Cheryl Francis

Audit Committee Chair


Current public company boards: Aon, HNI, Morningstar

Prior public company boards: Hewitt Associates, Lands’ End

Executive Experience: Cheryl currently serves as a director on three corporate boards: Aon plc, Morningstar, and HNI Corporation. She sits on the compensation and finance committees for Aon; chairs the audit committee and serves on the compensation committee for Morningstar; and serves as lead director and sits on the public policy and corporate governance committee for HNI. She is a Cornell University emeritus trustee and presidential councillor, chair of the board of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, and serves on the board of advisors of Chicago Trading Company. She formerly served on the boards of Hewitt Associates, Lands’ End, and Cornell University, as well as chaired The Chicago Network, Chicago’s leading professional women’s organization.

As executive vice president and chief financial officer of R.R. Donnelley and Sons Co. from 1995 to 2000, Cheryl oversaw all financial functions, including mergers and acquisitions, of the $5 billion print services company. Under her leadership, return on investment improved to greater than 14% from 1%, return on equity exceeded 23%, cash generation increased more than $200 million per year, and organic revenue grew faster than industry indices.

Earlier in her career, Cheryl was treasurer of FMC Corporation, its first woman officer, and an adjunct professor at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her MBA from Chicago Booth.

Cheryl Francis is co-founder and co-chair of Corporate Leadership Center (CLC), a mission- driven non-profit which partners with CEOs, respected academics, and expert practitioners to advance corporate leaders and leadership practices through its two programs: CEO Perspectives and Leading Women Executives. To date, 17 CEOs have spoken at and sponsored executives in CLC programs. CLC’s academic partners include professors from University of Chicago, Northwestern, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Michigan, and others. Notably, 13% of CEO Perspectives’ program alumni are now corporate CEOs and 26% sit on corporate boards. Cheryl plays an active role in CLC oversight and programming, which includes candid dialogues with dozens of CEOs and experts discussing emerging and persistent business issues.

Additional information: Cheryl is a frequent lecturer in university and business settings on subjects ranging from corporate governance, strategy and leadership, and the advancement of women. She chaired the judging committee for Financial Executive International’s Chicago CFO of the Year award from its inception in 2011 through 2014. She also served on the board of CFA Society of Chicago 2015-16, and led the major gifts campaign for her Cornell Class’s 40th and 45th reunion. Cheryl was honored for community leadership by the YWCA in 2004. She is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago and The Chicago Network.