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Getting to Know Our Members - Iris Krieg

May 17, 2023

An Interview with Iris Krieg by Katherine Dreher

Chicago Women in Philanthropy (CWIP) is a community of philanthropic, corporate-giving, and nonprofit women. Our members are passionate about helping other women advance in society. Meet CWIP's founder, Iris Krieg.

Why did you found Chicago Women in Philanthropy?

"The context of the time was completely different than it is today, this was years before the Chicago Foundation for Women, so we did not even have a place to focus that attention in the world of philanthropy.

When I entered philanthropy in the 1970s, most staff were men. There were very few women in the field. There were no women Trustees or Foundation Directors, leadership at the highest level was mostly male. When I came into this field, I felt alone. I did not have a lot of professional role models or mentors, and for years the field disparaged women's issues. Both in the funding world and in the not-for-profit community, women's issues were not taken seriously.

But I believed and continue to believe that when people get together they can make a difference, and what started as 12 women sharing a brown bag lunch once a month has grown to a network of hundreds of members and volunteers. This is what motivated us to start Chicago Women in Philanthropy and this is what continues to motivate me today."

Worst Professional Advice

"The worst professional advice that I ever received was 'don't trust women.' Another woman told me this and she said the other women in the work situation were untrustworthy and I should be very careful about that.

And it was a surprise to me because in my whole professional life women have always been the contacts, the support -- they have always been kind and informational. It is women who I have almost always had as mentors and sources of assistance, so I was really shocked by that and I am glad I did not heed it. But it reminded me that there were people before me who came from a different time.

The advice I would give to professional women in philanthropy is be positive. I think women want to help other women. I think women want other women to succeed."

Best Professional Advice

"The best advice I ever received was to stop apologizing, and to present yourself with assurance. Even if you feel unsure, present yourself as someone who is trustworthy, a leader, and has something to say, and you will be treated that way."

Iris Krieg is the Executive Director of Bright Promises Foundation and serves as a CWIP Mentor.  Our sincere thanks to her for founding Chicago Women in Philanthropy!

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