Emilia DiMenco

Emilia DiMenco attends the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce's Exchange trade show at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
(Alex Garcia / Chicago Tribune / 2014)

Emilia DiMenco walked away from a three-decade-long career in banking in 2013 to lead the Women’s Business Development Center.

The center’s mission to help women become financially independent through business ownership mirrored her personal interests, she told the Tribune.

Her biggest challenging in taking the reins as leader of the center was transitioning an organization that had for decades been synonymous with the names of its co-founders—Hedy Ratner and Carol Douglas.

“Our founders were such iconic women,” DiMenco told the Tribune. “And people knew what the organization did was important because they trusted Hedy. They knew she was an advocate for women. But they really didn’t know as much as they should about the direct services that we provide.”

DiMenco is no stranger to challenges. The daughter of Italian immigrants, she has survived breast cancer, divorce and the death a beloved sister. But she had a trailblazing career at BMO Harris, where in 1994 she became the first female senior vice president in Harris’ corporate and commercial bank.

DiMenco served on the board of the WBDC for several years before accepting a position as acting CEO in 2010. She serves on the city of Chicago’s Small Business Advisory Council and the state of Illinois’ Workforce Investment Board’s entrepreneurship task force.

DiMenco holds Bachelor’s of Science and MBA degrees from DePaul University.

She lives in Hinsdale.

Find her on social: @emiliadimenco Emilia DiMenco
Websites: wbdc.org