Leadership Team

Executive Leadership Team
Jean LaVallie
Chief Executive Officer/Founder

After 25 years as a stay at home mom, and loving every moment of it, when my kids grew up, I knew I wanted to get back out into the workforce and give back to society. I knew I had a determined mindset and was willing to work hard and a quick learner. Unfortunately, I discovered quickly, that for some companies, women have an expiration date for being hired as a newbie.

So, not one to stay long in the pity pool, I looked for other ways to “get myself out there”. Some one suggested networking to me, and all I I could think of was, “What is Networking?”. In the years at home with my kids, the only “networking” I did was with the school and my kid’s friends’ parents!

So, I found places to network. I was intimidated and nervous. Every time I had to stand in front of a group and share my passion and business, my knees went weak and my stomach turned.

Until I found a little group called “Women Entrepreneurs’ Secrets of Success”. These ladies were different! For the cost of my breakfast, I met some really nice women that encouraged me to be confident, and assured me everyone starts out like me. What a relief.

To make a very long story short, I ended up becoming the organizer of that group, and it grew. It grew under the intention that every woman that walked through the door to our meetings was there to build relationships and help out others that might not be at the same success level as they were.

I built WESOS for the simple reason that I wanted a safe, supportive, friendly, inexpensive and fun place to network. Turns out I was not the only one looking for that.

WESOS and it’s membership is my main focus of business today. I love entrepreneurs and the life they breathe into society. I especially love women entrepreneurs because they understand that success is just that much sweeter when you succeed with collaboration and support. Success is that much sweeter when you succeeded and so have your friends!

I am an empty nester now, living with my life long buddy (from high school) my husband, Scott.
I look forward to meeting all the members of WESOS and finding out how WESOS can help each of entrepreneur succeed!

I created WESOS as a place that I felt comfortable networking and now I’m thrilled that thousands of women feel the same way!

Founding Sister

Denise Schmidt
Chief Operations Officer/Partner

After 3 decades of successful serial entrepreneurship, plus management of Chambers of Commerce and membership organizations, I’ve made Women Entrepreneurs Secrets of Success (WESOS) my home as its C.O.O.  My passion is connecting members with colleagues and collaborators while educating them to be profitable and engaged business owners. I believe that women see business in a fundamentally different way, a more collaborative one rather than simply a  transactional one. Using those inherent gifts can take an idea from a Dream to a Success with the right guidance.

In addition to shepherding the operational side of the WESOS Network, I’m one of the creative forces behind the WESOS Foundation as its President and Executive Director. The WESOS Foundation is a recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization that is devoted to the education of women business owners and the identification of budding entrepreneurs from socially and economically underserved communities. I believe that the Universe distributes talent equally. It does not, however, distribute opportunity equally. That’s where the WESOS Foundation can make a difference.

One a personal note, I’m married to an adorable and supportive man that I met on a wrong number in another country. ( Ask – its a fun story!)



Why do I love WESOS? Because I’m surrounded by vibrant, authentic women who value their relationships as much as their businesses. They understand that what makes them unique is what makes them valuable.

Founding Sister

Chapter Leadership Team

Missy Juarez

Aurora Chapter Leader


Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Jean LaVallie

Chicago Chapter Leader


Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Kathy Kessenich

Evanston Chapter Leader

Massage Therapist

Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Deana Lanham

Geneva Chapter Leader

A Royal Paint

Lifetime Member

Mary Wu

Lisle Chapter Leader

Social Media Consultant

Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Alison Ver Halen

Oak Park Chapter Leader

Alison Ver Halen Marketing

Lifetime Member

Cindy Sellentin

Orland Park Chapter Leader

Closets, Life & Style

Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Nicole Domico

Park Ridge Chapter Leader

Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski

Lifetime Member

Terrie Vanover

Plainfield Chapter Leader

Choosing to Rise

Lifetime Member


Portland Chapter Leader

Kira Swanson Coaching

Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Success Strategist

Kimberly Montesinos

Schaumburg Chapter Leader

Crystal Klear Cleaning

Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Heather Schmidt

South Naperville Chapter Leader

Keller Williams Realty

Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Julie Quigley

Wilmington Chapter Leader

Build Financial Wellness

Founding Sister

Lifetime Member

Shannon Nuzbach

Yorkville Chapter Leader

John Greene Realty

Lifetime Member

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