Dr. M.L. Black, MA, MHA, Ph.D.

Few have ever seen a person jump nearly a foot above their own height. Fewer still have done it. But, it is exactly that kind of exceptionalism that embodies Dr. M.L. Black and her work. Her phenomenal athleticism was discovered when she was just a tyke, but the hard work, planning, and discipline that developed her into a world-class athlete have continued to be the foundational pillars of her work long after she hung up her cleats.

Since retiring from high jump, where she was a four-time All-American and three-time captain of the University of Michigan’s Women’s Track Team, Dr. M.L. Black has gone on to pick up two Masters degrees from Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from DePaul University, worked as an executive at one of the country’s top-rated hospital systems, and launch two businesses and a non-profit. Known as "the Maximizer,” Dr. Black is sought after for her ability to help individuals and organizations reach their absolute fullest potential. She has coached hundreds of executives, entrepreneurs, and emerging leaders, helping them to enhance their own performance in life and work, and has worked in multiple organizations helping them develop, revitalize, and transform programs into industry-leading practices with authenticity and accountability.

Monika’s trophy mantle is a tad cluttered between the 2012 Global Girls Women and Girls Inspiring Change Award, the Ohio State University Health Services’ Management & Policy Leadership Award, the DePaul University Women Spirit & Action Award (twice), ChicagoNow’s list of Chicagoans to Watch in 2015, her write-up in People with Panache, and the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Clearly, the better half to her husband, Tomer, Monika is a Chicago import. But, since leaving her hometown of Columbus, Ohio 15 years ago, she has paid more than her share of parking tickets and now considers herself a true blue Chicagoan who has both contributed to the tax base and impacted unacknowledged leaders and underrepresented communities.

Speaking Topics

  • The Future of Work
  • Leading With Your Whole Self
  • Diversity Is The Innovation That We Seek
  • From Fear To Financial Strengths
  • Nimble Giants & Corporate Innovation
  • Fuck That Shit - Leverage Your State of Fuck-It-Ness and Unlock the Corporate Mindset
  • How to Successfully Divorce Your Parents

Prior Speaking Engagements

Keynotes & Large Presentations

Unleashing Your Strengths Women Of Today's Manufacturing  | 2019 Scholarship Dinner |  Beyond Talent: Bringing Your Whole Self To Work  - 2019

The Climb Summit | Self Advocacy | Me, Myself, and I: Self-Advocacy In The Workplace  - 2019

Chicago Booth | Women Connect Conference | Strengths Strategy Action: Boosting Performance Through Strengths-Based Leadership - 2018

Associated Colleges of Illinois | Unleashing Your Cultural Strengths: Moving Beyond The D&I Workshop - 2018

American Heart Association | Diversity Summit | Unleashing Your Cultural Strengths: Moving Beyond The D&I Workshop - 2018

Devry University  | EDGE Women's Month Celebration | Unleashing Your Strengths - 2018

Chamberlain University | Nurse Strong Week | Pressing for Progress in Leadership and Diversity: Forward Thinking Strategies - 2018

Executive Leadership Support Forum | Chicago Northshore | Unleashing Your Strengths - 2018

Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation | Activate Your Strengths, Elevate your Organization - 2018 

Kansas City School of Public Health | Annual Inspiring Women's Conference | Super Powers Activate: Authentically Leading Through Strengths 2018   


Women Thriving Fearlessly | Elevate Series | Elevating Your Authentic Leadership Presence -  2019

Women Thriving Fearlessly |  Elevate Series |  Productive Partnerships for Systematic Joy - 2019 

Teach For America - Chicago | Learning and Development Series | Unleashing Your Strengths - 2017 

Axelson Center For Non-Profit Management | Bootcamp | Unleashing Your Strengths - 2017

Dress For Success | Annual Affiliate Conference| Unleashing Your Strengths - 2016

Multicultural Strength Parlor

DePaul University Steans Center - Strength, Strategy, Action Workshop

Near North Unity Project - A vision for division:  A healthy conversation about near north diversity.

Co-presenter at the Albert Schweitzer Fellows for Life Conference - Beyond cultural competency:  Contextualizing multiculturalism to address health inequalities.

Guest Lecturer for the Department of Peace, Justice and Conflict Program at DePaul University - From Theory to Practice:  Practical Applications of the Ecological Framework

Guest Speaker for the Steans Eagan Center at DePaul University - Understanding Our Multicultural Selves.

Guest Speaker for the People’s Jazz Theatre Public Speaking Workshop - Finding Your Voice

Workshop Facilitator for The Setting Your Goals.  Girl Power Program Kick-Off Meeting



  • 2015   Chicago’s Top 15 Professionals to Watch 
  • 2012   Global Girls Women and Girls Inspiring Change Award 
  • 2012   DePaul University Women, Spirit & Action Award
  •  2011   DePaul University Women, Spirit & Action Award  
  • 2009   Richard J. Meister Service Scholarship Award 
  • 2009   Launch DePaul Coleman Entrepreneurship Case Competition Runner-Up
  • 2008   Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellow 
  • 2008   Chicago Foundation for Women Founders Award Finalist 
  • 2003   The Ohio State University Health Services Management & Policy Leadership Award 
  • 2001   National Association of Health Service Executives Case Competition  Runner-Up 
  • 1997   The Ohio State University Hospitals Dean’s Fellowship Award Recipient 
  • 1996   The University of Michigan Medal of Honor Recipient