Member Bureau: A Letter from CFW’s Felicia Davis

This week, we’re thrilled to uplift the voice of Felicia Davis, WFN Member and President and CEO of the Chicago Foundation for Women. Her unique perspective in centering her lived experiences underscores the importance of using a gender lens in our philanthropic work. 

Merging Mercy with Might: Reflections on a Year of Bravery

Felicia Davis, President & CEO, Chicago Foundation for Women

One year ago, I sat in my home office during Chicago’s COVID-19 lockdown, and I recorded a personal video diary. It was just a few days after the horrific murder of George Floyd, and the tragic events of the week had a profound, personal effect on me.

I was hurting, not only for my own Black sons, but for all the Black youth and their families who were left wondering how to move forward, how to address the history and lasting legacy of persistent and evolving pain and trauma from anti-Black racism. 

I vowed to continue to work tirelessly to dismantle the racist, unjust structures and systems that continue to allow the lives of Black sons, like my own, to have no value. To support the millions of people who took to the streets, risking their comfort to peacefully protest and scream out NO MORE. To peacefully make their own voices and supplications heard and offer another pained plea to the world asking for the end of hatred and the true fulfillment of our shared dreams of dignity, justice, and equity for all.

During this past year, I have been angry, numbed by pain, and paralyzed by fear – but I have also had moments filled with joy and hope. To witness Kamala Harris being sworn in as Vice President of the United States. To hear Amanda Gorman provide us a roadmap:

“If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright.”

Amanda Gorman

To celebrate the record-breaking number of women sworn into Congress – including a historic number of Women of Color. I also received the COVID-19 vaccine and, recently, shared Mother’s Day Brunch with my mother and my children, the first time all of us have been allowed to be together in nearly a year. 

As President & CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women and a member of the Women’s Funding Network, I have the opportunity to work with a committed group of extraordinary women leaders and other allies who believe as I do – when we invest in women and girls, we invest in us all. We build stronger, healthier, more vibrant communities.

At this moment, I am called – WE are called – to speak out, to seek understanding, and to pursue mercy and justice. I ask that you join me and Chicago Foundation for Women, the Women’s Funding Network, and all of our partners across the globe by actively speaking out against racism and injustice. WE ask for your solidarity in fighting systems of gender inequity and explicitly calling for an end to the intersectional, destructive, and divisive systems of racism and oppression.

As we know, achieving gender equity will not happen without achieving racial equity. 

Harkening to another part of Amanda Gorman’s poem:

“For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” 

Amanda Gorman

Be Bold. Be Brave. Join us in this Fight.

Sending light and love,
Felicia Davis 
President and CEO
Chicago Foundation for Women

Letters from Elizabeth Member Bureau