Cheryl Francis



Cheryl Francis is co-founder and Co-Chairman of Corporate Leadership Center (CLC), a partnership between major corporations and academic institutions, which advances top corporate leaders and leadership practices. CEO Perspectives, CLC's flagship program, has been offered since 2005 with the Kellogg School of Management. In 2009, CLC launched Leading Women Executives – a unique development experience for high potential women and their companies aimed at improving the cost/benefit trade-off for corporate executive women and their organizations.

Cheryl is a Director of three corporate boards: Aon Corporation, Morningstar and HNI Corporation. She is a member of the Finance and Compensation Committees for Aon, Audit Committee Chair and member of the Compensation Committee for Morningstar; and member of the Audit Committee for HNI. Cheryl formerly served on the boards of Hewitt Associates and Lands' End.

Cheryl 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, all major management processes were revamped and aligned with value-based metrics, the business portfolio and capital structure were restructured, and shared services were introduced to increase transaction processing efficiency. These initiatives led to the repurchase $1.2 billion of stock (over 21% of total), the restructuring of over $2 billion in company sales, and an improvement in return on investment to greater than 14% (vs. 10% in the early 90's) and a return on equity greater than 23%. Cash generation from the base businesses increased more than $200 million per year, while organic revenue grew faster than industry indices.

Earlier in her career, Cheryl was Treasurer of FMC Corporation, its first woman officer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Non-Profit and Community Activities

  • Cornell University Board of Trustees, Emeritus
  • Chicago Booth School of Business, Advisory Council
  • The Chicago Network (TCN), Former Chair and Board member
    • Chaired 2006 census of women board members and executives in Chicago's top 50 companies
    • Led task force that focused on increasing number of women on Boards
  • YWCA of Metro Chicago, Led campaign, along with her husband, Zed, to create new service centers and a model for economic empowerment of Chicago's working poor women.
  • Metro Chicago United Way, Board and Finance Committee member and founding member of Women's Initiative


  • Commercial Club of Chicago
  • The Chicago Network


  • Honored for Community Leadership by the YWCA in 2004
  • Featured in Harvard Business Review, Business Week, Treasury & Risk Management and CFO magazine


  • B.S. Degree, Cornell University
  • M.B.A., University of Chicago Booth School of Business
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