Stacy Ratner, JD, MBA
Fortysomething years ago, Stacy Ratner learned to read. This life-changing experience led to degrees in literature (Brandeis University) and law (Boston College Law School), brought her to founding roles in three startup companies that grew from idea through a combined total of $30 million in committed venture funding, and finally transformed her into a social entrepreneur for literacy. She began her cause work by founding Open Books, a nonprofit social venture that now provides exciting reading and writing programs to 5,000 K-12 students and gives away more than 150,000 books to children and families annually, funding the majority of its work through sales of donated books in its two award-winning Chicago bookstores. Building on this experience, she co-founded the Chicago Literacy Alliance (CLA), a coalition of more than 120 organizations serving 18 million people each year. Six years ago, Stacy proposed the idea of the country’s first shared workspace dedicated to literacy.
Today, Open Books and the CLA make their homes at the realized vision: the Literacenter, a 41,000 sqft space honored with the Library of Congress’s Best Practices in Literacy award. In recognition of her work for the cause, Stacy has received a Chicagoan of the Year award from Chicago Magazine, an Emerging Leader Fellowship from the Chicago Community Trust, places on NewCity’s Lit 50 and the national 40 Women To Watch Over 40 list, the Social Enterprise Alliance’s Innovation award, and a Youn Impact Scholar award from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Drawing on her deep entrepreneurial roots, Stacy continues to be involved as a mentor and investor with select startups that match her talents and passions. Her current portfolio companies include Public Good Software, FetchFind, Book+Main, Infiniteach, MilSpec Capital Partners, and a soon-to-be-announced venture in insomnia treatment. She will receive her MBA from Kellogg in 2018, where she is honored to serve as an ambassador and Honor Code Committee representative for her beloved EMP110 cohort. Stacy reads a book every day, eats ice cream every week, writes a novel every year, and is always starting something.