GoWomen: True Strength
September 05 2018

Aly's strength captivated the nation


True Strength

Aly Raisman was just 18 years old when she flipped onto the international stage as the captain of the “Fierce Five” U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 London Olympics and became the first American woman to win gold in the floor exercise. As captain, Aly led the team to its first team gold since 1996 – and the first on international soil – and was “always looking out for everybody.”

Aly and her teammates captured national attentions and hearts. She made seemingly impossible routines look effortless. Many of us empathized with her parents’ nervous squirming as they watched their daughter within arms’ reach of the goal she had sacrificed so much for.

But few people knew the truth of what was happening behind the scenes, or the true strength of Aly and her teammates.

While competing at the highest possible level, Aly and her teammates were dealing with sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted team doctor. Aly came forward in 2016.

“I was in denial. It’s not an easy thing to let yourself believe that” you are a victim of abuse, Aly told 60 Minutes. In January 2018, the doctor was convicted. Aly was one of over 140 athletes to read victim impact statements following the trial. Once again, Aly’s power and strength captured the nation’s attention.

Since January, Aly has put herself at the forefront of an effort to reform the sport and protect young athletes from sexual abuse. “When I see these young girls…I just want to create change so that they never ever have to go through this.” She partnered with Darkness to Light to create the Flip the Switch campaign encouraging adults involved in youth sports to complete Darkness to Light’s training to help protect children from sexual abuse.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the Olympic champion or you’re an 8-year-old that goes to gymnastics in Ohio…every single kid is important,” said Aly.

We are so honored to welcome Aly Raisman to speak her truth at the sold out 33rd Annual Luncheon and Symposium on Tuesday, September 18. If you aren’t able to join us, you can still make an investment in the women and girls daring to speak out against sexual violence here in Chicago. Donate here.

With highest hopes,

K. Sujata
Chicago Foundation for Women


33rd Annual Luncheon + Symposium: TRUTH+DARE

In case you missed it: the 33rd Annual Luncheon is officially sold out. Space is still available at YOUTH+DARE, the free public Symposium the morning of the Luncheon. We are looking forward to an amazing conversation between Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens on TuesdaySeptember 18 at the Hyatt Regency ChicagoYou can add your name to the ticket waitlist here.

Meet the Moderator

Heidi Stevens is a columnist at the Chicago Tribune, where she has worked as a writer and editor since 1998. Her daily column, Balancing Act, tackles parenting, relationships, body image and gender bias and explores the ways they intersect with current events. Heidi has covered such topics as sexist double standards and gender bias in schools and wrestled with a question on many minds, “How do you love a city as violent and broken as Chicago?” We are thrilled to have her joining us to interview Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman at the 33rd Annual Luncheon.


There is still space available to join CFW the morning of the luncheon on September 18 at the free public symposium, YOUTH+DARE, as we celebrate and learn from young local leaders daring to build safe, just and healthy communities for all. YOUTH+DARE will feature conversations between young activists, organizers and community leaders working on the issues of immigration, community violence and LGBTQ rights. Meet the youth leaders and register here.



Diverse Philanthropy

For too long, in many minds “philanthropist” has been limited to a select few: the super wealthy, male and white. In truth, people of all incomes, people of color, and women have always given back to and invested in their communities. “Black Philanthropy Month” is celebrated in August  to challenge such stereotypes and uplift giving by Black women and men. Read more about giving by and within Black communities in Sujata’s latest Medium post.

Survey Deadline Extended – Enter to Win Southwest Tickets!

CFW is conducting research to help the philanthropic and nonprofit community better understand the many ways people give back to their communities, and to more effectively engage communities of color in developing funding priorities and directing investments. When you complete the survey, you will have the option to enter your name into a random drawing to win two round-trip tickets to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies! Please complete the survey by 5 p.m. Friday, September 14Take the survey here.

Yes She Can! Vote Her In Book Launch

Please join us on Tuesday, October 9, at WeWork Kinzie for an inspiring and thought-provoking event to launch Rebecca Sive’s new book, Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President, including an important conversation on women’s executive political leadership and policy making with Rebecca, Julia Stasch, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and writer of the book’s foreword, and Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Rebecca will be signing books (available for purchase onsite from Women & Children First). We promise that by the evening’s end, you too will say: yes, she can. Register here.

#SpeakTruth Summit

The Impact Alliance, Chicago Foundation for Women, Chicago State University, Women Employed, Arab American Family Services and Chicago Black Women in Tech invite you to attend the inaugural #SpeakTruth Summit on October 20 and 21, 2018, at Chicago State University. The #SpeakTruth Summit is a platform by and for women of color to identify, address and heal from the issues affecting them, and to collaborate to alter oppressive systems. The #SpeakTruth panels, workshops, and plenary sessions were designed with a focus on empowering women and equipping them with the resources, connections, and knowledge to thrive, not just survive, in their day-to-day lives. CFW President/CEO K. Sujata will participate in “The Workplace Struggle” keynote, and #BlackLivesMatter creator Alicia Garza will keynote the Summit.Register here.

