GoWomen: New Legacies
February 07 2018

Announcing a new fund at CFW


New Legacies

Rev. Wilie Barrow and President Barack Obama

Black History Month was created to celebrate the achievements of Black women and men, as part of a larger project to correct the erasure of black women and men from our history.

History is not static; “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” History is constantly being made and remade, as we learn new stories and perspectives that create new legacies.

CFW is part of creating a new legacy for our region throughThe Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership, established with the support of the Willie Taplin Barrow Leadership Institute and Museum in partnership with African American Legacy (AAL) at the Chicago Community Trust. Established in honor of the late Reverend Willie Barrow, the fund honors an important part of our region’s past, while investing in our region’s future.

Like so many women, Rev. Barrow worked behind the scenes. She helped convince Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to bring the civil rights movement to Chicago and led Rainbow/PUSH. Barrow created a legacy of investing in Black leadership, mentoring Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and President Barack Obama, and over 100 others she referred to as her “godchildren.”

Rev. Barrow believed in bringing women together to support and learn from each other. Thanks to support from her estate, that work will continue through Willie’s Warriors, a leadership development cohort of Black women in the Chicago region.

The program will be guided by a diverse advisory board of accomplished women representing a range of sectors, geographies and generations. I’m pleased to announce the Willie’s Warriors Advisory Board will be chaired by Amina Dickerson, President, Dickerson Global Advisors, and Deborah Harrington, former President, Woods Fund Chicago. The Advisory Board will help guide the program by serving as thought leaders and ambassadors, and by providing strategic advice on issues such as the curriculum and cohort selection.

Through Willie’s Warriors and the Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership, Rev. Barrow will continue to influence and invest in our region’s future.

With highest hopes,

K. Sujata
Chicago Foundation for Women



Celebrate Local Leaders at the 2018 Impact Awards

Join CFW on March 14 as we celebrate six local leaders for their commitment to increasing resources for women and girls at the 2018 Impact Awards! Meet the honorees:

Learn more about the 2018 Impact Award honorees and get your ticket online today!

Talk It Out: #MeToo

CFW’s third annual Talk It Out conversation series will focus on the #MeToo Movement and how women and men can work together to end sexual harassment. Talk It Out: #MeToo will take place the week of March 18 – 24, 2018.

Talk It Out is a week-long, region-wide conversation series, held annually during Women’s History Month, designed to spark honest dialogue and understanding about gender bias. Sexual harassment is a symptom of gender bias, and Talk It Out: #MeToo is aimed at giving women and men the language and confidence to have open and honest conversations about harassment, workplace dynamics and gender bias.

Anyone can host a Talk It Out conversation. Individuals, community groups and organizations can sign up to host at www.cfw.org/talkitout. Registered hosts will receive a toolkit with tips for hosting and questions to start the conversation. Sign up here.

Building More Willie Barrows

Rev. Willie Barrow was a fervent believer in women’s leadership and mentorship. “I opened my house up to all of the powerful women in the movement — Coretta Scott King, Dorothy Height, Addie Wyatt. That’s how I learned,” Barrow said. “I want to build some more Addie Wyatts, some more Willie Barrows.” Thanks to the support of the Willie Taplin Barrow Leadership Institute and Museum and the African American Legacy Fund at Chicago Community Trust, CFW will continue Barrow’s legacy of mentorship through the Willie’s Warriors leadership development cohort.

Willie’s Warriors: Meet Genita C. Robinson

A CFW supporter for fifteen years, Genita brings a wealth of experience in education and nonprofit management to her work on the Willie’s Warriors program.  As part of the Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership at CFW, Willie’s Warriors is a leadership development program for Black women in the Chicago region. Willie’s Warriors is personal for Genita, as stated in her own words:

I had the privilege of meeting Reverend Barrow, and I think it’s extremely important that we recognize and remember the impact of women like Reverend Barrow, who were at the top of their organizations and also the organizing force getting things done in the background.

There’s no question that Black women are leaders, in their families, in communities, in their professions and in the world. The question is what kind of support is provided to them to make them successful leaders. At the end of the day, the goal of Willie’s Warriors is to build a pipeline of Black women leaders. Much of this will be accomplished not only through what is taught in the leadership program, but also through a multigenerational mentoring approach involving senior and younger women. 

This project is very personal because I see myself as part of a pipeline and powerful network. My family has made progress with each generation. My success stems from my grandmother and her sisters, working women who were part of the Great Migration.                                                                      

With the selection of the Willie’s Warriors participants and the development of the program, I’m really excited to work with this dynamic group of Black women leaders, and I look forward to the lessons and impact that unfold from Reverend Barrow’s legacy.


