Keynote Luncheon & Awards Celebration

Keynote Interview


Chicago powerhouses Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Melody Spann-Cooper will take center stage

at the Keynote Luncheon!

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot has built her career as an experienced manager, fierce advocate, and committed reformer. Before her election as the 56th mayor of Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot served as a senior equity partner in the Litigation and Conflict Resolution Group at Mayer Brown LLP, chair of Chicago’s Policy Accountability Task Force, President of the Chicago Police Board, Assistant United States Attorney, and First Deputy of the Chicago Department of Procurement Services, where she worked to revise the city’s women and minority-owned business certification and compliance programs.

Melody Spann Cooper is one of the country’s leading female broadcast executives who has mastered the art of closing the deal in a male-dominated industry. Melody is Chairman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, a best-in-class African American owned media boutique, whose properties include  WVON 1690AM, the oldest Black-oriented radio station in Chicago, and WRLL 1450AM, Chicago’s home for Hispanic independent broadcasters. The two combine to provide niche programming to Chicago’s thriving Black and Hispanic populations. Melody joined an elite list of America’s female broadcast owners after purchasing the company’s controlling interest in 1999.

Melody’s other professional affiliations include such distinctions as member of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission; Vice Chair of the Illinois Broadcasting Association; Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Council for the Obama Library Foundation; and member of the City of Chicago’s tourism board, Choose Chicago. Melody soon will be adding author to her list of accomplishments. Her first book, “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Closing the Deal”, will be released in September 2019.


Awards Celebration


Zoraida Sambolin, an Emmy winning journalist, is the Weekday Edition co-anchor of NBC 5 News Today. As the first Chicago on-air broadcaster to work at both English and Spanish language stations simultaneously, she has broken new ground for the Latinx community in the third largest broadcasting market in the US.


The award winners in the regional markets will be acknowledged and the Chicago awards will be presented.

2019 WBDC Chicago Annual Conference Award Winners
Corporate Champion Award – Peoples Gas

Public Sector Champion Award – City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection 

WBE Gold Star Award – Sharon Dalenberg, CTL Global 

Deborah Sawyer Rising Star Award – Joanna Sobran, MXOtech 

Hedy M. Ratner & S. Carol Dougal Legacy Award – Julia  Stasch, MacArthur Foundation 


2019 WBDC Regional Award Winners

Twin Cities
Corporate Champion Award – Knutson Construction   

Public Sector Award – Metropolitan State University  

WBE Gold Star Award –  Jennifer Smith,  Innovative Office Solutions 

Rising Star Award –  Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet

St. Louis
Corporate Champion Award – Bayer U.S. LLC   
Public Sector Award – State of Missouri, Office of Administration/Office of Equal Opportunity   
WBE Gold Star Award – Lianne Reizer, All America Transportation, Inc. & Petro Logistics, LLC

Rising Star Award – Lus R. Haberberger, Luzco Technologies 

Kansas City
Corporate Champion Award – KCP&L

Public Sector Award – Metropolitan Community College

WBE Gold Star Award – Rosana Privitera Biondo, President, Mark One Electric, Co., Inc.
Rising Star Award – Neelima Parasker, President & CEO, SnapIT Solutions 

Corporate Champion Award – Advocate Aurora Health

Public Sector Award – Milwaukee Public Schools

WBE Gold Star Award – Jaime Syring, Chief Executive Officer & Denise Lawien, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Trans International
Rising Star Award – Dorothy Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Saving Ourselves