Hedy Ratner

Founder & President Emerita, The Women’s Business Development Center


Hedy M. Ratner is founder, President Emerita of and Consultant to the Women’s Business Development Center,the largest, oldest—30 years—and most comprehensive women’s business assistance center in the U.S. The Women’s Business Development Center has a national and international reputation for advocacy and programs for women’s economic empowerment. WBDC, now celebrating its 30th Anniversary, and has served over 70,000 women in the Midwest developing and supporting successful women owned businesses. WBDC implements women’s business programs in 9 Midwestern states. The Center provides counseling, training, financial, certification and procurement assistance in Spanish and English for emerging and established women business owners with additional programs for women veterans and for child care businesses

An advocate and activist for women’s issues for more than 40 years, Hedy Ratner is dedicated to social justice and advocacy for the empowerment of women locally, nationally and internationally. An advocate and activist for women’s issues, civil and human rights for more than four decades, Hedy Ratner was appointed by President Clinton to the National Women’s Business Council; by Illinois Governor Quinn to the Illinois Economic Recovery Commission and the Business Enterprise Program Council and the Broadband Deployment Council; by Chicago Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley to the Blue Ribbon Council on Minority and Women’s Business programs and to the Affirmative Action Advisory Council. Appointed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to the Cook County Commission on Human Rights. Ratner helped to advocate for and create and was appointed by Illinois Governors Edgar and Ryan to the Illinois Women’s Business Ownership Council and the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women in Illinois. In 2002 she was appointed to the Illinois Development Finance Authority and was appointed and reappointed by four Illinois Governors to the Illinois Business Enterprise Council where she continues to serve. Hedy served as Co-Chairperson of the Women’s Health Task Force by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and serves on task forces on minority and women’s business enterprise issues for the city and state. She served on the NBC Community

Council, Illinois Business Immigration Coalition and was a board member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau; currently serves as a member of the National Council of Women’s Organizations; the Chicago Network, Federation of Women Contractors, City Club of Chicago, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Women International and was a founding member of the Alliance of Minority and Female Contractors Associations. Ratner was honored to officially represent the U. S. Department of State on the economic empowerment of women in Belarus, Moldova, India, Kuwait and Taiwan

Her most recent honors were the 2015 N’Digo Foundation N’Empowerment Women Award; 2015 Remarkable Woman at the Remarkable Woman Conference; 2014 Gold Medallion Citizen Diplomacy Award by WorldChicago; for 2014 Girls in the Game Leadership Award; 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from Enterprising Woman magazine; 2014 ChildLink Advocacy and Achievement Award; 2013 Advocate Award from Entrepreneurs Experience; 2012 Lifetime Achievement Advocacy Award from the Federation of Women Contractors; 2011 Athena International Women’s Leadership Award; 2011 Association of Women’s Business Centers Leadership Award; 2011 U. S. Small Business Administration Women’s Business Center Award for the nine-state region; University of Chicago first Diversity Leadership Award in 2009; Network of Women Entrepreneurs Women Who Dare Award; the B’Nai Brith Woman of Honor Award in 2008; the Diversity Champion Award in 2007 from Diversity Edge Magazine; the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rainbow PUSH in 2006; the Compass Award from the Women’s Leadership Exchange; in 2005 Ratner received the SBA Advocate Award; the National Center for Women’s Business Research Leading by Example Award; the Anti-Defamation League’s Women of Achievement Award. In 2003 Ratner received the prestigious University of Chicago Alumni Public Service Award. Other Honors include the SBA Women’s Business Advocate of the Year; the Governor’s Women Business Advocate of the Year; the National Association of Women Business Owners Public Policy Advocate of the Year, both locally and nationally; the Bank of America Community Leader Award; National Organization of Women’s Bella Abzug Woman of Honor Award; among others.

Her educational background includes an M.Ed from DePaul University; an M.S. from the University of Chicago; A. B. and M.Ed. from University of California and an Associate of Arts degree from Los Angeles City College.