Board of Directors
Co-Founder and President
Virginia Littlejohn is President and Co-Founder of Quantum Leaps. 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.
Quantum Leaps was created in 2002 to share best practices, and to spur development of a global women entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ms. Littlejohn provided initial incubation for the Global Banking Alliance for Women; incubated WEConnect International; and created Roadmaps to 2020 and Beyond for the US and major Indian cities. She is currently incubating FutureForward, designed to close the innovation gap between male and female entrepreneurs.
Since 2010, she has served as the Lead International Consultant for the Women & Trade program of the International Trade Centre (a joint agency of the UN and the World Trade Organization in Geneva). She also wrote ITC’s SheTrades Call to Action, designed to bring 1 million women to market by 2020.
Ms. Littlejohn was President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in the United States, and VP of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs. She was one of three architects of the Women’s Business Ownership Act, signed by President Reagan in 1988. She previously served on the National Women’s Business Council; 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. She currently serves on the Walmart International Advisory Council; the Enterprising Women Magazine’s Advisory Board; and as a US representative to the W20 (Women’s 20) engagement group for the G20 countries.
She has received the US Small Business Administration’s first Women’s Business Advocate of the Year Award in 1980; received NAWBO’s Legacy Award; been awarded the Applause Award by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC); the President’s Award by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) in the US; 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; the Lifetime Achievement Award by The International Alliance for Women (TIAW); been inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame; and been inducted into the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Hall of Fame sponsored by the American Institute of Diversity and Commerce (AIDC), and received its Trailblazer Award.
Helene Martin Gee
Helene is Founder and President of Pink Shoe, the award-winning business network whose Patrons are UK Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP and Tessa Sanderson CBE; its founding Patron was the late Benazir Bhutto.
Helene is spearheading the development of UK’s first Economic Blueprint for Women with a Taskforce developing digital and practical solutions to scale women’s businesses. This unique global initiative created by Quantum Leaps is based upon the proven model of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and its achievements across the US.
Having established the Pink Sky Foundation to enable achievement for future leaders and support the lifelong development of women, Helene created the highly successful ‘BoardAble’ Shadowing Programme for greater diversity in board and public appointments. She regularly hosts high profile events in Westminster for international thought leaders and key influencers.
A serial entrepreneur, non-executive director, investor and media commentator, Helene sits on the Advisory Board for the Institute for Creative & Cultural Enterprise (ICCE) at Goldsmiths, London University. She was previously on the Entrepreneurship Advisory Board for the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate); board member of the Conservative Women in Small Enterprise (WiSE); founding director of Conservative Business Relations and of the W2W Business Women’s Network.
Anne Simmons-Benton is an international development expert and attorney with more than 30 years of experience driving private sector development, promoting sustainable economic growth, and increasing employment in 32 countries. She is the Executive Director of Arizona State University’s (ASU) International Development Team based in Washington, D.C. and leads the strategy for ASU’s international engagement to leverage the university’s expertise to help solve complex global problems.
Anne is an international development practitioner and attorney with experience in trade, commercial law, competitiveness in economic growth and gender. Anne brings experience working on international development from within the government and on the ground in implementation.
She worked for DAI for four years in various leadership roles in headquarters and as Project Director of the USAID/Jordan Competitiveness Program, resident in Jordan. Previously she worked for Booz Allen on USAID and State Department work in the Foreign Affairs Business. While serving at USAID, she was Donor Coordinator and Delegate to the World Trade Organization, a Senior Trade advisor in Washington, and a Division Chief in USAID/Moscow. With the Commerce Department she served as Senior Counsel for Southeast Europe. Anne has been a licensed attorney for over 25 years and worked in D.C.-area law firms for the first part of her career.
She holds a J.D. from the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., a Change Management Advanced Practitioner Certificate from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Monica is the editor and publisher of Enterprising Women, a national and now global magazine she and her team launched in May 2000 to provide a strong voice for women entrepreneurs. Enterprising Women provides a friendly meeting place where women business owners share best practices and inspire one another to grow their businesses to the next level. The magazine is available in print and digital editions, and is supplemented by The Connector, a blog through the publication’s website, www.enterprisingwomen.com.
Monica serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) and has been a mentor in the Peace Through Business program working with Rwandan and Afghan women entrepreneurs for the past ten years. An award-winning journalist, Smiley has more than 40 years of magazine publishing experience and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the first Adrienne Hall Award presented by the Women Presidents’ Organization in recognition of her work to build bridges and alliances within the women’s business community, and the President’s Award from Women Impacting Public Policy. She received the 2013 Gold Stevie Award for “Women Helping Women” and The International Alliance for Women’s “World of Difference 100 Award.” Folio magazine named Monica to its 2015 list of “Top Women in Media.” In 2015, she was recognized by STEMConnector and the Million Women Mentors Program for her work with the Enterprising Women Foundation’s National Mentorship Initiative to inspire the next generation of Young Enterprising Women. She received the 2016 ATHENA National Leadership Award and the 2017 National NAWBO Gillian Rudd Business Leadership Award.
The Enterprising Women community extends to more than a million women entrepreneurs in 185 countries around the globe. Smiley also serves as president of the Enterprising Women Foundation, a nonprofit she founded in 2010 to encourage philanthropy among women entrepreneurs and support initiatives to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship in the U.S. and globally. The annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards, now in its 17th year, honors the top 100 women entrepreneurs from around the globe at a two-day event held each spring.
She has been a speaker and a delegate at the Global Summit of Women in Morocco, Germany, China, Chile, Turkey, Greece and France. She has served on the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) National Advisory Council and the Board of Governors for the Athena PowerLink program in Raleigh, North Carolina. Monica resides in Cary, North Carolina and is the mother of two sons, stepmom to three adult children, and has six grandchildren.