The Anti-Racism Transformation Team is a body within Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) of internal and external stakeholders who will lead the effort to transform CFW into an antiracist institution. This Team will do that by engaging in continual analysis and essential restructuring of CFW to ensure that the Foundation’s way of being is one that wields a shared power with, and holds itself accountable to, racially oppressed groups to achieve its goal of gender equity.
“The basis of traditional philanthropy is to preserve wealth, and all too often, that wealth is fundamentally money that’s been twice stolen; one through the colonial-style exploitation of natural resources, and the second time through tax evasion.”
- Edgar Villanueva, Decolonizing Wealth
Chicago Foundation for Women operates within a system of institutional exploitation and oppression. Though perpetuation of harm through systems and institutions has never been intended, it is crucial to reflect on the places where harm has found life as “the norm.” Therefore, this transformation requires a revision of individual and institutional attitudes and practices.
Because of this, members of CFW acknowledge that in order for the Foundation to advance its vision of a world in which all women, girls, trans, and gender-non-binary individuals have the opportunity to thrive in safe, just, and healthy communities, the Foundation must first acknowledge and strive to better understand racial barriers. CFW stakeholders sought external support to build an understanding of the Foundation’s role and responsibility for addressing racial equity. A solution presented itself in 2018 in the form of participation in the Chicago Regional Organizing Against Racism (CROAR) 2.5-day training, Analyzing and Understanding Systemic Racism, and the continued engagement with CROAR to institutionalize CFW’s Transformation Team.
The Planning & Design Taskforce (PDTF) of CFW is an internal team composed of staff members selected by CFW leadership to build a framework in which an antiracist Transformation Team can be appointed and sustained at the Foundation.
Each member of the PDTF is guided by an analysis of learnings from the 2.5-day antiracist training conducted by CROAR, and by the learnings of an intensive three-day training with CROAR on how to build the structure for a Transformation Team. The PDTF is responsible for developing the existing project description, implementation strategy, and accountability plan; and is responsible for the recruitment and selection of team members.
PDTF members are Melanie Conway*, Associate Program Officer of Women's Leadership Development; Ilda Lagunas, Manager of Special Events; Eli Marsh, Director of Social and Community Impact; and Bern Wims, Board Secretary & Operations Coordinator.
*No longer a member of the CFW staff.
Change will occur over time and through many iterations, and so, the Anti-Racism Transformation Team is established in perpetuity within the Foundation’s structure as an independent team of internal and external stakeholders with the authority to lead and implement antiracist efforts and accountability measures that the Team will create as part of its charge.
The Team audits the Foundation’s ways of being in partnership with CFW’s stakeholders — both in design and implementation — to remove, replace, and implement new ways of being, and to establish systems of accountability. Additionally, the Team serves as a body to address concerns of bias and racism. It powers institutional transformation and works in partnership with CFW stakeholders to embed and advance anti-racism efforts. The Anti-racism Transformation Team is the assurance of an antiracist future for the Foundation, and an equitable Chicago for all.
The Anti-Racism Transformation Team is representative of a diverse range of CFW stakeholders. Sixteen team members have been selected from CFW’s staff, Board of Directors, Alumnae Council, Giving Councils and Circles, Willie's Warriors, Cultivate and Board Boot Camp members, the grantee community, the funding community, and the donor community.
Members of the Team are passionate about CFW’s mission, are eager to encourage the Foundation to succeed and grow, and have a readiness to recognize and communicate both its strengths and its opportunities for growth.
The inaugural team members have committed to a three-year term. Once the Team is established, members are responsible for determining their process for term renewal, leadership, operation structures, and processes. Some of this work is to be completed in collaboration with CROAR during the initial phases of training. Among these decisions are 1) deciding on Chair(s) or other leadership format and role(s), and 2) term renewal guidelines and future recruitment and onboarding processes.
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