GoWomen: Flip the Script
May 01 2019

Changing the story for women and girls.


Flip the Script

In the early days of Chicago Foundation for Women, a woman approached me, checkbook in hand, and said, “This is the first check I have ever written without asking my husband first!”

This seemingly small act was a rebellion against the stories women are told about ourselves, from the time we are little: that we should be quiet, that we have no power, that we must ask for permission, that our effort is worth less, that the issues of our lives are distractions, nonessential or somehow “special interest.”

CFW was created to flip the script for women and girls. To recognize the power that women have as philanthropists, advocates, organizers and changemakers, and to embolden women as leaders. To increase resources for women and girls and to bring women’s issues to the forefront. And to empower women and girls to write the script for their own lives.

In the days and years since so many women in Chicago wrote their first check, we have changed the narrative of what is possible for women and girls. Motherhood no longer marks the end of a woman’s career. The wage gap has narrowed (although it remains far too large for women of color). More women are leading companies as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Women are being elected to civic leadership at record rates. More girls imagine futures as scientists, inventors or president of the United States.

Some parts of women’s stories have remained stubbornly the same, or worsened. Women’s reproductive health and choice remain under constant attack. The wage gap for women of color is stuck in 1972. Violence against women by intimate partners has spiked, and efforts to stem violence, such as the Violence Against Women Act, have been needlessly politicized.

But with your help, we are flipping the script and writing a new story for women and girls in Chicago every day.

With highest hopes,

Sunny Fischer
Interim President/CEO
Chicago Foundation for Women



Meet the 34th Annual Luncheon Co-Chairs

Regina Cross is Vice President of Goldman Sachs’ Investment Management Division. She is a member of CFW’s board of directors and also serves on the foundation’s Professional Advisory Council.

Why is investing in women and girls a priority for you?

Investing in girls and women is like releasing the untapped potential of half of the population to ensure that we are able to exceed expectations and our competitive advantage. In doing so, we empower the voices of our sisters, daughters, mothers, friends and neighbors to bring solutions to problems that are too complex to address singularly.

What are you most looking forward to at the 34th Annual Luncheon?

Looking at the audience and feeling the power in the room is so exhilarating: I cannot wait to see the women, dream about tomorrow, and celebrate successes to date with them. I would also like to challenge the men to join us! It takes all of us to be changemakers and advocates.

What is one narrative you would like to see ‘flipped’ for women and girls?

There are 24 women that currently hold the title of CEO for Fortune 500 companies. I would love to see gender parity and more racial diversity in the C-Suite and Corporate Boardrooms. When women lead, when diverse leaders are given the opportunity to showcase their abilities and affect change, I believe that equity and inclusion will no long be idealistic buzz words, but rather ingrained cultural values that ignite transformative economic change in the workplace and for the communities we live, work, and play.

Janice Rodgers is a retired partner of the law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP and former National Chair of its Tax-Exempt Organizations Group. She is a former member of the board of directors of CFW and a current member of the Professional Advisory Council.

Why is investing in women and girls a priority for you?

While we certainly have made a lot of progress in greater equity for women and girls over my lifetime, we clearly have a long way to go. The high poverty rate for women and children is one major indicator of this. The recent explosion of anti-woman legislation and government policies, particularly related to reproductive health, is especially disturbing to me. It shows that we cannot be complacent about the gains we have made and continually need to invest in protecting and expanding upon them.

What are you most looking forward to at the 34th Annual Luncheon?

I am most looking forward to the gathering of a huge roomful of dedicated supporters of equity for women and girls and building upon everyone’s energy and passion to move forward on our goals for a better future for all of the women and girls of Chicago, for both the short- and long-term.

What is one narrative you would like to see ‘flipped’ for women and girls?

In so many ways, our workplaces have been built to work for men without caregiving responsibilities. I would like to see workplaces flipped to work for women and all people with families: with paid parental and family leave for everyone, with women and men taking equal time for caregiving responsibilities; flexible schedules without stigma; strong protections against sexual harassment and gender discrimination; building a pipeline for, sponsoring and valuing women’s leadership. The end result of re-engineering – or flipping – workplaces for women would be more women in high-paying leadership roles and in traditionally male, higher-paying fields.

Change the story for women and girls with CFW at our 34th Annual Luncheon on Tuesday, October 15 at the Hilton Chicago. Secure your seat today with a sponsorship.



This Mother’s Day, Invest in Women

Mother’s Day is an opportunity to honor all the women in your life – the mothers, grandmothers and aunts, godmothers and teachers, mentors and mother figures.When you make a gift to CFW in honor of a woman in your life, we’ll send her a special Mother’s Day card recognizing her impact on the lives of women and girls. This Mother’s Day, honor the women who nurtured and invested in you with an investment in health, safety and justice for all women and girls in our region.

