McKissack Daniel is the fifth generation of her family
to run the design and construction company founded by
her great-grandfather, a former slave who learned the
trade from his master. McKissack Daniel’s grandfather,
the first African American licensed as an architect, along
with his brother, incorporated the company in 1905. Her
mother took over the company to keep it in the family
after her father suffered a stroke. McKissack Daniel
spoke about making changes to expand the company’s
services that caused a financial crisis, resulting in the
need for a turnaround, executed by EisnerAmper.
Reiner spoke of her mentors and how they had
helped her find her path in a profession dominated
by men. She and Santelle both discussed how young
woman need mentors and advocates in their companies
to guide them towards success. They pointed out that
work-life balance was an impossible concept and noted
that men were never asked how they balanced their
professional and personal lives.
as moderator when scheduled moderator Jennifer
Palmer of Gerber Finance was called away.
Women Execs Break Glass Ceiling
The panel members were Donna M. De Carolis,
PhD, Dean of Drexel University’s Close School of
Entrepreneurship; Cheryl McKissack Daniel, president and CEO of McKissack & McKissack; Lori Reiner,
partner in charge at EisnerAmper Philadelphia and Patti
Santelle, managing partner of White & Williams.
Although the panelists were not lenders or, except
for Reiner, turnaround professionals, they all rose in
industries that are as male-dominated as commercial
lending. De Carolis was teaching at Drexel’s business
school when she realized there were many entrepreneurs on campus enrolled in business who had needs
the school was not meeting. She overcame the skepticism of her colleagues and her small budget to found the
nation’s first college of entrepreneurship.
Top (left to right): Patti B. Santelle, Esq.,
managing partner of White Whilliams, and Donna
M. De Carolis, PhD, dean of the Close School of
Entrepreneurship at Drexel University discussed
challenges and solutions for women in the
executive structure as part of the conference’s
Perspectives from Leading Women panel.
Bottom (left to right): Lori F. Reiner, partner in
charge of the Philadelphia office of EisnerAmper,
and Cheryl McKissack Daniel, president and CEO
of McKissack & McKissack, rounded out the Perspectives from Leading Women panel.