Chicago Foundation for Women Opens Applications for Black Women’s Leadership Cohort
May 31 2018

Willie’s Warriors to create network of Black women leaders working for equity and justice

Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) today opened applications for Willie’s Warriors, a leadership development cohort for Black women in the Chicago region. Willie’s Warriors will create a pipeline and network of Black women leaders committed to equity and justice in Chicago. Willie’s Warriors was created to honor and continue the legacy of the Reverend Willie Taplin Barrow, a civil rights activist, community organizer and advocate for women’s rights.

“Rev. Willie Barrow was fiercely committed to helping create the next generation of Black women leaders,” CFW President/CEO K. Sujata said. “Willie’s Warriors is an investment in empowering Black women with the tools, skills and connections to take their leadership and, by virtue, our region, to the next level.”

Willie’s Warriors is open to women who identify as Black from all sectors and industries interested in nurturing their leadership and relationships with other Black women leaders in the Chicago region. Curriculum will focus on systems change, economic empowerment, communications and building alliances. Warriors will gain a better sense of themselves as leaders and how best to sustain themselves while moving their communities forward.

“The Reverend Willie Barrow (‘The Little Warrior’) leaves behind a potent legacy of equity and justice,” Willie’s Warriors Advisory Board co-chair Deborah Harrington said. “Willie’s Warriors gives enduring honor, voice and agency to these values by investing in future generations of women leaders. Small in stature, Rev. Barrow’s grit, compassion, and mentorship made her a giant. It is deeply moving to witness her generosity, impact and spirit live on through this vital initiative.”

Mia Birdsong, a family and community visionary who has spent more than 20 years fighting for the self-determination of everyday people, will serve as a strategic adviser in the program’s first year. Birdsong is currently a program fellow with the Family-Centered Social Policy program at New America, and a Senior Fellow at the Economic Security Project.

Applications for the inaugural cohort of Willie’s Warriors are now open and are due Monday, July 2, at 8 a.m. CDT.

Willie’s Warriors is supported by Rev. Barrow’s estate in partnership with the African American Legacy (AAL) at the Chicago Community Trust.

The Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership at CFW will ensure that generations of new leaders understand and appreciate the legacy and work of Rev. Barrow, and give rise to new models of collaborative work and leadership centered around women of color as we work together to strengthen all of our communities.

Learn more and apply at

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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