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Getting to Know our Members | Carolyn Nopar

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 29, 2018

Despite beginning her career in the corporate sector, Carolyn Nopar found her true calling in philanthropy when she reentered the workforce after taking some time off with her children.  Now a veteran in the field, Carolyn has a broad range of expertise and demonstrated success at Habitat for Humanity, Enterprising Kitchen, Family Focus, YWCA Metro Chicago, and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills).  Carolyn has also spent the last five years with Chicago Women in Philanthropy (CWIP) and was just recently elected Board Co-Chair. 

The initial draw to CWIP was Carolyn’s desire to meet funders; however, she quickly found a welcoming space where she could meet people without an agenda, which lead to becoming much more involved over the past five years.  Before her role as Co-Chair, Carolyn was a CWIP member, Board Director, Co-Chair of the Communications Committee and Chair of the Partnership Committee.

Within CWIP, and in her professional life, Carolyn is motivated by new ideas and finds implementing “out of the box” projects to be invigorating.  She feels personally successful when using a lot of different skillsets to accomplish one goal, stretching herself (and those around her) to achieve the very best.  An example of this is when Carolyn was hired to launch a social enterprise for Habitat for Humanity Northern Fox Valley.  This project included conducting a feasibility study, writing a business plan, securing seed funding, finding a location, securing inventory and hiring staff.  The ReStore opened in 2006 and provides a substantial stream of unrestrictive revenue that continues to this day.

With Carolyn’s passion for progress, it is no wonder the worst advice she could receive is “it has always been done that way.”  Instead, Carolyn uses the following quote to guide her:

“Trust the wait.  Embrace the uncertainty.  Enjoy the beauty of becoming.  When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”

It is this optimism that is required for success in the nonprofit field.  When thinking ahead, Carolyn firmly believes it is the industry’s fragmented practices that will be the biggest challenge to overcome, but she looks forward to tackling these issues head-on.  “Nonprofits need to work together better to avoid duplicating services in order to promote industry best practices.  With the participant need increasing, and more and more limitations on public and private funding, the sector needs to come together to achieve success.”

And, this is what CWIP provides Carolyn – A space to think on a broader scale; to look at the whole ecosystem of a problem instead of the single issue.  “It’s exciting to be a part of something that allows the time and space to look at the broader context.  This makes me a better fundraiser and provides leadership development skills that can benefit anyone, seasoned professionals or those new to the field.”

To learn more about CWIP and how you can become involved, please visit

Tags:  blog  Getting to Know our Members 

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Getting to Know Our Members - Iris Krieg

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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!

Tags:  Getting to Know our Members  Iris Krieg 

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