On the Governor’s Desk

The Illinois Equal Pay “No Salary History” Act (HB 4163) passed out of the House and Senate with bipartisan support, and it is now on Governor Rauner’s desk.This bill will strengthen the existing Illinois Equal Pay Act by prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their previous salaries. Pay histories often reflect bias, so basing wages on previous pay only perpetuates wage inequality. Wages should be determined by the job’s responsibilities and the applicant’s qualifications. Call Governor Rauner TODAY and tell him to stand up for equal pay and sign the “No Salary History” Act (HB 4163)!



New Illinois Council on Women + Girls

The Illinois Council on Women and Girls has been signed into law! After the dissolution of the White House Council on Women and Girls, CFW joined a broad coalition of women and organizations advocating for the creation of a state-level council. The Council will advise the Governor and the General Assembly on policy issues impacting women and girls. “Women and girls must have a seat at the table and a voice in the policies that shape their opportunities, their communities and their lives,” CFW President/CEO K. Sujata said at a press conference supporting the bill. “The Illinois Council on Women and Girls will ensure our state takes a gender lens to our laws and policies – looking at the specific challenges and barriers facing women across our state.” Thank you to all the people who worked so hard to make the Illinois Council on Women and Girls a reality! Learn more about the council here.

A Systemic Problem

When creating a pooled fund to support innovation in the domestic violence sector, Crown Family Philanthropies decided to partner with CFW when it “was determined to be the ‘ideal’ steward of the FIRST fund in recognition of its ‘longstanding leadership in the DV sector.’” Read the full article from Inside Philanthropy on the origins of the FIRST Fund here.

Watch Dare to Create Performances

Amazing local performers and presenters brought the house down at CFW’s Dare to Create event in July. Thanks to CAN TV, you can now re-watch the performances and get inspired to create your own daring works! Watch here.



“Pockets of Promise” for Women in Welding, Construction

Photo by Manuel Martinez for Crain’s Chicago Business

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports welding jobs are expected to grow 6 percent over the next eight years. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that construction employment in Chicago has increased 17 percent in the last five years. This growth is creating new opportunities for women to enter these nontraditional careers. “There are plenty of pockets of promise,” says Jayne Vellinga, executive director of CFW grantee Chicago Women in Trades told Crain’s. “It’s just (that) making that talk translate into concrete outcomes can be tough. How far are you willing to go? Are you willing to enforce?” The Atlantic and Forbes highlight the work being done by Chicago Women in Trades and fellow CFW grantee Jane Addams Resource Center to ensure women have the skills and support to compete for jobs in this growing field. Read the Atlantic piece on welding here; and the Forbes article on barriers to recruiting women in manufacturing here.

Reducing the Number of Women in Prison

One hundred women – including formerly incarcerated women, corrections officials, judges and prosecutors – are calling for a 50-percent reduction in the number of women behind bars in Illinois. WTTW Chicago Tonight speaks with Deanne Benos of the Women’s Justice Institute, who is leading the initiative.

Chicago’s Startling Wage Gap

Graphic by Block Club Chicago.

Wendy Pollack, Director of the Women’s Law & Policy Initiative at Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and Women Employed’s Melissa Josephs spoke to Block Club Chicago’s about the surprising wage gap for city employees. A look at pension fund annual reports found that women are paid on average $27,572 less than men. “You’d think it would be fairer just because it’s civil service,” said Pollack. Adds Josephs, “If women are earning less than men, anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 a year over 50 years… they’re losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Read the full piece here.

Challenging Discrimination

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee featured ACLU of Illinois’ Women’s & Reproductive Rights Project’s pregnancy discrimination case against the Village of Frankfort (warning: explicit language).

The Women’s & Reproductive Rights Project Director Lorie Chaiten also spoke to FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times on the impact of expanding Catholic hospitals on access to healthcare for women and LGBTQ populations. “People need information [about what services hospitals offer] so they can make a choice about where to seek care,” Chaiten said.

Concerns Over IL Maternal Mortality Disparities

Since 2008 more than 650 women in Illinois have died of pregnancy-related causes. African American mothers are three to four times more likely to die, and a majority of those deaths are preventable. The Chicago Tribune explored various locally-led efforts to better understand and address the root causes of the disparity. In July, CFW grantee EverThrive Illinois brought together local experts to discuss strategies and share policy recommendations to reduce maternal mortality at the EverThrive IL Policy Symposium: Forging Strategies to Address Maternal Mortality in IllinoisRead the original story in the Chicago Tribune here.



Paid Leave & Racial Justice

Did you know, 26% of Black adults and 23% of Latinx adults report needing family or medical leave in the last 2 years but couldn’t take it, compared to 13% of white adults? Paid family leave is about supporting working families and an economy that works for everyone, but it’s also a racial justice issue. The National Partnership on Women & Families released a new issue brief, Paid Family and Medical Leave: A Racial Justice Issue – and Opportunity. The brief examines paid family and medical leave as a racial justice issue and outlines guidelines to help create racially equitable paid leave policies. Read the full brief 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.