Women’s Fund

2021 Women to Women Virtual Leader Luncheon Awards

The Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois will present awards in the seven categories listed below. For additional information and to nominate a woman in the community, click any of the below items to be directed to the corresponding nomination form:

The Women’s Fund is pleased to continue the long-standing tradition of the former YWCA Leader Luncheon Awards by recognizing female leaders throughout central Illinois for their achievements and impact on our communities. This year’s event will be held virtually and all proceeds from the luncheon help build the Women’s Fund endowment, which provides grants for projects that strengthen families and communities by empowering women and girls.

We hope you will be able to join us for this virtual event on May 11, from noon to 1:00PM. Click here to purchase your tickets today.

We would like to extend a very special thank you to our 2021 sponsors:

In 2019, more than 430 women gathered in celebration of the Women to Women Leader Luncheon hosted by the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. 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.

1978-2019 Leader Luncheon Past Award Winners

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


We hope you enjoy our leadership interviews.  We plan to host this event in person again in September 2021!


Join us!

The Women’s Fund endowment supports projects that strengthen families and communities by empowering women and girls.

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.

A Million Dollar Goal

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.

Our goal for the Women’s Fund is to find 1,000 women who will donate $1,000 in order to create a million-dollar endowment. Our fund is half way there! For the first time in the history of the Women’s Fund, our endowment is over $500,000, and we are committed to reaching our million-dollar goal in the next ten years with your help!

This level of giving to the Women’s Fund creates a legacy that will live on beyond all of us. With a million-dollar endowment, the Women’s Fund would be able to provide $40,000 a year to deserving 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.


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"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, Advisory Board Chair
The Women's Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois

Lea Anne Miller

Women’s fund Advisory board

Lea Anne Miller – Chair
Michelle Nielsen Ott – Vice Chair
Leslie Babcock – Treasurer & Secretary
Kristen Berchtold – Development Committee Chair
Betsy Bladel
Erynn Dykstra
Lindsey Kerr
Lori Nevells – Success Grants Committee Chair
Kala Pierce
Michelle Sanders
Kathy Schaeffer – Leader Luncheon Committee Chair
Eileen Ruby-Setti