2nd Annual Women in Leadership Event




Women in Leadership Event Highlights Successful Chicago Women


CHICAGO, April 6, 2017 – The Firebird Foundation, in collaboration with The Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International had celebrated International Women’s Day with the Second Annual Women in Leadership event on the evening of Thursday, March 16, 2017, at the Union League Club of Chicago. With over 70 guests, including Russian-speaking and American guests, both ladies and gentlemen, Women in Leadership featured a panel of high-profile women of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds, who have prospered as executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders in Chicago, along with networking and dinner.



“This year, we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Sister Cities relationship between Moscow and Chicago. We have several programs prepared through the year, and we are excited to open the season with the “Women in Leadership” event”, - said Aleksandra Efimova, Co-Chair of the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International and Founder of Russian Pointe and Growing Through Arts, Chicago-based arts-oriented brands that provide dance supplies and educational products. “This year’s event brought together a unique panel of speakers, including the head of non-profit organization, an executive from the corporate world, an entrepreneur and an artist.”



Speakers at the event included Rita Fisher, V.P. and Head of Global Business Services of The Kraft Heinz Company (Born in Minsk, former USSR, now Belarus), Ana Dutra, President and Chief Executive Officer at The Executives’ Club of Chicago (Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Yana Reznik, Founder, Producer, Pianist and Host of the “Playful Talk” show (Born in Moscow, Russia), and Thea Durfee Polancic, Founder and President of the Chicago Chapter of Conscious Capitalism and former Chief Administrative Officer of Caterpillar’s Moscow Office (Born in Peoria, IL).


Panelists had courteously shared their knowledges, experiences and revelations about their journey to the success.

Mrs. Fisher said, “I was delighted and honored to celebrate the International Women's Day with the amazing group of talented women leaders, who shared their life stories and provided a great perspective on leadership. Our personal lives and professional journeys give us many lessons and inspire us to accomplish new possibilities.  This event and the audience touched me with their insightful questions and great discussions afterwards.”


Most of the distinguished panelists were immigrants to the United States, who bringing a tremendous contribution to the community in many positive ways. Some, had experience establishing their career path living in a foreign country. Thea Polancic shared: "My experience in Russia in the second half of the 90's was a crucible for my later career: I learned that I can be a strong business person without relinquishing my femininity, that it's a smart move to take on jobs you don't think you know how to do, and that the world is full of natural contradiction and gray areas. Ultimately, I came home a more interesting, complex person with some incredible experiences under my belt."


Those outstanding women, combined their strong educational background with desire to achieve, work ethics and perseverance into one successful formula that lead them to the highest summits throughout their lives. Yana Reznik said: “As a concert pianist, being a part of a team consisting of strong business women leaders, was inspiring to me. It is crucial to emphasize the importance of the arts in our community and to continue to bring awareness and education to wider audiences. It is heartening to see Sister Cities supporting the artistic causes and influence others to be involved not only in business, but humanities as well.”



A panel discussion with the speakers was moderated by Ms. Efimova, who said, “What I especially liked about this year’s event is the diverse backgrounds of speakers. It was interesting to hear the similarities in the experiences despite the fact that most began their careers in different parts of the world. During the Q&A time those similarities revealed themselves even stronger. From managing family and career to the meaning of success and true leadership, the similarity that everyone noticed is the strength of their characters and their commitment to succeed despite challenges and obstacles. Truly speaking, it is the character and courage that leads to success and not the field of work that was chosen or the background the person came from.” 



“I was honored to share the stage with so many accomplished global female leaders in the “Women in Leadership” dinner sponsored by Firebird Foundation and Moscow Committee. I hope that our stories and messages of perseverance, hard work and grit will resonate with the audience, particularly the women, for many years. What a fabulous, glamorous and insightful event and discussion. Looking forward to next year.” – Ana Dutra




Chicago Sister Cities International

Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI), a division of World Business Chicago, provides leadership to develop, manage and coordinate comprehensive programs and projects with Chicago’s 28 sister cities in the areas of cultural arts and tourism, global education, government relations and international business. CSCI expands Chicago’s global reach for the benefit of the City of Chicago, its residents and businesses.

For more information on Chicago Sister Cities International, visit www.ChicagoSisterCities.com, follow us on Twitter (@ChiSisterCities) or “Like” us on Facebook, Facebook.com/ChicagoSisterCities.

Chicago’s 28 sister cities include: Accra, Ghana (1989); Amman, Jordan (2004); Athens, Greece (1997); Belgrade, Serbia (2005); Birmingham, United Kingdom (1993); Bogota, Colombia (2009); Busan, Republic of Korea (2007); Casablanca, Morocco (1982); Delhi, India (2001); Durban, South Africa (1997); Galway, Ireland (1997); Gothenburg, Sweden (1987); Hamburg, Germany (1994); Kyiv, Ukraine (1991); Lahore, Pakistan (2007); Lucerne, Switzerland (1998); Mexico City, Mexico (1991); Milan, Italy (1973); Moscow, Russia (1997); Osaka, Japan (1973); Paris, France (1996); Petach Tikva, Israel (1994); Prague, Czech Republic (1990); Shanghai, China (1985); Shenyang, China (1985); Toronto, Canada (1991); Vilnius, Lithuania (1993); and Warsaw, Poland (1960).