October 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: Cook County Health Foundation

Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS) is one of the largest public health systems in the nation, serving as the safety net for health care in Chicago and suburban Cook County and caring for more than 300,000 patients each year. Today, CCHHS is transforming the provision of health care in Cook County by promoting community-based primary and preventive care, developing a robust, collaborative health plan, and enhancing the patient experience. For more information about CCHHS visit www.cookcountyhhs.org.

CharityScenes recently sat down with the two founding members of the Cook County Health Foundation Associate Board (CCHFAB), President Josh Sorin and Vice President Lindsay Zimmerman. They formed the board in 2015 to support the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) and the Cook County Health Foundation. In their own words, the CCHFAB is starting a movement in the Chicago and Cook County community! Read on to find out more about the great work the board is doing.

CS:  Hi Josh and Lindsay! Tell us more about the CCHFAB.

CCHFAB:  First and foremost, it’s about increasing awareness of the CCHHS among the young professionals community and in Chicago. CCHHS is such a huge, important public asset that young professionals need to know about. Then, we’re raising money, both for the hospital system and specific causes within the system. The final goal is laying the foundation for the future philanthropic support of CCHHS. If you look at other hospitals in Chicago, they all have large foundation bases, and while they are all absolutely worthy causes, the CCHHS is just as important. We’re trying to educate young professionals now to establish a relationship of support for the future.

CS:  That’s smart. You mentioned you’ve raised money for some specific causes within the system. What’s one of those you supported recently?

CCHFAB:  This year, our focus was on food insecurity. The hospital system worked with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to identify individuals who are food insecure, meaning they don’t have access to fresh fruit and vegetables, which is something that has an impact on health outcomes. We had a fundraiser in July to help bring ‘fresh trucks’ to CCHHS clinics. These trucks…imagine a big 18-wheeler that’s decked out with a grocery store. People can actually go to this and they can collect fresh food and produce to feed their families. We raised over $18,000 for fresh trucks. It’s an example of how CCHHS is in a direct position to help address social determinants, which is why we started the board in the first place.

CS:  That’s right! You’re the founding members of the board. How’d everything come together, and what were some of the challenges you faced in getting to the point you’re at now?

CCHFAB:  It was actually pretty serendipitous. Having been exposed to CCHHS through volunteering or consulting, we each were asking similar questions of Dr. Shannon, the CEO of CCHHS:  Do you have an associate board? And then, can we start an associate board? He put us in contact with each other and we got to work. We built the board from scratch, there wasn’t a template we were working from. So we started with the objective and then built out how they’d get there. Who are the right people we need to get involved early on? And of course, we’re starting with a $0 budget.

One major challenge was finding good people, since the people involved on the ground are what makes this work. We started by pulling from our own networks with people who were interested and passionate and ready to help make this come alive. Another big challenge for us was that we know we’re not the only Associate Board in town, so what makes us different specifically? Why are we a worthy cause that people should get involved in? CCHHS is in a unique position where they’re so critical to the foundation of the city of Chicago and Cook County. For that reason, supporting the hospital system isn’t just supporting the clinics and hospitals, it’s really a vote for the city of Chicago and Cook County—there’s the intersection of healthcare but also social and human services.

CS:  It sounds like CCHHS is an awesome organization to be supporting. What is so unique about the system?

CCHFAB:  It all comes back to addressing social determinants of health—these are things that have an effect on someone’s health. It includes housing, it includes food insecurity, violence in your community—all issues that any major city, but specifically Chicago, faces. Who’s in the best position to impact change on those determinants? Well, the CCHHS has a network of clinics that expand throughout Cook County, so they’re in a lot of these underserved communities that face these challenges. When you think about “If I care about the city and the community, where is the best place to put my support and energy?” CCHHS is not just a hospital focused on what’s inside the four walls, it has a network throughout Chicago and the county and in many of these underserved communities.

CS:  That’s amazing! So what types of events do you all have?

CCHFAB:  Well, we do fundraising, but we’re primarily focused on awareness, because we know that the money we raise is going to be a drop in the bucket in terms of the size of the problems we can address. We really want to start a movement of young professionals that starts to address some of these social determinants in the city. These problems will not be solved purely by fundraising, but will be solved with everyone being aware and ready to make a change in their city.

One of our recent events was free and had renowned physician Dr. David Ansell advocating on behalf of CCHHS and bringing people together to have a larger conversation. So it’s not just our group talking about how we can address social determinants of health, but we have events where we can bring the conversation to larger groups of people.

CS:  Love what you said there about trying to start a movement, that’s powerful. Tell us more about the board itself.

CCHFAB:  We’re around 22 members now, but our target size is around 30 so we’re looking to grow a little more. It’s a really diverse group of young professionals, several who work in healthcare, but also people who work in other industries and just have an interest in supporting the cause. We have people who work in consulting, banking, work for startups, are CEOs of their own startups, individuals who have clinical backgrounds, like nurses, doctors, and even people in PhD programs. The thing that ties us all together is of course an interest in healthcare, but also the wellbeing of our city and public health in general.

CS:  So it’s not a requirement to have a background in healthcare to join?

CCHFAB:  Nope, not a requirement, we just want individuals who are passionate about the cause and want to be involved. We are currently accepting applications for our board on a rolling basis, so we review them each month in time for any new members to attend the next meeting.

CS:  Anything else about the board that we haven’t covered yet?

CCHFAB:  Something that’s very important about our board is the structure, because it ties our mission together with a focus on the community. We have four committees in addition to the executive committee. Our events committee develops, coordinates, and implements events. Our marketing committee helps with promoting the board as a whole. Our membership committee is focused on existing members and plans networking events within our group. But then we have our volunteering and community development committee. This committee strategizes these community efforts, and really figures out ways we can interact with other organizations to address these social determinants of health and tie it back to the CCHHS mission.

CS:  What’s the next step to get involved for those who are interested?

