Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative




Willie’s Warriors elevates the leadership of Black women across the Chicago region, creating a pipeline and network of Black women leaders committed to equity and justice in Chicago.

Become a Warrior

The Willie’s Warriors program offers participants a space to gain a deeper sense of themselves as leaders, strengthening their personal leadership style and bringing their whole selves to the table. Warriors explore the idea of leadership, personal growth and transformation, and how to sustain themselves while moving our communities forward.

A co-created curriculum focuses on systems change, economic empowerment, communications, and building alliances across movements and communities. Warriors have the opportunity to learn from experts and each other.

Willie’s Warriors is open to Black women from all sectors, industries, and educational backgrounds interested in nurturing their leadership and relationships with other Black women leaders in the Chicago region.

Meet the Warriors:

» 2022 Cohort
» 2020 Cohort
» Spring 2019 Cohort
» Fall 2018 Cohort

Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative Advisory Board 2019

» Deborah Harrington (Chair), Woods Fund of Chicago (Retired)

» Tracie Anderson, TransUnion

» Brenda Asare, The Alford Group

» Patricia Morris Carey, New York University

» Kim Hunt, Pride Action Tank

» Gail Arthurs Krahenbuhl, Triton College,  WW Fall 2019 Cohort

» Tamela Milan-Alexander, Access Community Health Network

» Nicole Robinson, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, CEO

» Pier C. Rogers, Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management

» Phasha Spencer, EdReports, WW Fall 2018 Cohort










About Rev. Willie T. Barrow

The Rev. Willie T. Barrow was a Civil Rights activist, minister, co-founder of Operation PUSH, and mentor to multiple generations. As a leader in Chicago’s civil rights movement, Rev. Barrow believed in breaking barriers and challenging the status quo, mentoring an ever-expanding pipeline of leaders. She helped to build connections with others working for change, often saying, “We are not so divided as we are disconnected.”

Rev. Barrow believed in bringing women together to support and learn from each other. That work continues through Willie's Warriors, a leadership development cohort of Black women in the Chicago region. 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.

Willie’s Warriors was created to honor and continue the legacy of the Reverend Willie Taplin Barrow, with support from Rev. Barrow’s estate in partnership with African American Legacy (AAL) at the Chicago Community Trust.

Donate to support the Willie's Warriors Leadership Initiative










How to Apply

How do I apply?

Apply for the Willie's Warriors 2023 Cohort here.

Additional Information


Email Marline Johnson, Program Officer, at mjohnson@cfw.org.