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143-year-old Commercial Club picks first female leader

UL’s Jennifer Scanlon is named chair, succeeding E. Scott Santi of Illinois Tool Works.

Jennifer Scanlon, chair of the Commercial Club of Chicago
Jennifer Scanlon
Commercial Club of Chicago

The Commercial Club of Chicago, an organization of senior business, academic and nonprofit leaders, on Wednesday named its first woman leader in the group’s 143-year history. Its new chair is Jennifer Scanlon, president and CEO of Northbrook-based UL, formerly Underwriters Laboratories.

She will succeed E. Scott Santi, chairman of Illinois Tool Works in Glenview. In turn, Santi will become chair of a Commercial Club affiliate, the Civic Committee. He replaces Frederick “Rick” Waddell, the retired chairman of Northern Trust.

“Jenny’s success as a CEO and leader in using technology to solve business problems, her record for driving international growth and her dedication to inclusive diversity make her the right leader for guiding the Commercial Club in this new decade,” Santi said.

Scanlon cited the Commercial Club’s “historic track record of driving transformative change to promote the city’s leadership and vitality and make all of our communities better places to live and work.” The club advances ideas for the city’s economic and social problems and host nine annual lunches to encourage dialogue. It is known for its support of Daniel Burnham’s seminal Plan of Chicago, published in 1909.

The Civic Committee consists of leading CEOs and supports projects affecting economic development and public policy.

Attorney Kelly Welsh continues as president of the Commercial Club and the Civic Committee, the organizations’ top staff position.