CCHFAB:  To learn more, go to cchealthfoundation.org/about/associate-board/, check us out on Facebook (facebook.com/cchfassociateboard), and Twitter (@CCHF_AsscBoard). If you’re interested, we’d like you to start by having a conversation with an executive board member so you have a better idea of what we do. You can email us at associateboard.cchf@gmail.com.

September 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: Marillac St Vincent Family Services

One of the most rewarding experiences an associate board member can have is direct experience with the nonprofit’s mission and clients. The Associate Board of Marillac St. Vincent Family Services (MSV), our October Board of the Month, builds these experiences into its annual event planning and everyone benefits. Read on to find out more about this great organization.

CharityScenes: Tell us a little bit about the Associate Board!

Meredith Oney: The Associate Board is a fun way for young professionals to get involved with our mission here at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services. The goals are to raise awareness and fundraise for MSV, while organizing volunteer, social, and fundraising activities. We currently have about 35 members, most ranging in age from 25-35. Our doors are always open to new members who want to learn more about our mission, our associate board, and how to get involved.

CS: Sounds great! What, in your mind, makes this associate board stand out?

MO: One of the ways is how the group comes together. Our best recruiting tool by far is word-of-mouth from our members. They seem to enjoy their participation so much that it’s easy for them to bring friends and acquaintances on-board. The group has a really strong dynamic and a truly organic recruitment method, so that’s really special.

CS: What does the annual calendar look like for the MSV Associate Board?

MO: The Associate Board’s calendar runs from fall to spring, with a break over the summer. We have three main fundraising events every year, the first of which is a Bears watch party and bags tournament coming up on October 2—anyoneinterested should come along! We also have a flip cup tournament in January that’s always really fun and popular. Finally the Board’smarquee event, House of Cards, is a casino fundraiser will be held this year on April 8, 2017. We have over 250 attendees each year, and these events always serve as great recruitment vehicles for our organization.

CS: I can imagine; they sound like a great time. Tell us a little more about your programming events.

MO: The Board plans volunteer opportunities throughout the year. One event they annually participate in is the Willie Morristhree-on-three basketball tournament at Marillac House, our center in East Garfield Park. This event in particular helps our associate board members connect with our mission in a really personal way. They are able to connect with our kids and experience how critical Marillac House is in providing a safe space for kids to just be a kid. They really understand the role they play in the MSV mission and it helps empower and motivate them to make a difference through their involvement. It’s been a really fulfilling and meaningful experience for them.

If you’re interested in learning more about this great group of young volunteers, check out http://marillacstvincent.org/about/associateboard.html for more info! And be sure to check out the Bears Game Watch Party on October 2, tickets still available here: http://marillacstvincent.org/BearsGameWatchPartyBagsTourney.html.

August 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: Snow City Arts


Snow City Arts was recognized in 2007 by the White House as one of the 15 best youth programs in the United States. Now almost 20 years in operation, they continue to grow and inspire us by improving the healthcare experience for children in hospitals through arts education. Children battling various illnesses are introduced to the visual arts, music, theater, creative writing, and media arts. Through these programs, the kids are given the opportunities to learn and create that their healthy peers are enjoying in school.


How has Snow City Arts been so successful? They’ve grown their dedicated volunteer base and generous donor base through a series of great events, a number of them hosted by the Auxiliary Board. Mai Vukcevich, Membership Chair and member of the Board Resource Committee for the Auxiliary Board, recently spoke with CharityScenes about what it’s like to be on the board and part of such a great cause.


CharityScenes: Tell us about your role as Membership Chair and what the Board Resource Committee is up to.

Mai Vukcevich: It’s been a great role for me! I’m involved in strategic planning for the board as well as recruiting. Our board members are engaged in our board and are passionate about this great cause, so it’s important that we assess how we’re making the best use of our members, how they are benefitting from their involvement, and how we can continue to recruit great candidates. One of our most important activities on the Board Resource Committee was  conducting a survey to understand what brings the board together and what we are doing well at and where we can improve.


CS: That’s a great idea. What did you learn from the survey?

MV: We learned that we could help our board members be more effective by giving them the resources to work on their “pitch”. It’s an important skill as a board member to learn how to make some difficult asks; not many people are experienced with or comfortable asking for donations. We enable board members by offering guidance and providing opportunities for practice. Our board members have learned how to be prepared and informed for difficult conversations; it’s a useful skill here and it’s a useful skill for professional environments or personal conversations.


CS: Very cool – do you think the pitches have been more effective as a result?

MV: Yes! Our board continues to grow and our events are increasingly successful. We have about 25 members on board now and I could see that increasing to 35+ in the near term. Similarly, our events continue to draw in new audiences and promote our cause.


CS: What are some of those events?

MV: We have the upcoming Gallery Night which will be hosted at the School of the Art Institute on Friday, September 9th. It’s an amazing event where supporters can connect with the mission by viewing artwork by our students (while enjoying some great cocktails and appetizers, of course). Another upcoming event is the Monster Dash on October 23rd(5k, 10k and half marathon races). It’s a wonderful community of supporters so it makes for a fun, successful event. Last year we raised over $28,000 and this year we are looking to raise $30,000 for the program.


CS: Sounds like you’re pretty busy!

MV: Very! In between those events, we’ll be continuing our ACTIVATE 2016 series in collaboration with the Chicago Loop Alliance. It’s a casual, interesting event where attendees can mingle and better understand our mission by talking to current board members. They are pretty passionate and pretty articulate (an example of that can be seen in Mai’s blog post here!).


CS: There are a lot of great events where we can learn about Snow City Arts! Which is your favorite?

MV: They are all wonderful. I’ve always loved the Gallery Night, but I recently participated in a shadow day at one of our partner hospitals and that might actually be the best “event” I’ve attended through Snow City Arts. I had the opportunity to follow one of our teaching artists as she conducted a workshop with one patient. They played the ukulele and keyboard, opening up the patient to new experiences and abilities while talking about some of the personal challenges that particular patient had faced. The session ended as our teaching artist sang Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” repeating “every little thing is going to be alright”. It was such a positive way to end the session; I had to hold back tears.


