WESTCHESTER, Ill. (WLS) -- A local businesswoman will be honored for empowering young women to take an interest in STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Ilene Gordon's commitment to giving back makes Chicago proud.
Gordon is the chairman, president and CEO of Ingredion, an ingredient solutions provider based in Westchester, Ill. She is just one of 32 female CEOs in the Fortune 500, but her career achievements are not what is most important to her.
"It's important for me to mentor others and be a successful role model. So I love to be a leader and to be able to portray success for my company and my industry. But it also makes me feel that it's important that I share my knowledge and expertise in my company and in my community," Gordon said.
She does this by personally overseeing and partnering with Jackie Lomax, the founder and executive director of Girls 4 Science, a grassroots non-profit.
"I had to depend on the community, along with other professionals, to really lead by example - to meet the needs of families and create an impact in a systemic way, in the job force," Lomax said.
"So we actually came to know Jackie Lomax, who started the organization. She wrote me a letter one day and was interested in the organization because it was all about encouraging young women," Gordon said. "S when I saw Jackie's letter, I thought it was a great grassroots organization for us to have an impact."
Gordon said her goal is empower the next generation of female CEOs.
"It's actually making me feel like I am making a difference. I believe that one day, about 20 years from now, I'm going to receive a letter from one of them - or a text - and they're going to become a CEO or a leader in their organization," Gordon said. "In a way, I feel like I'm paying it forward, because people did that for me. They believed in me - in my career."
The Chicago Chamber of Commerce will honor Gordon Wednesday night with the Burnham Award. This award highlights business leaders who have a focus on building a better community.
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Woman CEO to be honored for civic leadership; encourages girls to study STEM