Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership Program is a collaboration
between foundation partners in Chicago, including the Crossroads Fund, Woods Fund Chicago, Chicago Foundation for Women, Chicago Community Trust, and the Walder Foundation also with support from the MacArthur and Field Foundations.
Women of color at these foundations sought to create space/programming that would provide what they felt lacked in their own professional development.
The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to improving our region through strategic grant making, civic engagement and inspiring philanthropy. We are here to serve the nonprofit organizations, the generous donors and the thoughtful residents who strive to make a difference, helping their bold vision create lasting community change. We work with a number of partnerships and initiatives to accomplish this work.
As businesses, local governments and organizations strive to solve pressing challenges, the Trust brings these key actors together. Working together, we leverage collective knowledge, creativity and resources for a greater impact than any of us can make alone.
Chicago Foundation for Women envisions a world in which all women and girls have the opportunity to thrive in safe, just and healthy communities. We connect need, money and solutions.
We evaluate the needs of women and girls who are living at the margins of success in our society.
We seek out and bring together women who have the power to make a difference and organizations that offer proven or innovative solutions.
We raise money to fund those solutions, and we develop women’s capacity to drive change at every level, both within those organizations and beyond them. The Chicago Foundation for Women invests in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all. We value – in ourselves and in every organization we support – the core principles of equality, empowerment, diversity, collaboration, and integrity.
Felicia Davis is President and CEO at Chicago Foundation for WomenLearn More about Felicia
Crossroads Fund supports community organizations working on issues of racial, social and economic justice in the Chicago area. Crossroads Fund leads in the philanthropic sector by supporting innovative organizing models that build strong movements for racial, social and economic justice. By creating relationships between donors, grantees, grassroots groups and community members, we strengthen leadership, build sustainable communities and transform unjust conditions, institutions and policies to create greater equality and opportunity for all. At Crossroads Fund we believe that big change can come from small beginnings. Some of the biggest victories we’ve seen in this city, from accessible public transit for people with disabilities, to the successful campaign to abolish the death penalty in Illinois, started out as small grassroots movements that were considered too radical for most funders. That’s where Crossroads Fund comes in. We give small grants to new and emerging groups, providing critical support from the beginning. We are often the first foundation grant that our grantees have applied for or received.
Jane Kimondo is Executive Director of Crossroads fundLearn More about Jane
Jane Kimondo is committed to strengthening grassroots movements for justice through grantmaking, capacity building, leadership development, donor organizing and overseeing special initiatives, including the development of a social movement evaluation tool. Jane has extensive international and local nonprofit experience in both Chicago and her native country, Kenya. She worked at the Chicago Foundation for Women before joining Crossroads Fund in 2005. She holds two Master’s Degrees in Organizational Development and Human Resources and a Certificate in Advanced Study in Philanthropy & Non-Profit Sector from Loyola University Chicago.
Lizette Garza is Program Manager at Crossroads FundLearn More about Lizette
Lizette Garza supports grantmaking, special initiatives and database management at Crossroads Fund. She aims to connect people to resources and bridge organizations committed to social change. Previously, Lizette served as a Program Specialist at After School Matters and Teaching Artist at ElevArte Community Studio. She is a third-generation Pilsen-resident with a love for Hip Hop, Yoga and cooking. Outside of trust-based philanthropy she is a Music Curator for ReverbNation.
Woods Fund Chicago seeks to help create a society where people of all racial and ethnic groups across all levels of social and economic status are empowered and have a voice to influence policies that impact their lives and where all communities are free of poverty and racism. Woods Fund Chicago is a grantmaking foundation committed to the promotion of social, economic, and racial justice through the support of community organizing and public policy advocacy that engages people that are most impacted.
Michelle Morales is Executive Director at Woods Fund ChicagoLearn More about Michelle
Michelle Morales is the President of the Woods Fund Chicago. Prior Woods Fund, Michelle led the Illinois chapter of the Mikva Challenge, a premier youth development civics organization that creates space for youth civic participation and leadership. Michelle’s background has been in the field of alternative education, focusing on and advocating for educational justice, first as a teacher at an alternative high school in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community and then as Associate Director at the Alternative Schools Network. In addition, she was an active community organizer for 16 years in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, advocating for community development, education justice, economic justice, and against the rapid gentrification of the neighborhood. Michelle received a BA from DePaul University, a Master’s in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. She is a fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and had the privilege of participating in the inaugural cohort of Cultivate – a women of color leadership program developed by Woods Fund, Crossroads Fund, Chicago Community Trust and the Chicago Foundation for Women.
Michelle has used her varied career opportunities, her experiences as a first generation US born Puerto Rican woman and her platform to raise awareness and consciousness about: the power of youth voice, the dangers of adultism, utilizing community input in decision making, colonialism in Puerto Rican and the diasporic experiences of colonized peoples living in the United States. She is also a vocal advocate concerning racially equitable workplaces and strongly encourages organizations to not only apply a racial justice lens externally, but internally as well.
Michelle is honored to lead Woods Fund Chicago, one of six foundations in the city of Chicago which explicitly funds grassroots community organizing and public policy advocacy.
The Walder Foundation champions Chicago and invests in science innovation, environmental sustainability, the performing arts, migration and immigrant communities, and Jewish life to uplift local communities and elevate our region’s contributions to the world.
We are guided by the values inherent in our founders’ Orthodox Jewish faith: humility, optimism, unity, collaboration, a trust in God’s plan, and a commitment to give back. These principles inform our work and the relationships we wish to build with grantees and partners.
Meet Our Staff Members
Aisha Truss-Miller isLearn More about Aisha
Aisha Truss-Miller is a Chicago native working with youth, community members and groups, community organizers, activists, scholars, philanthropists, and artists to cultivate brave and safe spaces for the leadership development, political education, organizing efforts, community building, and healing of Black folks, people of color, and youth anywhere from “da block” to boardrooms. She’s a loving mother, wife, sister, daughter, organizer, storyteller, writer, and fundraiser dedicated to the Black Liberation Movement and intersecting movements for human rights locally, nationally, and across the world. Aisha accredits her growth and leadership to her family, friends, youth, ancestors, and everyday community folks.
Sophia Margarita Olazaba is Alumni Engagement ManagerLearn More about Sophia
Sophia Margarita Olazaba, joins Cultivate as the Alumni Engagement Manager. Her passion for civic engagement and activism came about via her upbringing in Indiana. Since, Sophia has stretched her advocacy wings in Chicago and championed Immigration Reform, LGBTQ rights and workers rights issues. Values that are reflected throughout her time managing multiple political campaigns, writing government legislation and working non-profit. She has dedicated her life to challenging the status quo in order to bring about systemic change and to support the lives of those most vulnerable that fall victim to structural oppression and inequity. In her free time she loves reading and playing with her two cats, Pablito and MiNina.