The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) held a conference on January 11 where experts from companies serving as WBDC corporate partners shared their best practices for identifying ways to do more business with minority and women-owned businesses, said WBDC spokeswoman Chris Ruys.

These women “represent the best in terms of working with minority and women owned businesses,” said Ruys, “Their practices are representative of the best ways to do business.”

One of “the best” who spoke at the event was Forest Park resident Joyce Welton.

Welton has worked over twenty years in health care as a manager for contracts and as a coordinator for diversity. She works for a Fortune 500 company in Oak Brook and speaks well of the stability that her company provides.

Welton’s unique emphasis on job stability is perhaps furthered when one understands that she is an African-American female in today’s business world.

Speaking of how this plays a role, Welton is surprisingly outspoken.

“It’s challenging. Yes, it has its moments,” Welton said. “You feel like you have to watch your back.”

People who don’t have that minority background might not understand the quasi-paranoia Welton speaks of, but perhaps that’s an element of what the conference was about”women’s businesses assisting women’s businesses so that any feeling of marginality is overcome with empowering teamwork.

One gets the feeling that this is what’s happening in Forest Park.

Several women-owned businesses have opened within the last two years and it seems like when one opens, it makes it easier for the next one.  It is an encouragement that takes place when one succeeds: Deb Jensen’s Traditional Chinese Medicine, Terri Clark’s Sepheryn Therapeutic Massage and the list goes on.

The list of male owned businesses is more problematic.  They tend not to bring the more family-oriented businesses to town (of course, thankfully, there are wonderful exceptions such as Dr. Jerry Udelson’s children’s dentistry). Of this Forest Park trend of male-owned businesses, Welton says somewhat cryptically, “that’s maybe the nature of what they’re capable of.”

 “Men do business with men,” Welton said.   Liquor sales have a tight-knit interconnection of distributor contacts making it “difficult for females to break into that business,” she explained.

Thus an informal, but very effective, web of interconnection between Forest Park’s female-owned businesses has formed. It’s this sort of linking and assistance that interests Welton, especially in terms of how to get these women-owned businesses all-important revenues.

Welton’s message speaks not only to the female-owned businesses of today, but of those of tomorrow. To the young student dreaming of the future’s possibilities asking themselves, “But what business do I get into?” Welton responds, “You want to do something for the community. You want to do something for the children in the community.”

Welton also highly encourages future business owners to seek out graduate degrees, stating that one of the mistakes she feels she’s made was “not getting a Masters at an earlier age.”

“When you finish school, the last thing you want to do is go back to school,” Welton said.  To make the point perfectly clear, she sums it up in three instructive words, “Get your Ph.D.!”

Welton has been thinking about getting her Masters, perhaps at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, as her company offers helpful tuition reimbursement, but the difficulties come through juggling church and work. As of now though, she’s enjoying the ways in which her job allows her to do the things she likes to do, like shop for company bargains.

With twenty years under her belt, one might wonder what the highlight of her career has been, but true to a forward-thinking personality, Welton responds, “I don’t think I’ve reached the highlight of my business career yet.”

Individuals interested in getting involved in the WBDC can check out the not-for-profit organization’s web site at In particular, women who are looking to start up a business should see what the WBDC has to offer them by checking out the web site or calling the WBDC at (312) 853-3477.