18th Annual CWF Luncheon with Madeline Albright
The Chicago Foundation for Women celebrated its 18th annual luncheon and symposium “Inspiring Leadership” on September 25, 2003 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. The keynote speaker was Madeline Albright—the 64th U.S. Secretary of State from 1997-2001 and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Over 2,100 individuals attended the luncheon contributing in excess of $600,000 to meet CWF’s fundraising goal.
The CWF envisions a society in which the voices and potential of all women and girls are fully realized. The CWF raises and distributes funds to provide opportunities and promote solutions for all women and girls. The CWF’s focus areas are: economic self sufficiency; freedom from violence; and, access to health care services and information. Since 1986, the CWF has awarded $10.3 million to 600 organizations in the Chicago area.
In 2002-2003, CWF invested more than $850,000 in 66 organizations across Metro Chicago in support of positive social change. A few of the groups receiving such grants included:
• Better Existence with HIV
• Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
• Chicago Women in Trades
• Girl Scouts of Chicago
• Lesbian Community Cancer Project
• NOW Foundation
• Rainbow House
• Sarah’s Circle
• Young Women’s Empowerment Project
These organizations and many others were recognized by CWF during the luncheon for their successful work on behalf of women and girls in our community.
Madeline Albright’s remarks focused on the state of U.S. foreign affairs today as well as women’s issues around the world. Ms. Albright is an energetic speaker who includes personal experiences and stories to emphasize her comments. In explaining how the few women foreign dignitaries worked together in the United Nations, she said each agreed to always take one another’s call, even if ultimately support or consensus could not be reached on a particular matter or conflict. Once when a difficult situation faced the United Nations, an ambassador from the EU called complaining that he had been unable to reach Ms. Albright but yet knew she had accepted calls from the representatives of “lesser” nations. The disgruntled ambassador asked Ms. Albright what he could do to receive the same attention. She simply replied that he could replace himself with a woman!
In a closing dialogue with Chicago journalist Carol Marin, Ms. Albright was asked if she believed the glass ceiling or sticky floor still existed for women in business and politics. She said it was still a factor that women faced but believed increasingly that women had the ability and influence to overcome such barriers by working together. She feels strongly that women can succeed and prosper only by working together and helping one another. Her closing comment to the CWF luncheon audience emphasized her belief: “THERE IS A VERY SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL FOR WOMEN WHO DO NOT HELP OTHER WOMEN.”
Ms. Albright signed copies of her new book Madam Secretary: A Memoir following the luncheon. To learn more about the CWF and its programs, visit its Web site at <www.cfw.org>.