Karen Smith Wells: Chief Executive Officer

Glen Ellyn, IL – Karen Smith Wells, a nationally-recognized business and community leader, has been announced as Chief Executive Officer of Bridge Communities, which provides housing, mentoring and supportive services to homeless families in DuPage County. Wells brings more than 25 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience and an extensive background as a committed volunteer, brand ambassador and former board member of Bridge Communities.

Wells has held leadership positions with the international McDonald’s Corporation, including serving as VP of US Innovation, VP of US Strategy, VP of Operations, and VP of Nutrition and Menu Development for McDonald’s 13,000 US restaurants. She led McDonald’s negotiation team with First Lady Michelle Obama on the “Let’s Move” children’s health initiative. In addition, Wells has owned and operated two small businesses as a franchisee in early childhood development and as President & CEO of The AIW Group—a company she founded based on her passion for philanthropy, leadership development, diversity and inclusion.

For nearly 10 years, Wells gained extensive knowledge and experience with Bridge Communities as an active volunteer and previous Board member. She can relate first-hand to the families of Bridge Communities, as she grew up in poverty and is a first-generation college graduate.

Bridge Communities’ vision is a community where all families have safe, sustainable and affordable housing and life-long self-sufficiency. In the past 30 years, Bridge Communities has helped 850 families cross the bridge from homelessness to hope and self-sufficiency.