Chicago Foundation for Women Announces Second Cohort of Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative
March 06 2019

Cohort brings together Black women leaders in honor of Reverend Willie Taplin Barrow

Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) today announced the selection of the second cohort of the Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative. Willie’s Warriors elevates the leadership of Black women across the Chicago region, creating a pipeline and network of Black women leaders committed to equity and justice in Chicago. The spring cohort brings together fourteen Black women leaders from diverse backgrounds in healthcare, education, advocacy and community services.

“As Chicago is at a historic moment for Black women’s leadership, CFW is investing in our region’s next generation of Black women leaders,” CFW President/CEO K. Sujata said. “Willie’s Warriors honor the legacy of the Rev. Willie Barrow by building relationships across sectors and movements, and creating a supportive community that lifts up Black women, and our region with them.”

Over the course of five months, Warriors gain a better sense of themselves as leaders and develop skills related to systems change, economic empowerment, communications and strategic alliances, while building a network among Black women leaders from diverse sectors and industries.

The Spring 2019 Willie’s Warriors are:

• Venita Griffin – digital consultant

• Roshaynae Hammond – Manager of Community Supports, Access Living

• Tiffany Isom – Residential manager, Deborah’s Place

• Lejia Johnson – Project Manager, Sunshine Enterprises

• Madra Guinn Jones – Senior Manager, Health Equity and Inclusion, American Academy of Pediatrics

• Gail Krahenbuhl – Triton College

• Tiffany McDowell – Equity Institute Director, YWCA Evanston/North Shore

• Tamela Milan –  Westside Healthy Start Community Action Network Chair, Access Community Health Network

• Crystal Odom-McKinney – Assistant National Director, Easterseals

• Isioma Odum – Outreach Coordinator, Faith in Place

• Chinyere Owku – Senior Partnership Advisor, World Vision USA

• L’Oreal Payton – Director of Communications, OneGoal

• Angela Waller – Director of Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, Loretto Hospital

• Gloria Williams – Founder, Voices of West Englewood

Additionally, L’Oreal Thompson Payton and Lejia Johnson have been selected as Field Leaders by the Field Foundation. By partnering with CFW, the Field Foundation is able to invest in leaders who embody the Field Foundation goal of Community Empowerment through Justice and Art.

Willie’s Warriors is open to Black women from all sectors and industries who are committed to building upon their leadership skills to advance issues of equity within their communities. Willie’s Warriors are selected through a competitive application process including a written application and interview with Willie’s Warriors Leadership Advisory Board members. New cohorts are selected in the spring and fall with the approval of the advisory board.

Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative is supported by the Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership at Chicago Foundation for Women. The Barrow Fund supports initiatives to invest in Black women and girls in the Chicago region, to give rise to new models of collaborative work and leadership centered around women of color, and to ensure generations of new leaders understand and appreciate the legacy of Rev. Barrow. The Barrow Fund was established at CFW in 2017 with the support of the Willie Taplin Barrow Leadership Institute and Museum in partnership with African American Legacy (AAL) at the Chicago Community Trust.



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. To learn more, visit


The Field Leader Award
At the heart of the Field Foundation’s work is a commitment to community-centered empowerment. Through its Leadership Investment work, the foundation aims to recognize, honor, and support the deep bench of visionary leaders across Chicago by granting the Field Leader Award, which supports building social capital, skill sets, networks and exposure. By creating a Field Leader network, the Field Foundation acts as a connector, supporter, and investor in its selected leaders who have the potential to transform Chicago. The Field Leader Award is a prestigious honor given to an individual working at a Field Foundation grantee organization.

Founded in 1940 by Marshall Field III, the Field Foundation is a private, independent foundation that has been dedicated to the promise of Chicago for more than 80 years. The Field Foundation aims its grantmaking toward the goal of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art and Leadership Investment. With racial equity at the center of its giving, it directs dollars to critical organizations working to address systemic issues in Chicago and aims to directly benefit some of our city’s most divested communities.