CS: What a beautiful experience that must have been. How can young professionals support the great work that Snow City Arts does?

MV: Join our board! It’s an extensive recruiting process, but it’s structured to ensure members know what they are signing up for. Outside of joining the board, you can attend our Gallery Night or activate event, run in the Monster Dash, make a donation, or sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date!

July 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: Kids in Danger

With news of the recent IKEA dresser recall making international headlines, child safety is on many people’s minds this summer. Chicago is home to one of the only parent-focused and parent-founded children’s product safety and advocacy groups in the country, Kids in Danger (KID). We were fortunate to speak with Laura Nikolovska, Program Director, to learn more about KID and how the KID Young Professionals Board supports its mission.


CharityScenes: Tell us a bit about how KID was started.


Laura Nikolovska:As you might expect with a children’s product safety group, it has a sad origin story. Our founders are a married couple and in 1998, their son Dannywas 16 months old when he was strangled to death by the travel crib at his daycare. After his death, they found out it was not a one-off accident as they had originally assumed but that four other children had been killed by the crib and that it had been recalled five yearsearlier. They founded KID when they learned that product safety is often not taken into account during the design process, even for baby and children’s products, and that there weren’t any organizations out there representing parents when it came to this issue. KID founders’ ultimate goal was to make sure any product that you purchase for children has been tested for safety and meets a strong safety standard.


CS: That’s such a sad story. Almost twenty years later, how has the organization evolved?


LN: We are still the only organization of our kind in the country: one that advocates solely for children’s product safety, that empowers parents with information that they might not otherwise access to, and that represents the consumer’s best interest when recalls occur. Most people don’t even realize that the issue we’re addressing is a problem, they want to trust that manufacturers have their families’ well-being in mind when they design and sell products. What’s unique about us is that though we remain a small nonprofit here in Chicago, we’re having a national impact on the issue—an international impact even—and that’s gratifying to see.


CS: You have quite a large social media following. How did you build that and what tips do you have for other nonprofits who want to do so?


LN: You know, we have thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter and we believe that they are mostly interested in our network for the safety information we can provide. We started off with posts and tweets about our organization, but we really found our voice and hit our stride when we started sharing information and empowering the thousands of parents and caregivers who follow us with knowledge and information. That would be my advice for other nonprofits: become a source of information and general knowledge instead of a self-promoter and you’ll gain a lot of support and build a strong brand.


CS: Tell us a little bit about the Young Professionals Board. Are its members mostly parents?


LN: It may be surprising, but no! We are about 16 strong right now and only 2 are parents, and one is a parent-to-be. The othermembers found us through past volunteer experiences with KID, through supporters of the organization, and sometimes they just found us online. KID’s Young Professionals Board was started in January 2015 and like other associate-level boards, the intention of the group is to raise awareness and funds for KID. We focus on organizing small events in the Chicago area throughout the year. Our most recent event was at Revolution Brew Pub on March 6 and it was really a blast. Our next event will be later this summer. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information. We encourage anyone interested in joining a small but mighty effort having a powerful impact to come out and learn more!


If you’d like to learn more about KID’s Young Professionals Board, please email Angela@KidsinDanger.org. You can also follow KID on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

June 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: Women Employed's Advocacy Council

For over 40 years, Women Employed (WE) has fought for equal opportunity,  fair working conditions,  improved educational opportunities, and many more initiatives focused on improving the lives of working women.  They continue to push Illinois forward through advocacy, awareness, and partnerships. For the past 10 years, young professional women have been a driving force for the organization through Women Employed’s Advocacy Council.


Amanda Collins, staff liaison of the Advocacy Council, spoke with CharityScenes to discuss initiatives, board structure, and how you can get involved! We started by discussing the four main principals of the group and how they guide the activities of the board:


  •  Women Employed and by association, the Advocacy Council, pride themselves on being at the front line of issues important to working women in Chicago. They are active in local, state, and national government, pushing for improved laws to protect women and to promote better working environments. The Council can be found at rallies, at community events, taking action through WE’s online action network, and actively engaged on WE’s social media pages.
  • Action Network: womenemployed.org/action-center
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/WomenEmployed
  • Twitter: @WomenEmployed


  • In addition to personal involvement, Council members activate their networks and communities to take action on WE’s issues and strengthen WE’s supporter base. A lot of the activity here is through the organization’s social media pages and action network, but more traditional methods are used as well. Recently the Council participated in the Chicago Equal Pay Day rally and helped gather 200 signatures for a petition to support the proposed Chicago sick time ordinance, which will grant all working people in the city the ability to earn paid sick time.



  • The Council actively supportsWE’s initiatives to inform the community and gather support on the issues facing working women today. Most recently the Advocacy Council attended and volunteered at Women Employed’s signature annual fundraising event—which brings together nearly 1,000 people—The Working Lunch.


Friend Raising and Fundraising

  • The Council also schedules informal events to attract new members, thoughtfully raises money through several initiatives, and members personally contribute donations to further the cause and enable the work of Women Employed. Council members also act as volunteers at events throughout the year, offering great opportunities to learn and network!


So you want to support initiatives for working women and get involved?! The Advocacy Council is very flexible (size of the board ranges from 20-50 active members at any given time) and accommodates women ranging in age from 20-40, coming from a variety of backgrounds, and able to contribute varying amounts of time and energy. There is a level of involvement for anyone who is interested! For those truly dedicated to the cause, there is a Leadership Committee which takes a more active role in planning events, running meetings, and moving the board forward. In fact, the current chair, Ambar Mentor-Truppa, founded the Council about 10 years ago and also sits on the Women Employed’s Board of Directors. It’s a testament to the importance of the Advocacy Council as well as the long-lasting benefits council members enjoy by participating.


If you’re interested in learning more about the Advocacy Council, getting an update on the current state of affairs, or are just interested in networking with some awesome women, contact Amanda to join the Council mailing list and learn more about their upcoming summer mixer in June!

