Chicago Partner Jeanne Gills has been selected as one of Chicago United’s 2021 Business Leaders of Color.
Gills is one of 50 people chosen this year to join the network of 420 diverse executives in Chicago’s business community deemed qualified and ready to step into corporate board directorships. Since 2003, Business Leaders of Color have served on more than 300 corporate boards.
Chicago United’s mission is to achieve parity in economic opportunity for people of color by advancing multiracial leadership in corporate governance, expanding the talent pipeline for executive-level management, and growing minority businesses. Its vision is to transform the Chicago region into the most inclusive business ecosystem in the nation by engaging the top publicly and privately held corporations in leading talent management and inclusive diversity practices, in part by introducing board-ready individuals of color to the business community as vetted candidates for corporate board positions.
This year’s 50 new Business Leaders of Color join a network of the most influential, diverse and inclusive leaders in the Chicago business community, serving as outstanding examples of what it means to overcome obstacles and biases to navigate the corporate landscape and ascend to leadership with boldness and confidence. They help dispel the myth that there are few qualified, dynamic, visionary and talented executives of color to step into corporate directorships in Chicago and beyond.
Gills is an intellectual property lawyer who advises clients on global IP strategy and serves as lead trial counsel in numerous patent, trade secret, trademark, copyright and unfair competition litigation and appeals, including USPTO post-grant proceedings, in diverse industries ranging from electronics to biotechnology. She is also a member of the firm’s Management Committee, through which she is responsible for helping to set and steer the strategic direction of the firm, and serves as vice chair of the national Intellectual Property Department, where she helps guide over 300 IP attorneys and professional staff on a range of strategic marketing and business development initiatives.
Gills has also leveraged her success to help increase diversity in Chicago’s legal community, all while being a single adoptive mom. She co-founded the Chicago Black Partners Alliance, a professional networking group that works to improve the recruitment, retention, advancement, and promotion of Black and other diverse attorneys in Chicago-area law firms and corporations, and is a founding member of the Black Patent Network. She also volunteers and does pro bono work for the Cradle, the Illinois agency from which she adopted her son, and has served as a mentor to high school students.