GoWomen: Big Impacts
January 09 2019

It all starts somewhere


Big Impacts

In the new year, many of us feel compelled to make grand plans and life-changing resolutions. Having ambitious goals are important to guide us, but it’s important to remember that we get there step by step, and that these small actions and changes add up.

Our 2019 Impact Award honorees are living examples of how seemingly small actions can lead to big impacts.

Reyna Ortiz started handing out condoms to other transgender women out of her apartment, before becoming a health educator and advocate for her community at Chicago House and Social Service Agency and Stroger Hospital.

Hoda Katebi started her blog, JooJoo Azad, “to create a space where I could yell on the internet” and grew it into an online platform and book examining the politics of fashion. Then, an off-the-cuff comment during a television interview jump-started #BecauseWeveRead, an international, radical online reading club sparking conversation about justice and equity.

Inhe Choi co-founded Korean American Women in Need to focus on a community which, at less than five percent of Chicago’s population, was often overlooked. Now, Inhe is leading a multi-generational organizing model working across nationalities, language barriers and gender to advance human rights at HANA Center.

As a teacher, Hedy Ratner was interested in equity in education. Her passion led her to work on Title IX and as Assistant Commissioner of Education in the administration of President Jimmy Carter. When he lost his re-election campaign, it wasn’t a setback – Hedy returned to Chicago, where she founded the Women’s Business Development Center with Carol Dougal in 1986, eventually serving over 85,000 women and securing over $82 million in financing.

Joining the board of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago in 2005 set Dorri McWhorter on a path to leave the private sector to lead the longest-standing women-focused social service agency in Chicago, resulting in expanded services for women and girls in our city and the creation of a new exchange-traded fund for women’s empowerment.

Each of us has the power to create change in our lives and our communities. We just have to start somewhere.

I am thrilled our community will celebrate these inspiring women and their work for health, safety and justice for all women and girls at the 2019 Impact Awards on Wednesday, March 27

With highest hopes,

K. Sujata
Chicago Foundation for Women



2019 Impact Awards

The Impact Awards recognize leaders working to improve the lives of women and girls in our community and beyond. CFW is proud to announce that the 2019 Impact Awards will honor Hedy Ratner with a 2019 Founders Award, Hoda Katebi with a 2019 Pioneer Award, and Inhe Choi, Dorri McWhorter and Reyna Ortiz with 2019 Impact Awards. Join CFW on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 to celebrate the local leaders creating safe, just and healthy communities for all. Click here for more information, including how to reserve your seat!

CFW Announces Over $1.1M in Grants

CFW announced 43 grants totaling $1,114,000 to support economic security and reproductive justice for Chicago-area women and girls. Eleanor Network grants create clear pathways to economic security for women through workforce development training, stabilization services and advocacy for policies that support economic security for working women and their families. The Catalyst Fund for Reproductive Justice supports women-of-color-led organizations spearheading grassroots advocacy for reproductive justice. The South Side Giving Circle, launched in Spring 2018, made its first grants in health, safety and justice for Black women and girls on Chicago’s South Side and south suburbs. Find the full list of grants here.

Chicago Women’s Groups Host Mayoral Forum

To ensure that Chicago women have the opportunity to learn where mayoral candidates stand on the issues they consider most essential, CFW has joined alongside the more than 50 organizational members of the Chicago Women Take Action Alliance to hold a Mayoral Candidates Forum on Saturday, February 2, from 1 to 4 pm at the Chicago Temple, 77 West Washington. Save the date!

Birth Announcement

Congratulations to CFW ‘s Vice President of Development and Communications Emily Dreke on the addition of Everett and Arlo to the Angermeier-Dreke family over the holidays! Mom and babies are home and doing great. Emily will be enjoying quality time with her family for the next several months, returning to CFW at the beginning of May. Please join us in sending warm wishes to Emily and her growing family!


The Chicago Commitment

CFW’s investments in women like Guadalupe Hinojosa and Cheveleair Brown are featured as part of MacArthur Foundation’s Chicago Commitment. Read more about how CFW investments are supporting the work of Accion and Chicago Women in Trades in Englewood and communities across our region. Read the full story here.


Surviving R. Kelly

CFW grantee A Long Walk Home was featured in the new documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which explores the long history of allegations of sexual abuse against the Chicago-born singer. A Long Walk Home uses art to educate, inspire and mobilize young people to end violence against girls and women. The organization has been organizing for justice for survivors and accountability for abusers, including leading #MuteRKelly organizing in Chicago (a national campaign led by black women to protest the artist and his music), which resulted in the cancellation of his show at UIC. “Patriarchy and racism work together to invisibilize violence against black women and girls,” ALWH co-founder and executive director Scheherazade Tillet told CFW last summer. “This is a message for black girls and black women survivors that their stories are heard and we see you.” Read the New York Times on Surviving R. Kelly here.

