GoWomen: Let's get to work
June 05 2019

Meet CFW's new President and CEO, Felicia Davis


Let’s get to work

It is an honor to join Chicago Foundation for Women in the work of increasing investments in women and girls at this pivotal moment for our city and our region.

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, in Altgeld Gardens and Roseland, my mother instilled in me the importance of giving back to our community. It wasn’t called philanthropy – it was just called helping out.

This value of giving back to the community and people who invested in me has stayed with me throughout the entirety of my public service career. It is one of the reasons I helped co-found the South Side Giving Circle of CFW, to work alongside other like-minded women to give to support Black women and girls in our communities. And it is why my role advising the Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative at CFW has been so meaningful to me.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to live out my values every day at Chicago Foundation for Women as the Foundation’s new President and CEO. My hope is that, together, we can build a movement at Chicago Foundation for Women and in our region, in which every woman and girl is her truest self and feels seen, heard and valued. I look forward to embarking on this journey with you.

In the meantime, here’s a chance to learn a little bit more about me, my personal journey and my vision for our region.

Let’s get to work,

Felicia Davis
President and CEO
Chicago Foundation for Women


Meet Felicia Davis

Chicago Tribune/Zbigniew Bzdak

CFW’s new President and CEO, Felicia Davis, joined the Morning Shift on WBEZ to discuss her personal experience with philanthropy and her vision for Chicago Foundation for Women, and for women and girls in our region. Listen to the full interview here.

Heidi Stevens from the Chicago Tribune also recently sat down with Felicia for an interview. “I want women and girls to feel safe in every part of the city in every part of the day,” Felicia said. “I want women and girls to be able to walk down the street and not worry about it. That’s not always the case. And that’s not just my professional experience talking; that’s me growing up as a little girl on the South Side.” Read the article here.

Flip the Script with Elaine Welteroth

Join CFW to change the story for women and girls in Chicago at the 34th Annual Luncheon, featuring former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth. As the magazine’s youngest-ever Editor-in-Chief, Elaine Welteroth flipped the script on media for young women and girls, bringing a focus on social consciousness, civic engagement and activism to the magazine. Join CFW on October 15 as we continue to rewrite the story for women and girls in Chicago – secure your spot today with a sponsorship!

Invest in Healthy Masculinity with CFW

From Hollywood to college campuses, people are having hard conversations about how rigid gender roles and ‘toxic masculinity’ hurts women and men. But how do we change toxic masculinity? In celebration of Father’s Day and the important role men and boys have to play in ending gender bias, CFW is investing in healthy masculinity and changing the narrative for men and boys with CFW grantee HANA Center – but we need your help to make it happen. Learn more about how HANA Center is bringing men into the movement for gender equity, and how you can help.

Impact Awards Applications Open

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



Felicia Davis Talks Representation on Corporate Boards

Legislation that aimed to diversify corporate boards in Illinois passed during the final days of the General Assembly’s spring legislative session, but it was stripped of a key provision that would have mandated minority representation. “While this legislation moves us in the right direction and toward a commendable level of transparency, I am disappointed that the end result was significantly watered-down and has no regulatory teeth,” said Felicia Davis, President and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women. “Building diverse corporate boards, ones that truly reflect the population of our state, is no small undertaking. The understandable concern is that companies won’t prioritize diversity on their boards if it is not required,” she said. Read the full article here.

The Impact of Women’s Funds

Whether through grants of $2,500 or $130 million, women’s funds are amplifying women’s philanthropic power to invest in stronger communities for all of us.Women’s Foundations and Funds: A Landscape Study, a new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, is the first landscape report in 10 years about women’s foundations and funds. The report explores patterns across more than 200 women’s foundations and funds, finding that a majority of women’s funds invest in their local community. You can read the full report here.

The Daily Gist

Author, advocate and CFW community member Rebecca Sive joined The Daily Gist to discuss the intersection of gender, politics and economics. Sive cites findings from CFW’s annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls that argue for increased investment in economic security for women and girls in order to strengthen families, communities and our entire region. “These problems are still with us,” Sive says. “Poverty rates of women are over 20 percent higher than men, and Black women experience poverty at 3.5 times the measure of white men.” Listen here.



Reproductive Health Act Passes in IL

Chicago Tribune/Zbigniew Bzdak

The Reproductive Health Act, a bill that establishes a “fundamental right” for women to get an abortion in Illinois, cleared the state Senate on May 31. The bill repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, doing away with provisions for spousal consent, waiting periods, criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions and other restrictions on facilities where abortions are performed. Several CFW grantees – ACLU of ILPlanned Parenthood of ILMidwest Access Coalition, and Women’s March Chicago – helped make this possible, and CFW would like to thank them for working so hard on this effort. Read the full article here.

“We Cannot Arrest Our Way Out of Domestic Violence”

A Chicago Tribune series exploring the ways survivors of domestic violence are failed by the courts and criminal justice system sparked conversation about how to balance bail and prison reform with the survivor’s safety. “Pretrial incarceration does not meaningfully support survivors or stop the cycle of harm,” writes Rachel Caidor, former director of the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline. “Locking people in jails, which are places of violence, does not prevent them from engaging in violence upon release. We cannot arrest our way out of domestic violence.” Read her full letter to the editor here.

Black Women in Chicago, Getting Things Done

Image courtesy of A Long Walk Home

Young Women’s Giving Council grantee A Long Walk Home was featured in the Chicago Reader for the organization’s successful efforts to center the voices of girls of color in #MeToo, and the innovative use of art as a tool for healing and education. Co-founder Salamishah Tillet also published an Opinion piece in the New York Times highlighting the many ways Black women are leading Chicago’s progressive victories. “Black feminists, in particular, are securing progressive victories in a place where that long seemed impossible,” Tillet writes. She highlights work by Assata’s Daughters, a fellow grantee of the Young Women’s Giving Council of CFW. Read the full piece here.

When Mom is Locked Up

CFW grantees Cabrini Green Legal Aid and Women’s Justice Institute are pushing for legislation to add parenthood and caregiving to the list of factors a judge considers as part of sentencing. An estimated 77 percent of women in Illinois prisons are the primary caregivers for young children. Read the full article here.

Emergency Support for Survivors

Image courtesy of Resilience

CFW grantee Resilience is helping local hospitals meet the requirements of new legislation requiring Illinois hospitals to provide sexual assault survivors with an advocate. “I think it’s incredibly important,” says Sarah Layden, program and public policy director for Resilience. “The advocate’s role is to walk them through [all of] their options.” Read the full article here.



Lived Through This – June 9

Image courtesy of The Voices and Faces Project

Printers Row Literary Festival is pleased to present a staged reading of the theatrical adaptation of Anne K. Ream’s critically praised memoir, Lived Through This, at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium on Sunday, June 9 at 3 pm. Part personal history of Ream’s experience rebuilding her life in the wake of sexual violence, part memoir of a multi-country journey spent listening to survivors, Lived Through This has been adapted for the stage by its author alongside Marilyn Campbell-Lowe and Caity-Shea Violette. Directed by 16th Street Theater’s Ann Filmer. RSVP 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.