GoWomen: Learning from Diverse Voices
June 07 2017



Learning from Diverse Voices

UCAN staff gather to discuss how to challenge gender bias and engage young people in the conversation about equity.

UCAN staff gather to discuss how to challenge gender bias and engage young people in the conversation about equity.

Over the past year, we have learned the danger of the echo chamber that creates a false sense of agreement, and the importance of listening to – and truly hearing – diverse opinions and perspectives.

Chicago Foundation for Women brought people across Chicagoland together to have thoughtful, honest – and yes, hard –  conversations about equity and gender bias when we held our “Salons to Solve” back in 2015. Two years later, we still see the value in these conversations, now called Talk It Out, as a way to hear individual stories, to swap strategies for challenging bias, and to engage new people in the conversation about equity.

These conversations are also a learning opportunity for CFW. You shared your insights on social media and in our Talk It Out survey, helping us improve Talk It Out and explore new ways to advance the conversation and our collective efforts around gender equity.

Your responses provided a clearer picture of how we think about gender and bias in our daily lives.

67 percent of respondents said Talk It Out changed the way they think about their experiences, including recognizing “when I’m being biased and don’t even know it.” Others said they appreciated hearing other perspectives, especially from women of color, and learning new ways to approach gender bias when they encounter it.

Over 70 percent said they changed their actions based on their conversation, including speaking up when they hear bias, listening to and supporting other women more consistently, and being more conscious of the gendered chores they assign their children.

And nearly 90 percent of respondents said they intend to share what they learned, becoming a new wave of ambassadors for gender equity.

Your responses are also helping us create resources to ensure we all continue the work of ending gender bias beyond one week in March. Many of you brought up the need to address women’s intersecting identities and experiences around race, socioeconomic status, sexuality and gender identity. In creating our report, we also compiled a list of books, articles and films for those of you interested in exploring these topics.

Thank you again to everyone who joined us for a Talk It Out conversation. We are already looking forward to Talk It Out 2018 from March 18-24!

You can download the full Talk It Out 2017 report and see all our findings, and additional resources, here.


CFW is thrilled to welcome Loretta Rosenmayer of INTREN and Jo Moore as Co-Chairs of the 32nd Annual Luncheon. During her time as CEO of INTREN, Loretta demonstrated a commitment to creating economic opportunities for women in the energy industry. She and INTREN were recognized with an Outstanding Corporate Citizen Impact Award in 2016. Jo Moore has been a part of the CFW family for over thirty years. Jo was a member of the original fundraising group and served on CFW’s board. She is currently an active member of the foundation’s Alumnae Council.

Loretta Rosenmayer, 32nd Annual Luncheon Co-Chair

Loretta with 31st Annual Luncheon Speaker Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter.

How long have you been involved with Chicago Foundation for Women, and how did you first become involved?

I have been involved with CFW for eight years. Back in September of 2009 at the 24th Annual Luncheon, the keynote speaker was Maya Angelou, which is what attracted me to the event and this wonderful organization.

Why do you believe it’s important to invest in women & girls?

It took the women’s rights movement 72 years before women earned the right to vote. It is our obligation to honor the women that paved the way by continuing to fight for women’s equity at every level. It is not only for ourselves, but for the generations of women and girls that will follow in our footsteps.

How does INTREN invest in supporting women in the energy industry? Why did you decide to make women’s equity in the workplace a priority?

We have been a long-time supporter of the Federation of Women Contractors, Women’s Energy Network and MEA Energetic Women through sponsorships, as well as participation at events. We also have our own POWER (Promoting  Of Women in Energy Roles) group for women at INTREN.

When I first started in this business, I had women that supported me, both in funding and as mentors. As a WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise) company, I am proud to contribute to the greater whole and to help attract more women into the energy industry, as well as mentor our women sub-contractors.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s annual luncheon?

I look forward to enjoying the opportunity to celebrate women of accomplishment and grace.

The theme of this year’s luncheon celebrates women’s activism and movement building. How do you view yourself and your work as part of the larger women’s movement?

At a very young age, I learned from my mother that our purpose during this lifetime was to serve. She was strong and socially active and was always advocating for a cause. By the time I was 13 years old, she had instilled that drive to serve in me, as well. Thus, it was natural that I would carry that into my business and be a servant leader. At INTREN, stewardship — caring for other priorities as if they were your own — is not just a way of doing business, but a way of life. It is our role to help our communities, and to advocate for women and girls.

