Virginia Littlejohn

Virginia Littlejohn


President and CEO of Quantum Leaps, Inc.

Virginia Littlejohn profile image

Former Jury President for North America.


North America

Ms. Littlejohn, Quantum Leaps Co-Founder and CEO, has served as the OECD's Senior Advisor for Women's Entrepreneurship since 1996.
Quantum Leaps is a global accelerator for women's entrepreneurship, which shares best practices and spearheads positive change. It was founded with a seed grant from the Kauffman Foundation, the preeminent foundation in the U.S. supporting innovation in entrepreneurship. Quantum Leaps is an outgrowth of two major international conferences on women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) put on by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris in 1997 and 2000.

She played a major role in organizing both their 1997 and 2000 conferences in Paris. In 2004, she organized and co-chaired the OECD's Accelerating Women's Entrepreneurship Forum in Istanbul. Recently, she has worked with the OECD on women entrepreneurial training in the Middle East and North Africa, concentrating on awarenessraising and advocacy skills.

Ms. Littlejohn has decades of experience in fostering the growth of women's entrepreneurship, both domestically and internationally. In the U.S., she coordinated the lobbying program that resulted in the funding of the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Women's Business Ownership, and was the SBA's first National Women in Business Advocate of the Year in 1980. She organized the first two National Public Affairs Days for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in 1982-1983, served as National President in 1984-1985, and received NAWBO's first Women in Business Advocate of the Year Award in 1986. She was a founder of what is now the Center for Women's Business Research, and was one of three architects of the legislation that created the Women's Business Centers, the census of womenowned businesses, and the National Women's Business Council (which advises the President, the SBA and the U.S. Congress), on which she served for two terms. Currently, she and Quantum Leaps are working with the U.S. government and all the major national women's business associations to spearhead creation of a U.S. Strategic Framework for Women's Enterprise Development from now to 2020. In addition, they are working with many Global 500 corporations to get certified women-owned businesses into the global supply chain in key regions and countries around the world, including North America, the European Union, India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Russia.

In the United States, Ms. Littlejohn has served on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Council on Small Business, and the Board of the Small Business Legislative Council. She has been a delegate to all three White House Conferences on Small Business (1980, 1986 and 1995), and served as a state co-chair for the 1986 conference, and on the White House Conference Steering Committee in 1995.

In the corporate and entrepreneurial sectors, Ms. Littlejohn has served on the American Express Small Business Advisory Board, where she and her colleagues advised Amex on creation and development of many financial, informational and travel product and service offerings for SMEs that were subsequently developed. She served on IBM's Advisory and Research Board, to provide advice on technology products that would be useful to SME users. She also helped IBM develop alliances and sponsorships with women entrepreneurial organizations in 16 countries in all regions of the world.

Ms. Littlejohn has been a global leader in women's entrepreneurship since 1984, when, as President of NAWBO, she represented the United States on the World Committee of Presidents of Les Femmes Chefs d'Entreprises Mondiales (FCEM, or the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs). She later served on FCEM's Steering Committee, and as Vice President of the 40-country organization. In addition, Ms. Littlejohn helped the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE, affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) launch and organize a 60- country conference on women's entrepreneurship for developing and transition economies in 1997, as well as for a follow-up conference in 2000. Sharing best practices in women's entrepreneurship is her life's passion, so that countries, organizations and governments don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Ms. Littlejohn is married, and has two sons living in Brazil and Vietnam.