Advocacy Council members

Advocacy Council members

April 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: La Casa Norte

138,575. This is the current estimate of Chicago residents experiencing homelessness. La Casa Norte and their Next Generation Board are actively working to serve this population and transform the lives and communities of those affected by homelessness.

CharityScenes had the privilege of speaking with Moni Garza, current co-chair of the Next Generation Board, to better understand how the board works and serves this important cause.

CharityScenes (CS): How did you get involved in the cause and decide to join the board?

Moni Garza (MG): I had the opportunity to meet Sol Flores, founding executivedirector of the organization, at a charity event which was actually for another cause. After speaking with her briefly, I was able to see her passion and understand what an important cause this was. I grew up in the Chicagoland area and was drawn to the unique and effective way they are treating a problem in a city I very much care about.

At the time I joined a few years ago, the Next Generation Board had just been started a few couple of years prior. I was excited to get involved early on in the life of the board and eventually to take on a leadership position. I work in corporate relations at Allstate Insurance and was eager to contribute my marketing and communication strategy skills to help grow the board and attract young professionals to the mission.

CS: What are the goals of the Next Generation Board?

MG: We work closely with the organization and governing board to make sure we are contributing to the larger organization's goals: to provide access to stable housing and deliver comprehensive services. We have fundraising events, we volunteer, and we serve as advocates for the cause. We have a number of professionals who are in public policy so we've been able to take advantage of their skills, knowledge and networks.

Our main fundraising event, Share the Love, takes place in February and is a great event to give friends, co-workers, and family members a chance to learn more about our cause from clients and the founders. We have various volunteers events throughout the year as well. Our most recent event was a professional clothing drive. Our board members organized it, advertised it and came together to sort through the clothing.

CS: How often do board members get together outside of these special events?

MG: We meet every other month and try to encourage members to attend in person, though we do offer a dial-in to accommodate schedules. One thing that is unique to our board is that we hold a one day retreat at the beginning of each year. It's a wonderful opportunity for board members to get to know each, decide what committee they want to be on, and for the group to decide what our goals will be for the year. It's also just a lot of fund to get to know each other in a setting (a co-founder's house) where we can relax and snack and hang out together.

CS: That does sound fun and unique! How would someone go about joining the board?

MG: We're always open to bringing new members on board. We have each new member meet with Jessica, our staff liaison, and Valerie, my co-chair and founder of the Next Generation Board. We want to make sure our newest members understand the scope of the organization and are truly invested in the cause. I'll talk to the potential member as well and then we'll find a spot for them on one of our four committees: advocacy, events, development and fundraising, and marketing. Each member has a give/get requirement of $300 each year which we've found is pretty easily achieved through ticket sales at our events or a personal donation. Members have opportunities to volunteer throughout the year, thought there isn't a strict "volunteer requirement".

CS: Thanks so much for chatting with us. How can potential members learn more?

MG: Reach out! Email info@lacasanorte.org or check out our facebook page here, our webpage here, our twitter feed or our instagram account!


March 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: The Field Associates

The Field Museum is a must-see for Chicagoans and visitors alike. The Field Associates auxiliary group gives young professionals age 21-40 behind-the-scenes access to the science action, education, collections, and world-class exhibitions that make The Field Museum one of the world’s top natural history institutions. We spoke with Michael Wren, Giving Society Manager and staff liaison, and Casey McCarthy, Communications Committee Co-Chair, to learn more about how this group operates and how it’s related to the larger organization.


Please give us an overview of The Field Associates and your leadership structure.

The Field Associates is the Museum’s young professionals group, focusing on fundraising and friend-raising. We hold a big fundraising event each year called Evolve (not to be confused with the Museum’s Women’s Board Gala); this year it will be held on Saturday, October 22, and will feature one of the Museum’s most non-traditional exhibits, which at this point is still under wraps. The Field Associates is for young philanthropists ages 21-40 who are passionate about The Field Museum mission to explore the Earth and its people. We have a monthly activity for our members, typically involving a lecture by one of the Museum’s many active scientists. As part of our February “Love in the Animal Kingdom” series, we featured an event and presentation called “Shark Sex: Fifty Shades of Great White,” followed by cocktails and networking. We also hold events like social happy hours, volunteer activities (we’re going to the Beaubien Woods in April), and professional development opportunities. For example, we have an event coming up where our members can network and get a professional headshot taken. If we want our members to be ambassadors for the Museum, they need to know the ins and outs of the Museum’s cutting-edge work.


Tell us a bit about how The Field Associates is structured.

The Field Associates has two tiers of membership: the General Field Associates for young donors who want to attend a few events over the year, and the Field Associates Board for young professionals looking to engage in philanthropy and leadership opportunities at The Field Museum. The Field Museum Board is led by an executive board, made up of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and the two committee co-chairs from each of the four committees. The committees are run by rotating co-chairs, with one incumbent and one new co-chair serving every year. The committees represent different ways of getting involved, from communications (including our monthly newsletter) to programming (such as planning our fun events) to the Evolve committee (which plans and hosts our primary fundraising event) to membership (in charge of recruiting, welcoming, and connecting our members).


Casey, what’s been the most surprising benefit for you personally of serving on the board?

It’s been such an interesting and unique way to get involved in The Field Museum, which is one of our great Chicago institutions! I love the access we get to what goes on behind the scenes, the real science action that makes the Museum so important. At our events we get to interact one-on-one with the scientists, and there’s so much more going on beyond what you think there is at The Field Museum. The scientists are doing work with a global impact that we can all learn from, they’re not just maintaining and studying the existing collections.


Speaking of the Museum itself, how do you work with the larger organization to attract members to your board?

Casey: The Field Museum has been great about supporting us as a board. They really recognize that we are the next generation of philanthropic support. We promote our events through general museum communication channels, and our scientists look forward to volunteering to speak at our events. At larger museum events such as exhibit openings, we get a table to promote the board. About half of our members have joined through personal referrals, the other half have found us via organic traffic through the website.


