Each day, more than 300,000 women in our community struggle to put food on the table, to keep themselves and their children safe and healthy, and to lift themselves up from poverty and lack of opportunity.

We are about them.

Chicago Foundation for Women envisions a world in which all women and girls have the opportunity to thrive in safe, just and healthy communities.




We evaluate the needs of women and girls who are living at the margins of success in our society.


We seek out and bring together women who have the power to make a difference and organizations that offer proven or innovative solutions.


We raise money to fund those solutions, and we develop women's capacity to drive change at every level, both within those organizations and beyond them.


Chicago Foundation for Women invests in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all.


We value - in ourselves and in every organization we support -  the core principles of equality, empowerment, diversity, collaboration, and integrity.


We believe that equality is a universal human right, and we uphold respect and dignity as guiding principles in all our work.


We believe in the right of individuals to make choices and have control over their minds, bodies and spirits


We value the strength and wisdom that come from all voices and embrace the complexities of communities.


We affirm the transformative power of collective efforts and the importance of having women and girls engaged in issues that affect their lives.


We hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and level of accountability.


In 1984, four leaders of Chicago’s philanthropic community - Marjorie Craig Benton, Sunny Fischer, Iris J. Krieg, and Lucia Woods Lindley - launched a series of planning groups that laid the financial and programmatic groundwork for what would become Chicago Foundation for Women.

From left to right: Iris J. Krieg, Lucia Woods Lindley, Sunny Fischer, Marjorie Craig Benton

The four women shared a vision. They knew that lack of economic opportunity, poor access to reproductive and other health services, domestic violence, and a host of other issues daily threatened the well-being of thousands of women in Chicago, and, by extension, thousands of families. They realized that only a tiny percentage of philanthropic dollars - just 3 percent in 1984 - were being spent to address women's real and specific needs. And they knew that women were underrepresented in philanthropy, unaccustomed to wielding the power to decide what issues were important and direct funding to where it could do the most good.

Working their social and business networks, tapping their own experience, they reached out to women who, like them, wanted to transform society and their own place in it.

By the end of that first year, these women had incorporated the Foundation, had elected its first board of directors, and had begun fundraising. And by spring of 1986, the Foundation made its first grants, totaling $50,000.

The principles that guided the development of the Foundation still guide its operations today.


We believe that when women and girls are secure, whole communities are made better.


  • Patricia Costello Slovak

  • Kelly Smith Haley

  • Silvia Rivera

  • M. Blair Wellensiek

  • Jim Alexander

  • Carmin Awadzi

  • Joan Trueheart Bacon

  • Adela Cepeda

  • Allison B. Clark

  • Valerie Colletti

  • Regina Cross

  • Harlene Ellin

  • Sarah Hurwit Gomel

  • Georgina Heard-Labonne

  • Keri Holleb Hotaling

  • Susie Kurowski

  • Robin Letchinger

  • Tina Manikas

  • Kathleen McDonald

  • Michael Narciso

  • Marie Osadjan

  • Munira Patel

  • Nina Sanchez

  • Gretchen Wolf

  • Ann Marie Wright

  • Patricia Costello Slovak
  • Kelly Smith Haley
  • Silvia Rivera
  • M. Blair Wellensiek
  • Jim Alexander
  • Carmin Awadzi
  • Joan Trueheart Bacon
  • Adela Cepeda
  • Allison B. Clark
  • Valerie Colletti
  • Regina Cross
  • Harlene Ellin
  • Sarah Hurwit Gomel
  • Georgina Heard-Labonne
  • Keri Holleb Hotaling
  • Susie Kurowski
  • Robin Letchinger
  • Tina Manikas
  • Kathleen McDonald
  • Michael Narciso
  • Marie Osadjan
  • Munira Patel
  • Nina Sanchez
  • Gretchen Wolf
  • Ann Marie Wright


  • K. Sujata

  • Shannon Buckley
    Data & Web Associate

  • Emily Dreke
    VP of Development & Communications

  • Nancy Garcia
    Development Associate

  • Natosha Johnson
    Manager of Institutional Relations

  • Ilda Lagunas
    Manager of Special Events & Annual Giving

  • Eli Marsh
    Philanthropic Education Officer

  • Agnes Meneses
    Director of Strategic Initiatives

  • Maleia Scuefield-Ransom
    Community Engagement Officer

  • Kyle Ann Sebastian
    Manager of Communications

  • Katy Thomas
    Major Gifts Officer

  • Linda L. Wagner
    VP of Finance & Administration

  • Bernadine Wims
    Executive Coordinator

  • Lora York
    Senior Program Officer

  • K. Sujata
  • Shannon Buckley
    Data & Web Associate
  • Emily Dreke
    VP of Development & Communications
  • Nancy Garcia
    Development Associate
  • Natosha Johnson
    Manager of Institutional Relations
  • Ilda Lagunas
    Manager of Special Events & Annual Giving
  • Eli Marsh
    Philanthropic Education Officer
  • Agnes Meneses
    Director of Strategic Initiatives
  • Maleia Scuefield-Ransom
    Community Engagement Officer
  • Kyle Ann Sebastian
    Manager of Communications
  • Katy Thomas
    Major Gifts Officer
  • Linda L. Wagner
    VP of Finance & Administration
  • Bernadine Wims
    Executive Coordinator
  • Lora York
    Senior Program Officer


Since 1985, Chicago Foundation for Women has awarded more than 3,800 grants totaling over $31 million and helped thousands of women and girls step up to become agents of social change. It is thanks to the generous investments of thousands that this work is possible.



The official airline of Chicago Foundation for Women


Giving Councils

Giving Councils bring fresh ideas, unique concerns and perspectives, and new energy to philanthropic leadership and advocacy. The councils provide a basic infrastructure that enables women to

  • focus on an underserved constituency,
  • identify the issues that matter,
  • develop a plan of action to raise awareness and funds, and
  • target those funds to programs that can move the needle.

Giving Councils break barriers, within the Foundation and for the women and girls they represent. They also break ground: according to the Women’s Funding Network, the Foundation’s Giving Councils are the very first of such groups of diverse community members raising funds and investing back in their community at any women's fund in the United States.


LBTQ Giving Council
Joy Messinger, Co-chair
Kelly Murphy, Co-chair

Women United Giving Council
Karla Muldowney, Co-chair

North Shore Giving Circle
Ann Balusek, Co-chair
Ginny Holt, Co-chair
Martha Weinfurter, Co-chair
Joan Trueheart, Co-chair

Western Suburbs Giving Circle
Gail Hernly, Co-chair 
Anita Mital, Co-chair
Varsha Pancholi, Co-chair
Munira Patel, Co-chair

Young Women's Giving Council
Andrea McPike, Co-chair
Victoria Celano, Co-chair
Christina John, Co-chair
Monica George, Co-chair 





Alumnae Council

Through their participation in the Alumnae Council, former members of the Foundation’s board of directors continue to influence the lives of women and girls and contribute to the Foundation’s success. Council members’ knowledge and experience are an invaluable resource to current board and staff; their ongoing affiliation with Chicago Foundation for Women is an honor.

Council membership is limited to those who have served as Foundation directors.

* Founders of Chicago Foundation for Women



Ellen Benjamin
Juju Lien




Enriqueta Rodriguez Bauer

María C. Bechily

Ruth K. Belzer

Deborah E. Bennett

Marjorie Craig Benton*

Allegra E. Biery

Saundra Bishop

Catherine Braendel

Betsy Brill

Nick Brunick

Dee Clancy

Fay Clayton

Vickii Coffey

Gwen Gilbert Cohen

Judith S. Cottle

Susan Crown

Barbara Dillard

Jann Drogovich-Stulberg

Isa Ellis

Barbara Engel

Sondra Berman Epstein

Edith H. Falk

Sunny Fischer*

Polly A. Flinn

Trina M. Fresco

Rita M. Glass

Judy Gold

Radhika Sharma Gordon

Cheryl Grace

Marguerite H. Griffin

Marjorie Halperin

Susan Hassan

Millicent Holmes

Ginny Holt

Mae P. Hong

Barbara Howard

Kathy Hurley

Alejandra L. Ibañez

Nancy Juda

Polly B. Kawalek

Kathryn G. Kennedy

Barbara Levy Kipper

Sally Meyer Kovler

Rachel E. Kraft

Andrea S. Kramer

Iris J. Krieg*

Leslie Landis

Lucia Woods Lindley*

Lois J. Lipton

Marcena W. Love

Gail Ludewig

Bertha G. Magaña

Wendy Manning

Susan Graf Marineau

Patricia McMillen

Dana M. Mikstay

Patricia McDermott Moore

Jo Moore

Susan E. Morrison

Mary F. Morten

Suzanne Musikantow

Tamara L. Nelson

Grace Allen Newton

Darlene M. Oliver

Nancy Olson

Diana Palomar

Cheryl Pearson-McNeil

Audrey Rone Peeples

Celene Peurye-Hissong

Marianne Philbin

Jamie Phillippe

Jean Pogge

Kathleen Johnson Pope

Gaye Preston


Carmen Prieto

Carol Prins

Susan Pritzker

Sylvia Puente

Hedy Ratner

Beth E. Richie

Amalia Rioja

Nicole R. Robinson

Janice E. Rodgers

Barbara Rose

Leora Rosen

Sheli Z. Rosenberg

Jane M. Saks

Juanita Salvador-Burris

Edna J. Schade

Margot Levin Schiff

Carleen Schreder

Lisa T. Scruggs

Mita D. Shah

Gabrielle Sigel

Anita Sinha

Rebecca Sive

Joan F. Small

Deirdre Joy Smith

Jennifer Steans

Barbara Stewart

Donna M. Stone

Tina Tchen

Sharmila Rao Thakkar

Donna J. Thompson

Aylice Toohey

Laura Tucker

Susana Vasquez

Vanessa J. Weathersby

Courtney Welton

Wendy White Eagle

Patricia Yuzawa-Rubin

Nannette Zander

Frances K. Zemans




Professional Advisory Council

Our work would not be possible without the advice and assistance of the lawyers, accountants, financial and insurance planners, brokers and money managers, and other estate planners who comprise the Chicago Foundation for Women Professional Advisory Council.

For more information on the council, please contact Emily Dreke, Vice President of Development and Communications, at edreke@cfw.org or 312.577.2842.

Members as of July 2018:


Janice E. Rodgers
Quarles & Brady LLP

Chad A. Tischer
CFP, DiMeo Schneider &
Associates, L.L.C.


Karim HK Ahamed
CFA, HPM Partners LLC

Marguerite H. Griffin
Northern Trust Company

Donna E. Morgan
Mayer Brown LLP

Erin Ankin

Leigh Harter
Schwartz Insurance Solutions

Abosede Odunsi
Infinity Strategic Group

Ashley E. Bebeau
Strategic Wealth Partners, LLC

Shannon L. Hartzler
Horwood Marcus & Berk Chartered

Kerry O'Hare
Oxford Capital Group

Patricia H. Besser
US Trust, Bank of America Private
Wealth Management

Dianne Hively
Hobson Advisors LLC

Laura Parish
Plante Moran

Lucy Bickford
Schiff Hardin LLP

Tiffany Irving
US Trust

Celene Peurye
Focused Philanthropy

Betsy Brill
Strategic Philanthropy, Ltd.

Christine Jordan
Rappaport Reiches Capital
Management, LLC

Shari Greco Reiches
Rappaport Reiches Capital
Management, LLC

Terri L. Cable
PNC Bank

Dannyel Kafer
Proven Business Systems

Jeff Rode
Segall Bryant & Hamill

Meridith G. Cannon
Clark Hill PLC

Kim Kamin
Gresham Partners

Brittney B. Saks
PriceWaterhouse Coopers LLP

Laura J. Clark
CFA, Oxford Financial Group, Ltd.

Kathryn G. Kennedy
HPM Partners

Tom Schroeder
Prather Ebner

Jessica Coleman
Goldman Sachs & Co.

James F. Kinoshita, CFA
PNC Wealth Management

Christine Sibrava
Whitnell & Co.

Regina Cross
Goldman Sachs & Co.

H. Debra Levin
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Vicki Sinar
US Trust

Shauntel Dalton-Leeson
JP Morgan Securities, LLC

Kathleen McDonald
Northwestern Mutual Financial

Paul A. Svoboda
Sidley Austin LLP

Beth Engel
Wells Fargo Private Bank

Jeanine Meola
Fairpointe Capital

Stephanie Szymanski
Sawdust Investment Management

Marlene C. Franke
Marlene Atelier

Tina Davis Milligan
BMO Financial Group

Sally L. Venverloh
US Trust

Asha Goldstein
Cedar Hill Wealth Management

Anita Mital
Northwestern Mutual Financial

Melanie L. Witt
The Law Offices of Melanie Witt

Clare Golla
Bernstein Global Wealth

Deborah Moline
Highland Capital Brokerage

Deborah Lust Zaluda, J.D.
The Bensman Group

Gina Forgianni Gray
Northern Trust Company



Alphawood Foundation

Domestic violence collaboration


Chicago Area Donors to End Domestic Violence (CADEDV) Chicago Council on Global Affairs

State of the World’s Mothers


Crossroads Fund, Woods Fund Chicago, Chicago Community Trust

Cultivate, a joint project to develop a cadre of energized, well-connected women of color, leaders from across the social and economic justice movements, whose collective voice and power can be leveraged to brighten the region’s future.

Groundswell Fund

The Catalyst Fund: Resources for Women of Color in Reproductive Justice

Mujeres Latinas en Acción and the Illinois Women for Compassionate Immigration Reform



Pierce Family Foundation

Skill Share Program, encouraging peer sharing among nonprofit organizations.


Polk Bros. Foundation

Polk Brothers Fund for Emerging Organizations

Women’s Foundation of California, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Women’s Funding Network 

Women’s Economic Security Campaign (WESC)








*Measured by size of organization’s annual budget.



Audited financial statements

We post our audited financial statements to the site as they become available. Generally our financial statements are posted during the summer of the following year.

2017 Audited Financial Statement (PDF)
2017 Form 990 (PDF)

2016 Audited Financial Statement (PDF)
2016 Form 990 (PDF)

2015 Audited Financial Statement (PDF)
2015 Form 990 (PDF)



Chicago Foundation for Women
140 S. Dearborn Street, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60603

312.577.2801 t
312.577.2802 f
312.577.2803 tty
email: info@cfw.org


Media inquiries
Kyle Ann Sebastian, Manager of Communications

Questions about giving or getting involved
Emily Dreke, Vice President of Development and Communications

Questions about applying for a grant
Lora York, Senior Program Officer

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