GoWomen: A vision for our region
March 06 2019

A reflection on our history.


A vision for our region

It seems fitting that at the beginning of this Women’s History Month, I am reflecting on the last eight years and the history the Chicago Foundation for Women community has made.

With your support and hard work, we have increased Illinois’ minimum wagewon paid sick leave for Chicago workersincreased protections for survivors of human traffickingdecreased breast cancer disparities between Black and white women;created a domestic workers’ “Bill of Rights;” and guaranteed full reproductive choice in Illinois, regardless of income or insurance provider.

We have witnessed the historic Women’s March as well as the first woman as a major party candidate for president of the United States, and we have set new records for women in civic leadership. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to work alongside you to increase investments in women and girls and build safe, just and healthy communities for all. Together, we have worked to build an all-out, all-in movement for equity in our region.

As we have pursued this work, our vision of gender equity has grown and expanded. Over the past year, CFW has engaged in an extended conversation and learning process about what gender equity means for us, our communities and our region. We have spent time envisioning the world we are striving for and the path to get there. It has required us to account for the ways in which the women’s movement has previously failed to address the needs of women of color, LBTQ women, women with disabilities, low-income women, and how we can build a more inclusive women’s movement. It has required us to explore the connections between gender equity and other movements for equity and justice.Just as our lives and identities are not compartmentalized, gender equity is inseparable from racial equity and economic justice.

Lilla Watson, an Indigenous Australian or Murri visual artist, activist and academic, once said, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

CFW’s vision of gender equity is bound up with equity for all. As we continue to build our movement for women and girls, we must deepen and solidify the connections among other movements for equity and justice. In this spirit, CFW has developed a more inclusive vision of gender equity to guide our work and theory of change.

Over the next few months, CFW will be convening conversations about our visions for gender equity to get input and feedback. We look forward to continuing this conversation, and continuing to listen, learn and collaborate with our partners in order to build safe, just and healthy communities for all.

With highest hopes,

K. Sujata
Chicago Foundation for Women



Welcome Sunny!

CFW co-founder Sunny Fisher has returned to CFW staff as interim leadership, in preparation for Sujata’s departure effective March 15. In addition to guiding CFW’s vision in its earliest years, Sunny has considerable experience leading nonprofits and foundations, including as Executive Director of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation for over two decades. Sunny has remained a strong and active supporter of CFW throughout the years, so we are especially grateful for her willingness to guide the organization through this interim period.


Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative Spring Cohort

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. Read the full announcement here.


Talk It Out 2019

Talk It Out brings people across our region together to have meaningful conversations about gender bias, equity and how we can build safe, just and healthy communities for all women and girls. Help us keep the conversation going by hosting a Talk It Out conversation with your friends, family, colleagues or neighbors March 8 – 15. When you sign up, you’ll receive a toolkit to make hosting fun and easy. Add your voice to the conversation.


2019 Impact Awards

Join CFW to celebrate local leaders working to improve the lives of women and girls on Wednesday, March 27 at the 2019 Impact Awards. Tickets are halfway sold out – secure your seat today!


Summer Internships

Chicago Foundation for Women is looking for summer interns!

Interested in fundraising and events? Apply to be a member of CFW’s Development team for the summer! Learn more and apply here.

Do you love to write and live online? CFW is looking for a summer intern to help with marketing and communications. Learn more and apply here.



Collaboration, In Mergers and Movements

“When we win for women and girls, it is because we have done the work of movement building: Creating alliances around common goals; developing strong collaborative relationships; and building trust.” As she prepares for her next adventure, CFW President/CEO K. Sujata shares lessons learned over the last eight years, from a merger that doubled CFW’s investments to building a more collaborative movement for women and girls. Read the full piece on Giving Compass here.


“More Left to Do”

K. Sujata joined the Morning Shift at WBEZ to reflect on the progress our region has made toward gender equity during her time leading CFW, including increasing the minimum wage, decreasing breast cancer disparities and guaranteeing reproductive choice for all women, and the work that still remains to be done to create safe, just and healthy communities for all women. Listen to the full interview here.



Illinois to Increase Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage

Image courtesy of the Economic Policy Institute.

CFW grantee Women Employed was among the organizations celebrating new legislation increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. Over half of adult minimum wage workers are women. Read the article here.


Reproductive Health Act

New legislation in Springfield, supported by CFW Grantees Planned Parenthood of Illinois and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, would modernize Illinois abortion law and protect the ability of all Illinoisans to access reproductive health care. The “marginalization of women’s health care is wrong and dangerous,” said Colleen Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois. When it comes to protecting reproductive health care, “The time is unquestionably now.” Read the full article here.


R. Kelly Indicted

Image courtesy of A Long Walk Home.

R&B singer R. Kelly was indicted on sexual abuse charges, after local organizing to demand accountability and justice for survivors. “It’s a good day for Chicago,” said Scheherazade Tillet, a co-founder of the nonprofit A Long Walk Home. “It sends a message to survivors, particularly black girls, that their voices can be heard.” Erin Walton, executive director of CFW grantee Resilience, said the action signals a step forward toward a culture “no longer… willing to overlook sexual violence.” Read the article here.



Equal Pay Victory

Yesterday, in a win for equal pay, a U.S. district court reinstated the collection of equal pay data by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, following a lawsuit from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and Democracy Forward.”In practical terms, this decision means that large employers will have to provide pay data to EEOC by May 2019,” says the NWLC. This data will help advocates better understand the scope of the pay gap and develop meaningful solutions.


International Women’s Day Dance

Join the LBTQ Giving Council of CFW this Saturday, March 9, for the fifth annual International Women’s Day Dance. Enjoy an open bar and light bites, and groove to the beats of DJ Sandra Suave. Tickets available here.


Leave a Legacy of Purpose with CFW

A former welder, and the daughter of farmers, Reverend Willie Taplin Barrow does not fit the stereotypical image of a philanthropist. But as a leader in Chicago’s civil rights movement, Rev. Barrow believed in breaking barriers and challenging the status quo. Thanks to her estate, Rev. Barrow’s legacy and fierce commitment to justice lives on through The Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership at Chicago Foundation for Women. There are many ways to leave your legacy at Chicago Foundation for Women. To learn more about planned giving, visit www.cfw.org/plannedgiving, or contact Katy Thomas at 312.577.2836 or kthomas@cfw.org.