GoWomen: Nevertheless, We Persist: Testimonials from CFW’s 38th Annual Gathering

Nevertheless, We Persist: Testimonials from CFW’s 38th Annual Gathering

On October 31, Chicago Foundation for Women celebrated its 38th Annual Gathering, Nevertheless, We Persist. The room was filled with nearly 1,000 people–a widely diverse group of women and a strong showing of men from all over the city. Our inspiring keynote speaker, Amanda Nguyen, said it was the first time she had walked into an event and immediately felt embraced by the whole room. Many of us had that feeling of warmth, connection, reunion and a strong sense of common purpose. It happens every year, but particularly this year, at a time of transition for CFW, at a time when the world is suffering from horrific wars, from fires, earthquakes and political turmoil — it was a salve on our hearts to be together.

One person who attended said that each time she comes to a CFW gathering, her eyes are opened to issues she hadn’t thought about, but then sees everywhere. That was the case again this year, she reported, when Amanda talked about the Rape Survivors Bill of Rights. “I learned that there was a statute of limitations on rape kits—that rape kits were just destroyed until Amanda acted. And then, in the following weeks, I became more and more aware about the need for the work on sexual assault laws.”

Other attendees remarked on how welcoming and connected they felt to not only each other, but also to our guest speakers at the gathering. Someone said that she identified with the women that stood before her, praising their candor and leaving feeling inspired by the work they have done and aspire to continue. She also noted the diversity of women who gathered together to support CFW, saying that “diverse women are synonymous with The Foundation.”

Many told us they felt a profound connection with the theme, Nevertheless, We Persist. In a world where stability is often elusive, attendees remarked on the sustained success of the Foundation, an inspiring celebration of not only the present achievements but also a nod to the ongoing commitment to progress and positive change. One attendee said that CFW, “remains a triumph, managing to weather storms and embrace changes and keep growing…” in this ever-changing world and social landscape.

In 1985, Marjorie Craig Benton, Iris Krieg, the late Lucia Woods Lindley and I founded CFW. Our goal was and continues to be to shepherd in a better world for women and girls, knowing that to empower the lives of women and girls strengthens whole communities. We knew it was important to organize, bring people together, find sister allies and ensure that we were including a diverse group of people. The gatherings are testimony to the work put in over the last four decades and the success of that plan. 

In our first year, we awarded $50,000 in grants– which we knew was just the beginning. In fiscal year 2023, with the support of thousands of donors, we invested $3.4 million in organizations and advocacy that help women and girls reach their highest potential. To say I am enormously proud is an understatement, and yet we know how much more there is to do. The requests to the Foundation—reflecting the need in the Chicago area alone—far exceeds our ability to respond.

CFW remains the only organization in the region that takes a holistic and comprehensive approach to listening to, advocating for and acting upon the issues that help women, girls, trans and non-binary individuals attain fundamental rights and the equal opportunities they deserve. Issues like lack of pay and career equity, poor access to health and reproductive services, domestic and sexual violence and many others continue to hold women back — threatening the well-being of our entire communities. 

Standing before a room of almost 1,000 inspiring people working to address barriers and advocate for women and girls, I felt the energy and drive that impassioned our work four decades ago.The work of our grantees to change the future is what energizes all of us at CFW. 

Amanda brought us to our feet with tears in our eyes. She embodies everything we stand for as an organization: her personal story and her bold and fierce decision to change the narrative. Her dedication, countless hours and heavy emotional capital made history by when she drafted and achieved unanimous passage of both the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights through the United States Congress and the Survivors’ Resolution through the United Nations General Assembly. Amanda has been a trailblazer, putting women’s issues at the forefront of society. She was Time Magazine’s 2022 woman of the year, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Forbes 30 under 30.  

We also heard from Rosazlia Grillier, a member of a long-time CFW grantee organization, CoFi (Community Organizing & Family Issues). COFI provides Chicago women in financially challenged communities with leadership skills and community activism. Through CoFi, Rosazlia, a widowed mother of two and cancer survivor, was able to find her the confidence and the support to get involved and make change. CoFi builds capacity for parent leaders to address neighborhood issues through collective action. Through her community activism, Rosazlia embodies the “COFI Way” by emphasizing the interconnection between personal struggles and broader community issues.

People like Amanda, Rosazlia, our thousands of grantees and you, through your dedication, generosity and unwavering belief in our cause, are the driving forces that propel us forward. Your involvement makes a world of difference, not just for Chicago for the Foundation for Women but for the countless lives we touch and the communities we impact. 

