Women’s Fund

2023 Women to Women Leader Luncheon Awards

Award Nominee Criteria
• Nominees must physically live, work or attend school in the tri‐county area (Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford).
• Nominees must be currently active in the category in which they are nominated.
• You may only nominate a candidate for one category.
• Prior recipients are not eligible in any category – 1978-2022 Leader Luncheon Past Award Winners.
• Current Women’s Fund Advisory board members, Leader Luncheon committee members, judges, and their spouses are not eligible.

Award Categories

Business / Professions Award
Sponsored by Carle Health
Awarded to a woman who has excelled in her career and exhibited success in business, government,
not‐for‐profit organizations or a profession.

Arts Award
Sponsored by Illinois Mutual
Awarded to a woman who has exhibited inspired leadership in the advancement of
the visual and/or performing arts.

Education Award
Sponsored by Illinois American Water
Awarded to a woman who has had an accomplished career and demonstrated
leadership and excellence in the field of education.

Community Service Award
Sponsored by Kathy & Chuck Schaeffer
Awarded to a woman who has displayed leadership and made an
outstanding contribution to civic, charitable, religious or other community activities.

Emerging Leader Award
Sponsored by PNC
Honors a young woman between the ages of 25‐40 who is a role model
and demonstrates excellence and initiative in her chosen profession and service to the community.

Health Care / Wellness Award
Sponsored by Bard Optical
Honors a woman who has excelled in her career and exhibited
leadership in the fields of health care and/or wellness.

Young Woman’s Service Award
Sponsored by Church Women United
Awarded to a high school senior who excels in the areas of leadership and community service.
This award includes a $1,000 college scholarship.

An independent panel of judges from the Peoria area will review all nominations and select the
recipients. Judges may choose to move a nominee from one category to another unless otherwise
specified on the nomination form. Nominations deadline: 11:59pm Central Time on April 6, 2023.

About the Women’s Fund

Since 1993, the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois has been working to change the lives of women and girls in central Illinois. The original goal for the Women’s Fund was finding 1,000 women to each donate $1,000 to create a million-dollar endowment. While that fundraising model has evolved over time, the initial goal of creating a million-dollar endowment has remained the same. As we begin our 30th year, it is with great pleasure that we are able to announce the Women’s Fund endowment has now surpassed the $1 million balance!

The recent surge to $1 million is attributed to an extremely generous gift from a Founding Member of more than $300,000. This level of giving to the Women’s Fund establishes a legacy that will live on beyond all of us. With a million-dollar endowment, the Women’s Fund will grant more than $45,000 a year to deserving programs, in perpetuity. Through 2022, the Women’s Fund endowment has awarded 140+ grants totaling more than $475,000 to support programs focusing on women and girls.

Thank you to the 200+ Founding Members who have donated $1,000 or more over time, thank you to the dozens of sponsors of the annual Leader Luncheon, and thank you to the individuals who donated ANY amount. This milestone is possible because of you. The Women’s Fund will continue to bring women’s issues to the forefront in central Illinois as they continue building the endowment for an even larger collective impact.

Women’s Fund History

The Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois was founded in 1993 from an idea shared by Pat Barton, a CFCI Board Member at the time. Pat worked with Donna Haerr, then executive director, Deb Ritschel and Jay Goldberg to create the Fund as a way to inspire female philanthropy. “Power does come from money, and women do control much of the money in this country,” Haerr told the Journal Star when the establishment of the Women’s Fund was announced.

As women grow in influence and financial strength, so does their ability to give back. You can change the lives of women and children in central Illinois by contributing to the Women’s Fund endowment.

Why? Because when women prosper, communities thrive; and when communities thrive, the world becomes a better place for everyone.

Surprisingly, less than five percent of charitable contributions go towards funding women’s programs.

Today, we are inviting you to a new level of giving – to elevate women and girls to the top of your philanthropic list and to invest in them with even greater commitment. The Women’s Fund welcomes gifts of any amount to help build the endowment. Once individuals contribute $1,000 or more over time, they are recognized as a Founding Member.

2022 Women to Women Leader Luncheon Awards

Left to right: Eileen Leunig, Rasheedah Na’Allah, Audrey Kamm, Cindy Morris, Dr. Meenakshy Aiyer, Karen Jensen, Ronda Guyton (Photos courtesy of Daryl Wilson Photography)

The 2022 Luncheon was a record breaker with 491 attendees! We had 38 fabulous nominees, an empowering keynote address by Mayor Rita Ali, and incredible honorees. Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate women’s leadership in central Illinois!

2022 Award Recipients:
Young Women’s Service Award: Rasheedah Na’Allah
Emerging Leader Award: Audrey Kamm
Education Award: Cindy Morris
Arts Award: Eileen Leunig
Healthcare/Wellness Award: Dr. Meenakshy Aiyer
Business/Professions Award: Karen Jensen
Community Service Award: Ronda Guyton

The Luncheon was started by the YWCA of Peoria over 40 years ago to recognize local women who best exemplify excellence in their chosen profession and commitment to the success of other women. The Women’s Fund assumed ownership of the Leader Luncheon in 2013 and has remained committed to its growth, success and excellence over the years.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sarah Fletcher at sarah@communityfoundationci.org or call (309) 674-8730.

Women’s Fund Founding Members

2022 Women’s Fund Success Grant Recipients

"As the Women's Fund Advisory Board wraps up our 25th year, we celebrate reaching a milestone of having over $500,000 in our endowment fund. In the coming year we will bring a greater awareness to the support we provide to programs that empower women and girls. We no longer want to be the best kept secret in central Illinois."

Lea Anne Miller, Immediate Past Chair / Succession Planning
The Women's Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois

July 8, 2019

Women’s Fund Advisory Board

Michelle Nielsen Ott – Chair
Erynn Dykstra – Vice Chair
Lindsey Kerr – Treasurer & Secretary
Betsy Bladel
Ellen Corbin
Holly Edwin
Mae Gilliland Wright
Bernice Gordon-Young
Shelly Kerker
Kala Pierce – Success Grants Committee Chair / Succession Planning
Michelle Sanders – Leader Luncheon Committee Co-Chair
Kathy Schaeffer – Leader Luncheon Committee Chair
Anupama Uddavolu – Development Chair
Erin Winstead