NAWBO Kansas City is honored to announce our Keynote Speaker for the 2018 Women In Business Summit held October 18, 2018! Virginia Littlejohn!
Virginia Littlejohn is President and Co-Founder of Quantum Leaps, a global accelerator for women’s entrepreneurship. She is also a Delegate to the Women20 (W20) for the G20 countries, and currently chairs Women’s Entrepreneurship for the W20 (after chairing Digital Inclusion in 2017). As Senior Advisor on Women’s Entrepreneurship to the OECD’s Small and Medium Enterprise and Entrepreneurship program from 1996 to 2006, she co-organized 3 global and 2 regional women entrepreneurial best practice conferences in Paris and Istanbul. She also helped the Center for International Private Enterprise – the US Chamber of Commerce’s 501 (c)(3) arm – set up an initiative to train women entrepreneurial leaders from 50 developing countries in 1997.
Quantum Leaps was created in 2002 to share best practices, and to spur development of a global women entrepreneurial ecosystem. Virginia provided initial incubation for the Global Banking Alliance for Women, a group that now consists of 45 banks that operate in 140 countries; incubated WEConnect International, which certifies women’s business enterprises in 25 countries; and created Roadmaps to 2020 and Beyond for the US and major cities in India. She is currently incubating FutureForward, designed to close the innovation gap between male and female entrepreneurs, and to link women scientists with high-growth women-owned businesses.
Since 2010, Virginia has served as the Lead International Consultant and now as the SheTrades Global Strategist for the Women & Trade program of the International Trade Centre (ITC, a joint agency of the UN and the World Trade Organization in Geneva). In 2015, she also wrote ITC’s SheTrades Call to Action, a set of seven policy issues designed to bring 1 million women to market by 2020. ITC reached that goal in 2017.
Virginia was President of the Capital Area Chapter of NAWBO for two years in the early 1980s, while also serving as NAWBO’s national Public Affairs Chair. She served as National President in 1984-85, and NAWBO affiliated with Les Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises Mondiales (FCEM, or the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs) at the beginning of her national presidency. NAWBO also organized the world’s first women entrepreneurial trade mission during her presidency. Virginia served on the FCEM Steering Committee, and later served as Vice President of FCEM.
Virginia was an advisor to the US Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise during the Carter Administration in the late 1970s; coordinated the national lobbying effort to get the Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership funded in 1980; and organized NAWBO’s first two national public affairs days. She was a delegate to all three White House Conferences on Small Business in 1980, 1986 and 1995, and chaired NAWBO’s historic White House Conference effort in 1986, for which NAWBO had more delegates than any other small business association. She also co-authored NAWBO’s set of policy issues, Framework for the Future, of which 26 out of 27 were adopted at the 1986 White House
Conference in 1986. Virginia was one of the 3 primary architects of HR 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act, signed by President Reagan on October 25, 1988.
Virginia has served on the National Women’s Business Council; the US Department of Commerce Advisory Council on Services; on the US Chamber of Commerce’s Council on Small Business, and the Small Business Legislative Council (for both of which she started and chaired their International Trade committees); and on the Board of the World Association of Small and Medium Enterprises. Virginia has also served on the American Express Small Business Partnership Advisory Board; on IBM’s Small and Medium Business Research and Technology Advisory Board; on the advisory council of the Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders (GWEL) Scorecard sponsored by Dell; and as North American Jury President for the Cartier Women’s Business Initiative Awards for 5 years. She currently serves on the Walmart International Advisory Council, on Enterprising Women Magazine’s Advisory Board, and has been a US Delegate to the Women 20 since 2016.
Virginia received the US Small Business Administration’s first Women’s Business Advocate of the Year Award in 1980; NAWBO’s first Women’s Business Advocate of the Year Award, and later its Legacy Award; was awarded the Applause Award by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC); the President’s Award by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP); the Priyadarshini Award by the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE); the Champions Award by WEConnect in India; the Lifetime Achievement Award by the China American Business Women’s Alliance; and the Lifetime Achievement Award by The International Alliance for Women (TIAW). She was inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame; and was inducted into the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Hall of Fame sponsored by the American Institute of Diversity and Commerce (AIDC), which presented her with its Trailblazer Award.
Virginia has lived out of the US for approximately 20 years, and has lived, worked in and traveled to approximately 90 countries. She is married and has two grown sons, and a 6-year old granddaughter. She currently lives in the Washington DC area.