Jo Moore, 32nd Annual Luncheon Co-Chair


Jo celebrates Chicago Foundation for Women’s 30th Anniversary with Mary Bonnet.


How long have you been involved with CFW, and how did you first become involved?

Sunny Fischer invited me to the first fundraising meeting for CFW in 1985. We had worked together at the Evanston Shelter for Battered Women. I told her I didn’t know anything about fundraising and she said “Oh just come – you’ll meet great people and it’ll be fun!” And she was right!

I also volunteered with a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and witnessed the many challenges women faced when trying to leave an abusive relationship: navigating the court and judiciary system, trying to find safe, affordable housing, living-wage jobs, and quality, affordable daycare and health care for their families. Too many women faced too many obstacles to living a life I believe all deserve: a life free from physical violence, with economic security and adequate health care. CFW is one of the few funders that applies a “gender lens” in developing solutions to the issues of violence, economic security and health. I wanted to effect change in so many areas and it was through Chicago Foundation for Women that I was able to do it.

Why do you believe it’s important to invest in women and girls?

Women and girls are half of our population. This city, this state, this country are facing daunting challenges, and we can’t move forward if we only use one-half of the brainpower, talents, energy and skills available. We know that when you help a woman you are strengthening her family and the community. Chicago has so many communities that desperately need strengthening right now.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s annual luncheon?

First of all, I look forward to walking into that room and feeling that powerful surge of energy! This year I need it more than ever. It’s that powerful giant ball of energy I connect to every year where I charge my batteries with hope and renew my commitment to positive change for women and girls. It’s how I re-activate!!

It’s also the feeling of deep gratitude and wonder at the amazing crowd that attends – people who share in the goals, and support and celebrate the whole of CFW. I always feel so thankful for the many people I’ve met and with whom I share long friendships and deep commitments and hopes for equality and justice. When I walk into the luncheon and see the crowd that reflects the dynamic, powerful, joyous, interesting, vibrant, dazzling diversity of our city – of our country –  I think to myself ‘this is the rich and varied community I am so grateful to be a part of’ and I owe it all to CFW.

The theme of this year’s luncheon celebrates women’s activism and movement building. How do you view yourself and your work as part of the larger women’s movement?

I have founded organizations, been a donor, volunteer, paid staff, served as a consultant to over 100 nonprofits and EMILY’s List, and I have realized that making a stretch financial contribution to fund women’s rights is activism! Making the stretch gift to CFW transforms you into an activist – and joins you to so many others so you can have a greater impact! The work CFW does, in educating people about the issues and introducing them to amazing organizations and individuals in our community, in bringing all of these solutions and people who care about them together, creates a community of activists, powering a women’s movement right here in Chicago!


The Download on Women in Tech & The 100% Project


Chicago is home to a growing tech startup community. But are these young companies disrupting inequality, or replicating it? On WGN’s The Download, Sujata and Justin Kaufmann discuss Sujata’s recent article on making the tech sector better for women, as well as The 100% Project and why CFW is sticking to the big goal of gender equity by 2030.


Making Mother’s Day A Day for All Mothers


Activists at the Chicago Community Bond Fund, along with other government and community leaders, have called for the end of the cash bond system, which disproportionately harms poor people. Activists renewed these calls on Mother’s Day, with the launch of “Mama’s Bail Out Day,” a national effort to free women who have been arrested and cannot afford to post bond. In a Mother’s Day blog post, K. Sujata highlights some of the Chicagoland organizations working on behalf of incarcerated mothers and their families.



Catalyzing Giving in Communities of Color


WUGC co-chair Karla Muldowney (center) with Ed Fields (left), chair, The Community Investment Network and Mijo Lee, Executive Director of Social Justice Fund Northwest.


Last month, Women United Giving Council (WUGC) chair Karla Muldowney shared her perspective as a leader of an identity-based giving council at the Kellogg Foundation’s Catalyzing Community Giving Convening. Karla blogged about her experience and shared reflections about “how being active and a part of the WUGC community is one of the ways I choose to show my resistance.” You can read her blog post here.


New Toolkit Offers Step-by-Step Guide to Mergers


Last fall, CFW sponsored research on the strategies that enable a successful nonprofit merger. That research produced a toolkit to serve as a guide through the stages of exploring, negotiating and finalizing a merger. The toolkit offers a roadmap to mergers, with tips and resources along the way.