Mike: The Museum is has embarked on an extraordinary $250 million campaign between 2015 and 2020, but really we’re thinking 30 years ahead as well. We know that our Field Associates are so important to the long-term future of the Museum. To ensure this continuity, the sitting president of the Field Associates is brought in as an ex-officio Board of Trustees Member of the Museum, and Field Associates executive board members are invited to sit in on meetings of the President’s Leadership Council, which is one of the Museum’s top-level advisory groups.


If this information has piqued your interest in the Field Associates, you can reach out to Mike at mwren@fieldmuseum.org for more on how you can get involved.

Photo from www.fieldmuseum.org

Photo from www.fieldmuseum.org

February 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: Chicago Foundation for Education

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams

The Chicago Foundation for Education (“CFE”) recognizes the importance of the teacher’s ability to affect change in Chicago Public Schools. For over 30 years, CFE has been providing grants and professional development opportunities to qualifying teachers, and for the past 4 years, the Associate Committee has helped to fund and raise awareness for some of those opportunities. In addition to being tasked with fundraising and publicity for the cause, the Associate Committee members are asked to volunteer, bring aboard new members, and help plan events for the organization.

Sarah Vogt has been on the board for the past 3 years and previously served as the fundraising chair. Sarah spent some time with us at CharityScenes to tell us about her experience. She previously worked at PWC and recently her interest in education has led her to pursue a Master’s degree in public policy. Sarah is one of about 20 young professionals on the board who come from diverse backgrounds, although many of the current members happen to work in finance. She let us know that board is actively looking to recruit about 10 new members over the course of the year…so we’ve tried to make your decision making a little easier and highlighted 3 big reasons you should consider joining the CFE Associate Committee!



o   Connected to the cause – board members have the opportunity to evaluate grants, audit grants (i.e. check that funds are used in accordance with the stated purpose), and even visit classrooms to see their grants being put to good use! Sarah loved seeing one of the grants at work in a classroom performance she attended where all the kids dressed up as animals as part of a science class.

o   Immediate impact – Board members pay $30 in annual dues and the combined funds are used as a small grant to an individual teacher


o   Make friends – the board is fun! They hosts 2 unique fundraisers each year and a lot of the meetings will also have a social component after

o   Spice up your social calendar – what better reason is there to get people together than raising money for a good cause? Board members spend time and energy to pull off successful- and I mean successful! $40,000 raised! – events such as their annual whirleyball tournament in November or a bags/cornhole tournament in the spring or summer. Grab your friends and get them involved too!


o   Take on a leadership position – The executive board of the associate committee is comprised of a chairman, a fundraising chair, a volunteer chair and a social & membership chair. There are often opportunities to take on one of these roles or other leadership positions related to the fundraisers.

o   Networking – while some members are teachers or work in education, most board members do not and are drawn to the cause by their interest in education and making a difference in Chicago. Bonus: associate committee members have the opportunity to network with and reach out to senior leaders who serve on the board of directors, including prestigious lawyers, private equity principals, leaders in education and more!

Want to learn more and see the board in action? Check out their webpage here: http://www.cfegrants.org/about/associate-committee/




January 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: Big Brothers Big Sisters

Many associate boards have a gala event as their marquee fundraiser each year. These events can be a huge time commitment for board members and volunteers, but also a wonderful way to expose new audiences to your cause and, at the end of the day, a lot of fun!

We reached out to Teresa Sullivan of Big Brothers Big Sisters Chicago for some tips and tricks on organizing big events. Their annual Big Bash gets bigger and better each year; read on to find out how they do it.

-Why did you choose to get involved with BBBS?

I was a Big Sister when I worked in Madison so when I moved to Chicago for law school I was looking for a way to get involved here. I believe strongly in the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters; each child and mentor relationship has a lasting, positive impact on the lives of both Littles and Bigs. 

-How is the event committee for the Big Bash structured? How do you work with the leaders of the Leadership Board?

We have four committees: Sponsorship, Silent Auction, Experience and Marketing. Each committee has two co-chairs who do the heavy lifting for their committee with the help of the board at large. Sponsorship works to get sponsors both by reaching out to former and potential sponsors and/or working with each Leadership Board member to reach out to his/her company and the companies in their network for sponsorships. Silent Auction works to gather auction items by reaching out to past auction donors and coming up with priority items (high value sports items, trips, unusual items) and strategizing on how to get those. Experience helps decide on entertainment, event set up, catering and other items like whether to have a photo booth or other fun elements as part of the evening. Marketing helps us get the word out on social and traditional media platforms. Each Leadership Board member is required to buy a ticket or make an equivalent donation. We also expect them to participate by getting sponsorships and auction items and selling tickets to their networks. 

-How have you had success approaching sponsors and donors for the auction?

A personal connection is typically the key. Cold calling rarely works. When we can leverage a Leadership Board member or a Board member to make an introduction to the company (even if that person doesn't want to make the ask him or herself) we are much more successful in securing the donation. Success in sponsorships starts with recruiting and retaining great talent on the Leadership Board. 

-Any challenges that come to mind as you organize a big fundraiser like this? How have you overcome them?

I would say that our biggest challenge has been deciding how to keep a connection to our core mission as an organization as the ticket sales increase each year. We want to share the stories of our Big/Little matches as a part of the event but its hard at a cocktail-style event during which we don't have a formal program. Fortunately, I know our Leadership Board members do a great job of spreading our mission throughout the evening. We also have posters up with information highlighting a few of our thousands of matches each year. But we're still working on that one! 

-What's one big takeaway you've learned from organizing the Big Bash?

Start earlier than you think you need to! This goes for booking a space, booking a band, asking for sponsorships, asking for silent auction items, selling tickets, etc. We try to start early in the year asking the Leadership Board to get engaged with each of those. Ideally, we would book the space and band at least a year before the event, start asking for sponsorships and silent auction items 10 months before the event and selling tickets at least a few months before the event. 



November 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: Make-A-Wish Illinois Associate Board

In advance of an exciting fundraiser happening this Saturday, November 14th, CharityScenes spoke with Peter Du, member of the Make-A-Wish Illinois Associate Board. Peter joined the board earlier this year after spending some time volunteering with the organization.

