A letter from our CEO
"It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression." — Harvey Milk

Just last week, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled with an overwhelming 6-3 majority that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. The SCOTUS ruling is significant as it opens the door to future progress toward anti-discrimination legislation related to sexual orientation or gender identity. While laws were already in place protecting workers based on sexual orientation in 22 states and gender identity in 21 states, there were still millions of workers unprotected prior to this landmark decision. UCLA’s Williams Institute reports that there are 7.1 million lesbian, gay and bisexual workers, and 1 million workers who identify as transgender. This ruling is a monumental step toward progress for them, and for all of us who believe that everyone should have the right to live, be, thrive, and go to work without the fear of being fired or denied a promotion just because of who they are or who they love.  

On the heels of this victory, SCOTUS came down with another impactful decision blocking the Trump administration’s plan to dismantle DACA, which has protected 700,000 DREAMers from deportation. These are individuals who grew up as Americans, were educated here, serve in our military, pay taxes, and who have made countless contributions to our country. New applications must now be accepted, and the program restored to its 2012 status. 

With the SCOTUS term nearing its end, justices are ready to release major decisions on abortion, religion, and the separation of powers between the president and Congress. All of this in a moment when the entire country is going through an awakening. A catalytic acknowledgment of the deeply rooted human and civil rights issues that plague us, the lack of access some of us are granted to the right to LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS, and the structural systems that bar us from achieving those ideals. 

With rulings like this, we are reminded of how slow progress can be. However, there are disruptive moments in history that catapult progress. I believe we are once again witnessing one of those moments. “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. Stay the course!

Happy Pride Month!

Cherita Ellens, CEO
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Join Us For Our Summer Event Series
Last month we hosted our annual gala event, The Working Lunch, which brought together leaders from government, education, labor, policy, corporate, and community to imagine a world where all women are treated fairly in the workplace, able to get the skills they need for the jobs they want, and are respected for the work they do—no matter what! 

This summer, we’re continuing and building on that conversation! J oin us for a three-part series , where we’ll discuss what a truly inclusive women’s movement looks like as we explore how we can shape a future that is stronger, more equitable and just. 

The Working Lunch Summer Series: Centering Women of Color for Lasting Change

  • July 16th – Roundtable of Sisterhood: A Conversation About the Intersection of Gender and Racial Equity
  • August 13th (Black Women’s Equal Pay Day) – Beyond Equality: Pay Equity and Black Women
  • September 17th – Starting Young: Positioning Young Women for Success at Work

Meet Our 2020 Summer Leaders
Every summer, Women Employed welcomes ten promising young leaders into The Pattis Family Foundation Summer Leadership Program, a paid internship that introduces participants to the ins and outs of the non-profit world while providing the opportunity for leadership training, professional skill building, front-line research, and more.

While we can’t provide those opportunities in person this year, we are thrilled to welcome the 2020 class of Summer Leaders to our first-ever virtual program! This year’s class includes:

  • Suleika Abdourazak, Kenyon College, Class of 2021
  • Yichun Chen, Northwestern University, Class of 2020
  • Citlalli Garcia, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Class of 2022
  • Kaitlyn Greenholt, Roosevelt University, Class of 2021
  • Taylor Haynes, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Class of 2020
  • Alexis Jenkins, University of Illinois-Springfield, Class of 2020
  • Britt Koff, The College of Saint Rose
  • Taylor Mazique, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Class of 2021
  • Reyna Moreno, Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, Class of 2020
  • Shania Montufar, Truman State University, Class of 2022

“This is my first internship doing something related to my personal passion, and I’m excited for the chance to learn the ins and outs of the non-profit world. That’s not something they teach in a college class.” -Taylor Mazique 

"I've never had the opportunity to work with so many passionate, like-minded women before, nor have I felt so inspired by peers that I've never met in person. A lot of people have mentioned how challenging it can be to participate in the program virtually, but aside from the inevitable technical difficulty here and there, or the occasional screen fatigue, I think both the interns and the WE staff are making the best of the situation and making sure we get just as much out of the virtual program as we would if we were in the office.” -Alexis Jenkins

You can learn more about the Summer Leadership Program on our website !
Women Employed Welcomes New Board Members and Officers
Women Employed is thrilled to announce the election of four new members to our Board of Directors. The newly elected include:

  • Lisa Battisfore, Marketing Director for Medical Exam and Disposable Gloves, Cardinal Health
  • Manjari G. Malkani, M.D., Assistant Professor, Division of Rheumatology, Rush University Medical Group
  • Diana Sharpe, Vice President, Economic & Workforce Development, ComEd
  • Rachelle Whitacre, Director, Regulatory Affairs, Nicor Gas

We are also pleased to announce our newly elected Board Officers:

  • Lynn Watkins-Asiyanbi, Chair
  • Ambar Mentor-Truppa, Co-Chair
  • Nakita Burrell, Treasurer
  • Marjorie Loeb, Secretary

“We are excited to welcome the new members of our Board of Directors and our new slate of Officers. I look forward to leading WE with their support and partnership. Their diversity of background and talent will ensure we remain ready to tackle the important issues and further our progress toward economic justice,” said Women Employed’s President and CEO Cherita Ellens.

“As I begin my tenure as Board Chair, I could not be more thrilled to do so alongside these new additions, whose diverse talents and range of backgrounds will be an incredible asset to the Board moving forward,” said Board Chair Lynn Watkins-Asiyanbi.

Paid Sick Days in Illinois: Updates and Actions
Paid sick days have always been critical in ensuring the health and safety of our communities, and they are more important now than ever. As head of the Illinois Paid Sick Days Coalition, Women Employed has been working hard to win paid sick time for all workers in Illinois. Watch this update on our work from Associate Director of Policy Sarah Labadie.
Join us in the fight for paid sick days by signing our petition today !

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