Hedy M. Ratner is founder, President Emerita of and Consultant to the Women’s Business Development Center, the largest, oldest—33 years—and most comprehensive women’s business assistance center in the U.S. The Women’s Business Development Center has a national and international reputation for advocacy and programs for women’s economic empowerment. WBDC initiates and implements women’s business programs in 9 Midwestern states and has served over 85,000 women in the Midwest developing successful women owned businesses.
An advocate and activist for women’s issues for more than 45 years, Hedy is dedicated to social justice and advocacy for the empowerment of women locally, nationally and internationally. Hedy was appointed by President Clinton to the National Women’s Business Council; by Illinois Governor Quinn to the Illinois Economic Recovery Commission and the Business Enterprise Program Council and the Broadband Deployment Council; by Chicago Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley to the Blue Ribbon Council on Minority and Women’s Business programs and to the Affirmative Action Advisory Council; and to the Cook County Commission on Human Rights by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Hedy helped to create and and served on the Illinois Women’s Business Ownership Council and the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women in Illinois. In 2002 she was appointed to the Illinois Development Finance Authority and was appointed by three Illinois Governors to the Illinois Business Enterprise Council where she continues to serve. Hedy was also honored to officially represent the U.S. Department of State on the economic empowerment of women in Belarus, Moldova, India, Kuwait and Taiwan.
Hedy served as Co-Chairperson of the Women’s Health Task Force by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and serves on task forces on minority and women’s business enterprise issues for the city and state. She formerly served as a board member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau; currently serves as a member of the National Council of Women’s Organizations; the Chicago Network, Federation of Women Contractors, City Club of Chicago, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Women International and is a founding member of the Alliance of Minority and Female Contractors Associations.
Her educational background includes an M.Ed from DePaul University; an M.S. from the University of Chicago; A. B. and M.Ed. from University of California and an Associate of Arts degree from Los Angeles City College.
The Founders Award honors a leader who has been working and advocating for women and girls for 30 years or more.
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