From 1988-2008, Christie Hefner was Chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc., making her the longest serving female CEO of a U.S. public company. During her tenure, she oversaw policy, management and strategy in all areas. Hefner restructured the company, initiating its highly successful electronic and international expansions, including leading the company onto the Internet, making Playboy the first national magazine on the web. She also greatly expanded the leveraging of the Playboy brand via licensing, generating close to $1 billion in annual global retail sales, 80% of them in women’s products. When she left, over 40% of her executives were women. For three years she was named to FORTUNE’s list of the 100 Most Powerful Women.
She now has a portfolio of business activities which includes serving as Chairman of Hatch Beauty, a brand and product innovation company in the personal care space; on the advisory board of the R.D. Offutt Company, a multi-billion dollar family owned agricultural conglomerate; and on the advisory board of Coin Lion, a cryptocurrency exchange and portfolio management platform that rewards users for sharing information related to the management of digital assets.
She is also senior strategic advisor to the largest for profit massage therapy and skin care school and to a fifth generation Midwest media company with newspaper and television stations.
She is active in civic and political affairs, serving on the board of the D.C. based Center for American Progress Action, the leading progressive public policy think tank, and for over 20 years, on the board of Trustees for Rush University Medical Center. She spent four years as project board chairman for the CORE Center which conducts clinical research and provides prevention education and outpatient care for people with HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. She’s a Civic Leadership Committee Member of the Better Government Association which is awarding her with the Daniel L. Goodwin Watchdog Award this fall.
She received the first ever Voice Award from the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and gave the keynote speech in May.
She was a founding member of The Chicago Network, The Committee of 200, and the Chicago Chapter of Women Corporate Directors, and she was the first woman elected into the Chicago Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization. She has also served on the board of advisors for Springboard since 2007, which coaches women entrepreneurs, particularly in the tech space, and has raised over $6 billion for women run companies.
Christie’s a native Chicagoan who graduated from Brandeis University summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American literature and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year of college
Dennis Chookaszian is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of CNA Insurance Companies. Joining CNA in 1975 as chief financial offer, he also served as CNA’s chairman and chief executive officer, chairman of the executive committee, president and chief operating officer. Mr. Chookaszian also served as chairman and CEO of mPower Inc, an internet financial advisory service, from 1999 to 2001. Prior to joining CNA, he was a management consultant with Deloitte for eight years working on various financial and systems related assignments.
Mr. Chookaszian served as chairman of FASAC (Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council) which provides guidance to the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) on accounting matters for five years and completed his term in 2012. He was also a member of the FCAG (Financial Crisis Advisory Group) which was the international commission that was created to develop recommendations to solve the financial reporting problems associated with the financial crisis of 2008.
During his career, he has served as a director on the boards of thirteen publicly traded corporations and fifty private corporations. He is currently a director of four public companies including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the world’s largest financial futures and derivatives exchange, Career Education, a private post-secondary education provider, Maxar Technologies, a space satellite technology company, and Pillarstone Capital, a real estate investment trust. He also serves as a director of a number of private corporations and has served as an arbitrator in eleven diverse cases and an expert witness in twelve cases.
Mr. Chookaszian is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and teaches courses in Corporate Governance. He also teaches a course in International Corporate Governance at Cheung Kong University in China, Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance in China, and at IIPM in India.
Mr. Chookaszian is a member of the national board of the Boy Scouts of America, a trustee of Northwestern University, a member of the advisory board of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a member of the advisory board of Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He is also a director of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and president of the Foundation for Health Enhancement.
Mr. Chookaszian has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University, an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business, and a master of science degree in economics from the London School of Economics. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a Chartered Global Management Accountant, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, and a Certified Management Consultant as well as a member of the directors’ table of Beta Gamma Sigma, an honorary fraternity. In 2010, Mr. Chookaszian received the Outstanding Director Award from the Financial Times Outstanding Directors Exchange.
Brenda J. Gaines retired as President and CEO of Citicorp Diners Club, a member of Citigroup. Gaines was responsible for leading the activities of the North American franchise in the global twenty-nine billion-dollar Diners Club International network. She served on the Diners Club International Global Board and the Citibank Canada Board of Directors.
Prior to joining Citibank, Gaines served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Chicago’s Mayor Harold Washington and as Commissioner of the Department of Housing for the City of Chicago.
Gaines received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her graduate degree from Roosevelt University, Chicago.
Ms. Gaines is a director of Tenet Healthcare and Southern Company Gas. She is a former director and Audit Chair of CNA Financial Inc. and Office Depot and Compensation Committee Chair at Fannie Mae. She is a former director of Nicor and AGL Resources. She currently chairs the Audit Committee at Tenet Healthcare. Ms. Gaines also serves on the National Board of the Smithsonian Institution and is a Director on the National Association of Corporate Directors.
Ms. Gaines has twice been honored as one of the NACD Directorship 100. In 2004, Ebony Magazine named Gaines in “15 at the Top in Corporate America” and Crain’s Chicago Business recognized her as one of the “100 Most Influential Women”. In 2002, Fortune Magazine recognized Gaines as one of “The Most Powerful Black Executives in America” and Black Enterprise Magazine included her as one of the “Top Fifty Blacks in Corporate America”. Ms. Gaines has been featured in the New York Times “The Boss” column and was also honored by her alma mater, Roosevelt University with the “Otto Wirth Award” for lifetime achievement.
Ami Wynne is a partner with Sidley Austin, LLP and global co-leader of the firm’s employment practice. She regularly defends employers in employment discrimination, restrictive covenant, contract disputes, and employment-related cases in state and federal courts. These litigation matters include both individual and class claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Federal Rail Safety Act and other employment statutes. She also handles employment matters in arbitrations and before administrative agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and various state departments of labor and fair employment agencies.
Ami also counsels employers of all sizes with respect to reviewing, drafting, and implementing employment policies, issues surrounding reductions in force and facility closings, termination and other personnel decisions, employment-related government contractor obligations and numerous other employment-related matters. She conducts internal investigations concerning discrimination, harassment, conflict of interest and other employment-related issues, involving employees at all levels of the company.
Ami was recognized as a “Best Lawyer” in the 2015–2017 editions of The Best Lawyers in America in Employment Law – Management. She is a member of Sidley Austin’s Diversity Committee, sits on the board of directors of Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth, and was a 2012 Fellow in Leadership Greater Chicago, an organization that cultivates Chicago’s business, public and civic leaders through a deeper understanding of the issues facing the community.
Ami graduated Harvard with her B.A. 1997 cum laude and received her J.D. there in 2000