Thirty-five years ago, organizations that were geared toward women and girls were only receiving 3% of all philanthropic dollars – which meant that programs addressing domestic violence, reproductive health, economic equality, and other issues critical to the well-being of women and girls were often underfunded. Four women in 1984 set out to change that when they founded Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW).

Mary Morten is excited to help celebrate an organization that she has supported for many years, and is very proud to have been the first Black person and first out lesbian to serve as Chairperson of the CFW Board.

Gathering Ground is celebrating CFW’s 35th Anniversary by recording a special episode, lifting up where the Foundation has been, where it is now, and where it’s going, live on September 15, from 4:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

We’ll be hearing from people like Felicia Davis, Sunny Fischer, Iris Krieg, and just a few of the many people who have been touched by CFW over the past 35 years – you don’t want to miss it!

Continue scrolling to secure your spot at this special event, see some photos from CFW’s past, and meet the individuals who will be joining Mary for this exciting virtual event.

Contact Gathering Ground Producer Vince Pagán at with any questions!



Sunny Fischer

Sunny served most recently as the Interim President for Chicago Foundation for Women prior to Felicia Davis’s appointment. Prior to this role, Sunny was the Executive Director of The Richard Driehaus Foundation. Sunny is currently the founding Board Chair of the National Public Housing Museum.

As founding executive director of one of the first private women’s foundations in the country, The Sophia Fund, she was also the co-founder of the Chicago Foundation for Women. She served as the co-chair of Chicago Women in Philanthropy and chaired the first study, called Shortchanged, of foundations’ contributions to women’s organizations. As a consultant, she has worked with several women’s funds on start-up, program development, and growth.

Iris Krieg_result

Iris Krieg

Iris has more than thirty-five years of experience in philanthropy. Before establishing her consulting firm, Iris Krieg and Associates, in 1991, she was the executive director of a family foundation and a corporate giving program. Prior to that, she was a senior staff associate at a major community foundation. She began her career in philanthropy by serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil.

Iris is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Foundation for Women and served as its first board chair. Currently, her volunteer efforts include active participation in associations of donors and nonprofit organizations’ boards. She is often called upon to moderate or participate in panels, workshops and seminars and has received awards and other commendations for her service.

Feilicia Davis

Felicia Davis
President and CEO

Felicia Davis, hailing from the City’s southside, is deeply committed to community through inclusive service to others. As President and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women, she leads the Foundation’s strategic efforts in investing in women and girls as catalysts, building stronger communities for all.

Felicia is passionate about transforming lives and serves as an educator and mentor through a variety of networks, participating on numerous boards and committees.

Felicia exemplifies leadership in all she sets out to do. She is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and a founding member of Chicago Foundation for Women’s South Side Giving Circle, where she has blazed a trail for supporting Black women and girls through philanthropy and collective giving.


Kelly Smith-Haley
Board Chair

Kelly is passionate about issues affecting women and girls in Chicago, and is honored to serve as the Chair of the Chicago Foundation for Women’s Board of Directors.

As a partner in Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll’s Employment Law Group, Kelly Smith-Haley provides both preventive counseling and litigation services. Kelly offers preventive counseling to employers on a wide range of issues affecting the employment relationship, including EEO issues, employee handbooks and personnel policies, employment agreements, hiring and background checks, and strategies for employee discipline and termination. As part of her preventive counseling, Kelly provides live, interactive training (that is tailored to the employer’s industry) on how to avoid and navigate issues of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Kelly’s goal is to help employers comply with local, state and federal laws, and thereby avoid litigation.

Kelly loves writing and presenting on topics relating to employment law and issues of equity for women and girls.


Lauren Birchlove
Chair, LBTQ Giving Council

Lauren Birchlove is Co-Chair of the LBTQ Giving Council of Chicago Foundation for Women. Her career in philanthropy began at Moneythink, a nonprofit focused on providing financial coaching via mobile technology for college-bound youth. She currently serves as Institutional Giving Manager for Cara, a nonprofit workforce development agency that has placed more than 6,800 people into more than 10,600 jobs at one-year, same-company retention rates of 70% or better for permanent placements, catalyzing families to stop the transfer of poverty from one generation to the next.

As an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Lauren is engaged with the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group, was a 2018 Chicago Chapter Fellow, and received the 2020 Chamberlain Scholar award. She holds a B.S. in Nonprofit Leadership and Management with a certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Arizona State University.

Venita Griffin

Venita Griffin
Co-chair, Women United Giving Council

Venita Griffin is the current Co-chair of the Women United Giving Council, a 2019 Fellow of CFW’s Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative in addition to being a member of the South Side Giving Circle, which mobilizes women on Chicago’s South Side and in the South Suburbs to invest in the economic, social, and political power of black women and girls in Chicago.

Venita currently serves as a Managing Director at H/Co, overseeing advocacy campaigns, digital activations, and multicultural engagement. Venita’s past advocacy work includes leading the digital engagement and fundraising strategies for a national voter engagement campaign, a cross-movement civil rights organization, and a think tank focused on LGBT equality. She has also provided strategic counsel and digital strategy oversight for a national campaign focused on raising awareness around metastatic breast cancer and was part of the team that worked to secure a raise for direct support professionals in a year when similar services were being cut from the Illinois budget.


Jo Moore
Past Board Chair

Jo Moore has been involved in the nonprofit world for nearly 40 years and has served in various capacities as a volunteer, donor and consultant. She is a co-founder of the Evanston Shelter for Battered Women, and served as a board chair to Chicago Foundation for Women where she was extensively involved in the creation and implementation of fundraising strategies to reach individuals and specific communities and served as co-chair of an endowment campaign.

Jo has served as a consultant to over 65 nonprofits including various emerging foundations, social service and environmental nonprofits in the areas of resource development as well as organizational growth and board development. She has worked with EMILY’s List; Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; and the Belden Fund for which she trained over 100 environmentalists to fundraise nationally.


(Currently in formation – check back for updates!)

Gwen Cohen

Past Board Member

Chris Grumm

Past Executive Director

Mae Hong

Past Board Chair

Suzanne Musikantow

Past Board Chair

Marianne Philbin

First Executive Director

Hannah Rosenthal

Past Executive Director

Jane Saks

Past Board Member

Radhika Sharma

Past Board Member

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