Rachael Marusarz vividly remembers her first Chicago Women in Philanthropy (CWIP) event nine years ago, when she was a relatively introverted development officer at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. She enjoyed the event and learned a great deal from the speakers, but the most meaningful moment was when a program officer from a local foundation told her, “I’ll take off my funder hat, you take off your grantee hat, and we’ll just be two women here to support one another.” It was that atmosphere of support that propelled her involvement with CWIP.
Today, Marusarz is the Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at Sinai Health System and the newly nominated CWIP Co-Chair.
As a new CWIP board member, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with Marusarz and learn a bit more about this powerhouse woman who believes deeply in community, connection, and camaraderie.
Congratulations on your nomination! What does it mean to you to be the new Co-Chair of CWIP?
It is a tremendous honor! I adore this organization and am inspired by these women. Being a woman in philanthropy is essential to who I am. I greatly value the mentorship and support I’ve received, and continue to receive, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to pay it forward. CWIP is all about community and building relationships to ensure we all succeed.
What does success look like for you?
At Sinai, success involves building a culture of philanthropy within the organization and elevating Sinai Health System within the community. We’re doing important work – building systems of healthcare on Chicago’s south and west sides. We also are conducting rich community health research with the Sinai Urban Health Institute that needs to be built upon and shared.
At CWIP, it is utilizing those “uncommon connections” within the network to find creative solutions to challenges, to partner with other members to achieve a greater mission, or to simply have a space where you can take a moment to remember you’re not alone in the world of philanthropy. It is important to know that there are others who can relate to your challenges and support you in finding solutions. We’re all in it together.
Why do you work in philanthropy?
I have always worked in philanthropy. I love going to work knowing I’m making a positive impact. If I am going to spend this much of my life working, I want it to be meaningful. I want to be part of making a positive difference.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
Always orient toward your vision. Even if you’re working on a small task, remember what change you want to see.
What would you say to a new CWIP member?
Find a way to get involved quickly. Whether you join a committee, help plan an event, or have coffee with a CWIP Ambassador, be sure you utilize this fantastic community to get the support you need to be successful.
For 35 years, CWIP has been creating connections and fostering change as a community of philanthropic, corporate-giving, and nonprofit women. Our members are passionate about helping other women advance in society. To learn more, please visit www.cwiponline.org.