Together, let us move forward, united in our mission to create a world where equality, justice and opportunity are not just words, but lived experiences for every woman, girl, trans, and gender non-binary people. Thank you for being a part of this transformative journey – the journey that, with your support, will lead to a brighter, more inclusive future.

Our end of year appeal letter should have arrived in the mail. Please help us continue the work on equity and social justice by making a donation today by visiting our website here.

Together we will persist,

Sunny Fischer

CFW’s co-founder, and interim President & CEO


Call for Impact Awards Nominations

Do you know someone who is passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of women and girls? Nominate them for an Impact Award! Your nomination could help shine a light on their hard work and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. To nominate a leader today, visit here. The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, December 20th at 5:00pm!

Western Suburbs Giving Circle

The Western Suburbs Giving Circle is seeking proposals from local agencies working to advance economic security, freedom from gender-based violence and access to health. The deadline for proposals is February 15, 2024. To learn more visit here.

LBTQ Giving Council International Women’s Day Dance

The LBTQ Giving Council will host their returning International Women’s Day Dance on March 9th, 2024 at the Effortless Look Venue. All funds from the event will go towards the grants made by the LBTQ Giving Council to organizations and programs benefiting lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning women and girls in the Chicago region. Sponsorships are available! To learn more visit here.

South Side Giving Circle Belly Dance Workshop

Last month, the SSGC hosted a fundraising Belly Dance workshop at the Block House Gallery. Participants had a fun time getting fit and all proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward Giving Circle programming.

Young Women’s Giving Council’s Girl, Let’s Work It Out: Join us for a workout class with a cause

Last month, the Young Women’s Giving Council held a workout for a cause at the White Box Theater in Old Town. All proceeds will go to Giving Circle programming.

Our News

CFW is hiring!

We are seeking candidates for the following open positions:

The Manager of Communications is responsible for promoting the Foundation through community and media outreach, marketing, online communications and public relations. This position includes creating informative content, project management and implementation; intensive writing and editing on deadline; aggressive media outreach and story placement; interagency collaboration; public relations and speechwriting for Foundation events; production of all Foundation marketing materials and videos; and general communications.

The Director of Development is responsible for growing the resources and sustainability of the Foundation. This individual also oversees the development team. This person frequently represents the Foundation with key stakeholders, community members, donors, and organizational allies.  

The Director of Finance is responsible for ensuring the stability of the organization’s finances. The Director of Finance will assess financial markets and identify solutions to any issues that may arise.

Find the full job descriptions here.

In The News

Why do they give? Donors speak about what moves them and how they plan end-of-year donations

CFW’s Board Member and South Side Giving Circle co-chair, Alicia Bailey, spoke with the Associated Press on how she got involved with philanthropy and how people can impact their communities by giving what they can. Read the full article here.

CFW's 38th Annual Gathering Video Recap

Watch the video recap of CFW’s 38th Annual Gathering presented by Comcast here.

Our Community

Arise is hiring!

Arise is hiring for a Director of Development! Arise seeks a candidate who aligns with their mission, produces excellent work, and values and contributes to a collaborative workplace culture. To learn more visit here.

City of Evanston Entrepreneurship Support Grant

The program is intended to assist in the growth of jobs in Evanston through entrepreneurship, helping residents and local business owners to create jobs by starting and retaining sustainable small businesses. Funds can be used to cover operating expenses, equipment, licensing fees, and other eligible expenses. Learn more about eligibility here.

The City of Chicago Law Department is hiring!

The City of Chicago Law Department is hiring for entry, mid, and supervisor level attorneys. View the open positions and job descriptions here

Community Resources

Support Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

Search by various criteria the City of Chicago minority and women-owned businesses here.
Bossy Chicago has curated a list of women-owned businesses in various sectors across Chicago, which you can find here.
YShop – YWCA Metro Chicago’s online store, offering a curated selection of goods and services with a portion of each sale benefiting YWCA

Mental Health Resources

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has compiled a list of mental health resources you can find here.
2-1-1 Metro Chicago Hotline

211 Metro Chicago is a free resource connecting all Cook County residents with essential health and social services to help them meet their basic needs. Trained, local specialists are available 24/7 to connect individuals with the support they need, such as food, housing, utility assistance, access to health care, and other vital resources. Learn more here.

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