Celebrate Spring on the North Shore May 16

Connect with CFW’s closest supporters in the North Shore on Thursday, May 16 for an evening of refreshments, friends, and conversation featuring Dr. Caroline Hoke from North Shore Giving Circle grantee Erie Family Health Centers. Learn how Erie is expanding access to prenatal care, health care and education for women and children in Lake County. A VIP reception will feature a conversation between CFW co-founders Marjorie Craig Benton and Sunny Fischer. RSVP today!

Join us in Oak Park May 30

Join CFW for the annual Oak Park Spring Gathering on Thursday, May 30, for an evening with CFW’s closest supporters in Oak Park. This evening of great food and friends will feature CFW grantee BUILD, which works to end violence in Chicago by building support networks for young women to heal, transform their lives and choose paths that reject violence. Join us at the VIP reception for a conversation between BUILD and Rebecca Parrish, segment director and cinematographer for America to MeRSVP today!

In Memoriam: Nina Martin

Nina Martin’s family describes her as “deeply committed to women and girls,” a commitment evident by her unflagging support of CFW. Nina became involved in the early efforts to create Chicago Foundation for Women during her time teaching and raising a family in Evanston, and remained a steadfast supporter throughout her life.

“She was very serious about women’s issues and the advancement of women, and had an original connection with the efforts to get it going,” her husband Philip Martin told CFW. She was especially passionate about investing in young people, working with CFW grantee Literature for All of Us, and hosting groups of young women at her home in central Illinois with past grantee Family Matters. Nina passed away in January, at the age of 72, and is survived by her husband, Philip; her son, Andrew; and her daughter, Sarah.

CFW is grateful for Nina’s early support and lasting commitment to women and girls. Her legacy at CFW will live on thanks to a generous bequest from her estate.

Impact Award Applications Open

Do you know someone making a difference in the lives of women and girls? Nominate them for a 2020 Impact Award! Nominations are open to all individuals working to build a safe, healthy and just Chicago for women and girls. Nominations close September 30, 2019. Nominate someone in your community today.



The Power of She

Photo by Robin Subar, Hinsdale Living Magazine

“We are women from different backgrounds, ethnicities and professions who pool our resources together to make a gift that makes an impact,” Anita Mital, co-chair of the Western Suburbs Giving Circle of CFW, told Hinsdale Living Magazine. The magazine highlighted the circle and its impact on local nonprofits, including 360 Youth Services and The Alive Center. Collective giving models like WSGC are growing across the United States – the number of giving circles tripled between 2007 and 2017. The WSGC was launched in 2015. Read more here.



Reproductive Health Day of Action: May 15

Join the Reproductive Health Access Coalition for a day in Springfield talking to legislators about the Reproductive Health Act and the repeal of the Teen Endangerment Act (Parental Notice of Abortion Act) on Wednesday, May 15.Register to join the action or visit www.passrha.com to learn more.

Just Housing for Survivors of Violence

On April 25, The Cook County Board passed limits on landlords’ inquiries in potential tenants’ criminal histories with the ‘Just Housing’ ordinance. The measure amends the housing ordinance to prohibit landlords from asking about, considering or requiring the disclosure of criminal histories until a potential tenant has been determined qualified for the property. CFW grantee Apna Ghar, Inc. spoke in favor of the measure as a protection for survivors of gender-based and domestic violence:

“Gender-based violence may lead an individual to get involved with the criminal legal system,” Apna Ghar, Inc., said in a statement to the county board. “Many survivors of such violence are criminalized for defending themselves against their abusers. Some survivors are coerced into criminal activity by their abusers and sometimes criminal activity could be an outcome of the trauma suffered. When such individuals face housing discrimination, post sentence, and are unable to find housing, they often return to their abusers and the vicious cycle of violence continues. Apna Ghar believes that the Just Housing Amendment will address this issue and allow survivors of gender-based violence, who have been part of the criminal legal system, to be able to achieve their human right to housing and break the cycle of violence.”

A Seat at the Table

CFW grantees are taking a seat at the table to add their voices as members of Mayor-Elect Lightfoot’s transition committee. Full list of committees and members can be found here.

Mergers to Increase Services

After more than 40 years of service, CFW grantee Family Shelter Service has merged with sister grantee Metropolitan Family Services DuPage in order to expand services and meet the growing needs of survivors. Also merging are grantees The Family Defense Center and the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic to provide expanded services focused on holistic legal advocacy and systemic reform to continue empowering individuals and families across Illinois. Research funded by CFW found that nonprofit organizations can use mergers as an effective and powerful tool to achieve their goals, advance their mission and increase their impact.



Willie’s Warrior Speaks Out for Equity

Photo Anna Bybee-Schier, Pioneer Press

Willie’s Warrior Gail Krahenbuhl, a professor at Triton College, spoke at an April board meeting on behalf of the college’s Diversity Committee for to advocate for hiring practices that advance equity, diversity and inclusion in higher education administration. The Diversity Committee noted that administrators do not reflect the student body. “To be silent is to be complicit, and we refuse to be either,” Krahenbuhl said. Read the full story 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.