CharityScenes (“CS”): What attracted you to the board?

Peter Du (“PD”): After spending some time as a volunteer, I developed a strong connection to the cause. Make-a-Wish Illinois grants over 700 wishes per year to children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, and it is very fulfilling to help make those fun opportunities possible.

CS: Can you tell us about the associate board and its role in the Make-a-Wish Illinois organization?

PD: Sure, we are tasked with raising as much money as possible to grant as many wishes as possible! Through 3 events throughout the year, we raise money as well as overall awareness for the organization. There are about 45 members of the associate board representing a diverse group of young professionals. I think the diversity is critical to the success of the board; we are very productive in our brainstorming and event planning because we have access to many different skill sets and networks.

CS: What are some of the other events, besides the upcoming I Wish to Party, that your board plans and hosts?

PD: We try to vary our events to appeal to some different crowds. You’ll see that our upcoming event is a more formal cocktail event, but some of our other events are more casual. We host a walk/run at Montrose beach as well as a bags tournament. 

CS: What has been your experience on the board so far?

PD: It has been really rewarding. Given I had already been a volunteer and am passionate about the cause, it has been fun to use the skills from my work in a way that benefits Make-a-Wish Illinois. I’m in communications/public relations which has been useful when planning the upcoming I Wish to Party event and marketing to get young professionals to attend the event. I expect that the different way I’m marketing here may be transferable to my role at work at some point in the future.

I’d also say that it’s been a great networking tool. There’s very much a team atmosphere when planning these events, as everyone is obviously a volunteer and can’t always dedicate 100% of their time to planning. People are quick to step in and help others with various tasks, which quickly fosters new friendships.

One other thing to point out about our board is that we had tremendous support from the Make-a-Wish Illinois parent organization. We have a really helpful staff liaison and good relationship with the Board of Directors with some cross participation at events and an associate board member attending meetings of the Board of Directors.

CS: What was your process for joining the board? How would prospective members decide to apply and get accepted?

PD: I attended a few associate board events and recommend anyone who is interested comes to our event on Saturday to learn more! It’ll be a great opportunity to talk to current board members and volunteers. Aside from that there is a several page application to fill out and an interview. We want to make sure people are serious about committing to this board. After joining there is a $150 membership fee for dues and a $6,000 fundraising commitment which can be obtained through donations, sponsorships, ticket sales, etc.

CS: Thanks for taking the time!

PD: Of course! To learn more, stop by our event at Revel on Saturday, check out our facebook pageor the Make-a-Wish Illinois website!

October 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: Young Women's Giving Council

Serving on an associate board can be a great way to mix a passion for service with professional development. The Young Women’s Giving Council of Chicago Foundation for Women recognizes this benefit to its members and has integrated both in its meetings and events. CharityScenes had the pleasure of chatting with three of the four co-chairs of the YWGC--Andrea McPike, Carrington Gregory, andLaura Phelan--and learning more about how they structure the board to make sure their members have a rewarding experience.

What made you want to get involved in the YWGC?

Laura Phelan: I was introduced to CFW when a co-worker invited me to a discussion on women in the workplace. By attending the event, I got on the listserv and stayed on it for the interesting content, even when I moved to another city. When I moved back to Chicago, I reached out to CFW for a way to volunteer or support it. That’s when I was told about the development boards, which are unique in having a grant making committee--not just fundraising for the larger organization. It’s an opportunity to take the money you raise and give out to the community and connect to a large philanthropic organization in the area.

Andrea McPike: In my first year outside of school, I was looking to have touch points with the community. I heard about CFW from a co-worker, and I was passionate about issues affecting women and girls but I didn’t know how to get involved. My first impression was that the YWGC is a great group of strong women who care about the issues CFW works to raise awareness about and address.

What is special about the YWGC’s grant making process?

Carrington Gregory: Our members are always excited to be a part of the grant making process. The larger organization gives us lots of control and input in the process and it’s a cooperative effort to not only grant out, but to be thoughtful in selecting who receives the money.  We look at why we want to give to the grantees and we get to look through their programs and meet with the organizations before giving out the funds. It’s fantastic to spend the year fundraising in a big way, and then decide who deserves it.

LP: In addition to provide funds, we’re connecting emerging organizations to the larger organization [CFW]’s technical assistance; it helps them grow, and many have ended up receiving larger grants through the larger CFW Board.

How have you developed professionally through the YWGC?

LP: I would know a lot less about philanthropy, for one thing. I’ve participated in mentoring through CFW that has enabled me to meet with women who have been involved in philanthropy and increased my learning curve.

AM: Speed Mentoring is unique among events I’ve been to for professional development. It has allowed me to reconnect with women I look up to as well as network with other successful women with whom I may not have otherwise met. We’ve gotten great feedback from the mentors at this event as well as the mentees.

CG: Speed Mentoring, which usually is held in the spring, is our signature event: it helps us raise money but is a professional development and networking event, which is uniquely aligned with the mission and goals of the YWGC in a variety of ways.

Has anything about serving on the YWGC been particularly rewarding for you?

LP: It’s been an opportunity to meet other women in Chicago who are committed to supporting young women and girls. It helps us uncover how we can support them and support themselves. I enjoy the opportunity to speak to the organizations we’re raising money for to find out more about the work they’re doing and how the money we raise helps support women and girls in the Chicago.

CG: While the “correct” answer might be the difference we’re making in the community, personally, it has been working with like-minded women and coming together as a collaborative effort to tackle these issues. Young women put these awesome events on and the fundraising we do goes to help accomplish the mission and goals we share. I’ve been so impressed and empowered by talking to and learning from the other women sitting across the table from me at our meetings.

AP: The amount of control we have over the entire process from being able to decide what kind of fundraising events we want to put on over the course of the year to where we want to grant the money is something unique and satisfying. We’ve found some things that work and we’ve been open to new and different ideas, too.  I love seeing the different industries have been brought together at events and meetings. I think that the biggest takeaway is that we can’t have one [collaboration among young women on the council] without the other [empowering young women and girls in Chicago]. They go hand in hand.

How can prospective members get involved? Do you do anything in particular to ensure member retention?

AP: Anyone who is interested can meet with any of the co-chairs to ask questions, and our meetings open to all who are interested. We alternate between monthly business meetings when we do event and council planning and social meetings where we have guest speakers and topical issues to discuss. We hope this makes meetings more stimulating for our members. All members have opportunities to step up into leadership roles, whether it’s leading events or serving on committees. I’m an example because after being involved for just one year, I’m able to serve as a co-chair.

CG: Our members make an annual contribution and are required to be involved in both group and individual fundraising as well as serving on a subcommittee.

LP: Our event committees chaired by members but supported by co-chairs, so there is opportunity for developing leadership. Two of the four co-chairs are focused on on-boarding and membership satisfaction. We recently did a survey of what members like or would like to change. We’ll be reaching out to the individuals to make sure that they can be connected with what they’re looking for throughout the year.

Want to learn more? Check out their website for more info!

September 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: Changing Worlds

“There are a lot of great non-profits focused on arts and literacy throughout Chicago, but what makes Changing Worlds, and it’s associate board, different is that we incorporate lessons about culture and communities. We think that part is really important,” says Patricia Borowiec, one of the co-chairs of the associate board. CharityScenes had a chance to speak with Patricia and her co-chair, Melissa Chaidez, recently to learn more about the eight year old Changing Worlds associate board. The board is active, vibrant, and engaged, and the young professionals involved cover a range of industries and careers. Take a look below to see what this board is all about!

  • Size: between 10 to 20 people
  • Frequency of meetings: once per month
  • Corporations represented on the board: McCormick Foundation, United Airlines, State of Illinois, Academy for Global Citizenship, Grosvenor Capital Management, etc...
  • Cause: Changing Worlds - a 19 year old local Chicago non-profit aiming to foster inclusive communities through
    • In school and after school partnerships
    • Teacher professional development
    • Traveling exhibits and community outreach initiatives
  • Recent fundraisers: trivia night, hambingo, arts and crafts at Lagunitas, and more!
  • Volunteering: for individuals interested in volunteer opportunities outside of business hours. Other volunteer opportunities exist for board members, but are not a requirement to join the board. 
  • Who might want to join? Anyone! Changing Worlds Associate Board is definitely a great place for any young professional new to associate boards - there are a lot of opportunities to learn and become involved, and as with any board, turnover presents chances to take on new roles and tasks through the year(s)
  • Upcoming initiatives: Changing Worlds Associate Board continues to grow and wants to get the word out! In addition to increased marketing and awareness initiatives, they are open to partnering with other associate boards for events, ideas, and more.
  • Want to learn more? Check out facebook or their website

Melissa shared that they’ve had a lot of success with the fundraising events as they give members and supporters the opportunity to network, engage in an activity, and learn about the Changing Worlds programming. For example, at a recent fundraiser at Lagunitas Brewery, attendees were asked to point  mark on a global map out where their origins were and then create a family crest. This naturally gave people an opportunity to introduce themselves and make connections, while also getting an idea of the types of activities children will participate in during their time with Changing Worlds. After the icebreaker, attendees socialize and have casual activities to keep them engaged! If you’re interested in learning more about the board, you’ll find it easy to mix and mingle at these events :)

August 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: Girls on the Run Chicago

Are you interested in a cause that helps young girls chase their dreams? Maybe you’re interested in running for a leadership position? Girls on the Run is a well-established board which, for the past 10 years, has allowed young professionals to fundraise, volunteer and raise awareness for a program that empowers young girls.  CharityScenes recently had the privilege of speaking with Alice Kovacik, staff liaison to the board, and Abigail Vallicelli. Abigail has been on the Associate Board since 2010, serving as President of the Board for the past year and recently having handed over the reins to another experienced board member, Meghan Boland.

Tell us about Girls on the Run-Chicago

Abigail: Girls on the Run is a great organization that provides programming to young girls. The focus is as much on building self-confidence and inspiring girls as it is on the running itself. The girls work together through a variety of activities, and our 12 week curriculum culminates with each girl running a 5k.  

Tell us about the board members and what each member’s responsibility is.

Alice: Board members are asked to pay $50 in dues as well as meet the give/get of $500 and meet a volunteer hour commitment. Each member sits on a committee (membership, social, events, or public relations) and is asked to serve for 2 years. Members are given a number of opportunities to volunteer at the organization’s annual 5k events and are invited to volunteer in other capacities periodically throughout their tenure.

Abigail: Our members range in age from right out of school to early 40s. Some of our members have their own families and we recently had a fundraiser that was geared towards families with younger kids. (It was very successful!). Right now, our board of about 40 members is all women, but we’re definitely open to having men on the board! It’s also important to note that our board members come from a variety of professional backgrounds, so it’s been a beneficial networking tool for members.

Are all the board members serious runners?

Alice: Some are serious runners, but I think it would be more accurate to say a good number of our board members are casual runners. I was not a runner before joining Girls on the Run as a staff member and now really enjoy it! More importantly, though, people are drawn to the board for the mission, which is to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”

What types of opportunities are available to board members?

Alice: All members are a part of a committee, so there is an opportunity to develop skills in an area you are familiar with, or alternatively, gain new skills in an area you are not familiar with. Each year board members are given the opportunity to switch committees (but are not required to) in order to try something new.  We found that to be a good exercise as people were asked to be a little more creative by adopting a new role. Other opportunities for board members include supporting our staff with distributing program materials to our volunteer coaches, overseeing a group of volunteers at our 5k events, and visiting program sites across the Chicagoland area.

Abigail: There are fun opportunities too! We’ve had some really fun (and sold out) events in the past – tour of Lagunitas Brewery, bags tournament, March Madness events, etc. We have also been given exposure to the board of directors in the past, so that has been a beneficial experience as well.

