President and CEO
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Director of Marketing and Engagement
Cherita Ellens is the President and CEO of Women Employed. A native Chicagoan and longtime advocate for Chicago women, youth, and families, Cherita believes that her purpose is to use her time, talent, and treasure helping the most marginalized gain self-sufficiency and full agency over their lives.
Cherita carries out that purpose leading Women Employed, an organization that, for the past four decades, has been dedicated to establishing equity for women in the workforce through effecting policy change, expanding access to educational opportunities, and advocating for fair and inclusive workplaces. From the recent No Salary History law and paid sick time, to fair scheduling and protection from workplace harassment, Women Employed has been at the forefront of proposing and enacting policy to improve the economic status and security for women, empowering them to support themselves and their families.
Before joining Women Employed, Cherita led business operations and communications as Executive Vice President for Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a public-private partnership that works to close the access gap by matching businesses that have unmet hiring needs with qualified, unemployed and underemployed job seekers. She has also served as the VP of Marketing and Membership for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, and later as the Executive Director of the South Side and Wabash YMCAs where she focused on health disparities in the African-American community. From this, she has first-hand experience of the challenges facing so many Chicagoans, the impact on Chicago’s south and west side neighborhoods, and the ways that businesses and nonprofits can partner together to lift our city.
Cherita currently serves on Mayor Lightfoot’s Women’s Advisory Council, the Illinois Board of Higher Education Strategic Planning Advisory Council, and the Community Advisory Review Council (The University of Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine), and as co-chair for the paid-leave federal working group of Family Values at Work, and with Chicago’s Girls Summit.
A proud product of Chicago Public Schools, Cherita holds an executive MBA from The University of Notre Dame, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Communications from Illinois State University. She is a proud mom of a college-aged daughter attending Vanderbilt University, and also a product of Chicago Public Schools. Cherita is a caregiver to her mother who lives with her, and a grandmother to a pittie named Pepsi who also lives with her.