Cheryl Mayberry McKissack

Founder, President & CEO, Nia Enterprises, Chicago, Il.

If Cheryl Mayberry McKissack had all the time in the world, what would she do? She would spend a couple of months in France, Italy or Spain, but not in coffee shops or lazing on Mediterranean beaches, she says. Instead, she says, she would spend her time ?learning the language.?

That should come as no surprise, considering that McKissack, president and CEO of Nia Enterprises L.L.C., has made a career of getting the language right and the message heard. Nia Enterprises, which McKissack founded in 2000, is a Chicago-based research, systems integration and marketing services firm catering to a special cadre of consumers?African-American women and their families. With a consumer advisory panel made up of members of this group, Nia allows its client companies to tap into the buying habits and preferences of the nation?s largest consumer buying ower group.

A native of Seattle, Wash., McKissack earned a bachelor of science degree at Seattle University, completing the four-year program in just two and a half years. She also holds a master?s degree in business administration from Northwestern University?s J.L. Kellogg School of Management. Her education provided ?a base of experience to build upon,? she says. She recently was named an associate adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Business.

McKissack founded Nia after wrapping up a successful 23-year corporate career in technology, including a stint as worldwide senior vice president and general manager at Open Port Technology Inc., a leading French provider of Internet messaging solutions. She also was a co-founder and vice president of the Network Systems division of 3Com Corp. (formerly US Robotics) and, prior to that spent 14 years in sales, marketing and management positions at IBM Corp.

A celebrated entrepreneur, McKissack has been featured in several publications besides TNJ and on the Web sites and She is the co-editor of ?The Nia Guide for Black Women: Achieving Career Success on Your Terms, Balancing Work & Life and Choosing Health and Wellness? (Agate Publishing, 2005).

McKissack and her husband, Eric, live in Chicago.