The Women’s
Leadership Center
at Williams Bay

Join us on a journey gaining momentum in Williams Bay, Wisconsin

Our mission is to create a special center for women—an inspiring setting where leaders can come together to learn … to innovate … to exchange ideas … to reflect … to challenge old models … and to create new possibilities.

Simply, we believe the Center can be the place where conversations happen that change the world.

Our home will be a beautiful eight-acre campus on the shores of Geneva Lake, a site with deep historical associations and exceptional natural beauty, nestled on pristine woodlands that adjoin George Williams College of Aurora University and Yerkes Observatory.

Here we will convene women leaders at the forefront of public and private enterprise, global supply chain, engineering and technology, infrastructure and design, space and astrophysics, creating global solutions to complex problems in a setting designed to foster conversation and collaboration.

The Center is a place for celebrating what has been … and imagining what could be. In our vision, the stars for women’s leadership are aligning over Williams Bay. Please join us.

Ann M. Drake
Chair and President

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A Unique Lakefront Setting Steeped in History and Beauty

Our home overlooks Geneva Lake, an environmentally sensitive and significant setting where we will operate in harmony with land, water, and sky.

Williams Bay, WI

The rolling hills of Williams Bay have been home for millennia to Native Americans, deep forests, and vibrant wetlands. The present-day community is dedicated to nature, education, history, and outdoor pursuits.

Yerkes Observatory

A triumph of architecture and technology, Yerkes Observatory is considered the birthplace of modern astrophysics, where leading astronomers such as Edwin Hubble and Nancy Grace Roman conducted groundbreaking research.

George Williams College

The Center will adjoin the beautiful campus of George Williams College, a private school specializing in service-related degrees. We look forward to sharing resources and inspiration with GWC as a kindred spirit in education and development.


Investing in the Future of Williams Bay

The Women’s Leadership Center at Williams Bay is a bold investment in the future of our community. It is a once-in-a-century opportunity to foster positive change in our hometown.

Economic Growth

Building and staffing the center will create new jobs and part-time work opportunities. New income and sources of revenue will be generated as the Center and its visitors utilize local businesses, service providers, and nearby hotels. New and returning visitors will be regional and national leaders in business, technology, culture, science, and finance.

Nature Preservation

Integrated with the wooded Geneva Lake shoreline, the Center has been planned in harmony with the land, reflecting the area’s sophistication and commitment to sustainability. Our plans preserve 81% of the landscape surface. We are adding 220 trees and restoring the land with native vegetation.

Cultural Significance

We’ll enhance William Bay’s historic reputation as a location of thought leadership as well as science and the arts. The Center will be part of an emerging “cultural campus” shaped by Yerkes Observatory, George Williams College and the Women’s Leadership Center, where world-class architectural design, art, learning, and innovation flourish.


What We Aspire to Do and Hope to Accomplish

Every opportunity at the Center is grounded in a connection to nature. From the moment of arrival until departure, guest experiences are curated to allow for the most free and novel thinking, creating, and doing.


Putting together trained minds in the perfect environment to incubate fresh answers to complex questions.


Encouraging future leaders by connecting them with trailblazing women at the forefront of their professions.


Serving as a convening place for collaborations to advance the best and boldest ideas from women leaders in our key focus areas.


New possibilities emerge when theorists and researchers collaborate with boots-on-the-ground leaders to envision a better future.


Systemic issues affecting women’s advancement are tackled and addressed through connections and dialogue not previously explored.

Focus Areas

We Are Invested in the Advancement of Women’s Leadership

We improve the world by improving the underlying systems in which women live and work. Our focus is on supporting women in the following fields:


If women today can look forward to more satisfying lives and careers, they still have far to go before the business community fully realizes their gifts.

What will it take to tap this talent pool in a way that helps us all? A brighter future lies in fostering systems and organizational cultures that invest in women as leaders, champion their contributions, and connect them powerfully to peers.

Global Supply Chain

In one generation, the global supply chain has dramatically changed how we live and work. In this new world, we need new ways of interacting. Women are rising well to this challenge. How can we keep attracting, promoting, and advancing talented female leaders to guide the global supply chain, with its promise and responsibility for our shared future?

Engineering + Technology

How can we encourage more women and girls to enter STEM careers? And, once they’re there, how can we encourage them to stay and thrive? Women who push ahead despite challenges can enjoy profound rewards. The deciding factor in overcoming obstacles is often a helping hand or inspired mentor at the right time and place.

Infrastructure + Design

Well-designed infrastructure creates swift connections between people, ideas, and resources; good design makes life more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring and more informative.

Some of our best minds in systems and design thinking belong to women. How can we champion even more of them to flourish in these fields?

Space + Astrophysics

Crewed space exploration is going to the moon…and beyond. The future promises permanent lunar outposts for research, manufacturing, and logistics. This next phase will need new partnerships between public and private enterprise. Some of the most innovative initiatives are being piloted by women engineers, entrepreneurs, and investors. Let’s encourage women to lead in this adventure—on earth and throughout the skies.

I realized I wanted to throw my wholehearted support behind
helping women succeed in areas I think are crucial
to our future—and making that future better for everyone.

Inaugural Advisory Board

Ann M. Drake

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

  • President & Founder,
    Lincoln Road Enterprises, LLC
  • Chair & Founder,
    AWESOME Leaders NFP

Dorrit Bern

Delavan, Wisconsin

  • Former Chairman, President and CEO,
    The Charming Shoppes, Inc.
  • Board Director, Foster Business School,
    University of Washington
  • Jay H. Baker Retail Advisory Board, The Wharton School,
    University of Pennsylvania

Francesca Cornelli, PhD

Evanston, Illinois

  • Dean, Kellogg School of Management,
    Northwestern University
  • Donald P. Jacobs Chair in Finance
  • Professor of Finance

Chevy Humphrey

Chicago, Illinois

  • President & Chief Executive Officer,
    Griffin Museum of Science and Industry
  • Board Director, Choose Chicago,
    Helios Education Foundation

Eva Maddox

Chicago, Illinois

  • Former Design Principal,
    Perkins & Will
  • Founder,
    Eva Maddox Branded Environments
  • Co-Founder,

Angela Olinto, PhD

Chicago, Illinois

  • Provost, Columbia University and former University of Chicago
  • Albert A. Michaelson, Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics

Ellen Rudnick

Chicago, Illinois

  • Senior Advisor,
    Polsky Center
  • Former Executive Director, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation,
    University of Chicago
  • Board Director,
    Liberty Mutual, First Midwest Bank, Patterson Companies, MATTER

Donna de St. Aubin

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

  • President & Principal,
    St. Aubin, Haggerty & Associates, Inc.
  • Board Director,
    Arc of Hope

Donna Zarcone

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

  • Former President & CEO,
    The Economic Club of Chicago
  • Board Director,
    The Duchossois Group, Cigna, CDW, Smithsonian