Shriver on Educator Response to Domestic & Sexual Violence 

A new statewide report from The Women’s Law and Policy Initiative of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, funded in part by CFW, shows widespread blind spots to domestic and sexual violence in schools all over Illinois. According to interviews with middle school and high school students, domestic and sexual violence service providers, and in-school social workers, students report struggling with mental health and their academic performance in the aftermath of violence and finding little help – and sometimes re-victimization and bullying – upon reporting the gender-based violence to school personnel. Ensuring Success in School, Supporting Survivors: Illinois Schools’ Responses to Elementary and Secondary School Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence calls for all K-12 schools across Illinois to develop survivor-centered, trauma-informed policies for responding to the needs of students who are survivors of domestic or sexual violence. Listen to an interview with Wendy Pollack from the Shriver Center here, and read the full report here.

Toward Gender-Responsive Justice

CFW grantee Women’s Justice Institute (WJI) co-founder Alyssa Benedict developed “Creating Regulation & Resilience” (CR-2), a cutting-edge training program that is helping drive culture change throughout Illinois’ women’s prisons and create a gender-responsive, trauma-informed justice system. With early support from Chicago Foundation for Women, WJI spearheaded the multi-year effort that led to the implementation of CR-2 and other training on gender-responsive practices throughout the Illinois Department of Corrections, and authored a national model law to permanently mandate this kind of training and tools to create a safer, more dignified environment throughout the corrections system – among both staff and the impacted women who deserve respect and support. The CR-2 program is profiled in the Pantagraph – read the full article here.

Ending Period Poverty

CFW and Young Women’s Giving Council grantee Chicago Period Project was launched in 2016 to make menstrual hygiene products more accessible and end “period poverty” for those unable to afford or access menstrual products. “To this day, we’ve donated about 250,000 menstrual supplies and we’ve done that in a couple of different ways,” founder Ashley Novoa tells the Chicago Reader. “We donate pads and tampons in bulk to people in organizations and shelters throughout the city. We also pack period kits that consist of enough supplies for a month’s cycle on a more one-on-one basis on the street or at soup kitchens.” Read the full story here.


Save the Date: International Women’s Day Dance

The LBTQ Giving Council of CFW is proud to host the 5th Annual International Women’s Day Dance on Saturday, March 9! Celebrate Women’s History Month with a night of dancing, and take your chances on silent auction and raffle items. The dollars raised will be reinvested in Chicago’s LGBTQ community through LBTQ Giving Council grants to provide woman- and girl-identified people access to healthcare and information, freedom from violence and economic security.

Community Giving: Western Suburbs Giving Circle of CFW

The Western Suburbs Giving Circle of CFW brings together diverse women from across the Chicago region’s western suburbs to make collective investments. In 2018, the Western Suburbs Giving Council made over $27,000 in investments in transitional housing and life-skills development for young women through 360 Youth Service;, healthy relationship and body positive teen programming at The Alive Center; and Family Shelter Services, DuPage county’s only comprehensive domestic violence agency. “What I love most about WSGC is that I get to tangibly help women in all phases of life in my community,” WSGC member Sonal Gupta says. Interested in joining the Western Suburbs Giving Circle? Learn more on Wednesday, January 16 in Oak Brook – spots are limited, address to be given upon RSVP. Contact Eli Marsh at emarsh@cfw.org for additional information.

Operation Activation

In celebration of Women’s March Chicago (WMC)’s third anniversary, WMC is asking the Chicago community to come together for Operation Activation, a day of action across our region, on Saturday, January 19, 2019. It can be as large as organizing a rally in your community, or as small as a gathering around your dining room table to write postcards to politicians. Click here for WMC’s Operation Activation toolkit, or here for a list of public actions near you!

How to Get Men to Give to Women + Girls Causes

New research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute explores how social norms and expectations influence giving to women and girls. Giving inspires more giving! People report higher intention to give to women and girls when they believe others in their community are also giving. Men’s giving to women’s and girls’ causes is strongly tied to how they think men and women give; women’s giving is strongly tied to how they think other women give. Read the full report 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.


A tribute gift is a touching way to honor family and friends, to memorialize a loved one or to mark a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion.

Thank you to everyone who made a tribute gift to CFW in 2018: