Women Donors Network | WDN Connect 2019 in Chicago

WDN Connect 2019 in Chicago

WDN’s annual conference was held in Chicago. We drew from the city’s rich tradition of community organizing and the collective power of our network as we explored some of the most pressing issues of our time, from the future of our democracy to the future of our planet. Check out our recap video and keep an eye out for more information about WDN Connect 2020 in the new year.


Kim Foxx

State's Attorney for Cook County, Illinois

Rebecca Traister*

Journalist and Author of Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger

Alicia Garza

Principal of Black Futures Lab; Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Network

Favianna Rodriguez

Artist, Organizer, and Cultural Strategist

Heather McGhee

Distinguished Senior Fellow & Former President of Demos

Varshini Prakash

Co-Founder of the Sunrise Movement

Charlene Carruthers

Author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements

Noreen Farrell

Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates

Ilana Kaufman

Director of the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative

Brenda Choresi Carter

Director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign

Rebecca Thompson

Reflective Democracy Campaign

Jessica Stites

Editor of In These Times



Interdisciplinary artist, organizer, and cultural worker Favianna Rodriguez will kick off our conference with a session on the power of art and culture to change hearts and minds.


We'll dig into what it means to build and maintain a multiracial community with racial justice organizer, strategic designer, and facilitator Ilana Kaufman.


See our strategy in action with stories from visionary leaders who are working at the intersection of movement and politics, building power where it’s needed most, and organizing for a better future.


Award-winning author of Good and Mad Rebecca Traister* and #BlackLivesMatter Co-Founder Alicia Garza will discuss the power of women to drive transformational change.


From the climate crisis to the crisis in our democracy, we are in an all-hands-on-deck moment. Leading scholar Heather McGhee will weave together these themes with her commentary on our collective call to action.


From skills building to interactive workshops, our Saturday afternoon sessions will focus on topics ranging from the role of progressive media to community organizing in Chicago.

Special Events


Thursday, Nov. 7, 8:30 am-2 pm, $325

Featuring experts from a range of disciplines, member stories, and breakout sessions, this program will get us steeped in the how and why of aligned investing and give you the tools to create your own roadmap to action. Breakfast and lunch included in the program fee. Separate registration required.


Thursday, Nov. 7, 2:30-4:30 pm, $50

Experience the city’s legendary architecture and the history behind the skyline from the best seat in the house—the river. This tour navigates through the heart of the city on all three branches of the Chicago River. Transportation to and from the hotel aboard a private bus is included. Separate registration required.


Friday Night Reception

Enjoy an evening at the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago and spend time in the Impressionism Gallery in this special reception. Included in conference registration.


Saturday Night Party

We're glowing up this year, so bring your brightest brights and neon treasures from the depths of your closet and dance the night away! Don't worry, we'll also have lots of chill space for the introverts among us. Included in registration.


Sunday, Nov. 10, 5-6 pm

We're excited to offer a special backstage tour of the stunning Lyric Opera of Chicago. See the inside of the art-deco Ardis Krainik Theatre and learn about how these talented artists bring operatic stagecraft to life. Separate registration required. No additional cost.


Sunday, Nov. 10, 12-3 pm

Join WDN Action and Jessica Byrd from the Electoral Justice Project for this closing session on how to implement learnings from the conference. We will discuss c4 advocacy, year-round organizing, and what it takes to shift power to the people. Open to all attendees. No additional cost.


Is this event for me?

WDN Connect is open to women donors (cis, trans, and genderqueer) who want to connect, learn, and take action with other progressive philanthropists and changemakers. Whether you’re a current WDN member or you’re interested in learning about our network, we welcome you to join us for three days of collective learning and action!

What goes on at the conference?

  • Plenaries and Keynotes: From climate justice, to democracy reform, to reproductive freedom, we’ll hear from movement leaders and partners and dig into our collective power to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time.
  • Learning Labs & Strategy Sessions: WDN Connect offers daily breakout sessions for a deeper dive on topics ranging from the role of progressive media to community organizing in Chicago.
  • Networking and Connection: Each day we’ll have time for informal networking, meetups at mealtimes, and fun gatherings including a reception at the Art Institute of Chicago on Friday evening and a Saturday night dance party!

Check out highlights from last year’s conference to get a feel for WDN Connect:

What is your accessibility policy? 

WDN Connect strives to be an accessible conference. Our planning team works with our conference hotel and vendors to ensure that our space is accessible and inclusive. The hotel offers accessible rooms; please request an accessible room at the time of booking. Assistive listening systems and a motorized scooter can be arranged directly through the hotel if needed. There will be a designated quiet space open throughout the conference to decompress if needed. Please limit the use of perfumed products. If you have any questions about accessibility, please email Laurie Ignacio.

Photo credits: Charlene Carruthers: Lucy Hewit; Rebecca Traister: Victoria Stevens 

*For more information about Rebecca Traister, please visit www.simonspeakers.com

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