Between Friends & A Night Out Unite to Serve DV Survivors

The Chronicle of Philanthropy highlights the partnership between A Night Out andBetween Friends as an example of strategic alliances employed by nonprofits as a way to expand programming and diversify funding streams. The Enterprise Fund at CFW supported the two organizations to develop a plan for a smooth merger and expansion of services.


OUTAging Puts Focus on Older Members of LGBT Community


With an estimated 49 million Americans over the age of 65, older LGBTQ adults are facing new challenges around aging and care. Pride Action Tank hosted “OUTAging: Summit on Our Possibilities,” to create space for older LGBTQ adults to share their experiences, to connect with service providers to identify gaps in services, resources and opportunities, and to develop strategies for continued advocacy around key challenges facing this community, including higher rates of poverty and social isolation.


Crain’s Highlights GirlForward Founder

Blair Brettschneider, founder of GirlForward, was highlighted in the annual Crain’s Chicago Business 20 in Their 20s list, for her work on behalf of refugee girls in the Chicago region. As the organization’s original institutional funder, CFW is proud of GirlForward’s commitment to serving refugee girls and continued growth in Chicago and at the national level. Says Sujata, “[Blair’s] grit, confidence and long view are unusual in someone so young. She has the big vision.”


Ask Governor Rauner to Protect Women’s Health


Illinois is currently one of a handful of states with a “trigger law” which states that Illinois would criminalize abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Illinois House Bill 40 protects the future of reproductive choice in Illinois by ensuring that abortion remains safe and legal in our state no matter what. Governor Rauner has threatened to veto the bill because it also expands access to reproductive health care for women using Medicaid and other forms of public insurance. You can ask Governor Rauner to protect women’s health in Illinois by signing HB 40. You can also sign up to phone bank or canvas to support the bill at www.passhb40.com.


Galvanize Chicago July 15-16

Chicago red (1)

Last year, the White House Council on Women and Girls hosted The United State of Women summit, to bring together people from diverse backgrounds to talk about eliminating barriers for women and achieving gender equity. This year, the folks from United State of Women are back, with six regional mini-summits, including one right here in Chicago! Galvanize will give women the tools to get involved at the local level, with workshops and resources on how to organize your community, to advocate for policy solutions, to run for office or to become an entrepreneur. Galvanize will be in Chicago July 15-16, you can register here.


KAN-WIN Examines Sexual Violence in Asian Community

KAN-WIN surveyed members of Chicago’s Asian American and immigrant community to determine the prevalence of sexual violence, existing barriers to seeking help, and to identify culturally competent approaches to outreach and prevention services. The survey found a majority of women respondents had experienced some form of sexual violence. The survey also found social stigmas to seeking services, lack of knowledge of existing services, and language and level of acculturation to be barriers to accessing sexual assault services. You can read the full report here.


LGBTQ Grantmaking at Record High

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Funders for LGBTQ Issues released a report tracking LGBTQ-focused grantmaking by U.S. foundations in 2015, and tallied a record high of $160.7M in grants, including $69,000 in grants made by CFW and the LBTQ Giving Council. According to the report, “2015 saw an expansion of the number of funders supporting LGBTQ issues,” and a significant increase in funding for trans communities, as well as criminal justice reform. Here in the Midwest, funding for LGBTQ communities increased by 16 percent. CFW’s LBTQ giving is on track to increase by over 40 percent this year.


Justice Doesn’t Trickle Down

A new report by the Roosevelt Institute and the Ms. Foundation for Women makes the case against a ‘color-blind’ approach to economic justice and women’s economic security. Instead, the report argues for centering women of color and recognizing the complex, intersecting ways women of color’s economic security is hindered by racism and sexism, and how threats to women’s physical safety and health impact their economic security.


College Debt is a Women’s Issue

The American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) report, “Deeper In Debt,” details how women hold nearly two-thirds of outstanding student debt in the United States. Women are also in debt for longer than men,  due in part to the wage gap, impacting their ability to invest in their future economic security through saving and retirement planning. Download the complete report here.


Spring Board Boot Camp Wraps Up

BBC Cohort Spring2017

CFW’s Board Boot Camp ran last month, giving participants comprehensive training in understanding board roles and responsibilities, nonprofit financials and fundraising basics in just two days! Boot camp attendees also had the opportunity to put their training into action and meet organizations recruiting new board members. Do you want to learn what it takes to be a board member? The next Board Boot Camp will be held this fall — stay tuned for updates on how to register!