"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
Søren Kierkegaard
A letter from our CEO

WOW, we made it! There is a song by the great Mahalia Jackson titled “How I Got Over.” In the song, she states how she looks back on her life and wonders how she made it. Then she begins to express gratitude for her life’s lessons, protection, faith, and vision. That is how I feel about 2020. For as mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually challenging as it has been, I am filled with much gratitude.

In this work, I see first-hand how privileged I am. I am thankful that I have my health, that my or our staff’s income wasn’t interrupted due to the pandemic, that I am with an organization that offers the flexibility and care for all our employees to ease the burdens and challenges that emerged for many during this pandemic, that my daughter was able to continue her studies, that as a nation we began widespread conversations on the impacts of racial and gender inequities and collectively agreed that it is time for change.

I am thankful for the pause and reset forced on us by the pandemic.

I want to thank all of you, however you are connected to us here at Women Employed. Your commitment, advocacy, partnership, and steadfast support has been invaluable over this past year. I also want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Women Employed staff. You all are AMAZING! Your compassion and care and commitment to pursuing equity is an inspiration to me. Thank you.

As we close out this year that will undoubtedly make it into the history books, I choose to live forwards and dive into the work to build back better. I hope you all will join me.

I wish you a very happy holiday, however you choose to celebrate, and many blessings in the new year.

Best Wishes,
Cherita Ellens, President and CEO
Women Employed at the Transition Table
The last four years have challenged the fabric and soul of our nation and 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. With a new administration transitioning into the White House next month, we’re at a turning point of possibility and Women Employed knows what must be done to leverage this moment—with your support.
As the Biden-Harris administration is planning to head to the White House, WE is at the table. Our President and CEO, Cherita Ellens, will be a part of the Women and Girls Working Group, and other Women Employed experts are participating in additional Biden-Harris transition meetings, lending our expertise to the teams helping to shape policy priorities and the first 100 days of action. We recently met with the agency review teams for the Department of Labor and Department of Justice to discuss workplace rights priorities. 
If you donate now you can double your impact! A generous donor will match every gift made to Women Employed—up to $10,000!—from now through December 31st. 
We need YOU to help us create an equitable future where all women and their families and communities can thrive. Together, we can “build back better” and make the next four years count! 
Hear why people just like you support Women Employed! 
"Their work to me is personal and that’s because they fight for so many of the protections against issues that I faced in the workplace such as sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, equal pay.”
– Cynthia Zeltwanger 

WE Want to Hear From You!
Women Employed is working hard to make sure we are proactively carving out a space for women and their needs. But WE need your help! 
Please take our 10-minute survey. We want to learn how you view our current work, what issues you think are important, and what directions you’d like to see us move in. This year has been like none other so we want (and need) your input as we move forward. As a thank you for completing the survey, you can opt to be entered into a drawing to win a $20 gift card of your choosing. 
Save the Date!
The new year is almost upon us, and we're just weeks away from the inauguration of a new administration. We'll soon see one of our highest glass ceilings shatter, with Kamala Harris stepping into the role of Vice President. Fueled by this moment of hope and promise, we are ready to gain progress for working women and families, all while recovering from the impact of COVID—which has had out-sized impacts on women and people of color.  
This January, we will convene policy experts, elected officials, and members of the media to discuss the State of Working Women. Stay tuned for more information! 
Was this email forwarded to you? Stay up to date on our work and future events by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.  
Take Action to Save Paid Leave!
Did you know that under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employees of businesses of 1-500 employees have up to 80 hours of paid sick time? There are some exceptions, but WE have created tools to help working people navigate these protections. Visit bit.ly/c19rights to view the full fact sheet detailing COVID-19 leave benefits in Illinois. The fact sheet is also available in Spanish and Polish! 
Unfortunately, these protections end on December 31st. Negotiations over an end-of-year COVID-19 relief package are happening RIGHT NOW but currently don’t include paid sick days and paid leave—in the middle of a pandemic! This is not acceptable. 

Paid sick leave is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID and let us reopen safely. It helps us hold onto our jobs as we’re struggling without child care and other supports. Research showed that it prevented 400 new COVID cases per day in states. It's also the number one COVID relief policy voters want. Our government should be looking out for their voters and workers, not simply bailing out big business. We need these protections now.  

Charting Illinois' Path to Racial Equity in Higher Education
Thank you to everyone who joined us for our “Charting Illinois’ Path to Racial Equity in Higher Education” webinar. We had a really interesting and thought-provoking conversation on addressing the racial equity gaps in higher education in our state. If you couldn’t be there, you can watch the recording!   
Visit our website to read Women Employed’s recent policy briefs  that guided our conversation, as well as more information on our student success work.

The first brief, Advancing Racial Equity in Illinois Higher Education, contains our recommendations for addressing equity gaps. The second brief, Lessons from the States, is a companion piece highlighting higher education racial equity initiatives in other states. 
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