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CWIP 2021 Annual Meeting: Empowering and Inspiring Women to be Change Agents in their Organizations and Communities

September 1, 2021

How do you sum up a year? Especially one like 2020 part two (aka 2021). If you’re CWIP co-chair Jacki Davidoff who led the CWIP 2021 Annual Meeting on Wednesday, August 25, 2021, you would say that despite the challenges we all faced, we met them head-on and together with our CWIP community.

In the past year, our CWIP committees connected us to each other and our communities, all while strengthening our organizations, our city, and ourselves with a collective resolve to enact change. Highlights from CWIP’s past year included a strong focus on women and girls of color, elevating diverse voices in philanthropy and community work, and moving racial equity forward in our sector.

The CWIP Annual Meeting offered attendees an opportunity to foster a sense of community by opening with breakout rooms to create connections among new and old friends and colleagues. Groups discussed our shared excitement about CWIP, challenges we face in the field, and what we’re looking forward to in the year ahead.

CWIP co-chair Debra Walker Johnson introduced committee chairs who shared examples of how CWIP empowered women to be change agents in their organizations and communities:

  • GIRLS (Girls Igniting Real Leadership and Service) partnered with Holy Family Ministry (HFM) School for one in-person event (pre-pandemic), a virtual career fair during shutdown, and an outdoor (and masked) walking tour showcasing the students’ knowledge of historic sites on the South Side.
  • Membership engaged us in monthly Friday Shares covering a variety of topics from mental health to leadership and career development.
  • The Annual Luncheon raised more than $66,000 to support our programming and events, and celebrated CWIP’s 40th Anniversary with a word from founder Iris Krieg. We honored Keynote Speaker & Making a Difference honoree, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, and our 2021 Honorary Chair Dr. Una Osili, Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy & Associate Dean for Research and International Programs at Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (also Dr. Ezike's college roommate at Harvard!)
  • WLMP (Women Leadership Mentor Program) brought together 44 mentor/mentee pairs to learn from and support one another.
  • In the year ahead, we will continue to focus on addressing equity in our sector; create a community of practice; and bring women together to inspire each other to be our genuine selves in all our roles. Collectively, CWIP is looking forward to impacting the sector and Chicago in the following ways:
  • New WLMP cohort needs diverse mentors. Anyone is welcome and applications are encouraged (deadline to apply extended to Friday, September 3!)
  • Continue monthly Friday Shares (save the date for October 1, 8-9am!)
  • GIRLS will create a mini-mentor program with the girls of HFM as well as host another neighborhood walking tour. Mentees will receive a small stipend upon completion, as well.
  • The Program committee will continue to bring authentic and timely conversations with leaders in the sector.

Walker Johnson also announced 2021 CWIP Honorees: Morgan Benson, Katherine Korey, Julie Lenner, Emma Walsh, Diane Knoepke, Keira Dubowsky, and Lauren Chan. Thank you for your strategic, enthusiastic, and thoughtful contributions. This past year would not have been as impactful without your contributions.

2021 CWIP Honorees: Morgan Benson, Katherine Korey, Julie Lenner, Emma Walsh, Diane Knoepke, Keira Dubowsky, and Lauren Chan

To all CWIP members and program attendees, thank you for your participation and contribution this past year. Here’s looking forward to the days ahead and the challenges we will rise together to face.

CWIP Committees are currently accepting new members. If you are interested in serving on a CWIP committee, contact us at

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