Where in the World is Women Employed?

Women Employed
7 min readMay 29, 2024

May is always a big month for Women Employed — it’s the month we host our signature fundraising event, The Working Lunch. But while making sure that our annual celebration was a great success (and it was!), we still found time to step away from our day-to-day responsibilities to join our partners for rallies, brunches, speaking engagements, and trainings―even trips to Washington, D.C. for two different conferences!

From advocating in Springfield for funding for higher education and early childhood programs, to forming connections in new programmatic areas with the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, WE is unstoppable. Want to hear about all the places we’ve been this month? Keep reading to learn more about where in the world is Women Employed.

And be sure to read all the way to the end to find out where we’re going next!

2024 Higher Education Advocacy Day

On Tuesday, April 16th, the Coalition for Transforming Higher Education held their Advocacy Day, a day to convene with advocates who are passionate about creating positive change for Illinois college students. Taking place in Springfield, the in-person event focused on championing equitable funding policies and other investments that will help eliminate college completion barriers for Illinois students. WE’s Director of Advocacy and Policy, Sarah Labadie, was there to urge our state’s elected officials to support the coalition’s mission that will transform Illinois higher education.

Early Childhood Advocacy Day

Also on April 16th, United for Brighter Futures held their Early Childhood Advocacy Day. The day brought together advocates from across Illinois, including WE’s Senior Coalition Manager, Starr De Los Santos, to express the importance of early childhood programs to lawmakers. Along with Starr were representatives from Start Early, Child Care for All, COFI, Illinois Action for Children, Latino Policy Forum, Raising Illinois, SEIU, and We, The Village.

Harold Washington Legacy Scholarship Brunch

WE’s Senior Career Pathways Manager, Tara Driver, attended the third Harold Washington Legacy Scholarship Brunch on Saturday, April 20th. Hosted by Roosevelt University, the scholarship brunch recognized Christoper Ellison, who is a current Biology major at Roosevelt for his commitment to transformative justice and democratic values. This year’s brunch also featured Julieanna Richardson, founder and president of The HistoryMakers.

Oak Park and River Forest High School Visit

WE were invited to speak at Oak Park and River Forest High School on Monday, April 22nd. Our very own Ibie Hart, Director of Business Development, and Corinne Kodama, Senior Research Analyst, spoke to the students about the impact of the gender pay gap in our society and Women Employed’s work. Special thank you to Mike Stephen for inviting us to speak your sociology classes! And thank you for interviewing Ibie for WGN Radio’s Outside the Loop radio show and podcast. Listen here: https://bit.ly/otlradio914

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Summit

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Summit took place April 24th and 25th in Collinsville, IL. With the theme of “We are ONE workforce,” the two-day summit assisted local core partner staff and board members by providing practical guidance on service and system integration. At this year’s summit, our Senior Career Pathways Manager, Tara Driver and Programs and Research Coordinator, Efrata Sasahulih, were presented with the 2024 WIOA Summit’s Excellence in Collaboration Award for our Career Foundations Consortium. Tara and Efrata were even featured in Collinsville’s local newspaper, The Telegraph. You can read the article here. Congratulations to the Career Foundations team!

WE’s Spring 2024 Career Foundations Instructor Training

WE held our spring 2024 Career Foundations Instructor Training on Monday, April 29th. Led by Tara Driver, we brought together new staff members of our Consortium partner organizations, and trained them on how to use, customize, and implement Career Foundations into their existing Adult Education and Workforce programming.

WE at the ComEd Construct Meeting

On Wednesday, May 8th, Tara Driver was joined by WE’s Director of Policy and Programs, Chris Warden for a meeting with Career Pathways’ client, ComEd, and their Construct Program to discuss WE’s bridge program for their participating organizations.

Conversations with Chicago Leaders: A Panel Discussion About Building Wealth and the Future of Social Security

On Thursday, May 9th, AARP Illinois hosted a program called “Conversations with Chicago Leaders — A Panel Discussion About the Future of Social Security.” The discussion focused on the impact of emerging solutions from Chicago leaders, AARP members, volunteers and community members for addressing Social Security’s solvency challenges. Moderated by Emmy award-winning journalist and broadcaster Robin Robinson, panelists included WE’s President and CEO, Cherita Ellens; John W. Rogers, Jr., Founder, Chairman, Co-CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments; Maria Castro, Founder & CEO of Inspiration of #LovePurse & Regional External Affairs Manager, Comcast; and Sheila Weinberg, Founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting.

Illinois Connected Summit 2024

More than 300 non-profits, broadband providers, local governments, digital navigators, empowered community members, and joined the Illinois Broadband Lab for the inaugural Illinois Connected Summit on May 8–10. Tara Driver and Efrata Sasahulih represented WE for the three-day summit which was filled with expert panels, informative workshops, and networking events that offered an opportunity to learn, build partnerships, and celebrate Illinois’ accomplishments to date. Click here to watch the recap.

Where Do We Go from Here?: Strengthening Workplace Anti-Harassment Policies for Low-Paid Women, Women of Color, and LGBTQI+ Workers.

WE’s Executive Vice President of Policy, Programs, and Research, Sharmili Majmudar attended the National Women’s Law Center’s convening in Washington, D.C. on May 13–14, titled “Where Do We Go From Here?: Strengthening Workplace Anti-Harassment Policies for Low-Paid Women, Women of Color, and LGBTQI+ Workers.”

The gathering brought together advocates, attorneys, academics, and workers to explore how state workplace anti-harassment laws are working and where they fall short. With speakers including Tarana Burke, founder of the metoo movement; Jocelyn Samuels, vice chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Wendy Chun-Hoon, Director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau; and Dr. Jamillah Bowman Williams, Georgetown Law, they worked collaboratively to develop recommendations to fill existing gaps and ensure these reforms benefit all workers, especially low-paid women, women of color, LGBTQI+ workers, and disabled workers.

In a happy coincidence, WE’s Efrata Sasahulih was also in Washington, D.C. for the National Skills Coalition’s Skills Summit, and met up with Sharmili for dinner!

National Skills Summit

The National Skills Coalition held their annual summit in Washington, D.C. from May 13–15th. WE’s Efrata Sasahulih was in attendance along with the Illinois delegation, which represented various organizations, including Chicago Jobs Council, Revolution Workshop, ScaleLIT, and more. During the summit, attendees learned about critical federal skills policy and its ties to racial equity, job quality, and an inclusive economy, and met with legislators on Capitol Hill and members of the Administration to share their expertise and influence the direction of federal skills policy.

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago Site Visit

Tara Driver and Efrata Sasahulih had the pleasure of meeting the newest Career Foundations cohort at the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago on Monday, May 20th. There, they witnessed how the YWCA implemented the course through their Workforce Services workshops.

Still to come!

6/11: 7th annual Community Convening “Building Wealth to Increase Health — Investing in Economic Vitality and Wellness on the West Side” Click here to register.



Women Employed

WE relentlessly pursue equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change, expanding access to education, & advocating for fair, inclusive workplaces.