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

Since 1985, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) has been a leader in the movement to achieve basic rights and equal opportunities, investing in women and girls as catalysts building stronger communities for all. Today, more than 37 years later, CFW continues to be the only organization in the region to take a comprehensive approach to understand and address the issues impacting Chicago-area women and girls.

CFW works with a community of socially-minded investors who share our passion for improving the lives of women and girls, ensuring that every dollar they give achieves maximum impact. Thanks to these partners, CFW invests in the future of emerging organizations through leadership development and support in building sustainable nonprofit infrastructure. As a result, two-thirds of nonprofits for which CFW was the first institutional or ‘seed’ funder are still thriving 10 years after receiving their first CFW grant.

Our Founders

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Team

Board of Directors

Jessica Sohl


Ann Marie Wright

Immediate Past Chair

Georgina E. Heard-Labonne

Advocacy Committee Chair

Gretchen Wolf

Audit Committee Chair

Angela L. Putnam

Programs Committee Chair

Alicia C.L. Bailey

Communications Committee Chair

Anel Ruiz

Anita Mital

Deborah B. Cole

Erica Duncan

Jessyca Dudley

Jill Lyons

Communications Committee Co-Chair

Joan Bacon

Kathleen McDonald

Lauren Densham

Norman B. Jones

HR Committee Chair, Governance Committee Co-Chair

Rebecca Brokmeier

Regina Cross

Susan M. Kurowski

Governance Committee Chair

Tanya G. Davis

Finance Committee Chair

Naila Alexander

Fraya Lynn Hirschberg

Emily Lonigro

CFW Team

Sunny Fischer

Interim President & CEO

Denee Hill

Digital Communications Coordinator

Ilda Lagunas

Manager of Special Events

Jenna Mrotek

Development Associate

Lora York

Director of Programs

Teniola Odunsi

Manager of Corporate and Foundation Relations
CFW-Vanessa Lee

Vanessa Lee

Program Officer, Collective Giving

Wendy Vega-Huezo

Human Resources Manager

Whitney Wade

Program Officer, Women's Economic Security

Yvette Nelson

Executive Coordinator

Brandi Hovizi

Manager of Database and Development

Inaara Sultanali

Special Events and Marketing Associate

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries, contact Denee Hill (Digital Communications Coordinator) at dhill@cfw.org.


For questions about giving or getting involved, contact Teni Odunsi (Manager of Corporate and Foundation Relations) at todunsi@cfw.org.