Cheryl Francis is a director of three corporate boards: Aon plc, Morningstar, and HNI Corporation. She is a member of the Compensation and Finance Committees for Aon; Audit Committee Chair and a member of the Compensation Committee for Morningstar; and a member of the Audit Committee for HNI. She is a Cornell University Emeritus Trustee and Presidential Councillor, and a board member of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. Francis formerly served on the boards of Hewitt Associates, Lands’ End, and Cornell University; and was chair of The Chicago Network, Chicago’s leading professional women’s organization.
Francis’ board experience includes chairing the audit committees of four public companies and Cornell University; serving as Lead Director of Hewitt Associates through a successful CEO search and, later, sale of the company; serving on all major board committees; starting up the audit committee for two newly public companies (Hewitt Associates and Morningstar); playing a leadership role in CEO succession (HNI and Hewitt Associates); and board service outside of the U.S. (London-based Aon plc).
Cheryl Francis is co-founder and Co-Chairman of Corporate Leadership Center (CLC), a mission-driven non-profit which partners with CEOs and respected academics to advance top corporate leaders and leadership practices. More than 70 CEOs have spoken at and sponsored executives into Corporate Leadership Center programs in the last decade, and CLC’s academic partners include professors from Kellogg, Booth, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Michigan, and others. 13% of alumni of CLC’s CEO Perspectives program are now corporate CEOs and 20% sit on corporate boards.
Francis plays an active, hands-on role in CLC programming which includes candid dialogue with dozens of CEOs discussing emerging and persistent business issues.
Cheryl Francis was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of R.R. Donnelley and Sons Co. from 1995 to 2000. She oversaw all financial functions, including mergers and acquisitions, of this $5 billion print services company. Under her leadership, return on investment improved to greater than 14% from 10%, return on equity exceeded 23%, cash generation increased more than $200 million per year, and organic revenue grew faster than industry indices. Earlier in her career, Francis was Treasurer of FMC Corporation, its first woman officer, and an adjunct professor at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her MBA from Chicago Booth.
Cheryl Francis is a frequent lecturer and panelist in university and business settings on subjects ranging from corporate governance, strategy and leadership, and the advancement of women. Francis has chaired the judging committee for Financial Executive International’s Chicago CFO of the Year award since its inception in 2011. She was honored for Community Leadership by the YWCA in 2004. She is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago and The Chicago Network.