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Two Women Prove That Finance is Not Just a Man’s Game

Two women in Chicago are on a mission to prove how being female is a financial advantage.

Meet Carolyn Leonard and Monika Black, PhD. Both are remarkable leaders in their industry. Both are linked to the DePaul community. And both believe that when women enter the financial markets, lives change and communities prosper.

Leonard is CEO & Co-Founder of DyMynd, a boutique financial empowerment and social innovation firm started in 2011. Leonard’s career began at the Chicago Board Options Exchange where she became the only independent woman trader on the CBOE floor in the 1970s. She was one of the few female market makers who owned a seat on the exchange during this time.

Black is DyMynd’s Chief Strategy Officer. She led the strategic development of the DyMynd identity and DyMynd Match assessments, bringing an influx of high-net worth women and financial institutions to the table. She is a psychologist and adjunct professor at DePaul University. She also owns a business consulting firm and properties in the Chicagoland area.

When these two women joined forces, the financial grounds started shaking and more women wanted to be a part of the movement.

That’s why DyMynd hosted a “Banking on Women” conference at Bank of America – Chicago on Tuesday, April 24th. Female professionals from various backgrounds responded positively to the event, filling every vacant chair that was available in the space. All eyes were focused on the impressive group of speakers that were shifting the financial agenda for women.

Keynote speaker Lisa Kornick is the Founder of the First Women’s Bank of Chicago. This innovative financial technology space will be the first bank in Chicago owned and operated by women.

“It offers a safe space for women to be able to talk about money,” Kornick says. “We want to demystify banking and develop mentoring circles to connect women in business.”

A women’s focused FinTech panel continued the discussion by sharing their personal experiences.

“My parents had to work 3 jobs and refinance their home to help me pursue my degree at Yale University. Once I made it to Yale, I was traumatized by how much wealth was in the Yale institution and how much poverty was outside of it,” says Charisse Johnson, CFA and owner of

She recalled, “My parents bought me my first shares of Dell stock during that time to help with educational expenses. But I learned the art of investing in the stock market through J.P.Morgan’s Asset Management program.”

Not every woman gains exposure to the stock market, making it an intimidating door to walk through.

Charisse continued, “A fidelity report showed that 8 out of 10 women are scared to talk about investing to those they are close to but 75% of women want to know more. It’s a confidence thing.”

Other panelists proved that women have to get over the confidence hump quickly because their future might depend on it.

“There are two trends taking place in the world. [First,] women are living longer than men. [Second,] half of all marriages end in divorce,” says Erika Rashchke Noack, CFP and Financial Advisor at UBS.

Not only do women need to think about their future, but they also need to analyze the choices they make today and the message it sends to other women.

Kathy Cohen, Management Consultant at Accenture, promotes projects that helps women move to higher levels within an organization and stay there. “I studied executives in different areas of the organization. The first woman I came across was in Human Resources. The lack of women in [revenue-generating] executive positions showed me why I needed to stay in the room,” says Cohen. Women need to see others who look like them at executive levels in order to be motivated to keep climbing.

But if you don’t see an example or blueprint of what you want to achieve, don’t be afraid to create your own. That’s what Mary Lou Giustin, Founding Partner of Invessence, Inc. did.

“All 4 of my brothers went to college. I didn’t,” says Mary Lou Giustini. “I co-founded a digital wealth management company. I understand the problems in financial services. [Because of that ] I’ve been able to disrupt traditional financial institutions using technology.”

(Photo from Monika Black (left) and Carolyn Leonard (right) at their Money is Always in Style event. )

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Disclaimer: Wealthy Women Daily is solely educational and informational, and is not intended to give investment or trading advice of any kind. Not all asset classes are suitable for all investors. Wealthy Women Daily is a research academy that provides you with the data and analysis you need to make an informed investment decision. It is your responsibility to talk to an expert to understand how specific investments will impact you during tax time. 

About Charlene Rhinehart, CPA

Charlene Rhinehart is a Certified Public Accountant, Founder of Wealthy Women Daily, and Editor-in-Chief of the Dividend InvestHer and The Wealthy Woman Investor. Charlene is currently the Chair of the Illinois CPA Society Taxation Individual Committee. With over a decade of experience in the financial services industry, Charlene is one of the few leaders who design insights specifically for the woman investor. Charlene’s work has been featured in a variety of publications including the Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. In 2019, Charlene released her book “Dividends Are a Queen’s Best Friend”, on Amazon.

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