileen McCarthy

Assistant Vice President for Global Initiatives
The University of Chicago

Eileen facilitates and oversees University-wide global initiatives including the development and management of University centers in China and India. Prior to this position, she served as the director of strategic initiatives and planning in the Office of the President and directed the Center for Policy Practice at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies. Eileen previously worked in the private and public sectors, at H&R Block and Deloitte Consulting, and at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Park District, in budgeting and strategic planning. She earned a BA cum laude from Duke University and an M.P.P. from the Harris School at The University of Chicago.

Jason Palmquist

Executive Director
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Jason joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2007, having spent his early career in Washington, D.C. working for the Washington Ballet and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has experience with local, national, and international arts communities, serving as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a board member of the Arts Alliance of Illinois and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. He earned a B.A. in theater from the University of Northern Iowa.

Lisa Pattis

Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Wintrust Financial

Lisa joined Wintrust Financial in 2011 after serving as partner with Sidley Austin, where she practiced in the corporate group focusing on corporate governance, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions. Previously, she worked as a community development specialist in Peru and a microenterprise development specialist for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She serves as a member of the executive committee of the board of Women Employed, was named in the “40 Under 40” list by Crain’s Chicago Business, and was honored as a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow in 2005. She earned a B.A. in public policy from Princeton University, a M.A. in Latin American Studies from Stanford University, and a J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law.

Ryan Ruskin

President and Chief Operating Officer
The Ruskin Group

Ryan serves as president and chief operating officer of the Ruskin Group, a 105-year-old family packaging company and an industry leader in sustainability. He previously worked as a consultant with A.T. Kearney, working on supply chain and manufacturing strategies with several Fortune 50 companies. He currently serves on the President’s Leadership Council of the Field Museum and is the president of the Princeton Club of Chicago. He earned a B.A. in history from Princeton, an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and an M.E.M. from its McCormick School of Engineering.

Jason Schmitt

Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Business Initiatives
The Jones Group

Jason leads strategic planning and acquisition efforts for The Jones Group, a Fortune 500 fashion company with 35 brands in apparel, footwear, and accessories. He previously launched and managed a clean technology venture capital fund for ArcelorMittal and was responsible for strategic planning at Mattel. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Connections for Abused Women and Children, was selected for the “40 Under 40” list by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2009, and was nominated by The Aspen Institute for their Catto Fellowship in 2010. He earned an A.B. in social studies from Harvard College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Michael Scudder, Jr.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Prior to his current position, Michael worked in the White House from 2007 to 2009 as general counsel to the National Security Council and senior associate counsel to the President. In these roles, he was responsible for advising senior administration officials, including the President, on issues such as defense, intelligence, and litigation. He also worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, and Jones Day. He earned a B.B.A. in accounting from Saint Joseph’s College and a J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law.

Maggie Westdale

Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Aon Benfield

Maggie oversees finance, client services, human resources, marketing, and IT for Aon Benfield. During the creation of the company, she played a key role in the merger of two major market players. Prior to this position, she worked as a senior vice president at CNA, leading the corporate financial planning and analysis team and serving as the internal CFO for the property casualty division. She was recognized by Business Insurance, a trade journal, as a “Rising Star” in 2002 for her work at CNA and as a “Woman to Watch” in 2010. She earned her B.A. and M.B.A. with concentrations in finance and corporate strategy from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Kevin Willer

President and Chief Executive Officer
Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

Kevin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. The CEC works with high-potential entrepreneurs and is operating and programming 1871, a new startup co-working center for 400 entrepreneurs. Previously, Kevin co-founded the Google Chicago office in late 2000, and held business development positions at CMGI, an early internet incubator, and USRobotics, the pioneer in modem technology. Kevin is actively involved in several civic and charitable organizations including Director of The Economic Club of Chicago and is a Trustee of his alma mater, Loyola Academy, as well as a Regent at Loyola University in Chicago. He was named to Governor Quinn’s Illinois Innovation Council and serves on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations in Chicago. Kevin earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College and studied at the London School of Economics.