Making History, Together
A letter from our CEO

First and foremost, with the resurgence of COVID cases in Illinois, I hope that you and your families are safe and well. I know this isn’t the most convenient time to be asked to hunker down—it’s hard to miss spending the holidays with those you love—but if we want to get past this, we all must do our part. Please stay safe. Stay home. And, please wear a mask.  

Although they are still counting votes, this election has broken records, barriers, and glass ceilings. We elected a record number of open LGBTQ candidates, our first openly transgender state senator, and a record number of Native American women. With races still to be called, at least 141 women will serve in Congress, breaking the record of 127 set in 2019. That includes at least 116 women in the House and 25 in the senate. More than a third of women in the 117th Congress will be women of color. And, of course, we elected our first woman and woman of color as Vice President. Additionally, voter turnout stands at 65% of all eligible voters, the highest since 1908. 

The last four years have challenged the fabric and soul of our nation. We have made our collective voices heard, and demanded change and the proper representation to shape and push that change forward. We know that our democracy will be stronger, and our society will be fairer and more just when everyone is represented. It is a lot harder to strip away someone's rights when you must sit next to them and look them in the eye. 

Now, we do the work to “build back better.” The work of healing our divided nation, executing a national approach to bring an end to this pandemic, and ensuring that those most impacted are centered in our plans for recovery. There is much work to be done to address the gains lost, repair a structurally inequitable system, and gain progress for working women and families. We must capitalize on this moment of promise to ensure women and their families can obtain and maintain economic security. 

Together we have the power to heal, to transform, and to move forward. I am looking forward to fighting for you and with you to make the next four years count. And, as we head into Thanksgiving, I am thankful for your support, which allows us to do this important work. 

Be well and safe, 
Cherita Ellens, President and CEO
Help Us Make the Next 4 Years Count!
By Christina Perez, Director of Development
We can all agree that 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year. Our loss, grief, and anger is collective. More than 230,000 lives have been lost in the United States due to the global pandemic and we’ve experienced the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression—both having a disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities of color because of structural racism and inequality. 
It is no coincidence that we were able to come together as a collective and make our voices heard in record numbers this election season—we made it clear that the way things are will simply not work any longer. I am beyond thrilled to be joining the Women Employed team as the Director of Development at such a pivotal moment in history. While there is much work to be done to address all of the previous gains lost and repair a structurally inequitable system, we know that with YOU by our side, we can make progress towards a future brimming with hope and possibilities, one that includes our first woman—a Black, South Asian woman—as Vice President. 
As a fundraising professional, I have dedicated my career to gender and racial equity. I am so passionate about building a more bold and just society, and Women Employed is the perfect organization to make a difference with right now! Women Employed knows what must be done to leverage this moment, and we have a plan to build a more equitable future for women and families. We’ve fought many tough battles in our 47 years, and we’ve made continual progress despite all of the obstacles and setbacks. We will continue to charge forward—with your support

Please consider making a year end tax-deductible gift today. 
Thank you for supporting this important work!
Christina Perez, Director of Development
Your Opinion Matters to Us!
From the rippling health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to an increasing outcry for racial justice in the face of escalating white supremacy, WE are working hard to make sure we are adapting to these changing times and proactively carving out a space for women and their needs. But WE need your help. 
To ensure that we are leading an agenda that includes you we are asking that you take a short survey to share your opinions with us. Your responses will help us learn more about how working people perceive Women Employed and the types of policy initiatives that resonate with them the most. Plus, you will be given an opportunity to be entered into a raffle for a $20 gift card of your choosing for completing the survey! 
Latinas Deserve More Than 55 Cents on the Dollar
October 29th marked Latina Equal Pay Day, the day when the earnings of Latinas catches up to what white, non-Hispanic men made by the end of 2019. This was the last equal pay day of 2020, signaling that Latinas must work longer than, well, pretty much everyone else. To bring light to this issue that hurts communities at large, the Equal Pay Day Chicago Coalition—which Women Employed is a part of—hosted a virtual event that brought hundreds of people together. “Half-Paid Heroes: Working Women, COVID-19, and #LatinaEqualPay Day” brought together community leaders and elected officials to discuss the disproportionate impact of the wage gap on Latinas and other women of color, how COVID-19 is exacerbating already-existing racial and gender disparities, and what we can all do to advocate for pay equity. 

Panelists included (clockwise from top left) Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton; Linda Xóchitl Tortolero, President and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción; Illinois State Rep. Anna Moeller; Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, and Cherita Ellens, President and CEO of Women Employed. The event was moderated by Kelly Saulsberry, Director of Policy and Outreach for the City of Chicago, Commission on Human Relations. 
As part of Latina Equal Pay Day, Women Employed’s Marketing and Engagement Coordinator, Ximena Leyte Escalante, shared her own personal experience with the wage gap as a Latina on our Medium blog. Her piece discusses the importance of intersectionality in any and all attempts to abolish pay inequity once and for all. Her piece also features a video from a Latina hotel housekeeper telling her story of being laid off and told to re-apply for the same job…at lower pay. 
If you want to learn more about how the pay gap manifests throughout one’s lifetime, check out our Instagram post where you can follow one Latina, Jasmine, through her career!
Upcoming Webinar: Charting Illinois' Path to Racial Equity

Like many states, Illinois suffers from alarming racial achievement gaps in higher education, which we must address if we hope to achieve equity for all. Join Women Employed and education experts for an important conversation about the gaps that exist, the importance of addressing them, and how we can advance racial equity in higher education at a statewide level.
WE have also written two policy briefs featuring recommendations to address racial equity gaps in Illinois higher education to ensure our workforce better reflects the growing diversity of our state and economy, and promising practices from other states.
COVID-19: Know Your Rights at Work
With the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, it is particularly important that working people know their rights and employers are aware of their responsibilities as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. WE have created tools to help working people navigate these protections. Visit to view the full fact sheet detailing COVID-19 leave benefits in Illinois. The fact sheet is also available in Spanish and Polish! 
Our toolkit also includes sample social media language you can use to spread the word, additional COVID-19 resources in Cook County and Illinois, and information about our grassroots education campaign you can join to help inform Illinois workers of their rights. 
Women Employed in the News!
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WE Thank YOU!
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we are giving thanks to YOU, our supporters, for making all of our work possible. With your help, we were equipped to quickly protect and support workers when the pandemic hit, rallied support for a statewide paid sick days bill, fought to secure COVID-19 relief for struggling families, developed distance learning packets to ensure Career Foundations students could continue their coursework even if they lack digital access, and are working to ensure Illinois workers know about their right to COVID-related paid leave. Thank YOU for making this all possible. Together, we can continue these efforts and more.
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