(Chicago) – Women Employed is thrilled to welcome Cherita Ellens as our new Chief Executive Officer, effective February 11, 2019. Cherita, a proven non-profit leader with experience in strategic analysis and planning, operations, staff development, project management, marketing/communications, and more, was selected after a comprehensive search process led by Mary Lee Montague of Heidrick and Struggles and has been approved unanimously and enthusiastically by the organization’s Board of Directors.
Cherita has excelled in numerous leadership roles throughout her career. Prior to her most recent role as Executive Vice President of Business Operations and Communications at Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, an organization that is closing Chicago’s access gap by meeting the hiring needs of businesses with qualified unemployed and underemployed job seekers, she served as the Executive Director of the South Side and Wabash YMCAs. She has a leadership style that is energizing and inspiring, a strong collaborative spirit, the ability to think long-term and strategically, and is an effective fundraiser and relationship builder. Cherita was honored as one of Chicago Defender’s “50 Women of Excellence.” She has an Executive MBA from the University of Notre Dame, and a BS from Illinois State University.
“We’re really fortunate to gain a leader with Cherita’s experience, talent, and skills,” said Lisa Pattis, Women Employed’s Board Chair. “The Board is confident that Cherita is the best person to lead Women Employed into the future, actualizing our mission to improve the economic status of women and remove barriers to economic advancement while continuously improving our culture and making Women Employed a visible, dynamic force for gender equity.”
When asked about the opportunity to lead Women Employed, Cherita said, “As a results-driven leader, I am attracted to organizations that focus on results, not activity. WE has demonstrated a commitment to not just thought leadership but to actionable advocacy, and they’ve accomplished an impressive list of wins for women and families. And with the Institute for Women Policy’s Research reporting a 51 percent wage gap for women compared to men over a 15-year period, there is clearly so much more work to do.” She went on to say, “While completing my MBA, one of the most valuable lessons I learned was that if you’re going to impact change, you have to be willing to take your seat at the table. Serving as the CEO of an organization as impactful as WE is my seat at the table.”
Cherita will work closely with Sharmili Majmudar, the organization’s Director of Strategic Partnerships who has served as the Interim CEO, and with the Board of Directors to ensure a seamless transition.
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About Women Employed
Since 1973, WE has been on the forefront of every major advancement for working women—from winning family and medical leave and fair pay legislation, to outlawing sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination, and opening doors to quality education and training programs through financial aid and other supports. Guided by the belief that all of us benefit from women’s economic equity, WE works towards a society in which women are treated fairly in the workplace, are able to attain the skills they need for the jobs they want, and are respected for the work they do.