Forbes: The Rising Activism in Women’s Philanthropy


CFW spoke to Marianne Schnall about the recent surge in women’s activism and philanthropy in the name of gender equity. Says Sujata, “We are very excited by the increasing awareness and support of intersectionality among our donors. It keeps us inspired every day when we see women from all backgrounds come together to partner with CFW, to champion philanthropy as a tool to address the unique circumstances and oppression that women of color face.”

Feminist Resolutions for 2018


Sujata shared four of CFW’s feminist resolutions for 2018 with Chicago Woman Magazine, including investing in the leadership of women of color, unapologetically expanding access to health care and building women’s philanthropic power.

A Day On, Not a Day Off


For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sujata reflected on the significance of our country’s only national day of service, and what it means to act in service of Dr. King’s vision of equity and justice. She writes, “Chicago Foundation for Women is re-committed to serving our community by investing in black leadership as community organizers and advocates, as nonprofit leaders and philanthropists; by diversifying and democratizing philanthropy; and by investing in the health, safety and economic security of black women and girls.”

EWI in the Community

Englewood Women’s Initiative (EWI)  partners continue to recruit women interested in job training, entrepreneurship and social support to achieve economic security for themselves and their families. ABC7 Chicago stopped by the latest EWI information session and spoke to women like Tameka Ward, who, after being turned down for a job at McDonald’s, pursued carpentry and now owns her home and car. Learn more about EWI here.

Chicago Women March to the Polls

An estimated 300,000 people turned out for Women’s March Chicago’s March to the Polls on January 20. Speakers at the rally, including CFW’s President/CEO K. Sujata, spoke about the importance of civic engagement and creating an inclusiveand intersectional coalition of women and men. Sujata, joined by Suzette Wright, a former employee of Ford’s Chicago factory, and the board of Women’s March Chicago led the crowd in a #MeToo Moment to reflect the number of women impacted by sexual harassment or abuse. You can watch the full speaking program via CANTV.


It’s been a busy time for the CFW community! Here’s a quick list of some of the great news from our grantees:

Community Organizing and Family Issues released a new report, funded by CFW, “Stopping the Debt Spiral.” The report, based on surveys and interviews with women across the state, takes a deep look at the type of debt holding women and their families back, and was covered by the Chicago TribuneWBEZand the Chicago Reader.

The Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law is fighting to protect wages for tipped workers – two-thirds of whom are women – by opposing proposed Department of Labor regulations that would eliminate a rule that tips belong to employees.

2018 Impact Award honoree and HEART Women & Girls founder Nadiah Mohajir joined Vocalo’s Council of Feminist Thought to discuss the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar and the role of women of color in the future of Planned Parenthood.

Mission Propelle was created to empower young girls through yoga and discussion. But #MeToo and concerns about teaching healthy masculinity has led the organization to begin conversations about opening the program to boys. “Sometimes, when boys see girl-power spaces, they think it’s a girl thing, solving girl problems,” says co-founder Jill Carey. “This might be an opportunity to say, ‘Boys, you can be a partner in solving this problem.’”

The Chicago Reader explored how the Jane Addams Resource Corporationand Chicago Women in Trades are empowering women to forge a space of their own in Chicago’s manufacturing industry.

Black Youth Project 100 national director Charlene Carruthers was highlighted by ABC7 as a “Chicagoan You Need to Know.”

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation executive director Kaethe Morris Hoffer is quoted in the Chicago Tribune’s special report on the serial killing of women of color in Chicago. “It is likewise upsetting to realize how, if you spread out over a long period of time, how inured people are to the murdering of women, particularly marginalized women.”


Painting Our Future

The Women United Giving Council of CFW invites you to support and empower girls and women of color in Chicago at “Painting Our Future” on Sunday, February 25. Let your inner artist out at Bottle and Bottega while learning more about the mission of the giving council. Help us create a better future for women, one brush stroke at a time. Registration closes February 22 (early bird registration through February 15th).

Get Down at the Women’s Day Dance

The LBTQ Giving Council of CFW is proud to host the 4th Annual International Women’s Day Dance on Saturday, March 3! Come move to the beats of DJ OCD and DJ Tess, 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!

Champion of Change Troy Henikoff on Women in Tech

CFW Male Champion of Change Troy Henikoff is quoted in the first feature of the new The Woman Up Project at Crain’s Chicago Business, on the state of women in Chicago’s tech industry. Troy serves as a mentor to several women in tech, and has made gender parity a priority for MATH Venture Partners, where he is managing director.

The Cost of Presence Health

Chicago Women Take Action founder and co-chair Marilyn Katz penned a guest column for the Chicago Sun-Times on why TIF funding for Presence Health system may come at the cost of women’s health.

Chicago Feminist Film Festival

CFW is excited to parter with The Chicago Feminist Film Festival, a free festival showcasing independent, international film addressing issues of gender, sexuality, race and other forms of inequality, and creating inclusive public spaces for under-represented artists to share their work.