The Power of Women!
A letter from CEO Cherita Ellens
Greetings Women Employed,

The theme for this year’s luncheon is “The Power of Women.” I took time to reflect on my personal journey of realizing and walking in my own power. One of my most transformational revelations was understanding that I was enough, and that my power could not be determined by others. I have everything I need within me to live my purpose of being in service to others and ensuring everyone has agency over their own lives. bell hooks wrote, “If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”

Current societal structures limit many individuals’ ability to gain agency—to feel as if they have the power to effect change. We have laws in place that do not allow women to have agency over their own bodies, that don’t allow workers the freedom of choice over taking care of a loved one in need or going to work, that force them to accept harassment to earn fair wages for a shift. Until we have equal representation, and true equity, it will take our collective power to impact change.

I opened my letter simply with “Greetings Women Employed.” Your designation or affiliation isn’t relevant as we are a part of the same team—the same collective body bound together through our charge to use our power to pursue equity for all.

Take some time and personally reflect on “The Power of Women.” Think about what feeling, emotion, or call to action it evokes within you. See you on May 9th !
Cherita Ellens, CEO
Celebrate the Power of Women at
The Working Lunch!
The power of women is truly undeniable. We are just two weeks away from The Working Lunch on May 9 th , which will feature a dynamic conversation between three powerful women, Fatima Gross Graves, Anna Valencia, and moderator Heidi Stevens. Read on to learn more about these influential leaders, then get your tickets to celebrate with us on May 9th !

Fatima Gross Graves
President and CEO, National Women's Law Center (NWLC)
Fatima Goss Graves is on the forefront of the national movement to advance gender equity, regularly leading change at the Capitol and in news outlets like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and NPR. She oversees NWLC’s administration of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which helps those who experience sexual assault, harassment, or abuse seek justice.

Anna Valencia
City Clerk, City of Chicago
As City Clerk, Anna Valencia has worked to build a more equitable, accessible, and inclusive Chicago. Her Status of Women and Girls working group is releasing recommendations on policies and initiatives to make Chicago a better city for women and girls. She was featured as one of Business Insider’s 8 Most Influential Millennial Women in U.S. Politics.

Heidi Stevens
Columnist, Chicago Tribune
Our moderator for this year’s luncheon is Heidi Stevens, a columnist from The Chicago Tribune. In her daily column, Balancing Act, Heidi Stevens tackles gender bias, education policy, parenting, and relationships and explores the ways those issues intersect with current events. 

The conversation amongst these women is sure to be one to remember, and you won’t want to miss it. Plus, you'll get to be there when we launch our new look! Ticket sales close May 2 nd , so get your tickets now !
She Says: Emily Miller
Emily Miller began her career in Walgreens Store Operations in 2002, as an intern in Colorado, and has worked her way up since then to her current role, leading the growth and development of Walgreens’ $1.6B beverage business. Emily and her husband are parents to twin 6-year-old daughters whose level of curiosity, much to Emily’s surprise, has now surpassed her own. Emily has been on The Working Lunch Leadership Committee for the past two years.

What about WE’s work attracted you to raise critical funds for the organization?
Women Employed advocates for issues that I hold close to my heart, such as fair scheduling and equal pay. With my experience in operations, I am fully aware of how challenging it can be to create employee schedules for an entire store. However, there are a lot of tools out there to help create fair schedules and if you make sure to also make it a priority to respect an employee’s time outside of work, it’s very possible. I am a mother of two small girls and I know what it’s like to get everyone out of the house and to their destinations, to arrange pick-up, plan meals, etc.

We have to consider how scheduling childcare can be really taxing on an individual and a family, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for those workers who have to travel long distances on public transportation just to be told they’re not needed to work their full shift. We can do better for our employees and other Illinoisans, and I believe WE helps make that world possible.

When it comes to equal pay, sometimes it feels like we’re fighting blind because most salary and pay information is not public. That’s why WE’s work with employers and their work to win laws and policies—like the Equal Rights Amendment and No Salary History—is so beneficial. Those wins release a positive momentum that helps overcome any feelings of discouragement.

Any advice you can give people who want to ask their company and/or their networks to financially support WE?
We often compartmentalize our home life, work, and the values we care about. I’d encourage people to intermingle their ideals and values with their work, because it makes life more satisfying. It isn’t often you get to contribute to something that helps employees, employers, and customers—and the luncheon provides that opportunity. Women Employed is a great resource for everyone. Employers can use WE’s expertise when crafting workplace policies and to better educate ourselves on what’s important to working women. Employees can learn how to advocate for themselves at their job and can help pass better laws. Think outside of the box and figure out how to use the luncheon for your business and to make things better for all of us.

Policy Watch: The Racial Impact Note
When our legislators introduce bills, they do so to make changes to policies and practices in Illinois. Sometimes, these bills can have consequences, both intended and unintended, that disproportionately affect people of color.

Legislators have mechanisms for understanding a bill’s consequences on the state budget, pensions, housing, and more—but nothing that helps us understand the potential impact on people of color! Thankfully, in an effort to continue on the journey toward racial equity, Illinois has introduced SB 1485 , which would allow legislators to request a Racial Impact Note on any piece of legislation, requiring state agencies to come up with an estimate of the possible effect of the legislation on communities of color. The bill passed the Illinois Senate unanimously and now moves to the House.

SB 1485 would give us the information we need to make informed decisions about proposed legislation and racial equity. It’s beyond time that we think about the consequences of our legislation on communities of color and move toward a more equitable Illinois!
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Get your tickets for The Working Lunch raffle. We have awesome prizes, like a four-pack of tickets to the Shedd Aquarium , a one night’s stay at London House Chicago , Cubs and White Sox tickets , and even sky diving !

Tickets start at just $25, but why not increase your chances? With a $100 raffle purchase, you get ten Deluxe raffle entries, plus an entry into the exclusive drawing for TWO platinum prizes. How does two round-trip tickets to anywhere Southwest flies sound?

Visit our raffle page to check out our prizes, and  get your tickets now!

What We're Reading
We thank the following sponsors for their support of The Working Lunch :

Visionary Sponsor
Southwest Airlines – The Official Airline of Women Employed

Benefactor Sponsor
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Woodward, Inc.

Champion Sponsor
Allstate Insurance Company
The Boeing Company
International Services, Inc.
Nancy and Rick Kreiter

Supporter Sponsor
Bill Bass Foundation
Mayer Brown LLP
RBC Wealth Management/RBC Capital Markets  

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