What else should we know about Girls on the Run?

Alice: And you should know that applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so we’re open to new members at any time.

Now don’t all race to apply at once!

July 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: YMCA Metro Chicago

As a new board having formed only in April of last year, you might think YMCA of Metro Chicago is still in its development stage. Not so, says John Tocora, President of the Associate Board and Vice President at BNY Mellon. John and other initial board members were extremely diligent when structuring and planning for the board. Now that the groundwork has been set, the board is poised for tremendous growth and opportunity focusing on the four pillars of the YMCA:

1)  Academic readiness
2) Character development
3) Violence prevention
4) Fitness and healthy living

The Associate Board has tasked themselves with supporting the YMCA through these four pillars and is now filling out the general member population with young professionals who would like to take on planning volunteer and other events related to these ideas. For instance, the Associate Board recently visited Kelly Hall YMCA in Humboldt Park which is slated to lose funding. After hearing from kids who regularly visit and depend on their local YMCA, the Associate Board launched a successful online fundraising campaign.


“We expect general members to help us cultivate ideas for similar programming and execute within the structure we have established for the board,” says John, “Given the range of causes and potential activities to support those causes, we expect our board to continue to grow to be quite diverse.” So far, that’s been true of the board. Members come from a variety of professional backgrounds and range in age from 22 – 45. John says this is unique to YMCA board; the board is strengthened by the energy and enthusiasm of the recently graduated population, but benefits from the wisdom of the more experienced members. “There’s a role for anyone who wants to be involved.” Outside of the programming committee, members can join the fundraising committee or board development committee (which focuses on recruitment and potentially member mentorship) and are expected to participate in the quarterly meetings.


To date, the YMCA Metro Chicago Associate Board has been a powerful source of raising funds and awareness through their prior experiences outside of the YMCA. John serves on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and constantly draws on that experience for new ideas and to resolve challenges related to the Associate Board. He also took that perspective into account to ensure the Associate Board would have a meaningful role within the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s broader structure. John is currently working on developing the relationship between the YMCA’s board of directors and the associate board to provide meaningful networking opportunities and a path for associate board members to become board of directors members.


What else should people know about the YMCA’s Associate Board? “It’s about responsibility, not accountability.” Successful board members will feel connected to one (or more!) of the four pillars, volunteer in a meaningful way, and raise funds and awareness for the great work that the YMCA does across metro Chicago. Current and future board members feel a responsibility to give back and support families and youth in our community versus being held accountable to raise a specific dollar amount or volunteer a certain number of times. “We’ve built a really great board so far and know that the mission of the YMCA will attract more great members. I’m really excited to be a part of such an impressive board.”


Want to learn more? Check out their website and stay tuned for the follow up blog post soon to be featured on the All A-Board Alliance website.

June 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: City Year

CharityScenes recently sat down with Rachel Gerds, current co-chair of the Associate Board, and Corey Young, current staff liaison to the board. We were delighted to hear all the exciting things going on at City Year Chicago now. If you’re interested in joining a board that is growing and changing, now is a great time to check out City Year Chicago!


CharityScenes: Tell us about City Year and the Associate Board – what does the organization do and what is the role of the Associate Board?

Corey: is an education-focused organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. City Year partners with public schools in 26 urban, high-poverty communities across the U.S. and through international affiliates in the U.K. and Johannesburg, South Africa. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members provide high-impact student, classroom and school-wide support, to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school. The Associate Board is committed to supporting and promoting City Year and its AmeriCorps members by generating financial support, promoting City Year's brand, and providing mentorship and other forms of assistance to AmeriCorps members.

CharityScenes: Can you talk about the reach of your organization and plans for growth?

Corey: Today, roughly 50% of the 1 million students who drop out each year come from only 12% of schools. City Year has worked with Deloitte to devise a long term impact plan (LTI)  to reach as many of these students as possible in these schools. For example, in Chicago we currently serve in 21 schools, but at scale we would be in about 39 schools with a corps about double the size it is today. As the organization scales, so will the Associate Board. The Associate Board is currently strategizing to better align with City Year's LTI, as a result, we are looking to grow the board from about 30 members to about 50 by the end of the year.

CharityScenes: What is it like to be on the Associate Board?

Rachel: I’ve been on the board for five years after falling in love with the organization at an event. I met some of the corps members and was really impressed by their passion and poise, and wanted to do something to support them. Along the way, I’ve also met lots of new people, have used the board as a great networking tool, and have been able to stretch myself professionally.

CharityScenes: Can you elaborate on that? How has the board helped you develop professionally?

Rachel: At BMO, I manage digital content, which involves creativity and strategic planning. Through fundraising and event planning on the board, I’ve been able to use these skills with a different application. I’ve also developed my leadership skills as the co-chair. Similarly, I take on a mentorship type role when I meet with corps members looking to begin a career in marketing after their year as a volunteer.

CharityScenes: What types of fundraising and event planning have you been doing?

Corey: The Associate Board hosts a number of events throughout the year. Each fall, they host their signature event, the Back to School Soiree, but they also host smaller networking and social events such as a night at the Laugh Factory and trivia night.  Looking forward, we hope to borrow an idea from the City Year New York Associate Board and host lunch and learn type of events. They have had great success and there seems to be a demand for that in Chicago as well. The Associate Board meets bi-monthly throughout the year, as well as attends a portion of the Site Board Annual Retreat, among other City Year events.

CharityScenes: What are you looking for in prospective board members? And what will board members get out of their experience?

Rachel: We’re looking for some young professionals to fill a few gaps in skill set of the current board and we'd like to find some more connections with donors, media, etc. That said, we’re primarily looking for members who are passionate about the cause and can make some time to give back.  Our board is pretty well organized, so prospective members looking to take on a leadership role and gain a new network will be happy on our board.  For me, just being involved with this cause and giving back has been very rewarding.

CharityScenes: How do I sign up?!

Corey: We accept applications on a rolling basis and confer new members on a quarterly basis. Check out www.cityyear.org to learn more.