Chicago Foundation for Women Announces 2019 Impact Awards Honorees
January 09 2019

Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) is proud to announce the 2019 Impact Awards honoring local leaders for their efforts to create safe, just and healthy communities for all. CFW will present the 2019 Impact Awards on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at Venue SIX10 at Spertus Institute.

“The Impact Awards are about celebrating the people who give their all to make our region a better, safer, healthier home for all women and girls,” CFW President/CEO K. Sujata said. “We are thrilled to recognize five outstanding leaders, who make a difference in the lives of women and girls every day by speaking out, organizing within and across communities, imagining a better future for our region and working to make it a reality.”

The Impact Awards recognize leaders working to improve the lives of women and girls by expanding economic security, ensuring freedom from violence or enhancing access to health services. This year, CFW will honor:

Hedy Ratner, co-founder of the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), which supports economic independence for thousands of Chicago-area women through entrepreneurship and business ownership, will receive the 2019 Founders Award. The Founders Award recognizes the lifetime achievements of an individual who has made significant contributions toward the advancement of women and girls for thirty years or more. Ratner also founded the Illinois Women’s Political Caucus, the Illinois Commission on the Status of Women, and the Illinois Women’s Business Ownership Council. A lifelong women’s advocate and leader, Ratner has dedicated her life to help Chicago-area women achieve economic independence and is a national advocate for women and minority business owners.

Hoda Katebi, author of political fashion platform JooJoo Azad and host of radical, online reading club #BecauseWeveRead, will receive the 2019 Pioneer Award, recognizing trailblazing young leaders under the age of 30 whose work is already impacting women and girls and shows great promise for the future. Katebi is currently organizing a worker-owned sewing cooperative for immigrant and refugee women to provide alternatives to sweatshops for clothing production while meeting the holistic needs of the members.

Inhe Choi, executive director of the HANA Center and co-founder of Korean American Women in Need (KANWIN), will receive a 2019 Impact Award. A community and civic leader for more than 30 years, Choi has dedicated her life’s work toward building strong communities and coalitions across boundaries of race, gender, income level, sexual orientation, gender identity, abilities and immigration status. Under her leadership, HANA Center has expanded into a multi-generational, multi-lingual model of organizing, youth leadership, civic engagement, and social services dedicated to empowering Korean American, multi-ethnic youth, and immigrant communities in advancing human rights.

Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, will receive a 2019 Impact Award. McWhorter has transformed YWCA Metropolitan Chicago into a 21st century social enterprise in order to directly support women. Under her leadership, the organization has significantly expanded critical programs and services, growing into the largest provider of sexual assault support services in Illinois and the second-largest child care resource and referral service. In her role as CEO, McWhorter led the process for the YWCA to develop an exchange-traded fund for women’s empowerment.

Reyna Ortiz, an advocate for transgender women at Chicago House and Social Service Agency and Health Educator at Stroger Hospital, will receive a 2019 Impact Award. In her many roles she is a counselor and case manager for many transgender women of color, helping them navigate the legal, criminal justice, health and education systems to ensure they can access the resources they deserve. Ortiz uses her own experience to serve as an educator, advocate and resource for the Chicago transgender community.

The 2019 awards were selected from among dozens of community nominations by an eight member volunteer committee: Brenda Grusecki (chair), Bernadette Chopra, Paula Conrad, Edith Falk, Nadiah Mohajir, Jim Parsons, Nina Sanchez and Sarah Ware.

Additional information, including sponsorship and ticket information, is available at

Media passes are available. Please contact Kyle Ann Sebastian at for additional information.


About Chicago Foundation for Women: Chicago Foundation for Women invests in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all. CFW funds organizations working to solve the biggest problems facing women and girls: economic insecurity, violence, and access to health care and information. In addition to grantmaking, CFW invests in developing women leaders and advocates, and brings together diverse coalitions to collaborate, share resources and develop solutions.